Eighteen sermons preached in Oxford 1640 of conversion, unto God. Of redemption, & justification, by Christ. By the Right Reverend James Usher, late Arch-bishop of Armagh in Ireland. Published by Jos: Crabb. Will: Ball. Tho: Lye. ministers of the Gospel, who writ them from his mouth, and compared their copies together. With a preface concerning the life of the pious author, by the Reverend Stanly Gower, sometime chaplain to the said bishop.
Ussher, James, 1581-1656., Gower, Stanley., Crabb, Joseph, b. 1618 or 19.
Page  98

LAM. 5.16.
Woe unto us that we have sinned.

I Declared unto you heretofore what we are to consider in the state of a na∣tural man, a man that is not new fa∣shioned, new moulded, a man that is not cut off from his own stock, a man that is not ingrafted into Christ, he is the son of sin, he is the son of death. First I shew'd you his sin∣fulnesse, and now Secondly I shall shew you his accursednesse, that which follows necessarily upon sin unrepented of. I declared before what the nature of sin is: And now I come to shew what the dreadful effects of sin are, the cause, the consequence that follows upon sin, and that is woe and misery, Woe unto us that we have sinned. A woe is a short word, but there lieth much in it.

Doct. Woe and anguish must follow him that con∣tinueth sinning against God.

And when we hear this from the Ministers of God, it is as if we heard that Angel, Rev. 8.13. flying through the midst of heaven, denouncing, Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth. The Mini∣sters of God are his Angels; and the same that I now deliver to you, if an Angel should now Page  99 come from Heaven, he would deliver no other thing. Therefore consider that it is a voice from Heaven, that this woe, woe, woe, shall rest upon the heads, upon the bodies and soules of all them that will not yeild unto God, that will not stoop to him, that will be their own masters, and stand it out against him: woe, woe, woe unto them all. Woe unto us. It's the voice of the Church in gene∣ral, not of one man; but woe unto us that we have sinned.

That I may now declare unto you what these woes are, note by the way that I speak not to a∣ny particular man, but to every man in general. It is not for me to make particular application, doe you doe that your selves: We are all children of wrath by nature: In our natural condition we are all alike, we are all of one kind, and every kind generates its own kind: 'Tis an hereditary condition, and till the Son make us free, we are all subject to this woe. By nature we are all children of wrath as well as others, Eph. 2.3. Now that I may not speak of these woes in general, I have shew'd how two woes are past, and a third woe is coming. God proceeds punctually with us. And are not our proceedings in Judiciary Courts after this man∣ner? The Judge when he pronounceth sentence, doth particularize the matter: Thou shalt re∣turn to the place from whence thou camest, thou shalt have thy bolts knockt off, thou shalt be drawn to the place of execution, thou shalt be hanged, thou shalt be cut down, and quartered; and so he goes on. And this is that which is the witnesse of Justice. Thus Page  100 is it here, the Spirit of God thinks it not enough to say barely, the state of a sinner is a woful e∣state; but the woes are punctually number'd, and this shall be my practice. Now

1. The first thing that followeth after sin is this: After the committing of sin, there cometh such a condition into the soul that it is defiled, pol∣luted, and becometh abominable. And this is the first woe.

2. The soul being thus defiled and abomina∣ble, God loaths it; for God cannot endure to dwell in a filthy and stinking carrion-soul, he startles as it were, and seems afraid to come near it, he for∣sakes it, and cannot endure it. And that's the second woe: First sin defiles it, then God departs from it, there must be a divorce.

3. When God is departed from the soul, then the Devil enters in, he presently comes in and takes up the room, there will be no emptinesse or vacuum. And this is a fearful woe indeed: for as soon as God is departed from a man, he is left to the guidance of the Devil, his own flesh, and the world. There will be no emptinesse in the heart: no sooner God departs, but these step in and take Gods place.

4. Then in the fourth place, after all this is done, comes sin and cries for its wges, which is death. That terrible death which comprehends in it all that beadroll of curses which are written in the Book of God; and not onely those▪ but the curses also which are not written, Deut. 28. which are so many that they cannot be written. Page  101 Though the Book of God be a compleat Book, and the Law of God a perfect Law, yet here they come short, and are imperfect: For the cur∣ses not written shall light upon him, which are so many as pen and ink cannot set down, nay, the very pen of God cannot expresse them, so many are the calamities and sorrows that shall light upon the soul of every sinful man.

