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.
Page  24


The Principles themselves are the Spirit of Man or Reason; the Spirit of God. But I can no more convey a sense of this difference into any soule, that hath not seen these two Lights shining in it self: than I can convey the difference between Salt and Sugar; to him, who hath never tasted Sweet or Sharp. These things are discerned only by exercise of senses; and are too hard for those, who have not their own senses exercised in them, as St. Paul speaks, Hebr. 5. chap. 14. ver. When you shall see the Sea of Truth, the Spirit; then you will know, that the Great River of Reason was not the Sea.

I can tell you, that as much as the complexion of a face; the colour of a cloth or lace, seen by Moon-light, and Sun-shine differ: So, and farre more do the convictions or discoveries by Reason, and the Spirit.

But still this is the difference in the Effects, not in the Principles themselves. To give you, as I may, some shadowie description of this; I will commend to your most constant and serious medi∣tations that place, 1 Cor. 15. chap. 45. v. The first man was a living soule; the last man a quickening spirit, Vers. 46. The naturall is first, and then the spirituall. Vers. 48. As the earthy, so are they that are earthy; as is the heavenly, so are they that are heavenly. Vers. 49. As we have born the Image of the earthly man; so shall we beare the Image of the heavenly.

Page  25 From these places you may draw these Archi∣tectonick, or commanding Conclusions.

1. A Living soule in her full glory, as she was in the first man in innocencie, in Paradise, is not the Principle of the second man, the new birth; but the All-quickening, the Eternall Spirit.

2. A Living soule, with the highest improve∣ments, raised to the noblest actings of Wit, Rea∣son, Worth, is naturall, not spirituall; the Image of the first Adam, not the Image of the Lord Jesus.

3. The naturall and spirituall man differ as much as earth and heaven; corruption and immortality; flesh and spirit.

You see the difference between these two sorts of convictions; as I have been able to set it before you. I will now conclude this Use with an Admo∣nition, as I begun it.

An earthly Root may bring forth earthly fruit; nothing can reach up to Heaven, and immortalitie, but that which first comes from heaven, and that immortall Spirit. If you see your sins this day, and weep for them, though it be only by the Owle-light of your own reason, (as the Philosopher him∣self styles it) you shall not lose your reward, though you may lose your soules.

But what will it profit you to save three King∣domes by your sorrows; and in the mean time to carry in your own bosomes, dying, perishing soules, of which every single one is more worth than all the world?

Page  26 'Tis dreadfull to expresse; but I will speak it for your sakes. If God should please to put the choice into my hands; I had much rather, that all these three Kingdomes should be consum'd at once, in this very moment, with fire from heaven, by an outward destruction; then that any one the meanest, most miserable soule in them, should perish ever∣lastingly.

Draw then water out of that Well of salvation, the Spirit; and powre it forth before the Lord. If the Spirit be the Spring; your tears will quench both flames, those that burn outwardly, and inwardly; so you shall at once save these nations, and your own soules.

A Caution.* If it be the work of the Spirit to convince of sin; then it is his work more especi∣ally, to convince of spirituall Duties, and spirituall Truths. Take heed of measuring divine things by the modell of Reason. Take heed of rejecting what Reason cannot receive. St. Paul gives you a full ac∣count of the Jews case and ruine, in a few words; Rom. 10. 3. While they sought after righteousnesse by the Law, they fell short; because they were ignorant of the righteousnesse of God. Feare, lest you also fall after the same example of unbelief; lest you fall short of the knowledge of spirituall things; be∣cause you seek it by Reason, and know not the Spirit of God.

It is true; all grant, that some; some say, that all truths which come by revelation of the Spirit, may also be demonstrated by Reason. But if they Page  27 be, they are then no more Divine, but humane truths: They lose their certainty, beauty, efficacy; they become like the Name of Jesus in the mouth of those counterfeit Exorcists, which made them not the Devil's Masters, but his scorne. Spirituall truths discovered by demonstrations of Reason, are like the Mistresse in her Cook-maid's clothes. They differ from themselves in their own true shape; as those little plump boyes with wings, the pictures of Angels in Churches, differ from the Angels in Heaven. Spirituall things are foolishnesse to the na∣turall man, 1 Cor. 2. chap. No visible shape is so lovely, so full of Majesty, as that of Man: No shape is so deformed, ridiculous, as the resem∣blance of man in a beast, in the Ape. So heaven∣ly things lose their majestie, become weak and con∣temptible, when they are represented by Reason only: For they are not the things themselves; but an apish, mimicall imitation of them.

