The way of God with his people in these nations opened in a thanksgiving sermon, preached on the 5th of November, 1656, before the Right Honorable the High Court of Parliament
Sterry, Peter, 1613-1672.

Arg. 2.

The Second Argument is drawn from the Holy Spirit. As the way of God is in Christ having his New name writ∣ten upon his Person: so the Way of Christ in his Church, and in the world for his Church, is in the Spirit, and after the Newness of that.

Rom 7. 6. But now we are delivered from the Law that being dead, wherein we were held, that we should serve in Newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the Letter. The Soul of man is here set forth, as having two Husbands. The first Husband is the First Adam, the Flesh, the Natural Man. This being slaine by the death of the Lord Jesus; the Soul is set free from him, and from his Law, which is a Law of Page  14 sin, and Death. Her second Husband, to whom she is married upon the Death of the first, is the last man, the Glorified Person of Christ, as He is in the Resurrection from the Dead. And now the Soul is subject only to the Law of this Husband, which is the Law of Free Grace, of Love, raigning by Righteousness, which is the Beavty in the Face of the God-head, unto Eternal Life, through Jesus Christ, by Vertue of our Marriage-union with him; the Love, Righteousness, and Im∣mortality of God the Father letting it self forth upon his Person first, then in, and through him upon us, unto our Justification, Sanctification, and Glory. That we should serve. As to Fear God in the old Testament, and to beleeve in the new: so in both to serve him comprehends al parts of Religion, the whol Communion between God, and the Soul; by which God Ministers himself in streams of Truth, Grace, and joy to the Soul; or the Soul Ministers to him, by recejving him, by recejving al from him, by receiving him together with al, and by returning it self, and al things to him, in Love, humility, obedience, thanksgiving.

The two ways of this Service are the Oldness of the Letter, and the newness of Spirit. The Letter is that Law, which is proper, and fitted to the Principle of Nature, the flesh, the first Adam in his power, and purity. The Spirit is the Law of the New man, the Heavenly Image, and second Adam, as He is risen from the dead, and stands in a Root of Glory, from thence blossoming, and bringing forth fruit in al his Members. The Letter is like unto a Ce∣stern. The Spirit is the Fountain. The water in a Cestern hath its stint, and set measure; it is a standing water, which hath no spring to quicken it, it is apt to corrupt with standing, and to dry away. Such is the Law of the Page  15Letter. It is shut up in an outward, narrow form, and measure; it hath not its root in it self; it grows old, it darkens, withers, and dies away. But the Spirit is a Fountain, and as a Fountain hath a Five-fold Newness; of Life, of Lustre, of Purity, of Variety, of Immortality.

But here now, although it may seem to be a digres∣sion from my present scope, yet give me leave by the way to interpose a Caution very proper for this discourse of the Letter, and the Spirit; which is, that you mi∣stake not the Ryot, Excess, and Inordinacy of the flesh, for the Newness, Freedom, aud Extraordinariness of the Spirit. To assist you in this Caution, take this Distinction between the Novelties, and Extravagancies of the flesh; and the Newness, and Extraordinariness of the Spirit.

First: There is a Newness in which there is somthing unchangable, an inward Principle, a hidden Nature, a Life, a Rellish, which is ever the same; however, the outward operations and manifestations vary. The Life of the Spirit is as a Tree. The Tree is new in the Spring, the Summer, the Autumn; having for every Season, its fresh puttings forth of Leaves, Blossoms, Fruit, ripe Fruit. Yet the Tree is still the same, hath the same Root, Sap, and Nature.

Secondly: There is a Newness, where all things are changed, not only the outward puttings forth, but the most inward Principle, where there abides nothing of the savor. This is like that change, where the Rod of Moses being cast upon the ground, was made a real Ser∣pent, and the Dust of Egypt being cast up into the Air, be∣came living Lice.

Now, as they say in Phylosophy, Species, et Essentiae re∣rum sunt sempiternae, et immobiles: The Essences, and Kinds of things, are ever the same; however, there be an Infinitness Page  16 of uncertainty, and change in the Individuals, by the va∣riety, and change of outward Accidents: So in a Saint compared with himself through the whol time of his Regeneracy, or compared with all other Saints in all Ages, ther is the same new nature, the same inward saver in the Principle, in the Spirit, although the inward forms upon the understanding, may have great change accor∣ding to the different degrees, and wayes of Light; as also the outward forms of life and Conversation, may have great variety in answer to the Light within. But where you see Persons, while they profess themselves to be Saints, changing all, having nothing of the same Nature, or Rellish left; there is great reason to fear, that this is not the Newness of the Spirit, but the Wild∣ness of the Flesh; not the freshness, and variety of the living Spring, but the Endless turnings, and windings of the old Serpent.

But to return now, and to shew you how this Scrip∣ture, which hath occasioned this short stay by the way, makes good that Doctrine, which we have in hand. All the way of Jesus Christ in the Saints, and in the World for the sake of the Saints, is after the newness of the spi∣rit. It follows then, that it must be it self New, and Ex∣traordinary.

