The XIX. Sermon
1 Tim. I. 15.
IN all Humane writings and Learning, there is a [ D] kind of poverty and emptiness, which makes them when they are beheld by a judicious rea∣der look starved and crest-faln: their speeches are rather puft up then fill'd, they have a kind of boasting and ostentation in them, and pro∣mise more substance and matter to the ear, then they are able to perform really to the under∣standing: whence it falls out, that we are more affected with them [ E] at the first hearing, and, if the Orator be clear in his expression, we understand as much at the first recital, as we are able to do at the hundredth repetition. But there is a kind of Excellency in the Scripture, a kind of 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or sublimity above all other writings in the world. The reading of every section of it leaves a sting in the mind, and a perpetual conceit of a still imperfect understanding of it. An intelligent man at every view finds in it a fresh mystery, and still perceives that there is somewhat beyond, not yet attain'd [ F] to: like men digging in mines, the deeper he dives he finds the greatest treasure, and meets with that under ground, which looking on the outward turf, or surfice, he never imagined to have been there. This I observe unto you, to shew you the riches both of all, and especially of this Scripture, whereinto the deeper I dig, Page 285 [ A] the more oar I find: and having already bestowed one hour in the discussing of it, without any violence, or wresting, or wire-drawing find plenty of new materials.
We have already handled the Words at large in one consideration, as they are a profession of Paul himself; I will not repeat you the particular occurrents. We now without any more delay of pre∣face come to the second consideration of them, as they are spoken by Paul respectively to us, i. e. as they are prescribed us for a form [ B] of confessing the estate, and applying the salvation of sinners unto ourselves, teaching each of us for a close of our Faith and Devo∣tion to confess, Of all, &c.
Where first the cadence or manner how Paul falls into these words, is worthy to be both observed and imitated: the chief and whole business of this verse being the truth, the acceptable truth of Christs Incarnation, with the end of it, the saving of sinners. He can no sooner name this word sinners, but his exceeding melting [ C] tenderness abruptly falls off, and subsumes, Of all sinners, &c. If there be any thing that concerns sinners, I am sure I have my part in that, for of that number I am the chief. The note by the way briefly is, That a tender conscience never hears of the name of sinner, but straight applies it to it self. It is noted by Aristotle, the master of Human Learning, that that Rhetorick was very thin and unpro∣fitable, very poor and like to do little good upon mens affections, which insisted on general matters,* and descended not to particu∣lars, [ D] as if one should discourse of sin in general, and sinners with∣out reference to this or that particular sin or sinner; and the rea∣son of his note was, because men are not moved or stirred with this eloquence. The intemperate person could hear a declamation against vice, and never be affected with it, unles it stooped to take notice of his particular enormities, and so is it with other criminals. This reason of his was grounded upon the obdurateness of mens hearts, which would think that nothing concerned them, [ E] but what was framed against the individual offender, all such being as dull and unapt to understand any thing that being applied might move or prick them, as men are to take notice of a com∣mon national judgment, which we never duly weigh, till we smart under it in particular. This senslesness may also seem to have been amongst St. Paul's Corinthians, which made him use Aristotles counsel, in driving his speech home to their private pen∣sons, 1 Cor. vi.* Where telling them that neither fornicators nor [ F] Idolaters, and the like, shall inherit the Kingdom of God; for fear they should not be so tender-conscienced as of their own accords to apply these sins to themselves, and read themselves guilty in that glass; he is fain to supply that office, and plainly tell them what otherwise perhaps they would not have conceived, and such were some of you, ver. 11. This sensless hard-heartedness or back∣wardness Page 286 in applying the either commands or threatnings of the [ A] law to ones self, is by the Apostle called, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, which we ordinarily translate a reprobate mind, but may be brought to signi∣fie a mind without judgment, that hath no faculty of discerning, that cannot in a general threatning observe something that may con∣cern the danger of his particular state: or as it may be rendred, a mind without sense, not apprehensive of those things which are manifestly proposed to them, like those walking Idols described by the Psalmist,*Eyes have they and see not, ears and hear not, noses [ B] and smell not, only beautiful carcasses of Christians, which have nothing but their shape and motion to perswade you that they live: unless we add this most unhappy symptom, which indicates a state more wretched far then death it self, that there is strength and vigour to oppose recovery, that amidst death there yet survives a hatred, and antipathy to life. In such a soul as this there is a perpetual reaction, an impatience of the presence of any thing which may trash, incumber, or oppress it: a judgment or denunciation is [ C] but cast away upon it, it shall be sure to return unprofitably, and neither move nor mend it. This hath been, and much more might be observed to you, of the carriage of the hard, stupid heart toward either Scripture or Preacher, to the plain opening of this point; for you shall more clearly understand the tender heart by observing the obdurate, and learn to be affected aright with