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Full text of "A treatise on comforting afflicted consciences"

BV 4831. B69 T7 1831 
Bolton, Robert, 1572-1631 
A treatise on comforting 
afflicted consciences 



THE 

CUZtlSTZAM 'S CABXNST ZiZBILAItY, 

COMPRISING 

THE MOST APPROVED RELIGIOUS AUTHORS. 

SELECTED BY 

THE REV. JOSHUA F. DENHAM, M. A. 

Lecturer of St. Bride's, Fleet Street. 




ALREADY PUBLISHED, NEATLY DONE UP IN BOARDS. 

s. d. 
BOLTON on COMFORTING AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES, 
with an Introduction, and a Memoir of the Author, by the 
Rev. J. F. Dknham 5 

ROMAINE'S LIFE, WALK, and TRIUMPH of FAITH 4 

NEWTON'S (Rev. John) CARDIPHONIA, or the Utterance 
of the Heart, in the course of a real Correspondence 2 6 

NEWTON'S (Rev. John) OMICRON, Containing Forty-one 
Letters on Religious Subjects. 1 6 

CECIL'S LIFE ofthe Rev. JOHN NEWTON 1 6 

DODDRIDGE'S RISE AND PROGRESS OF RELIGION IN 
THE SOUL, a Complete Edition, with the Sermon on the Care 
ofUieSoul 1 6 

BOGATZKY'S GOLDEN TREASURY, consisting of devotional 
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ADDRESS. 

s.d, 
HENRY (Matthew) on MEEKNESS and QUIETNESS of 
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THE ABOVE STANDARD WORKS 

Will be followed by others of equally high character and importance, 
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ADDRESS. 

Reading has been aptly designated *' the food of 
thought ; " because, whatever may be the strength or 
activity of the mental powers of any individual, or 
however great his vigilance of observation, he must 
still greatly depend for the substance of his knowledge 
on the accumulated researches of past generations. 
If these were to be overlooked, it is evident that the 
mind of man would be perpetually in a state of infancy. 
In order, however, to reap the full advantages from 
reading, we need direction peculiarly as to our choice 
of books. Upon any subject whatever there are 
a few volumes, which contain the substance of a multi- 



ADDRESS. 

tude of others of subordinate value : to be able to 
apply to these immediately is truly desirable. Next, 
however, in importance is the ability to procure them, 
which is impossible to many, owing to the scarceness 
of the copies or the high price at which they are 
frequently sold. 

The present age is remarkable for the attempts 
which have been made to meet these difficulties in 
almost every species of literature. Individuals of the 
greatest talents and endowments have employed them- 
selves to render knowledge accessible to those classes 
of society which have been hitherto considered as ex- 
cluded from the attainment of it by their circumstances. 
The necessity of furnishing instruction of a religious 
nature commensurately with the demand for general 
information, has occurred to every reflecting person, in 
order to communicate a proper bias to the public mind, 
under that vast accession of knowledge which marks 
the present era of its history. It is scarcely needful 
to remark, that the cause of religion has been strength- 
ened by the publication of numerous valuable works, 
having in view to explain its truths and to defend its 
evidences. 

The Proprietors of the Christian's Cabinet Library 
partake in the gratification arising from this fact, in 
common with every friend of religion. It has however 
appeared to them, that there is still both an opportunity 
and a demand for their design, which they now beg 
permission to describe. Their object is to publish 
such standard works as illustrate the practice and irt- 
fluence of religious truth, with the occasional introduc- 



ADDRESS. 

tion of such books of an elementary nature as relate to 
the evidences of revelation ; and thus> in reprinting the 
best pieces of the most eminent writers, both of the 
past and present times, to form a complete Library of 
Religious Works, comprising all which it would be 
desirable to the young student in divinity, to the 
newly-ordained clergyman, and to the Christian in 
general to possess. It is hoped that the design will be 
found peculiarly useful to the young, as supplying what 
they so often feel themselves to need — a guide to the 
selection of the most valuable books, and as at the 
same time placing them within their reach. 



The series will be printed in a style of superior neat- 
ness, and at so very low a rate as to be particularly 
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LONDON : 
O.WOOD AND SON, POPPIN'S COURT, FLEET STREET. 



A TREATISE 



ON COMFORTING 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES: 



WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1G20, 

BY 

ROBERTBOLTON, B. D. 

MINISTER OF BROUGHTON IN NORTHAMPTONSHIRE ; 
AVITK 

AN INTRODUCTION AND MEMOIR OF THE AUTHOR, 

BY 

THE REV. J. F. DENHAM. 



LONDON: 
PRINTED FOR THOMAS TEGG AND SON, 

73, CHEAPSIDE; 

R. GRIFFIN AND CO. GLASGOW; AND TEGG, WISE, AND CO. 

DUBLIN. 



INTRODUCTION. 



The following definition of Conscience seems to be 
sanctioned by an eminent writer* : — A native tendency 
in the mind of man to contemplate the actions of him- 
self and others, united to a susceptibility of deriving 
pleasure or dissatisfaction from the perception of them 
as moral or immoral. 

This definition, although so framed as to include 
every thing which seems to be known with certainty 
on the subject, is nevertheless considered by many as 
liable to controversy. Some would object to conscience 
being called a native tendency of the mind, and main- 
tain that it should be considered as an acquired capa- 
bility. Others allow, that man really possesses such 
an original capability, but contend that it approves or 
condemns actions, not according as they are right or 
wrong in themselves, but according as mankind are 
taught by education so to consider them. It is evident 
that each of these several opinions cannot be correct, 
and no less so, that it is highly desirable to ascertain 
which of them is so ; not only upon the general prin- 
ciple that correct ideas on all topics are to be preferred, 

* Dr. Thomas Browa. 



iv INTRODUCTION. 

but also because of the difference in the jiractical con- 
sequences which attend each of these theories. 

If the theory stated in the definition be admitted, 
our \'iews of the moral nature of man will be greatly 
elevated. We must thenceforward regard him as 
showing from his construction, that he was intended 
by his Creator for the highest species of moral 
agency ; that he was designed to act not merely ac- 
cording to the supposed effect of his conduct upon so- 
ciety, but agreeably to the intrinsic and immutable 
nature of truth. His responsibility would at the same 
time seem to be greatly enhanced by the possession of 
a susceptibility, which enables him to discern whether 
an action be right or wrong with as much precision 
as the palate of his mouth enables him to distinguish 
sweetness from bitterness. It would also follow, that 
moral instruction should be greatly conducted with a 
view to it ; and that instead of the modern mode of 
estimating the qualities of an action by forming an 
estimate of its expediency, we should with ancient 
moralists make our appeal to the preference or dislike 
of our inward emotions. 

They who adopt the opinion that conscience is an 
acquired capabihty, must admit the conclusion, that 
the moral part of our constitution is comparatively 
destitute of guidance. 

The reception of the third theory, that the suscepti- 
bility is original, but depends for its application on 
accidental circumstances, will conduct to consequences 
nearly similar, since the difference is but little between 
not possessing an instinct and possessing an instinct 
not determined to its object. 

It may be allowed to examine and reply to the oh- 



INTRODUCTION. v 

jections brought to show that the principle called con- 
science is an acquired property of the mind, to offer 
some considerations which would render the opposite 
opinion the most probable, and then to urge the direct 
arguments by which it seems to be supported. This 
endeavour may the more readily be admitted, since the 
ensuing treatise contains no information upon the na- 
ture of conscience, but simply describes its emotions 
when distressed, and the method of assuaging them by 
applying the truths of the gospel. 

1. The objections urged to show that conscience is not 
an original faculty of the human mind communicated 
to it by the Creator, but acquired by our circumstances, 
are of the following nature : — 

That if it were so, its effects would be uniform ; that 
we should consequently observe all mankind entertain- 
ing the same feelings towards the same actions, and 
therefore pursuing the same conduct. Instead how- 
ever of this similarity, we may learn from histories 
and travels that there is not a single crime, which has 
not been publicly countenanced in some age or coun- 
try. Theft, which is considered as dishonourable and 
worthy of punishment by most nations, was not only, 
tolerated but even encouraged at Sparta. In this 
country it is deemed meritorious to maintain aged and 
indigent parents, and no less so in North America to 
kill them out of the way. Suicide itself, which is 
usually thought in Christian countries to be so hope- 
less and atrocious a crime, has had its advocates among 
the ancient philosophers. Humane treatment of cap- 
tives is regarded as honourable and virtuous in this 
quarter of the globe, and not less so by a wild Ame- 



vi INTRODUCTION. 

rican to destroy them by the slowest and most in- 
human tortures. 

That even among ourselves we m.ay hear the same 
act applauded or censured, tolerated or disallowed, ac- 
cording to the circle of the society in which we may 
move. 

That this variety and even opposition observable in 
the sentiments of mankind, seem little to favour the 
supposition that we possess a native perception of the 
difference of actions *. 

The validity of these instances is acknowledged, and 
also that they might be indefinitely multiplied. Upon 
a more minute investigation, however, they will be 
found less applicable to the purpose for which they are 
adduced than might at first be expected. It is replied, 
that these contrarieties are to be ascribed not to the 
absence of a moral instinct in the mind of man, but 
to some peculiar advantage supposed to attend them, 
which attracts the mind aside from its natural action. 
Thus when a Spartan considered theft in the abstract, 
as the possession of another's property against his 
will, and as attended with no other consequence than 
the production of so much evil, it might suggest ex- 
actly the same emotions in his mind as it would do in 
the mind of a respectable Englishman. Let the Spar- 
tans, however, be induced to believe, that, owing to 
the character and power of their oppressors, to se- 
crete and carry off property with agility would be a 
useful qualification, and we can understand how theft 
itself for the sake of this supposed advantage might 

* Paley's IMoral Philosophy, chapter v. 



INTRODUCTION. vii 

seem allowable, and even become a branch of education 
among the Lacedemonians. The same distinction will 
reconcile the conduct of the American savages con- 
sistently with the existence of a moral sense. The 
general accounts given of this custom represent it as 
a religious ceremony. The power of superstition is well 
known to be in proportion to the ignorance of the hu- 
man mind. In the mind of these savages adherence to 
ancient customs or the imitation of their deities might 
possibly operate so strongly as to overcome the sugges- 
tion of natural conscience. Suicide also may falla- 
ciously seem to be palliated or even rendered allowable 
by the peculiarity of circumstances. The impulse of 
revenge may overcome the suggestions of conscience 
so far as to permit the horrible treatment of their ene- 
mies by the New Zealanders, who nevertheless would 
feel as we should in reference to killing and devouring 
a friend or fellow-countryman. In these, and perhaps 
all similar instances, it is easy to discover some ad- 
vantage which is supposed to attend the action, and 
for the sake of which the mind becomes (improperly) 
reconciled to it, whereas it would have ins^^^antly re- 
jected it if contemplated without it. If instances could 
be adduced in which mankind have acted in opposition 
to the obvious dictates of morality uninfluenced by 
some such consideration, then the existence of con- 
science as an original sense would be opposed by an 
unanswerable objection. But where was it ever known 
that nations or individuals allowed or abetted theft as 
an act unconnected with the supposed advantage of 
themselves or others ? Where is the tribe who destroy 
their aged parents as an action indiflFerent in its con- 
sequence upon their own happiness.' Where is the 



viii INTRODUCTION. 

writer that ever advocated suicide as allowable, when 
considered in itself ? 

These, then, and similar cases fail, when urged as 
objections against the doctrine, that conscience is an 
original principle, because they do not result from the 
simple action of our emotions, but from them when 
perturbed and biassed by adequate causes. 

The consideration of these perturbing causes has 
given rise however to another objection, urged by no 
less an authority than Mr. Locke. The substance of it 
is, that it is highly unreasonable to suppose that any 
law of nature, for such this representation of con- 
science would render it, should thus become liable to 
interruption. 

It is replied, that this objection does not include 
sufficient regard to the nature of man as a moral agent. 
The laws which relate to the moral part of man's 
nature are different from those by which the material 
world is governed. The latter are probably no less 
efficient now than at the creation, but the character 
of man as a free agent renders it likely that his powers 
both of body and of mind should be liable to be affected 
by his own voluntary conduct. It is further urged, 
that the objection overlooks the fact, that other unques- 
tionable instincts of our nature may be similarly af- 
fected. Self-preservation will surely be ranked among 
them ; and yet it is evident that it is liable to become 
altogether counteracted, " Whatever cheapens life 
abates the fear of death*." Unhappy persons under 
the consciousness of sin, and ignorant of the character 
of God as a Father, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, evi- 

* Dr. Youug'. 



INTRODUCTION. ix 

dently balance between the agonies of remorse, the 
dread of punishment, the pains of death, and the pos- 
sibility of future anguish ; and as the least of evils, 
desperately lift their hands against theniselves, and 
violate the tabernacle of their own life. If one sus- 
ceptibility so powerful as that of self-love may thus 
become obviated, why may not another ? 

The just idea of conscience admits this possibility. 
It has regard to the acknowledged law of the human 
mind, that the suggestions of one set of feelings may 
be affected and even overcome by the greater force of 
those of another. Thus the murderer, who has long 
cherished his revenge, and ultimately sees his victim 
within his grasp, may probably destroy him without 
repugnance. He may draw the poignard from his 
quivering breast with no other feelings than the satis- 
faction arising from the achievement of a long-intended 
project. It is afterwards, when this revenge has been 
gratified, and the natural action of his feelings is 
restored, that he awakens to the witherings of re- 
morse. He was at the time of the deed insusceptible 
of them, for the same reason that he was also incapa- 
ble of telling at that moment the cube of nine or the 
square of sixteen. The return of the degree of quies- 
cence necessary for the performance of an arithmetical 
process, would witness the returning action of the 
moral sense. 

It has been beautifully said, that " the heart of man 
may be allegorically represented by an island level with 
the water which bathes it. On the pure white marble 
of the island are engraved the precepts of the law of 
nature. Near them is one who bends his eyes upon 
the inscription, and reads it aloud. This is the genius 

b 



X INTRODUCTION. 

of the island, the lover of virtue. The water is in 
perpetual agitation. The slightest zeph}'T wafts it 
into billows. It then covers the inscription : we no 
longer see the characters : we no longer hear con- 
science read them. But the calm soon rises from the 
bosom of the ocean. The island reappears as before, 
and conscience resumes its employment*." It seems 
therefore no valid objection against the existence of the 
moral instinct to urge that it is liable to counter- 
action. 

A further objection is derived from the fact, that it 
scarcely operates at all in infancy, and from its gra- 
dually becoming stronger with advancing age, a cir- 
cumstance which would seem to favour the idea of its 
being an acquired rather than an original principle. 

It may however be replied, that this is nothing more 
than is true respecting other of our susceptibilities, 
which have ever been deemed to be instinctive. The 
instinct of self-preservation, for instance, which causes 
the eye to close upon the near approach to it of a dan- 
gerous object, and the hands to be raised when we are 
in danger of falling, scarcely operates at all in infancy. 
It begins to operate when it is needed, when the aug- 
mented strength of the child renders it less dependent 
upon the parents, and when therefore it is more ex- 
posed to personal danger. So the moral instinct may 
be imagined to remain dormant, without inducing any 
doubt as to its existence, till the maturity of our 
powers generally may have prepared us to enter upon 
the period of our responsibility. 

It has been further oljected, that if there had been 



INTRODUCTION. xi 

such an original power in the mind, there must also 
have been implanted within us an idea of the object to 
which it was to be directed. The possession of the 
instinct supposes the possession of ideas of the actions 
to be approved or disapproved by it : but we possess no 
sucli ideas, and therefore have no such instinct *. 

The same objection, however, would lie against the 
existence of every power of the human mind, as 
original. It is acknowledged upon all hands that we 
possess a capacity of intuitively perceiving the relation 
of numbers, as soon as we understand the terms in 
which the proposition is stated. There is no nation in 
which it could not be true, and perceived to be so by 
the inhabitants, that four are to twenty as twenty to a 
hundred. Yet though all mankind perceive this truth 
intuitively, no one contends as necessary to intuition 
that we should also possess an idea of all the possible 
propositions in numbers to which it is to be directed. 
In this respect the human eye and the natural con- 
science are similar. The human eye is adapted to the 
perception of objects. It is so equally whether these 
objects may or may not have been presented to it : it 
would perceive and distinguish them if they were. So 
the susceptibility of conscience to derive pleasure or 
pain from good or evil actions may exist independently 
of being exercised. It is however ready to operate, 
true to its office, whenever they may be presented by 
experience or observation. 

It has also been objected against the doctrine that 
conscience is a native and original faculty, that our 
perceptions of right and wrong, upon this supposition, 

* Locke's Essay on the Human Understanding, book i, ch.iv, 5 19. 



xii INTRODUCTION. 

are mere impressions : that our minds are adapted to be 
affected by them in the same involuntary manner as our 
bodily senses ai'e by the qualities of the different objects 
presented to them : that in consequence, we are no more 
culpable or praiseworthy for our good or evil conduct, 
than we are for our ideas of sweet and bitter, pleasure 
and pain : that, in a word, the existence of natural 
conscience militates against the perfect responsibility 
of man. 

To this it is replied, that the suggestions of con- 
science are neither so powerful as to constrain the volun- 
tary powers of man, nor so weak or transient as to allow 
of any excuse derived from want of sufficient direction. 

2. There are several considerations derived from the 
nature of circumstances, which would seem to render 
it probable that such an original faculty as conscience 
would have been imparted to mankind. 

It is conceded, that owing to the limitation of our 
powers we should be exceedingly cautious how far we 
speculate concerning what might or might not be ex- 
pected in the intricate, multiform, immense government 
of God, That which might seem likely at one stage of 
our attainments, may seem to be much less so at 
another. Still it is submitted, that the circumstances 
of man as a moral agent admit of one presumption, 
which seems as much as any other to be well founded : 
it is, that man would be endowed by the Creator with 
the faculty of natural conscience. The mind of man 
is the source of all his actions, and consequently of all 
their immediate and remote effects upon himself and 
others, not only throughout the limits of time, but 
throughout eternity itself, it would hence seem likely 
in the highest degree, that it should be furnished with 



INTRODUCTION. xiii 

some presiding- principle. This expectation is con- 
firmed by observing the universal provision made, in 
the laws which regulate material worlds, for the at- 
tainment of the purposes they were intended to answer. 
This is no less true respecting the intellectual powers 
of man ; for though the operations of the laws which 
regulate mind are exceedingly complex in their opera- 
tion, and traced with much difficulty, yet there is rea- 
son to believe that the minutest modifications of our 
perceptions are the consequences of the operation of 
fixed laws, equally as the form of a crystal. It 
would seem therefore most unlikely, that the pre- 
cision of purpose provided for in every other portion 
of the Creator's works, should be wanting in refer- 
ence to the conduct of the highest race of beings in- 
habiting the earth. 

If we reflect, that God intended the happiness of his 
creatures when he formed them, and that he has indis- 
solubly connected their happiness with their conduct, 
we shall gain an additional probability that some prin- 
ciple would have been communicated to his mind, cal- 
culated to direct his conduct. The extreme desirable- 
ness of such a constitution would seem to render it 
very likely that it would obtain in the government of a 
being of perfect wisdom and perfect benevolence. 

An additional probability that man would be endued 
with natural conscience is derived from the fact, that 
in its absence he would be thrown for his guidance 
upon the resources of his mere reasoning powers. But 
the obvious disadvantages of such a state of things 
render it unlikely that it should exist. The life of man 
is exceedingly brief. Some questions in morals are so 
intricate, that even supposing man to be earnestly 

b 3 



xiv INTRODUCTION. 

addicted to the investigation, his whole life would be 
nearly consumed in adjusting his principles. As soon 
almost as he began to act, he would be summoned out of 
the world. These disadvantages would be unavoidable, 
supposing that all mankind were devoted to the study 
of morals, and anxiously bent upon discovering their 
duty. But in the state of things which actually exists, 
wherein mankind are compelled from the very nature 
of their circumstances to devote so much attention to 
the cares of subsistence, and so few even of those who 
are exempt from them seem inclined to habits of 
serious thought of any kind, it is clear, that, upon 
this supposition, acting right would be the privilege 
only of the contemplative few. 

The doctrine which we are now labouring to esta- 
blish is attended with all the advantages which man- 
kind so eminently need. It supposes man to be 
furnished with a faculty that enables him to discrimi- 
nate the nature of actions, attended with a susceptibi- 
lity so vivid and acute as to render regard to its dic- 
tates essential to his happiness : that to obey it 
converts existence into a pleasure and a blessing, and 
to have violated it entails upon him the severest 
wretchedness he can endure. At the same time the 
operation of this faculty is directed to almost every 
duty upon which the social happiness of mankind de- 
pends. It reaches a multitude of cases which the 
wisest human laws cannot include in their enactments. 
Human laws may prevent the grosser forms of fraud 
and violence, by setting against them penalties so 
severe as to render them no longer desirable to the 
depraved. But there ai'e ten thousand acts of cruelty, 
iinkindness, and dishonesty, which they cannot check. 



INTRODUCTION. xv 

Much unkindness and neglect and insolence may be 
shown to servants, tenants, and to helpless dependents, 
and yet the individual remain exempt from the punish- 
ment of the laws. The base arts with which the 
seducer steals the assent of confiding innocence, as 
literally as if he abstracted property from a dwelling 
house, cannot be checked by human law. There are 
unnumbered devices by which the villain may entangle 
and circumvent and withhold the property of the widow 
and the orphan, which evade the cognizance of human 
laws. Against these and ten thousand other acts of 
oppression, the great Father of all has interposed by 
transfusing into our nature a few simple feelings. A 
horror lowers upon the heart of the unprincipled man, 
when he contemplates an act of cruelty or of injury, 
which preserves him so far guiltless, and his intended 
victim safe. He feels within him a preparation for his 
punishment before he becomes guilty : he hears a voice, 
heard by none but himself, but which will be heard by 
him, telling him that his own soul shall become his 
accuser; assuring him also, that there is a voice in 
every other human bosom ready to join its reproaches 
with his own, and to render his life one continued 
scene of agony from within and of execration from 
without. The immense utility of such a principle 
renders it highly probable that it would be bestowed. 

3. It may now be permitted to state the direct proofs 
which establish the opinion that conscience is an origi- 
nal faculty. 

An eminent writer* asserts, that in all languages 
there are words which signify duty and interest : that 
although these terms coincide in their application, 

* Dugald Stewart. 



xvi INTRODUCTION. 

since whatever is our duty is also our interest, yet that 
we never confound them, either in the use we make of 
them, or in the feelings which they severally excite 
within our minds. By duty we mean something that 
ought to be done : by interest something which it 
would conduce to our well-being to perform. The per- 
ception of duty is prompt and unreasoning, and excites 
a degree of mental uneasiness till it be complied with. 
Interest, on the other hand, is always discerned by us 
as the result of a calculation to some intent or other. 
It is however as vain and useless to attempt to distin- 
guish between these terms by words, as it would 
be by the same method to distinguish between the 
odour of a violet and of a rose. The names them- 
selves of duty and interest are sufficient to suggest 
the distinction. It has been attempted by some phi- 
losophers to resolve the one into the other, but our 
consciousness rejects the amalgamation. When we act 
spontaneously, and therefore naturally, we never even 
think of the connection between them. The mind ac- 
knowledges it upon reflection, but it requires a train of 
reasoning to make it plain. It may indeed be useful 
often to trace the connection, because the principle of 
virtue thus becomes stronger, and its exercise more 
delightful. But the emotions with which we contem- 
plate actions do not result from perceiving it. It is not 
the suggestions of interest which render us happy in 
the unexpected welfare of a neighbour or a friend. It 
is not interest which originates the feelings which 
thi'ill our hearts when innocence and honesty have 
escaped an intended oppression. It is not the principle 
of interest which fills us with such satisfaction when 
we behold a village through which we may pass, busy 
and happy in securing the fruits of harvest. It is not 



INTRODUCTION. xvii 

interest which ministers the gratification which we 
feel upon having fulfilled an engagement, or upon 
being enabled to gratify the reasonable expectations 
which we had excited. It is not self-interest which fills 
the heart of the traveller with such indescribable emo- 
tions upon the plain of Marathon or in the pass of 
Thermopylae. If we imagine ourselves threading that 
avenue to Greece where Leonidas and his three hundred 
held at bay for five days the invader of their country 
and his five millions, we may form some idea of the 
surprise we should experience were some advocate of 
the selfish system to disturb our emotions by the ques- 
tion, whether we did not think they originated in the 
perception, that acts of fortitude and patriotism in 
general were connected, though remotely, with our 
own well-being ? 

The emotion comes first : the possible connection of 
the action with our welfare comes afterwards. It 
strikes the heart as an object strikes the eye : we ap- 
prove it because it is lovely, and we are so constructed 
as to approve it. In a similar manner the loathing and 
abhorrence with which we contemplate cruelty or 
fraud is instantaneous, and is excited by a view of the 
object as it is in itself, and not by a perception of what 
it may become to us. This quality of our moral emo- 
tions, their independence upon our own interest, seems 
to intimate that they originate in the action of an ori- 
ginal and different faculty of the soul. 

Another argument to the same eflfect is, that our 
moral emotions are the same, whether the action, 
good or evil, be known only to ourselves, or disclosed 
to others : they are even independent of the considera- 
tion that they are known to the Deity himself 

" The first and greatest punishment of guilt," says 



xviii INTRODUCTION. 

Seneca*, "is to have been guilty. Nor can any crime, 
though fortune should adorn it with her most lavish 
bounty, as if protecting and consecrating it, pass by 
unpunished ; because the punishment of the base and 
atrocious deed lies in the baseness or atrocity of the 
deed itself." 

" Think not," says Cicero f, " that any one needs the 
burning torches of the furies to agitate and torment him : 
their own hands, their own crimes, their own remem- 
brance of the past , and their terrors for the future, these 
are the domestic furies which are ever present to the 
mind of the impious." It is superfluous to state, yet 
useful to remember, that these are quotations from the 
works of persons who lived before the Christian era, 
and who, from their being uninfluenced by the truths 
of revelation, may be justly regarded as describing the 
natural emotions of the human mind. The numerous 
passages in which they delineate the pangs of a 
wounded conscience, and the unmixed satisfactions 
attending virtue, are among the most celebrated speci- 
mens of their eloquence. So much indeed do the an- 
cients refer the character of our actions to our internal 
emotions, that their usual definitions of virtue and of 
vice make them to consist in deviation from nature or 
conformity to it. They also represent the emotions 
derived from a good or evil action as arising simply 
from the nature of the action in itself, and independently 
of any other cause. Our own observation demonstrates 
the accuracy of their statements. Instances have been 
very numerous, in which crimes would probably for 
ever have remained unknown to mankind, but the per- 
petrators of them, unable to bear the solitary reproaches 

* Epistle 9/. 

t Orat. pro Sex, Roscio Araerino, sec. 24. 



INTRODUCTION. xix 

of their own hearts, have even many years afterwards 
sought the melancholy relief to be derived from con- 
fession and submission to justice. 

" Fortune," says Seneca*, " may free men from ven- 
geance, but it cannot free them from fear : it cannot 
free them from the knowledge of that general scorn 
and disgust which nature has so deeply fixed in all 
mankind against the crimes which they have perpe- 
trated. Amid the security of a thousand concealments, 
they cannot think themselves secure from that hatred 
which seems ever ready to burst upon them ; for con- 
science is still with them, like a treacherous informer, 
pointing them out to themselves." 

To these may be added the testimony of a modern 
writer f, who was scarcely less under the influence of 
Christianity. 

*' The wicked man fears and flies himself. He endea- 
vours to be gay by wandering out of himself. He turns 
around his unquiet eyes in search of some object of 
amusement, that may make him forget what he really is. 
Even then his pleasure is only a bitter raillery ; with- 
out some sneer or contemptuous sarcasm he would for 
ever be sad. On the contrary, the serenity of a good 
man is internal. His smile is not a smile of malignity 
but of joy. He bears the source of it within himself. 
He is as gay when in the midst of the gay as when 
alone. He does not derive his contentment from those 
who approach him, he communicates it to them." 

But these emotions, so prompt, so vivid, so inde- 
pendent, seem to render it probable that they arise, 
not from any acquired, but from an original suscepti- 

* Epistle 97. t Hoiisseaii. 



XX INTRODUCTION. 

bility of the mind ; not from its habits, but from its 
construction. 

Another argument on the same side is derived from 
the circumstance, that the same actions have been 
regarded as virtuous or vicious in all ages. The details 
of history are but little more than an account of 
mutations. Perpetual mutations have taken place 
in governments and literature. Similar alterations 
are observable in the history of the various systems of 
religion that have prevailed at different periods : the 
objects of worship, and the modes by which they have 
been adored, have all in their turn disappeared, and 
given place to new deities and new rites. Amid this 
perpetual alteration by which almost every thing has 
been attended, it is remarkable that the general prin- 
ciples of morality have been permanently acknow- 
ledged. The same actions which were deemed vicious 
or virtuous thousands of years ago, continue in the 
same estimation. Generosity, gratitude, fidelity, in- 
tegrity, justice, and kindness, have had a universal and 
perpetual empire over the veneration of mankind. 
Their opposite vices have never ascended from their 
degradation. They have been recommended or con- 
demned, not as the result of the adjudicature of their 
tendencies on the social happiness of man, but as 
exciting emotions of pleasure or disgust. This identity 
of the virtues and vices in all ages, can only be 
ascribed to the fixed laws, by which they are recog- 
nized as such, implanted in the human heart. 

" Cast your eyes," says Rousseau, " over all the na- 
tions of the world, and all the histories of the nations. 
Amid so many inhuman and absurd superstitions, amid 
that prodigious diversity of opinions and characters. 



INTRODUCTION, xxi 

you will find everywhere the same principles and dis- 
tinctions of moral good and evil. The paganism of the 
ancient world produced indeed abominable gods, who 
on earth would have been shunned or punished as 
monsters; and who oflfered, as a picture of supreme 
happiness, only vices to commit and passions to satiate. 
But vice armed with this sacred authority, descended 
in vain from the eternal abode : she found in the heart 
of man a moral sentiment to repel her. The continence 
of Xenocrates was admired by those who celebrated 
the amours of Jupiter. The chaste Lucretia adored 
the unchaste Venus. The intrepid warrior sacrificed to 
Fear. The most contemptible divinities were served by 
the gi'eatest men. The holy voice of nature, however, 
stronger than that of the gods, made itself heard and 
respected and obeyed on earth, and seemed to banish 
as it were to the confinement of heaven both guilt and 
the guilty." 

A final argument may be drawn from the nature of 
those emotions which we denominate a gratified or 
wounded conscience. 

It has been justly said, that the happiness derived from 
the contemplation and especially from the conscious- 
ness of virtue, is not capable, either in respect of its 
nature or permanency, of being compared with any 
other of our pleasures. Even the contemplation of 
virtuous actions is peculiarly satisfactory' and refresh- 
ing : the mind feels conscious that its attention is 
worthily bestowed ; that it is gaining additional ability 
for the purest enjoyments. Of this nature also are the 
feelings with which we contemplate the scenes of great 
actions, or the persons of those who are eminent for 
excellence. Of the same nature, only raised in some 

c 



judi INTRODUCTION. 

proportion to the incomparable superiority of the 
object, are the emotions with which we contemplate 
Him, whose being and character comprehend the union 
of all possible excellence. The consciousness that we 
have been enabled to perform a virtuous action, or to 
persevere in the imitation of excellence without an 
allowed deviation, administers a feeling of the same 
delightful nature. The feelings produced by a long 
perseverance in such a course, fill us with a pleasure, 
to which the exulting consciousness of perfect health 
in early youth perhaps aflfords the nearest, though still 
an imperfect similitude. It is, in that expressive lan- 
guage of Solomon, health to the bones. While, on the 
other hand, the horror of remembered guilt afflicts us 
like the recollection of some intolerably loathsome ob- 
ject. In the sacred scriptures it is described by every 
comparison which can express detestation, faintness, 
and horror. The most expressive metaphor of all, per- 
haps, is that of a wounded spirit. The hopeless, sick- 
ening agony produced by a wound in some vital organ, 
approaches in some degree, but can never adequately 
represent the pangs of an accusing conscience. The 
mind cankers with what it deems an inmedicable 
wound. Unlike a bodily infirmity, the anguish of the 
spirit does not grow more tolerable the longer it is 
endured ; but, like the vitals of the fabled Prometheus, 
the mind presents an everlasting material to the lace- 
rations of remorse. All other painful topics which are 
contemplated by the mind gradually lose their impres- 
sion ; but the tale told by an angry conscience is ever 
new. The mind becomes day by day even more sensi- 
ble to the pangs of its scorpion scourge. Other causes 
of mental distress are alleviated by change of scene : 



INTRODUCTION. xxiii 

but this follows the wretched creature everywhere. 
Nature's loveliness appears scathed and tasteless to his 
parched and agonizing heart. The wilderness offers no 
solitude. Conscience pursues him through wilds never 
trod by the camel : its hand is upon him though he 
hide him in the lair of the crocodile amid the reeds 
of Nilus. Now this incurable anguish, this acute 
sense of degradation, this withering consciousness of 
ill desert, admitting of no alleviation even from the soft- 
ening hand of time, would seem to demonstrate that it 
consists in a mischief far greater than the violation of 
an acquired principle, however strong, but would seem 
to be more like an oifence committed against an ori- 
ginal law of human nature. 

It is the design of the following treatise to describe 
these emotions, and to explain the only method by 
which they can be allayed. It will be found upon pe- 
rusal to justify the sentiment of Dr. Doddridge * re- 
specting it, that " it exhibits the traces of a soul most 
intimately acquainted with God." The excellency of 
the work consists in the use of language throughout 
which most plainly and most accurately conveys the 
author's meaning, in the communication of abundant 
knowledge and experience, and in the natural employ- 
ment of the most vivid and powerful descriptions. 

The ensuing volume is a faithful transcript of the 
original edition, with the exception of a few words, 
which have been altered or omitted in order to render 
it more intelligible and suitable to modern taste. 

• Lectures on Preaching. 



MEMOIR 

OF 

THE REV. ROBERT BOLTON. 



It may be interesting to the reader to be furnished 
with a few particulars respecting a man so truly emi- 
nent for learning, talent, and godliness. This was the 
■wish of the writer upon perusing the treatise, and he 
would now endeavour to gratify a similar feeling in the 
mind of others. 

It seems that the Rev. Robert Bolton was born at 
Blackbourne in Lancashire, on Whitsunday, in the year 
1572. His parents were far from affluent, but yet upon 
perceiving in him the signs of great natural abilities 
in early life resolved to afford him a learned educa- 
tion. Tills design was materially aided by the resi- 
dence at that period of an eminent schoolmaster in 
the grammar school. The progress made by him 
appears to have been so great, that in the course of 
comparatively a short time he rose to be the first boy. 
The memoir of him written by a contemporary states 
that he had the prerequisites for a scholar demanded 
by Isocrates. He had excellent natural abilities ; a 
sound constitution of bodyj a quick apprehension; 

c 3 



xxvi MEMOIR OF THE 

great inquisitiveness, which led him to seek clear ap- 
prehensions of every thing that was taught him ; a great 
attachment to the pursuits of literature ; the capahility 
of enduring great exertion with patience ; and was an 
attentive and silent auditor to the conversations of 
others, observing, and even noting down whatever 
new ideas he collected from the observations of his 
elders. 

He continued at school till he was nearly twenty 
years of age, and then removed to Lincoln College, 
Oxford. The same success attended his studies at the 
University. He acquired the notice of his superiors, 
and was rapidly rising in general respect in the xmi- 
versity, when his father, who was of course his de- 
pendence, died, and his property seems for some un- 
assigned reason to have entirely devolved to the 
elder brother of our author. 

It has been truly remarked, that difficulties which 
overwhelm inferior minds serve but to exercise the 
courage and to elicit the resources of those of an op- 
posite character. There are few situations, perhaps, 
in which these qualities would be more needed than in 
the case of a young man at the university, whose 
finances are either confined or doubtful. To be able 
under these circumstances to sustain his mind from 
depression, and especially to devote himself steadily to 
the studies of the place, shows him to be possessed of 
that consciousness of integrity, and of those mental 
resources, which will inevitably lead to future emi- 
nence. 

