A PRACTICALL CATECHISME.
I Have by the grace of God, and your help and care, attained in some measure to the understan∣ding of the principles of Religion, proposed to those of my age by our Church-Catechisme; and should in modesty content my selfe with those ru∣diments, but that I finde my selfe, as a Christian, not only invited, but obliged to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Shall I therefore beseech you to continue my guide, and to direct me, first, what kind of questions it will be most usefull for me to aske, and you to instruct me in, that I may not please my selfe, or trouble you with lesse profita∣ble speculations?
I will most readily serve you in this demand, and make no scruple to tell you that that kind of knowledge is most usefull, and proper to be superadded to your former grounds, which tendeth most imme∣diately to the directing of your practice, for you will easily remember, that it was the forme of the young mans question, Mark. 10. 17. Page 2Good Master, what shall I doe, that I may inherit eternall life? and our bookes tell us, that the oracle (that is the Devill himselfe) was inform∣ed to proclaime Socrates to be the wisest man in the world, because he applied his studies, and knowledge to the morall part, the squaring and ordering of mens lives; and Gerson a very learned and pious man, hath defined Divinity of all others, to be an affective, not onely spe∣culative knowledge, which you will best un∣derstand * the meaning of, by a very ancient writers words, which are in English these, that the end of Christian philosophy is to make men better, not more learned; to edify, not to instruct.
I shall most willingly intrust my selfe to your directions, and though the vanity of my heart, and the unrulinesse of my youthfull affections may perhaps make me an improper au∣ditour of such doctrines, yet I hope the doctrines themselves and the assistance of Gods grace, ob∣taineable by our prayers, may be a meanes to fit me to receive profit by them. I beseech you there∣fore to tell me your opinion, what kind of do∣ctrines, and what parts of Scripture will be like∣ly to have the most present influence on my heart, or contribute most to a Christian practice.
I conceive especially these five, first, the Doctrine of the first and second Covenant, toge∣ther with the difference of them: secondly, the Page 3Names, and (in one of them intimated) the Offices of Christ: thirdly, the Nature of the Three Theologicall Graces, Faith, Hope, and Charity, together with Selfe deniall, and Re∣pentance, or Regeneration: fourthly, the Diffe∣rence and dependance betwixt Justification and Sanctification: and lastly, the thorow under∣standing of our Saviours Sermon on the Mount, set downe in the fifth, sixth, and seaventh Chap∣ters of Saint Matthews Gospell. But you will be frighted with the length of this taske, and discourag'd from setting out on so tedious a journey.
I shall thinke it unreasonable for me, to be tyred with receiving the largest favours, that you have the patience, and the charity to be∣stow upon me, and to shew you that I have an ap∣petite to the journey, I shall not give you the least excuse of delay, but put you in minde where it was that you promis'd to set out, or begin your first stage, and beseech you to god before me, my guide and instructer, first in the doctrine of the two Covenants; to which purpose my ignorance makes it necessary for me to request your first helpe, to tell me what a Covenant is.
[§ 1] A Covenant is a mutuall compact (as * we now consider it) betwixt God and man, consisting of mercies on Gods part made over to man, and of conditions on mans part re∣quired by God.
It will then be necessary for Page 4 me to demand first what you meane by the First Covenant.
I meane that which is suppo∣sed to be made with Adam, assoone as he was created, before his first sinne, and with all mankinde in him.
What then was the mer∣cy an Gods part made over to him in that Cove∣nant?
It consisted of two parts, one sort of things supposed before the Covenant abso∣lutely given to him by God in his creation: another promised and not given, but upon condition.
What is that which was absolute∣ly given?
1. A law written in his heart teaching him the whole duty of man, 2. A positive law, of not eating the fruite of one tree in the garden, all others but that one be∣ing freely allowed him by God. 3. A perfect strength and ability bestowed on him to per∣forme all that was required of him, and by that a possibility to have lived for ever without ever sinning.
What is that which was pro∣mised on condition?
1. Continuance of that light, and that strength, the one to direct, the other to assist him in a persevering performance of that perfect obedience. 2. A crowne of such performance, assumption to eternall feli∣city.
What was the condition upon which the former of these was promised?
Walking in that light, making use of that strength, (and therefore upon defailance in those two, upon Page 5 the first sinne, that light was dimmed, and that strength, (like Sampsons when his lockes were lost,) extremely weakned)
What was the condition, upon which the Eternall felicity was promised?
Exact, unsinning, perfect obedi∣ence, proportioned to the measure of that strength; and consequently upon the commissi∣on of the first sinne, this crowne was forfeited, Adam cast out of Paradise, and condemned to death, and so deprived both of eternity and felicity, and from that houre to this, there hath beene no man living (Christ onely excepted who was God as well as man) justifiable by that first covenant, all having sinned, and so coming short of the Glory of God promised in that covenant.
You have now given me a view of the first covenant, and I shall not give my curi∣osity leave to importune you with more questions about it. Onely if you please, tell me, what con∣dition Adam and consequently mankinde were concluded under, upon the defailance, or breach of the condition required in that first covenant, for I perceive Adam sinned, and so brake that condition.
I have intimated that to you already, and yet shall farther enlarge on it. Upon the fall of Adam, he and all mankinde forfeited that perfect light and perfect strength, and became very defective and weake both in knowledge and ability of performing their Page 6 duty to their Creatour, and consequently were made utterly uncapable of ever receiving bene∣fit by that first covenant. It being just with God to withdraw that high degree of strength and grace when he saw so ill use made of it.
But why should God inflict that punishment upon all mankinde, for (or upon occasion of) the sinne of that one man? though he used his talent so very ill, others of his posterity might have used it better, and why should they all be so prejudged, upon one mans miscarriage?
Many reasons may be rendred for this act of Gods, and if they could not, yet ought not his wisedome to be ar∣raign'd at our tribunall, or judged by us. Now this is an act of his wisedom, more then of distri∣butive justice, it being free for him to do what he will with his owne, and such is his Grace and his Crowne. But the most full satisfactory reason may be this, because God intending to take the forfeiture of that first Covenant, in∣tended withall to make a second Covenant, which should tend as much or more to the maine end, the eternall felicity of mankinde, as, or then the first could have done. And that you will acknowledge, when you heare what this second covenant is.
I beseech you then what is the second Cove∣nant: and first with whom was it made?
It * was made with the same Adam now after his Page 7 fall, in these words, The seed of the woman shall breake the Serpents head. Gen. 3. 15. and afterwards repeated more plainely to Abra∣ham. Gen. 22. 17. 18.
But who is that Seed of the Woman?
The same that in the words spoken to Abraham is meant by Thy seed, which the Apostle (Gal. 3. 16.) tells us is Christ.
What then is the first thing promised in that second Covenant?
The giving of Christ, to take our nature upon him, and so to become a kind of second Adam, in that na∣ture of ours to performe perfect unsinning obe∣dience, and so to be just, according to the con∣dition of the first Covenant, and yet being faultlesse, to undergoe a shamefull death volun∣tarily upon the Crosse, to satisfy for the sinne of Adam, and for all the sinnes of all mankinde, to tast death for every man. Heb. 2. 9. and this being the first thing, all other parts of this Co∣venant are consequent and dependent on this, and so this second Covenant was made in Christ, sealed in his bloud (as it was the custome of the Easterne Nations to seale all Covenants with bloud) and so confirmed by him, which is the meaning of those words 2 Cor. 1. 20. All the promises of God in him are yea, and in him amen, that is are verified (which is the impor∣tance of Yea) and confirmed (which is meant by Amen) into an immutability, in or by Christ.
Well then. What are the promises or mercies made over unto us in Christ by this second Cove∣nant?
First a revelation of his will, called the law of faith, according to which we Chri∣stians ought to live, and this is set downe as a part of that Covenant. Heb. 8. 10, 11. Secondly a promise of pardon or mercy to our unrighte∣ousnesse, and our sinnes and our iniquities, v. 12. Thirdly the giving of grace or strength, al∣though not perfect, or such as may enable us to live without ever sinning, yet such as is sufficient to performe what is necessary now under this second Covenant, in which respect it is said by S. Paul. Rom 10. 8. that the word, (that is, the condition of the second Covenant,) is nigh thee, the meaning of which will not be under∣stood, but by comparing it with the place, from whence it is cited, Deut. 30. 11, 14. The com∣mandement which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, (the Hebrew word there is by the Greeke translators best exprest, it is not *too heavy for thee, and in other places, it is not impossible for thee,) but v. 14. it is very nigh unto thee in thy mouth and in thy heart (the Greek adde, and in thy hand) that thou maiest doe it, and therefore Saint John saith, His com∣mandements are not greivous, the word signifies heavy and unsupportable, and Christ himselfe, that His yoke is easie and his burthen light, and Page 9 Saint Paul againe that He can doe all things thorow Christ that strengthens him, able to do nothing of himselfe, in order to the attaining of blisse, (we are not sufficient of our selves, sai∣eth he in another place, to doe any thing) but yet thorow Christ that strengthens mee I can doe all things that are now required of mee, (our sufficiency is of God.)
I beseech you where is this part of the promises of the second Covenant set downe in Scripture?
'Tis intimated in these and many other places, but is distinctly set downe in the song of Zachary, Luk. 1. 74. he there speakes of the oath which God sware to our father Abraham, v. 72. which he stiles Gods holy Covenant, v. 71. and he specifies two parts of it. 1 Deliverance or safety from the power of our enemies, Sinne and Satan, in the words That we being delivered without feare or danger (for so the pointing of the Greeke words in the most ancient copies teach us to * read) that is, safe and secure, out of the hand of our enemies. 2 Giving of power or strength to us, to enable us to serve him, so as he will ac∣cept of, and to persevere in that service, in the rest of the words [that he would grant unto us (or as the word is rendred Rev. 11. 3. give pow∣er)*that we might serve him (or to serve him) in holinesse and righteousnesse before him all the daies of our life,]
This place is, I acknow∣ledge, Page 10 a cleare one to the purpose, and I have no∣thing to object against it; only pardon my curiosi∣ty if having beene told by you that this second Covenant was repeated to Abraham Gen. 22. 16. and finding it here called the oath sworne to A∣braham, and yet by reading of that oath in Gen. not finding any such forme of words there exprest, I beseech you to satisfy this scruple of mine, and reconcile those two places which both you and the margents of our Bibles acknowledge to be paral∣lell the one to the other, but the sound of the words doth not so readily consent to. The granting me this favour may, I hope, make the whole matter more perspicuous.
I am of your opinion and therefore shall readily do it, and it will cost me no more paines then this, 1. to tell you that there is one part of the oath mentioned in Gen. which belonged peculiarly to the temporall prosperity of the people of the Jewes, which were to spring from that Abraham, [I will mul∣tiply thy seed &c:] and indeed that whole verse 17. may literally and primarily be referr'd to that; but then besides that, (which Zachary respecteth not) there are three things more promised, spirituall blessing, spirituall victory, and the incarnation of Christ, the last of these Za∣chary mentions not in the words of the oath, because it is supposed in his whole song occa∣sioned only by it, and uttered on purpose to Page 11 celebrate the incarnation of Christ, but the o∣ther two parts are specified and interpreted by him; the victory over (or possessing the gates of) the enemies there, is here called deliverance without feare from the hands of our enemies; and the blessing there, is explained here to be giving us power to serve him in holinesse and righteousnesse before him all our dayes, the grace of God for the amending of our lives; according to that of the Apostle, Gal. 3. 14. where the receiving the promise of the spirit is called the blessing of Abraham, the power of Christ a∣ssisting and enabling us to persevere, being re∣ally the most inestimable blessing that this life is capable of, to which purpose Saint Peter Act. 3. 26. speaking of Christ sent by God to blesse us, expresseth the thing, wherein that blessing consists, to wit in turning away every one from his iniquities.
I have troubled you too farre by this extra∣vagance, I shall make no delay to recall my selfe into the rode againe, and having beene taught by you these severall particulars of Gods promise in the second Covenant, I shall desire you to proceed to tell me what is the condition required of us in this Covenant, unlesse perhaps there be some far∣ther particulars promised on Gods part, which you have not yet mentioned.
The truth is, there be two more promises of God, the first, of gi∣ving Page 12 more grace, the second, of crowning with glory; but both those conditionall promises: the first, upon condition that we make use of those former talents, those weaker degrees of grace given us, which is the intimation of the parable of the noble man Luk. 19. 13. the summe of which is, that unto every one that hath (that is, hath made good use of the talent of grace intrusted to him) as Heb. 12. 28. to have grace signifies to make use of it to the end to which it is designed,) shall be given; and from him that hath not (made that use he ought) even that he hath shall be taken from him. The second upon condition that he be at the day of death or judgement, such a man as Christ now under this second Covenant requires him to be.
What then is the condition of this second Cove∣nant, without which there is yet no salvation to be had?
I shall answer you first nega∣tively, then positively. negatively, it is not 1. perfect, exact, unsinning obedience, never to offend at all in any kinde of sinne, (this is the conditi∣on of the first Covenant) nor 2 is it never to have committed any deliberate sinne in the for∣mer life, nor 3 never to have gone on or con∣tinued in any habituall or customary sinne for the time past, but it is positively the new crea∣ture, or renewed sincere honest faithfull obedi∣ence to the whole Gospell, giving up the whole Page 13 heart unto Christ, the performing of that which God enables us to performe, and bewailing our infirmities, and frailties, and sinnes, both of the past & present life, and beseeching Gods pardon in Christ for all such; and sincerely labouring to mortify every sin, and performe uniforme obe∣dience to God, and from every fall rising again by repentance and reformation. In a word, the condition required of us, is a constellation or conjuncture of all those Gospell-graces, faith hope, charity, selfe-deniall, repentance, and the rest, every one of them truly and sincerely roo∣ted in the Christian heart, though mixed with much weakenesse and imperfection, and perhaps with many sinnes, so they be not wilfully and impenitently lived and died in, for in that case nothing but perdition is to be expected.
What part of the promises is this condition required to make us capable of?
Of pardon of sinnes, and salvation: by which you see that no man shall be pardoned or saved, but he that observes this condition.
What condition is then required to make capable of that other part of the conditionall promise, to wit, of more grace, or continuance of that we have already?
A carefull industrious husbanding of it, and daily prayer for daily in∣crease, and attending diligently to the meanes of grace.
Meethinkes I now understand somewhat of Page 14 the nature and difference of these two Covenants, and shall not need to aske you which of them it is that we Christians are now concerned in, for I take it for granted, that it is the second. Onely be pleased to tell me which of these two it was by which the Jewes were to expect salvation?
Both Jew and Gentile, that is, every man that ever was, or shall be saved from the beginning of the world, was, and is, and shall be saved by this second Covenant.
How then were the Jewes obliged to the observation of the law? is not the law the first Covenant.
The Judaicall law was not the first Covenant, but the law of unsinning perfect obedience made with Adam in innocence. The truth is, the Judaicall law did represent un∣to us the first Covenant, but so it did the second also: the first by requiring perfect obedience, and pronouncing a curse on him that continued not in all those many burthensome ordinances, which the law gave no power to any to performe. The second in the sacrifices, and many other rites, which served as emblems to shew us Christ, and in him the second Covenant.
I shall not interpose any more difficulties, which my ignorance might suggest, but onely put you in minde, that you told me that this doctrine had a most present influence on our lives, be pleased to shew me how.
It hath so, many wayes. I will mention a few. First, By prescribing the Page 15 condition, it sets us a worke to the performance of it, and that is living well. Secondly, By shew∣ing us how possible or falsible that condition is by the Grace and helpe of Christ, it first obliges us to a deligent performance of that duty of prayer for that Grace, and then stirres us up to endea∣vour and industry in doing what we are enabled to doe, that we receive not the grace of God in vaine. Thirdly, By shewing us the necessity, in∣dispensible necessity of sincere obedience, it shuts the doore against all temptations to carnall secu∣rity, sloth, presumption, hypocrisy, partiall obedi∣ence, or habituall going on in sinne. And Fourth∣ly, By shewing the true grounds of hope, fortifies us against desperation. And Lastly, if we need a∣ny encouragements in our Christian walke, his promise to enable first, and then to accept, will most abundantly contribute to that purpose.
I acknowledge the usefulnesse of your dire∣ctions, and I beseech God to assist me in bringing forth the fruit which it is just for you to expect. and for God to require from them; and I promise you by his helpe to he mindfull of your admoniti∣ons.
I shall desire you to proceed to the second kinde of doctrine, which at first you mentioned, the names and in one of them the offices of Christ. I beseech you what names doe you meane?
Those two most eminent and vulgarly knowne, so of∣ten Page 16 repeated, but so little weighed, Jesus and Christ.
I pray you what is the importance of * the word Jesu•?
It is an Hebrew word which signifies Saviour or salvation. I shall not need to prove it when an Angell hath asserted it, Mat. 1. 21. Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sinnes.
The place you cite I have considered, and finde a very puzling difficulty in it, by giving my selfe liberty to read on, to the two next verses, the words of which are these: All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Prophet, saying, Behold a Virgin shall conceive and beare a Sonne, and they shall call his name Emmanuel. How could his name be called Jesus and Emmanu∣el too? or how could the calling his name Jesus, be the fulfilling of that prophecy that foretold that they should call his name Emmanuel?
