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.


An Admonition.* You have dedicated this day, Page  15 and many such dayes, to a holy sorrow. I know some, I beleeve many, I hope most of you carry bro∣ken hearts in your bosomes thorough these dayes. Indeed very nature in you cannot but relent; and reason it selfe tremble, to see those things, which your eyes see. Three Kingdomes stand before you this day, like those three crosses on Mount Golgotha, all laden with broken and bleeding carkasses. These three doth your God take, as one Text, that hee may preach sin to your soules from it, that he may con∣vince you of sin by it.

Behold, Scotland comes with her thousands of slain men; England with her ten thousands; Ireland with her millions; besides innumerable multitudes which no man can reckon up, of families, persons, now undone, now famishing. These come crying to every one of us, Our bloods be upon your heads, if you weep not for us before our God this day whilest we bleed and dye. Sure your hearts doe break at the representa∣tion of these things; which your selves know to bee at this present farre more sad in Fact, then they can be made by any Relation.

You that are the Fathers of your Countries over all this Nation, doe you not often look back upon your severall Countries with a tender and dropping eye? Do you not find as much reason and sweetnesse as once David did, to sigh and say within your selves, Lord, we have sin'd, wee should have kept this people as their shepheards: but we have procur'd their woe. Alas! what have these sheep done?

But now is it not pitie that broken hearts should be worthlesse and uselesse? that God should say of Page  16 our Mourning, as Solomon sayes of Mirth: what doth it? Yet so it will be, if it be your Reason one∣ly, and not the Spirit, which by your sufferings con∣vinceth you of your sins. If your convictions and contritions be Rationall and no more; your groanes will be to God as the unpleasing cry, the howling of wild beasts when they are pinch'd with famine, or caught in a toyle: He that sacrificeth with a heart thus broken, will be as if he offer'd a Dog's Heart.

Doth it not much concern you to know whether your convictions be from a Rationall or Spirituall Principle? Are you not eager to understand the difference between these, that you may judge your sorrows? As God shall assist me, I will assist you in this enquiry, by which you are to examine your selves.

Rationall and Spirituall convictions differ in their Perswasives, in their Principles.

Rationall Perswasives in conviction for sinne are such as these.*

First, Self-love. Will you heare the workings of this? One man afflicted and oppress'd, laments af∣ter this manner: I have blasted my reputation; wasted my estate; brought my body into diseases; by my lusts: and now I hang over a pit of flames by the thin, worn thread of this life; in the same moment that this thread is cut; I drop in, and am lost for ever. Wo is me! Thus he cryes; then he runs to prayers, Sermons, Fasts, in these he hopes for ease. Another, as he, lies rest∣lesse all the night; hath these thoughts working like a storm in his breast. I have exposd my life to Page  17 the Censure of the Lawes, by Treacheries against my Coun∣trey, and my God. If the Preacher's words prove true, and there be a hell at last; there remaines nothing for me, but a fearfull expectation of my share there. In these an∣guishes this man breathes forth a groan, and cries to God, to have mercy on him. So Pharaoh, so Ahab were convinc'd. This is like weeping with an Oni∣on; the eyes shed teares because they smart.

2. Sparklings of Naturall Worth. A generous heart, if it be no more, when it hath done any thing foulely dishonest, or dishonorable; will call aloud for Seas of Teares; a Laver of Blood to wash it clean.

The Jewes in the Wildernesse, when once they had refus'd to fight at God's command, would purge that blot with their blood, fighting though forbid∣den, when they were sure to fall. This is not beyond that Elephant, which reproach'd with the offer of a∣nother Elephant to draw his burthen for him; drew till he broke his heart, and fell down dead.

3. Naturall Religion heightned by temper, edu∣cation, custome, formalities of Nation, age, in which wee live. The Heathen Romanes wounded deeply with the losse of an Army, or the pestilence; sought reliefe in reforming their Religion: The Si∣byl's books were search'd: Ludi instaurati: solemne showes and pomps for devotion renew'd: Temples set open. Cushions laid; Holy tables, seats, beds made ready: the Matrons flock't in Troops, fill'd the Churches, fell on their faces, with their haire Page  18 spred and torne; moystening the Marble pavement with their plentifull teares at the feet of every I∣doll.

In after-times the Heathens among whom the Christians lived, on every sad accident, exclaimed: The Christians are the cause of this, which joyn not with us in the worship of our gods. Appease the gods, by the suppression, or slaughter of these Christians.

Happy are our times, if some amongst us doe not, upon no higher Conviction, then these of Natu∣rall Devotion, call for dayes of Humiliation, Reforma∣tion in Religion.

But do I condemne these Convictions? No. God commands and commends them from the example of Brute Creatures: The Oxe knowes his owne; and the Asse his Masters Crib. But this I say; These are no better things then the Best of Beasts, the worst of Men have attain'd unto. These indeed, if they be but Sin∣gle, may procure Temporall, Temporary blessings. But if they be not Subordinate to the Convictions of the Spirit, they can doe your souls no good. You may save the Kingdome by such teares, but alas! what shall be done for Your souls?