The First Sermon.
JOHN III. 19, 20.
And this is the condemnation, That light is come into the world, and men lo∣ved darkness rather than light, be∣cause their deeds were evil.
For every one that doth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
I May take it for grant∣ed, That by light here, we are to un∣derstand the light of the Gospel: And yet hereby Christ is not excluded, who is cal∣led 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the light, in the seventh and eighth Verses of the first Chapter of this Evangelist, and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the true light, v. 9. Both these lights may well go together; Christ the Sun of Page 2ousness, and the Gospel the Rayes which he sends forth to enlighten the dark World.
Besides, as Christ conveyeth to us the Gospel, so the Gospel con∣veyeth Christ unto us, and of∣fers him unto the World; in both which respects it's called the Gospel of Christ,* Gal. 1.7. he being, as the Au∣thor, so the principal subject of it. Now both these Lights are come into the World; Christ by his Incarnation, and together with him the Gospel, i. e. a more full and clear discovery of the way of Salvation by Christ, than be∣fore.
That the light in both senses is come into the World, and finds no better recep∣tion; This is The condemnation,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the judgment, according to the proper acception of the word; but here 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 for 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Judgment, for Condem∣nation, by an usual Synechdoche, and so our Translators have rendered it, looking rather at the sense, than at the immediate propriety of the word. Again, This is The condemnation, that is, by a Metonymy, the cause of con∣demnation, that which deserves, merito∣riously procures and brings on condem∣nation. Page 3Lastly, This is The condemna∣tion, not solely and exclusively as to all other things, but in the sense that shall be afterwards mentioned when I come to speak to that particular.
The words of my Text (not to spend time in any unnecessary Preface to what I have to say) we may conve∣niently resolve into these four Propo∣sitions.
- 1. That light is come into the world.
- 2. That men love darkness rather than light.
- 3. That the reason why men love darkness rather than light, is, be∣cause their deeds are evil.
- 4. That this is the condemnation, that though light be come into the world, yet men love darkness rather than light.
Passing by the three former, the last of these Propositions is that which I in∣tend at present to insist on, as being the chief thing intended in this portion of holy Scripture. Concerning the sense of which Proposition, a few words will be necessary to be premised, before I Page 4proceed to lay down the grounds there∣of. This is The condemnation, not sole∣ly, and exclusively as to all other things, as if nothing else could condemn a man, but signally and emphatically, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the great meritorious cause of the se∣verest punishment. I say, the rejection of the light of the Gospel, or not giving it due entertainment, is not the only thing that condemns men. For,
1. Those Heathens unto whom the light of the Scriptures never came, shall not therefore be exempted from punish∣ment: The Apostle hath taught us, That as many as have sinned without the law,*shall also perish without the law. Their sins against their natural light, and the Law of Nature written in their hearts, shall condemn them; there shall be no need of calling in the assistance of the Law externally promulged, and written in Tables of Stone; much less of the Gospel, to give evidence against them.
'Tis true, if the Gospel were never offered them, and they shut up under a moral impossibility of being acquainted with it, we cannot apprehend how their not believing should be charged Page 5upon them as their sin. Aquinas hath rightly stated this matter; *Si infidelitas sumatur secundum negationem puram, si cut in illis qui nihil audiverunt de fide, non habet rationem peccati: pure negative in∣fidelity, or a meer not believing in those who never heard any thing of the Go∣spel, hath not the nature of sin. And this was likewise St. Austin's judgment, as appears by the Exposition he gives of the words of our Saviour, John 15.22. If I had not come unto them, they had had no sin: Loquitur de peccato quo non credi∣derunt in Christum, Our Saviour speaketh, saith he, of the sin of not believing in Christ. Though they had been guilty of many other sins, yet their not be∣lieving had not been imputed to them. And the reason hereof is evident, be∣cause they had never a power in Adam of believing that which was never made known unto them; there being a sim∣ple incompossibility and repugnancy in the nature of the thing, that a man should by faith assent to, and embrace that, which he was never in the least acquainted with, which was never as much as propounded to him to be the object of his faith. How shall we believe on him of whom we have not heard? Rom. Page 610.14. 'Tis a question that cannot be answered. Adam himself, with all that strength which he received from God, could not have done it; and therefore neither can that be required of his Po∣sterity, which he himself never re∣ceived.
2. As for such as have the Gospel published to them, and finally persevere in unbelief, neither is their unbelief the only sin for which they are condemn'd. What sober man can think that one sin can expunge another? that mens un∣belief should take off and extinguish the guilt of all their other sins, so as none of them should at all come under consideration, when Christ pronounceth the condemnatory Sentence? They who should entertain so wild a phansy, must have forgotten the form of the Proceed∣ings at the last day, as Christ himself hath described it, Matth. 25. where express mention is made of other sins, as the ground of the Sentence to be then pronounced.
Yet I deny not but that in a limited sense, wicked men living under the light of the Gospel, may be said to be condemned only for their unbelief; be∣cause if they had believed, none of their Page 7other sins should have condemned them. But now, they not believing, the guilt of all their other sins against the Law abideth on them; and besides, there is an addition of further guilt by their great sin against the Gospel; and this their sin against the Gospel, is that which presseth them most heavily, and hath the sorest influence upon the final Sentence for the inflaming and heighten∣ing of it.
So then, these things being thus pre∣mised, we have the sense of the Propo∣sition before us. This is The condemnati∣on, the matter and meritorious cause of the most sore and dreadful condemnati∣on, that light being come into the world, the Gospel being published, and Christ in the Gospel being tendered to the Sons of men, they slight and refuse this light, preferring darkness before it, and chu∣sing rather to continue in their sins, though it cost them dear, than to em∣brace Christ to their everlasting bliss and happiness.
Now the grounds of the Proposition, together with the equity of that severi∣ty which it imports, will further ap∣pear unto us, if we take into conside∣ration these ensuing particulars.Page 8
1. 'Tis light that is refused, and re∣fused with an affront put upon it, dark∣ness being preferred before it. Now in this alone there are several things which do not a little aggravate a man's sin, and by consequence, heighten his pu∣nishment.