The conduct of this author exhibits also his singular 
conscientiousness in avoiding debt at a period of life 
when the mind does not always so fully recognize the 



REV. ROBERT BOLTON. xxvii 

nature and importance of that obligation. The subject 
of this account evinced his accurate sense of it by- 
avoiding expenses, which others would have thought 
allowable. He borrowed from his tutor and others, 
says my authority, the best books on natural and 
moral philosophy, and read them over with the utmost 
diligence, wrote abridgments of them, and returned 
them. 

His industry appears at this time to have been very 
praiseworthy. In order that he might attain an exact 
knowledge of Homer, a book at that time of consider- 
able importance at Oxford, he wrote out the whole of 
the Iliad. The result of such perseverance and assiduity 
was to enable him to converse or discourse in the 
Greek language in the public schools with as much 
facility as he possessed in his native tongue. Thus his 
confined resources, which denied him access to ma7iy 
books, conduced to his more perfect acquaintance with 
a few, and by compelling him to transcribe them, his 
mind became stored with a most comprehensive and 
accurate knowledge of their contents. 

In the course of a short time, however, he removed 
from Lincoln College to Brazen-nose, with a view to a 
fellowship ; because, by the statutes of that so- 
ciety, Lancashire or Cheshire are entitled to election 
in preference to others. He, however, resided there 
for some time without the attainment of his object, 
and amid the same straitened circumstances. His 
merit as a scholar and as a man of integrity became 
ultimately known, and through the timely and generous 
aid of a resident fellow, he was probably appointed 
one of the college lecturers. By the stipends arising 
from this source he was upheld till he was about thirty 



xxviii MEMOIR OF THE 

years old, when he obtained a fellowship. He at the same 
time proceeded to the degree of master of arts, and by 
the exercises he pei'formed on the occasion obtained 
so much celebrity as to be appointed reader of lectures 
in logic and moral and natural philosophy in his own 
college. He is said to have discharged the duties of 
his office with such skill and diligence as to have ob- 
tained the admiration of all who approved the con- 
scientious fulfilment of engagements, as well as the 
dislike of certain contemporary lecturers, who were 
compelled, say my authorities, to " a more frequent and 
painful reading of their lectures, which were seldom 
and slightly performed before." As another proof of 
the estimation in which he was held, he was chosen to 
be one of the disputants before King James, in natural 
philosophy, when that learned monarch first visited the 
University of Oxford. 

To his other attainments it is said that he added 
eminence in metaphysics, mathematics, and the divinity 
of the schoolmen. 

Yet during this career of literary eminence, he re- 
mained unaflFected by the truths of revealed religion. 
He exhibited in his disposition and habits a convinc- 
ing proof of the utter inadequacy of human attain- 
ments to aflfect the corrupt bias of the human heart. 
He appears to have even added to the number of in- 
stances in which the greatest mental attainments are 
associated with the greater inclination to sin ; as 
if the Creator would demonstrate by such cases, that 
the only source of rectitude is the influence of his 
Holy Spirit, and that moral weakness and degrada- 
tion may exist in inverse proportion to intellectual 
strength. 



REV. ROBERT BOLTON. xxix 

He was, according to his own confession, at this pe- 
riod much addicted to the amusements of the theatre 
and of gaming ; practices, which although not con- 
demned by any explicit declaration of scripture, are 
yet infallibly renounced by the regenerated mind as 
inconsistent with its sympathies and desires. He 
also discloses, for the purposes no doubt of glorify- 
ing the mercy and favour of God in his conver- 
sion, that he had been addicted to the sins of pro- 
fane swearing and sabbath-breaking; that he hailed 
the festivals of the church as occasions on which he 
might run into excesses, and derive a miserable ano- 
dyne to his conscience from the fact that they were 
instituted as seasons of joy. He describes in terms of 
genuine humiliation his regret when they ended, and 
he could no longer mingle with society, and derive 
from the occasion a plea of unrestrained sensual en- 
joyments. Along with this absence of goodness in 
himself he evinced the utmost disdain and contempt 
for those who illustrated in their character the conduct 
of the sincere Christian. He expressed his spleen by 
the usual method of calling names, and says, that he 
considered when he could include a person within the 
appellation of Puritan, that he had succeeded in divest- 
ing him of all claim to sincerity, talent, or learning. 
He describes himself to have peculiarly illustrated this 
disposition upon a commencement Sunday at Cam- 
bridge. An eminent minister of that day, of the name 
of Perkins, was to preach. His remaining works show 
that the estimation in which he was held was truly 
deserved. He appears to have been regarded with 
much veneration by several prelates of the church, and 



XXX MEMOIR OF THE 

especially by the Bishop of Salisbury of that time. 
The plain, scriptural discourse delivered by him ex- 
tremely displeased Mr. Bolton. He pronounced him, 
he says, a barren, empty fellow, and a passing mean 
scholar. He evidently expected to hear a learned dis- 
course. His understanding would have been flattered 
by those self-same truths which were uttered as the 
oracles of God, being propounded to him in the shape 
of argument. The conscious pride of intellectual 
ability would have reconciled him to the sentiments, 
if they had been thus offered to him ; but a simple state- 
ment of truth as it is in itself had no charms for him, 
because he neither recognized the supreme authority 
of its great author, nor felt its suitableness to his own 
necessities. It is, however, interesting to remark, that 
after his conversion Mr. Bolton himself altered his 
opinion respecting him, and considered him one of the 
most godly and learned men the church of England 
had ever enjoyed. He could then perceive another and 
far superior excellence in his sermons, as consisting 
in their being an exact impress of the truth of scrip- 
ture, and as affording accurate descriptions of the 
agency of spiritual truth upon the human mind. 

While he remained at Brazen -nose college he con- 
tracted an intimate acquaintance with a gentlemein of 
the name of Anderton, who had been his schoolfellow. 
He is represented as having been a Roman Catholic at 
this period, and as having subsequently become an 
eminent priest. This person seems to have earnestly 
persuaded Mr. Bolton to enter the Roman Catholic 
church, promising that his temporal interests also 
should be greatly advanced by his conversion. 



REV. ROBERT BOLTON. xxxi 

He made a proposal that they should repair to an 
English seminary on the Continent ; and Mr. Bolton so 
far acceded as to appoint a place and day in Lancashire 
in which they were to meet, embark, and be gone. 
Mr. Bolton himself was faithful to his engagement, 
but some unforeseen accident delayed the arrival of 
Mr. Anderton : he therefore escaped from his under- 
taking, and returned to Oxford. He soon after became 
introduced to an eminent clergyman at Oxford of the 
name of Peacock ; and through conversation with him 
God was pleased to afford to him the knowledge of the 
value and method of obtaining eternal life. The pro- 
cess, however, was in his case different from that in 
most others : it perhaps corresponded to his qualities 
and habits of mind, and to the purposes which God had 
intended him to answer in after-life. Instead of the 
affections yielding under the attractive influence of the 
love of Christ to mankind, and of his being thus gra- 
dually brought to acknowledge the error and danger of 
his ways, he appears to have been reclaimed with the 
most appalling terrors. Often did he rise from his bed 
in the night and pace his chamber under the deepest 
agitation, upon beholding himself obnoxious to the 
wrath of a just and holy God. The sins of his past 
life, which he had either forgotten or not estimated as 
such, appeared to his distracted conscience in all their 
multitude and odiousness. He experienced also the 
greatest augmentation of his misery from the assaults 
of Satan, his mind being harassed with the most blas- 
phemous and revolting ideas respecting the blessed 
God. His biographer compares the strength of his 
convictions of sin to those felt by Luther, who in his 
epistle to Melancthon describes himself as being ren- 



xxxii MEMOIR OF THE 

dered by them destitute of speech or sight. This, how- 
ever, seems in the case of the Reformer to have conti- 
nued but one day, while the anguisli endm-ed by the sub- 
ject of this sketch lasted for many months. He ultimately 
however found p^ace with God, tlirough faith in the effi- 
cacy of the atonement, and sufficiency of the righteous- 
ness of the Mediator ; and then the wisdom of God in 
this dispensation appeared by the fervent love of his de- 
livered spirit, by his invincible resolution in the work 
of God, and by an unequalled ability to comprehend and 
to comfort the distresses of afflicted consciences. 

The spontaneous wish of his mind seems to have 
been, as in many similar instances, to devote himself 
to the service and honour of that Redeemer, who had 
thus enabled him to understand and love his character. 
About the thirty-fifth year of his age, therefore, he 
was ordained, and applied himself wholly to the en- 
gagements of the ministry, devoting all the varied and 
great resources of his understanding to that most ardu- 
ous and yet most delightful of all occupations. 

Soon after his entrance upon the ministry, he became 
known to Mr. Justice Nicholls, at that time sergeant at 
law, who within about two years afterwards presented 
him to the living of Broughton in Northamptonshire. 
When his patron announced to him his intention, 
Dr. King, the bishop of London, happened to be pre- 
sent ; and while he thanked him for Mr. Bolton, he 
assured him that he had by his gift deprived the uni- 
versity of one of its greatest ornaments. 

He improved his retirement to a country village by 
writing his first work, " A Discourse on True Happi- 
ness." This he dedicated to his patron. It was soon 
entirely bought up ; and many who were attracted to 



REV. ROBERT BOLTON. xxxiii 

the perusal of it by the eloquence of its style, were 
led again to peruse it out of admiration of the instruc- 
tion which it contained. 

About the fortieth year of his age he married a lady 
of the name of Royse, and-thenceforward devoted him- 
self to the duties of his office with unremitting atten- 
tion. He preached twice every Sunday during upwards 
of twenty years, and catechized the children of the 
parish every Sunday afternoon. Upon every holyday, 
and on every Friday before the sacrament, he expounded 
some chapter to his assembled parishioners ; and thus 
in the course of his ministry he went over nearly every 
chapter of the Old and New Testament. In these 
exercises, as well as in his sermons, it was remarked 
by the clergyman who preached his funeral sermon, 
that he uttered nothing which might not have been 
delivered before a learned auditory ; for though plain 
enough to be understood by a husbandman, all he said 
was so truly accurate and scriptural, as that the most 
enlightened hearer might have listened with satisfac- 
tion. His entire aim in his preaching seemed to be to 
convert the souls of his auditors. This simplicity of 
intention was peculiarly approved and honoured of God, 
who by his ministry convinced many hundreds of their 
spiritual need, and of the ability and willingness of the 
Saviour to sanctify and to redeem. 

He was especially eminent in his addresses to the 
consciences of his hearers, whether his object was to 
awaken or to console. He was consequently applied to 
for his advice by great numbers. Many persons on the 
Continent proposed cases for his solution. After having 
been rendered eminently useful in this mode, he pub- 
lished the following invaluable treatise, which may be 

d 



xxxiv MEMOIR OF THE 

considered as the summary of his long experience and 
profound observations upon one of the most interesting^ 
branches in theology. 

His mode of preaching seems to have been a combi- 
nation of earnestness and aflPection. Thus those who 
were wounded by his appeals became healed by his 
consolations. He appears to have been remarkable for 
his bold and uncompromising exposure of sin in all ita 
destructive and polluting influence upon the sinner; 
and not less so in his fervent exhortations to all that 
have believed in God, that for the sake of the gospel, 
for their present comfort and future reward, they should 
be careful to maintain good works. Like Luther, he 
seems to have been prepared to sustain the hatred and 
violence of the whole world. This led to his consum- 
mate impartiality. Totally forgetful of every other 
distinction among mankind than sin or holiness, he 
delivered the will of God with an entire disregard of the 
accidental or acquired distinctions of those present. 
Still his zeal seems to have been tempered with dis- 
cretion. He studiously avoids as highly dangerous the 
minute description of his hearers, which might have 
excited the mere displeasure of the sinner, not against 
himself, but against the preacher. He appears to have 
been anxious, at every step of his discourse, to adduce 
the authority of the scriptures for his assertions ; and 
to this very ready and appropriate usage of the word of 
God, much of the success of his ministry, as a means 
subordinate to the influences of the Spirit, may be 
ascribed. May not one great reason why the discourses 
of many able and excellent clergymen have not been 
attended with similar advantage, be sought for in the 
absence of that marked and even formal appeal to the 



REV. ROBERT BOLTON. xxxv 

word of God, which arms their discourses throughout 
with a divine authority, while the utmost clearness of 
statement without it, insensibly aflfects the hearer as 
the mere excellent advice of a human being? The 
practice may possibly be objected to, as producing a 
roughness of style inconsistent with the finished charac- 
ter of an elaborate sermon ; but experience has demon- 
strated, that the absence of these comparatively trifling 
qualities has been compensated by the achievement of 
the great end of the ministry, the conversion of souls. 

Another excellence of his ministry appears to have 
consisted in his free and full offers of salvation to man- 
kind through Christ, and in his thorough and perpetual 
explanation of the nature and oflSces of the Mediator. 
Often would he declare to his people, that it grieved 
him to preach against their sins, to trouble and annoy 
their consciences ; that he would be happy indeed to 
preach the riches of the love and power of Christ all 
bis days ; but that he knew no other mode of disen- 
gaging them from the dominion of Satan, than by 
urging upon them the consciousness of their unwor- 
thiness and liability to perdition. 

His piety towards God appears to have been so ge- 
nuine and full of love, that his entire character, from 
his conversion to his death, was unmarred by any de- 
viation from the spirit of devotion. 

His other excellent volume, " Directions for comfort- 
ably walking with God," is said to have been composed 
by him as a guide for himself, and was not originally 
intended for publication. 

His eminent attainments seem to have originated in 
his extraordinary habits of devotion. His constant 
habit was to pray six times in the day. He also kept 



xxxvi MEMOIR OF THE 

days for humiliation, especially before the communion, 
which he performed with such ardour of spirit, that 
one of his biographers says, " he used such humility, 
and such fervency and faith with God, as if he had 
been a child talking with his parent." So indefatigable 
were the pains he took, both in preaching and in pri- 
vate devotion, that when his physician advised him to 
remit his diligence, he rejected his counsel, asserting, 
that he chose rather to enjoy a sense of communion 
with Christ, than the utmost strength and serenity of 
health. As a proof of the simplicity and integrity of 
his motive, it is said, that he refused to accept of 
worldly advancement, though frequently offered him 
from various quarters, simply because he would not be 
separated from that scene in which his labours had 
been so useful ; estimating, after the correct manner, 
his respectability as a minister, not by the possession 
of lucrative offices, but by the extent of his usefulness. 
Amid all these singular qualifications, his wisdom 
shone pre-eminent, insomuch that although he preached 
twenty-two years with the greatest success and cele- 
brity, no man even in those captious times could im- 
pugn his doctrines, — another result of his habit of in- 
cessantly proving the ti'uth of his assertions by the 
declarations of scripture. 

His singular charity must also be enumerated. From 
the time he first possessed his living till his death, he 
spent its entire revenues in the decent maintenance of 
his family and in charity : he forbore to accumulate. 
The poor of the village found in him a wise and ready 
friend. Real distress made known its necessities with 
the confidence of obtaining relief; while fictitious 
wants, or those induced by dissipation, were seldom 



REV. ROBERT BOLTON. xxxvii 

obtruded upon his attention, owing to the penetration 
with which he ascertained the real nature of an appli- 
cation. Upon occasion of a very destructive fire, he 
so interested the neighbouring gentry in the necessities 
of his poor parishioners who had suffered, that without 
aid from the government he caused their habitations to 
be rebuilt, and their present wants to be supplied. 

The time, however, of his departure drew nigh soon 
after this event. A quartan ague attacked him in the 
month of September before his death. The violence 
of the paroxysms, and the weakness which it occa- 
sioned, rendered it evident that it was attended with 
the greatest danger. At a very early period of his ill- 
ness he finally adjusted his worldly concerns, and then 
gave himself up to preparation for death. He 
had announced to his people his intention of preach- 
ing to them upon the four last things, Death, Judg- 
ment, Hell, and Heaven; a favourite division in his 
days of the most solemn truths of the scriptures. He 
proceeded through his course as far as the last ; but on 
the preceding Saturday he became more seriously in- 
disposed, and never again ascended his pulpit. His 
illness however was greatly protracted, and often very 
painful. 

It is said, that during the intermissions of his dis- 
order he was often heard to exclaim, " Oh, when will 
this good hour come .'* when shall I be dissolved ? 
when shall I be with Christ ? " Being told that it 
would be better for him to depart and to be with 
Christ ; but that it would be more profitable to his 
people that he should remain, he i-eplied in the lan- 
guage of David, " If I shall find favour in the eyes of 
the Lord, he will bring me again, and show me both it 

d 3 



xxxviii MEMOIR OF THE 

and his habitation : but if otherwise ; lo, here I am, 
let him do what seemeth him good unto me" (2 Sam. 
XV, 25, 26). He was asked by some one else, if he 
would not be content to live, if God should grant hira 
life : he replied in language which demonstrates the 
strength and sincerity of his religious principles, " I 
grant that this life is a blessing from God ; neither will I 
neglect any means that may preserve it, and do greatly 
desire to submit to the will of God ; but of the two, I 
infinitely desire to depart and to be with Christ." 

Great numbers of persons came to see him during 
his last illness. He admitted but few however, urging 
as his reason, that he might have the more time for 
preparation to meet his God. To those who were ad- 
mitted, he gave earnest and affectionate advice, agree - 
ably to their respective occupations in life. In these 
conversations with them the powers of his mind seemed 
to exhibit their former vigour. He exhorted the minis- 
ters who came with the greatest love, that they would 
bear courageously the afflictions that might come upon 
them. He admonished others that they should with- 
out delay seek the Saviour, and devote themselves 
to his service. About a week before his death he en- 
treated his wife to bear his dissolution, which he per- 
ceived to be at hand, with Christian fortitude. He 
then addressed his children, and admonished them that 
he had instructed them during their whole life, and 
" was persuaded that none of them durst think to 
meet him at the great tribunal in an unregenerate 
state." 

About two days before his death some of his pa- 
rishioners coming to watch with him, one of them re- 
quested, that as he had discovered to them by doctrine 



REV. ROBERT BOLTON. xxxix 

the excellency of Christ, he would now describe to 
them for their encouragement what comforts he found 
in trusting to the Redeemer. " Alas ! " said he, " do 
you look for that of me now, that want breath and 
power to speak. I have told you enough in my life- 
time : but to give you satisfaction, I am by the won- 
derful mercies of God as full of comfort as my heart 
can hold, and feel nothing in my soul but Christ, with 
■whom I heartily desire to be." 

The night before he died, he was informed that some 
of his dearest friends were around him to take their last 
farewell : he rose up in his bed, and shaking them all by 
the hand, prayed heartily for them, and desired them to 
make sure of heaven ; to bear in mind what he had told 
them in his ministry, and assured them that the doctrine 
which he had preached to them by the space of twenty 
years was the truth of God. Desiring to be laid down 
again he spoke no more till the next morning, when he 
took the last leave of his wife and children, and blessed 
them all ; and that day in the afternoon about five 
o'clock, the 17th day of December 1631, in the sixtieth 
year of his age, he entered into his heavenly rest. 

Thus terminated the career of this truly valuable 
man. It seems to have been his happiness to pass his 
time in rest and quietness, although England generally 
was the scene of religious contention. This exemption 
from annoyance and reproach he owed not to a neu- 
trality which complies with, or to a timidity which 
evades commotions. He sustained a prominent and 
decided part in the contentions of his times, but passed 
through them invulnerable to the attacks of calumny, 
owing to the eminent pureness of his motives, and the 
direction of all his conduct by a sanctified and enligh- 



xl MEMOIR OF THE REV. ROBERT BOLTON. 

tened conscience. He was a man in whom his friends 
had nothing to regret, except that his exertions in the 
cause of God probably shortened his days ; and whom 
his greatest enemies could accuse with nothing but that 
he preached too often and lived too precisely. His 
works contain accurate and extraordinarily compre- 
hensive views of the truths of revelation, and his de- 
scription of their influence upon the affections of the 
human heart are profound and correct. They possess also 
an additional excellency, which did not always attend 
the religious writings of his age, or even of our own, 
they are expressed in language devoid of technical or 
peculiar phrases. He has written in the same style 
that an enlightened contemporary would have done 
upon a subject of English literature. He has thus 
evinced among many other valuable writers since his 
time, that every truth and every doctrine mat/ be ex- 
pressed in the ordinary language of mankind : his writ- 
ings are consequently free from those peculiarities of 
style which are sometimes so used as to render ob- 
scure what is plain, and to darken still more what is 
really mysterious. 

Salisbury Square, Fleet Street, 
September, 1831. 



CONTENTS. 



SECT. I, PART I. 

Page 
Chap. I. The Introduction. The contents of the Text. 

The first doctrine raised and proved by two reasons 1 

Chap. II. Three other reasons proving the former doclrijie 4 
Chap. III. Three pair of instances confirming the former 
doctrine : David and Saul, Job and Ahithophel, Luther 

and Spira » 9 

Chap. IV. A first use of the former Doctrine, for exhor- 
tation to store up heavenly comforts in our hearts. Two 
considerations which press this exhortation upon us ... . 14 
Chap. V. A third consideration, pressing the former ex- 
hortation, defended against MachiaveV s position 17 

Chap. VI. A second use of the former doctrine, for reproof 
to several sorts of people. The first whereof are the 
careless, with a first consideration to admonish them. ... 22 
Chap. VII. A second and third consideration for the 

admonition of those who are careless 26 

Chap. VIII. The second sort of people to be reproved, which 

are sensualists. The first consideration to reform them. . 30 
Chap. IX. The second and third consideration for the 

reformation of the sensualist 32 

Chap. X. The third sort of people to be reproved, which 
are the opposers of a powerful ministry. Three reasons 

dissuading men from that si7i 38 

Chap. XI. Four other reasons dissuading from the former sin 41 
Chap. XII. Six other reasons dissuading from the former sin 43 
Chap. Xill. J. Who are meant by persecutors. II. What 
is meant by persecution. III. An objection against the 

doctrine answered 46 

Chap. XIV. Five false grounds of confident enduring misery 48 
Chap. XV. A sixth false ground of confident enduring 
miseries. A conclusion of the first doctrine 51 

SECT. I, PART II. 

Chap. I. The doctrine of the intolerableness of a wounded 
conscience proved 55 

Chap. II. Use of the former doctrine for the unconverted 
to take out the sting of sin by repentance. One reason 
why every sinner doth r}ot always feel that sting ...... 62 



xlii CONTENTS. 

Page 

Chap. III. Five other reasons why a sinner doth not al- 
ways feel the sting of sin 69 

Chap. IV. The second use of the former doctrine for the 
converted, that they sin no more ; and to keep them from 
sin, seven cojisiderations are given them 75 

Chap. V. Thirteen other coiisiderations to keep men from sin 83 

SECT. II, PART I. 

Chap. I. The first error in curing consciences is the unsea- 
sonable applying of comfort to them that sorrow not at all 92 

Chap. II. Daubers reprehended. Faithfulness in preach- 
ing and daubing compared 103 

Chap. III. A general direction for avoiding the former error 112 

Chap. IV. Four particular directions for the avoiding 
this error. I. How the Law is to be pressed. II. How 
the Gospel to he preached. III. How Christ to be pro- 
posed. IV. How pardon to be asstired. And ways to 
be used for the putting of these directions in practice. . 119 

Chap. V. The second error is the indiscreet applying of 
comfort to them that are not grieved aright. Two cases 
wherein men grieved are not to be presently comforted. . 133 

Chap. VI. Two other cases wherein spiritual physicians 
must take heed of the second error 143 

Chap. VII. A fifth case wherein spiritual physicians mtist 
take heed of that second error. The divers kinds of death 
in godly men 152 

Chap. VIII. The divers kinds of death in wicked men .. . 159 

Chap. IX. The remedy in this fifth case. 1. Admonition 
to the juinisters, to be careful in comforting at that time. 
2. To the people, not to defer repentance till that time. . 165 

Chap. X. The third error of applying comfort, which is 
indiscreet application. The first case wherein it hap- 
pens, which is too sudden application ; and the demon- 
stration of that error 170 

Chap. XI. Objection against the former doctrine. Dif- 
ferences between legal terrors in the elect and others. . . . 178 

Chap. XII. Instructions for the avoiding this fault of 
applyhig comfort too soon 183 

Chap. XIII. The second case wherein the former error is 
committed, which is in applying too much. Two things 
concerning which the afflicted is to be advised for avoid- 
ing this error 187 

Chap. XIV. Two things more concerning which the af- 
flicted is to be advised, and two things which the minister 
is to heed for avoiding that error , , 196 



CONTENTS. xliii 

Page 

Chap. XV. The fifth advice to the afflicted. Two direc- 
tions to the minister, to be observed towards his patient . . 202 

Chap. XVI, Two cases wherein pangs of conscience are 
not healed, whatever they seem 207 

Chap. XVII. A third case, wherein panes of conscience 
may seem to be healed, and are not ; with the discovery 
of men's errors in that kind 212 

Chap. XVIII. Three cases more, wherein the pangs of 
conscience are not healed 218 

SECT. II, PART 11. 

Chap. I. Theright method of curing an afflicted conscience. 

Four things required in the right metliod of curing. . . . 222 
Chap. II. Three thijigs more required in those who are 

rightly cured 226 

SECT. Ill, PART I. 

Chap. I. Three principles of comfort from without us, to 
be applied to afflicted consciences 230 

Chap. II. Two principles of comfort more 236 

Chap. III. Five other principles of comfort 240 

Chap. IV. Four conclusions of comfort, drawn from those 
places of Scripture which set forth the Lord's dealing 
with us as a father with his children 247 

Chap. V. Eight conclusions more drawn from the afore- 
mentioned places 253 

Chap. VI. A principle of comfort from something within 
us, confirmed from several testimonies and instances of 
Scripture, and by one reason 258 

Chap. VII. One reason more, confirming the truth of the 
former principle 264 

Chap. VIII. The former principle confirmed by two more 
reasons, and by authority 268 

Chap. IX. By what marks true desires of grace in us may 
he known 271 

Chap. X. Two especial times wherein the former principle 
is to be applied 273 

Chap. XI. Two other especial times wherein use is to be 
made of the former principle 276 

SECT. Ill, PART II. 

Chap. I. '1 he first particular malady set down, with a 
general principle for the cure of it 281 

Chap. II. The first particular argument to be applied for 
the cure of the formev malady 285 



xliv CONTENTS. 

Page 
Chap. III. The second particular argument to be used for 
the cure of the former malady. Five parts of that ar- 
gument laid open. The first branch of the fifth part. . 290 
Chap. IV. Tivo branches more of the fifth part of the 
former argument, and the several particles which belong 

to the second of them 295 

Chap. V. The second malady of conscience. Three con- 
siderations against inisoundyiess, proposed for the cure 
of this malady ; arid three more against unadvisedness.» 299 
Chap. VI. Tivo considerations more against unadvised- 

ness, for the cure of the former malady 304 

Chap. VII. The third malady of conscience, The danger 

of it. The causes of it. Two things proposed for its cure . 307 
Chap. VIII. The third loay of curi^ig the former malady. 

One thing to be considered to that purpose 314 

Chap. IX. A second and third thing to be considered for 

the cure of the former malady 321 

Chap. X. The fourth and fifth considerations which be- 
long to the third way of curing the former malady. 

Also the fifth help for it by advice 325 

Chap. XI. The fourth malady . Two causes of this malady 328 
Chap. XII. Four causes more of the foi-mer malady .... 334 
Chap. XIII. Two more causes of the former malady .... 341 
Chap. XIV. The ninth and tenth causes of this malady . . 348 
Chap. XV. Two helps for the curing of a man troubled 

with the former malady 352 

Chap. XVI. Two other helps 357 

Chap. XVII. Two more helps 362 

Chap. XVIII. Thelasthelp 367 

Chap. XIX. The fifth malady of an afflicted conscience. 
The first way of curing it, which is speculative, and the 

first part of that way, which is by consideration 371 

Chap. XX. The second part of the speculative way of 
curing the former malady, which is by counsel. Two 

things lohich men must he counselled to practise 378 

Chap. XXI. Three other things which men must he coun- 
selled to practise for the cure of the former malady . . . 382 
Chap. XXII. The experimental way of curing the for- 
mer malady 387 



INSTRUCTIONS 

FOR 

COMFORTING AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 



" The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity ; but a wounded 
spirit who can hear ? " — Prov. xviii, 14. 



SECT. I, PART I. 



CHAP. I. 



The Introduction. The Contents of the Text. The First Doctrine 
raised and proved by Two Reasons. 

My text lies, as you see, in a sacred cabinet of richest 
jewels; I mean the most select and wisest aphorisms, or 
proverbs, that ever issused out of a mortal brain. Every- 
one of them for the most part, especially from the tenth 
chapter, independent, entire, and absolute in themselves; 
clear and manifest by their own native brightness ; not 
needing such reciprocal light and lustre for each other's 
mutual discovery and interpretation ; and therefore they 
are naturally not capable of any coherent logical analysis, 
and other circumstantial expositions, ordinarily incident to 
other parts of scripture. Whence it is that this book of 
Proverbs is compared to a great heap of gold rings, rich and 
orient severally, and every one shining with a distinct 
lustre by itself ; but other texts of Holy Writ to gold chains, 
so interwoven and enlinked together, that they must upon 
necessity, for the rendering unto us aright and fully their 
several senses, be enlightened and receive mutual illustra- 
tion one from another. 

This present proverb doth represent unto us the ex- 
tremest hell upon earth, the greatest misery and most in- 

15 



^2 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

supportable that can possibly befal a man in this life ; I 
mean the horror of a guilty and enraged conscience : which 
is set out. 

First, by the excellency of its opposite : the invincible 
ability and mighty strength of that truly stout and heroical 
heart, which is happily upholden with the heavenly re- 
freshing influence of grace, God's favour, and a good con- 
science : " The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity." 

Secondly, by the heaviness of its attribute, the intoler- 
ableness of it : " But a wounded spirit who can bear 1 " 

From the former, the courage of a heart upholden with 
grace, take this first note : — 

Doctr. The spirit of a man, furnished with grace and for- 
tified with the sense of God's favour, is able to pass through 
the pikes and conquer all comers. 

I. For what, and why should that man fear or faint, on 
whose side the mighty Lord of heaven and earth doth stand ? 
" If God be for us, who can be ac;ainst us?" Rom. viii,3i. 
Whose mercy to his is without all stint and limit, like him- 
self, infinite ; so immeasurable, that itreacheth " from ever- 
lasting to everlasting" (Psalm ciii, 17 ) ; so tender, that it 
surpasseth incomprehensibly the compassionate m.eltings of 
the most loving mother (Isa. xlix, 15 ) ; and spared not the 
dearest blood of his only Son (Rom. viii, 32) ; who hath 
ever in readiness for the recovery of his children out of the 
most desperate danger, and to rescue them out of the hands 
of the deadliest enemy (besides his own omnipotent arm, 
the least finger whereof can beat the greatest mountain to 
powder and rend the hardest rock in pieces), innumerable 
hosts of angels, one of which killed an hundred fourscore 
and five thousand in one night (2 Kings xix, 35) ; chariots 
of fire, even a thousand chariots in the whirlwind ; that 
fair glorious giant which with incredible swiftness runs post- 
as it were through the sky. to stand still, or retire ; the im- 
petuous current of the raging sea to recoil ; the merciless 
flames of the hungry fire to become a soft and refieshing air ; 
the implacable fury of the most enraged lions to couch at 
the first word for his servant's sake and safety. — Nay, if 
need be, he hath caterpillars and frogs, worms and lice, 
even the most impotent and vilest vermin to fetch blood 
and take down the heart of the proudest tyrant upon earth, 
carry he his head never so high ; to eat out the bov.'els of the 
bloodiest Nimrod or mightiest monarch ;.hat wears a crown 
upon his head, if he oppose his people. He hath the very 
hearts and consciences (Matt, xxvii, 5 ; 2 Sam. xvii, 23) of 
all that rise up against them, to bring their own blood upon 
their own heads, and even hell and extremest horror upon 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 3 

their hearts iu this life. What then so dreadful a face of 
present confusions or fore-imagined forms of future troubles 
are able or ought slavislily to deject and terrify that holy 
heart, which with a sweet and safe repose is happily and 
everlastingly hid under the wings of that mighty God 
(Ruth ii, 12; Psalm xci, 4), who for the deliverance of 
his can work, 

1. By weak means ; see Jud^. vii ; 1 Sam. xiv ; Gen. xiv ; 

1 Sam. xvii ; Judg. IV, 21, and ix, 53. 

2. Without means ; see 2 Chron. xx ; Exod. xiv ; Josh, vi ; 

2 Kings xix ; 2 Chron. xiv. 

3. Contrary to means; see Dan, vi, 22; Josh, iii, 16; 
Dan. iii, 25, 26; Jonah ii,6; Joih. x, 12, 13, 14. 

II. U hen the heavenly beams of God's pleased counte- 
nance begin to break out upon a man through the dark and 
hellish mist of his manifold and heinous sins, the unquench- 
able heat of his everlasting love through Christ dissolving 
them into nothing, and fairly shine with a comfortable as- 
spect upon his humbled soul, fpso facto, heaven and earth, 
and all the hosts of both, are everlastingly reconciled unto 
him and become his friends : the storms and tempests raised 
by all the powers of hell are presently calmed for ever doing 
him any deadly hurt. All the creatures then pull in their 
horns, withdraw iheir stings, bite in their poison, checked 
and awed by those divine impressions of their Creator's 
blessed image stamped upon them by the Spirit of grace ; 
and dare no more offer any violence or vexation to him (ex- 
cept upon particular dispensation for his spiritual good and. 
quickening) than to the apple ot God's own eye. Hear the 
promise from God's own mouth: " And in that day will I 
make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and 
with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of 
the ground : and 1 will break the bow and the sword and 
the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down 
safely" (Hos. ii, 18). Nay, they are so far from charging 
their several stings upon the saints, that they will change 
their very natures to do them service. They will rather be- 
come an astonishment and horror to the whole creation than 
they be hurt. How often have they suspended and put off 
their native power and properties for the protection and 
good of God's people 1 The very sea, that most raging and 
roaring creature, must stay his course and current to give 
passage and preservation to a true Israelite ; the stars must 
fight and the sun stand still for the aid and advantage of God's 
armies; the lions must leave their savage rage and trade of 
blood, and become lambs and loving unto a Daniel ; the 
lavens will feed an Elijah ; the flames of fire must hold in 
iheir heat from burning a Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed- 



4 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

nego ; the devouring belly of a dreadful fish must be turned 
into a sanctuary of safety to a Jonah ; a popish furnace 
heated with the very malice of hell shall become a bed of 
down and roses to a martyr of Jesus * ; the very dead lines of 
an ordinary letter, must represent to a royal mind a mean- 
ing quite contrary to the natural sense and all grammatical 
construction, before a b'essed parliament be blown up with 
popish gunpowder t ; a brittle glass must rebound unbroken 
from the hardest stone, to help to bind up a broken heart 
bleeding with grief for absence of her spouse and want of 
the assurance of his love t. Nay, the devil himself, though he 
walks about like a roaring lion, seeking with restless rage 
and desiring infinitely to devour the Lord's inheritance, yet 
cannot possibly add one link to the chain in which by the 
merciful and mighty hand of God he is hampered, nor go an 
hair's breadth beyond his commission : and though it be 
utterly irnpossible that that damned angel should so far 
change his devilish nature as to do any of God's chosen 
directly any true good, yet he is everlastingly muzzled by 
an Almighty arm from ever doing them any deadly hurt. 
He may be suffered sometimes to shake his chain at them, 
and roar upon them hideously, to drive them nearer unto 
God and fright them from sin ; but he shall never, either 
in this world or the world to come, have his full swing 
at them, or fasten his hellish fangs upon their redeemed 
souls. 