Gods law or punishments, by knowing and hating the opposite stubborn senslesness. Now in brief, this tender heart in the discovery of [ D] a sin, or denunciation of a judgment needs not a particular, Thou art the man] to bring it home to his person. The more wide, and general the proposal is, the more directly and effectually is this strucken with it. In a common satyre or declamation against sin in general, it hath a suddain art of Logick to anatomize and branch this sin in general into all its parts; and then to lay each of them to its own charge; it hath a skill of making every passage in the Scrip∣ture, a glass to espy some of her deformities in, and cannot so [ E] much as mention that ordinary name of sin or sinner, without an extraordinary affection, and unrequired accusation of it self. Of all sinners, &c. The plain reason of this effect in the tender heart is, first because it is tender. The soft and accurate part of a mans body do suffer without reaction, i. e. do yield at the appearance of an enemy, and not any way put forward to repel him. These being fixt on by a Bee, or the like, are easily penetrated by the sting, and are so far from resisting of it, that they do in a manner [ F] draw it to them, and by their free reception allure it to enter so far, that the owner can seldom ever recover it back again. Whereas on a dead carcase, a thick or callous member of the body, a Bee may fix and not forfeit her sting. So doth a tender heart never re∣sist or defend it self against a stroke, but attenuates its self, layes Page 287 [ A] wide open its pores, to facilitate its entrance, seems to woo a threatning, to prick, and sting, and wound it sharply, as if it re∣joyced in, and did even court those torments which the sense of sin or judgment thus produced.
Again, a tender heart ordinarily meets with more blows, more oppressions then any other: its very passiveness provokes every ones malice; the fly and dust, as if it were by a kind of natural in∣stinct, drive directly at the eye, and no member about you shall be [ B] oftener rubb'd or disordered then that which is raw or distemper∣ed; the reason being because that which is not worthy notice to a∣nother part is an affliction to this, and a mote which the hand observes not, will torment the eye. So is it with the Conscience, whose ten∣derness doth tempt every piece of Scripture to afflict it, and is more incumbred with the lest atome of sin or threat, then the more hard∣ned sinner is with a beam or Mountain.
Thirdly, one that hath any solemn business to do will not pass [ C] by any opportunity of means which may advantage him in it. One that hath a search to make, will not slip any evidence which may concur to the helping of his discovery, one that hath any Treatise to write, will be ready to apply any thing that ever he reads to h•s Theme or purpose. Now the search, the discourse, the whole im∣ployment of a tender heart, is the enquiry after the multitude of its sins, and in sum the aggravation of each particular guilt, in and against it self, that so having sufficiently loaded it self, and being [ D] tired with the weight and burthen of its sins, it may in some mea∣sure perform the condition which Christ requires of them which come to him and be prepared to receive that ease which Christ hath promised to the weary and heavy laden.* So then if the tender Conscience doth never repel, or reverberate any mention of sin, but doth draw out the sting of it to its length, if it be much affected with the lest atome of sin, and therefore meets with frequent disorders, if lastly it make its imployment to gather out of all the Scripture, [ E] those places which may advantage her in the sight and sense of her sins: then certainly doth she never hear of the name of sinner, but straight she applies it to her self, which was the point we under∣took to shew. The direct use of this Proposition is for a 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or judgment of our estate. 'Tis observed in the body, that the rest of the senses may be distempered, and lost without impairing of it, but only the touch cannot, which therefore they call the sense of life, because that part or body which is deprived of feeling, [ F] is also at deaths door, and hath no more life in it, then it hath reliques of this sense. So is it also in spiritual matters: of all o∣ther symptomes this of senslesness is most dangerous, and as the Greek Physicians are wont to say of a desperate disease, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, very very mortal. This feeling tenderness is necessa∣ry to the life of grace, and is an inseparable both effect and argu∣ment Page 288 of it. Wherefore I say for the judgment of your selves, ob∣serve [ A] how every piece of Scripture works upon you. If you can pass over a Catalogue of sins and judgments without any regret, or reluctancy, if you can read Sodom and Gomorrah, Babylon and the Harlot Jerusalem, and not be affected with their stories, if thou canst be the Auditor of other mens faults without any sense or gri∣ping of thine own, if the name of sin or sinner be unto thee but as a jest or fable, not worthy thy serious notice, then fear thy affecti∣ons want of that temper, which the softning spirit is wont to be∣stow [ B] where it rests, and accordingly as thou findest this tender∣ness increasing or waining in thee, either give thanks or pray: either give thanks for the plenty of that spirit which thou enjoy∣est, or in the sense of thy wants importune it, that God will give us softned relenting hearts, that the recital of other mens sins may move us, other mens judgments may strike us, other mens repen∣tance melt us with a sense, with a confession, with a contrition of our own. But above all, O Holy Spirit, from hardness of heart, [ C] from an undiscerning, reprobate spirit, from a contempt, nay neg∣lect, a not observing of thy Word, as from the danger of hell, Good Lord deliver us.