Now let us take these woes in pieces one af∣ter another.

1. The first woe is the polluting and defiling of the soul by sin. A thing it may be that we little think of; but if God once open our eyes, and shew us what a black soul we have within us, and that every sin, every lustful thought, every covetous act, every sin sets a new spot and stain upon the soul, and tumbles it into a new puddle of filth, then we shall see it, and not till then; for our eyes are carnal, and we cannot see this. If once we did but see our hateful & abominable spots, that e∣very sin tumbles us afresh into the mire: did we see what a black Devil we have within us, we would hate and abhor our selves as Job did. It would be so foul a sight, that it would make us out of our wits as it were, to behold it. A man that is but natural, cannot imagine what a black Devil there is within him: But though he seeth it not, yet he that hath eyes like a flame of fire, Rev. 1.14 seeth our stains and spots.

Our Saviour shewes the filthinesse of the heart by that which proceeds out of the mouth, Mat. 15.18. Those things which proceed out of the mouth, Page  102 come from the heart. And v. 19. Out of the heart pro∣ceed evil thoughts, &c. Observe. Of all evils we account evil thoughts the least. This we think strange, what, thoughts defile a man? what, so light a matter as a thought? Can they make any impression? Yes, and defile a man too, leaving such a spot behind them, which nothing but the hot blood of Christ can wash away. So many e∣vil thoughts, so many blasphemies, so many fil∣thy things come from the heart, every one being a new defilement and pollution, that a man is made so nasty by it and filthy, that he cannot be∣lieve that it is so bad with him as indeed it is. The Apostle having shewn the Corinthians their for∣mer life, and exhorted them against it, 1 Cor. 6. goes on cap. 7. v. 1. Let us cleanse our selves from all filthinesse of the flesh and spirit. Mark then, there is a double filthinesse, a filthinesse of the flesh, and a filthinesse of the spirit. The filthinesse of the flesh, that every one acknowledgeth to be filthy carnality, Fornication, and Adultery, &c. These bestial lusts every one knowes to be un∣clean. But then there is a filth of the Spirit too, and such are evil thoughts. They are the filth of the Spirit. Corruptio optimi est pessima. The corruption which cleaves to the best thing is worst. The soul is the Best thing, the most noble thing; the filthinesse which cleaves to it there∣fore must needs be the greatest. Fleshly filthiness, as Adultery, is filthy; but contemplative Adul∣tery, to dwell thereon, is worse: however such a man may be pure from the filth of the flesh, yet Page  103 if he delight himself in filthy thoughts, his spi∣rit is abominable in the sight of God: there is a stain by every one of thy impure thoughts left behind. However an actual sin be far greater then the sin of a thought, yet if that be but once committed, and these are frequently in thee; if thou alway lie tumbling in the suds of thy filthy thoughts, thy continuing therein makes thy sin more abominable then Davids outward act which he but once committed. So that we see there is a filthinesse of the spirit as well as the flesh. In James 1.21. we have a word sets out the filthinesse of it, which is (Superfluity.) Lay apart (saith he) all filthinesse and superfluity of naughtinesse.

First, it's expressed by the name of filthinesse,hewing there's nothing so defiles a man as sin.

Then 'tis call'd superfluity of naughtinesse: But what, is there any naughtinesse to be born with? and what exceeds that, is it superfluity? No, that's not the meaning of the place. By su∣perfluity, is meant the excrements of sin: Excre∣ments are the refuse of meat when the good nou∣rishment is taken away from it. And 'tis as if the Apostle had said, Lay aside filthy, nasty, or ex∣crementitious sin. The word was used in the Ce∣remonies of the Jewes, and thereby we may see what was taught concerning sin, Deut. 23.12, 13. Thou shalt have a place without the camp whither thou shalt goe, &c. Though the comparison be home∣ly, yet it shews the filthinesse of the sin, that it is as a very excrement. Thou shalt have a paddle, Page  104 and it shall be that when thou wilt ease thy self, thou shalt dig therewith, &c. and thou shal cover that which cometh from thee. But what, did God care for these things? No, it was to teach them a higher matter: As the reason following implies. For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of the Camp. God would thereby shew them, that those things at which every man stoppeth his nose, are not so filthy to man, as sin is unto God. So that you see how the case stands with a sinful man: sin de∣files him, it pollutes him.