CHAP. II. 

Three other Reasons prorUig the former Doctrine. 

HI. Besides all that other excellent, complete, impene- 
trable armour of proof, mentioned Eiphes. vi, which is able to 
beat back victoriously all earthly oppositions, and the very 
ordnance of hell, every one of God's favourites is also 
blessedly furnished with a mighty spiritual engine, which is 
able to batter down all the bulwarks of the devil, to shake 
the whole kingdom of darkness and all hellish powers ; nay, 
to offer an holy violence to the very throne of God himself; 
witness his most mercifully entreating Moses to let him 
alone (Exod. xxxii, 10), as though the mediation of a man 
could bind as it were (I speak it with lowliest reverence to 
that Highest Majesty) the hands of his omnipotency from 
doing his people any hurt, and were able to extinguish that 

• The declaration of Baiuham. while burning. 
+ Kinji^ James's interpretation of the anonymons letter by which the 
("iunpowder Plot was discovered. 
X See Yates's God's arraignment of Hypocrites, p. 357. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 5 

unquenchable wrath in the conception, which once on foot 
would " burn unto the lowest hell, and set on fire the foun- 
dations of the mountains,''— I mean that most precious, and 
almost, if not altogether, omnipotent grace of Prayer. This 
great master of miracles hath wrought from time to time 
many and very remarkable wonders, both in heaven and 
earth. It made the sun, that mighty creatuie. the prince 
of all the lights in heaven, to stay and stand still upun the 
sudden in the heat of his swiftest course (Josh, x, 12, 13) ; 
it landed Jonah safely upon the shore out of the belly of the 
whale and bowels of the sea (Jonah ii, 1, 10); it drew 
refreshing streams out of a dry bone ibr the saving of 
Samson's life (Judges xv, 18, 19) ; it turned the heaven into 
brass for three years and a half, and afterward turned the 
self-same brass into fruitful clouds and fountains of rain 
(James v, 17, 18) ; it killed a hundred fourscore and five 
thousand of the enemies of God's people in one night 
(2 Kings xix, 15—35) ; for the freeing of Elisha from a 
strait and dangerous siege it filled a mountain in a moment, 
as it were, "full of horses and chariots of fire" (2 Kings 
vi, 17) ; it turned the swords of a mighty army into the 
bowels of one another, when Jehoshaphat knew not which 
way to turn himself, but was so helpless and hopeless that 
he cried unto the Lord, " We know not what to do, only 
our eyes are upon tliee (2 Chron. xx, 5 — 23); it loosed 
Peter out of prison, shook his chains off from his hands, 
and made an iron gate to open of its own accord (Acts xii, 
5, 7, 10) ; it enraged and enlarged the P^nglish seas to 
swallow up the Spanish invincible armada ; and, which is 
none of the least wonders, it brought prince Charles out of 
Spain. 

But you instance, may some say, in extraordinary exam- 
ples of extraordinary men, endowed with an extraordinary 
spirit. 

Yet sure I am they are registered by the Holy Ghost to 
represent unto us and to all generations of the church to 
the world's end the almighty and wonder-working power of 
prayer ; and I am as sure that the petitioners were men 
" subject to like passions as we are " (James v. 17). Per- 
haps if thou be a true hearted Nathanael, since thy new 
birth ihou wast never so extraordinarily passionate as Jonah 
was, when out of a pang of strange distemper he thus 
answered the mighty Lord of heaven and earth, " I do well 
to be angry, even unto death " (Jonah iv, 9). 

IV. God's favourite is further furnished with another 
spiritual weapon of impregnable temper and incredible 
might : I mean faith, the very power and arm of God for 

J3 3 



INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

all true joy, sound comfort, and lightsonieness at the heart- 
root in this life. This crowned empress of all those heavenly 
graces that dwell in the soul of a sanctified man, and which 
in a right sense may be said virtually to comprehend all the 
beauty, strength, excellency, and power of Christ himself, 
is truly victorious and triumphant over all the world (1 John 
V, 4) ; over the very gates of hell and all the powers of 
darkness (Malt, xvi, 18); over the devil's most fiery darts 
(Eph. vi, 16) ; over the devouring flames of the raging fire ; 
over the roaring fury of the most hungry lions •, over the 
variety and extremity of the most exquisite tortures, temp- 
tations, persecutions ; all outward miseries, even over cruel 
mockings : it irresistibly beats down or blows up the 
strongest bulwarks and thickest walls, puts to flight the 
migfitiest armies, and conquers the most invincible king- 
doms (Heb. xi, 30, 33—37); and when all is done, O 
blessed faith, at the very last and deadliest lift, she trium- 
phantly sets her foot upon the neck of the prince of terrors, 
1 mean death, the last and worst, the end and sum of all 
feared evils (Psalm xxiii, 4) ; and even in the midst of those 
dying and dreadful pangs bears a glorious part with Jesus 
Christ the conqueror in that sweetest song of victory, "O 
death, where is thy sting 1" In a word, it can do all 
things : "All things are possible to him that belie veth " 
(Mark ix, 23). 

V. In a word, grace in its own nature being the most 
glorious creature of the Father of lights, and flowing as it 
were more immediately and sweetly from his blessed face, 
is of such a divine, invincible, and lightsome temper, and 
hath such an antipathy, such vigour and ability against all 
spiritual darkness and damps, whether of afHiction, temp- 
tation, troublesome confusions of the times, " the valley of 
the shadow of death," the grave, hell itself; that it is ever 
able either to dispel it or dissolve it, or support itself strongly 
and triumphantly even in the midst of it. Suppose a soul 
beautified with grace to be seated, if it were possible, in 
the very centre of that hellish kingdom, yet would it by its 
heavenly strength and glory, in despite of all infernal 
powers, keep off at some distance all the darkness, torments, 
and horror of that damned place. Whence it is that it is so 
often in the holy scriptures compared to light. Now what 
power and prevalent antipathy our ordinary light doth exer- 
cise against his most abhorred opposite, darkness, you well 
know; and it is elegantly and punctually for my purpose 
expressed by one in this manner : *' We see and prove," 
saith he, " by daily experience how powerful and dreadful 
a thing the darkness of the night is. For when it falleth it 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 7 

covereth and muffleth up the face of the whole world. It 
obscureth and hidelh the hue and the fashion of all crea- 
tures ; It bindeth up all hands and breaketh off all employ- 
ments. The night cometh, saith our Saviour, wherein we 
cannot work. It arresteth and keepeth captive all living 
creatures, men and beasts, that they must be still and rest 
where it arresteth them ; yea it maketh them fearful and 
faint-hearted, full of fancies, and much subject to frights. 
It is of all others such a powerful and unconquerable tyrant 
as no man is able to witlistand ; and yet nevertheless it is 
not of that might that it is able to overwhelm or to quench 
the least light in the world. For we see the darker the 
night is, the clearer the stars shine ; yea the least candle's 
light that is lighted withstandeth the whole night, and not 
only suffereth not the darkness to cover, or to smother and 
oppress it, but it giveih light also, even in the midst of the 
darkness, and beateth it back for some space and distance 
on every side of it ; so that which way soever it is borne, or 
wheresoever it cometh, there must darkness depart and give 
place unto the light ; all the power and dreadfulness of it 
cannot help or prevail aught against it. And though the 
light be so weak that it cannot cast light far about, or drive 
the darkness far from it, as in the spark of a hot coal, yet 
cannot the darkness cover or conceal, and much less quench 
It, but it giveth light to itself alone at least, so that it may 
be seen afar off in the dark, and it remaineth unconquered 
ot the dark, though it cannot help other things nor give light 
unto them. Yea, that which is yet more wonderful, a 
rotten shining piece of wood, which hath the faintest light 
that can be found, yet remaineth invincible of all the power 
of darkness, and the more it is compassed about with 
darkness the clearer light it giveth. So little is darkness 
able to overcome or keep down any light, but that it ruleth 
and vanquisheth and expelleth the darkness, which else 
overwhelmeth and snareth, and fettereth, and putteth all 
things in fear. Now if this natural light be so powerful 
and so able to prevail against the darkness of the night, 
why should not that spiritual light that God's Spirit doth 
kindle and set up in the hearts of God's children be able to 
afford them light in darkness, and to minister sound joy and 
sweet comfort unto them in the very midst of their heaviest 
and most hideous afflictions." Assuredly it must needs be 
unconquerably able, with far greater power and in an 
higher proportion. For our visible light doth spring but 
from a finite and material fountain, the sun, itself a crea- 
ture ; but the spiritual light I speak of, flows immediately 
from the glorious face of the only true, incomprehensible 



8 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

and eternal Light (1 John i, 5), the sun's creator, "who 
dwelleth in the light that no man can approach unto," and 
is an everlasting well- spring of all life and light, which it 
doth so far represent and resemble in Divine excellency and 
mightiness, that it thence receives by a secret and sacred 
influence fresh successions still of an infinite triumphant 
power, and prevaileth against all spiritual darkness for 
ever. Suppose all the men that dwell within the compass of 
our hemisphere should address themselves with all their wit 
and v.'eapons, with all their power and policy, to keep back 
that universal darkness which is wont to seize upon the face 
of the earth at the setting of the sun, yet by all this strong 
and combined opposition they should but beat the air. But 
now upon the very Mist approach of that ];rincely light but 
peeping up in the east, it would all fly away in a moment 
and vanish into nothing. In a similar manner, if all the 
understandings upon earth, and all the angels in heaven, 
should contribute all their abilities and excellences to en- 
lighten with cheerfulness and joy a guilty conscience, sur- 
prised sometimes with hellish darkness and clouds of horror 
upon sight of sin and sense of Divine wrath, yet all would 
not do ; they should all the while but wash a Blackmoor. 
But now let but the least glimpse of the light of grace 
shine into that sad and heavy soul, and it would far more 
easily and irresistibly chase away the very darkest mid- 
nights of any spiritual misery, than the strongest summer's 
sun would dispel the thinnest morning's mist. Give me, if 
you will, Judas's heart, or Spira's horror, or a vexed spirit 
torn and rent in pieces with the raging guilt of both those 
woful men, and let that supposed rueful soul, weary of its 
hellish burthen, and thirsting sincerely for the " water of 
life," but cast itself upon the mercy, truth, and power of 
the Lord Jesus, so sweetly offering himself in that precious 
promise (jNIatt. xi, 28), resolving to take him for an ever- 
lasting husband ; and, ipso facto, it might be put into a very 
heaven upon earth. For this glorious grace of faith, the 
prince of all spiritual light and lightsomeness in the truly 
humbled soul, thus shed into such a dark and grieved spirit, 
doth enkindle and set on shining all those gracious heavenly 
stars that are wont to beautify the hearts of holy men; 
hope, love, zeal, son-like fear, humility, patience, self- 
denial, universal obedience, fruitfulness in all good works, 
&:c., which make them light itself to walk in the light 
towards the infinite and unapproachable Light ; and there- 
fore they never need to want lightsomeness, but have per- 
petual matter of spiritual mirth and mightiness of spirit. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 



CHAP III. 

Three pair of instances confirming the former doctrine ; David and 
Saul, Job and Aliithophel, Luther and .Spira. 

The point appears and is further proved by manifest and 
manifold experience. David having been formerly wo- 
fully wasted with great variety and extremity of dangers 
and distresses, was at last plunged into a most desperate 
perplexity (1 Sam. xxx, 6), which had been able to have 
swallowed up into despair the manliest vigour of the 
greatest spirit upon earth not supported with grace (the 
like, or a less, caused king Saul to fall upon his own sword, 
1 Sam. xxxi, 4); yet he, blessed man, by the power of 
his spiritual peace, and the beams of God's pleased face 
shining upon his soul, did patiently and sweetly comfort 
himself in the Lord his God, and stood like an impregnable 
rock, unshaken with the raging assaults of any tempestuous 
surges. He was at this time hunted by Saul like a partridge 
in the mountains ; cashiered by the princes of the Philistines 
as a fellow of suspected fidelity ; robbed by the Amalekites 
of his wives, his sons, and his daughters ; the town to which 
he returned for safety was burnt with fire ; and, to make 
his calamity complete and most cutting, even his own men 
were ready to stone him. Now in this great distress, upon 
the first apprehension whereof he wept, as the stoiy saith, 
" until he had no more power to weep," yet coming to 
himself, and recollecting his spiritual forces, his heavy 
heart, ready to sink and fall asunder in his bosom, did fetch, 
by the hand of faith, comfortably fortified by sense and 
experience of former favours, such heavenly strength from 
Jehovah, whom he had made his portion, that thereupon 
his courage was revived and raised to that height, that he 
presently pursued his enemies with extraordinary valour 
and resolution, cut them off and recovered all. " And 
David," saith the text, " was greatly distressed ; for the 
people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the 
people was grieved, eveiy man for his sons and for his 
daughters : but David encouraged himself in the Lord his 
God," &c. 

What a bitter sea of unmatched miseries did break out 
upon blessed Job, which with a sudden unexpected violence 
bearing down that hedge of protection which God had set 
about him (the rains purposely let loose by Divine dispen- 
sation to Satan's malice in the mean time), did fearfully 
overflow him to that height and horror, that he stands re- 



10 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

gistered in God's book as an unparalleled instance of ex- 
tiaordinarj^ sufferings and sorrows, calamities and conflicts, 
to all succeeding ages, no story being able to afford the like. 
The natural death of one dear child strikes sometimes so 
heavy to a man's heart, that for grief he falls into a con- 
sumption ; but all Job's were suddenly taken away at once 
by a violent stroke. Some petty cross upon his outward 
state, and cutting off but part of his goods, causes some- 
times a covetous worldling to cut his own throat ; but Job 
was robbed of all, so that it is a proverb to this day, " as 
poor as Job." Many wives are passionate and peevish in 
time of prosperity, whose hearts notwithstanding will melt 
in compassion and kindness over their husbands in any 
kind of misery ; but Job's wife, though dearly entreated by 
her most distressed husband even for their children's sake, 
the mutual common pledges of sweetest love, yet would i ot 
come near him. " My breath," saith he, " is strange to my 
wife, though 1 entreated for the children's sake of mine own 
body" f chap, xix, 17). Satan, 1 confess, is wont to roar 
and rage fiercely enough about God's blessed ones, to do 
them ail the mischief he can possibly ; but rarely hath he 
so large a reach and his chain so lengthened as he had 
aga.nst Job. 'J he painful anguish of some one part would 
not only deprive a man of the pleasure of the world's mo- 
narchy if he had it in possession, but also make him weary 
of his life. In what a taking then was Job, who from the 
sole of his foot unto his crown had no part free from sore 
biles and horribly inflauied ulcers, exasperated and enraged 
with the stinging smart of Satan's extremest malice, who 
had power given him to inflict them. God himself frowns 
many times, and withdraws the beams of his pleased face 
from the souls of his servants to their great grief, though for 
their spiritual good ; but seldom doth he set them up for 
his mark, hunt them as a fierce lion, set his tenors in array 
against them, and command the poison of his arrows to 
drink up their spirit, as Job complains, chap, xix, 13 ; x, 
16; vi, 4. 

It is no strange thing, neither should it much move, but 
only make us walk more watchfully, to hear men of the 
world and drunken Belials to belch out from their rotten 
hearts upon the ale-bench such base slanders as these : 
" These professors, for all their fair shows, are certainly all 
of them notorious hypocrites. Though they look never so 
demurely, they are not the men they are taken for," &c. 
But to have a man's nearest, familiar, understanding 
Christian friends to charge him with hypocrisy, is a most 
cruel cut to a troubled conscience : and this was Job's case. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 11 

Thus as Job was singular in the universality of his afflic- 
tions, so there was a singularity of bitterness above ordi- 
nary in every particular affliction. And what of all this? 
And yet for all this, this holy man, by the help of that pre- 
cious hoard of grace which his heavenly heart had treasured 
up in the time of prosperity, out of that spiritual strength 
which he had gotten into his soul by his former humble ac- 
quaintance and conversation with his God, and knowing 
full well that though all was gone, yet he still possessed 
Jesus Christ as fully, if not more feelingly, as ever before, 
he becomes hereupon as rare and admirable a pattern of 
patience to all posterity, as he was an extraordinary, as- 
tonishing spectacle of adversity and woe. Consciousness 
of his forespent righteous life, which he peruseth chap.xxxi ; 
the clearness of a good conscience, chap, xvi, 19 ; " Behold 
my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high ; " and 
his invincible faith, chap, xix, 23, 24, 25, "Oh that my words 
were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! 
that they were graven with an iron pen, and lead in the 
rock for ever! For I know that my Redeemer liveth," 
&c. ; chap, xiii, 15; " Though he slay me, yet will I trust 
in him ;" — did so strengthen and stay his spirit with a di- 
vine might, that he bore valiantly and stood upright under 
the heaviest weight and greatest variety of extreme afflic- 
tions that ever were laid upon any mere man. But now, 
on the other side, the tithe, nay the ten hundredth part of 
Job's troubles, caused graceless Ahithophel to saddle his 
ass, get himself home, put his household in order, and hang 
himself. So true is that which the blessed prophet tells us, 
Jer. xvii, 5—8, " Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, 
and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from 
the Lord. Por he shall be like the heath in the desert, and 
shall not see when good comeih, but shall inhabit the 
parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not in- 
habited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and 
whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted 
by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the 
river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf 
shall be green ; and shall not be careful in the year of 
drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit." 

This impregnable comfort springing from grace and a 
good conscience, even in evil times, did steel the spirit of 
blessed Luther with such spiritual stoutness, and so hard- 
ened his forehead against a world, nay a horrible hell of 
most reproachful and raging oppositions, that he became a 
spectacle, a miracle of rarest Christian fortitude and in- 
vincible courage to the whole world and to all posterity. I 



12 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

am persuaded, that holy truth of God which he so gloriously 
professed, and that power of godliness which he so faith- 
fully practised, did infuse into the heart of that man as 
much unconquerableness of resolution and fearlessness of 
the face of man, as ever dwelt in any mortal breast since 
the time of the apostles. Witness among the rest that one 
extraordinary expression of his incomparable magnanimity, 
when his friends were earnest and eager upon him not to 
venture himself among a number of perfidious papists and 
bloodthirsty tigers, he replied thus: "As touching me,'* 
saith he, " since I am sent for, I am resolved, and certainly 
determined to enter Worms in the name of the Lord Jesus 
Christ ; yea, though 1 knew there were as many devils to 
resist me as there are tiles to cover the houses in W^orms." 
This man of God did upon the two pillars of his heroical 
heart, courage and patience, most nobly sustain the malice 
and hatred almost of the whole world. The devil and the 
pope did concurrently countermine with all their cruelty 
and cunning against this victorious champion of heaven and 
mighty underminer of their dark and damned kingdoms. 
Almost all the princes, priests, and people of Christendom 
did breed and breathe out nothing but thoughts of indigna- 
tion and threats of death against him. Millions of lazy and 
lustful monks, having like so many pestilent locusts of the 
infernal pit, seized upon the face of Europe with their en- 
venomed swarms, and lying at ease, encloistered in the 
vilest crimes, gnashed their teeth at him with hellish fury, 
and like true fiends spat fire in his face ; and yet for all 
this, this holy saint Twhich I admire more and prize higher 
than the victories of a thousaiid Cesars, or the most re- 
nowned valour of the greatest Alexander) having so many 
incarnate devils continually roaring about him with open 
mouth, ready every hour, and enraged with implacable 
thirst to drink up his blood, and swallow him up quick, yet, 
I say, enjoyed such a triumphant tranquillity of mind and 
unshaken presence of spirit, that like a mighty son of 
thunder, by his constant and powerful preaching for the 
space of nine and twenty yearsso shook the pillars of popery, 
that I am persuaded the beast will never stand upon his 
four legs any more ; and wrote eloquently and excellently 
almost if not as many volumes as Austin did, that great 
glory of the Christian world in former times. A petty cross 
will frequently so emasculate and weaken the elevation of 
the greatest wit, that his conceit, invention, and style will 
fall to a far lower strain than ordinary, which contentment 
and calmness would raise to their highest pitch and possi- 
bility. But the terrible earthquake as it were of all Europe, 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 13 

and contrary commotions of Christendom, did never a whit 
disanimate or shake the heart of this heavenly man, fitly 
honoured by the name of a third Elias. 

But now Francis Spira on the other side, having out of 
his inordinate love to the things of this life wofully wounded 
his conscience by that infamous abjuration of the blessed 
truth which he formerly professed, became a spectacle of 
such spiritual misery and woe to the whole world, that 
there is not any thing left unto the memory of man more 
remarkable. 

Upon the very first revisal of his recantation, and serious 
consideration in cold blood what he had done, he acknow- 
ledged himself utterly undone and for ever. His spirit 
suddenly smitten with the dreadful sense of Divine wrath for 
his apostacy, and split in pieces as it were with so grievous a 
bruise, fainted fearfully, failed him quite, and fell asunder 
in his breast like drops of water. Hear some rueful expres- 
sions of his desperate state from his own mouth : " Oh that 
I were gone from hence, that somebody would let out this 
weary soul ! I tell you there was never such a monster as 
I am ; never was man alive a spectacle of such exceeding 
misery. I now feel God's heavy wrath, that burns like the 
torments of hell within me, and afflicts my soul with pangs 
unutterable. Verily desperation is hell itself. The gnaw- 
ing worm of unquenchable fire, horror, confusion, and, 
which is worst of all, desperation itself, continually tortures 
me. And now I count my present estate worse than if my 
soul separated from my body were with Judas, and there- 
fore I desire rather to be there than thus to live in my body. 
The truth is, never had mortal man such experience of 
God's anger and hatred against him as I have. If I could 
conceive but the least spark of hope in my heart of a better 
state hereafter, I would not refuse to endure the most heavy 
wrath of the great God, yea for two thousand years, so that 
at length I might emerge out of misery." He professed that 
his pangs were such as that the damned souls in hell endure 
not the like misery ; that his state was worse than that of 
Cain or Judas, and therefore desired to die. " Oh that 
God would let loose his hand from me, and that it were 
with me now as in times past : I would scorn the threats of 
the most cruel tyrants, bear torments with invincible reso- 
lution, and glory in the outward profession of Christ, till I 
were choked in the flame and my body turned into ashes." 



14 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 



CHAP. IV. 

A first use of the former doctrine, for exhortation to store up heavenly 
comforts in our hearts. Two considerations which press this exhor- 
tation upon us. 

If it be so, then, that a heavenly hoard of grace, good 
coiiscience, God's favour, &c., happily treasured up while 
it is called to-day, hatli the sole and sacred property and 
privilege to hold up our hearts in times of horror, enabling 
us in the mean time patiently and profitably to master all 
miseries, pass through all persecutions, conquer all comers, 
and at length, by the help of God, to pull the very heart, 
as it were, out of hell ; with confidence and triumph to 
look even death and the devil in the face, and to stand with 
boldness before the terror of the last day like an immova- 
ble rock, when the sons and daughters of confusion, who 
have slept in harvest and mispent the gracious day of their 
visitation, shall entreat the mountains and rocks to fall upon 
them ; — 1 say, it being thus, let every one of us, like sons 
and daughters of wisdom, in this short summer's day of our 
abode upon earth, and in this glorious sun-shine of the 
gospel and precious seasons of grace, employ all means, 
improve all opportunities to gather in with all holy greedi- 
ness and treasure up abundantly much spiritual strength 
and lasting comfort against the evil day. To which let us 
be quickened by such considerations as these : — 

1. This wise and happy treasuring up of heavenly hoards 
and comforts of holiness beforehand, will sweetly mollily 
and allay the bitterness and smart of that heavine s ai.d 
sorrow, of those fearful amazements and oppressions of 
spirit, naturally incident to times of trouble and fear, which 
ordinarily do very grievously sting and strike through the 
heart of carnal and secure worldlings with full rage and 
the very flashes and foretastes of hell. Of all other passions 
of the soul, sadness and grief grates most upon tlie vital 
spirits, dries up soonest the freshest marrow in the bones, 
and most sensibly sucks out the purest and most refined blood 
in the heart. All the objects of lightsomeness and joy are 
drowned in a heavy heart, even as the beauty of a pearl is 
dissolved in vinegar. Now the only cordial and counter- 
poison against this damp of light-heartedness and destroyer 
of life, is the secret sweetness and shining pleasure of that 
"one pearl of great price" (Matt, xiii, 46), three orient 
rays whereof are " righteousness, and peace, and joy in the 
Holy Ghost " (Rom. xiv, 17), treasured up in the cabinet of 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 15 

a good conscience. The glory, preciousness, and power of 
which hidden treasure, purchased with the sale of all sin, 
doth many times shine most fairly upon the soul in the 
saddest times, inspires for the most part into the hearts of 
the owners the greatest courage and constancy of spiiit, even 
ill the days of adversity and vexation, and enables them to 
digest and bear without any great wound or passion those 
crosses and cruelties which would break the back, and crush 
the heart of the stoutest temporizer. Was there not a great 
deal of difference think you betwixt the heart of Hezekiah, 
who had walked before God " in truth and with a perfect 
heart" (Isa. xxxviii, 3) when he heard the news of death 
from the mouth of the prophet, and the heart of Belshazzar 
when he saw the handwriting upon the wall t (Dan.v, 5,6.) 
Give me a great man who carries away the credit and 
current of the times, with all bravery and triumph wallows 
and tumbles himself in the glory and pleasures of the pre- 
sent ; throw him from the transitory top of his heaven upon 
earth upon his last bed, present unto his eye at once the 
terrible pangs of approaching death, the rageful rnalice of 
the powers of hell, the crying wounds of his bleeding con- 
science, the hideous forms of his innumerable sins, his final 
farewell with all worldly delights, the pit of fire and brim- 
stone into which he is ready to fall, and I tell you true, I 
would not endure an hour's horror of his woful heart, for his 
present paradise to the world's end. But on the other side, 
let me be the man whom the corruptions of the time confine 
to obscurity, who mourns in secret for the horrible abomi- 
nations and ci-ying sins that reign among us, who thinks 
tliat day best spent wherein he hath gathered most spiritual 
strength against that last and sorest combat; and by the 
mercies of God and humble dependence upon his omnipo- 
tent arm, I will look in the face the cruellest concurrence of 
all those former terrors with confidence and peace. 

2. By this spiritual hoarding of comfortable provision 
against the evil day, we may prevent a great deal of inipa- 
tience, dependence upon the arm of flesh, base fears, sink- 
ings of heart, unmanly dejections of spirit, desperate reso- 
lutions, and many passionate distempers of such raging and 
distracted nature, which are wont to seize upon and sur- 
prise unholy and unprepared hearts when the hand of God 
is heavy upon them. How bravely and heroically did patient 
.Tob bear and break through a matchless variety and extre- 
mity of calamities and conflicts, the softest of whose suffer* 
ings would have struck full cold to the heart of many a 
carnalist, and made it to die vvithin him like a stone, as 
Nabal's did ! One of the least, the loss of his goods, I am 



16 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

persuaded would have caused many covetous v?orldlings to 
have laid violent hands upon themselves ; for instance, 
Ahithophel, only because the glory of his state wisdom was 
obscured and overtopped at the council board, saddled his 
ass, gat him home, put his household in order, and hanged 
himself. The only cause of his fainting in the day of dis- 
grace and non-acceptation was his false and rotten heart in 
matters of religion. While the crown sat with security and 
safety upon David's head, he walked with him as a com- 
panion unto the house of God. But when the wind began to 
blow a little another way, and upon Absalom's side, like a 
true timeserver, he follows the blast, and turns his sails 
according to the weather ; and therefore his hollow heart, 
having made the arm of flesh his anchor, and a vanishing 
blaze of honour his chiefest blessedness, shrinks at the very 
first sight and suspicion of a tempest, and sinks this misera- 
ble man into a sea of horror. Now, on the contrary, what 
was the cause that Job's heart was not crushed in pieces 
under the bitter concurrence of such a world of crosses, of 
which any one severally was sufiicient to have made a man 
extremely miserable 1 The true reason of his patient reso- 
lution amid so many pressures v/as the spiritual riches he 
had hoarded up in the time of his happiness ; amongst 
which the divinest and dearest jewel lay nearest unto hie 
heart, as a counterpoison to the venom and sting of the 
devil's deadliest malice ; 1 mean a sound and strong faith 
in Jesus Christ, " the Lamb slain from the beginning of the 
world," which now began to shine the fairest in the darkest 
midnight of his miseries, and sweetly to dart out many 
heavenly sparks of comfort, and such glorious ejaculations 
as these : "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him" 
(chap, xiii, 15) ; and that, chap, xix, 23, et seq., ** Oh that 
my words were now written ! oh that they were printed in 
a book ! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead 
in the rock for ever. For I know that my Redeemer liveth," 
&c. There were two cutting and cruel circumstances 
largely insinuated, chap, xxix and xxx, which did keenly 
sharpen the edge and mightily aggravate the weight of Job's 
miseries. The one was this, he had been happy. Now, as 
that man's happiness is holden the greatest who hath been 
in a m.iserable condition, for he tasteth the double sweet, of 
remembering his forepast misery and enjoying his present 
felicity ; so, on the contrary, it is accounted the greatest 
misery to have been happy. The other was that which 
most nettles a generous nature, he being a man of so great 
honour and worth, whose rare and incomparable wisdom 
even the princes and nobles adored, with a secret and silent 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 17 

admiration, as appears chap, xxix, 9, 10, was now con- 
temned of the most contemptible. " 'J he children of fools 
and the children of base men," that were " viler than the 
earth," make him their song and their bye-word (chap. 
XXX, 8, 9). For when true nobleness and worth is down, 
and any one of the Lord's champions dejected, it is ordi- 
nary with all those cowardly dispositions, to whom his 
sincerity was an eye-sore, his power and authority a re- 
straint to their lewdness, the glory of his virtues fuel to their 
envy, to run as a raven to the fallen sheep to pick out his 
eyes ; I mean (which yet tastes of a truly cowardly and 
merciless constitution), to wound his very wounds, and to 
vex his vexations. This was J ob's case. 

But what now ministers comfort to Job's heart against 
these corrosives ? Even consciousness of his graces and 
integrities, treasured up and exercised in the days of his 
peace. He reckons up fourteen of them, chap. xxxi. From 
consideration hereof he gathers towards the end this trium- 
phant resolution against the sorest of his sufferings, " I 
would even crown mine head with the bitterest invective of 
my greatest adversary." Whence it is clear, that the two 
potent pillars of Job's strong and strange patience, which 
generations will admire to the world's end, were a sound 
faith and the sanctified fruits thereof, prepared and prac- 
tised in the time of his prosperity. 



CHAP. V. 

A third consideration, pressine the former exhortation, defended 
against Machiavel's position. 

3. By previous provision of God's favour, grace, good con- 
science, and such spiritual store, we shall be able worthily 
to adorn and honour our profession, truly to ennoble and 
win a great deal of glory and reputation to the state of 
Christianity, when the ambitious rufflers and boisterous 
Nirarods of the world shall see and observe that there is a 
gracious invisible vigour and strength of heaven, which 
mightily supports the heart of the true Christian in those 
times of confusion and fear, when theirs shall be like the 
heart of a woman in her pangs, and fall asunder in their 
breast>, even like drops of water. That he is as bold as a 
lion, and immovable like Mount Zion in the day of distress 
and visitations of God, when they shall tremble at the shak- 
ing of a leaf, and call upon the mountains to cover them ; 

C 3 



18 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

that he shall be able then to say with David, Psalm xlvi, 1, 
2, " Ihe Lord is my refuge and ray strength, &c. Therefore 
will i not fear though the earth be removed, and though 
the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea." But 
they shall cry out of the bitterness of their spirits with the 
hypocrites, Isa. xxxiii, 14, "Who among us shall dwell 
with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with 
everlasting burnings 1" God is nmch honoured, and his 
truth glorified, when it appears in the face of men that a 
poor neglected Christian (or, in the world's language, a 
precise fool) is able by the power of grace and influence of 
his favour to affront and outface all the frowns and malig- 
nant aspects of the proud giants of the world : and he is 
the Lord's noblest champion, and a professor of the truest 
and heavenliest dye, that holds out in the wetting, and 
shrinks not in the day of adversity. Chrysostom speaks to 
the people of Antioch like himself, a man of an invincible 
spirit, against the tyrannies of his times : " In this," he 
says, " should a gracious differ from a graceless man, that 
he should bear his cross courageously, and as it were with 
the wings of faith outsoar the height of all human miseries. 
He should be like a rock, being incorporated into Jesus 
Christ, impregnable and unshaken with the most furious in- 
cursions of the waves and storms of worldly troubles, pres- 
sures, and persecutions ; " and, blessed be God, that even 
here upon earth, in this vale of tears, there is such a visible 
and vast difference between a wicked and godly man. The 
one is like the raging sea that cannot rest : the other stands 
fast like a rock which shall never be removed. An unre- 
generate heart is ever restless ; commonly in these three 
regards at the least: 1. By reason of an endless and insa- 
tiable appetite after pleasures, riches, honours, revenge, or 
what other darling delight it hath singled out and made 
special choice of, to follow and feed upon with greatest 
contentment and sensual sweetness. God hath justly put 
that property, or rather poison, into all earthly things doated 
upon and desired immoderately, that they shall plague the 
heart which so pursues them, by filling it still with a furious 
and fresh supply of more greediness, jealousies, and many 
miserable discontentments, so that they become unto it as 
drink unto a man in a dropsy or burning fever, serve only 
to inflame it with new heat and fiery additions of insatiable 
thirst and inordinate longings. 2. Because of the many 
secret grumblings and stinging reclamations of a galled 
conscience against its present guilty courses and forbidden 
pleasures. 3. In respect of a continual ebullition, as it 
were, of confused and contrary lusts out of the poisoned 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 19 

fountain of original corruption, which fill it with many dis- 
tractions and tumultuations of hell. But now, if besides 
this inward boiling it be also tossed with outward troubles, 
what a miserable creature is a carnal man 1 Even as the 
sea, if besides its internal agitations by the restless motions 
of estualion, dissension, revolution, and reflection, it be 
also outwardly troubled with storms and tempestuous winds, 
how rageful and roaring will it be 1 But the other is like a 
strong immovable mountain that stands impregnable against 
the rage of wind and weather ; and all the cruel incursions 
and ungodly oppositions made against it, either by men or 
devils, are but like so many proud and swelling waves which 
dash themselves against a mighty rock, — the more bois- 
terously they beat against it, the more are they broken and 
turned into a vain foam and froth. Come what will, his 
heart is still in his breast, and his resolution as high as 
heaven. 

Pestilent then is that principle of Machiavei (one not 
to be named but by way of detestation), and savours 
rankly of cursed atheism, whereby he leaches in sense and 
sum ; that " heathenish religion did inspire her worthies of 
old with invincible and victorious spirits ; but Christian re- 
ligion begets effeminacy, dejections, and fears." He speaks 
to this purpose, which to me seems strange, that such a 
profound professor of the depths, or rather devilishness of 
policy, should doat so sottishly : — and yet it is no such 
strange thing, for many times we may observe, that deepest 
policy, by the curse of God upon it for opposition to goodness, 
turns into extremest folly : and all counsels and politic con- 
stitutions against Christ are but the brainless infatuations 
of Ahithophel. 