You are to know that in the Hebrew tongue, words and things, and so also calling and being, name and person are all one; No word shall be impossible with God, is, nothing shall be impossible: and my house shall be called the house of prayer, is, my house shall be the house of prayer to all people, that is, to the Gentiles as well as Jewes; and so many names, that is, so many men: and according to that idiom. (retained both in the Prophets of the Old, and Evangelists of the New Testament) this phrase [they shall call his name Emmanuel] Page 17 is in signification no more then this, He shall be, God with us, or God incarnate in our flesh; which incarnation of his, being on purpose to save his people from their sinnes, that prophecy which foretold it, was perfectly fulfilled in his birth and circumcision, at which time he was called Jesus. Which name was but a signification of his designe in his coming into the world, accor∣ding to another place; This day there is borne in the City of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
By the answering of my impertinent scruple I have gained thus much, that the whole end of Christs birth, of all he did and suffered for us, was that he might save us. I pray you then what is meant by saving.
To save is to re∣deeme from sinne, as you will acknowledge, if you observe but these two plaine places; first, that which even now I cited. Mat. 1. 21. [he shall save his people from their sinnes,] (which is the onely reason there rendred why he is called a Saviour) then Tit. 2. 14. Christ gave himselfe to be crucified for us, that he might redeeme us from all iniquity.]
Wherein doth this saving or redeeming from sinne consist?
In 3 things, first, In obtaining pardon for sinne or reconciling us to God; and consequently to that, in delive∣ring us from the eternall torments which from God as judge, and from Satan as accuser first, and then as executioner, are in strict justice, or by Page 18 the first Covenant due to sinne. Secondly, In a calling to repentance, by weakning the reign∣ing power of sinne, and the tempting power of Satan, by mortifying the old man, (that is, the sinfull desires of the naturall, and sinfull habits of the carnall man,) by implanting a new principle of holinesse in the heart. And thirdly, In perfe∣cting and accomplishing all these so happy be∣ginnings, at the end of this life in heaven.
How can it be said that Christ came thus to save, to doe all this, when so many, so long after his coming, are so farre from being thus saved in all or any of the three sences?
That he came to save is certainly true, whatsoever objections you can have against it: and that by saving these 3 things are meant, if you please I shall manifest from o∣ther Scriptures. The first sence is conteined in the word, (as it is used,) Luk. 1. 71. salvation, or *that we should be saved from our enemies, which must needs be our spirituall enemies, sinne and Satan▪ and if you doubt whether sinne be there meant, or the pardon of sinne, by that saving, the next verse will cleare the difficulty, where it followes, to performe the mercy, or mercifully to * deale with our fathers, and to remember his holy Covenant, of which Covenant you know this is one speciall part, Heb. 8. 12. I will be mercifull to their sinnes, (which explaines the mercifull dealing there) and their iniquities will I remem∣ber Page 19 no more. And then for the second sence, that saving signifies calling to repentance, may ap∣peare not onely by comparing those two places, [I came to call sinners to repentance,] and [Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,] out al∣so by a notable place, Act. 2. very usefull for the explaining of that word. v. 38. 'tis reported that Saint Peter said unto them, repent, &c. and v.* 40. in more other words he testified unto them, or preached unto them, saying, be ye saved, or escape ye from this perverse generation:* whence it is cleare, that being saved, &c. is but more other words to signify repen∣tance, and therefore surely that word, v. 47. which we render such as should be saved, but is * literally [the saved] signifies peculiarly those who received that exhortation, v. 41. that is, those that repented of their sinnes. but this by the way. As for the last acception of the phrase, 'tis so ordinary for salvation, to signify the holy pure life in heaven, that I shall not need give you any proofe of it. Having therefore cleared the truth, this were sufficient, although I wanted skill to answer your objection, but yet that may easily be done too, by saying that Christ hath really performed his part toward every one of these, and that whosoever hath not the effect, and fruit of it, it is through his owne wilfull neglect, and even despising of so great salvation. Light came Page 20 into the world, and men loved darknesse more then light, and having made a Covenant with death and damnation, are most worthy to have their portions therein.
What then is the short or summe of Christs being Jesus?
'Tis this, that he came into the world to fetch backe sinners to heaven, that whosoever of mankinde shall truly repent and fly to him, shall thorow him obtaine pardon of sinne, and salvation, a mercy vouchsafed to men, but denyed to Angells, who being once fallen are left in that wretched e∣state, and no course taken, and consequently no possibility left for their recovery: which most comfortable truth is clearely set downe by the Apostle, Heb: 2. 15. though in our English reading of it, it be somewhat obscured; The words rightly rendred run thus, He doth not*take hold of Angells, but the seed of Abraham he taketh hold of. Where the word which I ren∣der taking hold of, signifies to catch any one who is either running away, or falling on the ground or into a pit, to fetch backe or recover againe. This Christ did for men by being borne, and suffering in our flesh, but for Angells he did it not.
What speciall influence will this whole do∣ctrine have upon our lives?
I will shew you, 1. It is proper to stirre up our most affe∣ctionate love and gratitude to this Saviour,Page 21 who hath descended so low even to the death of the crosse to satisfie for our sinnes, to obtaine pardon for us. this love of Christ constreineth us, saith the Apostle. 2. 'Tis proper to beget in us a just hatred of sinne which brought God out of heaven to make expiation for it. 3. It is a most proper enforcement of repentance and amendment of life, to remember, 1. That without that we are likely to be little benefited by this Saviour, except we repent salvation it selfe shall not keepe us from perishing. 2. That that was an end of Christs death to redeeme us from all iniquity and purifie to himselfe a peculi∣ar people zealous of good workes, aswell as to sa∣tisfy for us. 4. It is proper to teach us feare of offending, and keepe us from security, when 1, we finde what an exemplary punishment God saw fit, if not necessary, to inflict on sinne in the person of his sonne, and 2, remember how much more guilty we now shall prove, if we will still damne our selves in despight of all these meanes of saving us. *
I beseech God to open my heart to those con∣siderations, and then I shall farther importune you to proceed and tell me the signification of the word Christ, wherein you told me the Offices of Christ were intimated. but I beseech you first what do you meane by Offices?
I meane by that word, places of charge and dignity, to which Page 22 God thought fit to designe Christ, that he might the better accomplish the end for which he sent him; the trust or charge supposing some∣what to be done by him, and the dignity im∣plying somewhat to be returned by us; as you will see in the particulars.
What then is meant by the word Christ?
Annointed, and that intimates the three Offices to which men were wont to be inaugurated by the ceremony of anointing.
What are those three Offices?
Of King, and of Preist, and of Prophet.
What belong∣ed * to Christ to do as King?
To set up his throne in our hearts, or to reigne in the soules of men, and to give evidence of his power tho∣row the whole world.
What was required of him to that purpose?
1. To weaken and shorten the power of Satan, which Christ re∣ally did at his suffering, Heb. 2. 14. by death destroying the Devill, and againe I saw Lucifer falne downe from heaven, that is from the more unlimited power which he had before: and 2 to give strength and grace to overcome all re∣bellious lusts, and habits of sinne, to bring them downe in obedience to his Kingdome, and this he hath done also by sending his spirit; (in re∣ference to which are those words cited out of the Psalmist, he hath led captivity captive, and given gifts unto men,) and in a word to reigne Page 23 till he had brought all his enemies under his feet,* 1 Cor: 15. 25.
What, and how many be those enemies?
He hath many enemies, some temporall, but most spirituall.
What meane you by his temporall enemies?
I meane the Jewish nation, that rejected and crucified him, which, within the compasse of one generation were, according to his prediction destroyed by the Romans, and preyed upon by those Eagles Mat. 24. 28. by which are noted the Roman Armies (whose ensigne was the Eagle) which found them out (as such vulturs do the carcasse Job. 39. 30.) wheresoever they dispersed themselves. For that that prophecy of Christs, Mat. 24. belongs to this matter, the destruction of those present crucifiers, and the Jewish state, and not to the destruction of all enemies at his great appearing yet to come, is apparent by the 34 verse. This generation shall not passe till all these things be fulfilled. Where the word gene∣ration signifies such a space that they that were then alive, might and should live to see it, in that sence, as the word is used, Mat. 1. Where the time or space of 14 mens lives in a line suc∣ceeding one another, is called 14 generations, not that generation signifies the whole space of a mans life (for that is oft 60, 80, or an 100 yeares) but rather the 3 part of that; for of any mans age, part he lives in his fathers life time, and Page 24 part after his sonnes birth, and thereupon 'tis wont to be said, that three generations make one saecle or hundred yeares, as you shall find ordina∣rily it doth. So that the plaine meaning of that speech of Christs [this generation shall not passe, &c] is this, that all this should come to passe in their age, or within the life of some that were then men, as Mat. 16. 28. There be some stan∣ding here which shall not tast of death till they see the sonne of man coming in his Kingdome. Which, though some by the next Chapter following, are perswaded to interpret of the transfigurati∣on, (as if that were Christs coming in his King∣dome) may yet more properly be interpreted of this matter, so immediately consequent to his being killed by the Jewes, and rising againe, v. 21. which was the ground of this speech of his) Christs illustrious coming to destroy those Jews; to which also that other place belongs, (which will cleare both these) Jo. 21, 22. If I will that John tarry till I come, what is that to thee? which, saith Saint John, was not to be interpreted that he should never dye, v. 23. but onely that he should tarry till this coming of Christ: which, of all the Disciples, peculiarly (and I thinke onely) John lived to see, and after that wrote his Re∣velation in the 14th yeare of Domitian, about the 65t of Christ: This destroying or subduing his enemies and crucifiers (being so terrible, Page 25 that when it is foretold, Mat. 24. it is generally mistaken for the day of finall judgement) is ma∣ny times in the New Testament, stiled the King∣dome of God, and the coming of Christ, the end of all things, and the end of the world, because Christs powerfull presence was so very discernible in destroying of that nation, and that effect of his Kingdome, in bringing his enemies under his feete.
What other enemies did you meane?
First, Sinne, the great enemy of soules, which he labours to destroy in this life by the power of his grace, and will totally destroy at the day of judgement. Secondly, Satan, which I told you of, who therefore, when Christ comes to dispos∣sesse him of his hold in the poore man, demands, Art thou come to destroy us? Mark. 1. 24. and at another time, Art thou come to torment us be∣fore our time? acknowledging that Christ was to destroy them, (they understood so much in the sacred predictions) but withall hoping it was not yet the time for that execution, and in the meane while counted it a kind of destructi∣on and torment to them to be cast out or re∣trenched of any of their power which they had over the bodies or soules of men.
Are there no other enemies that this King must destroy?
Yes, two more; First, All wicked and ungodly men, that after all his methods of recalling them to amendment, doe still persevere in impenitent Page 26 rebellions, to whom eternall perdition belongs by the sentence of this King. Those that will not let him reigne over them must be brought forth and slaine before their King. Secondly, Death it selfe, according to that of the Apostle, 1 Cor. 15. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death: he shall despoile the grave, and make it restore all its captives, and then death shall be no more, shall be swallowed up in victory.
What is required of us in answer and re∣turne to this Office of his?
Principally and by indispensible necessity that we render our selves obedient, faithfull, constant Subjects to this King, hold not out any disloyall fort, any rebell lust or sinne against him, but as to a King, vow and performe entire allegiance unto him. But then consequently that we intrust him with our protection, addresse all our petitions to him, have no warre or peace but with those who are his and our common enemies or freinds, fight his battailes against sinne and Satan, pay him our tribute of honour, reverence, obedience, yea and of our goods also, when they may be usefull to any poore member of his.
I shall detaine you no longer with lesse necessary Quaeries about this Office of his, as, When Christ was inaugurated to it? because I have had the chance to observe by comparingtwo knowne places ofScripture together (Psal. 110. 1. and 1 Cor. 15. 25.) that [Christs Page 27reigning] and [his sitting at Gods Right hand] are all one, from whence I collect that the time of his solemne inauguration to his Regall Office, was at his Ascension.
You have guessed aright, and therefore I shall not farther explaine that unto you, nor put you in minde of any other niceties, but instead of such, rather remember you of the practicall conclusion, that this Office of Christs may suggest unto you, that you are no farther a Christian, then you are an obedient sub∣ject of Christs, that his Gospell consists of com∣mands aswell as promises, the one the object of the Christian faith, aswell as the other.
O Lord increase this faith in me.
Please you now to proceed to the second Office of Christs that of his Preisthood.
I shall, and * first tell you, that the nature of this Office of Christ is a little obscure, and therefore I shall tell you nothing of it, but what the Scripture gives me cleare ground to assert.
What doth the Scripture tell us of Preisthood?
It men∣tions two orders of Preisthood, one after the or∣der of Aaron, the other after the order of Mel∣chizedek.
What was the office of the Aaroni∣call Preist?
To offer sacrifice, and to blesse the people, but especially to sacrifice.
What of the Melchizedekian Preist?
It is not im∣probable that Melchizedek offered sacrifice al∣so, but because the sacred story mentions nothing Page 28 of him, as belonging to his Preisthood, but one∣ly his blessing of Abraham, therefore it is resol∣ved that the Melchizedekian Preisthood con∣sisted onely in blessing. This you will best discerne by looking into the story of Mel∣chizedek meeting Abraham, Gen. 14. 18, 19.
What is there said of him?
It is said that Melchizedek King of Salem brought forth bread and wine, i. e. treated and entertained Abraham as a King, and he was the Preist of the most high God, and he blessed him and said, Blessed be A∣braham of the most high God which hath delive∣red thine enemies into thine hand.
Which of these kinde of Preists was Christ to be?
Christ being considered in the whole purpose of God concerning him, was to undertake both these offices of Preisthood, to be an Aaronicall Preist first, and then for ever after a Melchizedekian Preist, he was appointed first to offer up sacrifice for the sinnes of the world, which he performed once for all upon the crosse, and therein exerci∣sed the office of an Aaronicall Preist, and with∣all completed and perfected that whole worke of satisfaction for sinne, to which all the old le∣gall sacrifices referred; and that being done, he was to enter upon his other office of Melchize∣dekian Preisthood, and exercise that continually from that time to the end of the world, and is therefore called a Preist for ever after the order Page 29 of Melchizedek. And this second kind of Preist-hood is that which the Scripture of the New Testament, especially the Epistle to the Hebrews, doth mainly referre to, when it speaks of Christ, and is to be conceived to speake of that, when∣soever it indefinitely mentions Christs Preist-hood.
But what then? is not Christ a Preist ofter the order of Aaron?
I told you that he was, but now I tell you, that he is not: he was once, in his death, but never was to repeate any act of that afterwards, and so now all the Preist-hood that belongs to him is the Melchizedekian. I will set this downe more plainely. It is most truly said and resolved, that Christs death was a voluntary offering and sacrifice of himselfe once for us, and that will serve to denominate him an Aaronicall Preist in his death, or rather to con∣clude that his death was the completion of all the rites & ceremonies (such as the sacrifices) of the Aaronicall Preisthood. But this being but one act never to be repeated againe, is not the thing that Christs eternall Preisthood (denoted especially by his unction or Chrisme) referres * to; but that other Melchizedek-Preisthood that he was to exercise for ever. Besides it may be said that this sacrifice at his death, may, under that notion of an Aaronicall sacrifice, passe for the rite and ceremony before his consecration, or at the consecrating him to be our eternall high Page 30 preist. For such sacrifices we find mentioned Lev. 8. 22. the ram, the ram of consecration; and of this nature I conceive the death of Christ to be a previous or preparatory rite to Christs consecration to his great eternall preist-hood after the order of Melchizedek, where∣upon 'tis said that it became God to consecrate*the Captaine of our salvation by sufferings. Heb. 2. 10. for so the word signifies, which we ren∣der to make perfect. To which purpose you may observe two things 1 that Christs preist-hood * is said to be an eternall preisthood [thou art a preist for ever] and a preisthood not tran∣sitive, but for ever fastened in the person of *Christ, Heb. 7. 24. after the power of an indisso∣luble life., v. 16. which cannot appertaine to that one single finite unrepeated sacrifice of himselfe upon the Crosse. 2, that Christ was not inaugurated to this his preisthood till after his Resurrection, as may appeare by Heb. 5. 5. Christ glorified not himselfe to be made an high preist, but he that said unto him, thou art my sonne this day have I begotten thee. Which words denoting the time of Gods inaugurating him to his preisthood may by the sound seem to be∣long to his birth, but being compared with Act. 13. 33. and Ps. 110. 14. it plainely appeares that they belong to the resurrection of Christ. and Act. 3. 26. 'tis clearely said, God having Page 31 raised up his sonne Jesus sent him to blesse you; which is a denotation of this preisthood, as I told you; and anon, if you remember me, I will more largely shew you.
Will not this dero∣gate something from the suffering of Christ, or satisfaction wrought by it?
No nothing at all, but rather demonstrate that this death of his was necessary in a double respect, 1, as an act of an Aaronicall Priest, and a completion of all those legall rites, which vanished at the pre∣sence of this great sacrifice. 2, that in respect of the satisfaction wrought by it, it was necessary to make him our eternall Preist, or to make us capable of the benefits of that Preist-hood of his.