2. And then in the next place, It makes Gods soul to hate and abhor him. It's true, some sins there are that every man imagineth to be shame∣ful and filthy; but we see all sin is so to God, 'tis filhinesse of flesh and spirit. A man may hate car¦nality, fleshly filthinesse; peradventure also he may hate covetousnesse, but pride and prodiga∣lity that he may get (as he thinks) credit by, that he cannot maintain the reputation of a Gentle∣man without them. A miserable thing, that a man should account that a garnish of the soule, which doth defile and pollute it. If a man should take the excrements of a beast to adorn himself, would not we think him an ass? Well, when we thus defile our selves by sin, God cannot endure us, he is forced to turn from us, he abhors us: And that's the next woe.

2. When thou hast made thy self such a black soul, such a dunghill, such a sty, then God must be gone, he cannot endure to dwell there: It stands not with his honour, and with the purity Page  105 of his nature to dwell in such a polluted heart, there must now be a divorce: Holinesse becomes his house for ever. His delight is in the Saints. He is King of the Saints, he will not be in a sty: When thou hast thus polluted and defiled thy soul, God and thee must presently part: God puts thee off, and thou puttest God off too. We read in that place before alledged, Eph. 2 12· that before they knew Christ, they were without God in the world, &c. Atheists, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. And in cap. 4. v. 18. Having your understanding darkned, and being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them. The presence of God is the life of our soules; and we having through sin and ignorance banish't God, we become strangers un∣til the time of our ingrafting into Christ; we are aliens to the life of God: whereupon comes a mutual kind of abhorring one another. God abhors us, and we vile and filthy wretches ab∣hor God again. There is enmity betwixt God and us, and between all that belongs to God, and all that belongs to us. There's an enmity betwixt God and us, and observe the expression of it, Levit. 26.15. If you shall despise my statutes, or if your soules shall abhor my judgments, so that you will not doe my commandements, &c. See here how we begin to abhor God, and then for judgment on such persons, v. 30. My soul shall abhor you. We are not behind hand with God in this abhorring, Zach. 11.8. My soul loathed them, and their soul ab∣horred me. When we begin to abhor God, Gods soul also abhors us. When a man hath such a Page  106 polluted soul, he becomes 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a hater of God, and hated of him. When thou hast such a stink∣ing soul, God must needs loath it, as a most loath∣some thing; and so thou art not behind God neither. Thy filthinesse makes God abhor thee, and thou abhorrest him. And this is thy case, by hating, thou art hated of God.

Nor is this all the enmity. There is enmity also betwixt all that belongs to God, and all that belongs to us. Gods children and the wicked have ever an enmity betwixt them, such an en∣mity as will never be reconcil'd. It's set down in Prov. 29.27. An unjust man is an abomination to the just, and he that is upright in his way, is an abo∣mination to the wicked. Just as it is between God and the seed of the serpent, so it is between both the seeds. A wicked man is an abomination to the just, and an upright man is an abomination to the wicked. There is a pale of abomination set be∣tween them: so that this is the second woe. We come now to the third.