For that which he holds is strongly contradictory both to 
common sense and a thousand experiences to the contrary. 
For the first, and in a word, let that great master of mischief 
and of most abhorred atheistical principles of state tell me, 
whether a real assurance of a crown of life and endless joys 
in another world be not more powerful to raise a n,an's 
spirit to the highest pitch of undaunted nobleness of spirit 
and unconquerable resolution, than a vain breath of immor- 
tal fame among miserable men after this life 1 and in this 
lies the sinew of his proof. For the second, let the acts of 
the ancient Jews be impartially v/eighed, from whose mag- 
nanimity in causes of most extreme hazard those strange 
and unwonted resolutions have grown, which for all circum- 
stances, says a great divine, no people under the roof of 
heaven did ever hitherto match : and that which did always 
animate them was their mere religion. Let the chronicles 



20 INSTRUCTIONS FOll COMFORTING 

also of later times be searched, and we shall find from time 
to time many renowned worthies to have for ever ennobled 
the matchless and incomparabiCjCourage of Christianity with 
inimitable impressions oi valour and visible transcendency, 
above all human boldness and alTected audacities of the 
most valiant pagans. To begin with great Constantine, 
the first mighty commander of a Christian army, with what 
victorious glory did he confound and cut off many potent 
heads of Paganism ! Thrice was the whole world most fa- 
mously fougbt for ; between Alexander and Xerxes ; Cesar 
and Pompey ; Constantine and Licinius. This last was 
most illustrious, wherein Constantine the Great did mightily 
conquer and triumphantly carry all before him ; the hero- 
ical and royal spirit of Christianity trampling victoriously 
upon the desperate rage of the most furious fool-hardy 
pagan tyrants. 

1 might here pass on to Theodosius and his miraculous 
conque^.ts, and so on ; but the digression would be unsea- 
sonable ; therefore 1 leave you for the prosecution of this 
point to Anti-Machiavel. Even in later times, wofully 
plagued under the reign of Antichrist with a vast degene- 
ration from primitive purity and power, the Christian re- 
ligion, though poisoned with popish superstition, yet did 
so far inspire its warlike professors with extraordinary 
spirits, that in point of manhood they did wonders, to the 
astonishment of the whole world and all succeeding ages, 
Godfrey of Bulloigne, that famous warrior, with his followers, 
conquered in less than four years all the goodliest provinces 
of Asia, and drove out the Turks. In that dreadful and 
cruel conflict in Solomon's temple, as himself reports, in a 
letter to Bohemund king of Antioch, their men, "by the 
great slaughter of the enemy, stood in blood above the 
ancles." At that terrible and bloody battle at Ascalon, it 
is credibly reported, they slew a hundred thousand infidels, 
&c. 

The valour and victories of Huniades, whose mighty spirit 
and incredible courage have no parallel in any preceding 
story, were so great, and did like a violent tempest and im- 
petuous torrent so batter and beat down the enemies of 
Christ, that he was rightly reputed *' the bulwark of Europe 
and thundering terror of the Turks," amongst whom his 
name became so dreadful, it is said they used the same to 
frighten their crying children withal. He fought five times 
with the Turks upon one day, and five times foiled and put 
them to flight with the loss of three thousand. He killed 
that valiant viceroy of Asia, Mesites Bassa, with his son 
and twenty thousand Turks ; at that famous battle of Vas- 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 21 

cape, wherein he got the greatest victory that ever any 
Christian prince betore that time obtained against the Turk- 
ish kings, with fifteen thousand soldiers he overthrew 
Abedin Bassa, sent against him most lagingly by reason of 
a late shameful loss, according to Amurath's instructions, 
by " the slaughter of the flungarians to sacrifice unto the 
manes of their dead friends and companions," with an army 
of fourscore thousand fighting men. 

^canderbeg also was such a mirror of manhood, and so 
terrible to the lurks, that nine years after his death, pass- 
ing througli Lyssa where his body lay buried, *' they dug up 
his bones with great devotion, reckoning it some part of 
their happiness if they might but see or touch the same ; 
and such as could get any part thereof, were it never so 
little, caused the same to be set, some in silver, some in 
gold, to hang about their necks or wear upon their bodies," 
thinking the very dead bones of that late invincible cham- 
pion would animate their spirits with strange and extraor- 
dinary elevation and vigour. Besides an admirable variety 
of other rare exploits, at one time with the loss of sixty 
Christians he slew Arnesa, with thirty, as some say, but at 
least twenty thousand Turks : he killed with his own hand 
above two thousand enemies. When he entered into fight, 
the spirit of valour did so work within him, and the fierce- 
ness of his courage so boiled in his breast, that it was wont 
to make blood burst out at his lips, and did so steel his arm 
that he cut many of his enemies asunder in the midst. 

But take notice, by the way, as the profession of the 
Christian religion inspired these renowned worthies with a 
matchless height of courage and might of spirit, so the 
mixture with popish idolatry did then, and dotn to this day 
unhappily hinder all thorough success and constant pre- 
vailing against that most mighty blood-thirsty Turkish ty- 
rant, the terror of Christendom ; who, drunk with the wine 
of perpetual felicity, holds all the rest of the world in scorn, 
and is the greatest and most cruel scourge of it that ever 
the earth bore. And besides that the idolatry of the Romish 
church most principally and with special curse blasts and 
brings to nought all undertakings of the Christian world 
against that wicked empire, the practice also of some pes- 
tilent principles, proper to that man of sin, hath plagued 
the most hopeful enterprises in this kind. For instance, the 
king of Hungary, by the help of Huniades was in a fair 
course and forwardness to have tamed and taken down, 
nay to have for ever crushed and confounded the insolency 
and usurpation of that raging JNimrod ; but then comes in 
the pope with a vile trick, and utterly dashes and undoes 



22 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

all. For he out of his Luciferian pride, by the power, or 
rather poison of that antichristian cut-throat position, " Of 
keeping no oath nor faith with infidels and heretics," un- 
happily undertook to absolve Uladislaus the king, and the 
rest whom it did concern, from that solemn oath for confir- 
mation of a concluded peace taken of him upon the holy 
evangelists, and of Amurath by his ambassadors upon their 
Turkish Koran. Whereupon they resolutely break the 
league, raise a great army presently, and against their oath 
and promise set upon the Turk with perjury and perfidious- 
ness, accompanied with God's curse, exposed the Christian 
party to a most horrible overthrow in the bloody battle of 
Varna, and cast upon the profession of Christ such an as- 
persion and shame, that not all the blood of that succession 
of popes which constitute antichrist could ever be able to 
expiate. 

Look upon the story, and consider what a reproach and inex- 
piable stain doth rest upon the face of the Christian religion 
by this wicked stratagem of popish treachery, and that even 
upon record to all posterity ; for Amurath, the Turkish 
emperor, in the heat of the fight plucked the writing out of 
his bosom wherein the late league was comprised, and hold- 
ing it up in his hand with his eyes cast up to heaven, said 
thus, " Behold, thou crucified Christ, this is the league thy 
Christians in tliy name made with me, which they have 
without cause violated. Now, it thou be a god, as they say 
thou art, and as we dream, revenge the wrong now done 
unto thy name and me, and show thy power upon thy 
perjured people, who in their deeds deny thee, their God." 



CHAP. VI. 

A second use of the former doctrine, for reproof to several sorts of peo- 
ple. The first whereof are the careless, vdth a first consideration to 
admonish them. 

Since a stock of grace and the comforts of a sound con- 
science are only able to crush all crosses, outface all adver- 
saries, take the sting out of all sorrows and sufferings, and 
serve in the evil day as a sovereign antidote to save the 
soul from sinking into the mouth of despair and extremest 
horror ; then three sorts of people here offer themselves to 
be censured, and are to be frighted out of tiieir security and 
cruel ease. 
I. Those fools, sons and daughters of confusion and sloth, 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 23 

who having a price in their hands to get wisdom, yet want 
hearts to lay it out for spiritual provision beforehand. 
They enjoy by God's rare and extraordinary indulgence and 
favour, life, strength, wit, health, and many other outward 
blessings, nay the most glorious day of a gracious visitation 
that did ever shine upon earth, many solden and goodly 
opportunities, many blessed seasons and sermons to enrich 
their souls abundantly with ail heavenly treasures ; and 
yet they are so far from spending their abilities, entertain- 
ing those merciful offers, and apprehending such happy 
advantages for their true and eternal go^d, that they most 
unworthily and unthankfully abuse, mispend, and misemploy 
all their means, time, and manifold mercies to serve their 
own turns, attain their sensual ends, and possess the pre- 
sent with all the carnal contentment they can possibly de- 
vise. These vassals of self-love, and slaves of lust, are so 
lulled upon the lap of pleasure by the syren songs of Satan's 
solicitors, and so drunk with worldly prosperity by swim- 
ming down the current of these corrupt times with full sail 
of sensuality and ease, that they fall asleep all the time of 
the happy harvest in this life for bringing grace into the 
soul under the sunshine of the gospel, wasting their precious 
time of gathering spiritual manna in grasping gold, clasping 
about the arm of flesh, screwing themselves by all ways 
and means into high rooms, " crowning themselves with 
rosebuds," and tumbling voluptuously in the pleasures and 
glory of this false and flattering world. But alas ! poor 
souls, what will they do in the evil day? When after the 
hot gleam of earthly glory, and a short calm and cut over 
the sea of this world, they are come into the port of death, 
to which all winds drive them ; and having there let fall 
that last anchor which can never be weighed again, shall 
be set in the land of darkness, the dust whereof is brim- 
stone, and the rivers burning pitch , where they shall meet 
with whole armies of tempestuous and fiery plagues ; and 
the envenomed arrows of God's unquenchable anger shall 
stick fast for ever in their soul and flesh ; wheie they shall 
never more see the light nor the land of the living, but be 
drowned in everlasting perdition in the lake, even a boiling 
sea of fire and brimstone, where they can see no bank, nor 
feel no bottom. What will these " sleepers in harvest" 
say when they shall be awakened at that dreadful hour out 
of their golden dreams, and in their hands shall find nothing 
but the judgment of God growing upon their thoughts as 
an impetuous storm, death standing befoie them irresistible 
like an armed man, sin lying nt the door like a bloodhound, 
and a guilty conscience gnav.'i-\g at the heart like a vulture 'i 



24 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

when they shall lie upon their last beds like " wild bulls in 
a net," as the prophet speaks, " full of the wrath of God ; 
saying in the morning, Would God it were even ; and at 
even, Would God it were morning, for the fear of their 
heart wherewith they shall fear, and for the sight of their 
eyes which they shall seel" I say, in what case will they 

be then ? Then but my words do fail me here, and 

so doth my imagination. For as none knows the sweet- 
ness of the spouse's kiss but the soul that receives it, so 
neither can any one conceive this honor, but he that suffers 
it. The Lord of heaven in mercy awaken them in the mean 
time with the piercing thunder of his sacred and saving word, 
that they may be happily frighted out of their amazed soul- 
murdering sloth, before they feel in hell those fearful things 
we so faithfully forewarn them of ! 

To rouse them out of this cruel carnal security, let them 
entertain in their most serious thoughts such considerations 
as these : Consider, 

1. Why thou camest into this world. There is not so 
much as one age past since thou layest hid in the loathed 
state of being nothing. Above five thousand years were 
gone after the creation before there was any news of thee at 
all ; and thou mightest never have been. God hath no 
need of thee : he gave thee a being only out of his own 
mere bounty. Infinite millions shall never be, which might 
have been as well as thou. God's omnipotency is equally 
able and active to have produced them as thee ; and no 
parts of that vast abyss of nothing can possibly make any 
resistance to al mightiness. And besides being so, that thou 
must needs have a being, there is not any creature that ever 
issued out of the hands of God, but thou mightest have 
been that, either for the kind or for the particular. All is 
one to him, to make an angel or an ant ; to create the 
brightest cherub or the most contemptible fly ; for in every 
creation no less than omnipotency must needs be the efficient, 
and no more than nothius: is ever the object. Now what a 
miraculous mercy was this, that passing by such an unnum- 
bered variety of incomparably inferior creatures, he should 
make thee an everlasting soul like an angel of God, capable 
of grace and immortality, of incorporation into Christ, and 
fruition of Jehovah himself, blessed for ever ! 

Nay, and yet further, though thou wast to have the 
being of a reasonable creature, yet there was not an hour 
from the first moment of time unto the world's end, hut God 
might have allotted that to thee for thy coming into this 
world ; and therefore thy time might have been within the 
compass of all those four thousand years, or thereabouts. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 25 

from the creation until the coming of Christ in the flesh, 
when all without the pale and partition wall were with- 
out the oracles and ordinances of God, and all ordinary 
means of salvation : or, since the gospel revealed under the 
reign of Antichrist, and then a thousand to one thou hadst 
been choked and for ever perished in the mists of his devil- 
ish doctrines. What a high honour was this, to have thy 
birth and abode here upon earth appointed from all eternity 
in the very best and most blessed time, upon the fairest day 
of peace, and, which is infinitely more, in the most glorious 
light of grace that ever shone from heaven upon the children 
of men ! 

And so of the place : be it so, that thou must needs be in 
this golden age of the gospel and gracious day ; yet thy lot of 
living in the world at this time might have lighted ( for any part 
of the earth might have received thee where thou couldst 
have set but thy two feet) amongst Turks, Pagans, Infidels; 
a whole world to Christendom. Or if thine appearing upon 
earth must necessarily be within the confines of Christen- 
dom, yet thou mightest have sprung up in the popish parts 
of it, or in the schismatical or persecuted places of the true 
church in it. It was a very singular favour that thou 
shouldst be born and bred and brought up in this little 
neglected nook of the world, yet very illustrious by the pre- 
sence of Christ in a mighty ministry, where thou hast or 
mightest have enjoyed in many parts thereof the glorious 
gospel of our blessed God, and all saving truth, with much 
purity and power. 

Now put all these together and tell me coolly, and after a 
sensible and serious pondering thereon, dost thou think that 
all this ado was about thee, all this honour done unto thee ; 
and, when all is done, thou art to do nothing but seek thy- 
self, serve thine own turn, and live sensually ? Camest 
thou out of nothing into this world to do just nothing but 
eat and drink and sleep ; to game, walk in the fashion, 
and play the good-fellow ; to laugh and be merry ; to grow 
rich and leave tokens of thy pleasure in every place ? If 
any, after so much enlightening, be so prodigiously mad as 
to continue in such a conceit, I have nothing to say to him, 
but leave him as an everlasting madman abandoned to that 
folly which wants a name to express it. Turn then thy 
course for shame ; nay, as thou hast any care to be saved 
and to see the glory of the New Jerusalem, as thou desirest 
to look the Lord Jesus in the face with comfort at that great 
day, as thou fearest to receive thy portion in hell fire with 
the devil and his angels, even most intolerable and bitter 
torments for ever and ever, — at least in this thv dav, in this 

D 



26 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

heat and height of thy spiritual harvest, awalce out of thy 
sensual sleep, come to thyself with the prodigal, strike upon 
thy thigh, and for the poor remainder of a few and evil 
days address thyself with resolution and constancy to pur- 
sue the one necessary thing, and to treasure up much hea- 
venly strength and store against thine ending hour. Get 
thee under the most likely means and a quickening ministry, 
and there gather grace as greedily as the most griping 
usurer graspeih gold ; contend with a holy ambition as ear- 
nestly for the keeping of (iod's favour, and a humble fa- 
miliarity with his heavenly highness by keeping faith and a 
good conscience, as the proudest Haman for a high place 
and pleased face of an earthly prince. And why not in- 
finitely more"? This was the end for which thou wast sent 
into this world, this only is the way to endless bliss, and 
this alone will help us and hold out in the evil day. 



CHAP. Vll. 

A second and third consideration for the admonition of those 
who are careless. 

2. That upon the little inch of time in this life depends 
the length and breadth of all eternity in the world to come. 
As we behave ourselves here, we shall lare everlastingly 
hereafter. And therefore how ought we to ply this moment 
and prize that eternity 1 To decline all entanglement in 
those inordinate affections to the possessions and pleasures 
of the present, which hinder a fruitful improvement of it to 
the best advantage for the spiritual good of our souls, let us 
be moved with such reasons as these, which may be col- 
lected from the words of a worthy writer, which run thus 
with very little variation ; — 1. If we could afford ourselves 
but so much leisure as to consider that he which hath most 
in the world, hath in respect of the world nothing in it, 
and that he which hath the longest time lent him to live in 
it, hath yet no proportion at all therein ; setting it either by 
that which is past when we were not, or by that time in 
which we shall abide for ever ; I say. if both our propor- 
tion in the world, and our time in the world, differ not 
much from that which is nothing, it is not out of any ex- 
cellency of understanding, saith he, but out of depth of 
folly, say I, that we so much prize the one, which hath 
in effect no being, and so much neglect the other, which 
hath no ending ; coveting the mortal tilings of the world as 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 27 

if our souls were therein immortal, and neglecting those 
things which are immortal, as if ourselves after the world 
were but mortal. 2. Let adversity seem what it will ; to 
happy men ridiculous, who make themselves merry with 
other men's miseries, and to those under the cross, grievous; 
yet this is true, that for all that is past to the very instant 
the portions remaining are equal to either. For be it that 
we have lived many years, and, according to Solomon, in 
them all we have rejoiced ; or be it that we have measured 
the same length of time, and therein have evermore sor- 
rowed ; yet looking back from our present being, we find 
both the one and the other, to wit, the joy and the wo, 
sailed out of sight, and death, which doth pursue us and 
hold us in chase from our infancy, hath gathered it. What- 
soever of our age is past, death holds it : so as whosoever he 
be to whom prosperity hath been a servant, and the time a 
friend, let him but take the account of his memory (for we 
have no other keeper of our pleasures past), and truly ex- 
amine what it hath reserved either of beauty arid youth or 
foregone delights, what it hath saved that it might last of 
his dearest affections, or of whatever else the jovial spring- 
time gave his thoughts contentment, then invaluable ; and 
he shall find that all the art, which his elder years have, 
can draw no other vapour out of these dissolutioris than 
heavy, secret, and sad sighs. He shall find nothing re- 
maining but those sorrows which grow up after our fast- 
springing youth, overtake it when it is at a stand, and 
utterly overtop it when it begins to wither ; insomuch as 
looking back from the present time and from our now being, 
the poor diseased and captive creature hath as little sense 
of all his former miseries and pains, as he that is most 
blessed in common opinion hath of his fore-past pleasiires 
and delights ; for whatsoever is cast behind us is just 
nothing. 3. To ponder also profitably upon eternity, that 
we " may apply our hearts unto wisdom," and so improve 
this short moment upon earth that it may go well with us 
for ever, let us take notice of and lay to heart this one 
quickening passage, confidently averred by a great writer. 
" If God," saith he, " should speak thus to a damned soul, 
' Let the whole world be filled with sand from the earth to 
the empyrean heaven, and then let an angel come every 
thousandth year, and fetch only one grain from that mighty 
sandy mountain ; when that immeasurable heap is so spent, 
and so many thousand years expired, I will deliver thee out 
of hell and those extremest horrors;' that most miserable 
forlorn wretch, notwithstandin,^- that he were to lie through 
that inconceivable length of time in those intolerable tor- 



28 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

ments, yet upon such a promise would infinitely lejoice, and 
deem himself not to be damned. But, alas ! when all those 
years are gone, there are thousands upon thousands more to 
be endured, even through all eternity and beyond." How 
heavy and horrible is the weight of everlastingness in that 
burning lake, and those tormenting flames, when a damned 
man would think himself in heaven in the mean time if he 
might have but hope of coming out of them after so many 
infinite millions of years in them ! 

3. That it would not profit a man though he should gain 
the whole world, if he lose his own soul ; and that a man 
can give nothing in exchange for his soul. Christ himself 
said so. Suppose thyself crowned with the confluence of 
all worldly felicity, to have purchased a monopoly of all 
pleasures, honours, and riches upon the whole earth, to be 
attended with all the pomp and state thy heart could desire : 
yet what were this momentary golden dream unto a real 
glorious eternity 1 Kow stinging would be the most exqui- 
site delight, curiously extracted out of them all, accom- 
panied with this one thought — the soul is lost everlastingly 1 
All these painted vanities might seem perhaps a gaudy 
paradise to a spiritual fool, who hath his portion in this 
life ; but what true pleasure can a man in his right wits, 
but morally enlightened no further than with philosophy, 
take in them, since, setting other respects aside, they are so 
fading and he so frain For the first, God hath purposely 
put a transitory and mortal nature into all things here be- 
low ; they spring, and flourish, and die. Even the greatest 
kingdoms and strongest monarchies that ever were, have 
had their infancy, youthful strength, man's state, old 
age, and at last the grave. See the end of the mightiest 
states that ever the sun saw shadowed by Nebuchadnezzar's 
great image (Dan. ii, 35). There was never empire upon 
earth, were it never so flourishing or great, was ever yet so 
assured, but that in revolution of time, after the manner of 
other vvorldly things, it hatli as a sick body been subject to 
many innovations and changes, and at length come to 
nothing. Much more, then, the pride and pomp of all 
other inferior earthly glory hath fallen at last into the dust, 
and lies now buried in the grave of endless forgetful ness. 
For the second ; imagine there were constancy and eternity 
in the forenamed earthly Babels, yet what man of sense 
would in the least prize them, since his life is but a bubble, 
and the very next hour or day to come he may utterly be 
cut off from them all for ever? " To-day he is set up, and 
to-morrow he shall not be found ; for he is turned into dust 
and his purpose perisheth." Take them both together thus. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 29 

Set upon ihe head of the worthiest man that the earth bears, 
yet wanting grace in his soul, all the brightest imperial 
crowns that ever highest ambition aimed at or attained 
unto ; put upon him all the royal robes that ever enclosed 
the body of the proudest Lucifer, fill him with all the 
•wisdom and largest comprehensions which fall within the 
wide compass and capacity of any depths of policy or mys- 
teries of state ; furnish him to the full with the exactness 
and excellency of ail natural, moral, and metaphysical 
learning ; put him into the sole possession and command of 
this and the other golden world ; in a word, crown him 
with the concurrence of all created earthly excellencies to 
the utmost and highest strain ; and lay this man thus quali- 
fied and endowed upon the one scale of the balance, and 
vanity upon the other, and vanity will outweigh him quite. 
*' Men of high degree are a lie : to be laid in the balance 
they are altogether lighter than vanity " (Psalm Ixii, 9). 
The rich fool in the gospel teacheth us that there is no man 
so assured of his honour, of hi>s riches, health, or life, but 
that he may be deprived of either or all the very next 
night. Besides, by a thousand other causes, means, and 
ways, he may always be snatched away from the face of the 
earth in anger, for setting his heart and rest upon such rotten 
staves of reed, transitory shadows, and indeed that which 
is nothing. " Wilt thou cast thine eyes upon that which is 
not ] for riches (conceive the same of all other wofdly com- 
forts) certainly make themselves wings: they flyaway as 
an eagle toward heaven " (Prov. xxiii, 5). How truly then 
is that mad and miserable man a son of confusion, who 
spends the short span of his mortal life in wooing the world, 
who was never true to those that trusted in her, ever false- 
hearted to ail her favourites, and at length most certainly 
undoes spiritually and everlastingly every wretch that is 
wedded unto her, who passeth through a few and evil days 
in this vale of tears, in following feathers, pursuing shadows, 
raising bubbles and balls like those blown up by boys in 
their pastimes, which ere they be tossed three times burst of 
themselves ; 1 mean worldly vanities ; but in the mean 
time suffers his immortal soul, more worth than many mate- 
rial worlds, and for which he can give nothing in exchange, 
to abide all naked, destitute, and empty, utterly unfurnished 
of that comfortable provision and gracious strength, which 
should support it in the day of sorrow, and leaves it at last 
to the tempestuous winter night of death, and all those des- 
perate terrors that attend it like a scorched heath, without 
so much as any drop of comfort either from heaven or 
earth ! 

1) 3 



30 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 



CHAP. VIII. 

The second sort of people to be reproved, which are sensualists. The 
first consideration to reform tliem. 

II. A second sort, worse than the former, are such as are so 
far from treasuring up in this time of light and merciful 
visitation, soundness of knowledge, strength of faith, purity 
of heart, clearness of conscience, holiness of life, assurance 
of God's favour, contempt of the world, many sanctified 
sabbaths, fervent prayers, holy conferences, heavenly medi- 
tations, days of humiliation, righteous dealings with their 
brethren, compassionate contributions to the necessities of 
the saints, works of justice, mercy, and truth, a sincere re- 
spect to all God's commandments, a careful performance 
of all spiritual duties, a conscientious partaking of all 
God's ordinances, a seasonable exercise of every grace, 
hatred of all false ways, a hearty and invincible love unto 
God and all things that he loves, or that belong unto him, 
his word, sacraments, sabbaths, ministers, services, child- 
ren, presence, corrections, comings, &c. which are the or- 
dinary provisions of God's people against the evil day ; — 
I say, they are so far from prizing and preparing such spiri- 
tual store, that they hoard up stings, scourges, and scor- 
pions for their naked souls and guilty consciences against 
the day of the Lord's visitation ; 1 mean lies, oaths, blas- 
plemies, adulteries, whoredoms, self-pollutions, variety of 
strange fashions, gamings, revellings, drunken matches, 
good -i'ellow meetings, wanton dancings, usuries, falsehoods, 
hypocrisies ; plurality of ill-gotten goods, benefices, offices, 
honours ; filthy jests, much idle talk, slanderous tales, 
scoffs, railings, oppositions to the holy way, &c. and that 
with greediness and delight. For they cry one unto another 
out of a boisterous combination of good-fellowship, with 
much eagerness and roaring, '* Come on, therefore, let us 
fill ourselves with costly wine and ointments, and let no 
flower of the spring pass by us. Let us crown ourselves 
with rose-buds before they be withered. Let none of us go 
without his part of our voluptuousness. Let us leave 
tokens of our pleasure in every place , for this is our por- 
tion, and our lot is this. Let us lie in wait for the righteous, 
because he is not for our turn, and he is clean contrary to 
our doings, &c." But alas ! what will be the conclusion 
of all this, or rather the horrible confusion 1 Even all their 
jovial revellings, roarings, outrages, and sinful pleasures, 
which are so sweet in their mouths, and they swallow 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 31 

down so insatiably, shall turn to gravel and the " gall of 
asps in their bowels," to fiery enraged scorpions in their 
consciences; where, lurking in the mean time in the mud 
of sensuality and lust, breed such a never-dying worm, 
which if God think fit to awake upon their last bed, is able 
to put them into hell upon earth, to damn them above 
ground, to gnaw upon their soul and flesh with that unheard- 
of horror which seized upon Spira's woful heart, who pro- 
tested, being fully in his right mind, that he would rather 
be in Cain or Jiidas's place in hell than endure the present 
unspeakable torment of his afflicted spirit. 

To beat them from this desperate course of greedy hoard- 
ing up such horrible things unto themselves against their 
ending hour, let them consider : — 

1. Besides the eternity of joys for the one, and of torments 
to the other, hereafter, the vast and invaluable difference 
in the mean time, in respect of true sweetness and sound 
contentment, between the life of a saint and a sensualist : 
a puritan, as the world calls him, and a good-fellow, as he 
terms himself; — let us for the purpose peruse the different 
passages of one day, as Chrysystom excellently delineates 
them and represents to the life. " Let us produce two men," 
saith he, "the one drowned in carnal looseness, sensualities, 
and riotous excess; the other crucified and dead to such 
sinful courses and worldly delights. Let us go to their 
houses and behold their behaviour. We shall find the one 
reading the scriptures and other good books, taking time 
for holy duties and the service of God ; sober, temperate, 
abstemious, diligent also in the necessary duties of his call- 
ing, having holy conference with God, discoursing of heavenly 
things, bearing himself more like an angel than a man. 
The other, jovial, a vassal of luxury and ease, swaggering 
up and down ale-houses, taverns, or other such conventicles 
of good-fellowship, hunting after all the ways, means, and 
men to pass the time merrily, plying his pleasures with 
what variety he possibly can all the day long, railing and 
roaring as though he were enraged with a devil, though he 
be really dead while he is alive : which is accompanied 
with murmurings of the family, discontent of the wife, 
chiding of friends, laughing to scorn of enemies," &c. 
Whether of these courses now do you think were the more 
comfortable! I know full well the former would be cried 
down by the greatest part as too precise, and the latter 
would carry it by a world of men. But hear the puritan 
father's impartial holy censure, quite cross to the common 
conceit and humour of flesh and blood. It is excellent and 
emphatical, arguing his resolute abomination of the ways of 



32 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

good-fellowship, and infinite love and admiration of the 
holy path. Having given to the good-feilovv his heart's 
desire all the day long in all kinds of voluptuousness and 
delight, yet for all this, " Who is he," saith he, " that is in 
h s right mind, that would not choose rather to die a thou- 
sand deaths, than spend one day sol" This peremptory 
passage would be held a strange paradox from the mouth 
of any modern minister, and so appears to the carnal ap- 
prehension of all those miserable men who are blindfolded 
aad baffled by the devil to the eternal loss of their souls. 
But besides that it might be made good many other ways, 
it is more than manifest by comparing that three-fold sting 
that follows at the heels of every sinful delight, &c. (see 
my Book of Walking with God), with the com.ortable con- 
tentment and secret sweetness which might and should 
attend all weil-doing and every holy duty done with up- 
rightness of heart. The very philosophers do tell us of a 
congratulation, a pleased contentedness and satisfaction in 
doing virtuously according to their moral rules. W^hat 
true, solid, and singular comfort then, do you think, may 
be lound in those godly actions v\hich spring from faith, 
are guided by God's word, directed to his glory, and whose 
bewailed defects and failings are most certainly pardoned 
by the blood of his Son? Now what an extreme madness 
is this, for a man to sell his salvation for a life of pleasures j 
abhorring the ways of God's children as too piecise and 
painful ; whereas, besides hell for the one, and heaven for 
the ether hereafter, in the mean time every day spent so 
sensually is a true purgatory, and every day passed in the 
contrary Christian course is an earthly paradise ! 



C^AP. IX. 

The second and third cousiieration for the reformation of the 
sensualist. 

2. Let them mark well the different ends of these men. 
Though the one now carries away the credit and current of 
the times, and with all bravery and triumph rolls himself in 
the pleasures, riches, and glory of the world, and the other 
is kept under hatches, neglected and contemptible to carnal 
eyes, trampled upon with the feet of pride and malice by 
the prouder Pharisees, and hunted with much cruelty and 
hate by men of this world : yet watch but a while, and you 
shall see the end of this upright man, whatsoever his sorrows 
and sutierings, troubles and temptations have been in this 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 33 

life, to be most certainly peace at the last. " Mark the 
perfect man, and behold the upright ; for the end of that 
man is peace." (Psalm xxxvii, 37). He either passeth 
fairly and calmly through the port of death to the land ot 
everlasting rest and rejoicing; or else, if a tempest of ex- 
traordinary temptation seize upon him in the haven, whea 
he is ready to set foot into heaven, which is the lot of many 
of God's dearest ones, for ends seeming best to the ever- 
blessed r\Iajesty, as perhaps to harden those about him that 
hate to be reformed ; yet all the hurt he hath thereby is, 
besides serving God's secret holy pleasure, an addition to 
his happiness ; for an immediate translation from the depth 
of temporary horror, as in the case of Mr. Peacock and Mrs. 
Brettergh, to the height of endless joy, makes even the joys 
of heaven something more joyful. He feels those neveij 
ending pleasures at the first entrance more delicious and 
ravi:,hing, by reason of the sudden change from that bitter- 
ness of spirit in the last combat to the excellency and 
eternity of heavenly bliss. His soul, in this case, after a 
short eclipse of spiritual darkness upon his bed of death, 
enters more lightsomely into the full sun of immortal glory. 
But what do you think shall be the end of the other man ? 
He is in the mean time, it may be, " in great power, and 
spreading himself like a green bay tree," revelling in the 
abundance of all worldly jollity and wealth; wallowing 
dissolutely in the ciioicest delights and vainest pleasures; 
yet wait but a while, and you shall see him quickly "cut 
down like grass, and wither as the gieen herb." For God 
shall suddenly shoot at hiro with a swift arrow. It is 
already in the bow, even a bow of steel shall send forth an 
arrow that shall strike him through, and shall shine on his 
gall. His power aod his pride shall be overthrown in the 
turn of a hand. All his imperious boisterousness shall melt 
away as a vain foam. "The eye which saw him shall see 
him no more ; neither shall his place any more behold him." 
He must descend into the grave, naked and stripped of all 
power and pomp, all beauty and strength ; a weaker and 
poorer worm than when he first came out of the womb. 
Hear further for this purpose, and fuller expression of my 
meaning in this point, how a worthy friend of mine, in- 
stanciag in the exemplary and dreadful downfalsof Haman, 
Shebna, and others, labours to fright graceless great ones 
out of their luxury and pride, security and smful pleasures, 
by consideration of their ends. " Oh then," saith he, " ye 
rich and great, ye proud and cruel, ambitious and honour- 
able, take from their woful examples the true estimate of 
your riches and your power, your pleasure and your honour. 



34 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

wherein ye trust, and whereof ye boast, but as Israel in 
Egypt, of a broken reed. Consider that like sins will have 
like ends ; that God is to-day, and yesterday, and the same 
for ever ; that the pride and cruelty, oppression and luxury 
of these times, have no greater privilege than those of the 
former. But when for a while you have domineered far and 
near, had wha.t you would, and done what you pleased ; 
dispeOi,led parishes and plains for your orchards and walks ; 
pulled down many houses to set one up, from between 
whose battlements and turrets at the top you can see no end of 
your meadows, your fields, and your lands, the measuring 
whereof, as the poet speaks, would weary the very wings of 
the kite ; when the train of your dependents hath been too 
long for the street, and your bare respect hath shook the hat 
from the head, and bent the knee afar off; when you have 
clapped whole manors on your backs, or turned them down 
your throats ; when you have scoured the plains with your 
horses, the fields and woods with your hounds, and the hea- 
ven with your hawks; when with pheasants' tongues you 
have furnished whole feasts, and with the queen of Egypt 
drunk dissolved pearls, even fifty thousand pounds at a 
draught, and then laid your head in Dalilah's lap ; when, if 
it were possible, you have spent your whole lives in all that 
royal pomp and pleasure which that most magnificent king 
and queen did (Esther i) for a hundred and fourscore days ; 
in a word, when you wallowed in all delights and stood in 
pleasures up to the chin; — then, even then, the pit is 
digged, and death, of whom you dream not, stands at the 
door. Where are you now, or what is to be done? Come 
down, saith Death, from your pleasant prospects; alight 
from your jades ; hoed your kites ; couple up your curs ; bid 
adieu to pleasure ; out of your beds of lust ; come naked 
forth, and descend with me to the chambers of death. 
Make your beds in the dust, and lay down your cold car- 
casses among the stones of the pit at the roots of the rocks. 
And you, great and delicate dames, who are so wearied 
with pleasure that you cannot rise time enough to dress 
your heads and do all your tricks against dinner ; to wash 
your bodies with musk, and daub your faces with vermilion 
and chalk ; to make ready your pleasant baits to poison 
men's eyes and their souls; you painted Jezebels, think you 
now you are fit company for men? Nay, come headlong 
down to the dogs. If not suddenly so, yet dispatch, and 
put off your cauls, ear-rings, and round tires ; your chains, 
bra^-^elets, and mufflers ; your rings, wimples, and crisping 
pins ; your hoods, veils, and changeable suits ; your glasses, 
fine linen, with all your mundits muliebris (Isa, iii, 16) ; and 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 35 

put on stench instead of sweet smell ; baldness instead of 
well-set hair ; burning instead of beauty. Worms shall 
make their nests ia your breasts, and shall eat out those 
wanton windovvs and messengers of lust; yea, rottenness 
and stench, slime and filth shall ascend and sit down in the 
very throne of beauty, and shall dwell between your eye- 
brows." 