Well then, I shall acknowledge those plaine words of Scripture, that Christ is now to us and ever shall be a preist of Melchizedeks Order, and not strive to phansie him still an Aaronicall preist (that sacrifice being offered up once for all) be∣cause I have no ground now for such phansie. But then I beseech you wherein lies the parallel be∣twixt Melchizedecks preist-hood, and Christs? Is it in offering of bread and wine which we read of Melchizedeck, or in any thing answerable to that?
No, that is the Papists phansy cau∣sed by a great mistake of theirs, they conceive that Melchizedek offered up Bread and Wine to God: and that in that respect he is called a Preist, Page 32 or that he was sacrificing, or did sacrifice; but in this there are two mistakes, for first, Melchize∣dek brought forth this bread and Wine, and pre∣sented it to Abraham, did not offer it to God; and therefore Philo a Jew, well seene in that story, sets it as an act of hospitality in Melchize∣dek, contrary to the crabbed niggardlinesse of Amelek, he would not allow water, but Melchi∣zedek brought forth bread and wine. Secondly, this he did as a King, and so Christ as a King may perhaps be said to entertaine and feed us in the Sacrament with bread & wine, & the spiritu, all food annexed to, or represented by it, the gi∣ving of grace and pardon being a donative of his Kingly Office: but the Preistly acts of Melchi∣zedek are those that follow. Wherein onely Christs Eternall or Melchizedek. Preisthood con∣sists.
What are they?
1. Blessing us. 2. Blessing God for us.
What is the meaning of Christs blessing us?
You will see that by re∣viewing the place even now cited, Act. 3. 26. God having raised up his sonne Jesus sent him to blesse us: which now you perceive is a deno∣tation of his Preistly office, the Melchizedek-Preisthood being to blesse.
I doe so, but how doth that shew me what that blessing is?
Yes, there are words that immediately follow which clearely describe wherein this blessing consists, in turning away every one of you from his iniqui∣ties.
Be pleased then to make use of that key for me, and shew me clearely wherein that part of Christs Preisthood, his blessing of us consists?
In using all powerfull meanes to convert or turn i e. to bring all mankind to repentance.
What be those meanes?
First, the communicating that spirit to us whereby he raised up Jesus from the dead, Rom. 8. 11. Secondly, sending the Ho∣ly Ghost, (to convince the world of sinne, and righteousnesse, and of judgement,) that is, appoin∣ting a succession of Ministers to the end of the world, to worke in mens hearts a cordiall sub∣jection to that doctrine which at Christs preach∣ing on earth was not beleived. Thirdly, the gi∣ving of grace, inspiring of that strength into all humble Christian hearts that may enable them to get victory over sinne. Fourthly, his interce∣ding with God for us, (which you know is the peculiar office of the Preist) as he promised he would for Saint Peter, that his faith faile not, that is, that God will give us the grace of per∣severance, (which intercession of his being now with power and authority, (all power is given to me saith Christ) is all one in effect with the actuall donation of that grace) and as a crowne of this followes another kind of blessing, actuall bestowing of heaven upon such blessed perseve∣ring children of his Father.
What is required of us in answer to this part of his Office?
First, Page 34 to seeke and pray for grace to descend towards us through this conduit of conveyance. Second∣ly, to receive it when it thus flowes with hum∣ble gratefull hearts. Thirdly, to count grace the greatest blessing in the world. Fourthly, to make use of it to the end designed by Christ: not to pride or wantonnesse, or contempt of our mea∣ner brethren, but to the converting and refor∣ming of our lives. And fifthly, to looke for no finall benefit, pardon of sinnes, or eternall salva∣tion from that Preist either as suffering or satis∣fying for us, but upon the good use of his grace, which will engage us to walke painfully here, and to approach humbly to receive our reward, the crowne not of our workes, but Gods gra∣ces hereafter.
What is the second part of Christs Melchizedek-Preisthood?
Blessing or praising God for ever in heaven for his good∣nesse, his mercy, his grace towards us poore sin∣full enemies of his, in giving us the victory over our so bitter adversaries, sin & Satan, & death & hell, by the bloud of the Lamb, and the power of his Grace.
What is our part in this businesse?
To follow this precentor of ours in blessing & mag∣nifying that God of all grace, and never yeilding to those enemies which he hath died to pur∣chase, and given us power to resist & overcome.
I doe already discerne the influence of this Office, thus explained, upon our lives, yet Page 35 if you please▪ give me your direction, and opi∣nion what is the maine practicall doctrine emer∣gent from this Office of Christ, especially as it consists in blessing.
This is it, that from hence we learne, how farre forth we may expect justification and salvation from the sufferings of Christ, no farther it appeares, than we are wrought on by his renewing and sanctifying and assisting grace, this being the very end of his gi∣ving himselfe for us, not that absolutely or pre∣sently we might be acquitted and saved, but that he might redeeme us from all iniquity, from the reigning power, aswell as guilt, and that imparti∣ally, of all iniquity, and purify unto himselfe a peculiar people zealous of good workes, Tit. 2. 14. without which acquisition of purity, and zeale of good workes in us as in a peculiar people, Christ failes of his aime and designe in dying for us, he is deprived of that reward of his suffe∣rings, which is mentioned, Is. 53. 10. The seeing of his seed, the having the pleasure of the Lord, (which is said to be our sanctification, 1 Thes. 4. 3.) prosper in his hand, the seeing of the travaile of his soule, v. 1. dividing his portion with the great, and the spoile with the strong, v. 12. that is, rescu∣ing men out of the power of sinne to amend∣ment of life, and to holinesse, which is the crowne and reward of his pouring out his soule to death, and making intercession for the transgres∣sours.Page 36 And if he faile of his hope, much more shall we of ours, after all that Christ hath done and suffered, the impenitent unreformed fiduci∣ary shall perish. And what can you imagine more obligatory to good life, then this?
I acknowledge the truth of what you say to be very convincing, and shall thinke my selfe bound in charity to my poore tottering soule no longer to flatter and foole my selfe with such vaine hope, that Christs active and passive obedience shall be impu∣ted to me, unlesse I am by his blessing thus quali∣fied to receive this benefit from his death. Yet now I thinke of it, if Christs active obedience may be imputed to me, then what need have I of obeying my selfe? If the righteousnesse that was in him by never sinning, be reckoned to me, what need I any other initiall imperfect inherent righteousnesse or holinesse of my owne? this is to me a scruple yet not answered by you.
I confesse it is, for I have had no occasion to mention that active o∣bedience of Christ, it being no part of his Preist∣ly Office. And now if you will have my opini∣on of it, I conceive it cleare that Christs active obedience is not imputed unto any other person. For first, if his active righteousnesse were impu∣ted to me, then by that I should be reckoned of and accepted by God, as if I had fulfilled the whole law, and never sinned, and then I should have no need that Christ should suffer for my Page 37 sinnes, and so this would exclude all possibility of having Christs passive obedience imputed to me. For what imaginable reason could be given, why I should suffer for sinne, or any other surety for mee, if by some former act I am accounted to have performed perfect unsinning obedience, at least have the benefit of that obedience perfor∣med by that surety of mine, and accepted for me? Secondly, the truth is cleare that Christs a∣ctive obedience was required in his person, as a necessary qualification to make it possible for him to suffer or satisfy for us, for had he not per∣formed active obedience, that is, had any guile beene found in his mouth, or heart, had he ever sinned, he must have suffered for himselfe, and could no more have made satisfaction for us, then one of us sinners can now doe for another. From both which reason 'tis cleare that Christs active obedience will not supply the place of ours, or make ours lesse necessary, and conse∣quently that our renewed obedience and sancti∣fication is still most indispensably required (though mixed with much of weakenesse, igno∣rance, frailties, recidivations,) to make us ca∣pable of pardon of sinne or salvation, which sure is the intimation of those places which impute our Justification rather to the Resurrection of Christ (and the consequents of that, the subse∣quent acts of his Preisthood heretofore mentio∣ned,) Page 38 then to his death. Such are Rom. 8. 34. It is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth? it is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen a∣gaine, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us? which last words referre peculiarly to that act of this his Preist-hood in blessing or interceding for us. and Rom. 4. 25. who was delivered (to death) for our offen∣ces, and was raised againe for our justification. The Death of Christ not justifying any who hath not his part in his Resurrection.
I perceive this theme of Christs Priesthood to be a rich mine of Christian knowledge, every scruple of mine ope∣ning so large a field of matter before you, I shall satisfy my selfe with this competency which you have afforded me; I beseech God I may be able to digest it into kindly juice, that I may grow there∣by.
Please you now to proceed to the third and last Office of Christ, that of a Prophet.
I shall, and * promise you not to exercise your patience so largely in that, as in the former.
Wherein doth his Propheticke Office consist? In foretelling what things should happen to his Church?
No, that is not the notion we have now of a Pro∣phet (although that he hath also done in some measure, as farre as is usefull for us.)
What other notion have you of a Prophet?
The same that the Apostle hath of prophecying, Page 39 1 Cor. 11. 4. & 14. 6.
What is that?
In∣terpreting or making knowne the will of God to us.
Wherein did Christ doe that?
In his Sermons, but especially that on the Mount, telling us on what termes blessednesse is now to be had under the Gospell, and revealing some commands of God which before were (either not at all, or) so obscurely revealed in the Old Testament, that men thought not themselves obliged to such obedience. Besides this, the Pro∣pheticke Office was exercised in ordeining ce∣remonies and discipline for his Church, the use of the Sacraments, and the power of the keyes, that is, the Censures of the Church.
What else belongs to his Propheticke Office?
What∣soever else he revealed concerning the Essence and Attributes of God, concerning the mystery of the calling of the Gentiles, and whatsoever other divine truth he revealed to his auditours, either in parables, or plaine enuntiations.
What are we to returne to this Office of his?
Our willing full assent, never doubting of the truth of any affirmation of his; a ready obedience to his institutions, and commands, neither despi∣sing nor neglecting the use of what he hath thought fit to prescribe us, and subduing carnall proud reason to the obedience of faith.
You have gone before mee through the names and offices of Christ severally; Is there any influ∣ence Page 40 on practice that all of them jointly may be thought to have, over and above what from the se∣verals you have shewed me?
I shall commend onely one consideration to you for this purpose, that Christ being an union of these three Offi∣ces, is a Iesus or Saviour finally to none but those who receive him under all his three Offices, uni∣formly into their hearts.
[§ 3] The Lord grant that * I may doe so, that I may be not a little way, or a partiall, unsincere, but a true Christian.
What hinders but that you now proceed, accor∣ding to your method prpoosed, to the particulars of the third ranke, the Theologicall graces and Chri∣stian virtues?
I shall, if your patience and appetite continue to you.
To begin then with the first, what is Faith?
There is not any one * word in nature which hath more significations then this hath in the Word of God, especially in the New Testament. It sometimes signifies the acknowledgment of the true God, in opposition to Heathenisme, sometimes the Christian Reli∣gion, in opposition to Indaisme; sometimes the beleeving the power of Christ to heale diseases; sometimes the beleeving that he is the promised Messias; sometimes fidelity or faithfulnesse; sometimes a resolution of conscience concerning the lawfulnesse of any thing; sometimes a reli∣ance, affiance, or dependance on Christ, either for temporall or spirituall matters; sometimes Page 41 beleeving the truth of all divine revelations; sometimes obedience to Gods commands, in the Evangelicall not legall sence; sometime the do∣ctrine of the Gospell, in opposition to the law of Moses; sometimes 'tis an aggregate of all o∣ther graces; sometimes the condition of the se∣cond Covenant in opposition to the first; and o∣ther sences of it also there are, distinguishable by the contexture, and the matter treated of where the word is used.
I shall not be so importu∣nate, as to expect you should travaile with mee through every of these severals, but shall confine your trouble to that which seemes most necessary for me to know more particularly. As first, which of all these is the notion of that Faith, which is the Theologicall Grace, distinct from Hope and Cha∣rity, 1 Cor. 13. 13?
It is there the assenting to, or beleeving the whole word of God, par∣ticularly the Gospell, and in that the commands and threates, and promises of that word: especi∣ally the promises. This you will acknowledge if you looke on v. 12. of that Chapter, and there observe and consider, that Vision in the next life is the perfecting of that Faith in this life, or that Faith here is turned into Vision there, (as hope in∣to enjoying) for this argues Faith here to be this assent to those things which here come to us by hearing, and are so beleeved by adherence, or darke enigmaticall knowledge, but hereafter are Page 42 seene or known demonstratively, or face to face. Hence is it that Faith is defined by the Apostle, Heb. 11. 1. the ground or foundation of things*hoped for, the conviction (or being convinced, or assured) of things which we doe not see. The foun∣dation on which all hope is built, (for I must first beleeve the promise before I can hope the per∣formance of it on right grounds) and the be∣ing convinced of the truth of those things for which there is no other demonstration, but one∣ly the word and promise of God, and yet upon that an inclination to beleeve them as assuredly, as if I had the greatest evidence in the world.
I cannot but desire one trouble more from you in this matter, what kind of Faith was the Faith of Abraham, which is so much spoken of in the New Testament, Ro. 4. Gal. 3. Heb. 11. Ja. 2. and seemes to be meant as the patterne by which our Faith should be cut out, and upon which both he was, and we may expect to be justified?
I cannot but commend the seasonablenesse of the question be∣fore I answer it, for certainly you have pitch't upon that which is the onely sure foundation & ground-worke of all true knowledge and re∣solution in this matter, Abraham being the Fa∣ther of the Faithfull, in whom that grace was most eminent, very highly commended and re∣warded in the Scripture, and like whom we must be, if ever we expect to approve our selves to, Page 43 (or to be justified by) God.
But what then was the Faith of Abraham?
Many acts of A∣brahams Faith there are mentioned in the New Testament, which were severall exercises of that grace in him, but especially two there are, by which in two trials of his Faith he approved himselfe to God, so farre as that God imputed them to him for righteousnesse, i. e. accepted of those acts of his as graciously, as if he had perfor∣med perfect unsinning obedience, had lived exact∣ly without any slip or fall, all his life, yea and gave him the honour of being called the freind of God.
What was the first of those acts?
That which Saint Paul referres to Rom. 4. and Gal. 3. his beleeving the promise of God made unto him, Gen. 15.
What was that promise?
It consisted of two parts. First, that God would sheild and defend, or take him into his protection, and withall reward him abundantly for all the service that he should ever performe unto him. This promise is set down, v. 1. in these words, feare not Abraham, I am thy sheild and exceeding great reward. The summe of which is, that God will protect all those that depend and trust on him, and reward all his faithfull ser∣vants in a manner and measure inexpressibly a∣bundant, and particularly that he would then deale so with Abraham, a true faithfull servant of his, and consequently that he should not fear. Page 44 This promise it is not said in the text expressely that Abraham beleeved; but yet it is so farre im∣plied that there is no doubt of it, for Abrahams question, v. 2. [What wilt thou give me, seeing I goe childlesse?] is in effect a bowing and yeilding consent to the truth of this promise, and firmely depending upon it: and thereupon proceeding to a speciall particular, wherein he desired that favour of God to be made good to him, the gi∣ving him a child for his reward, whereas other∣wise (having none, and so his servant being his onely heire apparent) all the wealth in the world would not be valuable to him, and there∣upon as a reward of that his former faith, on the former promise God proceeds to make him that second more particular promise, which I called the second part of it.
What was that?
The promise that he should have an heire of his own body, from whom should come a posterity as numerous, or rather innumerable, as the stars of heaven, (and among them at length the Messias in whom all the people of the world should be blessed) for that is the meaning of [so shall thy seed be, v. 5. and of the same words delivered by way of Ellipsis, Rom. 4. 18. Who beleived that he should be the father of many nations, accordingly as had beene said to him by God.] So (i. e. as the starres of heaven) shall thy seed be. This second part of the promise being a particular conteined Page 45 before under the generall of rewarding him ex∣ceedingly, but not till now explicitely revealed to Abraham, that God would then reward him by giving him a son, and a numerous posterity, and the Messias to come from him, was a parti∣cular triall whether his former beleife were sin∣cere, i. e. whether he would trust and depend on God or no, there being little reason for him to expect a child then, having remained so long without one, and so some difficulty in so belee∣ving; and then it followes that in this triall he was found faithfull, he beleeved, v. 6. (or as Saint Paul heightens it, beside or beyond hope he belei∣ved, Rom. 4. 18.) and God counted it to him for righteousnesse, i. e. tooke this for such an expressi∣on of his faithfullnesse and sincerity and true pi∣ety that he accepted him as a righteous person, upon this performance, though no doubt he had many infirmities and sinnes which he was or had beene guilty of in his life, unreconcileable with perfect righteousnesse.
What was the second of those acts of Abrahams faith?
That which Saint Iames mentions c. 2. 21. and Saint Paul, Heb. 11. 17. offering up his sonne Isaak upon the Altar. For God having made triall before of his faith, in one particular, that of beleeving his pro∣mise; makes now a new triall of it in another, that of obedience to his commands: for when God gives commands aswell as promises, the one Page 46 is as perfect a season and meanes of triall of faith as the other; and to say I have faith, and not thus to evidence it, not to bring forth that fruit of it, when God by expecting it and requiring it puts mee to the triall, is either to manifest that I have no faith at all, or else not a through faith, but only for cheaper easier services, not able to hold out to all trials. Or else that this is but a dull live∣lesse habit of faith, without any vitall acts flow∣ing from it: which yet are the things that God commandeth, and without yeilding of which in time of triall (or when occasion is offered) the habit will not be accepted.