1. When a man goes on against light, there is more of the formality of sin, than where light is wanting: There is a direct and plain opposition against the Rule, an intentional 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or irregu∣larity: whereas, in case of ignorance, the Rule indeed was violated material∣ly, but not formally and wittingly as such. Our Saviour lays much stress upon this for the greatning of a man's sin. *If ye were blind, ye should have no sin; that is, none in comparison of what now you have. And to the same effect is that of St. James, To him that knoweth to do good,*and doeth it not, to him it is sin; that is, sin to the purpose, sin of no ordinary com∣plexion.
2. What is done against light, hath not only an inconformity to the Rule, but some degree of contempt thereof. Wherefore in such cases God looks up∣on Page 9himself as despised. Why hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord? said he to David, when he had know∣ingly and deliberately sinned, 2 Sam. 12.9.
3. It argues Corruption to have got∣ten head, and to have grown up to a great measure of strength and maturity; it argues such a person to be set upon sin, and wholly bent to gratify himself therein, whatsoever shall come of it. When the light it self shall stand in a man's way, and flash in his face, and yet he will go on, he acts as one so re∣solved to sin, as nothing shall take him off. This, in the language of the Scipture, is to sin presumptuously, by which a man under the Law was judg∣ed to have reproached the Lord; in re∣gard whereof, no less punishment was appointed than the utter cutting him off from among his people, Numb. 15.30, 31.
And thus far I have only insisted on the consideration of light more general∣ly: 'Tis light that is refused and con∣temned; and therefore neither the sin, nor the punishment of the person so of∣fending, can be small.Page 10
2. 'Tis not any kind of light, but Gospel light, that is so ill treated; and this hath yet much more in it, than all that hath been hitherto mentioned.
1. The light of the Gospel is a clearer light. All other light is but darkness to this. The Heathens had the light of Nature for their guide; but yet they were still in darkness till the Gospel en∣lightened them; for the very Errand of the Gospel to them was, to open their eyes, *and to turn them from dark∣ness to light. The Jews under the dispensations of the Law, had much more light; and yet were heavenly things in great part so vail'd and wrapt up in Types and Shadows, as their condi∣tion to that of Gospel-times seems to have been but as the morning spread upon the Mountains, to the noon day-light.
2. 'Tis a light that presents to our view the most excellent and most desi∣rable things. Pardon of sin, Acts 10.43. Peace with God, Rom. 5.1. Eter∣nal life, John 3.36. A kingdom that cannot be shaken, Heb. 12.28. An in∣heritance incorruptible, undefiled, that fadeth not away, 1 Pet. 1.4. Such things as neither eye hath seen, nor ear hath Page 11heard, nor have entred into the heart of man to conceive, 1 Cor. 2.9.
3. These excellent things which the light of the Gospel sets before us, are such as were by infinite Wisdom and unspeakable Love designed and contri∣ved for us before the foundations of the World were laid. The most wise and gracious God did in nothing more dis∣cover the unsearchable Treasures of his Wisdom, and the Riches of his Grace, than in the Contrivance of our Salva∣tion in such a way, as in which Mercy and Justice so admirably meet together, and Righteousness and Peace kiss each other. We cannot therefore refuse or slight these excellent things, without a manifest disparagement of the Wisdom and Love of God; as if neither the one, nor the other, were considerable herein; and as if after all that God hath done, the things so wifely designed, and gra∣ciously proffer'd, were not worth our acceptance.
4. The Gospel presseth the enter∣tainment of these excellent things with the most cogent and forcible Argu∣ments. 'Tis not laid before us as a mat∣ter of indifferency, whether we will em∣brace what's tendered, or refuse it. We Page 12are told and assured, that as the accep∣tance of the things proffered will render us unspeakably blessed and happy to eternity, so the refusal of them will cer∣tainly make us everlastingly and un∣conceivably miserable. He that be∣lieveth, shall be saved; but he that be∣lieveth not, shall be damned, Mark 16.16.
5. Besides the external tender of these things in the Gospel, the Spirit of God usually more or less accompanies the out∣ward Ministration of the Gospel, inward∣ly working together with it, treating with us, and solliciting the matters of our peace by Enlightnings and Convictions, by stirring up good Motions and Affe∣ctions, Purposes and Resolutions, which makes our refusal of mercy after all this, much more worthy of the severest pu∣nishment.
6. Add to all this, the consideration of the greatness of the Person who at first published the Gospel, and made tender of those excellent things to the World himself, while here on Earth; and al∣so still continues to do it by his Servants. The Lord of Life and Glory, the Eter∣nal Son of God, who is over all, God blessed for ever, came in person from Page 13Heaven out of the Bosome of his Fa∣ther, on this very Errand, that he might make reconciliation for sin,*and bring in everlasting righteousness. And offer the fruits and benefit of all to Mankind, making this general Procla∣mation, Whosoever believeth shall be saved.
If but an Earthly Prince should send his only Son to the remotest Parts of his Dominions, on purpose to make tender of some great thing to one of his meanest Subjects, what an indignity, and how intolerable an affront would it be, if that his tender should be slighted! But here the King Eternal sends his only Son from Heaven to offer us Everlasting Life, and we entertain him no other∣wise, than as if he came in a needless Em∣bassy; for so much our most unworthy carriage towards him imports, if we do not accept of his Tenders. This the Scripture insists on as a circumstance that carries in it no small aggravation of the sin of our unbelief. If the word spo∣ken by Angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation, which at first began to be spoken to us by Page 14the Lord!* And again, If they es∣caped not who refused him who spake from earth; much more shall not we es∣cape, if we refuse him who speaketh from heaven.
Now put all these things together, and I see not how you can chuse but conclude, That as there is no sin like that which is committed against the light of the Gospel, so there is no pu∣nishment like unto that which will be inflicted for this sin: or, That this is the condemnation, That light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light. And so I proceed to the applica∣tion of what hath been spoken.