All this is very woful ; and yet there is a thousand times 
worse. Besides all this, thou that now layest about thee for 
the world and wealth ; for transitory pelf and rotten plea- 
sures, that liest soaking in luxury and pride, and vanity, 
and all kind of voluptuousness, shall most certainly very 
shortly lie upon thy bed of death, like " a wild bull in a net, 
tuU of the fury of the Lord ;" either sealing thee up finally in 
the desperate senselessness of thine own dead heart, with the 
spirit of slumber for everlasting vengeance even at the door, 
or else exemplarily enragiag the guilty conscience upon that 
thy last bed with hellish horror even beforehand. For ordi- 
narily the more notorious servants of Satan and slaves of 
lust depart this life either like Nabal or Judas ; though more 
by many thousands die like hard-hearted sots in security, 
than in despair of conscience. If it be so with thee, then, 
that thine heart when th .u shalt have received the sentence 
of death against thyself die within thee, as Nabal's ; " and 
most commonly," saith a worthy divine, " conscience in 
many is secure at the time of death, God in his justice so 
plaguing an affected security in life with an inflicted se- 
curity at death ; — 1 say, then, thou wilt become as a stone, 
most prodigiously blockish ; as though there were no immor- 
tality of the soui ; no loss of eternal bliss ; no tribunal in 
heaven ; no account to be made after this life ; no bsming in 
hell for ever. Which will make the never dying fire more 
scorching, and the ever-living worm more stinging, by how 
much thou wast more senseless and fearless of that fiery 
lake into which thou wast ready to fall. " Death itself," 
saith the same man, " cannot awake some consciences ; but 
no sooner come they into hell but conscience is avvakened to 
the full, never to sleep more ; and then she teareth with, im- 
placable fury, and teacheth forlorn wretches to know that 
forbearance was no payment." But if it please God to take 
the other course v/ith thee, and to let loose the cord of thy 
conscience upon thy dying bed ; thou wilt be strangled even 
with hellish horror upon earth, and damned above ground. 
That worm of hell which is a continual remorse and furious 
reflection of the soul upon its own wilful folly, whereby it 
hath lost everlasting joys, and must now lie in endless, 
easeless, and remediless torments, is set on work whilst 



36 INSTRUCTIOT^fS FOR COMFORTING 

thou art yet alive, and with desperate rage and unspeakable 
auguish will feed upon thy soul and flesh ; the least twitch 
•whereof, not all the pleasures often thousand worlds would 
ever be able to countervail. For as the peace of a good, so 
the pangs of a guilty conscience are unspeakable. So that 
at that time thou mayest justly take unto thyself Pashur's 
terrible name, Magor Missubih, Fear round about. Thou 
■wilt be a terror to thyself and to all thy friends. And that 
which in this woful case will sting extremely, no friends, 
nor physic ; no gold, nor silver ; no height of place, nor fa- 
vour of prince ; not the glory and pleasures of the whole 
world ; not the crowns and command of all earthly king- 
doms, can possibly give any comfort, deliverance, or ease ! 
For when that time and terror hath overtaken thee, which 
is threatened Prov. i, 24—31 ; " Because I have called and 
ye refused ; I have stretched out my hand, and no man re- 
garded ; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would 
none of my reproof : I also will laugh at your calamity ; I will 
mock when your fear cometh ; when your feai' cometh as deso- 
lation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind ; when dis- 
tress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon 
me, but 1 will not answer, they shall seek me early, but they 
shall not find me : for that they hated knowledge, and did not 
choose the fear of the Lord : they would none of my counsel : 
they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of 
the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own de- 
vices :" — I say, when this terrible time is come upon thee, 
then will the mighty Lord of heaven and earth come against 
thee " as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will 
rend the caul of thy heart, and will devour thee like a lion" 
(Hos. xiii, 8). " lie will come with fire and with his 
chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and 
his rebuke with flames of fire" (Isa. ixvi, 15). All his 
terrors at that hour will fight against thee, and that un- 
quenchable anger that burns to the very bottom of hell, 
and " sets on fire the foundations of the mountains " (Deut. 
xxxii, 22). The empoisoned arrows of his fiercest indigna- 
tion shall be " drunk with the blood " of thy soul, and stick 
fast in it for ever. In a word, the fearful armies of all the 
plagues and curses, sorrows and insuflFerable pains de- 
nounced in God's book against final impenitents, shall with 
irresistible violence take hold upon thee at once, and pursue 
thee with that fury, which thou shalt never be able either 
to avoid or abide ; and " Who is able to stand before this 
holy Lord God ? who can abide in his sight when he is 
angry? who can deliver out of his hand?" What man or 
angel, what arm of flesh, or force of arms, what creature, or 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 37 

created power, what cherub, or which of the seraphim is 
able to free a guilty conscience from the ever-gnawing 
worm, and an impenitent wretch from eternal flames 1 Oh ! 
methinks a sensible forethought of these horrible things 
even at hand should make the hardest heart of the most 
aborninable Belial to tremble at the root, and fall asunder 
in his breast like drops of water! To have his end in his 
eye, and seriously to remember the tribulation and anguish 
that shall shortly come upon his soul, the aiflict'on, the 
wormwood, and the gall, sb.ould instantly frighten him out 
of his filthy, graceless, good-fellow courses. 

3. Let thein consider what horror it will be in evil times : 
I mean not only at death and the last day, which are the 
most terrible of all ; but also in times of disgrace and con- 
tempt ; of common fear and confusions of the state, of sick- 
ness, crosses, restraint, banishment, temptations, or any 
other days of sorrow. At such times to find, instead of 
peace, fiery scorpions in their consciences, innumerable sins 
graven there with an iron pen unrepented of! Hear how 
excellently Austin foretels and forewarns them, into what a 
forlorn and fearful state they shall most certainly fall, when, 
after a short gleam of worldly glory, they fall into tempes- 
tuous and troublesome times : " Ot all afflictions incident to 
the soul of man, there is none more grievous and transcend- 
ent than to have the conscience enraged with the guilt of 
sin. If there be no wound there, if all be safe and sound 
within, if that bird of the bosom sing sweetly in a man's 
breast, it is no matter what miseries be abroad in the world, 
what storms or stirs be raised against him, what arm of 
flesh or rage of foes beset him round ; for he in this case 
hath presently recourse unto his conscience, the safest 
sanctuary and paradise of sweetest repose ; and finding that 
sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb, filled with abundance 
of peace, and God himself there reconciled unto him in the 
face of Christ, he is courageously fearless of all, both mortal 
and immortal, adversaries and oppositions. ' Though the 
earth be removed and the mountains carried into the midst 
of the sea ;' though all the creatures in the world should be 
turned into bears or devils about him, yet his conscience 
being comfortable he is undaunted and confident, and more 
than conqueror over the whole world and ten thousand 
hells. But on the other side, if by reason of tlie reign of 
sin, there be no rest there ; if God be not there because of 
the abounding of iniquity, what shall a man do then] 
Whither shall he fly when the hand of God hath found him 
out, and the swift -arrow of the Almighty sticks fast in his 
side? He will fly," saith that ancient father, " out of the 

E 



38 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

country into the city, out of the streets into his house, out 
of his house into his chamber, horror still following him 
closely. From his chamber whither will he go but into the 
inmost cabinet of his bosom, where his conscience dwelleth'? 
and if he find there nothing but tumult and terror, but guilti- 
ness, confusion, and ciies of despair, which way will he 
then turn himself, or whither will he fly then ? He must 
then either fly from himself, which is utterly impossible, 
or else abide that torment, which is beyond all compass of 
thought or expression of tongue." For "all the racks," 
saith another, " wheels, wild horses, hot pincers, scalding 
lead poured into the most tender and sensible parts of the 
body ; yea, all the merciless, barbarous, and inhuman 
cruelties of the holy house, are but mere toys and May 
games, compared with the torments that an evil conscience 
will put a man to when it is awakened." 



CHAP. X. 

The third sort of people to be reproved, which are the Opposers of a 
powerful Ministry. Three reasons dissuading men from that sin. 

3. A THIRD sort, the worst of all and the most pestilent, are 
those who do not only not labour in the time of harvest to 
treasure up comfortable provision against days ot dread, 
and mispend the day of their visitation wickedly, but also, 
out of a transcendent strain of impiety, labour might and 
main to put out and utterly extinguish the heavenly sun 
that creates this blessed day, and makes the season of our 
spiritual harvest most glorious and incomparable ; I mean 
to suppress and quench the saving light of a powerful mi- 
nistry wheresoever planted and prevailing ; under the sa- 
cred influence and sovereign heat whereof all God's hidden 
ones are wont to gather that heavenly stock of grace, com- 
fort of godliness and good conscience, which is able to hold 
up their heads invincibly in heavy times. These are the 
vilest of men and of the most forlorn hope ; for they are un- 
happily transported with extremest malice, and storm 
against the very means which should sanctify them, and 
men which should save them. They do not only make 
their own souls sure for damnation, but also hinder the 
power of the word all they can, lest others should be saved. 
Whatsoever thou dost, do not become one of this reprobate 
crew, who heartily desire that the sun of sincere preaching 
were quenched and put out, though it were with the blood of 
God's most faithful messengers, as did the men of Anathotli 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 39 

m Jeremiah's time; Herodias in John Baptist's time ; and 
that other Herodias, improperly called Eudoxia, in .lolm 
Chrysostom's time ; and many thousands even within the 
pale of the church at all times. Above all, I say, beware 
of that crying sin of persecuting the power of godliness, 
without which never any heart knew what true comfort 
meant ; profession of the truth, without which Christ will 
not own us at the last day ; conscientious ministers, under 
whose unceasing labours we gather our spiritual and hea- 
venly store against evil times in this harvest of grace ; and 
that either with thine heart, by hatred, malice, heart-burn- 
ing ; with thy tongue, by slanders, scoffs, rash censures ; 
with thine hand, by supplanting, oppression, wrong ; with 
thy purse, policy, power, misinforming, or any other way 
of vexing or violence. If thou wilt needs be wicked, be so 
more moderately. If there be no help, but thou will go to 
hell, post not so furiously. If nothing will work, but thou 
art wilfully bent on destruction, seek at least a iriore tole- 
rable doom ; for persecutors are transcendents in sin, and 
shall hereafter be paid home proportionably. Be none of 
them, for such reasons as these : — 

(1.) All their malice and rancour, all their bitter words 
and scornful jests, all their bloody, merciless mischiefs and 
machinations against the power of preaching and God's 
people, strike immediately at the face of Jesus Christ. 
"Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou meV (Actsix, 4.) 
and at the precious ball and apple of God's own eye. 
" For he that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of his eye " 
(Zech. ii, 8). God is our shield (Psalm Ixxxiv, 11). Now 
the shield takes all the blows. 

(2.) They are hunted many times with furies of con- 
science and extreme horror even in this life. J^ashur put 
blessed Jeremiah in the slocks, but thereupon he had a new 
name given him, Magor-missabib, Fear round about, lie be- 
came a terror to himself and to all his friends (Jer. 
XX, 2, 3, 4). Zedekiah smote faithful Micaiah upon the 
face ; but afterwards, according to that prophetical commu- 
nication, he was fain to run from chamber to chamber to 
hide himself (1 Kings xxii, 24, 25). John Baptist's head, 
which Herod cut off, sate in the eye of the tyrant's con- 
science with such grisly forms of guilt and blood, that 
when he heard of the great things done by (Jhrist, he was 
perplexed, and no doubt afraid that John Baptist was risen 
from the dead to be revenged upon him. 1 have heard of a 
man, who for a time did furiously and desperately set him- 
self against a minister of God ; laboured by all means to 
disgrace and vex him, both by power and policy ; by slan- 



40 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

ders, oppressions, malice, contempt. But at length the 
word so got within him and hampered him, and the terrors 
of the Almighty took hold upon him with such irresistible 
rage, that he came trembling and quaking unto that man of 
God whom he had so wickedly wronged, and dared not stir 
a foot from him, for fear the devil should take him away 
alive, or the earth open her mouth and swallow him up 
quick, or some other strange remarkable judgment seize 
upon him suddenly, and brand him for a notorious beast 
and cursed castaway. So, or to such sense he spoke. 

(3.) Many of them come to very horrible, exemplary, and 
woful ends. Pharaoh long since, by a dreadful confusion at 
the Red Sea, was, as it were, hanged up in chains, a spec- 
tacle of terror for persecutors to all posterity, Antiochus 
swelling with anger, and breathing out fire in his rage 
against the people of God, did proudly protest, that " he 
would come to Jerusalen, and make it a common burying 
place of the Jews. But the Lord Almighty, the God of 
Israel, smote him with an incuiable and invisible plague. 
For as soon as he had spoken these words, a pain of the 
bowels that was remediless came upon him, and sore tor- 
ments of the inner parts. So that the worms rose up out of 
the body of this wicked man, and while he lived in sorrow 
and pain, his flesh fell avvay, and the filthiness of his smell 
was noisome to all his army " (2 M<*ccab. ix, 4). Herod in 
the height of his haired against the gospel, and pride in 
imprisoning and persecuting the apostles, was eaten up of 
worms in a mo^t fearful and prodigious manner (Acts xii, 
23)- Gardiner gaping for news of the dispatch of those 
two blessed martyrs of Jesus, Latimer and Ridley, at Ox- 
ford, deferred his dinner until three or four o'clock in the 
afternoon, delighting more in drinking the blood of the 
saints than in his ordinary food ; but upon the return of 
his post, he fell merrily to his meat, and mark what 
followed : " The bloody tyrant," saith the story, " had not 
eaten a few bits, but the sudden stroke of God's terrible 
hand fell upon him in such a sort, as immediately he was 
taken from the table, and so brought to his bed, where he 
continued the space of fifteen days in such intolerable an- 
guish and torments, that during the whole of those fifteen 
days he could not void in any manner the food that he 
received : whereby his body being miserably inflamed 
within (who had inflamed so many good martyrs before) 
was brou.ht to a wretched end." For further enlargement 
of this point, see the Stories of the Primitive Church, Acts 
and Monuments, Theatre of God's Judgments, 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 41 

CHAP. XI. 

Four other Reasons dissaading ftoni the former Sin. 

(4.) A cry far louder than the noise of many waters or 
voice of greatest thunder, knocks continually with strong 
importunity at God's just tribunal for a shower of " fire and 
brimstone and a horrible tempest" to be rained down upon 
their heads ; I mean, a cry of blood, wrongs, disgraces, and 
slanders, wherewith they have loaded the saints of God. 
" And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O 
Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our 
blood on them that dwell on the earth T' (Rev. vi, 10.) 

(5.) They are the principal provokers of God's wrath 
against a nation. Their hateful heat, overflowing gall, and 
scornful carriage against God's people doth ripen apace his 
fiercest indignation, fill up full the vials of his vengeance, 
and draw down upon a kingdom a desperate and final ruin 
without all remedy. " But they mocked the messengers of 
God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, 
until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till 
there was no remedy " (2 Chron. xxxvi, 16). 

(6.) Their spiteful spirits being once thoroughly set on 
heat with this fire of hell, and infernal rage against the 
grace of God and his people, commonly continue in flame 
and fury until their fearful and flnal confusion. And they 
being once fleshed, as it were, with the blood of the saints, 
at least by scoft's and slanders (for even lewd and lying 
tongues are keen razors and sharp swords, scourges and 
scorpions that fietch blood), they feed insatiably upon the 
sweetness of such supposed cursed revenge, until they be 
seized upon with their irrecoverable ruin, and fall amongst 
the inflamers of their malice, and arch persecutors of all 
professors, the fiends of hell. I'his is my meaning : this 
pestilent and crying sin of persecution is like the gulf of 
drunkenness, which Augustine compares to the pit of hell, 
into which when a man is once fallen there is no redemption 
or return. A persecutor is rarely or never reclaimed, either by 
miracle or ministry, mercy or misery. Fire from heaven fall- 
ing upon the first captain and his fifty did not frighten the 
second captain and his fifty from pressing upon Elijah to ap- 
prehend him (2 Kings i, 10, 11). The soldiers who came 
to take Jesus, as soon as he said " I am he," were strangely 
upon the sudden struck down to the ground (John xviii, 6) ; 
and yet this miracle did never a whit mollify and abate the 
malice of the priests and pharisees against him. Not even 

E 3 



42 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

the ministry of Christ himself, though he spoke as never 
man spake ; not that of Stephen, whose face appeared to his 
hearers as it had been the face of an angel ; not that of the 
apostles freshly filled with the Holy Ghost from heaven, did 
at all tame or abate the rage of those who were possessed 
with this toul spirit of scornful contradiction ; see Luke 
iv, 28, 29 ; and xyi, 14 ; Acts vii, 64 ; and ii, 13. Not all 
those horrible miraculous plagues of Egypt were able to 
quench Pharaoh's fury against the people of God, until he 
was choked in the Red Sea. No kindness from David, 
though extraordinary and matchless (I Sam. xxiv, 11 ; and 
xxvi, 9), could turn Saul's heart from hunting him, "as 
when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains." And 
no marvel though they be not moved by all or any of these 
means; for they scorn, persecute, and contemn the very 
means which should amend them, and the only men who 
should convert them. Whether of the two think you is 
likelier to recover 1 That man who being dangerously sick, 
yet entertains the physician kindly and takes patiently 
Avhat is prescribed ; or he, who having a potion presented 
unto him very efficacious for his recovery, throws the glass 
against, the wall, spills that precious receipt, and drives the 
physician out at doors ? Conceive proportionably between 
the persecutor and the less pestilent sinner, who meddles 
not maliciously against the ministry. 

(7.) They are already in the pestilent path and very high- 
way that leads to sin against the Holy Ghost ; the horrible- 
ness and height of which dreadful villany may bring upon 
them even in this life impossibility of pardon (Matt, xii, 
31, 32), and liability to that flaming judgment and fiery in- 
dignation, threatened Heb. x, 26, 6cc. And that they are 
growing towards this sin, if they be not quite gone that way, 
appeals because they despitefuUy traduce, with much 
malice and mischief persecute the very works of grace and 
graces of God's spirit, shed into the hearts and shining in 
the lives of the children of light (1 John iii, 12; Psalm 
xxxviii, 20; 1 Pet. iv,4). If a man would drink, swear, 
swagger, revel, and roar with them ; if he durst be ignorant, 
a usurer, a sabbath-breaker, a worldling, a doater upon 
and defender of heathenish superstitious customs, a prac- 
tiser or patron of old anniversary fooleries and rotten vani- 
ties ; an encloser, gamester, good-fellow, &c., oh ! then he 
should be the only man with them ; entertained into their 
hearts and houses with all affectionate welcome of kindness 
and acceptation. But if the same man, by the liiercies of 
God, once begin to break from them and out of the snares 
of the devil, to disrelish and detest his former ways of na- 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 43 

lure and naughtiness ; to love and reverence the most 
searching ministry ; to read the scriptures ;ind best books ; 
to sanctify the Lord's day ; to pray in his family •, to renounce 
resolutely his running with them to the same excess of riot ; 
to abandon and abominate their lewd and licentious courses ; 
in a word, to turn Christian; oh! then he is an arrant puri- 
tan, a precisian, a humourist, a hypocrite, and all that is 
naught ; even as bad as the false tongues of the devil's 
limbs can make a blessed man. He was a good-fellow, 
■will they say, but he is now quite gone ; a proper man, and 
of good parts, but his puritanism hath marred all. WhUe 
Paul humoured the Piiarisees in persecuting and plaguing 
the disciples of the Lord, he was a principal and much- 
honoured man amongst them ; but when he turned on 
Christ's side, he was accounted a pestilent fellow, the very 
plague. So that it is plain and palpable, whatsoever 
may be pretended to the contrary, that those cursed Cains, 
implacable Doegs, and scoffing Ishmaels, that set them- 
selves and spend their malice against the ministers and 
people of God, hate, slander, and persecute the very works 
of grace and graces ot God's spirit in them. Even their 
zeal, holiness, hatred of sin, reformation, &c. are an eye- 
sore and heart-sore to such hateful wretches and owls of the 
kingdom of darkness, who cannot endure any heavenly 
light. 



CHAP. XII. 

Six other Reasons dissuading from the former Sin. 

(8). As stigmatical rogues burnt in the hand, curtailed of 
their ears, branded in the forehead, are in the common- 
wealth ; so are persecutors in the church. By mutual in- 
telligence and information of God's people, or some more 
public lasting record and monument of the church, they 
have many times such a mark set upon them, that they 
carry it to their graves, yea to the judgment seat of God ; 
that it may be known beforehand to that glorious tribunal 
and all the triumphant church, what beastly men, stinging 
scorpions, and pricking thorns they have been among God's 
children, and in the sides of the saints. Such a brand had 
Alexander the coppersmith set upon him by Paul (2 Tim. 
iv, 14, 15; ; and such a bro.nd was set upon Uiotrephes, 
that malicious prating companion, by St. John (3 John 9, 
10). So are those blood-thirsty tigers, Gardiner, Bonner, and 
the rest of that cruel litter and persecuting pack branded, 



44 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

that th.eir names shall rot and their memories be hateful to' 
the world's end. So too, many in these times, though they 
be vejy jolly fellows in their own conceit, adored as idols 
by their flattering dependents, applauded generally as the 
principal patrons of revelling and good fellowship, yet in 
the censure of the saints and by the doom of Divine wisdom, 
they are clearly known and justly reputed "enemies of all 
righteousness," and Satan's special agents to do mischief 
against the ministry. 

(9.) It is to be feared they will find no mercy upon their 
beds of death, and in their last extremity, cry they never 
so loud, or promise they never so fair. God in his just in- 
dignation is wont to deal so witli those who drink up ini- 
quity like water, without all sense or fear of a glorious 
dreadful majesty above (Ezek. viii, 18) ; with those who 
refuse to stoop to God's ordinance and submit to the sceptre 
of Christ, when they are fairly invited by the ministry 
(Prov. i, 24, 28; Jer. vii, 13, 16; and xi, 11) ; with great 
ones who grind the faces of tl>e poor (Micah iii, 4) ; with 
abusers of the riches of his goodness and long suffering 
(Rom. ii, 4,5). How much more do you think shall im- 
penitent persecutors be paid home in this kindl That great 
and cruel persecutor Antiochus (2 Maccab. ix, 13, 17), 
being seized upon by a horrible sickness, promiseth very 
gloriously upon that his last bed, besides many other strange 
reformations, even that he also would become a. lew him- 
self, and go through all the world that was inhabited, and 
declare the power of God. But for all this, hear what the 
writer of that story saith of his spiritual state and of God's 
resolution towards him, verse 13: "This wicked person 
prayed also unto the Lord, who would now have no mercy 
on him." 

(10.) All their spiteful speeches, scurrilous scoffs, pesti- 
lent lies, insolent insuUlngs, &c. are as so many crowns of 
glory and joy unto the heads and hearts of all persecuted 
patient professors (1 Pet. iv, 14 ; Acts v, 41 ; Job xxxi, 36). 
So that they entirely rniss tlie malicious mark their revenge- 
ful humours would gladly hit, the hurt ami heart-breaking 
of those they so cruelly and cunningly hurt with mucii 
rancour and hate. And not only so, but most certainly 
hereafter, if they die not like drunken Nabal, and their 
hearts become as stunes in their breasts, upon their beds of 
death they will all, though now passing from them with 
much bitterness of spirit and without all remorse, turn into 
so many envenomed stings and biting scorpions unto their 
own consciences, and gnaw upon their hearts with ex- 
tremest horror. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 45 

(11.) The whole body of the militant church, join all as 
one man with strong concurrent importunity at the throne 
of grace, and with one heart and spirit constantly continue 
there such piercing prayers against all stubborn impenitent 
scorners, all incurable, implacable persecutors, as the 
people of God have been wont to pour out in such cases ; 
as Lament, iii, 59, ice. " O Lord, thou hast seen my wrong : 
judge thou my cause. Thou hast seen all their vengeance 
and all their imaginations against me. Thou hast heard 
their reproach, O Lord, and all their imaginations against 
me ; the lips of those that rose up against me, and their 
device against me all the day. Behold their sitting down, 
and their rising up : I am their music. Render unto them 
a recompence, U Lord, according to the work of their 
hands. Give them sorrow of heart, thy curse unto them. 
Persecute and destroy them in anger from under the 
heavens of the Lord." ]Sow I would not be in that man's 
case, against whom God's people complain upon good 
ground at that just and nighest tribunal one half hour, for 
the imperial crown and command of all the kingdoms of the 
earth ; for who knows whether just at that time the righteous 
Lord for his children's sake and safety may rain upon such 
a man's head "snares, fire and brimstone, and a horrible 
tempest 1" 

(12.) And the prayers of the saints poured out in the 
bitterness of their souls, vexed continually with their mali- 
cious cruelties and cruel mockings, are means many times to 
bring persecutors to an untimely end, to knock them down 
before their time. Do not you think that the faithful Jews 
at Jerusalem, hearing of Antiochus marching towards them 
like an evening wolf to drink up their blood, had presently 
recourse unto God's righteous throne with strong cries to 
stay his rage'? And do you not think that those very prayers 
drew down upon him that hoirible and incurable plague, 
whereupon " he died a miserable death in a strange country 
in the mountains? " Herod, for any thing we know, might 
have lived many a fair day longer if he had dealt fairly with 
the apostles of Christ ; but putting one to the sword, and 
another in prison, he put the church to their prayers (Acts 
xii, 2 — 5), vvhich prayers (for " there is a certain oranipo- 
tency of prayer," as Luther was wont to say) did soon 
create those vermin that ate him up horribly in the height 
of his pride (ver. 23). The ecclesiastical story reports, 
that the loathsome and dreadful end of Arrius, that execra- 
ble enemy to Jesus Christ, v/as hastened by the prayers of 
the good and orthodox r>ishop, Alexander, who wrestled 
with God in earnest deprecations against him all the night 



46 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

before. Do you not think tliat Gardiner went sooner into 
his grave for dis cruelty towards professors of the truth by 
their groans against him, and by the cry of the blood of 
that glorious pair of martyrs at Oxford which he so insa- 
tiably tiiirsted after? Let all those, then, that tread in 
these men's paths, tremble at their ends; and if no better 
motive will soften their malicious hearts, yet at least let 
their love unto the world, themselves, and sensual ways, 
take them off and restrain them from this persecuting rage, 
lest it set on woik the prayers of God's people, and so they 
be taken away before their time, and cut off from a tempo- 
rary supposed heaven of earthly pleasures, to a true ever- 
lasting hell of unspeakable torments, sooner than otherwise 
they should. 

(13.) The hearts and tongues of all good men and friends 
to the gospel are filled with much glorious joy and heartiest 
songs of thanksgiving at the downfal of every raging incu- 
rable opposer, when the revenging hand of God hath at 
length to the singular advancement of the glory of his 
justice singled out and paid home remarkably any impeni- 
tent persecutor and implacable enemy. See for this pur- 
pose the song of Mo>es, Exod. xv ; of Deborah, Judges v ; 
the Jews feasting after the hanging of Haman, Esther ix, 17 ; 
Psalm lii, 6, 9; Iviii, 10; and Ixxix, 13; 1 Maccab. xiii, 
51. Only let the heart of God's child be Avatchful over 
itself with a godly jealousy in this point ; that his rejoicing 
be, because God's justice is glorified, his church delivered, 
Satan's kingdom weakened, &c. ; not only for his own ease 
and end, for any personal or particular bye-resj ect. Now it 
is a heavy case, a man in his short abode upon earth to 
behave himself so like a surly cur and incarnate devil, that 
all good men are and ought to be truly glad when he is 
gone. 



CHAP. XIII. 

I. Wlio are iiieaiit by Persecutors. II. What is meant by Perseculioii. 
III. An Objection against tlie l>octrine answered. 

1. In this point I comprise and include all sorts of persecutors, 
of which some are professed and open, as Bonner and Gar- 
diner, and many such morning wolves ; some politic and re- 
served, who many times are the more pernicious. For of 
all manner of malice and ill-will, that is most execrable, 
deadly, and doth the most hurt, which like a serpent in the 
fair green grass lies lurking in the flatterings and fawnings 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 47 

of a hypocritical countenance ; which kisses with Judas 
and kills with Joab ; entertains a man witli outward forms 
A)f (•ompliment and courtesy, but would, if it dare or might, 
stab him in at the fifth rib that he should never rise again : 
when a man's words to thy face are as soft as oil or butter,. 
but his thoughts toward thee are composed all of blood 
and bitterness, of gall and gunpowder. Some are notorious 
villains, as many times in many places the most desperate 
blasphemers, stigmatic.il drunkairds, unclean sensualists, 
cruel usurers, and fellows of such intairious rank, are as so 
many goads in the sides of God's servants, and the only 
men to pursue all advantages against the inost faithful 
ministers. Some are of more sober carriage, fair conditions, 
and seeming devotion (Acts, xiii, 50). Some are the basest 
fellows, the most abject and contemptible vagabonds, and 
the very refuse of all the rogues in a country. This we 
may see by Job's complaint, chap, xxx, "But now," saith 
he, " they that are younger tlian I, have me in derision, 
v,'hose fathers 1 would have disdained to have set with the 
dogs of myf]ock. — They were children of fools, yea, children 
of base men : they were viler than the earth. And now 
am I their song, yea, 1 am their byeword." And in David's 
Psalm XXXV, 15, " Yea, the abjects gathered themselves 
together against me," ice, " and I was the song of the 
drunkards" (Psalm Ixix. 12). And in the persecutors of 
Paul (Acts xvii, 5) : " But the Jews which believed not, 
moved witii envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of 
the baser sort," !kc. Some again are men of place and 
parts, as the same David complains in the same place: 
*' They that sit in the gate speak against me ; " that is, men 
in high rooms and of great authority. 

11. And as all sorts of persecutors, so I comprehend all 
kinds of persecution. 1. By hand, as did Herod (Acts xii), 
Julian, Bonner, &c. 2, With tongue, by mocking (Galat. 
iv, 24, compared with Gen. xxi, 9 ; see also Psalm Ixix, 20 ; 
lleb. xi, 36). By slandering, even in reporting true things 
maliciously to the prejudice of God's children (Psalm Hi). 
By reproaching and reviling (Zeph. ii, 8). By insulting 
with insolent speeches (Ezek. xxvi, 2, and xxxvi, 2). 3. In 
heart ; by hatred (Ezek. xxxv, 5) ; by rejoicing in the 
downfal or disgrace of the saints (Ezek. xxxv, 6). 4. In 
gesture (Ezek. xxv, 6, 7), "Because thou hast clapped 
thy hands, and stamped with the feet," 6ic. " Behold, 
therefore, I will stretch cut mine hand upon thee," 6er. 
Take heed of so much as looking sour upon or brow-beating 
a servant of Christ, lest thou smart for it. Look upon the 
quoted places, and you shall see offenders in any of these 



48 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

kinds, plagued and justly rewarded as, persecutors of God's 
people, and thus let such extremely wicked men be fright- 
ened from persecuting in any way those men or means 
^yhich are appointed and sanctified to furnish us with spi- 
ritual store and strength against the days of evil. 

111. Obj. But against that which hath been said on this 
point for the singularity and sovereignty of grace and good 
conscience to support the spirit of a man in evil times, to 
keep it calm in the most tempestuous assaults, and con- 
quering over all comers, it may be objected, and some may 
thus cavil : — 

Men who never were or ever did desire to be acquainted 
with God's grace or good men, express sometimes and re- 
present to by-standers an invincible stoutness, much bold- 
ness and braveness of mind in times of greatest extremity, 
and under most exquisite tortures ; and therefore it seems 
not to be peculiar to the saints, and the privilege of God's 
favourites alone to stand unshaken in stormy times, un- 
daunted in distress, and comfortable amidst the most de>- 
perate confusions. 

Ans. I answer: such confidence is only in the face, not 
in the heart; enforced, not kindly; affected, not eflectual ; 
not springing from the sole fountain of all sound and lasting 
comfort in human souls, sense of our reconciliation to God 
in Christ ; l)ut from some other odd accidental motives ; 
from weak and unworthy grounds. 



CHAP. XIV, 

Five false Grounds of confident enduring Mi?ery. 

1. In some, from an ambitious desire of admiration and 
applause for extraordinary undauntedness of spirit and 
high resolution. It is reported of an Irish traitor, that lying 
in horrible anguish upon the wheel, an engine of cruellest 
torture, with his body bruised and his bones broken, he asked 
his friend standing by, whether he changed countenance at 
all, or no. Affecting more, as it seems, an opinion of pro- 
digious manliness and unconquerableness in torment, than 
affected with the raging pains of a most terrible execution. 

2. In others, from a strong stirring persuasion and con- 
sciousness of the honesty and honour of some civil cause 
for which they suffer. But fortitude in this case doth not 
arise from any inspired religious vigour or heavenly infu- 
sions, but from the severer instigations of natural conscience 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 49 

and acquired manhood of a mere moral puritan. Many 
such moral martyrs have been found amongst the more ge- 
nerous and well-bred heathen. It is related of a brave and 
valiant captain, who had long manfully and with incre- 
dible courage withstood Dionysius the l.lder, in defence of 
a city, that he sustained with strange patience and height 
of spirit the merciless fury of the tyrant and all his barba- 
rous cruelties, most unworthy of him that suffered them, 
but most worthy him that inflicted the same. " First, the 
tyrant told him that the day before he had caused his son 
and all his kinsfolks to be drowned. To whom the captain 
stoutly facing him answered nothing, but that they were 
more happy than himself by the space of one day. After- 
ward he caused him to be stripped, and by his executioners 
to be taken and dragged through the city most ignorai- 
niously, cruelly whipping him, and charging him besides 
with outrageous and contumelious speeches. Notwith- 
standing all which, as one no whit dismayed, he ever showed 
a constant and resolute heart: and with a cheerful and 
bold countenance went on, still loudly recounting the ho- 
nourable and glorious cause of his death, which was, that 
he would never consent to yield his country into the hands 
of a cruel tyrant." U ith such stoutness did even mere 
moral virtue steel the ancient Roman spirits, that in worthy 
defence of their liberty, for preservation of their country, 
or other such noble ends, they indifferently contemned gold, 
silver, death, torture, and whatsoever else miserable world- 
lings hold either dear or dismal. 

3. In some, from an extreme hardness of heart, which 
makes thern senseless and fearless of shame, misery, or any 
terrible thing. This we may sometimes observe in noto- 
rious malefactors. A long, rebellious, and remorseless con- 
tinuance and custom in sin, raging infections from their 
roaring companions, a furious pursuit of outrages and 
blood ; Satan's hot iron searing their consciences, and God's 
just curse upon their fearful and forlorn courses ; so fill 
them with fool-hardiness, and with such a deadly dispo- 
sition, that they are desperately hardened against all 
affronts and disasters : so that though such savage-minded 
and marble-hearted men be to pass through the streets as 
spectacles of abhorredness and scorn, as hateful monsters 
and the reproach of mankind ; to be thrown into a dungeon 
of darkness and discomfort, and there to be laden with cold 
irons, coldness, and want ; from thence to be hurried to that 
loathed place of execution, and there to die a dog's death ; 
and finally to fall imn-'.ediately and irrecoveiably into a 
lake of fire ; yet, I say, for all this, out of a desperate hard 

F 



50 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

heartedness they seem still to be in heart, and to represent 
to the beholders a great deal of undauntedness and neglect 
of danger in their carriage and countenances. Oh the pro- 
digious rock into whicli the stone in a graceless heart may 
grow, both in respect of desperateness in sinning and sense- 
lessness in ?.uft'ering ! 

4. In others, from an enraged thirst after human praise 
and immortal fame, as it is called ; which may be so preva- 
lent in them, and transport them vvith such a vain-glorious 
ambition this way, that it may carry them with much seem- 
ing insensibility, affected patience, and artificial courage, 
through the terrors and tortures of a very violent and mar- 
tyr-like death. Hear what Austin saith to this point; 
" Think ye there never were any catholics, or that now 
there may not be some, that would suffer only for the praise 
of men 1 If there were not such kind of men, the apostle 
would not have said, ' Though 1 give my body to be burned 
and have not charity, I am nothing.' He did know right 
well that there might be some which would do it out of 
vain-glory and self-love, not for Divine love and the glory 
of God." Oh the bottomless depths of hellish hypocrisy, 
which lie hid in our corrupt hearts ! Oh the blind and per- 
verse thoughts of foolish men ! Oh the murderous malice of 
that. old red dragon, which exerciseth such horrible cruelty 
both upon our bodies and souls ! 