And this I conceive the clearest way of recon∣ciling Saint Iames and Saint Paul, Abraham was justified by faith, saith Saint Paul, Rom, 4. and not by workes, i. e. by beleeving and depending on God for the performance of his promise, and resigning himselfe up wholly to him to obey his precepts; or more clearely by that Faith which howsoever it was tried, whether by promises of strange incredible things, or commands of very hard duties, (killing his onely sonne) did con∣stantly approve it selfe to be a true saith, and so was accepted by God, without performance of absolute unsinning obedience, much more with∣out performance of the Mosaicall law, (Abra∣ham then being uncircumcised) which two things, one or both, are generally by Saint PaulPage 47 meant by workes. But then saith Saint James, A∣braham was justified by workes, i. e. his Faith did approve its selfe by faithfull actions, particularly by offering up his sonne, an act of the greatest fidelity, and sincerity, and obedience in the world, and if in time of triall he had not done so, he had never pass't for the faithfull Abraham, had never beene justified, i. e. approved or ac∣cepted by God, which is in effect all one with that which Saint Paul had said; neither one nor the other excluding or seperating faithfull acti∣ons or acts of Faith, from Faith, or the condition of justification, but absolutely requiring them as the onely things by which the man is justified, onely Saint Paul mentions the workes of the law, and excludes them from having any thing to doe toward justification, leaving the whole worke to Faith; and Saint James, dealing not with the Jewes, but with another kind of adver∣saries, hath no occasion to adde that exclusive part, but rather to prevent or cure another di∣sease which he saw the minds of men through mistake and abuse of Saint Pauls doctrine pos∣sess't with, or subject to (thinking that a dead habit of Faith would serve the turne, and mi∣staking every slight motion or formall professi∣on (such as bidding the poore go, and be rich, and giving them nothing, v. 16.) for that habit of faith) and in opposition to that, resolving that the Page 48 Faith which in time of triall, when occasion is offered, doth not bring forth acts, is such a dead carcasse of faith that God will never be con∣tent with, to the justifying or accepting of any, or counting any man (as Abraham) his friend; for such are none, saith Christ, but those which do whatsoever he commands them.
I thanke you for this very plaine delineation of Abrahams Faith: be onely now pleased, to pre∣vent any mistake of mine, to change the scene, and bring home the whole matter to mine owne heart, and tell me what is that Faith which is required of me, and which alone will suffice to denominate me a child of Faithfull Abraham, and which will be sure to be accounted to me for righteousnesse by God; and this you may please to doe onely with re∣flection, and in proportion to what you have alrea∣dy told me of Abraham.
I will obey you. The faith which is now required of you, and which God will thus accept to your justification, is a cordiall sincere giving up your selfe unto God, particularly to Christ, firmely to rely on all his promises, and faithfully to obey all his com∣mands delivered in the Gospell: which will ne∣ver be accounted that sincere cordiall faith, un∣lesse you doe (whensoever any triall is made of you) act and performe accordingly, beleive what Christ hath promised in the Gospell, a∣gainst all spirituall or worldly temptations to Page 49 the contrary, and practice what Christ com∣mands against all the invitations of pleasure or profit, or vaine glory to the contrary; to which purpose it is, that Christ saith, that they cannot beleive, which receive the praise of men: by that one carnall motive, as an example or instance of the rest, illustrating this truth, that he that the World, or Flesh, or Devill, can carry away from the profession of, and obedience to Christ, is no sonne of the faithfull Abraham, no beleiving Disciple of his. For if it be said that Abraham was faithfull before these acts of his Faith, at least before that second of them, that of obedience, being justified upon the beleeving the promise before, Gen. 15. and so that you may have true faith, before you produce those effects of it, at least by beleeving the promises of Christ you are so justified, without respect unto (or ab∣stracted from) this obedience to his commands, I shall soone satisfy that scruple, by confessing the truth of it as farre as concern'd Abraham, on this ground, because Abraham was by God (who saw his heart) discerned to be faithfull be∣fore any of these trials, nay had formerly given evidence of it by going out of his country at Gods command▪ which was an act of great obedience*Gen. 12. 1. and Heb. 11. 8. And after, being tried at that time onely with a promise, he gave full credit to that, and still gave evidence of his fi∣delity, Page 50 as fast as occasions were offered, which God, that saw no maime in him, did accept of even before he had made those other trials. And proportionably it will still hold true of you, that if your heart be sincerely given up to Christ, if there be in you a resolution of uniforme obedi∣ence unto Christ, which the searcher of hearts sees to be sincere, and such as would hold out in time of temptation, this will be certainly accep∣ted by God to thy justification; nay if God try thee onely with the promise, as (be it but this) that Christ will give rest to all that being weary come to him, or for temporall things, that he will never faile thee, nor forsake thee, if thou do confi∣dently depend on the truth of this without any doubting or staggering, this will be accepted by God to thy justification, without any farther acts of faith or obedience to his commands, in case, or supposing, there were no such command as yet given to thee, or no occasion of obeying it; But now thy case being in one respect distin∣guished from that of Abrahams, the whole Go∣spell being already revealed and proposed to thee as a summary of what thou art bound to beleive and what to do (and no need of any such particular revelations of Gods will, either by way of promise or particular precept, as was to Abraham) the object of thy faith is already set thee, all the Affirmations, all the promises, and Page 51 all the Commands, yea and Threats of the Go∣spell; and all these are to be received uniformly with a cordiall faith proportioned to each of them, assent to all his affirmations, dependance on all his promises, resolution of obedience to all his commands, (even those hardest sayings of his, most unacceptable to flesh and bloud) and feare and awe of his Threats, without any flat∣tering fallacious hope of possibility to escape them. Thy Faith, if it be true, must be made up of all these parts and not of some one or more of them; and then whensoever any triall shall be particularly made of thee, in which kind soever it happens to be first, thou must expresse and e∣vidence thy fidelity, or else this faith will not be accepted by God to thy justification, i. e. will not be approved by him, or accounted for thy righteousnesse; and the same must be resol∣ved, when and how often soever occasions shall offer themselves either of assenting or adhering, or obeying or fearing God, (i. e. whensoever any difficulty or other temptation interposes in any one of these) for then it is with thee as it was with Abraham when God tempted him, and there is no justification to be had, but upon pas∣sing faithfully (I say not, without all sinne, all blemish, all imperfection, but without all false∣nesse, faithlessenesse, hypocrisy) honestly, sin∣cerely through such trials. For though God Page 52 may approve and justify thy faith and thee, before or without any triall, any performance, (beholding all in the heart which men doe in the actions) yet when those trials are made, and the performance not met with, 'tis then appa∣rent even to men and thy owne soule, that thy resolutions were not before sincere, (i. e. thy faith true) and consequently God that saw that before those trials, cannot be thought to have justified that unsincere resolver, that dead heartlesse livelesse Faith. But when upon such trials God meets with his desired expected returnes, he then justifies the fidelity or Faith of that man, and consequently that man him∣selfe, who hath shewed himselfe so faithfull; and so (by the purport of the New Covenant, through the sufferings and satisfaction of Christ) he imputes not to that man the sinnes of his for∣mer, nor frailties & infirmities of his present life.
You have given me a large account of my demand, and I can finde nothing wanting to my present satisfaction but the more distinct descen∣ding to the severall parts, and branches of faith, that I may more nearely looke into the severals of my duty in this matter, wherein I am so mightily concerned.
I shall give you that without detaining you long, or adding much to what hath beene already said, onely by giving you the object of true faith, which is of two sorts, Page 53 Either God himselfe, Or the Word of God; God who is beleived in, and the Word of God as the rule of that Faith, or matter to be beleived, and that Word entirely considered, signifying what∣soever I am (or may ever be) convinced to come from him, and in it (as it is now shut up, and compriz'd in the Bookes of Canonicall Scripture) these speciall parts which do divide the whole Scripture betweene them. 1. The Affirmations of Scripture, whether by way of Historicall Narration, or by way of Doctrine. 2. The Promises of God, both in the Old and New Testament, but especially the promises of the Gospell, both such as belong to this life, and specially those that belong to another. 3. The Commands of God, whether the Naturall Law of all mankinde written in our hearts by the fin∣ger of God, made up in the frame of the humane soule, and more clearely revealed both in the Decalogue and other parts of sacred writ; or whether the Commands of Christ, raising nature to a higher pitch in the Sermon on the Mount, and superadding some positive institutions, as those of the Sacraments and Censures of the Church, in other parts of the New Testament. 4. The Threats of the Gospell, those terrors of the Lord, set on purpose to drive and hazen us to amendment of our sinfull lives. All these put together, are the adequate object of our Faith, Page 54 which is then cordiall and such as God will ac∣cept of, when it affords to every one of these that reception which is apportioned to it, assent to the truth of the Affirmations, fiduciall reli∣ance on the promises, obedientiall submission to the Commands, and humble feare and aw to the Threats.
I have heard much of a Generall, and a Particular Faith, and that the Generall is little worth without the Particular. Tell me whether that be appliable to the Faith you now speake of?
Being rightly understood it is.
What then is the Generall and Particular Faith as it referres to the Affirmations of Scripture?
The Gene∣rall, is a beleife of Gods veracity, that whatsoever is affirmed by him is infallibly true; the Particu∣laris, the full giving up my assent to every parti∣cular which I am convinced to be affirmed by God, assoone as ever I am so convinced, or have meanes sufficient offered me so to convince me, and yet more particularly the acknowledging of those truths which have speciall markes set upon them in Scripture to signifie them to be of more weight then others, as that God is, Heb. 11. 6. That Christ is the Messias of the world, the acknowledging of which is said to be life eter∣nall, Jo. 17. 3. The Doctrine of the Trinity, into which all are commanded to be baptized, and those other fundamentals of faith which all men Page 55 were instructed in antiently before they were * permitted to be baptized, contrived breifly into the compasle of the Apostles Creed, a summary of Christian faith or doctrine necessary to be be∣lieved.
What is the Generall and Particular Faith, as it referres to the Commands of the Gos∣pell?
The Generall is an assent to the truth and goodnesse of those Commands in generall, as they concerne all men, that is, beleiving that Christ hath given such a law to all his Disciples, to all Christians, and that that law is most fit to be given by him. The Particular is the apply∣ing these Commands to my selfe, as the necessary and proper rule of my life, the resolving faithfull obedience to them.
What is it as it reforres to the Threats?
The Generall is to beleive that those Threates will be (and that it is most just they should be) executed upon all against whom they are denounced: The Threates under oath absolutely, non-admission into Gods rest to all disobedient provokers, Heb. 3. 11. the con∣ditionall Threates conditionally, i. e. unlesse we repent, and use the meanes to avert them. The Particular is to resolve, that except I get out of that number, I shall certainly find my part in them.
What, as it referres to the Promises?
The Generall is the beleeving the truth, in∣fallible truth of the Promises, which Promises (the object of that Faith) being generally con∣ditionall, Page 56 not absolute Promises, great care must be taken that the Faith be proportioned to the nature of the Promises; As when the Promise of rest is made peculiarly to the weary and heavy laden thus coming to Christ, the Generall faith is to beleive undoubtedly, that this rest shall be gi∣ven to all that performe this condition, to all humble faithfull penitentiaries; and to beleive that it belongs either absolutely to all, or to any but those who are so qualified, is to beleive a lye; No peice of Faith, but phansy or vaine conceite, which sure will never advantage, but betray any that depends upon it.
What then is the Particular Faith terminated in this con∣ditionall Promise?
Not the beleiving that the Promise belongs absolutely to me, (for it doth not, any longer then I am so qualified) nor the beleeving that I am so qualified (for 1. per∣haps I am not: and 2. that is no object of faith, no part of the promise, or of any other peice of Gods word) but it is made up of these three things, 1. the confident perswasion that if I faile not in my part, Christ will never faile in his; if I doe repent, no power of heaven, or earth, or hell, no malice of Satan, no secret unrevealed decree shall ever be able to deprive me of my part in the promise. 2. A setting my selfe to performe the condition on which the promise is made; as when rest being promised upon condition of Page 57 coming, I come upon that invitation, then this coming of mine may be called particular appli∣cation; as when a picture is so designed and set, as to looke on every one that comes in at the doore, & on none else, the way to be particularly lookt on, i. e. to apply the eye of the picture par∣ticularly to me, is to come in at that doore. And 3. the comparing the conditionall Promise to my particular present estate by way of selfe-ex∣amination, and thence concluding upon sight of the condition in my selfe, that I am such a one to whom the Promise belongs, and shall have my part in it, if I continue and persevere. The second of these, if it be reall and sincere, gives me a certainty of the object, seales the Promise to me in heaven, which will remaine firme, though * I never know of it. The third, if it be on right judgement of my selfe, may give me the other certainty, i. e. ascertaine me that I am in the number of Gods children; but there being so * much uncertainty whether I judge aright of my selfe or no, and there being no particular affir∣mation in Gods word concerning the sincerity of my present, or perseverance of my future condition, that assurance reflexive, of which this is one ingredient, cannot be a divine Faith, but at the most an humane, yet such as perhaps I may have no doubting mixed with, nor reason that I should so doubt. For at the conclusion of Page 58 life, having finisht his course and; persevered, Saint Paul could say without doubting, hence∣forth there is laid up for me a crowne of righte∣ousnesse. Which if another man be not able to say with that assurance, 'twill not presently be want of Faith in him, as long as this want of as∣surance proceeds not from any distrust of the truth of Gods promises, but onely from an hum∣ble conceit of his owne repentance, that 'tis not such as God requires of him. And if that place, 2 Cor. 13. 5. [Know ye not that Christ Je∣sus is in you, except you be reprobates?] be obje∣cted, to prove that all are Reprobates that know not that Christ is in them; the answer will be satisfactory, that the words rendred [in you] * signifie very frequently in the Scripture, and pe∣culiarly in a place parallell to this, Exod. 17. 7. a∣mong you, or in your congregation. And so the sence will be best dissolved into a question and answer, know you not (by the miracles & preach∣ing, the demonstration of the spirit and of power) that Christ Jesus is among you? (by way of in∣terrogation, for so 'tis in the Greeke, and the meaning appeares by the context to be) Know ye not, discerne you not, your selves, that the pow∣er of the Gospell is come among you, by my Apo∣stleship? and then by way of answer [Except you be reprobates] you are obdurate insensate creatures undoubtedly unlesse you doe.
You have shewed me the difference betwixt Generall and Particular Faith, and I shall not follow that matter any farther, but I pray helpe me in one difficulty. We are said in Scripture to be justified by faith, and we heare much talke of a justifying faith; I pray, tell me what Faith this is, to which Justification is attributed?
First let me tell you that Faith, in whatever accepti∣on, is no proper efficient cause of justification, for such is onely God through the satisfaction of Christ, accepting our persons and our weake performances, and not imputing our sinnes: in which act nothing in us can possibly have any, so much as inferiour instrumentall, efficiency; the most that can be said is, that 'tis a condition without which God, that justifies the penitent beleiver, will never justifie the impenitent infi∣dell, and therefore 'tis observable that 'tis no where said in Scripture, that Faith justifies, but that we are justified by Faith, which particle [by] is a peculiar note of a condition, not a * cause.
But then what Faith is this which is the condition of our justification?
That Faith which we shewed you was Abrahams Faith: or infewer words, the receiving the whole Christ in all his offices; as my King, my Preist, my Prophet, whereby I beleeve the Commands as well as the Promises of the Gospell; or take the Promises as they are, i. e. as conditionall Pro∣mises.Page 60 And this a cordiall practicall beleife, a firme resolution of uniforme obedience and Di∣scipleship, faith made perfect by workes, Ja. 2. 22. Intimating, that without the addition of such workes, such obedience Evangelicall, it would be imperfect, unsufficient to this end, that is, to our Justification. The same is called in a parallell phrase, faith consummate by love, Gal. 5. 6. (which indeed we render working by love, but the Greeke and Syriack signifies consummate*by love) that is, by acts of Christian Charity, and therefore in two parallell places is thus varied, in one we reade instead of it the new Creature, Gal. 6. 15. in another, the keeping the Comman∣dements of God, 1 Cor. 7. 19.
But how then is it so often said that we are not justified by workes, Gal. 1. 16. and Rom. 3. 28. that we are justified by faith without the deeds of the law?
I have in effect already told you, and shall in a word again tell you. The word workes] and deeds of the law, in those places signifies perfect legall obedience, or circumcision, and the like Judai∣call out-dated Ceremonies; and Faith] the E∣vangelicall Grace of giving up the whole heart to Christ, without any such perfect obedience, or Judaicall observances; and so 'tis truly said, we are justified by Faith without them: i. e. with∣out such workes, such perfect obedience; yet not excluding, but including that Evangelicall Page 61 obedience, for without that Faith is dead, saith Saint James, 2. 17. and then sure not able to ju∣stifie any. And therefore you may observe in that Apostles discourse, Ja. 2. he affirmes that Abraham was justified by workes, v. 21. and makes that a parallell phrase to that of the Old Testament Abraham beleived God, and it was imputed to him for righteousnesse, v. 23. where, as [justification] and [imputed to him for righte∣ousnesse] are phrases of the same importance, so are [workes] and [beleiving] also.