And thus much of this point, of this effect of a tender heart, noted to you out of the cadence of the words. I now come to ob∣serve somewhat more real out of the main of the words themselves, Of whom, &c. We find not our Apostle here complementing with himself, either excusing or attenuating his guilt, but as it were [ D] glorying in the measure of his sins, striving for preeminence above all other sinners, challenging it as his right, and as eager upon the preferment, as his fellow labourer Peter his successor for a Pri∣macy (as he professes) of all Bishops, yea the whole Church; so our Apostle here, Of all sinners I am the chief. The note briefly is this, That every one is to aggravate the measure and number of his sins against himself, and as near as he can observe how his guilt ex∣ceedeth other mens. This was St. Pauls practise and our pattern [ E] not to be gazed on but followed, not to be discust, but imitated. In the discourse whereof I shall not labour to prove you the ne∣cessity of this practise, which yet I might do out of Davids ex∣ample in his penitential Psalms, especially 51. out of Nehemiahs confession, and the like, but taking this as supposed, I shall ra∣ther mix doctrine, and reason, and use, altogether in prescribe∣ing some forms of aggravating our selves to our selves, yet not de∣scending to a particular dissection of sin into all its parts, but deal∣ing [ F] only on general heads, equally appliable to all men, briefly reducible to these two, 1. Original sin, or the sin of our nature, of which we are all equally guilty, 2. Personal sin, grounded in and terminated to each mans person. For Original sin, it is the Fathers complaint, and ought more justly to be ours of these times, Page 289 [ A] that there is no reckoning made of it, 'tis seldom thought worthy to supply a serious place in our humiliation, 'tis mentioned only for fashions sake, and as it were to stop Gods mouth, and to give him satisfaction, or palliate the guilt of our wilful rebellions, not on any real apprehension that its cure and remedy in Baptism is a con∣siderable benefit, or the remanant weakness (after the killing venom is abated) were more then a trivial disadvantage. So that we have a kind of need of original clearness of understanding, [ B] to judge of the foulness of original sin, and we cannot sufficiently conceive our los, without some recovery of those very faculties we forfeited in it. But that we may not be wilfully blind in a matter that so imports us, that we may understand somewhat of the nature and dangerous condition of this sin, you must conceive Adam who committed this first sin, in a doub'e respect, either as one particular man, or as containing in his loyns the whole nature of man, all mankind, which should ever come from him. Adams [ C] particular sin, i. e. his personal disobedience is wonderfully aggra∣vated by the Fathers,* 1. from his original justice, which God had bestowed on him, 2. from the near familiarity with God, which he enjoyed and then lost, 3. from the perpetual blest estate, which had it not been for this disobedience he might for ever have lived in, 4. from the purity and integrity of his Will, which was then void of all sinful desire,* which otherwise might have tempted to this disobedience, 5. from the easiness of both remembring and ob∣serving [ D] the Commandment, it being a short prohibition, and only to abstain from one tree, where there was such plenty besides, 6. from the nature and circumstances of the offence by which the Fathers do refer it to all manner of most hainous sins,* making it to contain a breach of almost each moral law, all which were then written in the tables of his heart, and therefore concluding it to be an aggregate or mixture of all those sins which we have since so reiterated, and so many times sinn'd over. So then this [ E] personal sin of Adam was of no mean size, not to be reckoned of as an every days offence, as an ordinary breach, or the meer eating of an apple. In the next place, as Adam was no private person, but the whole humane nature, so this sin is to be considered either in the root, or in the fruit, in its self, or in its effects. In its self, so all mankind, and every particular man, is, and in that name must humble himself as concerned in the eating of that fruit, which only Adams teeth did fasten on; is to deem himself bound to be [ F] humbled for that pride, that curiosity, that disobedience, or whatsoever sin else can be contained in that first great transgressi∣on▪ and count you this nothing to have a share in such a sin, which contains such a multitude of rebellions? T'is not a slight, perfunctory humiliation that can expiate, not a small labour that can destroy this monster which is so rich in heads, each to be cut Page 290 off by the work of a several repentance. Now in the last place, [ A] as this sin of all mankind in Adam is considered in its effects, so it becomes to us a body of sin and death, a natural disorder of the whole man, an hostility and enmity of the flesh against the spirit, and the parent of all sin in us, as may appear Rom. vii. and Jam. i. 14. Which that you may have a more compleat understanding of, consider it as it is ordinarily set down, consisting of three parts, 1. A natural defect, 2. A moral affection, 3. A legal guilt. 