First then, To speak to the more dissolute Professors of the Christian Re∣ligion; From the Premises we may in∣fer, That 'tis a most vain and empty Plea which many loose Christians think to help themselves with at the day of their account to God. They have had their birth and education where the light of the Gospel shines; and under the influences of that light they have lived. As soon as they came into the Page 15World, they were in Baptism dedicated to Christ; in that Ordinance they gave their Names to Christ, and listed them∣selves among his Followers and Soldiers; and they never afterwards renounced him, but made profession of him all their days. What reason therefore have they to make any question but that Christ will own them? They have not been Heathens or Mahumetans: Where∣fore, though Christ should turn those wretched Infidels into Hell by thou∣sands; yet as for themselves, being Christians, they hope they may well expect more favour from him. Should he deal with them as with Heathens? as with those who never wore his Li∣very? who never made profession of him? who never knew him, or heard of his Name? This were hard measure, and such as they think they need not fear at the hands of so merciful a Sa∣viour. Who should go to Heaven, if not such as themselves? whom should Christ save, if not Christians? Alas poor Souls! You think to plead as those who make account that Christ is much beholding to you for vouchsafing to be called by his Name. But forasmuch as professing to know Christ, in your Page 16Works you deny him; forasmuch as while you call him your Saviour, you refuse to be ruled by him as your Lord; forasmuch as notwithstanding all the love you pretend to have for him, and his Gospel, your Actions are such as proclaim you to be those who love darkness rather than light, and who hate true Christianity, the reality and power of that which you make profes∣sion of; had not Christ been more be∣holding to you, if you had never so much as in external profession owned him? If you had never been called by that blessed Name, which by your un∣holy lives you have reproached and pro∣faned? Many Heathens were never in a capacity of dishonouring that Name, as having never had the knowledge of it; and your knowledge of Christ hath been of no other advantage to you, than only to enable you knowingly to slight him, and trample his precious Blood under your feet. Thus you throw dirt in you Saviour's face, while you would seem to honour him. Quid est aliud sanctum vocabulum sine merito quàm ornamentum in luto, saith Salvian, in his 4th Book de Gubernatione Dei; The sacred Name of Christian without faith Page 17and holiness, what is it but an Orna∣ment trodden under foot in the mire, or a precious Jewel which you have taken and drawn along the Kennel? But you debaucht and vicious Persons, you wild Ranters, rather than sober Christians, speak out your inmost thoughts: Do you really make account of claiming special interest in Christ? and do you in earnest expect to be owned by him? With what face can you do it, while you continue to be as you are? Cae∣sar being at a Banquet, where he was but meanly entertained, and no way so as was suitable to the dignity of so great a Person; when the entertain∣ment was over, instead of thanking him who had invited him, he only gave him this check in his ear, Non put abam me tibi tam familiarem; I had not thought that we two had been so familiar. And will not Christ thank you much in the like manner, for having been called by his Name, and for reckoning your self a∣mong those that belong to him, and have a special interest in him? Do you not know how he will at the last day entertain you, and in what manner he will declare the sense he hath of your kindness? Thou lewd and profligate Page 18Person, who callest me Lord, who numbrest thy self among my Disciples, and the most intimare of my Retinue; how long have we been so well ac∣quainted? Thou •mmon Swearer, thou intemperate and unclean Person, thou scoffer at Religion, thou nominal Christian, but real Enemy to the Go∣spel, and all that sincerely profess it; how durst thou make mention of my Name, and take my covenant in thy mouth, seeing thou hatest to be reformed, and castest my words behind thy back? Be it known unto thee, thou hast been much mistaken in me, I own no such Friends or Followers as thou art; De∣part from me thou worker of iniquity, I know thee not. Oh most sad and terrible Disappointment! when you shall be thus condemned, and turned into Hell by him from whom all your Expectations of Salvation were! But yet this is not all; you shall not only be adjudged to Hell with the Heathen that know not God, and all the Families that call not on his Name; but you shall be more severely handled in that place of Tor∣ment, than the very Heathens. The Condition of a sober and temperate Heathen shall then be more tolerable, Page 19than that of a lewd and vicious Chri∣stian. And is it not a most righteous thing with God that it should be so? The Pagan World never had the light that you have been blest with: Pagans never had those many gracious Calls and Invitations to Faith and Repen∣tance which you have had: Pagans ne∣ver had the tenders of those glorious things which have in the Gospel been proffer'd you: The Terrors of the Law, and the torments prepared in Hell for all the people of the World that forget God, were never laid open, and set before their eyes, as they have been be∣fore yours: Pagans never had experi∣ence of those strong Convictions, of those inward Motions and Strivings of the Spirit of God with their Souls, which you have had: And yet after all this, you are in many respects much worse than many Heathens. And will you still think to plead, We are Chri∣stians, and should Christ deal with us as with Heathens? I tell you once more, no; he will not deal with you as with Heathens: As the Ag∣gravations of your Sins have been in∣comparably greater, * so shall your Pu∣nishment be; It shall be more tolerable in Page 20the day of judgment for heathens, than for you.
In the second place, I shall speak unto those who know much, and are still in the pursuit of more knowledge, but make little conscience of practising what they know.
From what hath been delivered, we may also infer, how much it concerns these, to add conscientious practise to their knowledge, and to endeavour that all their Gifts may be seasoned with grace. The more knowledge any grace∣less Person hath, the greater without repentance will his future Torments be, and the more intolerable his misery. You whose Spirits are with much fer∣vour and intention carried out after knowledge, and yet possibly so much slight and undervalue Grace, as that you grudge to spend one hour in a se∣rious enquiry into your spiritual Estate; I beseech you consider what you are a-doing: While you are adding Noti∣on to Notion, and Conclusion to Con∣clusion, you are but heaping up mat∣ter for your more just and heavy Condemnation; you are but prepa∣ring Page 21Whips for your own backs. For he that knows his masters will,*and doth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes. One stripe the more for every beam of light which was not improved to the ends for which it was afforded. I speak not this to disparage knowledge, which is an excellent gift of God, and a principal part of his Image in man; much less to dishearten any in their pursuit of it; but to provoke them to a joint endeavour after grace and know∣ledge, according to the Apostle's Ex∣hortation, 2 Pet. 3.18. It was said of Galba, who had a fine Wit, but a de∣formed Body, Ingenium Galbae malè ha∣bitat, Galba's good Wit hath but an ill habitation. The same may I say of ex∣cellent Gifts in a corrupt mind; 'Tis a thousand pities that so noble a Guest should have no better Lodgings. Get your Soul adorned with grace, and then it will be fitter to entertain Gifts. And to press this a little more upon you, let me leave with you only these three Con∣siderations.