3. And the third woe is that which immediat∣ly follows Gods leaving of us. When we have pol∣luted our selves with sin, and God by reason thereof abhors us, and turns from us, then are there others ready presently to take up the room; so soon as God departs, the Devil steps in and becomes thy God. He was thy God by Creation, this by usurpation: He was thy Father that would have given thee every good thing; but now thou art fatherlesse, or rather worse, thou hast the Devil for thy Father, and better is it to Page  107 to be without one. When the Devil is thy Fa∣ther his works thou must doe. When the Spirit of God departed from Saul, presently the evil Spirit en∣tred into him, 1 Sam. 16.14. If the good Spirit be gone out, the evil Spirit soon comes in: he comes and takes possession, and is therefore called The God of this world: And while we are in that state, we walk after the course of him that worketh in the children of disobedience. We would account it a terrible thing, for our selves, or any of our chil∣dren, to be possessed of a Devil: But what it is to be possessed of this Devil thou knowest not. It's not half so bad to have a Legion possesse thy body, as to have but one to possesse thy soul. He becomes thy God, and thou must doe his work; he will tyrannize over thee. What a fearful thing therefore is this, that assoon as God departs from us, and forsakes us, and we him, that the Devil should presently come in his room, and take up the heart? Mark that place in Eph. 2.2. Where in times past ye walked according to the course of the world, according &c. Assoon as God leaves a man, what a fearful company assail him? They all con∣cur together, the world, the flesh, and the De∣vil: These take Gods place.

The world is like the tide; when a man hath the tide with him, he hath great advantage of him that rowes against the tide.

But here is the Devil too. The world is as a swift current, and besides this comes the Devil and fills the heart, the Prince of the power of the aire. While thou wert carried with the world, Page  108 thou went'st with the stream, and hadst the tide with thee; but now the Devil being come, thou hast both wind and tide; and how can he choose but run whom the Devil drives?

But this is not all: There must be something in thine own disposition too, that it may be com∣pleatly filled: Though there be wind and tide, yet if the ship be a slug, it will not make that haste that another light ship will: Therefore here is the flesh too, and the fulfilling the desires there∣of, which is a quick and nimble vessel, and this makes up the matter. So that if we consider the wind and tide, and lightnesse of the ship, it will appear how the room is filled: And how woful must the state of that man be? It is a fearful thing to be delivered up unto Satan, but not so fearful as to be delivered up to ones own lusts. But by the way observe this for a ground: God never gives us up, God never forsakes us till we first for∣sake him. He is still before hand with us in do∣ing us good; but in point of hurt we our selves are first. In the point of forsaking we are always before hand with God. If it should be proposed to thee, whether thou wilt forsake God or the Devil, and thou dost forsake God, and choosest the Devil, thou deservest that he should take pos∣session in thee. When a man shall obstinately renew his grosse sins, doth he not deserve to be given up? Observe the case in our first Parents. God told the woman one thing, the Devil per∣swades her another; she hearkens to the Devil, and believes him rather then God; and when we Page  109 shall desire to serve the Devil rather then God, the God that made us, and that made heaven for us, doe we not deserve to be given up to him? For his servants we are whom we obey. And thus we see how fearful a thing it is to be delivered up to our selves, and to the Devil, Psal. 81.11. First they forsake God: God comes and offers himself unto them, I will be thy God, thy Fa∣ther, thou shalt want nothing: yet notwith∣standing Israel would not hear, they would have none of me. And then, if thou wil have none of me, I will have none of thee, saith God. Then see what follows, v. 12. God commits the prisoner to himself: I gave them up to their own hearts lusis, &c. And there's no case so desperate as this, when God shall say, If thou wilt be thine own Maste, be thine own Master. Thus to be given up to a mans self, is worse then to be given up unto Satan: To be given up unto Satan may be for thy safety; but there's not a mountain of Gods wrath greater, then to give a man up unto himself. We would fain goe over the hedges; but when God loves us, he hedges up our ways, Hos. 2.6. If God love us, he will not leave us to our selves, though we desire it. But when God shall say, goe thy wayes if thou wilt not be kept in, be thy own Master, this is a most fearful thing: And this is the third woe. First the soul is pol∣luted with sin; it forsakes God, and God for∣sakes it: then the world, the flesh, and the De∣vil, these fill up the room; and then what fol∣lows when these three rule within? but all kinds Page  110 of sin: And so all kinds of punishment, which is the next woe.

4. And this woe brings in all the curses of Al∣mighty God, an Iliad of evils. Sin calls for its wages, viz. Death, Death. That's the payment of all: The wages of sin is death. And this is the next thing which I shall open and explain.