1. A guiltiness of the breach of the law, for these three (whatsoever you [ B] may think of them) are all parts of that sin of our nature, which is in, and is to be imputed to us, called ordinarily original sin in us, to distinguish it from that first act committed by Adam, of which this is an effect. And first that natural defect is a total loss, and privation of that primitive justice, holiness and obedience, which God had furnisht the creature withal; a disorder of all the powers of the soul, a darkness of the understanding, a perversness of the will, a debility, weakness, and decay of all the senses, and [ C] in sum, a poverty and destruction, and almost a nothingness of all the powers of soul and body. And how ought we to lament this loss with all the veins of our heart? to labour for some new strain of expressing our sorrow, and in fine to petition that rich grace, which may build up all these ruines? to pray to God that his Christ may purchase and bestow on us new abilities? that the second Adam may furnish us with more durable powers and lasting graces then we had, but forfeited in the first? The following part [ D] of this sin of our nature, viz. A moral evil affection, is word for word mentioned Rom. vii. 5. For there the Greek words,*〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, ordinarily translated motions of sins, and in the mar∣gin the passions of sins, are more significantly to be rendred affections of sins,*i. e. by an usual figure, sinful affections. That you may the better observe the encumbrances of this branch of this sin,* which doth so overshadow the whole man, and so sence him from the beams and light of the spiritual invisible Sun, I am to tell you that [ E] the very Heathen that lived without the knowledge of God, had no conversation with, and so no instruction from the Bible in this matter, that these very Heathens I say, had a sense of this part of original sin, to wit, of these evil moral lusts and affections, which they felt in themselves, though they knew not whence they sprang.* Hence is it that a Greek Philosopher out of the ancients makes a large discourse of the unsatiable desire and lust which is in every man, and renders his life grievous unto him, where he [ F] useth the very same word, though with a significant Epithet added to it, that St. James doth c. i. ver. 15. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, infinite lust,* with which, as St. James saith, a man is drawn away and enticed, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, so saith he, that part of the mind in which these lusts dwell, is perswaded and drawn, or Page 291 [ A] rather falls backward and forward, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, which lust or evil concupiscence he at last defines to be, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, an unsattable intemperance of the appetite, never filled with a desire, never ceasing in the prosecution of evil; and again he calls it,*〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, our birth and nativity derived to us by our parents, i. e. an evil affection hereditary to us, and de∣livered to us as a legacy at our birth or nativity: all which seems [ B] a clear expression of that original lust, whose motions they felt, and guest at its nature. Hence is it, that it was a custom among all of them, I mean the common Heathen, to use many ways of pur∣gations, especially on their children, who at the imposition of their names were to be lustrated and purified with a great deal of superstition and ceremony, such like as they used to drive away a plague, or a cure for an house or City. As if nature by instinct had taught them so much Religion, as to acknowledge and desire [ C] to cure in every one this hereditary disease of the soul, this plague of mans heart, as 'tis called 1 Kings viii. 38.