The spirit convincing of sinne opened in a sermon before the Honorable House of Commons, assembled in Parliament upon the solemne day of their monethly fast, Novemb. 26, 1645
Sterry, Peter, 1613-1672.


The Spirit is truth.* These are the words of the Holy Ghost himself, 1 Joh. 5. c. 6. v. The Spirit is truth. Truth absolutely, that is, the Highest and fullest truth; the Principle of all truth: the first truth, and so the last measure of all truth.

Take two Distinctions upon this Reason.

Threre are three Principles of truth.*.

  • 1. Sense.
  • 2. Reason.
  • 3. Spirit.

1. Princ. Sense, Prov. 20. ch. 12. vers. The seeing eye, and the hearing eare, God hath made them both. God hath made the senses, standards and judges of truth, within their own circuit, in such things, as may be seen or heard; as appertain to sense.

2. Princ. Reason, Prov. 20. ch. 26. vers. The spi∣rit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching out the hidden parts of the belly. Though the candle of Rea∣son excell in light the Glow-worms of sense; yet is it but a candle, not the Sun it self; it makes not day; only shines in the darknesse of the night. You will more clearly see this Spirit of man to be the Principle of Reason, planted by nature in man; if you compare this expression of Solomon's with that of St. Paul, which seems to have some glance towards Page  11 this Proverb, 1 Cor. 2. ch. 11. vers. No man knowes the things of a man, but the spirit of man, which is in man. The things of a man are all the things of this creation, visible, invisible;a man is the summe of them all; all are subject to man; God hath, bset this whole world in the heart of man, to search it out; these are the hidden things of his belly: And thus farre the spirit of man, the candle of Reason, spreads his beams, to enlighten this world of na∣ture. This the Scripture calls Man's Day, which is God's and a Saint's night.

3. Princ. The Spirit 1 Cor. 2. c. 11. v. The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. The Spirit searcheth out the deep things of God. Divine truths are the depths of things; the rest are only the surface. No plummet is strong, no line long enough to sound these depths; save only that of the Spirit.

These three different Principles of truth consti∣tute the three different parts or states of life:

First, the brute part of the world; it is that which is acted by sense.

Seconly, Reason makes man; or the rationall state.

Thirdly, the Spirit is the principle of a Saint c As many as are the sons of God, are led (or acted) by the Spirit of God.

I cannot leave this Distinction betweene these three Principles of truth, before I have annext three Rules.

1. Rule. Every principle of truth is to be confin'd to its own compasse, to its own object. To seek out spi∣rituall Page  12 things by the sent and sagacity of reason; were to plough with an Oxe and an Asse. Sensus non fallitur circa proprium objectum, Sense is not de∣ceived in judging of its own proper object. If sense and reason make no other report but this; This is the state of things, according to our principles: this is the appearance of things to us: Sense and reason may be admitted for true witnesses. But if they will be wise beyond what is written in their book, and say: This is the only, absolute, true appea∣rance of things; because this is the appearance which things make to us. Now sense and reason become blind guides, and will lead you into the ditch: 1 Cor. 2. 12. Spirituall things are spiritually discern'd. By pro∣portion: sensuall things are sensually discern'd: ra∣tionall things are rationally discern'd. You cannot reach the things of reason by the hand of sense, though it be stretch't out like Jeroboam's towards the Prophet. You cannot understand spirituall things Rationally; that is, upon the grounds of Reason.

2. Ru. Right Appearances of things to one Principle of truth, may be directly contrary to those which are right Appearances of the same things to another Principle of truth. The greatest lights of this world, Angels and Invisible things, are meere darknesse to the eye of sense. The light of this life is darknesse in the lan∣guage of the Scripture. Darknesse it selfe is as the light before the face of God. 1 Cor. 2. 14. The wis∣dome of the Spirit is foolishnesse to the Naturall man. The Apostle distinguisheth betweene two men, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Page  13 & 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉: Man, whose Principle is Rationall soul: and Man, whose Principle is the Spirit. That which is Wisdome to one, is Foolishnesse to the other.

3. Ru. Lower Principles of Truth cannot comprehend the Higher; but they are comprehended and judged by these. So Philosophers say, that Reason corrects the errors of Sense. 1 Cor. 2. 15. The spirituall man judgeth all things, but he is judg'd or discern'd by none. ver. 9. Eye hath not seen, eare hath not heard, neither can the heart of mā receive the things of the Gospel. See here both Prin∣ciples of Sense and Reason. The senses are too super∣ficial: the large heart of Man, the vast spirit of Rea∣son in him is too narrow to take in any thing of the spirit. But the spirit understands them with all their wayes and workings 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; distinctly and criti∣cally.

These three Principles of truth are as three Circles upon the face of the water; one within ano∣ther: the lesser are infolded in the greater; but can∣not extend themselves to the wide compasse of the greater circle, unlesse they break and vanish in them∣selves, * that they may become one with it. If any man be wise, let him become a foole that he may be wise.

The soule shuts the windowes of sense when she would have the room fill'd with the light of Rea∣son. Reason's selfe must first be cast cast into a deep sleep and die, before she can rise again in the bright∣nesse of the Spirit. I have dispatch'd the first Di∣stinction.

Dist. 2d. All three Persons in the Trinity are Page  14Truth, but with their severall and distinct Idioms or Characters. The Father is the onely True God, Joh. 17. 3. The Son is Truth, Joh. 14. 6. The Spirit is Truth, Joh. 5. 5. But,

1. The Father is Truth in the Root: therefore hee is call'd the Father of Lights, Jam. 1. 17.

2. The Son is Truth in the Image. He is the Image of the Invisible God, Coloss. 1. 15.

3. The Spirit is Truth in the Irradiation or Dis∣covery: therefore the Spirit is the witnessing Truth, 1 Joh. 5. The Spirit is the testifying Truth, Ioh. 15. 26.

Nazianzen delivers the Doctrine of the Tri∣nity to us from that place of Scripture, Psal. 36. 9. In thy light shall we see light. 1. The Father is Light in the Fountain. Thy Light. 2. The Son is Light in the Face or Fulnesse: See Light. 3. The Spirit is Light in the Flowing or Emanation of it: In light. The Father is the Light, from which is all we see: The Son is Light, which we see: The Spirit, the Light by which we see.

Sin is spiritually discern'd.* Privations and Habits; Perfections and Defects, are judg'd by the same fa∣culty. The eye discerns light and darknesse. Sin is a privation or the absence of Divine Grace. Holi∣nesse is frequently exprest by light; sin by darknesse. Holinesse is a spirituall beauty: sin, deformity. Both are perceiv'd by the same Spirit.