The rea∣son of it, I conceive, is because Faith alwaies brings forth good workes, or if it doe not, it is no true Faith.
I am not altogether of your opini∣on, for I conceive it very possible for me to be∣leive, and yet not to live accordingly. The truth is, that is not a justifying Faith, or such as even now I defined, and so no truefaith in that sence, but yet it may be a true Faith, for so much as it is; I may truly, without all doubting, beleive the promise of mercy and salvation to the true peni∣tent, and none else, which beleife is very fit and proper to set me a reforming and amending, and yet 'tis possible for temptations of carnall ob∣jects to perswade me to deferre this duty, nay never to thinke fit to set my selfe to the perfor∣mance of it, the present pleasures of sinne may outweigh in my debauched choice those future. spirituall joyes; nay I may see and like them, and Page 62 yet for the present embrace the contrary, the will of man being a middle free faculty, not ab∣solutely obliged to doe or choose what the un∣derstanding judgeth most honest, i. e. what Rea∣son and Faith, and the Spirit of God comman∣deth to be done. The truth is, if this faith get once to be radicated in the heart, to rule and reigne there, if the will chooseth what Faith re∣commendeth, then it bringeth forth all manner of good workes; and so then 'tis the consum∣mation of Faith by Charity and Good workes that God accepteth in Christ to justification, and not the bare aptnesse of faith to bring forth workes, if those workes by the fault of a rebel∣lious infidell will be not brought forth.
But is there no one peculiar act of Faith to which justification is particularly imputable?
That to which justification is promised, is certainly the giving up of the whole soule intirely unto Christ, accepting his promises on his conditions, undertaking Discipleship upon Christs termes; But yet 'tis possible that some one act of faith may be more excellent and acceptable in the sight of God then others; as that humble act of the faithfull servant, that when he hath done all, acknowledges himselfe unprofitable, and so excludes all glorying, (which the Apostle makes very necessary to justification, Rom. 4.) expects all good from Gods free mercy in Christ, with∣without Page 63 any reflection on any of his owne per∣formances; or againe that of full trust, affiance, reliance, rolling ones selfe on God, depending on his all-sufficiency in the midst of all difficul∣ties, on the fidelity of him that hath promised, when all worldly probabilities are to the con∣trary; but then this must be accompanied with other acts of faith, when occasion is offered for them, and with use of the meanes prescribed by Christ, or else reliance may prove presumption after all. And however it is, we must adde to our faith, virtue, &c. or else our faith may still be dead, livelesse, being alone, that is, unable to stand us in any stead to the desired end.
I could heare you and propose scruples to you for ever on this argument, but I desire to carry a∣way onely so much of this subject of faith as may tend to the encrease of all virtue in me, and I am sensible how long I have detained you on this theme, and therefore I shall importune you no far∣ther about it; but yet onely vary, not end your trouble, and advance to the next Theologicall Grace, that of Hope, and desire your directions in that particular.
This Grace is subject to * some mistaking, and therefore I shall desire you to marke carefully what I conceive of it.
What is Hope?
It is a patient comfortable expectation of the performance of Gods promi∣ses, belonging to this life, or a better.
What Page 64 is the ground of Hope?
Some sure word of promise assented unto by faith.
What is the object of Hope?
It is made up of two things, 1. The thing promised, 2. The Cause or Author of it. 1. The thing promised, or the performance of that promise. Such is the Resurrection of the dead, which nature cannot helpe us to see any thing into, but being beleived by faith, becomes the object of Hope. And 'tis observable, that seven times in the Acts of the Apostles, the word Hope referres to this one object, the Resurrecti∣on or future state or life in another world, which indeed is the supreme object of the Christians Hope, and all other things but in an inferiour degree, and as they referre to that, and in order to that great treasure of our rejoycing. Though the truth is, as there be promises of this life, as well as of another, (as that God will give us all things necessary for us, and the like) So is there a Secular Hope, or an Hope of this life, and an object of that Hope.
What is that Secular Hope
A reliance on God that he will send me whatsoever is good for me.
What is the object of that Hope?
Good successes, good things.
Am I bound to hope that all things that are good for me shall befall me?
I must an∣swer you with some caution: First, Those pro∣mises are conditionall, All things shall tend to good to them that love God. If we be lovers of Page 65 God, then that promise belongs to us, not else. And consequently then we are to hope it, not else; Ye that feare the Lord, hope in the Lord, saith the Psalmist.
But is every true servant of God bound to hope, that God will give him all secular good things, as wealth, peace, honour, and the like?
There is another condition requi∣red in him first before that promise belongs to him, and consequently before he is bound to that hope.
What is that?
To pray for them, for the having and finding, is promised to none but to them which aske and seeke; yea and to use the meanes ordinary and lawfull, which are in order to that end, as labour, and the like. (among which mercifulnesse and liberality is one, to which the promise of secular wealth is most frequently made, and the contrary threat∣ned with want.)
Well then, must the servant of God having prayed, and used those meanes, hope and be assured that that which he thus prayes for, shall be granted him?
Yes: either formally, or by way of aequivalence; either that, or some∣thing that is better; or againe either now or when God fees fitter for him: for this must be allowed God to be able to choose for us better then we can for our selves, both for the thing it selfe, and the time of conferring it. For ma∣ny times, that which we aske, would, if it should be granted, be worst for us, and perhaps tend Page 66 to our destruction; and then God by denying the particular matter of our prayers, doth grant the generall matter of them, which alwaies is that which is best for us. Sometimes againe he deferres to grant, that we may reinforce our impression, pray more ardently, and for us to be so exercised in prayer and hope, is best for us also.
Are we bound then thus to expect and hope, in every thing that we pray for?
Yes, we are, and the want of that is the sinne of wa∣vering or doubting, noted by Christ and his A∣postles.
Well, but you toldme there was ano∣ther part of the object of Hope, besides the thing promised, which you called the cause or author of it. What is that?
The person that is to make good this promise to me, which is God him∣selfe. And therefore we are so often exhorted to hope in the Lord, &c. For as in the other affe∣ctions, we are not onely angry at the injury, or the provoking thing done to us, but at him that did it, and we doe not onely feare paine and pu∣nishment, but him also that can inflict it on us; so we doe not onely hope for Heaven, or for any other good thing, but for God as the fountaine of our blisse, and through whose mercy it is, that it befals us. This is called hope in him, or (as it should rather be rendred) Hope on him, 1 Joh. 3. 3. And this is a speciall act of Christian hope, to be thus unbottom'd of our selves, and fastned Page 67 upon God with a full relyance, and trust, and dependance on his mercy.
I thanke you for this direction. Give mee leave to proceed. What be the seasons and oppor∣tanities of this Hope?
1. Time of tribulati∣on, Rom. 5. 4. Tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience Hope, and Hope maketh not ashamed. Where the word, * which we render experience, signifies being ap∣proved upon a triall, and the sence runnes thus. Tribulation is a season and a meanes to worke patience, and that patience to produce approba∣tion, as of one that is tried in the fire, and hath past the test. And this a meanes to worke an Hope or expectation of reward, and that Hope will keepe from being ashamed of those suffe∣rings, and make us rather rejoice in them, as in benigne auspicious signes that in another world there is a reward for the righteous, because in this life the contrary rather. So Rom. 12. 12. Rejoy∣cing in Hope, and patient in tribulation, are joi∣ned together. 2. Time of temptation, when some present delight is ready to invite to sin, or present bitternesse to deterre from the waies of God, then the Hope of future joies to be ex∣changed for that bitternesse, and to outvy and preponderate that pleasure, comes in seasonably. 3. The Time of mourning for the dead, which the assured Hope of a Resurrection will mode∣rate Page 68 and alleviate.
You told me the ground of Christian Hope was the promises. I pray, is a man to hope for no∣thing but that for which he hath some promise in Scripture?
He may perhaps lawfully hope for some things for which there is no promise, so there be nothing to the contrary; but then this is not the grace of Hope, but a good natu∣rall assurance or confidence, which Aristotle ob∣serves young men to be full of, and old men not so inclined to. But if it be for any spirituall mat∣ter, * it is, if it be not grounded on some promise, but presumption.
There is no promise in Scripture for every particular mans eternall sal∣vation, yet sure every man is bound to hope he shall be saved.
This is the misprision I desired to anticipate and forestall in you, and now I must be faine to cure, seeing I could not prevent it. To which purpose you must againe remember, that Gods promises being the grounds of Hope, and those promises being but seldome absolute, most what conditionate, the Hope, (if it be the Christian Grace of Hope,) must be proportioned and attemperate to the promise; and if it exceed that temper and proportion, it becomes a tu∣mour and tympany of Hope. For example, that there shall be another state or life after the end of this, both for just and unjust, there is an abso∣lute promise, and therefore every man may iust∣ly Page 69 hope for that, though to the ungodly it be matter rather of feare, then Hope; but for a hap∣py or joyfull Resurrection to life, a blessed future state there is no absolute unlimited, but conditi∣onall limited promise, to the true penitent be∣leever, and none else; for to all others God hath sworne, they shall not enter into his rest. And then he that is such, may no more hope for his part in the Resurrection of the just, then for the most impossible thing: or if he doe hope, that Hope will stand him in no steed, will never make that true by hoping it, which was other∣wise false; The Hope of the Hypocrite shall perish, saith Job, and so the carnall impenitent, his Hope shall perish also; sure never be able to keepe him from perishing.
What then is the Christian Hope in this particular?
It is an assurance, 1. That though my sinnes be never so great, they may be pardoned me, if the condition to obtaine that pardon be not neglected. 2. To hope chearefully and confidently upon the observati∣on of those meanes. 3. (which is the prime act and evidence of the Christian Hope) to set industriously and piously to the performance of that condition on which the promise is made: as Saint John saith, Every man that hath this hope purifies, And 4. upon view of the since∣rity of that performance of mine, to hope com∣fortably and chearefully for Gods performance. Page 70 In breife, the Hypocrite or unreformed sinner may have some roome for Hope suppositively if he doe change and repent, the honest penitent may hope positively. The former may hope as for a future possibility, the latter at the present as for a certainty. But the latter of these, is the onely Christian Hope. For by this you shall know a Christian Hope from all other, that he that hath it purifies himselfe. The Hypocrite or carnall man hopes, and is the wickeder for hoping, he feares nothing, and so discernes not the necessity of mending; The best way to re∣forme such a man, is, to robbe him of his Hope, to bring him to a sence of his danger, that he may get out of it, to conduct him by the gates of Hell, to a possibility of Heaven. But the Scrip∣ture. Hope, the [this Hope,] as Saint John calls it, i. e. the Hope of seeing God, 1 Joh. 3. 2. being grounded on conditionall promises, (and that condition being purity, holinesse, without which no man shall see the Lord) sets presently to per∣forming that condition, that is, to purifying, ac∣cording as you shall see the practice of it in Saint Paul, 2 Cor. 7. 1. Having therefore these promi∣ses, (what promises? conditionall promises, c. 6. 17.) let us purifie our selves, &c.
But is not Despaire a sinne? and doth not that consist in not hoping for Heaven?
The want of the Christian Hope is a sinfull despaire, Page 71 but not the want of all kind of Hope, the think∣ing it impossible his sinnes should be forgiven though he should be never so truly penitent, is a sinne, but that rather of infidelity, then despaire, it being the dis-beleeving an eternall truth of Gods. A consequent of this indeed may be de∣speration, (as on the contrary, Hope is a conse∣quent superstructed on faith) to wit, when he that beleeves himselfe uncapable of Pardon, goes on without any care or thought of refor∣ming, such an one we vulgarly call a desperate person, and that sure is a most damning sinne; but for him that lives an impenitent sinner, not to hope for mercy as long as he doth so, is sure no sinne superadded to his impenitence; his impeni∣tence is a sinne, but that being supposed, his not hoping is but duty and justice; the contrary would be a greater sinne and a more desperate signe. So that not every not hoping for Heaven is the sinne of Despaire, but rather the perem∣ptory contempt of the condition, which is the ground of Hope. The going on (not onely in terrours and amazement of conscience, but also) boldly, hopingly, confidently, in wilfull habits of sinne, which therefore is called desperate∣nesse also, and the more bold thus, the more de∣sperate.
But what if a godly penitent man should either doubt of his salvation, or not at all hope for it?
If that doubting or not hoping Page 72 be onely grounded in a false judgment of his owne repentance and sincerity, in conceiting too meanly of himselfe, in thinking himselfe no true penitent, when he is; this will not be the sinne of Despaire; no nor infidelity neither: be∣cause if he could beleive his penitence sincere, (the want of which beleife is not the dis-belee∣ving of any part of Gods word, because that saith nothing of him particularly) he would as∣suredly hope; and now that onely his humility makes him so comfortlesse, there is certainly no sinne in that.
But what if a sinner be so overwhelmed with sorrow, as not to lay hold on the promises at all, is not this the sinne of Despaire?
The triall of him will be by examining whe∣ther he purifie or no, that is, whether his sor∣row bring forth fruits of amendment; if so, this is not the sinne of Desperation yet, he hath the Grace of Hope, which brings forth fruits of Hope, though it be so clouded over with a me∣lancholy vapour, that it be not discernible even to himselfe. But if this trouble of minde set him a sinning farther, like Judas, who had sorrow but then hanged himselfe, this is Despaire in∣deed.
I shall sollicite you no farther in this point, but for your prayers that God will keepe me from all premature perswasion of my being in Christ, that he will give me that Hope that may set me a puri∣fying, Page 73 and not suffer me to go on presumptuously or desperately in any course. Onely upon occasion of this Grace of Hope, give me leave to aske you whether he that now lives in sinne, and hopes he shall one day repent, and go to Heaven, (this Re∣pentance, and that Heaven, being a future good, and so the object of Hope) may be said to have the Grace of Hope, in any kind.
By no meanes. Because God hath made no such promise that he shall repent, nor without Repentance, that any man shall have Heaven. This is a ground-worke of carnall security, and no degree of the Grace of Hope.
Once more: may he that hath gone on in a continued course of sinne, and at last is over∣taken with Gods judgments, (and seeing Hell gates open upon him, doth greive for his former wicked life, and upon that hopes for mercy,) be conceived to be saved by that Hope?
I list not to passe sentence on any particular, because I cannot throughly discerne his state; onely I can say in generall, I know no promise of pardon in Scripture, to a bare death-bed sorrow, because indeed none to any sorrow at any time, but that which is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Godly sorrow, which worketh Re∣pentance; which Repentance, as it is available if true, though never so late, so is seldome true, when it is late, nor can well be knowne to be true, but by persevering fruits which require time. And though a serious purpose of amend∣ment Page 74 and true acts of Contrition, before or without the habit, may be accepted by God to my salvation, yet in this case there is no sure judgment, whether this purpose be serious, or these acts true acts of Contrition. And so in this case, there is no foundation for his Hope: and then a groundlesse Hope, or a bare Hope with∣out the other conditions, to which the promises belong, will never be able to save any.
Shall we now proceed to the third Grace, that of Love or Charity?
Most willingly: it is a precious Grace, and that which Saint Paul pre∣ferres before Hope and Faith.
But is any Grace to be prefer'd before that of Faith? (I thought that had beene the most necessary Gospell∣grace.)
It is most certaine there is (Faith being taken in that notion, which I told you, be∣longs to that place) because Saint Paul hath af∣firmed it, that Charity is the greatest of the three, 1 Cor. 13. 13. And it is as sure, that no other Scripture hath contradicted this; and although very great things are said of Faith, as of the one∣ly condition of Justification and Salvation, yet. 1. This is when it is in conjunction with Cha∣rity, Faith consummate by love. And 2. 'Tis ob∣servable, that the most imperfect things are al∣waies the most necessary, and consequently the great necessity of Faith is no argument of it's dignity in comparison of this other Grace. For Page 75 indeed Faith is necessary so, as without which Charity cannot be had, but then this alone is unsufficient to save any, if Charity be not added to it. Faith is the foundation, which though it be the most necessary part of the building, yet is it the lowest and most imperfect: Charity the superstruction which is never firmely built but when grounded in Faith, and when 'tis so, 'tis farre more excellent then it's foundation. Be∣sides, Charity is a Grace not out-dated in Hea∣ven, as Faith and Hope are.
But what is Charity?
The sincere love of God, and of our neighbour for his sake.
Wherein doth the love of God consist?
As love in its latitude is of two sorts, of Freind∣ship, and of Desire; the first betwixt freinds; the second, betwixt lovers, the first a rationall, the second a sensitive love; so our love of God con∣sists of two parts. 1. Esteeming, prizing, valu∣ing of God. 2. Desiring of him.
How shall I know whether I doe Esteeme God as I ought to doe?
If you would be content to doe any thing or suffer any thing, rather then loose his fa∣vour, rather then displease him. If you love me, (saith he) keepe my Commandements. And there∣fore loving him and obeying him, love and workes, (to wit, Evangelicall workes) are ta∣ken for the same thing in Scripture.