The Philosopher gives us this rule; that wee should seek for sutable demonstrations in every sort of truths; and not leape from one kinde to another. The Apostle gives us this rule; to com∣pare spirituall things with spirituall.*Spirituall Con∣clusions, with spirituall Principles.

You will reap both pleasure and profit from this Observation; that the true Protestant differs from all sorts of men and Religions, by making the three Persons in Trinity, according to their se∣verall properties, the foundation of all truth.

1. He distinguisheth himself from the Atheists,Page  28 by worshipping the Father as the Fountain of truth.

2. He dissents from Mahumetans, Indians, In∣fidels, while he sets up Christ in himself, for the on∣ly Image of truth.

3. By seeking and imbracing the discovery of truth in the Spirit, hee differs from all sorts of Christians; especially three.

1. The Papists, a Faction of policy. These per∣swade us to receive the testimony, not of the Spi∣rit, but of the Church, for a Touchstone of truth: And this Church is the Popes private Consistory, or Generall Councel. Thus the Church's Authority, not the Demonstration of the Holy Ghost shall be the light of Faith to Truth. Thus not content with an An∣tichrist, they set up their Consistory, or Councel for an Anti-spirit. But wee need no visible Judge on earth, to determine upon our consciences; What is Scripture; what is the sense of Scripture. We have an invisible Judge and Witnesse in our own breasts: He that believeth, hath the testimony in himself, 1 Joh. 5. chap. 10. v. for he hath the Spirit.

2. The Arminians, a Sect of Moralists, who give the over-perswading power of the Spirit, to strength of Rhetorick and Reason, inward or outward.

3. A Party of wit and worth: so farre as the wit and worth of man can go; if they would submit the wit and worth of man to the Power and Wis∣dome of God: The Socinians; the Principles of Reason, are the pillars of Religion, and truth to Page  29 these men. But Reason is a pillar of a Cloud; the Spirit only is the pillar of Fire, which hath light in it. Reason is that Gladius versatilis, that sword in that hand of the Cherubim, that kept Paradise; a sword that turns every way. It may keep men from the tree of Life, but can never bring them to it. Our faith is not in the wisdome of man, but power of God, 1 Cor. 2. chap. 5. verse.

Now, Worthy Senators, give me leave to make my particular addresses to your selves. You have commanded me to speak before you; how farre so ever I finde my self below a sufficiencie for it, I must speak; I would not seek to work upon you by art or cunning, if I had any skill in these things. My earnest desire is, with all humilitie and lowli∣nesse, to speak the things of God, as a man; on whom the earliest glimmerings of the Spirit have scarce yet dawned. I have believed, so I will speak; to you; those things▪ on which I fasten the immor∣talitie of mine own deare soule.

Pardon mee, Honourable Patriots, if I speake twice to you, once as private Christians, a second time, as publike persons and Magistrates.

First, As Private Christians. If the words of a weak, worthlesse man may have place in your large hearts, I beseech you to lay up within you, and to ponder frequently upon this short word which I am now about to speak: Remember, Remember, not to trust to the strength and wisdome of that Living soule, which dwels in the Breast of Man. But, Have all your depen∣dance upon that Spirit of the Immortall God, which comes Page  30 forth from our Lord Jesus Christ. I speak this to You, who are Princes of Reason, in whom the Spirit of Man is at a High pitch: Your Saviour died, that he might send you this Spirit: He left you in his flesh∣ly presence, that you might have this Spirit with you. O wait for him constantly, till he come: Wait upon him diligently, when he is come.

Saint Hierom thought hee ever heard the last Trumpet sounding in his eares. How well should I think my selfe rewarded for all the pains of this day, if I could fix upon your spirits the constant sound of two onely Sentences, as two blasts of the last Trumpet? The Sentences are, Esa. 2. vers. ult.