1. If Knowledge be excellent and desirable, Grace is much more excel∣lent, and much more worthy to be the Page 22Object of our most raised desires. After the Apostle had been discoursing of those extraordinary and miraculous Gifts, which in the Primitive times God was pleased to pour out upon Believers, he makes way to his following Discourse of love and grace by this commendatory Preface; *Yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. You are digging and searching after Knowledge, as after hid Treasure; and why not then much more after Grace, * which is the most precious and invaluable Treasure, the only true Riches? *This ye ought to have done, and not to have left the other un∣done; as our Saviour speaks in another case. Yea, this ye ought much rather to have done, in comparison whereof your pursuit of knowledge is but as the tything of mint and cummin, compared with the most weighty matters of the law.
2. The more Knowledge you have, the more Grace you need. A little Grace will not suffice you to manage a large stock of Knowledge. Your Knowledge is one of your chiefest Ta∣lents for which you must be accounta∣ble; and 'tis impossible you should so imploy it, as to be able to give a com∣fortable account thereof without a pro∣portionable Page 23measure of Grace. The higher any man is lifted up in parts and gifts, the more is he exposed to the vio∣lent assaults of manifold Temptations; Temptations to Pride, Self-confidence, overvaluing of himself, contempt of others, wicked abuse of his knowledge and parts to the service of Satan, and the disservice of God, and his Church: And therefore no man hath more need of grace, of a plentiful measure of grace, than he that is most accomplisht with knowledge. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, The more knowledge we have, the greater is our danger, saith Clem. Alex. in the 4th Book of his Stro∣mates.
3. Unless you have grace together with your knowledge, the time will come, when you shall wish that you had been as ignorant, as you are grace∣less. Quàm nescirem literas! How could I wish that I had never learnt to write or read, was the mild and compassionate Speech of an Emperor, when he was desired to set his Hand for the Execu∣tion of a Malefactor. What he said out of a tender and merciful regard to the Life of another man, that shall the Page 24graceless and finally impenitent know∣ing man one day say, out of the anguish and horror of his own Soul; Ʋtinam nescissem literas! Oh that I had never known my Letters, and that my Parents had never set me to School. Oh that I had been confined all my days to some poor Cottage, or dark Corner, where I might scarce have known my right Hand from my left: that I had been the most silly, ignorant, contemptible Creature in the World, a meer Idiot, or natural Fool, rather than by my sins against so much knowledge, to have procured to my self this direful access to my Torments. You may have heard of a poor Idiot, who having never utter∣ed one serious word before, was heard to utter this short and pertinent Petition, when he was going out of the World, Lord, require no more of me than thou hast given me. The ungodly knowing man, the profane Wit, the learned A∣theist, will have his mouth stopt; he will not be able to find so good a Plea for himself, as that poor Idiot had. He hath received much from the hand of God, and much shall be required of him. And so I go on to what followeth in the 20th Verse.
Verse 20. Every one that doth evil hateth the light.
THE words are a Proposition so clearly and plainly exprest, that to endeavour to make it plainer were but to lose time. Seeing therefore I cannot express it in clearer terms, nor cast it into a better form, I shall even take it as it lyes, and so handle it; Eve∣ry one that doth evil hateth the light. The Truth of which Proposition I know not how I can better demonstrate, than by shewing what influence the light hath upon men in reference to sin; and with∣al, how men stand affected towards their sin.
1. The light, (I mean principally the light of the Gospel, of which our Saviour here speaks) discovers sin. There is a threefold light which disco∣vers sin; the light of Nature, the light of the Law, and the light of the Go∣spel.
(1.) The very light of Nature doth in some measure discover sin. The Page 26Gentiles who have not the law,*do by na∣ture the things contained in the law, their consciences in the mean while accusing or excusing them, according as their acti∣ons are more or less conformable to the dictates of the light of nature in them. This light was full and perfect, as it was at first set up in man by his Creator; but is by the fall now become weak and imperfect, so that in many things it leaves a man at a great loss. That first light represented things to man exactly according to their nature, so as by the help of it he could clearly and perfectly discern between good and evil; but now that Primitive light being in great part extinguished, the weak remain∣ders of it represent good and evil in a dark and obscure manner, so as by this light alone a man sees many times little better than he who saw Men as Trees; * yea worse a great deal, taking good for evil, and evil for good; light for darkness, * and darkness for light, as the Prophet speaks.
(2.) The light of the Law of God written, goes further in the discovery of sin, in which respect the Apostle a∣scribes the knowledge of sin to the Law. * The Law exceeds the light of Nature Page 27as to the discovery of sin, in a double respect.
1. The Law discovers more sins than the meer light of Nature could. I had not known sin, saith the Apostle, *unless the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. He had not known the sinful∣ness of the inward motions to sin, at least such of them as go before the con∣sent of the will; the motus primo primi, as the Schools call them.
2. The Law makes a more full and clear discovery of those very sins which were in some measure known by the light of Nature.
(3.) The light of the Gospel goes yet further in the discovery of sin, and in some respects as much exceeds the Law herein, as the Law doth the light of Nature. For,
1. The light of the Gospel, as 'tis far greater and clearer, so 'tis of a more piercing and penetrating nature to find out and discover sin, as the Noon-day light looks into many a dark corner, and exposeth those things to our view which before could not be discerned.Page 28
2. Gospel Administrations are ac∣companied with a more full Effusion of the Spirit than was ordinarily under the Law. Now one special part of the Spirits work being to convince of sin, * we may well conclude that the Spirit's Discovery and Convictions of sin un∣der the Gospel are more full and effe∣ctual.
3. The Gospel furnisheth us with se∣veral Glasses in which we may behold sin represented to us in a more lively manner than by the Law alone; and this, whether we consider the filthiness or the heinousness of sin. These Glasses are the Holiness, and the Justice of God.