Another Scripture compared with this, wil make the Proof from both more strong, and cleer. Es. 43. 18, 19, 20, 21. Remember ye not the former things, neither consider ye the things of Old. Behold I will do a new thing: now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the Wilderness, and Rivers in the Desart. The Beast of the field shall honor me, the Dragons, and the Owls, because I give Wa∣ters in the Wilderness, and Rivers in the Desart, to give drink to my People, my Chosen. This People have I formed for my self, Page  17 they shall shew forth my praise. There are Four Things to be taken notice of in these words.

First: The Deliverance of the Jews from the Babyloni∣ans, is the proper subject of this Prophesie in the Letter of it, as you shal see at verse 4. This Deliverance from the Babylonians, is made in Scripture universally a Type of every Deliverance of the People of God from the Pow∣ers of Darkness, and of this world; but more particular∣ly of the Deliverance of the Church in the last daies from Antichrist, which is Spiritual Babylon.

Secondly: In this Deliverance, the Lord laies aside all Presidents, every old Form, and Custom; he works a New thing. What is this New thing? He makes a Way in the Wilderness; and Rivers in the Desart. These Expressions look backward by way of Allusion to the Coming of the Children of Israel out of Egypt, when the Lord made a way for them through the Wilderness, going himself before them in the Pillar of a Cloud, and of Fire, and gave them Rivers of Water from the Rock, which fol∣lowed them in the Desert. But this Literal Sense is not that which the Lord here intends. For this had been no New thing, but had only brought the former things to remembrance by the Imitation, and Re-iteration of them. Therefore the words look forward to an Allego∣rical, and Mystical accomplishment in the times of the Gospel. We all know, that Jesus Christ, is frequently held forth in the Gospel, as the Way. John, 14. 6. He cals himself, The Way. Heb. 10. 20. He is said to be the New, and Living Way, by the rending of the Vail of his Flesh, and the raising of him up again in the Spirit. In like manner it is an Evident thing, that the Spirit of Christ in the Gospel, is resembled to Rivers of Water, as John, 7. 38. Out of his Belly shall flow Rivers of Living Water, ver. 39. Page  18This spake he of the Spirit.

This then is the New thing, which the Lord doth. He turns the outward face of things in Church and Com∣mon-wealth, into a Wilderness, puts al into Confusion, that no humane Eye can see any way, either forward, or backward. Then he comes forth with new, extraordi∣nary appearances in Christ; as the Pillar of a Cloud bu∣rying all the Light and Life of the Creature in the Dark∣ness of Christs Death; as a Pillar of Fire, shining, and sparkling forth with a New Light, and Heat, from the Glory of his Resurrection. These Extraordinary Ap∣pearances in Christ the Lord makes his way, in which he walks, and into which he leads his People to walk with him in his wonders through the Churches, and the Na∣tions.

When the Spirit of man becomes a Desert, like a win∣ter-brook, that is passed away, and decives the expecta∣tion of the weary Traveller; all Springs of Wisdom, Counsel, Help, Comfort in the Creature, are dryed up: then the Lord comes forth in mighty and miraculous workings after the Newness of the Spirit, in the fresh flowings of that, and makes it to be, as Rivers in the De∣sert. Rivers have these Properties: First, They are from a Living Spiring: Secondly, They flow along with a great breadth, depth, and force: Thirdly, They flow continually, running along still with a fresh succession of New waters from the Head of the River: Fourthly, They make all things cheerful, and flourishing round a∣bont them. So doth the Lord in the Desert of the Crea∣ture put forth himself by his Spirit with an irresistable force, an uncessant Newness, with a quickness of life, a breadth and depth of design, from the immediate Foun∣tain of the God-head.

Page  19Thirdly, It is observable here, that the Saints are they, who peculiarly drink of these Rivers. They have the immediate inward sence, Strength, Joy, Glory, the cheif ends, and benefit of these Out-goings of the God-head. But natural men signified by the Beasts of the field, the powers of this world; yea the most ignorant, and unbeleeving, that sit in the greatest darkness, which are, as the Owles; Nay more, than that, the Dragons, the profanenest, and wickedest persons both Princes, and Stats, who have the greatest enmity to Christ, and his Church; al these shal acknowledg, and give glory to the Lord in these Miraculous workings of his from Hea∣ven; partly for the greatness of the Conviction by the presence and cleerness of the Appearances of God in the midst of them, before their Eyes; as is signified, verse, 19. Now it shal spring forth, shal ye not see it? partly for the relife, and the refreshing, which shal be extended to them also in their natural Man, and civil affayres. For so it is said; verse, 20. They shal honor me, because I give waters in the wilderness &c.

Fourthly, The end of al this is for the Saints; that they may be formed, and wrought up to God, to Spirituali∣ty and Heavenlyness, to his Likness, to one Image, and Nature with him, to the Immediate enjoyment of him, to his Bosom, his Throne; there to raigne with him; from thence as chosen Vessels to carry forth the Praises of God in the Gospel, of his Love, his Righteousness, his Holyness, his Beauties, his Joys, his Glorys, into the Nations, that the Saints may be as a Holy first-fruits, and the Nations, as a sanctified Lump through them. This people have I formed for myself, to shew forth my praise. Verse, 21. I have now finished the two Arguments for the making good of the Doctrine; one taken from the Person, Page  20 and Office of Christ; the other from the Influences, and Operations of the Spirit; as both Christ, and the Spirit are in the Newness of the highest, and most Evangelical Glory; as both stand in relation first to the Church, then to the world for the Churches sake. I come now to the. Uses.