Cease from man whose breath is in his nostrils; wherein is he to be esteemed of?

VERS. 17.

The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. The great God make That day, This day, to every one of your soules.

Thus much to Private Christians.

Secondly, As Publick Persons. Christ tells the Jewes:

If any one sin against the Son of Man, it shall be for∣given him: But if any one sin against the holy Ghost: it never shall bee forgiven him. You will allow it, if I shall make a little change in these words, and so re∣turn them to you. If a State sin against the Sonne of Man, it shall he forgiven: But if a State sin against the holy Ghost, it shall never be forgiven.

Page  31Remember Hierusalem, Christ came in the flesh, and was crucified, yet Hierusalem stood. The Spirit of Christ came in the persons of the Disciples, in the power of the Gospel, and was cast out; then Hie∣rusalem fell. Divided into three Factions within, be∣leaguer'd with a fourth enemy without; Hierusalem miserably fell.

O England! London! Remember Hierusalem. You have had the first day of your Peace, and passed it. Christ hath been preach'd among you; but as in the Flesh; clouded with carnall rites and ceremonies. Christ hath been pierc'd among us, that is, not be∣leeved on: yet we live, though we bleed. You have had the first day of your Peace, and pass'd it. Be care∣full; Be carefull, to know the last day of your Peace; the comming of the Spirit among you.

You have set me on your Watch-Tower, and made me your Watchman for the few sands of these glasses; If you ask mee now; Watchman, what of the Night? My humble answer is: The Nights is almost past, the Day is at hand, if you will receive the Spirit when he comes: If you shall refuse to heare, you will look for day; but I feare, I feare, it will be Black∣nesse of Darknesse, and Desolation.

But I bend my Knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus, who hath hitherto made you tender in a very great measure; that he would send the Spirit of his Son into your hearts; that you may know him, that he may be in you; that all this people may honour the Spirits as they honour Jesus Christ.

Page  32A Vindication of the Spirit from those Who

  • 1. Pretend it to Profanenesse.*
  • 2. Profane it under Pretentes.

1. From those who Pretend the Spirit to Profane∣nesse. Can any think they have the Spirit of Grace in them, and yet sin, and yet not mourn for sin? Can a∣ny man make that Spirit, whose work is to Convince of sin, a Colour for sin? Can any man paint his foule lusts with the specious name of this holy Spirit, whose property it is to paint out lusts in their True deformities, their Hellish shapes?

I read in Ecclesiastick Writers, that in the Pri∣mitive times there were those that deserv'd the name of Borboristae, or Coenosi: The Dirty Sect: and yet a Branch of the Gnostiques.

But I might perhaps feare this to be the Malice, or Mistake of some in those ages; if I did not read in the holy Scriptures ofaFilthy-Dreamers.

Spirituall Discoveries are either Waking Sights, or Dreames. Dreames are False Visions of sleeping men, without connexion, full of absurdities, incon∣sistencies. It is not strange for a filthy vile Person to have fair Glorious Dreames. It is monstrous, that Glorious Discourses, Notions and Apprehensions, should be set upon vile Affections, Actions, and conversations; as the Head of an Angel upon the body of a Beast. But All is a Dream.

If any man indeed have the Spirit, he hath a True Dove in his Breast. The Dove's eyes are the Em∣blem of Chastity; The Dove's song is in Grones. Page  33 Who, so mourn for sin; who, so moane day and night after their God, as those who live with this Spirit?

This is the first Part of the Vindication.

Secondly, from those that Profane the Spirit un∣der Pretences of Fancy, Profanenesse.