5. In some, from false grounds of a supposed good estate 
to God-ward, from an unsound persuasion of their present 
spiritual well-being and future welfare. Such Pharisees, 
foolish virgins, and forma! professois are to be found in a!i 
ages of the church, especially in the fairest and most 
flourishing days thereof, and when the gospel hath the freest 
passage, who thus many times in the greatest of all earthly 
extremities, even upon their beds of death, represent to all 
about them, from a groundless presumption of being re- 
conciled unto God, a great deal of confidence, resolution, 
and many glorious expectations. Upon a partial survey 
and perusal of their time past, not stained perhaps with any 
great enormities, notoriousness, or infamous sin ; out of a 
vain-glorious consciousness to themselves of their many good 
parts, general graces, good deeds and plausibleuess with the 
most, by reason of a former obstinate distaste and prejudice 
against sincerity and the power of godliness, as though it 
v/ere unnecessary singularity and peevishness ; and it may 
be confirmed also unhappily in their spiritual self-cozenage, 
by the unskilful and unseasonable palliations, I mean mis- 
applications of some abused promises unto their unhumbled 
souls from some daubing ministers, a generation of vilest 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 51 

men, plausible idiots in the mystery of Christ, and merciful 
assassins of many miserable deluded souls, to whom they 
promise life and peace when there is no peace, but terrible 
things even at hand (Ezek. iii, 10), tumbling of "garments 
in blood" (Isa. ix, 5), noise of damned souls and tormenting 
in hell for ever ;— I say from such false and failing grounds 
as these they many times in that last extremity (the Lord 
not revealing unto them the unsoundness of their spiritual 
estate and rottenness of their hopes) demean themselves 
cheerfully and comfortably, as though they were presently 
to set foot into heaven, and to lay hold upon eternal life ; 
but God knows without any just cause or true ground. 
For immediately upon the departure of the soul from the 
body shall they hear that woful doom from Christ's own 
mouth, as himself hath told us beforehand, " Depart from 
me, 1 never knew you" (Matt, vii, 23). Such men as these, 
having been formerly acquainted with and exercised in the 
outward forms and ceremonies of religion, are wont at such 
times to entertain their visitants and bystanders with many 
goodly speeches and scripture phrases, representing their 
contempt of the world, willingness to die, readiness to for- 
give all the world, hope to be saved, desire to be dissolved 
and be in heaven, ^:c. 'J hey may cry aloud with much for- 
mal confidence, " Lord, Lord, open to us ; mercy, mercy, in 
the name of Christ ; Lord Jesus, receive our spirits," ^c. ; 
which last ejaculations, did they spring from a truly broken, 
penitent, and heavenly heart, and were they the periods and 
conclusions of a well-spent life, might blessedly break open 
with irresistible power the gates of heaven, unlock the rich 
treasures of immortality, and fill the departing soul with the 
shining beams of God's glorious presence : but unto them 
such goodly and glorious speeches are but as so many catch- 
ings and scrabblings of a man overhead in water : he 
struggles and strives for hold to save himself, but he grasps 
nothing but water ; it is still water which he catches, and 
therefore sinks and drowns. 



CHAP. XV. 

A sixth false Ground of confident enduring- Miseries. A conclusion of 
the first Doctrine. 

6. In others from a misguided Jieadstrong zeal in will- 
worship, an impotent peremptory conceit that they suffer in 
the cause of God, and for the glory of religion. This un- 



52 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

hallowed fury possessed many heretics of old. Upon this 
false ground the Don utists in the fourth century after Christ 
offered themselves willingly, and suffered death most cou- 
rageously. And so did the JEuphemites, who for the multi- 
tude of their supposed martyrs, would needs be called Mar- 
tyrians. We also learn from history that Turks, Tartars, 
and Moors both fight and die most bravely for the blasphe- 
mous opinions of Mahomet; and that the Assassins*, a 
company of blood-thirsty villains and desperate cut-throats, 
who would without all scruple or fear undertake to dispatch 
any man whom their general commanded them to murder, 
died oftentimes with great constancy and undismayedness ; 
and this they accounted a special point of religion. But 
especially at this day the Popish pseudo-martyrs (indeed 
true traitors) are stark mad with this superstitious rage. 
First, they drink full deep of the golden cup of abominable 
" fornication in the hand of the great whore ;" immediately 
whereupon they grow into an insatiable and outrageous 
thirst alter the blood of souls, poisoning them with the doc- 
trine of devils, and also after the blood of whomsoever 
withstands their accursed superstitions, even though they 
wear imperial crowns upon their heads ; by plotting and 
practising treasons, patricides, assassinations, poisonings, 
ruins of whole nations, barbarous massacres, blowing up of 
parliaments, and a world of mischiefs, which cast an inex- 
piable stain and obloquy upon the innocency of the Chris- 
tian religion^ At last they come to Tyburn, or some other 
pkce of just execution, and then they will needs persuade 
the world that they are going towards heaven to receive a 
crown of martyrdom. They seem there already to triumph 
extraordinarily, and to contemn tortures. With an affected 
bravery they trample upon the tribunals of justice ; kiss the 
instruments of death in sign of happiness at hand ; and 
throw many resolute and rejoicing speeches amongst the 
people, as though they liad one foot in heaven already : 
when, alas! poor blind, misguided souls, while they thus 
wilfully and desperately abandon their lives upon a ground- 
less and graceless conceit that they shall become crowned 
martyrs, they are like a man, who lying asleep upon a high 
arid steep rock, dreams that he is created a king, guarded 
with a goodly train of ancient nobles, furnished with many 
princely houses and stately palaces, enriched with the re- 
venues, majesty, and magnificence of a mighty kingdom, 
attended with all the pleasures his heart could desire ; but 
starting up suddenly and leaping for joy, falls headlong and 

• A sect of Mahometan enthusiasts. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 53 

irrecoverably into the raging sea ; and so in lieu ot" that 
imaginary happiness he vainly grasped in a dream, he de- 
stroys himself and loses that little real comfort he had in 
this miserable life. That pair of incarnate devils, the Eng- 
lish Fawkes and French Ravaillac ; the one, after that in 
the pope's cause he had embrued his hands in the royal 
blood of a mighty king and the greatest warrior upon earth ; 
the other having done his utmost to blow up at once the 
glory, power, wisdom, the religion, peace, and prosperity of 
the most renowned state under the heavens, were both pro- 
digiously bold, confident, peremptory. But was this courage 
think you inspired into t!iem by the " lion of the tribe of 
Judah," already triumphant in the heavens, or by that 
roaring dragon of the bottomless pit 1 A man of an under- 
standing, impartial, discerning spirit would scarcely wish a 
clearer demonstration of the truth and orthodoxy of our 
religion than to mark the different ends of our blessed mar- 
tyrs in Queen Mary's time, and those popish traitors Vr-hich 
are sometimes executed among us. They both ordinarily 
at their end express a great deal of confidence. But in the 
pseudo-catholic antichristian martyrs, it is so enforced, arti- 
iicial, ambitious, affected ; their speeches so cunning, and 
composed on purpose to seduce the simple ; their last be- 
haviour so plotted beforehand and formally acted ; their 
prayers so unhearty, plodding, and slight ; their whole car- 
riage so unspiritual and unlike the saints of God ; discover- 
ing neither former acquaintances with the mysteries of true 
sanctification, Dor those present feeling elevations of spirit 
which are wont to fill the souls which are ready to enter 
into the joys of heaven, that to a spiritual eye, to a man 
versed in the purity and power of godliness, it is most clear 
that their comfort in such cases is of no higher strain nor 
stronger temper than the moral resolution of a heathen, 
and headstrong conceit of heresy can represent or reach 
unto. It is otherwise with the true martyrs of Jesus, slain 
most cruelly by that " great whore, the mother of harlots," 
drunken with a world of innocent blood as with sweet 
wine; as we may see and feel in that glorious martyrology 
of our saints, in tlie merciless times of Queen Mary. The 
constant profession .:nd power of our most true and ever- 
blessed religion did create such a holy and humble majesty 
in their carriages, so much of heaven and sober undaunted- 
ness in their countenances, such joyful springings and 
spiritual ravishments in their hearts ; such grace and power- 
ful piercings in their speeches ; such zeal and hearty melt- 
ings in their jMayers ; such triumpiiant and heavenly exul- 
tations amid the flames, that it was more than manifest 

F 3 



54 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

both to heaven and earth, to men and angels, that their 
cause was the cause of God ; their murderer, that man of 
sin; their blood, the seed of the church; their souls, the 
jewels of heaven ; and their present passage, the right and 
ready way to that unfading and most glorious crown of mar- 
tyrdom. That which in fiction was fathered upon Father 
Campion was most true of every one of our true martyrs : 

That everyone iiii;^lit say, with heavy heart that slood : 

Here speaks a saint, here dies a lamb, here flows the guiltless blood. 

Thus you have heard upon what weak props and sandy 
foundations that confidence stands and is built which carnal 
men seem to lay hold upon with great bravery in times of 
trouble and distress. But the comfort which sweetly springs 
from that spirit 1 speak of, supported out of special favour 
and interest by the hand of God all-sufficient, and the un- 
conquerable calmness of a good conscience, is grounded 
upon a reck, upon which though the rain descends, the 
floods come, the winds blow, the tempests beat, yet it stands 
like Mount Zion, sure, sober, strong, lasting, impregnable. 
Nay, it is of that heavenly metal and divine temper, that it 
ordinarily gathers vigiur and power from the world's rage ; 
and grows in strength and resolution together with the in- 
crease of all unjust oppositions. Persecutions and resist- 
ance serve as a provocation and seasoning to its sweetness. 
It is not enforced, formal, artificial, affected, furious, despe- 
rate, misgrounded, ambitious, upon a humour in the face 
only ; only in hot blood, out of a vain-glorious pang, 6lc. 
Such may be found in aliens and resolute reprobates. It 
were nothing worthy if strangers might meddle with it; if 
men or devils, or the whole world could take it from us ; if 
it were sustained only by any created power or arm of flesh. 
This pearl that I praise, and persuade unto, is of a higher 
price and more transcendent power than any unregenerate 
man can possibly compass or comprehend. It hath for its 
seat, a sanctified soul ; for the fountain of its refreshing, the 
Spirit of all comfort ; for its foundation, the favour of God ; 
for its warrant, the promises of the "Amen, the faithful and 
true witness ;" for its object, an immortal crown ; lor its 
continuance, the prayers of all the saints ; for its com- 
paniens, inward peace, invincible courage, a holy security 
of mind; for its end and perfection, " fulness of joy and 
pleasures at God's right hand for evermore ;" in a word, 
this courageous comfort and true nobleness of spirit, which 
dwells in the heart of the true-liearted Christian, doth differ 
as much from, and as far surpasses all the groundless con- 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 55 

fidences of every carnal man or religious counterfeit, as the 
real possession of gold surpasses an imaginary dream of 
gold ; as the true natural lively grape which glads the heart, 
excels a painted juiceless grape, which only feeds the eye ; 
or as a strong and mighty oak rooted deeply in the earth, 
which no storm or tempest can displant or overthrow, is su- 
perior to ^ stake in a dead hedge, or staff stuck lightly into 
the ground, which every hand may snatch away, or blast of 
wind supplant and overthrow. 



SECT. I. PART 11. 

CHAP. I. 

Tlie doctrine of the Intolerableness of a Wounded Conscience proved. 

Secondly, the trouble of a wounded conscience is farther 
amplifiefl by its attribute, intolerableness. " But a wounded 
spirit who can bear 1 " Whence note, 

Doctr. That the torture of a troubled conseience is in- 
tolerable. 

Keas. 1. In all other afflictions, only the arm of flesh is 
our adversary : we contend but with creatures at most ; we 
have to do but with man, or at worst with devils ; but in 
this transcendent misery, we conflict immediately with God 
himself. Frail man with Almighty God : sinful man with 
that most holy God, whose eyes are purer than to behold 
evil, and who cannot look upon iniquity (Habak. i, 13). 
" Who, then, can stand before his indignation'? who can 
ibide in the fierceness of his anger, when his fury is poured 
o<it like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him?" 
( Nahum i, 6.) V\ hen he comes against a man " as a bear 
that is bereaved of her whelps, to rend the very caul of his 
heart, and to devour him like a lion" (Hos. xiii, 8). J\'o 
more than the driest stubble can resist the most fiery flame ; 
the ripe corn, the mower's sharpest scythe ; or a garment, 
the moth : no more, nay infinitely less, can any power of 
man or angel withstand the mighty Lord of heaven and 
earth when he is angry for sin. " When thou" (saith David, 
Psalm xxxix, 11) "with rebukes dost correct man for ini- 
quity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a 
moth." Alas ! when a poor, polluted wretch, upon some 
special illumination by the word, or extraordinary stroke 
from the rod, doth once begin to behold God's frowning face 
against him in the pui^ glass of his most holy law, and to 
feel Divine justice, by an invisible hand, taking secret ven- 



56 INSTRUCTIONS TO 11 COMFORTING 

geance upon his conscience, his heavy heart immediately 
melts away in his breast and becomes as water. He faints 
and fails, both in the strength of his body and stoutness of 
his mind. His bones, the pillars and master-timbers of his 
earthly tabernacle, are presently broken in pieces and 
turned into rottenness. His spirit, the eye and excellency 
of his soul, which should enlighten and make lightsome the 
whole man, is quite put out and utterly overwhelmed with 
excess of horror and flashes of despair. Oh ! this is it 
which would not only crush the courage of the stoutest son 
of Adam that ever breathed upon eaith, but even break the 
back of the most glorious angel that ever shone in heaven, 
should he lift up but one rebellious thought against his 
Creator ! This alone is able to make the tallest cedar in 
Lebanon, the strongest oak in Bashan (I mean the highest 
look and the proudest heart), the most boisterous Nimrod, 
or swaggering Belshazzar, to bow and bend, to stoop and 
tremble, as the leaves of the forest that are shaken with the 
wind. 

2. In all other adversities a man is still a friend unto 
himself, favours himself, and reaches out his best conside- 
rations to bring in comfort to his heavy heart. But in this 
he is a scourge to himself; at war with himself ; an enemy to 
himself. He doth greedily and industriously fetch in as 
much matter as he can possibly, both imaginary and true, 
to enlarge the rent and aggravate his horror. He gazes 
willingly in that false glass which Seitan is wont in such 
cases to set before him, wherein by his hellish malice he 
makes an infinite addition both to the already unnumbered 
multitude and to the too true heinousness of his sins, and 
would fain, if he will be led by his lying cruelty, misrepre- 
sent to his affrighted imagination every gnat as a camel, 
every moat as a mole hill, every mole hill as a mountain ; 
every lustful thought as the most unclean act, every idle 
word as a desperate blasphemy, every angry look as an 
actual murder, every intemperate passion as an inex}>iable 
provocation, every distraction in holy duties as an absolute 
rebellion, every transgression against light of conscience as 
a sin against the Holy Ghost. Nay, in this amazedness of 
spirit and disposition to despair he is apt, even of his own 
accord, and with great eagerness, to arm every several sin 
as it comes into his mind with a particular sting, that it 
may strike deep enough and stick fast enough in his already 
grieved soul. He employs and improves the excellency and 
utmost of his learning, understanding, wit, memory, to argue 
with all subtlety, with mucli sophistry, against the pardon- 
ableness of his sins and possibility of salvation. He wounds 
even his wounds with a conceit that they they are incurable, 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 57 

and vexes his very vexations with refusing to be comforted. 
Not only crosses, afflictions, temptations, and all matter of 
discontentment ; but even the most desirable things also in 
this life, and those which minister most outward comfort ; 
wife, children, friends; gold, goods, great men's favours j 
preferments, honours, otiices, even pleasures themselves, 
every thing: whatsoever is within him, or without him, or 
about him ; whatsoever he thinks upon, remembers, hears, 
sees, turn all to his torment. No marvel, then, though the 
terror of a wounded conscience be so intolerable. 

3. As the exultations of the soul and spiritual refreshments 
do incomparably surpass both in excellency of object and 
sweetness of apprehension all pleasures of sense and bodily 
delighis, so atHictions of the soul and spiritual pangs do infi- 
nitely exceed both in bitterness of sense and intenseness of sor- 
row the most exquisite tortures that can possibly be inflicted 
upon the body. Fur the soul is a spirit, very subtle, quick, 
active, stirring ; all life, motion, sense, feeling, and therefore 
far more capable and apprehensive of all kinds of impressions, 
whether passions of pleasure or inflictions of pain. 

4. This extremest of miseries, " a wounded spirit," is 
tempered with such strong and strange ingredients of ex- 
traordinary fears, that it makes a man a terror to himself 
and to all his friends ( Jer. xx, 4) ; to flee when none pur- 
sues, at the sound of a shaken leaf (Prov. xxviii, 1 ; Levit. 
xxvi, 37); to tremble at his own shadow ; to be in great 
fear where no fear is (Psalm liii, 5) : Besides the insup- 
portable burthen of too many true and causeful terrors, it 
fills his dark and dreadful fancy with a world of feigned 
horrois, ghastly apparitions, and imaginary hells, which 
notwithstanding have real stings, and impress tme tortures 
upon his trembling and woful heart. It is poisoned with 
such restless anguish and desperate pain, that though life 
be most sweet and hell most horrible, yet it makes a man 
wilfully to abandon the one and willingly to embrace the 
other that he may be rid of its rage. Hence it was that 
Judas preferred a halter and hell before his present horror — 
that Spira said often (what heart quakes not to hear it ?) 
that he envied Cain, Saul, and Judas ; wishing rather any 
of their rooms in the dungeon of the damned than to have 
his poor heart so rent in pieces with such raging terrors and 
fiery desperations upon his bed of death. Whereupon at 
another time, being asked whether he feared more fearful 
torments after this life ! -'Yes," said he ; "but 1 desire 
nothing more than to be in that place, where I shall expect 
no more." Expectation as it seems of future did infinitely 
aggravate and enrage his already intolerable torture. 

5. The heathens, who had no fuller sight of the foulness of 



58 Ix^JSTRUCJ'IONS FOR COMFORTING 

sin, or more smarting sense of Divine vengeance for it than 
the light of natural conscience was able to afford and repre- 
sent unto them ; yet were wont in fiction to shadow out in 
some sort, and intimate unto us the insufferable extremities 
ot a mind troubled in this kind, by hellish furies following 
malefactors with burning hie- brands and flames of torture. 
What understanding then is able to conceive, or tongue to 
report, in what case that sinful conscience must needs be, 
when it is once awakened, which besides the notions of 
natural light, hath also the full sun of God's sacred word, 
and that pure eye which is ten thousand times brighter than 
the sun, and cannot look upon iniquity, to irradiate and 
enrage it to the height of guiltiness and depth of horror 1 
Both heart and tongue, man and angel, must let that alone 
for ever. For none can take the true estimate of this im- 
measurable spiritual misery, but he that can comprehend 
the length and breadth of that infinite irresistible wrath, 
which once implacably enkindled in the bosom of God, 
burns to the very bottom of hell, and there creates the ex- 
tremity and endlessness of all those inexpressible torments 
and fiery plagues, which afflict the devils and damned souls 
in that horrible pit. 

6. JNot only the desperate cries of Cain, Judas, and many 
other such miserable men of forlorn hope, but also the 
woful complaints even of God's own dear children, discover 
the truth of this point, to wit, the terrors and intolerable- 
ness of a wounded conscience. Hear how ruefully three 
ancient worthies in their times wrestled with the wrath of 
God in this kind. " i reckoned till morning," saith Heze- 
kiah, " that, as a lion, so will he break all my bones," 
(Isa. xxxviii, 13). Even as the weak and trembling limbs 
of some lesser neglected beast are crushed and torn in 
pieces by the irresistible paw of an unconquerable lion ; so 
was his troubled soul terrified and broken with the anger of 
the Almighty. He could not speak for bitterness of grief 
and anguish of heart, " but chattered like a crane or 
a swallow, and mourned like a dove." " Thou writest 
bitter things against me," saith Job, " and makest me to 
possess the iniquities of my youth. The arrows of the 
Almighty are within rne, the poison whereof drinketh up 
my spirit : the terrors of God do set themselves in array 
against me. Oh that I might have my request ; and that 
God would grant me the thing that I long for ! Even that 
it would please God to destroy me, that he would let loose 
his hand and cut me off." Nay, yet worse : " Thou scarest 
me with dreams and terrifiest me through visions. So that 
my soul chooseth strangling and death rather than mv life " 
(Job xiii, 26 ; vi, 4, 8, 9 ; vii, 14, 15). Though God in 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 59 

mercy preserves his servants from the monstrous and most 
abhorred act of self-murder, yet in some melancholy mood, 
horror of mind, and bitterness of spirit, they are not quite 
freed from all impatient wishes that way, and sudden sug- 
gestions thereunto. " My bones waxed old," saith David, 
" through my roaring all the day long. Day and night thy 
hand was heavy upon me ; my moisture is turned into the 
drought of summer. Thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy 
hand presseth me sore. There is no soundness in my flesh, 
because of thine anger: neither is there any rest in my 
bones, because of my sin. For mine iniquities are gone 
over my head : as an heavy burthen they are too heavy for 
me. I am troubled, I am bowed down gi eatly ; I go mourn- 
ing all the day long. I am feeble and sore broken, 1 have 
roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart " (Psalm. 
xxxii,3, 4; xxxviii, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8). Hear also into what a depih 
of spiritual distress three worthy servants of God in these 
later times were plunged and pressed down under the sense 
of God's anger for sin. Blessed Mrs. Brettergh upon her last 
bed was horribly hemmed in with the sorrows of death ; 
the very grief of hell laid hold upon her soul ; " a roaring 
wilderness of woe was within her," as she confessed of 
herself. She said, her sins had made her a prey to Satan, 
and wished that she had never been born, or that she had 
been made any other creature rather than a Avoman. She 
cried out many times, " Woe, woe, woe, &c. A weak, a 
woful, a wretched, a forsaken woman ;" with tears con- 
tinually trickling from her eyes. Mr. Peacock, that man 
of God, in that his dreadful visitation and desertion, re- 
counting some smaller sins, burst out into these words. 
" And for these," saith he, " 1 feel now a hell in my 
conscience." Upon other occasions he cried out, groaning 
most pitifully. " Oh me, wretch ! Oh mine heart is mise- 
rable ! Oh, "oh, miserable and woful ! The burthen of my 
sin lieth so heavy upon me, I doubt< it will break my heart. 
Oh how woful and miserable is my state, that thus must 
converse with hell-hounds ! " When by-stanuers asked if 
he would pray, he answered, I cannot. Suffer us, say they, 
to pray for you. "'Jake not," replied he, "the name of 
God in vain, by praying for a reprobate." 

" What grievous pangs, what sorrowful torments, what 
boiling heats of the tire of hell that blessed saint of God, 
John Glover, felt inwardly in his spirit," saith Fox, in his 
Acts and Monuments, " no speech outwardly is able to ex- 
press. Being young," saith he, " 1 remember i was once 
or twice with him, v/hen partly by his talk I perceived, and 
partly by mine own eyes saw to be so worn and consumed 



60 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

by the space of five years, that neither almost any brookinc: 
of meat, quietness of sleep, pleasure of life ; yea, antl 
almost no kind of senses, was left in him. Upon appre- 
hension of some backsliding he was so perplexed, that if he 
had been in the deepest pit of hell, he could almost have 
despaired no more of his salvation,'' saith the same author. 
" In which intolerable griefs of mind," saith he, " although 
he neither had, nor could have any joy of his meat ; yet 
was he compelled to eat against his appetite, to the end to 
defer the time of his damnation so long as he might, thinking 
with himself no less, but that he must needs be thrown into 
hell, the breath being once out of his body." 

I dare not pass out of this point, lest some child of God 
should be here discouraged, before I tell you that every one 
of these three last named was at length blessedly recovered, 
and did rise most gloriously out of their several depths of 
extremest spiritual misery, before their end. Hear, there- 
fore, also ]NIrs. Brettergh's triumphant songs and raptures of 
spirit after the return of her weli-beloved: " O l-ord Jesu, 
dost thou pray for mel O blessed and sweet Saviour, how 
wonderful, how wonderful, how wonderful are thy mercies ! 
Oh, thy love is unspeakable, that hast dealt so graciously 
with me. Oh my Lord and my God. blessed be thy name 
for evermore, which hast showed me the path of life. Thou 
didst, O Lord, hide thy face from me for a little season, but 
with everlasting mercy thou hast had compassion on me. 
And now, blessed Lord, thy comfortable presence is come ; 
yea, Lord, thou hast had respect unto thy handmaid, and 
art come with fulness of joy and abundance of consolations. 
Oh blessed be thy name, my Lord and my God. Oh, the 
joys, the joys, the joys that I feel in my soul ! Oh, they be 
wonderful, they be wonderful, they be wonderful ! O 
Father, how merciful and marvellous gracious art thou unto 
me ! Yea, Lord, I ieel thy mercy and I am assured of thy 
love ; and so certain am I thereof, as thou art the God of 
truth, even so sure do I know myself to be thine, () Lord 
my God : and this my soul knoweth right well. Oh blessed 
be the Lord : oh blessed be the Lord that hath thus com- 
forted me, and hath brought me now to a place, more sweet 
unto me than the garden of Eden. Oh the joy, the joy, the 
delightsome joy that 1 feel! — Oh praise the Lord for his 
mercies, and for this joy which my soul feeleth full well ; 
praise his name for evermore." 

Hear with v.hat heavenly calmness and sweet comforts 
Mr, Peacock's heart was refreshed and ravished when the 
storm was over. "Truly, my heart and soul (saith he, 
when the tempest was something allayed) have been far led 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 61 

and deeply troubled with temptations arid stings of con- 
science ; but I thank God they are eased in good measure. 
Wherefore I desire that 1 be not branded with the note of a 
castaway or reprobate. Such questions, oppositions, and all 
tending thereto, I renounce. Concerning my inconsiderate 
speeches in my temptation, I humbly and heartily ask 
mercy of God for them all." Afterward by little and little 
more light did arise in his heart, and he brake out into such 
speeches as these : " 1 do, God be praised, feel such com- 
fort from that — what shall I call it? Agony, said one 
that stood by. May, quoth he, that is too little ; that had 1 
five hundred worlds, i could not make satisfaction for such 
an issue, Oh the sea is not more full of water, nor the sun 
of light, than the Lord of mercy ; yea, his mercies are ten 
thousand times more. What great cause have I to magnify 
the great goodness of God that hath humbled, nay rather 
exalted such a wretched miscreant, and of so base condi- 
tion, to an estate so glorious and stately ! The Lord hath 
honoured me with his goodness : 1 am sure he hath pro- 
vided a glorious kingdom for me. The joy that I feel in my 
heart is incredible." 

For the third, hear Mr. Fox : " Though that good servant 
of God suffered many years so sharp temptations and strong 
buffetings of Satan, yet the Lord, who graciously preserved 
him all the while, not only at last did rid him out of all 
discomfort, but also framed him thereby to sucu mortifica- 
tion of life, as the like hath not been seen ; in such sort, as 
he being like one placed in heaven already, and dead in 
this world, both in word and meditation, led a life altoge- 
ther celestial, abhorring in his mind all profane things." 

7. No arm of flesh, or art of man ; no earthly comfort or 
created power, can possibly heal or help in this heaviest case 
and extremest horror. Heaven and earth, men and angels, 
friends and physic, gold and silver, pleasures and prefer- 
ments, favour of princes, nay, the utmost possibility of the 
whole creation must let this alone for ever. An Almighty 
hand and infinite skill must take this in hand, oi else never 
any cure or recovery in this world or the world to come. 
Bodily diseases may be eased and mollified by medicines. 
Surgery, as they say, hath a salve for every sore ; poverty 
may be repaired and relieved by friends ; there is no im- 
prisonment without some hope of enlargement ; suit and 
favour may help home out of banishment ; innocency and 
neglect may wear out disgrace ; grief for loss of a wife, a 
child, or other dearest friend, if not by arguments from 
reason, that death is unavoidable, necessary, an end of all 
earthly miseries, the common way of all mankind, &c. yet 

G 



62 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

at last is lessened and utterly lost by length of time ; cor- 
dials of pearl, sapphires, and rubies, with such like, may 
recomfort the heart possessed with melancholy and drowned 
in the darkness of that sad and irksome humour. But now 
not the most exquisite concurrence of all these, nor ail the 
united abilities which lie within the strength and sinews of 
the arm of flesh, can help any whit at all in this case. Not 
the exactest quintessence extracted from all the joys, glory, 
and pleasures that ever the world enjoyed, can procure or 
minister one jot of ease to a soul afflicted in this kind, and 
tiius trembling under the terrors of God. In such an agony 
and extremity, hadst thou the utmost aid, and an universal 
attendance from angels and men ; couldst thou reach the 
top of the most aspiring human ambition, alter the ex- 
cellency <and variety of all worldly felicity ; were thy pos- 
sessions as large as East and West ; were thy meat con- 
tinually manna from heaven ; every day like the day of 
Christ's resurrection; were thy apparel as costly and 
glittering as Aaron's ephod ; nay, thy body clothed with the 
beauty of the sun, and crowned with stars ; yet for all this, 
and a thousand times more, thy heart within thee would be 
as cold as a stone, and tremble inhnitely above the " heart 
of a woman, entering into travail of her first child." For, 
alas! who can stand before the mighty Lord God ? Who 
dare plead with him when he is angry ? What spirit of man 
hath might to wrestle with his Maker 1. W' ho is able to 
make agreement with the hell of conscience, or to put to 
silence the voice of desperation ? Oh ! in this conflict alone, 
and woful wound of conscience, no electuary of pearl or 
precious balm; no Bezoar's stone or unicorn's horn, Para- 
celsian quintessence or potable gold ; no new device of the 
" knights of the rosy cross," nor the most exquisite extrac- 
tion which alchemy or art itself can create, is able any 
whit, or at all, to revive, ease, or assuage. It is only the 
hand of the Holy Ghost by the blood of that blessed lamb, 
" Jesus Christ, the holy and the righteous," which can bind 
up such a bruise. 



CHAP. II. 



Use of the former Doctrine for the Unconverted, to take out the sting 
of sin by Repentance. One Reason why every Sinner doth not al- 
ways feel that sting. 

The first use of the former doctrine is for counsel to the un- 
converted, that they would take the sting out of their sins, 
and prevent the desperateness and incurableness of this 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 63 

horrible wound by a humble, sincere, ' universal turning 
unto the Lord " while it is called to-day." For assuredly 
in the mean time, all the sins they have heretofore com- 
mitted in thought, word, or deed ; at any time, in any 
place, with any company ; or to which they have been any 
ways accessary, are already upon record before the pure 
eye of that high and everlasting Judge, written exactly by 
the hand of Divine justice in the book, of their consciences 
with a pen of iron, with a claw of adamant, with the point 
of a diamond ; or, if you can name any thing which makes 
a stronger, deeper, and more lasting impression : and there 
they lie like so many lions asleep, and giants refreshing 
with wine, gathering much desperate poison and stinging 
points, that whensoever hereafter they shall be effectually 
and finally awakened by God's angry hand, they may torment 
most ragingly, and tear their woful souls in pieces everlast- 
ingly when there is none to help. 

JN'ow we may see and observe many times one little sin 
(at least in the world's account, and conceit of carnal men) 
to plunge a guilty conscience into the depth of extremest 
horror, and a very hell upon earth ; as I have heard of and 
known in many. One, for a sudden unadvised imprecation 
against her own soul, in case she did so or so ; another, for 
a thought conceived of God, unworthy so great a majesty; 
another, for covetously keeping a thing found, and not 
restoring it, or not inquiring after the owner ; another, for 
an adulterous project without any actual pollution ; another, 
by concurring with a company of scoffing Ishmaels only 
once, and ere he was aware, by lifting up the hands and 
casting up the eyes in scorn of God's people. Yet after- 
wards, they sadly revising these miscarriages in cool blood, 
some of them, some five or six years after, God being 
then pleased to represent them with terror, and their native 
slings, were cast into that affliction of conscience and cori- 
fusion of spirit that their very bones were broken, their 
faces filled with ghastliness and fear, their bodies possessed 
with strange tremblings and languishing distempers, their 
very vital moisture turned into the drought of summer. In 
which dreadful perplexity they were in great danger of des- 
troying themselves and of being swallowed up of despair. 
If the guilty sense then of one sin, when God sets it on 
and says unto it " Torment," draws so many fiery points of 
stinging scorpions after it, charges upon the excellency of 
the understanding with sucli hideous darkness, rends the 
heart in pieces with such desperate rage, grinds into powder 
the arm and sinews of ail earthly succour, melts, like dew 
before the sun, all those delights and pleasures which the 



64 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

whole world offers or affords to comfort in such a case ; iti 
a word, makes a man so extremely miserable, that he would 
make away with himself, wishes with unspeakable grief 
that he had never been, that he might return into the 
abhorred state of annihilation, that he were any other crea- 
ture, that he might lie hid world without end under some 
everlasting rock from the face of God ; nay, that he were 
ratlier in hell than in his present horror ; — 1 say, it being 
thus, what unquencliable wrath, what streams of brimstone, 
what restless anguish, what gnashing of teeth, what gnaw- 
ing of conscience, what despairful roarings, what horrible 
torments, what fiery hells feeding upon his soul and flesh 
for ever, may every impenitent wretch expect, when tlie 
whole black and bloody catalogue oi' all his sins shall be 
marshalled and mustered up together at once against him l 
every one being sharpened with as much torturing fury as 
the infinite anger of Almighty God can put into it, after 
that he hath accursedly with much incorrigible stubborn- 
ness outstood the day of his gracious visitation under this 
glorious sunshine of the gospel, wherein he either hath, or 
if he had been as provident for his immortal soul as anxious 
in caring for his rotten carcass might have enjoyed very 
powerful means all his life long: and yet all the while 
neglected so great salvation, foisook his own mercy, and so 
.iudged himself unworthy of everlasting life ! 

If a lesser sin many times press so heavy when the con- 
science is enlightened, how will thy poor soul tremble under 
the terrible and intolerable weight" of all thy sins together? 
When all thy lies, all thy oaths, all thy filthy speeches and 
railings, all thy mad passions and impure thoughts, all thy 
good-fellow meetings, ale-house hauntings, and scoffings of 
God's people, all the wrongs thou hast done, all the goods 
thou hast got ill, all the time thou hast mispent; thy pro- 
fanation of every sabbath, thy killing of Christ at every sa- 
crament, thy non-proficiency at every sermon, thy igno- 
rance, thy unbelief, thy worldliness, thy covetousness, thy 
pride, thy malice, thy lust, thy lukewarmness, impatience, 
discontentment, vain-glory, self-love, the innumerable 
swarms of vain, idle, wandering, and wicked imaginations ; 
in a word, all the pollutions, distempers, and estrangedness 
froiri God in thine heart; all the villanies, vanities, and re- 
bellions of thy whole life ; — I say, when all these shall be 
charged upon thy graceless soul by the implacable indig- 
nation of that highest Majesty, whose mercy, ministry, and 
long-suffering thou hast shamefully abused ; whose anger, 
patience, and pure eye thou hast villanously provoked all 
thy life long, alas ! what wilt thou do then l What " wings 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 65 

of the morning" will then carry thee out of the reach of 
God's revenging hand? What cave shall receive thee? 
What mountain canst thou get by entreaty to fall upon 
thee? What darkest midnight or hellish dungeon shall 
hide thee from that wrath which thou shalt be neither able 
to abide nor to avoid 1 In this case I would not have thy 
heart in my breast one hour, for the riches, glory, and plea- 
sures of ten thousand worlds. 

Neither bless thyself in the mean time because thou hast 
neither fear, foretaste, nor feeling of the wrath which is to 
come, tlie vengeance which hangs over thine head, and the 
horror which follows thee at the heels, for that is the very 
complement of thy misery and perfection of thy madness. 
To be sick, and senseless of it, is the sorest sickness. To 
have Satan pierce thy soul with so many sins one after 
another and to I'eel no smart, is a most desperate security. 
To have all this misery hanging over thee, and to be con- 
fident and fearless, is the " misery of miseries." 