How must this love be qualified?
The speciall qua∣lification, Page 76 or rather indeed essentiall property of Charity, is the sincerity of it, as that is opposite to hypocrisy or a double heart, or divided love, or joining any rivall or competitor in our hearts with him. The loving God above all, and all other for his sake, this is set downe both by Moses and Christ in these words; Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soule, with all thy mind, & with all thy strength. The Heart, as I conceive, signifying the Affecti∣ons; The Soule the Will, or elective faculty; The Minde the Understanding or rationall facul∣ty; And the Strength the powers of the body for action; and all foure together, making up the whole man, and the word All, affixt to each, not to exclude all other things from any inferi∣our part in my love, but onely from an equall or superiour, to exclude a partiall or a halfe love.
What are the motives that may stirre up this love in my heart?
1. The consideration of Gods infinite essence. And 2. Of his most glori∣ous Attributes. And 3. Of his bounteous acti∣ons towards us in creating, redeeming, preser∣ving and providing such rewards for those that love him.
What is that other part of love which you call the Desiring of him?
The actuall appe∣tition or fastening our affections on him, desiring to enjoy him. 1. His Grace, or sanctifying Spirit Page 77 here. And 2. The perpetuall vision of him here∣after. The former part of this is called, hungering and thirsting after righteousnesse. A hatred and impatience of sinne, a desiring to be out of that polluted condition, and to be made like unto God in holinesse and purity, (and you may know the sincerity of that, 1. By assiduity and frequen∣cy and fervency in prayer, that way of conver∣sing and communing with God, a most infalli∣ble concomitant of this kind of love. 2. By lo∣ving and seeking the meanes, 1. of resisting sin, and 2. of receiving, and 3. of improving of Grace; that one principall desire of Davids, That he might dwell in the house of the Lord all the daies of his life, t• behold the faire beauty of the Lord, and to visit his Temple.) The latter part of this is called by the same David, the longing of the soule after God; by Saint Paul, desiring to be dissolved, and to be with Christ.
What are the motives to this kind of love?
1. Gods lo∣ving us first, and dying for us, an expression of that love able to constreine and extort a recipro∣cation or returne of love. 2. The true superla∣tive delight even to flesh and bloud, that is, in sanctity, and the practice of Christian virtues be∣yond all that any sensuall pleasure affords, so great that when they are exprest by the Apostle in these words, [Neither eye hath seene, nor care heard, neither hath it entred into the heart of man Page 78 toconceive what things God hath prepared for them that love him.] They are ordinarily mistaken for the description of Heaven. 3. Those joies in the vision of God in another life, thus described by the Psalmist, In thy presence are fulnesse of joies, and at thy right hand pleasures for evermore.
Well, you have gone through the two parts of the love of God; And told me that the sincerity required in it, requires me to love God with all my heart. May not I then love any thing else but God?
You may, but with these conditi∣ons, 1. that it be not some prohibited object, as the world and the things of the world, for if any man love the world, the love of the father is not in him. 1 Joh. 2. 15. 2. That it be in a degree in∣feriour to the love of God, thus God being lo∣ved above all, other things may lawfully in a lower degree be loved also. 3. That those other things be loved for Gods sake, and in that or∣der that he prescribes them.
But may not the outward expressions of love in many good Christians be greater to some other object, then to God? or is this incompatible with the sincerity of the love of God?
Our love of God may be sincere, though it be accompanied with some frailties; now the sensitive faculty may have a sensitive love of some sensitive objects; which though it be moderated so, as not to fall into sinne either in respect of the object, or the ex∣cesse, Page 79 yet through the nature of mans sence may expresse it's selfe more sensitively toward that inferiour object, then toward God himselfe; and this is a peice of humane frailty, not to bewholly put off in this life. And yet for all this, the love of God may be more deeply radicated in that soule; and that will be tried by this, that if one were to be parted with, I would part with any thing, rather then God. But that not to be judg∣ed, by what I could answer, if I were asked the question; nay nor what I would resolve at a di∣stance, but in time of temptation and actuall competition betwixt God and that any thing else that could not be held without sinning a∣gainst God, what then I would really doe. This may best be understood by that other passion of sorrow. I may weepe more for the losse of a freind, then for my sinnes, yet my sorrow for sin may be the deeper and more durable sorrow, though it be not so profuse of these sensitive expressions. So may, and must our love of God be most firmely rooted, though not so passio∣nately exprest, as through the infirmity of our flesh, and neerenesse of other objects to it, our love to them is wont to be.
Shall we proceed to the other branch of Cha∣rity, that of our Neighbour, and first, what doe you meane by the word Neighbour?
Every man in the world, for so Christ hath extended Page 80 the word, Luk. 10. 36, 37. Not onely to signi∣fie the Jew in relation to the fellow Jew, who was the Old Testament-Neighbour, but to the Samaritan, in relation to the Jew, i. e. to him that was most hated by him, as appeares by the parable in that place.
What is the love of my Neighbour?
1. The valuing him as the I∣mage of God, one for whom Christ died, and one whom God hath made the proxey of his love, to receive those effects of it from us, which we cannot so well bestow on God. 2. The de∣siring, And 3. The endeavouring his good of all kinds.
In what degree must this be done?
As I desire it should be done to my selfe.
How is that?
Why, in all things to deale with o∣ther men as (if I might be my owne chooser,) I would wish that other men, nay God himselfe, should doe to me. This will certainly retaine me within the strictest bounds of justice to all men I have to deale with, (because it is naturall to desire that all men should deale justly with me) and teach me all mercy to others both in gi∣ving, and forgiving, and blessing them, because I cannot but desire that God should be thus mer∣cifull to me.
But will not my love of God be sufficient (without this other love of my neigh∣bour) to denominate me Charitable?
It will not. 1. Because this loving my neighbour is one, nay many of the Commandements which he Page 81 that loveth God must keepe, 1 Joh. 3. 23. 2. Be∣cause God hath pleased to appoint that, as the test of the sincerity of the love of God, in judg∣ing of which we might otherwise deceive our selves, and prove lyers, had we not this evidence to testifie the truth of our love, according to that of Saint John, 1 Ep. 4. 10. For he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seene, how can he love God whom he hath not seene? Which place argues that all the arguments or motives which we have to love God, we have to love our brother also, God having devolved all his right to our love, upon our brethren here, (and therefore in∣terpreting whatsoever is done to them as done to himselfe) not so as to devest himselfe of it, but to accumulate it on this image here below, com∣municating all his claimes to it, to which claims of God, our relation to our brethren superad∣ding one more, that of acquaintance, and affini∣ty of our humane nature, exprest by those words, [his brother whom he hath seene] it followes in all necessity, that he that loves not his brother, that behaves not himselfe to all men, superiours, equalls, inferiours, strangers, freinds, enemies, Turkes, Iewes, Heathens, Heretiques, sinners, according as the rules of Christian charity, of ju∣stice and mercy oblige him, is not a lover of God.
Is there any more that I need know concerning this grace?
No more at this time? The par∣ticulars Page 82 farther considerable will come in out rode hereafter.
Your proposed method than leades me to Re∣pentance *next; what is Repentance?
A change of minde, or a conversion from sinne to God. Not some one act of change, but a lasting durable state of new life, which I told you was called also Regeneration.
But is not Regene∣ration an Act of new birth?
No, it is the state of new life, (called the New Creature) li∣ving a godly life, or like sonnes or children of God, for the Scripture phrase, to be regenerate or borne againe or from above, is all one with be∣ing a child of God, that is, one who, as he hath * his seed of new life from the Spirit of God, so returnes him the obedience of a sonne-like gra∣cious heart, lives like a sonne in his family, and never goes from him with the prodigall into the farre Country.
Of what parts doth Repen∣tance consist?
Not properly of any, it being nothing else but a change of minde or new life; yet there are many preparatives in the passage to this state, every of which doth also in some measure accompany it where ever it is.
What are those preparatives then?
1. Sence of sinne. 2. Sorrow or contrition for sinne. 3. Confession of sinne. 4. Disclaiming, forsaking, resolving against sinne.
Wherein doth the Sence of sinne consist?
In discerning, 1. The Page 83Odiousnesse. 2. The Danger of it.
1. How it displeaseth God, and makes us odious in his sight. 2. How it defiles and defames us, turnes the members of Christ to be members of an harlot. 3. Makes us odious to all good men. 4. Makes us uncapa∣ble of heaven, wherein nothing shall enter that defileth, Rev. 21. 27.
Wherein doth the Dan∣ger consist?
In bringing 1. the curses of this life upon us. 2. temporall death. 3. eternall plagues and torments in another world.
What then is a Sence of these?
1. A conviction of the truth of these. 2. A serious consideration and pondering of this important truth as it con∣cernes our endlesse weale and woe. 3. A being affected with it, so as to humble our soules in that sence, which leads to sorrow and contriti∣on.
What is sorrow and contrition for sinne?
A being greived with the conscience of sin, not onely that we have thereby incurred such danger, but also that we have so unkindly grei∣ved and provoked so good a God, so compassio∣nate a father, so gracious a redeemer, so blessed a sanctifier.
Is it not sufficient to greive in re∣spect of the danger and damnation which sinne be∣trayes me to, and is not such greife contrition?
No, it is but attrition, which any man living would have, when he saw such danger neare; he would be prick't at heart, and be ill pleased to Page 84 see hell gaping upon him: and you may observe that where such present danger is the only cause of sorrow, when that danger is over, there sel∣dome or never followes reformation. And there∣fore that opinion and doctrine of the Papists, who teach that this attrition, (or sorrow, that we shall be punished) without producing a∣mendment of life in the sinner, yet by the power of the keyes, i. e. by the absolution of the Preist, is turned into contrition, is a most ridiculous deceit of soules; for there being no promise of Scrip∣ture that such attrition alone, or flying from the wrath to come, Mat. 4. shall be sufficient to ob∣taine pardon without bringing forth fruit worthy of repentance; the Preist that absolves any on no better grounds then those, goes beyond his com∣mission, and by telling a lye, can never make that lye become truth, by absolving an uncontrite sin∣ner, cannot sure make him contrite, either in re∣ality or in Gods acceptation of him; because he hath not promised to accept any, but the broken and contrite; and therefore not any thing else in stead of contrition.
What thinke you then of that sorrow and compunction, that the approach of death and ter∣rours of the Gospell bring men to?
If it be a bare sorrow and compunction, onely respecting those present terrours, and advancing no high∣er, then certainly it hath no promise of mercy Page 85 belonging to it. But if that which begins thus, by Gods mercy allowing of time, and by his Grace using these terrours for the softening of the heart, improve farther into sorrow for dis∣pleasing of God, and from thence into a reall sincere resolution to amend and forsake sinne, then these superstructions have a promise of mercy belonging to them, though that founda∣tion had not. The onely thing then in this mat∣ter to be considered, is, whether it be thus im∣proved or no: and that no man can certainly judge of, neither Confessor nor patient himselfe, but by the fruits of it, after wards in time of temp∣tation. For 1. the man himselfe may through selfe-love take that for Godly sorrow and reso∣lution of amendment, which is onely sorrow for his owne danger, and willingnesse to avoid that, and againe, when forraigne temptations are out of the way, and by disease, &c. inner flames quench't in him, he may resolve against those sinnes which before he had lived in; or, by way of naturall revenge, he may vow never to re∣turne to those sinnes which he hath had such ex∣perience of, for the emptinesse and damning∣nesse of them, and so thinke himselfe a com∣pleate penitent. And 2. the sensitive expressions being oft as great for the one as the other, nay greater for danger then for sinne, and from weak∣nesse of body, then change of minde, the confes∣for Page 86 may easily mistake likewise; but when God pleaseth to restore health and strength, when those present apprehensions are over, and temp∣tations of the world and flesh returne againe, and perhaps some new that were not before in his rode, then if the sorrow continue as great, and the resolution as earnest, and persevere to hold out in despight of temptations to the contrary, and take not up any new sinnes in exchange for the old, this is a comfortable evidence, that that sorrow was Contrition, and that resolution a sincere resolution. But if, this time and meanes of triall being allowed, the matter prove other∣wise, if the penitent returne to his former jolli∣ty, and luxury, or instead of those nauseated sins, make some other choise of a new path to hell, entertaine covetousnesse instead of prodigality, spirituall pride instead of carnall security, envy, malice, sedition, faction, in commutation for lust, and the like; This is a demonstration that that sorrow was not Contrition, that resolution no sincere resolution, and consequently that if that man had then died, there would not have beene found any thing in him which God hath pro∣mised to accept of. But if the case be set in a third or middle way, that the patient dye be∣fore any such triall hath beene made, either to evidence the sincerity or unsincerity, then that which remaines for us is, not to judge, but to Page 87 leave him to Gods inspection, who can see with∣out those waies of triall, and discerne what it was in it's selfe, attrition or contrition, sincere or not sincere, whether it would have continued (or no,) a through change of minde; and con∣sequently will accept the will for the deede, if it be a firme and ratified will, and not else. And so in breife, God may have mercy on him whose repentance began never so late, if he see it was sincere repentance. But in this case there is small matter of comfort to us, because there is no such way of assurance that we are ordinarily capable of, nor reason to hope that God will afford us a∣ny extraordinary; and for any man to put off his present repentance, on contemplation of a possibility that his latter repentance may serve the turne, is the most wretchlesse presumption in the world; and that which I am sure hath no promise of mercy annexed to it.
I shall sa∣tisfy my selfe with these grounds of resolution for this matter & conceive that any more particular difficulty will be salved by the application of these grounds to it, and so not object what was obvious to have done, the example of the theife on the crosse which is so common ground of security, and pre∣sumption to carnall livers; because I already dis∣cerne reason to thinke his state the state of true contrition and conversion, and not onely of attri∣tion, because in those minutes he lived on the Page 88 crosse, he gave such evidence of this in confessing and praying to Christ, when his owne Disciples had forsaken him: and beside, Christ who know his sincerity and will not accept the unsincere, revealed to him his acceptance of him. I shall therefore de∣taine you no longer with questions of this nature, but proceed to inquire more particularly of Con∣trition.
What sinnes must be taken in by it, or for what must this Godly sorrow be conceived?
For all kinds and sorts of sinne. 1. For the weakenesses, frailties, and pollutions of our nature, our prone∣nesse and inclinations to sinne; for though these being unconsented to, are no actuall sinnes, yet are they matters of true sorrow, and greife, and humiliation to a true Christian, as infelicities, if not as sinnes; that he is such a polluted uncle••• creature, and so apt to fall into all sinne, if he be not restrained and prevented by Gods Grace. 2. For the sinfull acts and habits of our unrege∣nerate life, with all the aggravations belonging to them. 3. The slips and relapses of our most regenerate life, and the infinite frailties and in∣firmities that still adhere to it.
How can Contrition, which you called a preparative to re∣pentance, and so to regeneration, include sorrow for the sinnes of the regenerate life?
I told you these preparatives to repentance doe also accompany it wheresoever it is; and in that re∣spect Page 89 it will be cleare, that Contrition is not one initiall act of sorrow for sinne past, but also a current permanent state of sorrow and humili∣ation for sinne present, and through the whole life never outdated.
What now is Confession of sinne?
It is of a sorts. 1 to God, 2 to men, especially the Presbyters.
What is Confession to God?
An humble, sorrowfull, acknowledgement of sinne in prayer to God. 1. By confessing that I am a sinner, who have worthily deserved his wrath. 2. By enumeration of the particular sorts of sinne, of which I know my selfe guilty. 3 By aggravating these sinnes upon my selfe, by the circumstances and heightning accidents of them. 4. By comprizing all my unknown unconfest sinnes under some such penitentiary forme, as that of Davids, who can tell how oft he offendeth, cleanse thou me from my secret faults.
How doth the necessity of this appeare?
Beside the practice of David and other holy men in scrip∣ture, by these expresse texts: If we confesse our sinnes, God is faithfull and just to forgive us our sinnes; and he that confesseth and forsaketh shall have mercy.
But why then should we confesse to men, and particularly to Presbyters?
1. Because we are commanded by Saint James, 5. 16. to confesse our faults one to another, that we may be capable of one anothers prayers. 2. Be∣cause Page 90 the context there seemes very probably to meane the Presbyters when he saith [one to another] for speaking of the sick man, he bidds him call the Presbyters v: 14. and there is no intimation of any other company with him, or consequently of any other there present, that he can confesse to, but to them. 3. Because there being 2 parts in sinne, the guilt and the corrupti∣on, the one to be pardoned, the other cured; the first being confest to God, to obtaine his pardon ought also, if it have beene offensive and scan∣dalous to the congregation, to be acknowledged to them, that that expression of repentance may make satisfaction to them for the ill example, and avert and deterre from sinne, whom it had invited to it: And for the cure, it will sure be ve∣ry profitable to advise with others, especially the Physitians of the soule, how and by what means this cure may be wrought, how a raging sinne may be subdued, occasions to it avoyded, to which end alone the disclosing of the parti∣cular state is more then profitable; and this being supposed, it will be acknowledged necessary for a Christian not to despise such proper use∣full meanes to a necessary end, unlesse without that helpe he can direct himselfe, which igno∣rant men and habituate sinners in any kind will hardly be able to do. 4ly, Because this may much tend to my comfort, when another upon a strict Page 91 survey and shrift of my former life, and present testification of my repentance, may upon good grounds give me absolution, and passe judge∣ment on me, better then I can do on my selfe.