1. The Holiness of God is so display∣ed and set forth in the Doctrine of the Gospel, and in the Life of Christ, as never before. Hence it is that the Scripture seems so to speak of this mat∣ter, as if God were little known until Christ by his Heavenly Doctrine and Holy Conversation revealed him. No man hath seen God at any time;*the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father,*he hath declared him. He that seeth me, seeth him that sent me; I Page 29am come as a light into the world, that whosoever believeth in me, should not abide in darkness.*No man knoweth the Fa∣ther but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.* And the Apo∣stle discoursing of the Glory and Excel∣lency of the Evangelical Administration beyond the Legal, saith, That where∣as they of old had a vail upon their Hearts, and saw things but darkly, we all with open face as in a glass behold the glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ. And that he there chiefly intends the Glory of his Holiness, we may collect from what followeth; and we are chan∣ged, saith he, into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. Now contraries affording mutu∣al light to one another, the more we discern of the Holiness of God, the more filthy and loathsome will sin appear to us. This we see exemplified in the Prophet Isaiah,* who when he had seen the Lord sitting upon his Throne, and heard his Holiness proclaimed by one of the Seraphims, crying, Holy, holy, ho∣ly is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory; in the sense of his sinfulness, he cries out, Wo is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips.Page 30
2. Another Glass to behold sin in, is the Justice and Severity of God against sin. As the Holiness of God shews us the filthiness of sin, so doth his Justice and Severity shew us the Heinousness and abominable nature of it. But now the Justice and Severity of God against sin was never so much discovered by all the dreadful Threatnings of the Law, and terrible Judgments that have been inflicted upon Sinners ever since the Fall of Adam to this day, nor will ever be so much discovered by all the Sufferings of Millions in Hell to Eternity, as by what God for our sins hath laid upon his own Eternal and most dearly be∣loved Son, who is over all God blessed for ever. The reason hereof is mani∣fest and undeniable; for the Creature will never be able fully to satisfie the Justice of God by its endless Suffer∣ings in Hell; if it could, why might it not be released, and let out of Prison? But Christ hath made full satisfaction to his Father's Justice; so that we have in that satisfaction which he hath pre∣sented to his Father, in that satisfaction of infinite value, and in that alone, an exact and adequate measure by which we may take the full dimensions of the Page 31heinousness of Man's sin. Indeed what higher thing is imaginable by which we might be led to the sight of the heinous∣ness of sin, than that unparallel'd seve∣rity of the most Righteous Judge of all the Earth against it, which induced him to lay such a weight of punishment up∣on his only begotten Son, who is of the same Divine Essence with himself, when having taken our Nature on him, he undertook to bear what was due to us for our sins. By what hath been said, we see that the Gospel not only discovers sin, but also doth it in a very signal way, making such lively repre∣sentations of the filthiness and heinous∣ness thereof, as neither the light of Na∣ture, nor the Law of God; nor all the dreadful Examples of God's Justice and Severity that ever have been, or ever shall be, can make.
Let us now in the next place add here∣unto, That men are naturally most un∣willing to see their sins, and to be con∣vinced of them; and then it may be presumed we will easily grant, that the light must in that respect be very unac∣ceptable to them. Such is every man's natural Pride and Self-love, that he hath no mind to know how bad he is. He Page 32is willing, if it be possible, to shut his Eyes against his own deformities, that he may be able to hold up a good Opini∣on of himself. Besides, as men desire not to know too much of their own de∣fects, so they would not have them known to others. Seeing therefore the same light that discovers them to them∣selves, doth also lay them open to o∣thers; it is a thing not at all strange, that men, as long as they are wicked, and indulge themselves in sin, should be no great Friends to the light. It concerns those who have bad Wares, to get them into dark Shops, which may not discover the faultiness of them. And so much of that first thing, The light, especially that of the Gospel, makes dis∣covery of mens sin, and that is it which they cannot endure.
2. The light of the Gospel doth not only discover mens sin, but calls upon them to leave it. *Repent, for the king∣dom of God is at hand, was the substance of his Preaching who prepared the way for Christ, and ushered in Evangelical light Though God never in the least approved of sin, yet in former Ages before the coming of his Son into the World, he much winked at it, at least Page 33in the Gentile World; but now he commandeth all men every where to repent. He lets the World know, * that in times of Gospel-light men must not expect that patience and forbearance at his hands, which he was pleased to ex∣ercise towards those who lived in dark∣er Ages, and times of Ignorance. Bar∣ren Trees might long stand before, *but now the Ax is laid to the root of the tree, and every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be hewen down, and cast into the fire. The main Errand and De∣sign of the Gospel is, that men be turn∣ed from darkness to light,*and from the power of Satan unto God. To this pur∣pose is that of the Apostle, *The night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us there∣fore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light; let us walk honestly as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wan∣tonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof. And again, *The grace of God that bringeth salvation, hath appeared un∣to all men, teaching us, that denying un∣godliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this pre∣sent Page 34sent world.*And let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity. But this is that which the corrupt Heart of man can least of all endure. Men are unwilling to see their sins, but much more unwilling to forsake them. Whence else are those excuses which many frame when they are invited to come unto Christ? One is ingaged in this business, and it must be dispatched; he must be dispensed with till it be over. Another is inga∣ged in that Affair, * and he is not at lei∣sure. Whence else are those downright and peremptory Refusals? *Ye will not come to me that ye might have life. Yea, you would not be gained and prevailed with to come by the largest Proffers, by the most rich and excellent Promises. The greatest Love and Tenderness, the most Compassionate Solicitations and Importunities, are not able to over∣come them into a willingness; what to do? To be undone? No, to be made for ever; to be gathered under the Wings of Christ's most tender Care and Love, that they might be everlastingly Happy in the Fruition of him. That sin is the cause of this peremptory refu∣sal, cannot be denied; for nothing but Page 35sin could so bewitch and transport them, that they should with so much obstina∣cy stand in their own light, wilfully thrust away from themselves Everlast∣ing Life, and forsake their own Mer∣cies. 'Tis agreed on, that all men na∣turally desire happiness; 'tis Nature's Language, Who will shew us any good?* Could men therefore reject Eternal Happiness and Glory upon any other Consideration, than that the Terms on which 'tis offered seem to be too hard? They must part with their sins if they will be happy; and O how hard a say∣ing is this to Flesh and Blood! The Friendship which is between the heart of man and sin, being so strict and en∣tire, can that light of the Gospel be wel∣come to him whose Errand from Hea∣ven is to make an everlasting separation between him and his sins? Most clear it is, that wicked men, while such, cannot abide the light; and that how∣ever they may endeavour to cover over their Enmity against it with other pre∣tensions, yet the true reason why they hate it, is the wickedness of their hearts and lives; they therefore hate it because their deeds are evil, as our Saviour gives us an account of the ground of their ha∣tred thereof.Page 36
But it may here be objected, That the Holy Scriptures elsewhere seem to give other reasons of mens not en∣tertaining the light of the Gospel. Sometimes they seem to impute it to the sublimity, and to the mysterious Nature of the great Truths contain∣ed in the Gospel. *The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. Sometimes the Scriptures impute it to the subtilty and malice of Satan darkening the minds of men. *If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, in whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto them. And lastly, otherwhile the Scrip∣tures speak of God's concealing the My∣steries of the Gospel from some men; so our Saviour speaking to his Father, saith, *Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent. There being also these other reasons of mens not embra∣cing the light of the Gospel, how is it that our Saviour seems to lay the whole stress of this matter upon this, that mens deeds are evil? To this I answer,Page 37
1. That it is not necessary that we should so understand our Saviour, as if he intended to make man's sin the sole or only cause why he hates the light, but one principal cause. And that 'tis a principal cause thereof, hath already appeared from what hath been spoken, and will yet more fully appear by what shall be further spoken in answer to the Objections. Wherefore,
2. Though there may be some other causes of mens hating the light, and preferring darkness before it; yet they may for the most part be some way or other resolved into this which our Savi∣our here mentioneth. Other things may concur sometimes, but there is scarce any thing that hath so general and al∣most so perpetual an influence upon mens hating, declining, running away from, opposing, and rejecting the light, as mans sin. That mostly all other causes may be resolved into this, I shall endeavour to shew, in answer to the forementioned Objections.