The reasons why thou art at rest from their guilty rage 
in the mean time, and that so many sleeping lions, I mean 
ail thine unpardoned sins, do not yet awake and stir, terrify 
and tear in pieces, are such as these : 

1. Satan is subtle, so that he will not meddle much or 
molest thee extremely, until he be able to do thee an irre- 
coverable mischief. He is wont not to appear in his true 
likeness, and so terribly ; not so much to disquiet and 
trouble any of his own, before he have them at some dead 
lift and desperate advantage, as under some extraordinary 
cross, great disgrace, grievous sickness ; in time of some 
deep melancholy, unavoidable danger, universal confusion, 
when he conceives in all probability that they have outstood 
the day of their visitation, hardened their hearts that they 
cannot repent, received the sentence of death against them- 
selves ; and at such other like times, when he hopes he 
shall be able to crush and confound them suddenly, utterly, 
and for ever. And then he appears the devil indeed, and 
shows himself in his own colours. For he then infinitely 
endeavours with all cunning and cruel industry, after he 
hath wafted them awhile down the current of the times 
with as much carnal peace and pleasure as he could pos- 
sibly, to cast them upon the rock of a most dreadful ruin, 
and swallow them up quick in the gulph of calamity and 
woe, of despair, self-destruction, everlasting perdition of 
body and soul. But you must know that in the mean time, 
until he can espy such an opportunity, he labours might 
and main to keep them in as merry a mood as may be. 
He lays about him by all ways and means he can, devise to 

G 3 



66 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

plot and provide for them, and that with great variety and 
curiosity, fresh successions and supplies continually of plea- 
sures, contentments, the countenance and favours of the 
times, serisual satisfactions, all earthly prosperities. If he 
can help it, and have h.'s will, they shall wallow still in all 
worldly felicity, and be attended upon with all the delights 
their hearts can desire. And all this to continue them 
with more easiness and irresistance in the broad way ; and 
lest otherwise they should grow weary of his slavery, sen- 
sible of their gilded fetters, and so labour after liberty and 
enlargement from his hellish bondage ; for he knows full 
well, that if they endured much hardship in his service, 
they might perhaps think of seeking after a new master ; 
that want of comfort in the world, might draw their hearts 
to delight in the word ; not finding happiness upon earth, 
might make them inquire after that which is in heaven ; 
that crosses and crossing their courses being sanctified for 
that purpose, may haply help to break their heaits and 
bring them to remorse for sin, which he mainly fears, and 
opposeth with all the craft and power he can possibly, lest 
thereupon they break out of his fool's paradise into the 
garden of grace ; out of the warm sun into God's blessing. 

In managing this main policy for the more secure detain- 
ment of his vassals in the invisible chains of darkness and 
damnation, and in an everlasting distaste and disaffection 
to the good way ; by holding up their hearts in his sinful 
service, and wooing them to go on quietly towards hell with- 
out any grumbling, he works many ways : — 

(1.) He plots all he can to procure them success in their 
wicked enterprises and unlawful attempts, especially against 
the faithful ministers and people of God ; for that doth in- 
finitely confirm, harden, and encourage them in their pro- 
fane courses and opposition to grace. Herein he doth many 
times mightily prevail by improving the opportunities and 
pressing the advantages which he gains by the executions 
of God's justice and rebellions of his children. The sins 
even of his own people do many times provoke God's just 
indignation against them, and enforce him to raise up their 
adversaries as scourges, and to give them success for the 
humiliation and chastisement of his chosen. See Psalm 
Ixxxi, 12 — 15; Isa. x, 5, 6 ; Ezek. xxii, 19, 20. Whereupon 
Satan fills the hearts of the wicked so prevailing and con- 
quering with a great deal of pride, self-applause, insolence, 
contempt of godliness, self-conceitedness of their own right- 
eousness and worth, and so hardens them extraordinarily, 
and holds them with much obstinate resolution in the ways 
of death, and prejudice against the holy path. He helps 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 67 

all he can to have them thrive and prosper by oppression, 
usury, simony, sacrilege, bribery, covetousness, cozening, 
Machiavelian tricks, 6cc., that so his service may seern 
more sweet and gainful unto them. To the effecting whereof 
he receives notable assistance and special advantage from 
the corruptions of the times and conscientious simplicity of 
the saints. For the first, these worst and ulcerous times, 
.wherein so many vines, olive trees, and fig trees wither 
away in obscurity, and so many brambles brave it abroad 
in the world, tumbling themselves in the pleasures, splen- 
dour, and glory of the present; wherein so many brave 
''princes are walking as servants upon the earth;" and 
too many servants of luxury and pride are mounted on 
horseback ; 1 say, they are the only season for Satan to 
gratify all his graceless ones, and to hoist them up by the 
common but accursed stairs and stirrups of bribing, base- 
ness, temporizing, ill offices to humour greatness, and other 
such vile means and accommodations, into eminency in 
the world, and high rooms, where he keeps them in a 
golden captivity with great contentment, and locks them 
full fast in the scorner's chair, with much security to their 
own sensual hearts, and notorious service to himself. 
Whereas, in deed and truth, to men that have eyes in their 
heads, the ascent is slippery, the top shaking, the downfal 
desperate. For the second, it is incredible to consider what 
a deal of advantage in worldly dealings the covetous devil, 
in a cruel and crafty worldling, doth suck out of the single- 
heartedness, plain dealing, and unsuspiciousness of con- 
scientious men, for their rising and enriching, if God cross 
it not. 

(2.) He draws them, by all the baits he can devise, to 
all the incentives and preservatives of carnal contentment, 
as to taverns, ale-houses, play-houses, brothels, gaming 
houses, to May- games, morrice dances, to cards, to dice, 
to dancing, to feasts, wakes, misrules, drinking matches, 
revellings, and a world of such sinful haunts, bedlam fool- 
eries, and good-fellow meetings, wherein he is mightily 
furthered by wicked men's impatience of solitariness, and 
their enraged eagerness of carrying with them to hell as 
many as may be. For the first, " Though a good man," 
as Solomon saith, " be satisfied from himself," dare full 
well, and desires full often to be alone, because the bird of 
the bosom sings sweetly to his soul in solitariness, yet all 
the sons and daughters of pleasure have no pleasure at all, 
nay ordinarily are most loth to be by themselves. Soli 
tariness puts them in gloomy fear, makes them extremely 
melancholy and weary of themselves. They would rather 
be anywhere, in any company,^ any ways employed 



68 INSTRUCTIONS FOLl COMFORTING 

than aione. Mistake me rot, they can walk by them- 
selves ta feed upon contemplative filth, speculative wan- 
tonness, and adulteries of the heart ; to plot revenge, 
preferment, enlargement of their estate ; to renew upon 
their sensual hearts their youthful pleasures ; but to be 
alone purposely to deal with God and their own consciences 
about their spiritual state they abhor, they cannot endure ; 
it is to them a torture, a rack, the very beginning of hell j 
and that is the reason, to decline the stings of guiltiness 
and torment before their tim.e, why they have so often re- 
course unto the arm cf flesh for refreshing, to the mirth and 
madness of wine, pleasures, and many other fugitive follies ; 
that they cast themselves into such knots of c ood-fellowship, 
appoint so many set matches of jovial meetings, and hunt 
after such variety of the times' entertainment (as they call 
it), which they account the very life of their life, and with- 
out which they would rather be underground than above 
it. For the second, hear how swaggeringly they cry unto 
their companions in iniquity, to make haste with them 
towards hell. "Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, 
let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause ; let us 
swallow them up alive, as the grave, and whole, as those 
that go down into the pit ; we shall find all precious sub- 
stance, ue shall fill our houses with spoil. Cast in thy lot 
among us, let us all have one purse." (Prov. i, 11 — 14.) 
*' Come on, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that are 
present, and let us speedily use the creatures as in youth. 
Let us fill ourselves with costly wine and ointments, and 
let no flower of the spring pass by us. Let us crown our- 
selves with rose-buds belore they be withered. Let none 
of us go without his part of our voluptuousness. Let us 
leave tokens of our joyfulness in every place ; for this is 
our portion, and our lot is this." And in all these cursed 
conventicles of good-fellowship, and furious combinations 
for profaneness and against piety, the devil himself is ever 
present amongst them as their chief director ; and there 
disposeth, inclines, manageth and accommodates all oppor- 
tunities, circumstances, occurrents, men's several corrup- 
tions, and pregnancy of tlieir wicked wits, to make their 
n actings as merry as may be, and to put all possible sensual 
sweetness into their carnal delights. 

(3.) Lastly, that which is principally for my purpose, 
besides that like acrafty juggler he casts a mist before the eyes 
of his slaves, and like a false merchant puts a counterfeit gloss 
upon the face of sin, he also hides away the sting from them, 
and withholds the horror until afterward. Every sin in its 
own nature ever looks fouler than the devil himself. Oh 
that the ugly, fearful, and filthy shape of it could be seen 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 69 

with bodily eyes, that thereby it might provoke all men to 
a mortal and immortal hate and detestation of it ! The 
sting is pointed with the keen unquenchable wrath of God ; 
the horror is heated with the very fire of hell ; and yet 
ordinarily Satan takes care by his craft and industry that 
these never appear, until he thinks that in all probability 
the sight of them will sink their souls into irrecoverable 
woe. 

The not feeling then of their spiritual misery is so far 
from making thern not miserable, that it ministers occasion 
to the devil's malice, mightily to aggravate their misery 
both present and future. 



CHAP. III. 

Five other Reasons why a Sinner doth not always feel the Sting of Siu. 

2. ANOTnEK reason why many are not troubled in a course 
of sin, though there be infinite cause, and a world of woe to 
come, is because their consciences, by reason of surfeit in 
sin, and being drunk with worldly delights as with sweet 
wine, are cast into a dead sleep, and there lulled still, and 
locked fast in an imaginary paradise of golden dreams and 
transitory fancies, by the charms and enchantments of 
earthly pleasures. And if at any time any noise of terror 
sound in tlieir ears from the Lord's trumpeters in the 
ministry of the word, so that they begin to stir, then the 
devil begins to bestir himself, and to rock them fast again 
with his syren- songs in the cradle of security. Here, there- 
fore, we may take notice of a fourfold conscience: (L) 
That which is both good and quiet, when it hath peace with 
God and with itself; so that the happy soul may sweetly 
sing in its own bosom, " My beloved is mine and I am his." 
(2.) That which is neither good nor quiet, when it lies for- 
lorn under the sense of God's wrath and full of horror in 
itself, as that of Judas, 6cc. (3.) That which is good but 
not quiet, when the pleased face of God doth shine upon it 
through the blood of Christ, and yet it feels not the comfort 
of that blessed reconciliation, as in many new converts, 
who being truly humbled for all sin, cast themselves upon 
the Lord Jesus and his sure promises for spiritual and 
eternal life, and yet are not as yet sensible of any assurance. 
(4.) That which is quiet but not good, when it is as full of 
sin as a toad of venom, as hell of darkness ; and all those 
innumerable sins unrepented of, unpardoned, like so many 
mad ban-dogs and fell mastiffs, though asleep for the 
present, will in the evil day, especially of sickness, death. 



70 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

judgment, fly in the face of the proudest Nimrod, ready to 
pluck out his very heait, and to torment him with unspeak- 
able horror ; and yet for all this it is untroubled, senseless, 
and secure, i his kind ot conscience is to be found, I fear, 
in the most that hear me this day, and so generally over 
the kingdom. It doth not yet trouble and terrify,— 

[l.J A great number, by reason of their ignorance in the 
book of God, and by consequent unacquaintedness with 
the sinfulness and cursedness of the spiritual state revealed 
thereby, ihis is the very case of a world of poor ignorant, 
besotted souls amongst us, more is the pity, especially nowr 
when the glorious sun of Christ's gospel shines so fair and 
fully in many places. For want of light in God's law they 
look upon their sins as we do upon the stars in a cloudy 
night, see only the great ones of the hrst magnitude, and 
here one -and there one. But if they were further en- 
lightened and intornied aright, they might behold them as 
those infinite orbs in the fairest frosty winter's midnight. 
A worthy divine sets out excellently the quietness of this ig- 
norant conscience by a very fit resemblance, thus: " Men 
judge of their ignorant consciences," saith he, '* as they do 
of their blind, dumb, and ignorant ministers. Such neither 
do nor can preach, can neither tell men of their sins nor of 
their duties. Ask such a blind-guide's people what their 
opinion is of him, and what kind of man their minister is, 
and you shall have him magnified for a passing honest, harm- 
less man ; wondrous quiet among his neighbours. They 
may do what they will for him, he is none of those trouble- 
some I'ellows that will he reproving their faults or complain- 
ing of their disorders in the pulpit. Oh, such an one is a 
quiet good man indeed! Thus judge many of their con- 
sciences. 1( their consciences be quiet and lie not grating 
upon them, and telling them that their courses are sinful 
and damnable, and that their persons are in a dangerous 
condition: but rather by their silence, ignorance, and vain 
pretences do justify them, and tell them all will be well 
enough ; oh, then what excellent consciences have these 
men ! They make no conscience of family duties ; once in 
the year to come to the sacrament serves their turn ; they 
are common swearers in their ordinary communication ; 
make no conscience of sanctifying sabbaths ; and their 
consciences let them alone in all these, do not give them 
one syllable of ill language. Oh, what gentle and good- 
natured consciences think these men they have ! But, alas I 
what evil consciences have they ! " 

[2.] Nor others, by reason of a covenant with death and 
an agreement with hell. Such as those, Isa. xxviii, 15, who 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 71 

negotiate by their plausible agents, ease, pleasures, prospe- 
rity ; and conclude some kind of concord and composition 
for a time with Satan, sin, and their own consciences. But 
to tell you the truth, it is no true peace, but a politic truce. 
For these implacable, desperate spiritual enemies of theirs 
are ever in tiie mean time preparing arms, ordnance, and 
many fiery darts • still levying of fresh force^;, whole armies 
of fiery scorpions and flaming terrors, with which as soon as 
the truce is ended they will set upon them with more vio- 
lence, fury, and fierceness than ever before. 

[3.J Nor others, by reason of an insensible hardness grown 
over, and a desperate searedness impressed upon their con- 
sciences by extraordinary villany and variety in sin. Such 
as those, Isa. v, 18, by " drawing iniquity a long time with 
cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope ; " by 
waving the glorious light of the word under which they sit 
and which shines in their faces, as a " foolish thing ; " by 
villanousiy trampling under foot the power of it v.ith des- 
pite and scorn many times against that light, which stands 
in their consciences like an armed man ; nay, and by tread- 
ing out through custom in sin the very notions that nature 
hath engraven in their hearts, as men do the engravings of 
tomb-stones which they walk upon with foul shoes : 1 say 
thus, at length, their con^,ciences become so utterly re- 
morseless and past all feeling ; so hardened, so seared, so 
sealed up with a reprobate sense, that with an audacious 
and giantlike insoleacy they challenge even God Almighty 
himself to draw his swoid of vengeance against them. 
" Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, 
and sin as it were with a cart rope : that say, Let him make 
speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it : and let 
the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, 
that we may know it ! " These roarers and swaggering 
Belials in this respect have consciences worse than the devil 
himself j for he "believes and trembles." Eve i those 
already desperate and damned spirits, tremble at the fore- 
thought of that fuller wrath which is to come, and yet 
further deserved damnation. 

[4.] Noi- others, who, when it begins ever and anon to 
grumble, mutter, and make a noise, lull it asleep again with 
songs of pleasure, and still the cries of it with outward 
mirth, as Saul was wont to lay the evil spirit with music. 
These men's consciences are quiet, not because they are 
savingly appeased ; but because they are sensually pleased : 
not because they want matter to trouble and terrify ; but 
because they will give them no leisure to set their sins in 
order before them. For this purpose, and to keep these 



72 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

furious mastiffs muzzled for the present, they have recourse 
unto and improve both variety of delights and multiplicity 
of employments. For the first: "This is the reason," as 
one saith wittily, " that many are so eager in the pursuit 
of their pleasures, because they would make God's sergeant, 
their own conscience, that pursues thera, drunk with these 
pleasures ; just as many men use to do, getting the sergeant 
that comes to arrest them into the tavern, and there making 
him drunk that so they may escape." For the second. How 
was it possible that Ahithophel should hold out so long from 
hanging himself and horrible confusion of spirit, especially 
since he harboured in his bosom such a false, rotten, abomi- 
nable heart, as appeared by that villanous counsel he gave 
Absalom, to lie with his father's concubines " in the sight of 
all Israel ; " except he had been a counsellor of state, and 
so necessarily taken up continually with extraordinary 
variety, vicissitude, and succession of most weighty and 
important affairs, which would wholly possess his mind 
with an uninterrupted attention, agitation, and exercise, 
and not give it any leave to reflect upon itself with those 
severer cogitations in cold blood which are wont to correct 
and condemn the enormity of exorbitant courses 1 And 
thus in all ages, many great men of great wisdom, bemg 
great offenders, purposely put and plunge themselves into 
multitude of business, that they may have no leisure to 
listen unto that which their consciences would secretly tel) 
them in their ear of their JNIachiavelian plots, prodigious 
lusts, and plausible cruelties. The noise of attendants, vi- 
sitants, dependents, and great employments, drown the voice 
of conscience in such cases, as the drums in the sacrifices 
to Moloch drowned the cry of the infants. But while the 
men of the world are thus wholly detained, and do so 
greedily and purposely pass away the time with cares of tliis 
life and dealings in the v/orld, their consciences deal with 
them as creditors with their debtors ; while they have any 
doings, and are in trading, in policy they let them alone 
and say nothing ; but if once down the wind, in sickness, 
poverty, disgrace, then conies sergeant after sergeant, arrest 
upon arrest, action upon action. All their sins are set in 
order before them and fall full foul upon the now di>tressed 
soul, as ravens upon the fallen sheep to pick out the very 
eyes and heart of il, and to keep it down in the dungeon of 
despair for ever. 

[5.J Nor others, because they cozen themselves with a 
formal false conceit of a comfortable spiritual state, as did 
the pharisee, Luke xv, 11 ; with a groundless presumption 
that they are in God's favour, as did those, Matt, vii, 22 ; 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 73 

and the five foolish virgins, Matt, xxv ; when, as God knows, 
they are mere strangers to the mystery of Christ, and far 
enough from any sound humiliation. 

Thus the blindness, security, searedness, slumber, self- 
deceit, or some other such distemper of the conscience, 
conceals and keeps in the stings of those sins in sensual 
men, which, witiiout turning unto the Lord in truth, "while 
it is called to-day," will hereafter torment with intolerable 
and restless terror through all eternity. 

3. A third reason why thy unlamented and unpardoned 
sins, though every one of them be armed with a separate 
fiery sting, and of their own nature so heavy with horror 
that they are able to sink thee into the bottom of hell, do 
not as yet stir nor press upon thy soul with the insupport- 
able weight of Divine vengeance, is this: they are in their 
native soil, where tliey were born, bred, and brought up in 
their own element ; i mean in a carnal heart, soaking iu 
sensuality and not resolved to be reformed. We say in 
philosophy, an element is not heavy in its own place. One 
bucket full of water upon the earth would be burthensome 
to the back of that man, who, weie he in the bottom of the 
sea, would feel no weight at all from all the water there, 
though it weie three miles high over his head. A sensual 
heart, settled upon its lees, can bear without sense or com- 
plaint a world of wickedness, which out of its element and 
humour would be crushed into powder, and tiemble with 
horror upon the sad apprehension of the least sin, especially 
set out by God's just indisnation. While Belshazzar was 
in_ his element, revelling and rioting amongst his lords, his 
wives, and his concubines, drinking wine swaggeringly and 
contemptuously in the golden and silver vessels of the 
temple, he felt no touch in point of conscience, or terror at 
all : but, put out of his humour by " the hand writing 
upon the plaister of the wall, his countenance was presently 
changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints 
of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against 
another." 

4. The never-dying worm that naturally breeds and grows 
big in every unregenerale conscience, which beats back 
still the searching power of the word and secret warnings of 
the Spirit, is like a wolf in the foot; feed it continually 
with fresh supply of raw flesh, and it will let the body 
alone; but withdraw that, and it devours upward. While 
the sons and daughters of pleasure, and ail those who have 
their portion and paradise in this lite, stop the mouth of 
this hellish worm with variety of carnal delights, they do 
well enough, and find somewhat of ease and exemption for 

H 



74 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

a time from the rage and bitings thereof: but they may 
assure themselves, in evil times, when the days are come 
upon them wherein there is no pleasure, when the play is 
done, when all worldly comforts and comforteis, like run- 
away servants and drunken serving men, are to seek when 
they have most use and need of them, — I say, that then the 
time and turn is come that the worm of conscience, desti- 
tute now for ever of any further satisfaction from sensual 
sweetness, will ragingly turn upon the soul, devour like a 
lion, gnaw like a vulture, vex eternally. 

5. If the weight of the whole world were now laid upon 
any of these bodies here lately buried, it would not stir or 
groan. And why ! Because it is naturally dead. Propor- 
tionably, though the burthen of sin, far heavier than a moun- 
tain of lead, than this mighty and massive earth under our 
feet, lies upon every impenitent soul, ready every hour to 
press and plunge it into the lowest pit; yet, wretched and 
bewitched thing, it neither feels any smart, nor fears any 
hurt ; it is neither sensible of the present weight, nor 
troubled for future wrath. And what is the reason ? It is 
spiritually dead : it is stark " dead in trespasses and sins." 
The strong man is gone away with all ; and there is no 
stirring nor sense of this cursed burthen, until either a 
"stronger than he" lay harids upon this hellish tyrant, 
disarm him and throw down his holds ; and a mightier voice 
of the Son of God than that which made Lazarus come out 
of the grave, put lil'e into it ; or else that the dreadful 
thunder of God's fierce and final wrath, the day of visita- 
tion being expired, awake it to everlasting woe. 

6. Though in the mean time thou be extremely misera- 
ble, and if thou diest in thine impenitent state this day, 
thou must most certainly lodge this night in the lake of fire 
and brimstone among the damned ; yet thy sins for the pre- 
sent do not represent to the eye of thy conscience those 
forms of foulness and terror, of which they are naturally 
full, and which without timely repentance thou wilt here- 
after find and feel in them to thine endless grief; because 
thou lookest upon them in the false glass of vain-glory, 
ignorance, self-love, self-conceitedness, painted over by 
the devil's daubing, with lewd enticing colours of pleasure, 
profit, preferment, worldly applause, and other such goodly 
and golden outsides. Whereas a true and efli'ectual beholding 
them in the clear crystal of God's pure law, hunted con- 
tinually at the heels with Divine vengeance, all the curses 
in this book, and plagues innumerable, internal, external, 
eternal, and in the bitter passion of Jesus Christ, without 
whose heart's blood not the least sin that ever was com- 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 75 

mitted could ever have been remitted, were able to fright a 
very blackmoor out of his black skin, and a leopard from 
his spots (Jer. xiii, 23). And thou something easest thine 
heart also against the terror of the Lord for thy sins, by 
looking upon God's mercy with false spectacles, and so en- 
larging it beyond the limits of his truth. But hear what 
an excellent discoverer of the depths of our self-cozening 
hearts tells thee in such a case : "Asa man passing over a 
bridge, which his false spectacles make to seem broader 
than indeed it is, being thereby deceived, goes beside the 
bridge and so is drowned ; so is it with those whose de- 
ceitful hearts make the bridge of God's mercy larger than 
it is ; they are in danger of falling beside it into the waters 
of eternal destruction. For though God's mercy be of the 
largest extent, yet it is bounded with his truth ; and there- 
fore usually in the scriptures we find these two coupled to- 
gether, God's mercy and his truth." Now his truth tells 
us, that the good tidings of the gospel belong only to the 
poor, to the broken-hearted, to the captives, to the blind, 
to the bruised (Luke iv, 18) ; that he only, who " confesseth 
and forsaketh his sins, shall have mercy " (Prov. xxviii, 13) ; 
that " except we repent we shall all perish" (Luke xiii, 3) ; 
that " except we be born again we cannot see the king- 
dom of God" (John iii, 3) ; that "God will wound 
the head of his enemies, and the hairy scalp of such 
a one as goeth on still in his trespasses" (Psalm Ixviii, 
21); that "if we regard iniquity in our hearts the Lord 
will not hear us" (Psalm Ixvi, 18) : that " no fornicator, 
nor idolater, nor adulterer, nor effeminate, nor abuser 
of himself with mankind, nor thief, nor covetous man, nor 
drunkard, nor reviler, nor extortioner, shall inherit the 
kingdom of God" (1 Cor. vi, 9, 10) ; that "without holi- 
ness no man shall see the Lord" (Heb.xii, 14) ; that "every 
one that calleth on the name of Christ savingly must depart 
from iniquity" (2 Tim. ii, 19). Compare now these and the 
like places with thine heart, life, and present impenitent 
state, and tell me in cool blood and impartially, whether 
any mercy at all as yet belongs unto thee upon good ground, 
yet lying in thy sins. 

CHAP. IV. 

The second use of the former Doctrine for the Converted, that they sin 
no more; and to keep them from sin, Seven Considerations are given 
Ihem. 
ly theT second place, the point may serve for warning to 
those who are already washed from their sins, that they 
defile their souls no more, who having been cured by cast- 



78 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

Yet those few enlightened souls whose eyes have been hap- 
pily opened by spiritual eye-salve to " turn from darkness 
to light, and from the power of Satan unto God," behold a 
double deformity and ugliness in so foul a monster, deceii- 
fully dressed in the devil's counterfeit colours, and gilded 
over garishly in his personated angelical glory. 

3. it is most filihy : far filthier than the most offensive 
collection of all the most filthy, fulsome, and loathsome 
things in the world. And it must needs be so ; for what- 
ever a man can conceive to be most contrary, distant, and 
opposite to the infinite clearness, purity, sweetness, beauty, 
and goodness of God ; all that and much more is sin in the 
highest degree. Hence it is, that in the scriptures it is 
compared to the filthiest mire, in which a sow will lie down 
to cool and cover herself ; to the loathsome vomit, not of a 
man, but of a dog (2 Pet. ii, 22) ; to the unsavoury poison- 
ous damp which rotten carcasses exhale out of opened 
graves ( Horn, iii, 13); to menstruous filth (Ezek. xxxvi, 17) ; 
to the dirt under the nails, or the offensive exudations of the 
body, or the putrified matter of some pestilent ulcer ; to the 
very refuse which nature having severed from the purer 
part of the meat, thrusts out of the stomach and casts into 
the draught ; to the filthiness, pollutions, and impurities of 
I he world, so called by a singularity, for sin is the tran- 
scendent filth of the woild (2 Pet. ii,20); to all the un- 
cleannesses for which the purifications, cleansings, washings, 
and sprinklings were appointed in the Levitical law ; to 
abomination itself ( Ezek. xxii, 2). Nay, and yet further, 
which makes for the further detestation of sin, whereas all 
outward filth defiles only the body, this of sin, by the 
strength and contagion of its insinuating poison, soaks 
through the flesh and the bone, and enters and eats into 
the very "mind and conscience" (Tit. i, 16), defiles the 
pure and immortal soul of man. IIov/ long might we cast 
dirt into the air before we were able to infect the bright 
shining beams of the sun ! Yet so filthy is sin, that at 
once with a touch it infects the soul, a clearer and purer 
essence than it, and that with such a crimson and double- 
dyed stain, that the flood of Noah, when all the world was 
water, could not wash it off. Neither at that last and dread- 
ful day, when this great universe shall be turned into a ball 
of fire for the purifying and renewing of the heaven and the 
earth, yet shall it have no power to purge or cleanse the 
lea^t sin out of the impenitent soul ; nay, the fire of hell, 
which burns night and day even through all eternity, shall 
never be able to raze it out. 
4. It is most infectious, spits venom on all sides far and 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 79 

wide ; corrupts every thing it comes near. By reason 
whereof it is fitly resembled to leaven (Matt, xvi, 12; 
1 Cor. V, G); to a canker (2 Tim, ii, 17); tothe leprosy, which 
filthy disease quickly overspreads the whole body (Numb, 
xii, 10), infects the clothes, the very walls of the house 
(Levit. xiv, 37), and their posterity (2 Kings v, 27). The 
first sin that ever the sun saw was so pregnant with soul- 
killing poison, that It hath polluted all the sons and daughters 
of Adam that were ever since, and will still by the irre- 
sistible strength of the same contagion poison all their na- 
tures to the world's end. Nay, at the very first breaking 
out it suddenly blasted, as it were, both heaven and earth, 
and so stained the beauty of the one, the brightness of the 
other, and the original orient newly burnished glory of the 
whole creation, that from that hour it hath groaned under 
the burtheij of that vanity and deformity to which this first 
sin hath made it subject ; and will travail in pain under 
the bondage of the same corruption (Rom. viii, 19 — 22), 
until it be purged bv fire in the great day of the Lord 
(2 Pet. iii, 10, 11). if but one sin be doated upon delight- 
fully and impenitently, like a lump of leaven it sours all 
the soul ; defiles the whole man, and every thing that pro- 
ceeds from him ; his thoughts, desires, afliections, words, 
actions, and that of all sorts, natural, civil, recreative, 
religious. It doth not only unhallow his meat, drink, 
carriage ; his buying, selling, giving, lending, and all 
his other dealings in the world, even his ploughing, "the 
ploughing of the wicked is sin" (Prov. xxi, 4) ; but also 
turns all his spiritual services and holiest duties, his 
prayer, hearing, reading, receiving the sacrament, i^c. into 
abomination. If but one raging corruption in a minister, 
magistrate, master of a family (as lying, swearing, filthy 
talking, scoffing at religion, opposition to godliness, sabbath- 
breaking, a humour of good-fellowship, or the like) repre- 
sent itself to the eye of the world in his ordinary carriage, 
and hang out as a rotten fiuit in the sight of the sun, it is 
wont fearfully to infect or offend by a contagious insinua- 
tion and ill example all about hira ; to difl^use its venom to 
his family, amongst his sons and servants, over the parish 
where he lives, all companies where he comes, yea, the 
whole country round about, especially if he be a man of 
eminence and place. 

5. It is extremely evil*. A far greater evil than the eternal 
damnation of a man ; for when he hath laid maiiy millions 
of years in the lake of fire and under the dominion of the 

* I luiderstaiid evil in a general sense, and not as restrained unto, 
or resident in any species. 



78 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

Yet those few enlightened souls whose eyes have been hap- 
pily opened by spiritual eye-salve to " turn from darkness 
to light, and from the power of Satan unto God," behold a 
double deformity and ugliness in so foul a monster, deceit- 
fully dressed in the devil's counterfeit colours, and gilded 
over garishly in his personated angelical glory. 

3. It is most filthy : far filthier than the most offensive 
collection of all the most filthy, fulsome, and loathsome 
things in the world. And it must needs be so ; for what- 
ever a man can conceive to be most contrary, distant, and 
opposite to the infinite clearness, purity, sweetness, beauty, 
and goodness of God ; all that and much more is sin in the 
highest degree. Hence it is, that in the scriptures it is 
compared to the filthiest mire, in which a sow will lie down 
to cool and cover herself ; to the loathsome vomit, not of a 
man, but of a dog (2 Pet. ii, 22) ; to the unsavoury poison- 
ous damp which rotten carcasses exhale out of opened 
graves ( Kom. iii, 13) ; tomenstruousfilth (Ezek. xxxvi, 17) ; 
to the dirt under the nails, or the offensive exudations of the 
body, or the putrified matter of some pestilent ulcer ; to the 
very refuse which nature having severed from the purer 
part of the meat, thrusts out of the stomach and casts into 
the draught ; to the filthiness, ptdlutions, and impurities of 
the world, so called by a singularity, for sin is the tran- 
scendent filth of the woild (2 Pet. ii, 20); to all the un- 
cleannesses for which the purifications, cleansings, washings, 
and sprinklings were appointed in the Levitical law ; to 
abomination itself ( Ezek. xxii, 2). Nay, and yet further, 
which makes for the further detestation of sin, whereas all 
outward filth defiles only the body, this of sin, by the 
strength and contagion of its insinuating poison, soaks 
through the flesh and the bone, and enters and eats into 
the very "mind and conscience" (Tit. i, 16), defiles the 
pure and immortal soul of man. Hov/ long might we cast 
dirt into the air before we were able to infect the bright 
shining beams of the sun ! Yet so filthy is sin, that at 
once with a touch it infects the soul, a clearer and purer 
essence than it, and that with such a crimson and double- 
dyed stain, that the flood of Noah, when all the world was 
water, could not wash it oft'. Neither at that last and dread- 
ful day, when this great universe shall be turned into a ball 
of fire for the purifying and lenewing of the heaven and the 
earth, yet shall it have no power to purge or cleanse the 
iea'^t sin out of the impenitent soul ; nay, the fire of hell, 
which burns night and day even through all eternity, shall 
never be able to raze it out. 

4. It is most infectious, spits venom on all sides far and 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 79 

wide ; corrupts every thing it comes near. By reason 
wliereof it is fitly resembled to leaven (Matt, xvi, 12; 
1 Cor. v, G); to a canker (2 Tim, ii, 17); to the leprosy, v/hich 
filthy disease quickly overspreads the whole body (jSumb. 
xii, 10), infects the clothes, the very walls of the house 
(Levit. xiv, 37), and their posterity (2 Kings v, 27). The 
first sin that ever the sun saw was so pregnant with soul- 
kiliing poison, that it hath polluted all the sons and daughters 
of Adam that were ever since, and will still by the irre- 
sistible strength of the same contagion poison all their na- 
tures to the world's end. Nay, at the very first breaking 
out it suddenly blasted, as it were, both heaven and earth, 
and so stained the beauty of the one, the brightness of the 
other, and the original orient newly burnished glory of the 
whole creation, that from that hour it hath groaned under 
the burtheij of that vanity and deformity to vvhich this first 
sin hath made it subject ; and will travail in pain under 
the bondage of the same corruption (Kom. viii, 19 — 22), 
until it be purged by fire in the great day of the Lord 
(2 Pet. iii, 10, 11). if but one sin be doated upon delight- 
fully and impenitently, like a lump of leaven it sours all 
the soul ; defiles the whole man, and every thing that pro- 
ceeds from him ; his thoughts, desires, affections, words, 
actions, and that of all sorts, natural, civil, recreative, 
religious. It doth not only unhallow his meat, drink, 
carriage ; his buying, selling, giving, lending, and all 
his other dealings in the world, even his ploughing, "the 
ploughing of the wicked is sin" (Prov. xxi, 4) ; but also 
turns all his spiritual services and holiest duties, his 
prayer, hearing, reading, receiving the sacrament, &c. into 
abomination. If but one raging corruption in a minister, 
magistrate, master of a family (as lying, swearing, filthy 
talking, scofHng at religion, opposition to godliness, sabbath- 
breaking, a humour of good-fellowship, or the like) repre- 
sent itself to the eye of the world in his ordinary carriage, 
and hang out as a rotten fiuit in the sight of the sun, it is 
wont fearfully to infect or offend by a contagious insinua- 
tion and ill example all about him ; to difl^use its venom to 
his family, amongst his sons and servants, over the parish 
where he lives, all companies where he comes, yea, the 
whole country round about, especially if he be a man of 
eminence and place. 

5. It is extremely evil*. A far greater evil than the eternal 
danmation of a man ; for when he hath laid many millions 
of years in the lake of fire and under the dominion of the 

* I miderstaiid evil in a geiieial sen^e, and not as restrained unto, 
or resident ia any species. 



80 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

second death, he is never the nearer to satisfaction for sin. 
Not all those hellish flames through all eternity can possibly 
expiate the stain or extinguish the sting of the least sin : 
nay, the very destruction of all the creatures in the world, 
of men and angels, heaven and earth, is a great deal less ill 
than to offend (Jod with the least transgression of his laws. 
For all the creatures of ten thousand worlds, were they all 
extant, come infinitely short in excellency of worth of the 
heart's blood of Jesus Christ ; and yet without the effusion 
of it, no sin could ever have been pardoned, nor any soul 
saved. A man would think it a lesser evil to tell a lie than 
to lie in hell ; but hear Chrysostom : "Although many think 
hell to be the supreme and sorest of all evils, yet I think 
thus, and thus will I daily preach, that it is far more bitter 
and more grievous to offend Christ than to be tormented 
with the pains of hell. 