What is the fourth preparative to repen∣tance?
A firme resolution, and vow of new life. 1. An abjuring of all my former evill wayes, i. e. both of the sinnes themselves, and the oc∣casions which were wont to bring me to those sinnes; secondly a resigning my selfe up to do the will of Christ; thirdly the pitching on some particular duties of piety and charity, which were most criminously omitted before, and are most agreeable to my calling to performe.
What now is the penitent state?
The a∣ctuall continued performance of these resoluti∣ons, both when occasions are offered, and when temptations to the contrary.
But what if those resolutions be not then performed?
Then is not that to be accounted a penitent or regenerate man.
But what? are no sinnes compatible with a regenerate estate?
Yes. 1. Sinnes of infirmi∣ty, secondly of ignorance; and (under that head of infirmity) thirdly sins of suddaine surreption; and fourthly such as by dayly incursion of temp∣tations, though constantly resisted, yet through the length of the worke, and our frailty, and Satans vigilance sometimes are gained from us, Page 92 all these (together with those, Fifthly, which through levity of the matter insensibly steale from us) are by generall repentance i. e. hum∣bling ourselves before God for them, begging Gods pardon in Christ, and labouring against them more diligently for the future, reconcile∣able with a regenerate estate; are spots, but those spots of sonns, though they be never totally overcome in this life: sixthly some one willfull act of deliberate sinne, which we might have resisted, if it be presently retracted with Contri∣tion and Confession, and reinforcing of our reso∣lution and vigilance against it, and so not fa∣voured or indulged unto, may be also reconcile∣able with a regenerate state so farre, as not wholy to quench the spirit of God, to cause spirituall desertion, though it do greive that spi∣rit, wast the conscience, wound the soule, and provoke Gods displeasure, (from which nothing but hearty repentance, can deliver us) and commonly bring some temporall judgement upon us.
What then are unreconcileable with a regenerate state?
Whatsoever are not com∣patible with an honest heart, a sincere indeavour: * particularly these two Hypocrisie and Custome of any sinne. Whosoever is borne of God doth not commit sinne 1 Jo. 3. 9. (i. e. doth not live in sin as in a trade or course) for his seed remaineth in him, (there is in the regenerate a new princi∣ple Page 93 or seed of life, a principle of cognation with God, which whilst it continues in him, is still a hazening him out of sin,) and he cannot sinne in such manner, because he is borne of God; or if he do, he is no longer a child of Gods, or regene∣rate person, or as Gal. 5. 16. walke in the spirit and you shall not fullfill the lusts of the flesh, i. e. these two are unreconcileable: when we say an honest man cannot do this, our meaning is not to affirme any naturall impossibility, that he is not able, but that he cannot thinke fit to do it; the principles of honesty within him, as here the seed of God or new principles in him, will resist it; or if he do it, he is no longer to be ac∣counted an honest man.
This place in Saint Johns Epistle hath sure great difficulty, I beseech you make it as intelligi∣ble to me, as you may.
I shall do it, and that most clearely by bringing downe the sense of the whole chapter from the begining to this place in this breife paraphrase; do you looke u∣pon the words in your Bible, whilst I do it. v. 1. Gods love to us is very great in that he hath ac∣cepted us Christians to be his Children, (which by the way is the reason that the world which rejected Christ, rejecteth us also.) (v. 2.) & being children, though we know not exactly the future benefit which shall accrue to us by this meanes, yet this we know, that when this shall be revealed to Page 94 us, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is, and that vision will assimilate us to him, (v. 3.) & the very hope of it now hath the same power of ma∣king us pure, as he is pure. (for 1, Hope includes desire and love of the thing hoped for, which being Heaven, a place of purity, the hope of Heaven must include a desire of purity, and therefore the Heaven that the sensuall man de∣sires, if he desire it for the present, is a mocke∣heaven; and if it be the true Heaven the state of purity, then he desires it not for the present, but hereafter when sensuall pleasures have forsaken him. And 2 the condition of Gods promises be∣ing our purification or sanctification, and the particular condition of this seeing God, being Holynesse, 'tis madnesse for us to hope any thing but upon those grounds, and therefore he that hath this hope of seeing him or being like him hereafter, labours to become like him now, in purity, (a speciall imitable quality of his) And (v. 4.) he that wants it, (i. e. every one that committeth sin) is guilty of the breach of the law, of this Evangelicall law of his; & that sin it selfe is that breach, upon which consequently followes the forfeiture of those promises contained in it, (v. 5.) and to that end, that we, for whom he dyed, should not thus sinne, it was without doubt that he came amongst us, and sinne or any such impenitent com∣mitter of sinne, is not in him, (v. 6.) For every one Page 95 that remaineth in him, as a member of his sinneth not wilfull deliberate sinnes; if any man do so, pretend or professe, be what he will, he hath nei∣ther seene nor knowne Christ (v. 7.) I pray suffer not your selves to be deceived, Christ you know is righteous, and the way to be like him is to be righ∣teous also, and that cannot be but by doing righte∣ousnesse, living a constant Christian life, (v. 8.) He that doth dot so, but goes on in a course of sin, is of the Devill, and by his actions expresses the stocke he comes of. For 'tis the Devill that be∣gan his age with sinne, and so continued it, and so sin is his trade, his worke, & this was a speciall part of the end of Christs comming, to destroy his trade, to dissolve that fabricke he had wrought, i. e. to turne sinne out of the world, (v. 9.) and therefore sure no child of God's, none of that superiour stocke will go on in that accursed trade, because he hath God's seed in him, that originall of cognation be∣tweene God and him, Gods grace, that principle of his new birth, which gives him continuall dis∣likes to sin, such as (though they doe not force or constreine him not to yeild to Satans temp∣tations, yet) are sufficient to enable him to get out of those snares; and if he be a Child of God, of Christs making, like him that begat him in purity, &c. he cannot, he will not thus go on in sinne, (v. 10). So that hereby you may clearly distinguish a child of God, from a Child of the Devill, he Page 96 that doth not live a righteous and charitable life, (to do justice, and to love mercy, as Micah saith) is no child of Gods, hath no relation of con∣sanguinity to him. I shall need proceed no far∣ther, by this you will understand the sence of the verse to be this, and no more. Those that are like Christ, and so God's children, 'tis supposed that they have such a seed or principle of Grace in them, that inclines them to dislike, and enables them to resist all deliberate sinnes; and if they doe not make that use of that grace, sure they are not like Christ, none of his fellow-Sonnes of God: a regenerate man remaining such, will not, nay morally cannot do so; so doing is contrary to a regenerate state.
I heartily thanke you for this trouble. I shall divert you by another scruple, which is this. Will not I pray you, the flesh, as long as we conti∣nue in these houses of clay, be we never so regene∣rate; lust against the spirit, the members warre against the mind, and so keepe us from doing the thing that we would, yea and captive us to the law of sin; and so will not this captivity, and thral∣dome to sinne, so it be joyned with a contrary striving and dislike, be reconcileable with a rege∣nerate estate?
Your question cannot be an∣swered with a single Yea, or Nay, because there be severall parts in it, some to be affirmed, others to be denyed; and therefore to satisfy Page 97 you, I shall answer by degrees, 1. That there is a double strife in a man, the one called a warre betwixt the law in the members and the law in the minde, the other the lusting betwixt the spi∣rit and the flesh. The former betwixt the law in the members, and in the mind, is the perswasions of sinne or carnall objects on one side, and the law of God, inviting us on the other side, com∣manding us the contrary; and in this case, the law, as the Apostle saith, being weake, and not able of it selfe to helpe any man to do what it commands him, it must needes follow, that they that have no other strength, but the bare light of the law in the minde, no grace of Christ to su∣steine them in their combats, will by their car∣nall appetite be led to do those things, which the law tells them they should not; which if they do and continue in them, this condition you will have no colour of reason to mistake for a regenerate state, 1. Because it is the state of him only that knowes the law (which is not a∣ble to quicken or renew) considered without the grace of Christ, which is necessary to a re∣generate man, 2. Because this law in the minde, when it is not obeyed, but despised, doth serve only to testify against us, that we knew our Ma∣sters will, and did it not, i. e. that what we did, was against thedictates of our owne conscience, which sure will never helpe to excuse a sinne Page 98 (but tather to aggravate it) or consequently to make that act reconcileable with a regenerate e∣state, which otherwise would not be so; and therefore 2. Of this kinde of composition of a man, when his minde or upper soule being in∣structed in its duty dislikes the sinnes he com∣mits, and yet he continues to commit them, you may resolve, that this striving or this dislike of his mind is no excuse or Apology for his sinne, much lesse any argument of his regeneracy or good estate; but on the other side his serving of, or captivity to the law of sinne in his members, is all one with the reigning of sinne in his body to fulfill the lusts thereof, and that a sure token of an unregenerate: for of every regenerate 'tis said 1 Joh. 5. 4. that he overcommeth the world, which is quite contrary to being sold under sinne (a phrase referring to the Romans custome of selling of slaves under a speare) or to that which is said of Ahab. 1 King. 21. 25. that he was sold (the Greeke reading) to do evill, being a slave of sin, or serving with the flesh the law of sin, & there∣fore you may conclude, that he, whosoever it is, that with the minde serves the law of God. i. e. approves of Gods command, or consents to it, that it is good, and yet with the flesh, the members, serves the law of sinne, not only commits some act of sinne, but lives indulgently in it, and is thereby enslaved to it, is never to be counted of Page 99 as a regenerate man, but only as one that by the law is taught the knowledge of his duty, but by that bare knowledge is not enabled to performe it.
But what then is the other thing you told me of the lusting of the spirit and flesh one a∣gainst the other?
Those words you will finde Gal. 5. where by the spirit is meant the seed of grace planted in my heart by God, as a principle of new life, or the minde and upper soule elevated yet higher (above the condition it is in by nature, or by the bare light of the law) by that supernaturall principle; and by the flesh is meant againe the carnall appetite still re∣maining in the most regenerate in this life: and the lusting of one of these against the other, is the absolute conttariety that is betwixt these two, that whatsoever one likes, the other dislikes, whatsoever one commends to the will, the o∣ther quarrelleth at.
What then is the meaning of that which followes this contrariety, Gal. 5. 17. in these words [so that you cannot do the things that ye would?]
The words in Greeke are not [that you cannot do] but [that you do not]* and the sence is, either 1. That this contrariety alwayes interposes some objections to hinder or trash you from doing the things that you would, i. e. sometimes the spirit trashes you from doing the thing that your flesh would have done, some∣times Page 100 the flesh trashes you from doing the thing that the spirit would have done. And 2ly. what∣soever you do, you do First against one velleity or other, And secondly with some mixture of the contrary: Or else that this contrariety gives you trouble, that whatsoever you do on either side, you do it not quietly, stilly, but with a great deale of resistance and opposition of the contrary faculty.
Well then, may this lucta, this resistance, be in a regenerate man?
Un∣doubtedly it may, and in some degrees will be, as long as we carry flesh about us, for the flesh will alwayes dislike what the spirit likes; but then, we must be sure that the flesh do not carry it against the spirit. i. e. do not get the consent of the will to it, for if it do, lust conceives and brings forth sinne, even those workes of the flesh mentioned v, 19. for though this lucta be recon∣cileable with a regenerate state, i e. that a man may be regenerate for all this, yet it is not an argument of a regenerate estate, so that every one that hath it, shall by that be concluded re∣generate; for if the flesh carry it from the spirit, to fulfill the lusts thereof, it seemes that man walkes not in the spirit. v. 16. and consequently is not in a regenerate state.
But is every man unregenerate that doth any thing that the flesh would have?
I told you, frailties and imper∣fections, and also sinnes of suddaine surreption, Page 101 and those that by daily incursion, continuall im∣portunity, at some time or other gained in upon us, (so they were as suddainly taken and repen∣ted of) were reconcileable with a regenerate e∣state; and therefore if it proceed no farther, it is onely mixture of the flesh in our best actions, or else slips and trips, or falls suddainly recovered againe; but not carnality, or walking after the flesh. And for these you know the remedy I pre∣scribed you, daily prayer for pardon for daily slips, and daily caution and care and endeavour to prevent them. But as for indulgence in, or ha∣bits of carnality, 'tis not the lusting of the spirit against the flesh that will excuse them from be∣ing workes of the flesh, or him that is guilty of them from being carnall. For it being too too possible and ordinary for the lustings of the spi∣rit, i. e. spirituall motions to be resisted, it will be little advantage to any to have had these mo∣tions, unlesse he have obeyed them, i. e. unlesse he walke in the spirit, and be led by it: for to such onely it is that there is no condemnation, Ro. 8. 1.
I shall not detaine you but with one scruple * more, and that is, whether a vow or a wish that I were penitent, will not be accepted by God for re∣pentance?
If you take that vow and that wish to be all one, you are mistaken; a wish is a farre lower degree then a vow; and therefore I Page 102 must dissolve your demand into two parts; and to the first answer, that the vow or resolution to amend, if it be sincere, and such as is apt to bring forth fruits, is sure to be accepted by God; and that it is not sincere we shall not be able to di∣scerne, but by seeing it prove otherwise in time of temptation: onely God that sees the heart, can judge of it before such triall, and if he finde it sincere, he will accept of it. But for the wish that I were penitent, there is no promise in holy writ that that shall be accepted, nor appearance of reason, why he, that wishes he were peni∣tent, but is not, should be accounted the better for that wish; 1. Because when the reward of penitents, and punishment of impenitents is once assented to as true, 'tis impossible but the minde of man should wish for the one, and have dislikes to the other, and so no virtue in that ne∣cessity. 2. Because that wishing is onely a bare, aiery, speculative act of the minde, and not a pra∣cticall of the will, which alone is punishable or rewardable. 3. Because the actions being con∣trary to such wishings are more accusable of de∣liberate sinne, and sinne against conscience; then if those motives which produced those wishes, had never beene represented to the faculty.
But are not prayers for the grace of repentance, (which are but a kinde of articulate wishes, put in forme of the court, and addressed to God) accepted Page 103 by God?
Not so farre as to save them that goe no farther. Accepted they shall be (if right∣ly qualified with humility, and ardency, and per∣severance, or not fainting) so farre as concernes the end immediate to them, i. e. God hath pro∣mised to heare them, in granting the grace prayed for, strength to convert from sin to God, (which is the cleare Gospell-promise, How much more shall your Heavenly Father give the holy spirit to them that aske?) and then when this grace, or strength given, is thus made use of to actuall reformation, then the promise of that other acceptance belongs to him also; and so prayer is a good meanes, and wishing a good thing too, as previous or preparative to that; and both without doubt proceeding from the good spirit of God. But yet if the whole worke be no more but this, if he be advanced no far∣ther toward repentance, but onely to wish, and to pray that he were penitent, this person re∣maines still impenitent, and so long the impe∣nitents portion belongs to him, and none other; for still he that is borne of God overcometh the world: and he that is advanced no farther toward a victory, then to wish or pray for it, is for that present farre enough from a conquerour; and if for the future he adde not the sincerity of en∣deavour to the importunity of prayer, the Joshu∣a's hand's held up to fight, as well as the Mo∣sesesPage 104 to pray; the sword of Gideon as the sword of the Lord, little hope that such victories will be atcheived.
God grant me this grace, and an heart to make use of it. But we have skipt o∣ver one particular forementioned, The grace of selfe-deniall. And I doe not remember that you mentioned taking up of the Crosse, which in Christ's prescriptions, is wont to be annexed to it. Give me leave to recall them to your memory. And first, what is meant by Selfe-deniall?
The abne∣garion or renouncing of all his owne holds and interests and trusts of all that man is most apt to depend upon, that he may the more expeditely follow Christ.
What are these severalls that we are thus to renounce?
In generall, what∣soever comes at any time in competition with Christ. In particular, the particulars whereof e∣very man is made up, his soule, his body, his e∣state, his good name.
What under the first head, that of his Soule?
1. His reason, when the word of Christ is contradicted, or check't by it, as in the businesse of the resurrection, and the like. I must deny my reason, and beleive Christ, bow downe the head and worship, captivate my understanding to the obedience of faith.
But I have heard that God cannot doe contradictions, or make two contradictions true at once, and in one respect. How then can I be bound to beleive God, when that which he saith contradicts reason?