As to the first of them, 'tis most true, that in Spiritual things there is a great disproportion between the Intellective Faculty as now 'tis since the Fall, and the Page 38Object. The Mysteries of the Gospel are high and sublime; our understand∣ing is dark, weak, and shallow. But,
1. Whence came this disproportion? Was it not very much from the sin of man at first, who put out his own Eyes, wounded his Intellectuals, and wea∣kened his natural Powers? It cannot be denied but that Adam in the state of In∣nocency and Integrity, though he could not have found out those deep Myste∣ries of the Gospel concerning our Re∣demption by Christ, and the things re∣lating thereunto, they being things that have no natural cause from whence the highest created reason might deduce or collect them; and many of them being things above Nature, and such as de∣pend meerly upon the good pleasure of God unknown to us, until by himself revealed; I say, though Adam could not by the strength of his Reason and Natural Abilities have found out these deep things, yet it cannot be denied but that if these things had been propound∣ed to Adam to be assented to, and be∣lieved upon the Authority of God re∣vealing them, he both could and would most readily have assented to them, be∣cause Page 39he had both a power and a readi∣ness of mind to believe whatsoever truth God should reveal. And this is all that in these matters God requires of us. The deep things of the Gospel are not propounded to us to be perfectly under∣stood and comprehended by us; but they being unfathomable by the longest Line of our Reason; all that God ex∣pects from us, is, that we give our as∣sent to them, and believe them; and this only because he who can neither be deceived nor deceive, hath revealed them. But as the case now stands with us since the Fall, though these things are most clearly revealed, and as such propounded to us, yet we will not be∣lieve them, they are foolishness to us, as the Apostle speaks. So miserably are our Minds taken up and preposses∣sed with a proud and fond Opinion of our selves, of our own natural Ability to judge of these things, with false Principles, with inveterate Prejudices, and rank Enmity against the Truth, and what not? that we shut out the light, and forbid it entertainment with us.
2. Add hereunto, that the perverse∣ness and stubbornness of the Will, the Page 40irregularity, the inordinate propensions, and impetuous motions of the Affecti∣ons and sensual Appetite, do not a lit∣tle hinder the reception of Spiritual Truths into the Understanding. For as bad Meats, as crude and inconcocted Humours in the Stomach, send up noi∣som Vapours into the Head, clouding the Mind, discomposing the Brain, and disturbing the Fancy; so the sinful Di∣stempers, the inordinate Passions, the unruly and rebellious disorders of the inferior Faculties, send up such fumes into the higher Region of the Soul, as darken the Understanding, as incline and dispose the Mind to embrace what is most sutable to the corrupt bent of the Will and Affections, and to reject the contrary. Aristotle's censure of young Men as incompetent Auditors of the Precepts of Moral Philosophy, hath more reason in it than at first appears. The strength of their Lusts and Passi∣ons doth not only make them unwilling to come under the severity of Moral Precepts in their Practice and Conver∣sation, but likewise much obstruct the passage of those severer Truths into their Understandings. 'Tis no easie matter to gain the assent of the Understanding Page 41to those practical Truths which a man hath no mind to be ordered by. Men will be very ingenious to invent, and very facil and easie to be prevailed with to entertain reasons against that, which, in respect of the contrary byas of their Wills, they would not have to be truth. As 'tis most true on the one side, Quod nimis miseri volumus, hoc facile credimus. A weak and dark Argument shall have strength and evidence enough to persuade us of the truth of that which we have a mind to believe: So on the other side, the most clear and demonstrative Argu∣ments in the World shall not easily per∣suade us, where we are unwilling to be persuaded.
Neither is it thus only in matters of Morality, but much more in spiritual things, as the corrupt Heart of man is naturally at a far greater remoteness and distance from them. Upon this ground it seems to be that Solomon, who could best speak to that Argument, tells us, That the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.* When a man's heart is sea∣soned with the fear of God, and in some measure purged from corrupt Affe∣ctions; when 'tis subdued unto God, Page 42and made yielding and pliable to his Will, then is a man fit to receive the Law from his mouth, and then is the Heart a meet Vessel to receive the rich and in∣valuable treasure of heavenly Wisdom. And so much in answer to the first Ob∣jection.