* And in sum the whole learning of the Wisest of them (such were the Moralists) was directed to the governing and keeping in order of these evil affections,* which they called the unruly Citizens and common peo∣ple of the soul,* whose intemperance and disorders they plainly ob∣served within themselves, and laboured hard to purge out, or subdue to the government of reason, and vertue, which two we [ D] more fully enjoy, and more Christianly call the power of grace, redeeming our souls from this body of sin. Thus have I briefly shewed you the sense that the very Heathen had of this second branch of original sin, which needs therefore no farther aggrava∣tion to you but this, that they who had neither Spirit nor Scrip∣ture to instruct them, did naturally so feelingly observe and curse it, that by reason of it they esteemed their whole life but a living death,*〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; [ E] and their body but the Sepulchre of the soul,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, both which together are but a Peri∣phrasis of that which St. Paul calls in brief the body of death. And shall we who have obtained plenty of light and instruction, besides that which nature bestowed on us with them, shall we, I say, let our eyes be confounded with abundance of day? shall we see it more clearly to take less notice of it? Shall we feel the stings of sin within us (which though they do but prick the regenerate, [ F] prove mortal to the rest of us) and shall we not observe them? Shall we not rather weep those fountains dry, and crop this luxury of our affections with a severe, sharp sorrow and humiliation? Shall we not starve this rank, fruitful mother of Vipers, by deny∣ing it all nourishment from without, all advantages of temptati∣ons and the like, which it is wont to make use of to beget in us all Page 292 manner of sin: let us aggravate every circumstance and inconveni∣ence [ A] of it to ourselves, and then endeavour to banish it out of us, and when we find we are not able, importune that strong assistant the Holy Spirit, to curb and subdue it, that in the necessity of re∣siding, it yet may not reign in our mortal bodies; to tame and abate the power of this necessary Amorite, and free us from the activity and mischief, and temptations of it here, and from the punishment and imputation of it hereafter. And so I come to the third part, or branch of this original sin, to wit, its legal guilt, and this we [ B] do contract by such an early prepossession, that it outruns all other computations of our life. We carry a body of sin about us, before we have one of flesh, have a decrepit, weak old man, with all his crazy train of affections and lusts, before even infancy begins. Be∣hold saith the Psalmist,* Psal. li. 5. I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me: as if guilt were the plastick power that formed us, and wickedness the Minera and Element of our being, as if it were that little moving point which the curious enquirers [ C] into nature find to be the rudiment of animation, and pants not then for life, but lust, and endless death. So that the saying of St. James,* chap. i. 15. seems a description of our natural birth, When lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin, and sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Nor does this hasty inmate leave us when grown up: no, it improves its rancour against God and goodness, mixes with custom, passion, and example, and whatever thing is apt to lead us unto mischief, somenting all the wild desires of our in∣ferior [ D] brutal part, till it become at last an equal and profest enemy, making open hostility, setting up its sconces, fortifying it self with munition and defence, as meaning to try the quarrel with God, and pretending right to man, whom God doth but usurp. Thus shall you see it encampt, and settingup its banners for tokens, under that proud name of another law, Rom. vii. 23. I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and as if it had got the better of the day, bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, [ E] which is in the members, i. e. unto its self. And shall we feel such an enemy within us, laying siege at God and grace in us, and fiercely resolving, whether by deceit or battery to captivate us unto himself, and shall we not take notice of him? Shall we not think it worthy our pains and expence to defeat him, or secure our selves? Beloved, that will be the best stratagem for the taking of this enemy, which is now adays most ordinary in sieges, to block up all passages, and hinder all access of fresh provision, [ F] and so by denying this greedy devourer all nourishment from without, to starve and pine him into such a tameness, that he may be taken without resistance; which how really you may perform by these means of mortification and repentance prescribed you in Scripture, you shall better learn by your own practice then Page 293 [ A] my discourse. The fourth aggravation of this guilt is, that is, that its minera and fewel lurks even in a regenerate man,*wretched, &c. and enforceth Paul into a conflict, a war against himself. And is it possible for one otherwise