1. Under Pretences of Fancy. Why should Jo∣seph be despised as a Dreamer among his brethren? Paul as a Babler among the Athenians? The Spirit as a Fancy, by men onely Rationall? That scurrilous Comoedian in his Greek play call'd the Frogs, re∣proach'd Socrates, as a Worshipper of Clouds, and the Aire; because he neglected their Idols, and con∣vers'd with the Invisible-God, So the workings and Discoveries of the Spirit, often seem to Men of Mighty Reason, Cloudy, Airy. Yet the Spirit is Truth; the onely Solid and Weighty Truth, carry∣ing the power of God for a demonstration along with it.*

Some learned men beare such a modest respect to Nature, that they affirm it Probable, Some Beasts may have a Sense more then we have, which wee can neither judge of, or guesse at; because we have it not. O! that the most Rationall Men, were so modest to∣wards their Maker; as to suspect, that there may be in him a Divine Sense, a Spirit of Light, above the Compasse and Conjectures of their Reason; which he may communicate to whom he pleaseth!

2. Under Pretences of Profanenesse. The Heathens mingled with Christians, of old charg'd their secret Meetings with the Beds of Oedipus, unnaturall In∣cests, Page  34 the Feasts of Thyestes, monstrous cruelties.

The Late Protestants at large cloath'd the best men with the name of Puritan, as with a Cap of Paper; then they painted that Cap with Devils; they loa∣ded that name with all the foule things of all Sects or Persons; as before them the Papist did the Pro∣testant.

God grant that the Father of lies may not still live between the Lips of Men by the same Art of Names; representing the most spirituall men like Christ on the Crosse, under the most carnall Titles of Ambition, Lust, Falshood.

The Spirit is Holy, so are they that are His. This Spirit cannot encourage to sin, comfort in sin; for his work is to convince sin.

Beleeve it, 'Tis true as Gospel: No man that is led by the law of the Spirit of Life; can walk con∣trary to any Law of Nature, Common Honesty, Civill Policy, or whatsoever is of good Report, Praise-worthy.

If any man walk by any other rule; an evill Spirit hath deceived him; only let not the reproach of such fall upon them, who with humble and panting hearts call upon the Name of this Holy Spirit.

A Consolation.* This Spirit, which convinceth of sin, is the Comforter. If you have this day receiv'd his conviction; you shall now go away full of his comforts: with bosomes full of All comforts of peace and joy in your selves; of peace and love, one towards another.

Where the Spirit convinceth of sin, he commu∣nicates Page  35 all contents in these two bundles of com∣forts; Righteousnesse and Peace.

1. Righteousnesse. Have you seen your sins by the light of the Spirit? by the same light you shall see your righteousnesse. Humble your selves be∣fore this Spirit; let him cover your faces with shame; and he shall cloath your persons with glo∣ry. He shall make you precious in the eyes of your God, honourable in all the world: Nations round about shall say, This is a wise and righteous people, for the Spirit of the Eternall God is come down among them.

2. Peace. Naturalists say, A wound is a separa∣tion of parts in the whole. How full are all of wounds? Alas, do we not begin to have wounds up∣on our breasts, neer our hearts? And still we strive to make that good in Civilitie, which is true only in Nature; that the best Balsome for a wound is its own blood: We would make up our divisions, by making them more.

Who now shall restore Peace to our mourners? This Spirit will restore peace to his mourners. This Dove, though he come groaning, yet he brings an Olive branch in his mouth. O ye! every one of you in particular, give this Spirit your single hearts to breake in pieces; and he will make them all one heart. How happy should we live, if God would do this!

If the Lord would powre forth his Spirit upon our souls, and melt them; how sweetly would they Page  36 run all into one piece, like gold?

Then should Righteousnesse and Peace kisse each other in these Lands; and these three kingdomes should mutually kisse and imbrace in this union. The Lambs, England and Scotland, Presbyterians and Independents, shall feed together in fat pastures. The Lambs and the Lion shall live lovingly, and converse one with another.

Then shall your Cattell go forth again in Herds and Flocks: Your children in dances; Your Saints in their assemblies; and the Lord Jesus shall be known for a God in the midst of them.

Then shall after-ages call this Age, this Parlia∣ment; The blessed of the Lord; and make it your Motto for ever.

Blessed are the Peace-makers in divided Common-wealths.
Blessed are the Peace-makers in divided Consci∣ences.

Thus if the Holy Spirit set a crown of thorns by conviction on your hearts; he shall crown you with Righteousnesse and Peace: For;*The Kingdome of God is Righteousnesse, Peace, and Joy in the Holy Ghost.

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