Now in handling hereof, I will first shew how death in general must of necessity follow sin, that thou who hast forsaken the fountain of life, art liable to everlasting death. And for this see some places of Scripture, Rom. 6.2, 3. The wages of sin is death. Consider then first what this wa∣ges is. Wages is a thing which must be paid: If you have an hireling, and your hireling receive not his wages, you are sure to hear of it, and God will hear of it too, James 5.4. He which keeps back the wages of the labourer, or of the hireling, their cry will come into the eares of the Lord of Sabbath. As long as hirelings wages are unpaid, Gods eares are filled with their cries, Pay me my wages, pay me my wages. So sin cries, and it is a dead voice, Pay me my wages, pay me my wages, the wages of sin is death. And sin never leaves crying, never lets God alone, never gives him rest till this wages be paid. When Cain had slain Abel, he thought he should never have heard any more on't; but sin hath a voice, The voice of thy brothers blood cries unto me from the ground. So Gen. 18.20. the Lord saith concerning Sodom, Because the cry of Sodom is great, and their sin very grievous, therefore I will goe down and see whether they have done according to the Page  111 cry that is come up into mine eares. As if the Lord had said, It's a loud cry, I can have no rest for it, therefore I will goe down and see, &c. If a man had his eares open, he would continually hear sin crying unto God, Pay me my wages, pay me my a∣ges, kill this sinful soul: And though we do not hear it, yet so it is. The dead and doleful sound thereof fill Heaven: it makes God say, I will goe down and see, &c. Till sin receive its wages, God hath no rest. Again, see Rom. 7.11. Sin ta∣king occasion by the commandement, deceived me, and by it slew me. I thought sin not to have been so great a matter as it is. We think on a matter of profit or pleasure, and thereupon are enticed to sin; but here's the mischie, sin dceives us. I is a weight, it presses down, it dece••es men, it's more then they deemed it to be. The commit∣ting of sin is as it were running thy self upon the point of Gods blade. Sin at first may fl••ter thee, but it will deceive thee: It's like Joabs kisse to A∣masa. Amasa was not aware of the spear that was be∣hind, till he smote it into his ribs that he died. When sin entices the on by profits and pleasures, thou art not aware that it will slay thee: But thou shalt find it will be bitternesse in the end. A sinner that acts a tragedy in sin, shall have a bloody Ca∣tastrophe. Rom. 6. What fruit had you then in those things whereof you are now ashamed? Blood and death is the end of the Tragedy. The end of those things is death. The sting of death is sin, 1 Cor. 15. What is sin? It's the sting of death: Death would not be death unlesse sin were in it. Sin is more Page  112 deadly then death it self: It's sin enableth death to sting, enableth it to hurt and wound us: So that we may look on sin, as the Barbarians looked on the viper on Pauls hand, they expected continually when he would have swollen and burst. Sin bites like a snake which is called a fiery serpent, not that the serpent is fiery, but because it puts a man in∣to such a flaming heat by their poyson: And such is the sting of sin, which carries poyson in it, that had we but eyes to see our uglinesse by it, and how it inflames us, we should continual∣ly, every day look when we should burst with it. The Apostle, James 1.15. useth another meta∣phor: Sin when it is accomplished bringeth forth death.〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, saith the Original, sin goeth as it were with child with death. The word is pro∣per to women in labour, who are in torment till they are delivered. Now as if sin were this wo∣man, he useth it in the faeminine gender. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. So is it with sin, sin is in pain, cries out, hath no rest till it be delivered of this dead birth, till it have brought forth death: That is, sin growes great with child with death, and then it not on∣ly deserves death, but it produceth and actually brings forth: This is generally so.