I go on to the second, That our not entertaining the light, seems to be put upon Satan's score. And here, though Satan's malice and guilt be nothing the less, 'tis apparent that this cause may also in great part be resolved into man's sin and wickedness. How comes it to pass, that Satan hath such advantage against man in this matter? whence is it that he can so easily befool men, pre∣judice them against the light of the Go∣spel, keep them in darkness, and lead them blindfold to Hell, as the Prophet led the Army of the Syrians into Sama∣ria? Is it not because he finds them preingaged in sinful Courses, from which they cannot endure to be taken off? Is it not because he finds them re∣solved to comply with their Lusts, and corrupt Affections, the gratifying of which is not to be gainsayed, they can∣not bear it? were it not that he finds in mens hearts such fit matter to work up∣on, Page 43laid in before, and prepared to his hands, he could not so easily delude and blind them to their ruine. Satan had as much malice against Christ, and did with the greatest rage and violence as∣sault him, and endeavour to break in upon him: but he could not do it, as finding nothing within to bid him wel∣come. The Prince of this world cometh,* saith he, and findeth nothing in me. Nihil sui operis suique vestigii, saith St. Hierom, in his Epistle to Algasia; nothing of his own Work, no impressions which he himself hath made, no footsteps which he himself hath left behind him; no∣thing at all on which to ground an Ac∣cusation, or to fasten a Temptation. The words may comprehend both, tho indeed the former seems to be in that place chiefly intended. Let Satan come to any of us when he will, he is sure to find something of his own, something of his own work, something of his own image which he hath stampt upon us, something that he may lay claim to as his, something of his party that will own him, and side with him. Hence the different issue of Christ's Tempta∣tions and ours. When Satan came to assault him, he found his Soul as an im∣pregnable Page 44Castle, well fortified on eve∣ry quarter: clear and heavenly light without any mixture of darkness in the Understanding, perfect holiness in the Will, exact regularity and composed∣ness in the Affections; all of one accord within, to make resistance, so as it was impossible for him to get possession. When he comes to us, he finds the Soul as a city that is broken down,*and without walls, as Solomon speaks. And he finds a treacherous party within, that is ready to invite him, that would gladly set open the Gates to him, and betray all into his hands, were the Soul otherwise never so well fortified. And thus we see how far all the mischief that Satan doth us, may be resolved into our own sin. 'Tis true, he blinds us, but 'tis because we have no mind to see; he closeth our eyes against the light of the Gospel, but he finds us endeavouring to close our own eyes, and glad of any assistance from him to do it more effe∣ctually. In a word, he shuts out the light, that it shine not in upon us to our conviction, humiliation and con∣version, but he makes him shuttings to do it, of our own darkness, preju∣dices, false Principles, and corrupt Af∣fections.Page 45
I now proceed to the third Objection taken from Matth. 11.25. where God himself is said to hide the Mysteries of his Gospel from the wise and prudent. Before I say any thing to this Objection, I must premise, That God in this mat∣ter (as in other things) hath a Preroga∣tive which he makes use of, and accord∣ing to which he acts, where, and when he sees good. He being the Supream Lord of Heaven and Earth, as our Sa∣viour styles him in the place whence this Objection is taken, may dispose of the knowledge of the Mysteries of his Kingdom as he pleaseth, freely vouch∣safing it to some, and withholding it from others. For what can restrain him, but that he may do with his own as he pleaseth? * as in the person of the House∣holder he argues. This good pleasure of God is it into which our Saviour ex∣presly resolveth his hiding the Mysteries of the Gospel from the wise and pru∣dent. *Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes; even so father, for so it seem∣ed good in thy sight.
So then, reserving unto God his Pre∣rogative, I answer, That yet however God's hiding the Mysteries of the Go∣spel Page 46from men, may very much, and in many cases, though not universally, be resolved into the sins of men. For whereas there are chiefly three ways by which God may be said to hide the My∣steries of the Gospel from men; name∣ly, by denying to them, or removing from them the means of knowledge; or by with-holding the effectual influ∣ences and operation of his Spirit to ac∣company the means; or by permitting Satan to blind them: upon consideration of the matter we shall find, That the sins of men have frequently very much to do therein, and contribute much to∣wards it; though even here the good pleasure of God must also be acknow∣legded, who permits it so to be, and doth not powerfully interpose to hinder it, as he might do if he saw good.
1. If God deny the Gospel to men, 'tis often through their thrusting it away, and keeping it off from themselves, when 'tis approaching towards them. How often do men oppose themselves against it! How often do men decline the light, and chuse to live in places of darkness, where there are no means, or as good as no means of knowledge! So Page 47if God remove the Gospel from a Peo∣ple, is it not most commonly not only for their own sin, but by their sin that 'tis removed? God for their unfruitful∣ness and unthankfulness, for their ma∣nifold sins against the Gospel, most righteously gives them up to be active and instrumental themselves in putting out the light, and sending the Gospel far away from themselves.
2. If God, continuing the Gospel, and the means of grace to a People, with-hold the powerful influences and co-operation of his Spirit, what is this in effect, but a leaving them to them∣selves, suffering their lusts, prejudices, love of sin, and hatred of holiness, so far to prevail in them, as to shut and bar up the Soul, and forcibly to keep out the light, or so far to weaken the in∣fluences and impressions of it, as no∣thing to purpose is done upon them.
3. If God hide the Mysteries of his Kingdom from them by giving them up to Satan to be blinded and deluded by him, the thing is still upon the matter one and the same; for as hath been at large shewed, Satan effects his purpose much by their own sin, and makes use Page 48of their Corruptions as the Weapons of his warfare against the Soul, to keep it under the power of darkness.
Now to apply what hath been spo∣ken.
This gives us a true account of the reason of several Practises of the Church of Rome.
As 1st. Of their vilifying and dispa∣raging the Holy Scriptures as defective and imperfect, as obscure and uncertain, and no better than a Nose of wax that may be turned any way at pleasure, that may be moulded and shaped to every man's fancy, as one of that Party wick∣edly and and profanely reproacheth it. In short; Their making the word writ∣ten, insufficient to inform us touching the matters of our belief and practise, and to lead us in the way to Heaven, without the help and supplement of Hu∣man Traditions.
2. Of their refusing to bring their Doctrines, Worship and Practises, to the Test and Touchstone of the Holy Scriptures alone; and of their setting up another pretended Infallible Judge Page 49of Controversies, not admitting the Scriptures to be the common Umpire and Determiner of them.
3. Of their shutting up the Book of the Holy Scriptures, and forbidding it to be read by the People, so taking away from them the key of Knowledge. What's the reason of these their ungod∣ly and abominable Practises, but this, He that doth evil, hateth the light, and cometh not to it, lest his deeds should be reproved? Their Principles are unsound and rotten, wicked and abominable, their Doctrine false, their Worship Ido∣latrous, their Usages vain and supersti∣tious, and therefore they hate the light of the Scriptures that discovers their Er∣rors, Cheats and Juglings; therefore they decline the light, and run away from it; they defame and reproach it, they shut it up, and imprison it; they do what they can to extinguish it, and keep men in darkness wheresoever they have power to do it. But blessed be God that we are not yet brought into bon∣dage by them; they have not yet pre∣vailed to deprive us of the light of the Gospel; we have free access to the Ho∣ly Scriptures; the Bible lies open before us in our Mother-tongue. O! may we Page 50never by our unthankfulness, our not improving the mercies we enjoy, and our other sins, so far provoke God, as that he should suffer the Land of our Nativity to be again overspread with that worse than Egyptian darkness.