happy (as the regenerate man in∣wardly surely is) to sleep securely, and never to try a field with the Author of its so much misery, or finding it to be within its self part of it self, not to think it a sin worthy repentance, and sorrow, by which Gods Holy Spirit is so resisted, so affronted, [ B] and almost quelled and cast out? Fifthly and lastly, the guilt of it appears by the effects of it, 1. inclination, 2. consent to evil: for even every inclination to sin without consent is an irregularity and kind of sin, i. e. an aversion of some of our faculties from God; all which should directly drive amain to him and goodness. That servant which is commanded with all speed and earnestness, to go about any thing, offends against his Masters precept, if he any way incline to disobedience, if he perform his commands with any [ C] regret or reluctancy. Now secondly, consent is so natural a con∣sequent of this evil inclination, that in a man you can scarce discern, much less sever them. No man hath any inordinate lust, but doth give some kind of consent to it, the whole will being so infected with this lust, that that can no sooner bring forth evil motions, but this will be ready at hand with evil desires: and then how evi∣dent a guilt, how plain a breach of the law it is you need not mine eyes to teach you. Thus have I insisted somewhat largely on the [ D] branches of Original sin, which I have spread and stretcht the wider, that I might furnish you with more variety of aggravati∣ons on each member of it, which I think may be of important use, for this or any other popular Auditory, because this sin ordi∣narily is so little thought of, even in our solemnest humiliations. When you profess that you are about the business of repentance, you cannot be perswaded that this common sin, which Adam, as you reckon, only sinned, hath any effect on you. I am yet afraid [ E] that you still hardly believe that you are truly, and in earnest to be sorry for it, unless the Lord strike our hearts with an exact sense, and profest feeling of this sin of our nature, and corruption of our kind.
And so I come briefly to a view of each mans personal sins, I am [ F] the chief: where I might rank all manner of sins into some forms or seats, and then urge the deformity of each of them single and naked to your view, but I will for the present presume your un∣derstandings sufficiently instructed in the hainousness of each sin forbidden by the Commandments. For others who will make more or less sins then the Scripture doth, I come not to swatisfie Page 294 them, or decide their Cases of Conscience. In brief I will pro∣pose [ A] to your practice only two forms of confessing your sins, and humbling your selves for them, which I desire you to aggravate to your selves, because I have not now the leisure to beat them low, or deep to your consciences. Besides original sin already spoken of, you are to lay hard to your own charges, 1. your par∣ticular chief sins, 2. all your ordinary sins in gross. For the first, observe but that one admirable place in Solomons Prayer at the dedication of the Temple.*If there be in the land famine, &c. What∣soever [ B] plague, whatsoever sickness, what prayer or supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hand to this house, then hear thou in Heaven, &c. Where the condition of obtaining their requests from God is excellently set down, if they shall know, i. e. be sensible of, be sorry for, and confess to God every man the plague of his own heart, that is, in the bulk and heap of their sins, shall pick the fairest loveliest sin in the pack, the plague, i. e. [ C] the pestilential, reigning, sweeping offence, on which all the lower train of petty faults do wait and depend, do minister and suppe∣ditate matter to work. If, I say, they shall take this captain sin, and anatomize, and cut up, and discover every branch of him with∣out any fraud or concealment before the Lord, and then sacrifice that dear darling, and with it their whole fleshy lust as an Holo∣caust, or whole burnt-offering before the Lord: then will he hear from Heaven his dwelling place, and when he heareth, forgive even [ D] their other concealed sins, because they have disclosed so entirely, and parted so freely from that. For there is in every of us one master sin that rules the rabble, one fatling which is fed with the choicest of our provision, one captain of the Devils troop, one the plague in every mans heart. This being sincerely confest and displaid, and washed in a full stream of tears; for the lower more ordinary sort, for the heap or bulk, we must use Davids pe∣nitential compendious art,*Psal. xix. 12. who overcome with the [ E] multitude of his sins to be repeated, folds them all in this prayer, Who can tell how oft he offendeth? &c.