Now consider with your selves, death is a fear∣ful thing. When we come to talk of death, how doth it amaze us? The Priests of Nob are brought before Saul for relieving David, and he saith, Thou shalt surely die Ahimelech. And this is your case, you shall surely die: death is terrible even to a good man. As appeares in Hezekiah, who Page  113 though he were a good man, yet with how sad a heart doth he entertain the message of death? the newes of it affrighted him, it went to his heart, it made him turn to the wall and weep. How cometh it to pass that we are so careless of death? that we are so full of infidelity, that when the word of God saith, Thou shalt die Ahimelech, we are not at all moved by it? What, can we think these are fables? Do we think God is not in ear∣nest with us? And by this means we fall into the temptation of Eve, a questioning whether Gods threats are true or not? That which was the de∣ceit of our first Parents, is ours. Satan disputes not whether sin be lawful or not: whether eat∣ing the fruit were unlawful: whether drunken∣nesse, &c. be lawful; he'l not deny but it is un∣lawful. But when God saith, If thou dost eat, &c. thou shalt die: he denies it, and saith, ye shall not die. He would hide our eyes from the punish∣ment of sin. Thus we lost our selves at the first, and the floods of sin came on in this manner: when we believed not God when he said, If thou dost eat thou shalt surely die: And shall we renew that capital sin of our Parents, and think if we do sin we shall not die? If any thing in the world will move God to shew us no mercy, it's this, when we slight his judgments, or not believe them. This adds to the heigth of all our sins, that when God saith, if thou dost live in sin, thou shalt die, and yet we will not believe him: that when he shall come and threaten us, as he doth, Deut. 29. when he shall curse, and we shall bless Page  114 our selves in our hearts, and say, we shall have peace though we goe on, &c. The Lord will not spare that man, but the anger of the Lord and his jealousie shall smoke against him. It is no small sin when we will not believe God: This is as being thirsty before, we now adde drunkennesse to our thirst: That is, when God shall thus pronounce curses, he shall yet blesse himself, and say, I hope I shall doe well e∣nough for all that. There are two words to that bargain. Then see what follows, The anger of the Lord and his jealousie shall smoke against that man, &c. We are but now entred into the point; but it would make your hearts ake & throb within you, if you should hear the particulars of it. All that I have done, is to perswade you to make a right choise, to take heed of Satans delusions. Why will ye die? Ezek. 33. Therefore cast away your sins, and make you a new heart and a new spirit, for why will you die? Where the golden candlestick stands, there Christ walks, there he saith, I am with you. Where the word and Sacraments are, there Christ is; and when the wod shakes thy heart, take that time, now choose life. Why will you die? Con∣sider of the matter: Moses put before the people life and death, blessing and cursing: We put life and death before you in a better manner: He was a Minister of the letter, we of the spirit. Now choose life. But if you will not hearken, but will needs try conclusions with God, therefore because you will choose your own confusions, and will not hearken un∣to God, because you will needs try conclusions with him, will not obey him when he calls, therefore he will turn Page  115 his deaf ear unto you, and when you call and cry, he will not answer, Prov. 1. I presse this the more, to move you to make a right choise.

But now to turn to the other side, as there is nothing but death the wages of sin, and as I have shew'd you where death is so give me leave to direct you to the fountain of life: There is life in our blessed Saviour; if we have but an hand of faith to ouch him, we shall draw vertue from him to raise us up from the death of sin to the lie of righteousnesse, 1 John 5.12. He that hath the Son hath life, he that hath not the Son hath not life. You have heard of a death that comes by the first Adam and sin and to that stock of original sin we had from him, we have added a great heap of our own actual sins, and so have treasured up unto our selves wrath against the day of wrath. Now here is a great treasure of happiness on the other side in Christ, have the Son, and have life. The question is now, whether you will choose Christ and life, or sin and death? Consider now the Minister stands in Gods stead, and beseeches you in his name, he speaks not of himself, but from Christ. When he draws near to thee with Christs broken body, and his blood shed, and thou receive Christ, then as thy life and strength is preserved and en∣creased by these Elements, so hast thou also life by Christ. If a man be kept from nourishment a while, we know what death he must die: If we receive not Christ, we cannot have life, we know that there is life to be had from Christ, and he that shall by a true and lively faith receive Christ, shall Page  116 have life by him. There is as it were a pair of In∣dentures drawn up between God and a mans soul: there is blood shed, and by it pardon of sin, and life convey'd unto thee on Christs part. Now if there be faith and repentance on thy part, and thou accept of Christ as he is offered, then thou mayst say, I have the Son, and as certainly as I have the bread in my hand, I shall have life by him. This I speak but by the way, that the Sun might not set in a cloud, that I might not end only in death, but that I might shew that there is a way to re∣cover out of that death to which we have all na∣turally praecipitated our selves.