This discovers the true reason why many that frequent Publick Ordinances, love and affect such Preaching only as comes not too near the Conscience, med∣dles not with their spiritual estate, toucheth not their own particular dar∣ling and beloved sins. A smooth and general Discourse, that descends not to the concernments of their own Souls; or it may be, a serious and smart Ser∣mon, that reproves the sins of the Age, or the sins of some particular Persons known to them, those sins which they thomselves are not guilty of; all this they can hear with much patience, and perhaps with some delight, * as Herod is said to have heard John Baptist gladly. But if any man shall lay open, and set before them the great evil of their own sins, the unsoundness of their spiritual Estate, while they continue in them, Page 51the extream danger of their present condition, the absolute and indispensa∣ble necessity of Regeneration, of sincere and universal Repentance, of sound Conversion, in order to Salvation; if a man shall discourse of our natural prone∣ness to flatter and deceive our selves in these important matters, of our utter unwillingness to know the worst of our selves, and to be truly acquainted with the state of our Souls; of the small num∣ber of such as shall be saved, in compa∣rison of them that perish; of the great multitude of them that rest in the out∣ward for malities of Religion, and never go further, and of such as have a name to live, but are dead; I say, if any man shall discourse of these things, how un∣acceptable and displeasing, how irksome and tedious would it be to many of his Hearers! How would they long to be rid of such a man! hardly forbearing to say of him, as Ahab did of Michaiah, I have this man; because he never prophesied good of me, but evil. For such plain dealing, a man perhaps might be treated as kindly by some, as the Prophet Amos was by Amaziah, Go, flee away, saith he, into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there; but prophesy Page 52no more at Bethel.* Now whence is all this, and what other account can be given of it, but that in my Text, Every one that doth evil, hateth the light, and cometh not to it, lest his deeds should be reproved?
This may also acquaint us with the reason why many vicious and ungodly People come so seldom to this place. Their Deeds are evil, their Works are the Works of darkness, and therefore they hate the light. A woful Snare, a sad Intanglement it is in which they are! They hate the light, and come not to it, because their deeds are evil; and yet as long as they come not to the light, they are never likely to be better. But do these People think all is well, while withdrawing themselves from the light, they can make a shift to avoid the sight of their sin and misery, and keep their Consciences asleep? Let them not de∣ceive themselves; the time is coming, when the light will break in upon them, do they what they can to keep it out; When God will open their eyes, and set their sins in order before them, as he Page 53threatens the wicked man, * the obstinate and impenitent sinner. What shall I say to persuade these Sons of Japhet, or rather Sons of Belial, to dwell in the Tents of Shem, to come to the House of God, and join themselves to the As∣semblies of his People? Though I have small hopes that I shall be able to say any thing that may work upon people so much estranged from God, and so miserably hardened in their sins; yet over, and above what hath been said, I shall recommend these two things to the serious consideration of such persons, if any of them be at present here; for tho we have little of their company here, yet I know not, but that some of them may now and then have the curiosity, though not the Religion, to look within these Doors, and drop in amongst us.
1. Let them consider, That the longer they shall shun the light, and hide their eyes from their sins, the more frightful and formidable will the view of them be, when God shall open their eyes. Such Armies of their Sins, and such fearful Aggravations of them, will then appear, as will fill them with horror and amazement, and without Page 54God's infinite mercy hurry them into the Gulf of utter despair. But if this be not enough to fright them out of their profaneness; Let them consider,
1dly, That they who will not come to the light here, must never expect to be partakers of the inheritance among the saints in light hereafter.*The house of God is the gate of heaven, as Jacob called it. Through this is the entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven; and there∣fore all they who out of Profaneness and Irreligion shut themselves out of the Church here, shut themselves out of Heaven; and they who wickedly and profanely exclude themselves from the Assemblies of God's People here, must not look to be admitted into the City of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, the general Assembly, and Church of the First-born which are written in Heaven. A fearful thing! consider it all ye that shun the Word and Ordi∣nances of God, that in your hearts say to the Almighty, *Depart from us, me desire not the knowledge of thy ways, as the wicked man is described. If you will not acquaint your selves with God here, you must never look to en∣joy him hereafter; if in effect you bid Page 55him depart from you, what else can you expect from him, but to hear that dread∣ful and confounding Sentence, Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. Tremble at the thoughts of that Sen∣tence, and do not by your obstinate Pro∣faneness and Irreligion, by your con∣tempt of the House, Word, and Ordi∣nances of God, wilfully bring it upon your selves.
If the light be so unacceptable to wick∣ed men, if they hate it, and cannot en∣dure it; then may They hence inform themselves what measure they may ex∣pect from the wicked World, whose Office and Calling it is to hold forth the light to others. If indeed they study to comply with men in their sins, if they resolve to say nothing but what wicked men would have them; if they flatter them, and build them up in a good opinion of them∣selves to their ruine, and cry, Peace, peace to them, unto whom no peace belongs; then will the World like them well, be very friendly to them, Page 56and let them have its good word up∣on all occasions. But if in the dis∣charge of the Duties of their place, they be faithful to Christ who intrusts them, and faithful to the Souls of men, with which they are intrusted, then must they make account to meet with little kindness from wicked men. If such men hate the light, they can have no great love ordina∣rily for them that bring it to them. When therefore we are but coursely treated by some of them, whose good we most desired and endeavoured, we must not think it strange. 'Tis a necessary and inseparable appendant of our Calling. 'Tis no other than what befel the Prophets in the Old Testament, the Apostles in the New, and Christ himself. It is impossible that we should do our duty faithfully, and not incur the displeasure of some thereby. There is no greater evi∣dence of unfaithfulness, than when no man is offended. If that seem a Paradox, then what think you of that of our Saviour; *Wo be unto you when all men speak well of you?
To conclude. Seeing thus it is; seeing we cannot please wicked men, Page 57unless we will displease God, let the Conscience of having sincerely en∣deavoured to approve our heart to God, and to give no just offence to men, bear us up, and support, arm and fortify us against all the harsh Censures, and all the causeless and un∣just Clamours of the World.