And so much of this Doctrine of aggravating our sins to our selves, which we are to perform in our daily audit betwixt us and our own consciences. There is another seasonable Observation be∣hind in a word to be handled; this particle 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, of whom, hath a double relation, either to sinners simply, and so it hath been [ D] handled already, or to sinners as they are here set down, to wit, those sinners which Christ came into the world to save: and so St. Paul here is changed from the chief of sinners to the chief of Saints, and then the Doctrine is become a Doctrine of comfort fit for a Conclusion, that he who can follow Pauls example and precept, can sufficiently humble himself for his sins, accept that faithful say∣ing, and rightly lay hold on Christ, may assure himself that he is become a chief Saint, for so could Paul say, Of all sinners I am [ E] the chief, and therefore of all those sinners that Christ came into the world to save,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, I am the chief too. I shall not dis∣cus this Point at large, as being too wide to be comprehended in so poor a pittance of time, but shew the condition of it briefly. He that by Gods inward effectual working is come to a clear sight and accurate feeling of his sins; that hath not spared any one mi∣nute of circumstance for the discovery of them, not one point of aggravation for the humbling of himself, he that being thus pre∣pared [ F] for his journey to Christ with his burthen on his back, shall then take his flight and keep upon the wing, till he fix firmly on him, may be as sure that he shall die the death, and reign the life of a Saint, as he is resolved that God is faithful in his promises: then may he live with this Syllogism of confidence, not presumption in his mouth, 'Tis a faithful saying, that Christ came into the world to Page 296 justifie, sanctifie, and save believing humbled sinners; but I find my [ A] self an humble and believing, and consequently, a justified, san∣ctified sinner, therefore 'tis as certain a truth, that I shall be sa∣ved. And thus you see Pauls, I am the chief] interpreted by that assured perswasion, Rom. viii. 38. that neither death nor life, nor any creature shall be able to separate him, &c. I will not discuss the na∣ture of this assurance, whether it be an act of faith or hope, only thus much, it seems to be derived or bestowed upon hope by faith, an expectation of the performances of the premises grounded up∣on [ B] a firm faith in them, and so to be either an eminent degree of faith, or a confirmed hope. The Use of this Point is, not to be con∣tent with this bare assurance, but to labour to confirm it to us by those effects which do ordinarily and naturally spring from it. Such are 1.*joy, or glorying mentioned Heb. iii. 6. the confidence and rejoycing of your hope firm unto the end, 2. a delight in God men∣tioned 1 Pet.* i. 3, 6. a lively hope, &c. wherein 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, you exult, you greatly rejoyce and are delighted, 3. a patient ad∣hering [ C] to God in a firm expectation of this state, even in the midst of all manner of worldly evils,* mentioned Isa. viii. 17. I will wait upon the Lord which hideth his face, and I will look for him, i. e. I will wait his leisure patiently, for I am sure he will uncover his face. And Job more plainly and vehemently, Though he kill me,*yet will I trust in him. So verbatim, Rom. viii. 25. then do we in patience wait for it,* and 2 Thes. iii. 5. The patient waiting for Christ. Fourthly, as an effect of this patience, a silence and acquiescence [ D] in the Will of God, without any desire of hastning or altering any effect of it.* So Psal, xxxvii. 7. Rest in the Lord, where the He∣brew hath it,* be silent to the Lord and wait patiently for him, i. e. as the consequents interpret it, quarrel not with God for any thing that happens according to his will, but against thine, as the pro∣sperity of the wicked, and the like. Fifthly, a confirmation of the mind, as making our hope the anchor of our soul, sure and stedfast, Heb. vi. 17.* that we may thereby in patience possess our souls, Luke [ E] xxi. 19.* And lastly, a desire of sanctifying our selves, according to that 1 Joh. iii. 3.*Every man that hath this hope in him purifies himself, even as Christ is pure. These six effects briefly set down, may be certain marks to you, by which you may judge how just grounds your assurance stands on, and whereby it is to be distinguished from presumption.
Page 297 [ A] Thus have I with all possible haste made an end of these words, and at this time out of the cadence of them observed to you the ten∣derness of St. Paul and every regenerate man, at the least mention of a sin or sinner, illustr•ted by the opposite hardness of heart, proved of soft, tender parts of our body, and made use of for a crisis or judg∣ment of our estate and livelyhood in grace. Secondly, out of the words themselves we observed the necessity, and method of aggrava∣ting our sins, especially original sin against our selves, which we made [ B] use of against those that are more quicksighted in other mens estates and guilts then their own. Thirdly, we closed all with that comfor∣table doctrine of assurance, discussed to you in brief with six effects of it proposed for an example to your care and imitation.
Now the God which hath created us, redeemed, called, justified us, will sanctifie in his time, will prosper this his ordinance to that end, will direct us by his grace to his glory. To him be ascribed due the honour, the [ C] praise, the glory, the dominion, which through all ages of the world have been given to him that sitteth on the Throne, to the Holy Spirit, and to the Lamb for evermore.