Page 105 I am not glad that you have met with that sub∣tlety, yet seeing 'tis proper to the particular we are upon, and that a branch of a practicall point, I will endeavour to satisfy you in it. 1. By grant∣ing the truth of your rule, that to make both parts of a contradiction true, is absolutely impos∣sible, a thing which Gods infinite power and ve∣racity makes as unfit for God to be able to doe, as to lye, or sinne; because it were not an ex∣cesse, but defect of power, to be able to doe these. But then, secondly you must know what is meant by contradictions, nothing but affirma∣tion, and negation of the same thing in all the same respects; as to be and not to be; to be a man, and not a man; to be two yards long, and not two yards long; which therefore are thus absolutely impossible to be done, even by di∣vine power. But then thirdly, That which you called reason's contradicting of Christ, is a very distant thing from this. For when reason saith one thing, and Christ the contradictory to that, reason doth not oblige me to beleive reason; or if it doth, it bids me disbeleive Christ, and so still I beleive not contradictories, which soever of the contradictories I beleive; all that reason hath to doe in this case, is to judge which is likeliest to judge of, or affirme the truth; it's selfe, or God; wherein if it judge of it's owne side against God, it is very partiall and very A∣theisticall: Page 106 it being very reasonable, that God which cannot lye, should be beleived, rather then my owne reason, which is often deceived in judging of naturall things, it's onely proper object; but is quite blind in supernaturall, till God be pleased to reveale those unto it. The short is, reason tells me, and in that it is impos∣sible it should erre, especially God having re∣vealed nothing to the contrary, it is doubtlesse that it doth not erre) that these two propositi∣ons cannot be both true, there is another life, and there is not another life; and therefore I am not bound by Christ to beleive both; but it doth not tell me, that to affirme another life implies a contradiction, but onely that it is above reason to discerne how there can be a returne from a totall privation to a habit againe, and some o∣ther things supposed in the Resurrection, which though nature cannot doe, and consequently naturall reason cannot tell how they are done, yet reason may acknowledge the God of nature can doe, and will doe, if he saith he will; and illuminated reason having revelation of this will of God's, must and doth beleive they shall be done, or else makes God a lyar.
What then is it to deny my reason?
Whensoever my reason objects any thing to what God affirmes, to resolve that God shall be true in despight of all my apparances and objections to the contra∣ry.
Is there any thing then else in the soule which I am to deny?
Something there is which men are apt to over-value, and something there is thought to be, which is not, and both those equally renounce.
What doe you meane by that something which is over-valued?
Na∣turall strength, which is now so weakened, that it is not at all able to bring us to our journies end, without some addition of speciall grace of God, to prevent & assist in that worke; & therefore all strength in my selfe, i. e. all sufficiency in my selfe, as of my selfe, I must renounce, & apply my selfe humbly in prayer for, and trust, and dependance on that speciall grace of Christ, to helpe me both to will and doe whatsoever is good; and that is, to deny my selfe, that is, all opinion of my owne a∣bilities toward the attaining any supernaturall end.
What is that other sort of things which you say is thought to be, but is not?
Any righ∣teousnesse of my owne, for as for perfect unsin∣ning righteousnesse, he that should pretend to that, deceives himselfe, and the truth is not in him, saith the Apostle; and for imperfect righ∣teousnesse, such as by the helpe of grace this life is capable of, though that be a condition with∣out which no man shall see God; (be either justified, or saved,) yet must not that be depen∣ded on, as the cause of either, but onely the free mercy of God in Christ, not imputing of sinne; Page 108 and so I am to deny my owne righteousnesse, re∣nounce all trust in that for salvation.
What now doth self-deniall, as it referres to the body, signifie?
It signifies renouncing of all the unlawfull, sinfull desires of the flesh, and even lawfull liberty, and life it selfe, when they come in competition with Christ, so that either Christ must be parted with, or these. And the same is to be conceived both of estate, and good name; he that hateth not house and land, that is, con∣temnes them not in respect of Christ, will not part with any worldly hope or possession, rather then doe any thing contrary to Christ's com∣mand, is not worthy of me, saith Christ; and, If you receive the praise of men, how can you beleive? he that is not resolved to part with reputation, and honour, when it comes in competition with Christ, can never goe for a good Christian; and not onely thus, when these things come in com∣petition with Christ's service, but even absolute∣ly taken, some kinde of self-deniall is required of us by Christ, of which the particulars are not specified by him, but referred to our voluntary performing them. We must not allwaies doe what is lawfull to doe, but weane our selves from, and deny our selves the enjoying of many lawfull pleasures of the world, that we may have the better command over our selves, and that we may be the more vacant for Gods ser∣vice, Page 109 thus fasting, &c. become our duty, yea and revenge, or contrary abstinence in case of former excesse.
This grace, by the hints you have af∣forded me, I discerne to be a most eminent Chri∣stian virtue, the God of heaven plant it in my heart. But what doe you thinke needfull to adde to this; about taking up the crosse?
That it is a precept peculiar to the Gospell, that no∣thing but Christianity could make fit to be com∣manded us.
What doe you meane by the crosse, and by taking it up?
By the crosse I meane any affliction that God in his providence sees fit to lay upon us, or to lay in our way toward pie∣ty. Any punishment which befalls us either for righteousnesse sake, or not for unrighteousnesse.
What meane you by taking it up?
1. Not receding from any Christian performance upon sight of that in the way, which in the parable of the sower is, not being offended; or scandali∣zed, or discouraged, or falling away in time of tribulation. 2. Bearing of it patiently, chear∣fully, and comfortably. 3. Giving God thankes for it.
Is a man bound to be glad that he is af∣flicted?
He is. 1. Because he sees it is God's will, when 'tis actually upon him; and then he ought to be willing, and joyfull, that God's will is done. 2. Because Christ commands him to re∣joice, and be exceeding glad, Mat. 5. 12. Rejoice and leape for joy, Luk. 6. 23. To thinke it all joy. Ja. Page 110 1. 2. 3. Because it is a conforming us to the I∣mage of the crucified Christ, to which every beloved of God's is predestinate. Rom. 8. 29. 4. Because it is such a signe of God's love, that every one that is not chastened, is by that character mark't out for a bastard, and no sonne. Heb. 12. 8. Which though it be not set down, as a duty of ours, for which we are to ac∣count; or againe as a marke by which men are given to discerne, whether they are children of God, or no; yet is it as an aphorisme of obser∣vation for Gods ordinary acts of providence now under the Gospell, that he is wont to cha∣stise those here, whom he best loves, which is sufficient motive of joy to him, who finds him∣selfe in that good number.
But is a man bound to give thanks for Afflictions?
Yes, he is, 1. Because that is the only spirituall Chri∣stian way of expressing to God his rejoyceing. 2. Because it comes from God, and is meant by him for our good, a gift, or donative of hea∣ven; To you it is given. Phil. 1. 29. it is grant∣ed as a grace and vouchsafement of Gods speci∣all favour to suffer for Christ: and that grace de∣signed. 1. To reforme what is amisse, 2. To punish here, that there may be nothing of evill left for another world, 3. Because we are so commanded to glorifie God in this behalfe. 1 Pet. 4. 16. and in this respect to sanctifie the Lord Page 111 God in our hearts. 1. Pet. 3. 15. i. e. to hal∣low, or praise him for it.
This is easily as∣sented to, if it fall upon me for righteousnesse sake, as the Apostles went out of the Temple rejoyceing, that they were thought worthy to suffer shame for Christs name: but what if it be not so, but only that afflictions fall on me, I know not how?
They are then not only patiently and thankfully to be received, but to be rejoy∣ced in also. 1. Because of all kind of chastening the Apostle pronounceth, that, though for the present it seemeth not joyous, but grevious; yet af∣terward it yeildeth the peaceable fruit of righte∣ousnesse, unto them which be exercised thereby. Heb. 12. 11. 2. Because there is somewhat be∣hinde of the suffering of Christ, to be filled up in our flesh. Col. 1. 24. i. e. some relicks of that bit∣ter passion-cup of his for us to drinke. 3. Be∣cause it is such an expression of a curse to have our reward, and with Dives, all our good things in this life, and that an ominous signe that there is nothing left to be rewarded in another life.
What then is to be thought of them, who to get the crosse off from their owne shoulders, and to put it on other mens, will venture on things most con∣trary to peace, and shake the quiet, perhaps the foundations of a Kingdome?
I will say no more, (and I can scarcely say worse) then that they are enemies to the crosse of Christ, a very ill Page 112 and sad spectacle among Christians; and that there is nothing more unreasonable then to pre∣tend Christianity for the doing this, which is so perfectly contrary to it.
You have now past through all Christian graces at the first designed for consideration. I shall put you in minde of the next thing whereof you have made your selfe my debtor, the differ∣ence of, and dependence betweene Justification and Sanctification, wherein first you will please to give me the notion of the single termes, And, 1. what is Justification.
[§ 4] *It is Gods accepting our persons, and not imputing our sinnes, his covering, or pardoning our iniquities, his being so reconciled unto us sinners, that he determins not to punish us eter∣nally.
What is the cause of that?
God's free mercy unto us in Christ, revealed in the new Covenant.
What in us is the Instru∣mentall cause of it?
As an Instrument is lo∣gically and properly taken, and signifies an infe∣riour, lesse principall, efficient cause, so nothing in us can have any thing to do (i. e. any kind of physicall efficiency) in this worke; neither is it imaginable it should, it being a worke of God's upon us, without us, concerning us, but not with∣in us at all. And, if you marke, Justification be∣ing in plaine termes but the accepting our per∣sons and pardoning of sinnes, it would be very Page 113 improper and harsh to affirme, that our workes, our any thing, even our Faith it selfe should ac∣cept our persons, or pardon our sinnes, though in never so inferiour a notion; which yet they must, if they were instrumentall in our Justifica∣tion. 'tis true indeed, those necessary qualificati∣ons, which the Gospell requires in us, are condi∣tions or morall instruments, without which we shall not be justified; but those are not properly called instruments or causes.
What are those qualifications?
Faith, repentance, firme purpose of a new life, and the rest of those gra∣ces, upon which in the Gospell pardon is pro∣mised the Christian; all comprizable in the new creature, conversion, regeneration. &c.
Are these required in us, so as without them, we can∣not be justifyed? How then are we justified, by the free grace of God?
Yes, these two are very reconcileable, for there is no merit in our Faith or Repentance, or any poore weake grace of ours to deserve Gods favour to our persons or pardon of what sins are past, or acceptation of our imperfect obedience for the future; 'tis his free grace to pardon and accept us on such poore conditions as these, and this free grace purchas∣ed, and sealed to us by the death of Christ.
What now is Sanctification?
The * word may note either a guift of God's, his gi∣ving of grace to prevent, and sanctifie us; or a Page 114duty of ours, our having i. e. making use of that grace; and both these considered together, ei∣ther as an Act, or as a State.
What is it as it signifies an Act?
The infusion of holinesse in our hearts, or of some degrees of holynesse, and parallell to that, the receiving and obeying the good motions of God's sanctifying spirit, and laying them up to fructifie in an honest heart; the turning of a soule to God, or the first begin∣ing of new life.
What is it as it signifies a State?
The living a new, a holy, a graci∣ous life, in obedience to the good grace of God and dayly improving and growing, and at last persevering and dying in it.
What now is the dependence between Justification and Sanctificati∣on?
This, that the first part of Sanctificati∣on, the beginning of new life, must be first had before God pardons or justifies any, then when God is thus reconciled to the new convert u∣pon his vow of new life, he gives him more grace, enables & assists him for that state of San∣ctification, wherein if he makes good use of that grace, he then continues to enjoy this favour and Justification; but if he performe not his vow, proceed not in Christian holy life, but re∣lapse into wasting acts or habits of sinne, then God chargeth againe all his former sinnes upon him, and those present iniquities of his, and in them, if he returne not againe, he shall die, as Page 115 appeares by Ez. 18. 24. If the righteous (i. e. the sanctified and justified person) depart from his righteousnesse, and committeth iniquity; in his sinne, that he hath sinned, he shall dye: and by the parable of the King, Matt. 18. where he that had the debt pardoned him freely by his Lord, yet, for exacting over severely from his fel∣low servant, is againe unpardoned and cast into prison, delivered to the tormentors till he should pay all that was due unto him. v. 34. which pa∣rable Christ applyes to our present businesse. v. 35. So likewise shall my heavenly father do also unto you.
But is not a man Justified before he is Sanctified; and if he be, how then can his Justification depend on his Sanctification?
If he were justified before he were sanctified in a∣ny kind, then would your reasoning hold, for sure by the same reason that justification might be begun before repentance or resolution of new life, or conversion to God; it might also be continued to him that repented not, or that returned to his evill way; and therefore, with∣out all doubt this kind of Sanctification is pre∣cedent in order of nature to justification. i. e. I must first beleive, repent, and returne, (all which together is that faith which is required as the condition of our being justified, a receiv∣ing of the whole Christ, a cordiall assent to his commands, as well as promises, a giving up the Page 116 heart to him, a resolution of obedience, a prone∣nesse or readinesse to obey him, the thing with∣out * which (saith an antient writer) Christ can do none of his miracles upon our soules, any more then he could his mighty workes among his unbeleiving countrymen) before God will pardon: (though indeed in respect of time there is no sensible priority, but God's pardon and our change goe together, at what time soever we re∣pent, or convert sincerely, God will have mercy. i. e. justifie.) A further proofe of this, if it be need∣full, you may take from the author to the He∣brewes. c. 10. where having said v. 14. that Christ by his owne suffering perfected for ever them that are sanctified, intimating that they must be san∣ctified before he perfect them, he addeth a proofe by which these two things are cleared, First, that to perfect there, signifies to forgive sinnes or to justifie. Secondly that this doctrine of the priority of sanctification is agreeable to the de∣scription of the second covenant, Jer. 31. 33. That by perfecting he meanes justifying or par∣doning of sinnes, 'tis apparent by v. 17. their sins and iniquities will I remember no more; which must needes be acknowledged to be that part of the testimony that belongs to that part of the proposition to be proved by it [〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, he hath perfected for ever] (the former part of the testimony belongs to the latter part Page 117 of the proposition, as being an expression of sanctification) which may farther thus appeare; to perfect, in this Author, signifies to consecrate to preisthood (c. 2. 10. 5. 9. & 7. 28.) that, being ap∣plyed to us, is a phrase to note boldnes or liberty to enter into the Holies v. 19. that againe to pray confidently to God, which v. 18. is set to denote pardon of sinne, and washing our hearts from an evill conscience, i. e. from guilt of sinne v. 22. Which being premised, the second thing most necessaryly followes, that in Jeremy 31. 33. the tenure of the covenant sets Sanctificati∣on before Justification; for, saith the Apostle, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, he first said, I will put my law into their hearts, and put or write them in their thoughts, or minds, and then 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, after the saying of that, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Also I will no more remember their sinnes, nor their offences. Many other Scripture-evidences might be added to this matter, if it were need∣full. As for those that make Justification to be before Sanctification, I hope and conceive they meane by sanctification that sanctified state, the actuall performance and practice of our vowes of new life and our growth in grace, and by our Justification that first act of pardon; and then they say true; but if they meane, that our sinnes are pardoned before we convert to God and resolve new life, and that the first grace enabling to do these, is a consequent of God's Page 118 having pardoned our sinnes, this is a mistake which in effect excludes justification by faith, which is that first Grace of receiving of Christ and resigning our hearts up to him, and must be in order of nature precedent to our Justification, or else can neither be condition, nor instrument of it and besides, this is apt to have an ill influ∣ence on practice, and therefore I thought fit to prevent it. The issue of all is, that God will not pardon till we in heart reforme and amend, he that forsaketh, i. e. in hearty sincere resolution abandons the sinnes of the old man, shall have mercy, and none but he. And then, God will not continue this gracious favour of his, but to those, who make use of his assisting grace to persevere in these resolutions of forsaking; so that the justification is still commensurate to the sanctification, an act of justification upon an act of sanctification; or a resolution of new life, and a continuance of justification, upon continuance of the sanctifyed estate.
But is not God first reconciled unto us, before he gives us any grace to sanctifie us?
So farre reconciled he is, as to give us grace, and so farre as to make conditi∣onall promises of salvation, but not so as to give pardon or justifie actually; for you know, whom God justifies those he glorifies, i. e. if they passe out of this life in a justified estate they are cer∣tainely glorified; but you cannot imagine, that Page 119 God will glorify any who is not yet sanctified; for without holinesse no man shall see the Lord. And therefore you will easily conclude, that God justifies none, who are unsanctified; for if he did, then supposing the person to dye in that in∣stant, it must follow, either that the unsanctified man is glorified, or the justified man not glorified. Any thing else God may doe to the unsanctified man, but either save him, or doe somewhat on which saving infallibly followes; and there∣fore give him Grace he may, but till that Grace be received and treasured up in an honest heart, he will never be throughly reconciled to him, i. e. justify or save.
I pray then from these premises set me downe the order or method used by God in the saving of a sinner.
I will. It is this. 1. God gives his sonne to dye for him, and satisfy for his sinnes; so that, though he be a sinner, yet on condition of a new life he may be saved. Then 2. In that death of Christ, he strikes with him a New Covenant, a Covenant of mercy and grace. Then 3. According to that Covenant he sends his spirit, and by the word and that an∣nexed to it he calls the sinner powerfully to re∣pentance; If he answer to that call, and awake, and arise, make his sincere faithfull resolutions of new life; God then 4. Justifies, accepts his per∣son, and pardon's his sinnes past: Then 5. gives Page 120 him more grace, assists him to doe, (as before he enabled to will,) to performe his good reso∣lutions. Then 6. upon continuance in that state, in those performances till the houre of death, he gives to him as to a faithfull servant, a crowne of life.
The Good Lord he thus mercifull to me a sinner. I blesse God, and give you many thankes for these directions, and shall be well pleased to continue you my debtor for the other particular you promised me, till some farther time of leisure, and so intermit your trouble a while.