6. It is full of most fearful effects. 

First; it deprives every impenitent (1.) Of the favour 
and love of God, the only fountain of all comfort, peace, 
and happiness, which is incomparably the most invaluable 
loss that can be imagined. (2.) Of his portion in Christ's 
blood, of which though the drops, weight, and quantity be 
numbered, finite, and measurable, yet the person that shed 
it hatb stamped upon it such height of price, excellency of 
merit, invaluableness of worth, that he hnd infinitely better 
have his portion in that sweetest well-spring of life and im- 
mortality, than enjoy the riches, pleasures, and glory of 
the whole world everlastingly ; for a bitter-sweet taste of 
which for an inch of time, he villanously trampleth under 
foot, as it were, that blessed blood, by wilfully cleaving to 
his own ways, and furiously following the swing of his own 
sensual heart, even against the check and contradiction of 
his grumbling conscience. (3.) Of the most blissful pre- 
sence, freedom, and communication of the Holy Ghost, and 
all those divine illuminations, spiritual feastings, sudden 
and secret glimpses and glances of heavenly light, sweeter 
than sweetness itself, wherewith that good Spirit is wont to 
visit and refresh the humbled hearts of holy men. (4.) 
Of the fatherly providence and protection of the blessed 
Trinity, the glorious guards of angels, the comfortable com- 
munion with the people of God, and all the happy con- 
sequents of safety, deliverance, and delight that flov/eth 
thence. (5.) Of the unknown pleasures of an appeased 
conscience, a jewel of dearest price, to which all human 
glory is but dust in the balance. Not the most exquisite 
extraction of all manner of music, vocal or instrumental, 
can possibly convey so delicious a touch and taste to the 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. ' 81 

outward ear of a man as the sound and sense of acertiiicate 
brought from the throne of mercy by the blessed Spirit, 
sealed with Christ's blood, to the ear of the soul, even amidst 
the most desperate confusions in the evil day, when comfort 
will be worth a world, and a good conscience more valuable 
than ten thousand earthly crowns. (6.) Of all true con- 
tentment in this life ; of all Christian right and religious 
interest to any of the creatures. For never was any sound 
joy or sanct hed enjoynieni of any thing in the world found 
in that man's heart which gives allowance to any lust, or 
lies delightfully in any sin. (7.) Of an immortal crown, 
the unsp^^akable joys of heaven, that immeasurable and 
endless comfort wliich there shall be fully and for ever en- 
joyed with all the children of God, patriarchs, prophets, 
apostles, martyrs. Christian friends, yea, with the Lord him- 
self, and all his angels ; with Christ our Saviour, that Lamb 
slain for us, the Piince of glory, the glory of heaven and 
earth, the brightness of the everlasting light ; in a word, of 
all those inexplicable, nay, inconceivable excellences, plea- 
sures, perfections, felicities, sweetnesses, beauties, glories, 
eternities above. 

Secondly. It doth every hour expose him to all those evils 
which a man destitute of divine grace may commit, and, 
unprotected from above, endure. It brings all plagues, 
(1.) Internal . blindness of mind, hardness of heart, deadness 
of affection, searedness of conscience, a reprobate sense, 
strong delusions, the spirit of slumber, slavery to lust, es- 
trangedness from God, bondage under the devil, desperate 
thoughts, horror of heart, confusion of spirit, <i«:c. and spiritual 
mischiefs in this kind more and more dreadful than either 
tongue can tell or heart can think ; the least of which is 
far worse than the plagues of Egypt. (2.) External. See 
Deut. xxviii, 15. (3.) Eternal. See my sermon on the Four 
Last Things. 

Thirdly. By its pestilent damning property and poison, it 
turns heaven into hell, angels into devils, life into death, 
light into darkness, sight into blindness, faith into distrust, 
hope into despair, love into hate, humility into pride, mercy 
into cruelty, security into fear, liberty into bondage, health 
into sickness, plenty into scarceness, a garden ot Eden into 
a desolate wilderness, a fruitful land into barrenness, peace 
into war, quietness into contention, obedience into rebellion, 
order into confusion, virtues into vices, blessings into curses ; 
in a word, all kind of temporal and eternal felicities and 
bliss, into all kinds of miseiies and woe. 

7; What heart, except it be all adamant and turned into a 
rock of flint, but possessing itself with feeling thoughts, and 



82 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

a sensible apprehension of the incomprehensible greatness, 
excellency, and dreadfulness of the mighty Lord of heaven 
and earth, would not tremble and be strangely confounded 
to transgress and break any one branch of his blessed laws, 
especially purposely and with pleasure, or to sin against 
him willingly but in the least ungodly thought ? For, alas ! 
who art thou that liftest up thy proud heart, or whettest thy 
profane tongue, or bendest thy rebellious course against such 
a majesty ? Thou art the vilest wretch that ever God made, 
next to the devil and his damned angels ; a base and an un- 
worthy worm of the earth, not worthy to lick the dust that 
lieth under his feet : a most weak and frail creature, earth, 
ashes, or any thing that is nought, the dream of a shadow, 
the very picture of change, worse than vanity, less than 
nothing : who, when thy breath is gone, which may fall out 
many times in a moment, thou turnest into dust, nay, rotten- 
ness and filth much more loathsome than the dung of the 
earth, and all thy thoughts perish. But now, on the other 
side, if thou cast thine eyes seriously and with intention 
upon that thrice glorious and highest Majesty, the eyes of 
whose glory thou so provokest with thy filth and folly, thou 
mayest most justly upon the commission of every sin cry out 
with the prophet, "O heavens be astonished at this, be 
afraid and utterly confounded ! " Nay, thou niightest 
marvel, and it is God's unspeakable mercy, that the whole 
frame of heaven and earth is not for one sin fearfully and 
finally dissolved and brought to nought! For he against 
vyhomthou sinnesf inhabiteth eternity, and unapproachable 
light. The heaven is his throne and the earth his footstool ; 
he is the everlasting God, mighty and terrible, the Creator 
of the ends of the earth," &c. The infinite splendor of his 
glory and majesty so dazzles the eyes of the most glorious 
serapliim, that they are glad to adore him with covered faces 
(Isaiah vi). The devil and all the damned spirits, those 
stubborn fiends, tremble at the terror of his countenance. 
" All the nations before him are but as the drop of a bucket, 
but as the small dust of the balance;" nay "they are no- 
thing to him," saith the prophet, "yea less than nothing." 
" He sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants 
thereof are as grasshoppers : the judges, and princes, when 
he blows upon them are but as stubble before the whirlwind : 
and he taketh up the isles as a very little thing" (Isa. xl). 
At his rebuke the pillars of heaven do shake ; the earth 
trembleth, and the foundations of the hills are moved 
(Psalm xviii, 7); his presence melts the mountains 
(Nahum i, 5) ; his voice tears the rocks in pieces •, the blast 
of the breath of his nostrils discovers the channels of waters, 



AFFLICTED CONSCIEMCES. 83 

and foundations of the world (Psalm xviii, 15) ; when lie is 
angry, his arrows drink blood, his sword devours ilesh, and 
the fire of his wrath burns unto the lowest hell (Deut. xxxii, 
22, 42) ; the heaven is but his span ; the sea his handful 
(Isa. xl, 12) ; the wings of the wind his walk ; his garments 
are light (Psalm civ, 3, 2) ; his pavilion darkness (Psalm 
xviii, 11) ; his way is in the whirlwind and in the storm, 
and the clouds are the dust t)f his feet (Nahum i, 3). The 
Lord of Hosts is his name (Jar. li, 19), whose power and 
punishments are so infinitely irresistible, that he is able with 
one word to turn all the creatures in the world into hell ; 
nay, even with the breath of his mouth to turn heaven, and 
hell, and earth, and all things into nothing. How darest thou 
then, so base and vile a wretch, provoke so great a God 1 



CHAP. V. 

Thirteen other Cou'^iderations to keep Men from Sin. 

8. Let the consideration and compassion upon the immor- 
tality and dearness of that precious soul that lies in thy 
bosom, curb thy corruptions at the very first sight of sin, and 
make thee step back as though thou wert ready to tread 
upon a serpent. Not all the wicked men upon earth, nor all 
the devils in hell, can possibly kill and extinguish the soul 
of any man : it must needs live as long as God himself, and 
run parallel with the longest line of eternity. Only sin 
wounds mortally that immortal spirit, and brings it into that 
cursed case, that it had infinitely better never have been, 
than be for ever. For by this means, going on impenitently 
to that last tribunal, it becomes "immortally mortal, and 
mortally immortal," as one of the ancients speaks. "]t 
lives to death, and dies to life ; " never in state of life or 
death, yet ever in the pains of death and the perpetuity of 
life ; its death is ever living and its end is ever in beginning ; 
death without death ; end without end." Ever in the pangs 
of death, and never dead ; not able to die, nor endure the 
pain ; pain exceeding not only all patience, but all resist- 
ance. No strength to sustain, nor ability to bear that, 
which hereafter, whilst God is God, for ever must be borne. 
What a prodigiously mad cruelty is it then for a man, by 
listening to the syren songs of this false world, the lewd 
motions of his own treacherous heart, or the devil's desperate 
counsels, to embrue his hands in the blood of his own ever- 
lasting soul, and to make it to die eternally ! For a little 
paltry pleasure of some base and rotten lust, and fleeting 



84 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

vanity, which passeth away in the act, as tlie taste of pleasant 
drink dieth in the drauijht, to bring upon it in the other 
world torments without end and beyond all ct)mpass of 
thought ! And his madness is the more ; because, besides its 
im.moitality, his soul is incomparably more worth than the 
whole world, i'he very sensitive soul of a little fly, saith 
Austin traly, "is more excellent than the sun." How 
ought we then to prize and preserve from sin our under- 
standing, reasonable souls, which make us in that respect 
like unto the angels of God ! 

9. What a horrible thing is sin, whose weight an omni- 
potent strength, which doth sustain the whole frame of the 
world, is not able to bear ! Almighty God complains even 
of the sacrifices and other services of his own people, when 
they were performed with polluted hearts ; and professes 
that "he was weary to bear them" (Isa. i, 14). And how 
vile is it, that stirs up in the dearest and most compassionate 
bowels of the all-merciful God such implacable anger ; that 
threw down so many glorious angelical spirits, who might 
have done him so high honour for ever in the highest hea- 
vens, into the bottom of hell, there most justly to continue 
devils, and in extremest torment everlastingly ! (Jast all 
rnankind out uf his favour, and from all felicity, for Adam's 
sin ! Caused him who delighteth in mercy (Micah vii, 18) 
to create all the afflicting miseries in hell ; eternal flames, 
streams of brimstone, chains of darkness, gnashing of teeth, 
a lake of fire, the bottomless pit, and all those horr.ble tor- 
ments there ! And that which doth argue, and yet further 
amplify the impbcableness and depth ot J3ivine indignation, 
the infiniteness of sin's provocation and desert, " Tophet is 
said to be ordained of old " (Isa. xxx, 33), "everlasting fire 
to be prepared for the devil and his angels " ( Matt, xxv, 41 ) ; 
as if the all-powerful Wisdom did deliberate, and as it 
were sit down and devise all stinging terrible ingredients, 
a temper of greatest torture, to make that dreadful fire, 
hellish pains, most fierce and raging, and a fit instrument 
for the justice of so great and niighty a God to torment 
eternally all impenitent reprobate rebels. God is the 
" Father of spirits ; " our souls are the immediate creation of 
his almighty hand ; and yet to every one that goeth on im- 
penitently in his trespasses, he hath appointed, as it were, 
a threefold hell. There are three things considerable in 
sin. (1.) Aversion from an infinite, sovereign, unchangeable 
good. (2.) Conversion to a finite, mutable, momentary 
good. (3.) Continuance in the same. To these three 
several things in sin, there are answering three singular 
stings of extremest punishment. To aversion from the chiefest 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 85 

good, which is objectively infinite, there answeieth pain of 
loss, privation of God's glorious presence, and separation 
from those endless joys above, which is an infinite loss, 
'J'o the inordinate conversion to transitory things, there an- 
swereth pain of sens.', which is intensively finite, as is the 
pleasure of sin ; and yet so extreme, that none can conceive 
the bitterness tlieveof but the soul that suffers it ; nor that 
neither, except it could comprehend the almighty wisdom 
of him that did create it. To the eternity of sin, remaining 
for ever in stain and guilt, answereth the eternity of pu- 
nishment. 7oT we must know, that " every impenitent 
sinner would sin ever, if he might live ever, and casteth 
himself by sinning into an impossibility of ever ceasing to 
sin of himself; as a man that casteth himself into a deep 
pit can never of himself rise out of it again : and therefore 
naturally eternity of punishment is due to sin." fiow pro- 
digious a thing then is sin, and how infinitely to be ab- 
horied and avoided, that by a malignant meritorious poison 
and provocation doth violently wrest out of the iiands of 
the '' Father of mercies and God of all comfort " the full 
vials of that unquenchable wrath, which brings easeless, 
endless, and remediless torments upon his own creatures, 
and those originally most excellent ! 

10. The height and inestimableuess of the price that was 
paid for the expiation of it, doth clearly manifest, nay in- 
finitely aggravate the execrable misery of sin, and extreme 
madness of all that meddle with it. 1 mean the heart's 
blood of Jesus Christ, blessed for ever, which was of such 
preciousness and power, that being let out by a spear, it 
convulsed the whole frame of nature, darkened the sun 
miraculously (for at that time it stood in direct opposition 
to the moon), shook the earth, which shrunk and trembled 
under it, opened the graves, clave the stones, rent the vail 
of the temple from the bottom to the top, &c. Now it was 
this alone, and nothing but this could possibly cleanse the 
filth of sin. Had all the dust of the earth been turned into 
silver, and the stones into pearls : should the main and 
boundless ocean have streamed nothing but purest gold ; 
would the whole uorld and all the creatures in heaven and 
earth have offered themselves to be annihilated before his 
angry face ; had all the blessed angels prostrated them- 
selves at the foot of their Creator : yet in the point of re- 
demption of mankind and purgation of sin, not any, nor 
all of these could have done any good at all. iXoy, if the 
Son of God himself, which lay in his bosom, should have 
supplicated and solicited (1 mean without suffering and 
shedding his blood) the Father of all mercies, he could not 

1 



as INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

have been heard in this case. Either the Son of God must 
die, or all mankind be eternally lost. Then, -wjien^thou 
art provoked to sin, think seriously and sensibly of the price 
that upon necessity must be paid for it before it be par- 
doned. 

11. Sinful pleasures are attended with a threefold bitter 
sting (whereof see my Directions for Walking with God), 
which though the devil hides from them in the heat of tempt- 
ation ; yet in his seasons, to serve his own turn, he sets them 
on with a vengeance. 

12. Compare the vast and invaluable difference between 
yielding to the enticement, and conquering the temptation 
to sin. For which purpose look upon Joseph and David, 
two of God's dearest servants, and consider the results. 
What a deal of honour and comfort did afterward crown 
the head and the heart of the one, and what horrible mis- 
chiefs and miseries fell upon the family, and grisly horrors 
upon the conscience of the other. Survey also the distinct 
stories of Galeacius Caracciolus and Francis Spira, than 
which in their several kinds there is nothing left to the me- 
mory of the latter times more remarkable ; and you shall 
find in them as great a difference as between a heaven and 
hell upon earth. The one withstanding unconquerably va- 
riety of mighty enticements to renounce the gospel of Jesus 
Christ and return to popery ; besides the sweet peace of his 
soul, attained that honour in the church of God that he is 
in some measure paralleled even with Moses, and recom- 
mended to the admiration of posterity by the pen of that 
great and incomparable glory of the Christian world, 
blessed Calvin*. The other, conquered by an unhappy 
temptation to turn from the truth of God and our true re- 
ligion to the synagogue of Satan and abominations of the 
** scarlet whore," besides the raging and desperate confu- 
sion he brought upon his ov.n spirit, became such a spec- 
tacle to the eye of Christendom as hath been hardly heard 
of. 

13. Compare the poor, short, vanishing delight of the 
choicest sensual, worldly contentment, if thou wilt, of thy 
sweetest sin, with the exquisiteness and eternity of hellish 
torments. Out of which might an impenitent reprobate 
wretch be assured of enlargement after he had endured 
them so many thousand, thousand years as there are sands 
on the sea-shore, hairs upon his head, stars in the firma- 
ment, grass piles upon the ground, creatures both in heaven 
and earth, he would think himself happy, and as it were 

* See Crashaw's Life of Caracciolus. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 87 

in heaven already. But when all that time is past, and 
infinite millions of years besides, they are no nearer the 
end than when they began, nor he nearer out than when he 
came in. The torments of hell are most horrible ; yet I 
know not whether this incessant, desperate cry in the con- 
science of a damned soul, " I must never come out," doth 
not outgo them all in horror. What an height of madness 
is it then to purchase a moment of fugitive follies and fad- 
ing pleasures with extremity of never-ending pains. 

14. VVhen thou art stepping over the threshold towards 
any vile act, lewd house, dissolute company, or to do the 
devil service in any kind (which God forbid) ; suppose thou 
seest Jesus Christ coming towards thee as he lay in the 
arms of Joseph of Arirnathea, newly taken down from the 
cross, wofully wounded, wan and pale; his body all gore, 
the beauty of his blessed and heavenly face darkened and 
disfigured by the stroke of death, speaking thus unto thee, 
" Oh ! go not forward upon any terms; commit not this siix 
by any means. It was this and the like that drew me down 
out of the arms of my Father, from the fulness of joy and 
fountain of all bliss, to put on this corruptible and misera- 
ble flesh ; to hunger and thirst, to watch and pray, ta 
groan and sigh, to offer up strong cries and tears to the Fa- 
ther in the days of my flesh, to drink off the dregs of the 
bitter cup of his fierce wrath, to wrestle with all the forces 
of infernal powers, to lay down my life in the gates of hell 
with intolerable, and, save by myself, unconquerable pain ; 
and thus now to lie in the arms of this mortal man all torn 
arid rent in pieces with cruelty and spite, as thou seest." 
What a heart hast thou, that darest go on against this dear 
entreaty of Jesus Christ ! 

15. When thou art unhappily moved to break any branch 
of Cod's blessed law, let the excellency and variety of his 
incomparable mercies come presently into thy mind ; a 
most ingenuous, sweet, and mighty motive to hinder and 
hold off all gracious hearts from sin. How is it possible but 
a serious survey of the "riches of God's goodness, for- 
bearance, and long-suffering, leading thee to repentance," 
to more forwardness and fruitfulness in the good way ; the 
public miracles of mercy which God hath done in our days 
for the preservation of the gospel, this kingdom, ourselves 
and our posterity, especially drowning the Spanish invin- 
cible armada, discovering and defeating the powder-plot, 
shielding Queen Elizabeth, the most glorious princess of 
the world, from a world of antichristian cruelties, saving us 
from the papists' bloody expectations at her death, &c. ; the 
particular and private catalogue of thine own personal fa- 



88 INSTRLCTIOiNS FOR COMFORTING 

vours from God's bountiful hand, which thine own con- 
science can easily lead thee unto, and readily run over, from 
thine infancy to the present, wonderful protections in thine 
unregenerate time ; that miracle of mercies, thy conversion, 
if thou be already in that happy state ; all the motions of 
God's holy Spirit in thine heart ; many checks of conscience, 
fatherly corrections ; excellent means of sanctification, as 
worthy a ministry in many places as ever the world en- 
joyed ; sermon upon sermon, sabbath after sabbath ; bear 
ing with thee after so many times breaking thy covenants ; 
opportunities to attain the highest degree of godliness that 
ever was; — Isay, how can it be, but that the review of 
these and innumerable mercies more should so soften thy 
heart, that thou shouldst have no heart at all ; nay, infinitely 
abhor to displease or any way dishonour that high and dread- 
ful Majesty, whose free- grace was the well-head and first 
lountain of them all. 

Let this meditation of God's mercies to keep from sin be 
■ quickened by considering : (1.) That thou art far worthier 
to be now burning with the most abominable wretch in the 
bottom of hell, than to be crowned with any of these loving 
kindnesses ; that if thou wert able to do him all the honour, 
service, and worship, which all the saints both militant and 
triumphant do, it would come infinitely short of the merit of 
the least of all his mercies unto thee in Jesus Christ. 
(2.) How unkindly God takes the neglect of his extraordi- 
nary kindnesses unto us. 2 Sam. xii, 7 — 9; 1 Sam. ii, 
27 — 30; i.zekxvi. 

16. Mark well, and be amazed at thine own fearful and 
desperate folly. When thou fallest deliberately into any sin, 
thou layest as it were in the one scale of the balance the 
glory of Almighty God, the endless joys of heaven, the loss 
of thine immortal soul, the precious blood of Christ, &c.; 
and in the other, some rotten pleasure, earthly pelf, worldly 
preferment, fleshly lust, sensual vanity ; and sufferest this 
(prodigious mad i;es5! " Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, 
and be horribly afraid ! " j to outweigh all those. 

17. Upon the first assault of every sin, say thus unto thy- 
self. If I now yield and commit this sin, 1 shall either re- 
pe.it or not repent. If I do not repent, 1 am undone : if I do 
repent, it will cost me incomparably more heart's grief than 
the pleasure of the sin is worth. 

l^. Consider, that for that very sin to which thou art now 
tempted (suppose lying, lust, over- reaching thy brother, 
tec), many millions are already damned, and even now- 
burning in hell. And when thy foot is upon the brink, stay 
and think upon the wages, and know for a truth, that if 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 89 

thou fallest into that sin, thou art fallen into hell, if God 
lielp not out. 

19. Never be the bolder to give way unto any wickedness, 
to exercise thy heart with covetousness, cruelty, ambition, 
revenge, adulteries, speculative wantonness, undeanness, 
or any other solitary sinfulness, because thou art alone, 
and no mortal eye looks upon thee. For " if thine heart 
condemn thee, God is greater than thy heart, and knoweth 
all things;" and will condemn thee much more. If thy 
conscience be as a thousand witnesses ; God, who is the 
Lord of thy conscience, will be more than a million of wit- 
nesses; and thou mayest be assured, howsoever thou 
blessest thyself in thy secrecy, that what sin soever is now 
acted in the very retiredst corner of thine heart, or any 
ways most solitarily by thyself ; though in the meantime 
it be concealed and lie hid in as great darkness as it was 
committed, until that last and great day, yet then it must 
most certainly appear, and be as legible on thy forehead as 
if it were written with the brightest sun-beam upon a wall 
of crystal. Thou shalt then in the face of heaven and earth 
be laid out in thy true colours, and without confessing and 
forsaking while it is called to-day, be before angels, men, 
and devils, utterly, universally, and everlastingly shamed 
and confounded. 

20. Consider the resolute resistance and mortified reso- 
lutions against sin and all enticements thereunto of many, 
upon whom the sun of the gospel did not shine with such 
beauty and fulness as it doth upon us; neither were so 
many heavenly discoveries in the kingdom of Christ made 
known unto them as our days have seen. For upon our 
times (which makes our sins a great deal more sinful) hath 
happily fallen an admirable confluence of the saving light 
and learning, experience and excellency of all former ages, 
besides the extraordinary additions of the present, which 
with a glorious noontide of united illuminations doth abun- 
dantly serve our turn for a continued further and fuller 
illustration of the great mystery of godliness and secrets of 
sanctification. Hear Chrysostom : " But I think thus, and 
this will I ever preach, that it is much more bitter to offend 
Christ than to be tormented in the pains of hell." He that 
writes the life of Anselm, saith thus of him ; "He feared 
nothing in the world more than to sin. My conscience 
bearing me witnes 1 lie not ; for we have often heard him 
profess, that if on the one hand he should see corporally 
the horror of sin, on the other the pains of hell, and must 
necessarily be plunged into the one, he would choose hell 
rather than sin. And another thing also no less perhaps 

I 3 



90 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

woudevtul to some, he was wont to say, that he ** would rather 
have hell, beiiifc innocent and free i'rom sin, than polluted 
with the filth thereof, possess the kingdom of heaven." It 
is reported of another ancient holy man, that he was wont 
to say, " he would rather be torn in pieces with Avild horses, 
than wittiigly and willingly commit any sin." Jerome, 
also, in one of his epistles tells a story of a young man of 
most invincible courage and constancy in the profession of 
Christ uuder some of the bloody persecuting emperors, to 
this pu pos!'. 1 hey had little hope, it seems, to conquer 
him by torture, and therefore they take this course with 
hiui. Th-y brought him into most fragrant gardens flowing 
with all pleasure and delight ; there they laid him upon 
a bed of down, softly enwrapped in a net of silk, amongst 
the lilies and the roses, the delicious murmur of the streams, 
and the sweet whistling of the leaves. They all depart, 
and a beautiful strumpet enters, and useth all the abomi- 
nable tricks of her impure art to ensnare him. Whereupon 
the young man, fearing that he should now be conquered 
by tolly, who was conqueror over fury, out of an infinite 
(let( station of sin, bites ofl:' a piece of his tongue with his 
own teeth, and spits it in her face, and so hinders the hurt 
of sin by the smart of his wound. J might have began with 
Joseph, who did so bravely and blessedly beat back and 
trample under his feet the sensual solicitations of his wanton 
and wicked mistress. He had pleasure and preferment in 
his eye, which were strongly oflTered in the temptation ; but 
he well knew that not all the offices and honours in Egypt 
could take off the guilt of that filth ; and therefore he re- 
solved rather to lie in the dust, than rise by sin. " How 
can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" I 
might pass along to the mother and seven brethren (2 Mac. 
vii), who chose rather to pciss through horrible tortures and 
a most cruel death, than to eat swine's flesh against the 
law ; and so i might come down to that noble army of 
martyrs in Queen Mary's time, who were contented with 
much patience and resolution to part with all, wife, chil- 
dren, liberty, livelihood, life itself ; even to lay it down in 
the flames, rather than to submit to that man of sin, or to 
subscribe to any one point of his devilish doctrine. 

Thus, as you have heard, 1 have tendered many reasons 
to restrain from sin, which by the help of God may serve 
to take off the edge of the most eager temptation, to cool 
the heat of the most furious enticement, to embitter the 
sweetest bait that draws to any sensual delight. N*ow, my 
most thirsty desire and earnest entreaty is, that every one 
into whose hands, by God's providence, this book of mine 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 91 

shall fall, aflei the perusal of them would pause awhile, 
that he may more solemnly vow and resolve that ever here- 
after, when he shall be set upon and assaulted by allure- 
ment to any sin, he will first have recourse unto these 
twenty considerations, which I have here recommended 
unto him to help in such cases ; and with a punctual se- 
riousness let them sink into his heart before he pioceed and 
pollute himself. I could be content, if it were pleasing unto 
God, that these lines which thou now readest were writ 
with the warmest blood in mine heart, to represent unto 
thine eye the dear aflectionateness of my soul for thy spi- 
ritual and eternal good, so that thou wouldst be thoroughly 
persuaded, and now, before thou pass any further, sincerely 
promised so to do. 

Thirdly. The point inay serve to set out the excellency of 
that high and heavenly art of comfoiting afflicted con- 
sciences. The more dangerous and desperate the wound 
is, the more doth it magnify and make admirable the mys- 
tery and method of the cure and recovery ; which, were it 
well known and wisely practised, what a world of unne- 
cessary slavish torture in troubled minds would it prevent '? 
So many thousands of poor, abused, deluded souls should 
not perish by the damning flatteries and cruel mercies of 
unskilful daubers. \\ hat a heaven of spiritual lightsome- 
ness and joy might shine in the hearts and show itself in 
the faces of God's people ! Until it please the Lord to 
move the hearts of my learned and holy brethren in popu- 
lous cities and great congregations, who must needs have 
much employment and variety of experience this way ; or 
some special men extraordinarily endov/ed and exercised 
herein, to put to their helping hands and furnish the church 
with more large and exact discourses in this kind 3 — lake in 
good part this essay of mine. 



SECT. IL PART I. 



CHAP. I. 

Tlie first Error iu curing Consciences is the nnseasonable applying of 
Comfort to tlieni tliat sorrow not at all. 

Wherein I first desire to discover and rectify some ordinary 
aberrations about spiritual cures, which fall out when the 
physician of the soul,— 

First, Applies unseasonably the cordials of the gospel and 
comforts of mercy, when the corrosives of the law and com- 
minations of judgment are convenient and suitable. Were 
it uol absurd in surgery to pour a most sovereign balsam of 
exquisite composition and inestimable price upon a sound 
part ? It is far more unseemly and senseless, and of an in- 
finitely more pestilent consequence, in any ministerial 
labours, to proffer the blood of Christ and promises of life to 
an unwounded conscience, as belonging unto it at present. 
It is the only right everlasting method " to turn men from 
darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God ; " and 
all the men of God and master-builders, who have ever set 
themselves sincerely to serve God in their ministry and to 
save souls, have followed the same course ; to wit, first to 
wound by the law and then to heal by the gospel. We must 
be humbled in the sight of the Lord, before he lift us up 
(James iv, 10). We must be sensible of our spiritual blind- 
ness and captivity, before we can heartily seek to be savingly 
enlightened and enlarged from the devil's slavery, and en- 
riched with grace. There must be sense of misery, before 
showing of mercy ; crying, I am unclean, I am unclean, 
before opening the fountain for uncleanness ; stinging, before 
curing by the brazen serpent ; smart for sin, before a plaister 
of Christ's blood ; brokenness of heart, before binding up. 
God himself opened the eyes of our first parents to make 
them see and be sensible of their sin and misery, nakedness 
and shame (Gen.iii, 7), before he promised Christ (ver. 15). 
Christ Jesus tells us that he was anointed by the Lord, " to 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 95 

preach good tidings-, " but to whom 1 to the poor ; to the 
broken liearted ; to the captives ; to the blind ; to the 
bruised (isa. Ixi, 1 ; Luke iv, 18) : that " the whole need 
not the physician, but they that are sick ; and he came not 
to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance " (Matt, ix, 
12, 13) ; that is, poor souls, sinners indeed, even in their 
own estimation; and not self-conceited pharisees, wha 
though they be mere strangers to any wound of conscience 
for sin, yet they will not be persuaded that they shall be 
damned ; but in the mean time contemn and condemn all 
others in respect of themselves ; sinful publicans as too 
gross, sincere professors as too godly ; whereas notwith- 
standing, in true judgment, harlots are in a far happier case 
than they (Matt, xxi", 31) : that " he will give rest ; " but 
to whom! to those "that labour and are heavy laden" 
(Matt, xi, 28) : that the spirit which he would send, should 
convince the world, first of sin and then of righteousness ; 
to wit, of Christ. It is ordinary with the prophets, first to 
discover the sins of the people, and to denounce judgments ; 
and then to promise Christ upon their coming in, to en- 
lighten and make them lightsome, with raising their thoughts 
to a fruitful contemplation of the glory, excellency, and 
sweetness of his blessed kingdom. Isaiah in his first chapter, 
from the mouth of God, doth in the first place behave him- 
self like a " son of thunder,"' pressing upon the conscierices 
of those to whom he was sent many heinous sins ; horrible 
ingratitude, fearful falling away, ibrmality in God's wor- 
ship, cruelty, and the like. Afterward (ver. 16, 17), he 
invites to repentance, and tlien follows (verse 18), "Come 
now, and let us reason together, salth the Lord : though 
your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow ; though 
they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Nathan, 
to recover even a regenerate man, convinceth him first 
soundly of his sin, with much aggravation and terror, and 
then upon remorse assures hin, of pardon (2 Sam. xii, 13). 

Consider further for this purpose the sermons of our blessed 
Saviour himself, who " taught as one having authority, and 
not as the Scribes." With what power and piercing did our 
Lord and Master labour to open the eyes, search the hearts, 
and wound the consciences of his hearers, to fit them for the 
gospel and his own dear heart's blood ? See Matt, v, &c. 
and xxiii and xxv, &:c. — Of John Baptist, who by the 
mightiness of his ministerial spirit, accompanied with ex- 
traordinary strength from heaven, did strike through the 
hearts of those that heard him with such astonishment 
about their spiritual state, with such horror for their former 
ways, and fear of future vengeance, that they came unto 



94 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

him in crowds : " And the people asked him, saying, What 
shall we do then 1 Then came also publicans to be baptized, 
and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And the 
soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall 
we do 1 " (Luke iii, 10, 12, 14.) — Of Peter, who being now 
freshly inspired and illuminated from above with large and 
extraordinary effusions of the Holy Ghost, shadowed by 
" cloven fiery tongues " (Acts ii), in the very prime and 
flower of his ministerial wisdom, bends himself to break the 
hearts of his hearers. Amongst other piercing passages of 
his searching sermon, he tells them to their faces (they 
standing before him stained with the horrible guilt of the 
dearest blood that ever was shed upon earth, most worthy 
to have been gathered up by the most glorious angels in 
vessels of gold), that they had crucified and slain that just 
and holy One, the Lord of life, Jesus of Nazareth (ver.23). 
And again at the conclusion (ver. 36) leaves the same tor- 
menting sting in their consciences, vi'hich restlessly wrought 
and boiled within them until it begot a great deal of com- 
punction, terror, and tearing of their hearts with extreme 
amazement and anguish. " Now when they heard this, 
they were pricked in their hearts " (ver. 37). Whereupon 
they came crying " unto Peter, and the rest of the apostles. 
Men and brethren, what shall v\e do? " And so, being sea- 
sonably led by the counsel of the apostles to believe on the 
name of Jesus Christ, to lay hold upon the promise, to 
repent evangelically, they had the reniission of sins sealed 
unto them by baptism, and were happily received into the 
number of the saints of God, whose Son they had so lately 
slaughtered. — Of Paul, who though he stood as a prisoner 
at the bar, and might perhaps by a general plausible dis- 
course, without piercing or paTticularizing,'have insinuated 
into the affections and won the favour of his hearers, who 
were to be his judges, and so made way for his enlargement 
and particular welfare ; yet he, for all this, very resolutely 
and unreservedly crosseth and opposeth their greedy, lustful, 
and careless humours with a right searching, terrifying ser- 
mon of " righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come " 
(Acts xxiv, 24, 25). That unhappy Felix was a fellow 
polluted with abominable adultery, and very infamous for 
his cruel and covetous oppressions, and consequently un- 
apprehensive and fearless of that dreadful tribunal, and the 
terrors to come. Whereupon Paul, having learned in the 
school of Christ not to fear any mortal man in the discharge 
of his ministry, draws the sword of the Spirit with un- 
dauntedness of spirit, and strikes presently at the very face 
of those fearful sins, which reigned in his principal and 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 95 

most eminent hearers ; though he stood now before them in 
bonds at their mercy. He shrewdly galls the conscience of 
that great man, by opposing righteousness to his bribing 
cruelties, temperance to his adulterous impurities, the dread- 
fulness of judgment to come to his insolent lawless outrages 
and desperate security. Had Paul endeavoured to have 
satisfied their curiosities, as many a tempoiizing preacher 
would have done very industriously, and to entertain the 
time with a general discourse of the wonderful birth, life, 
and death of Jesus Christ, now so much talked of abroad 
in the world, with a pleasing discovery only of the many 
mercies, pardons, and glorious things purchased to the sons 
of men by his bloodshed : not meddling at all with their 
beloved delights of filthy lust and other sins ; oh, then they 
had listened unto him with much acceptation and delight ; 
all things had been carried fair and favourably ; Paul had 
not been interrupted and so suddenly silent ; nor Felix so 
frighted and distempered. But this man of God knew full 
well that that was not the way ; neither best for them, nor 
for his Master's honour, nor for the comfort of his own con- 
science ; and therefore he takes a course to cause the tyrant 
to tremble, that thereby he might either be fitted for Christ, 
which was best of all, or at least made inexcusable ; but 
howsoever, that in so doing his duty might be discharged 
and his soul delivered ; holding it far better that his body 
should be in bonds than his soul guilty of blood. 

Orthodox antiquity was of the same mind, and for the 
same method. 

Austin, that famous disputer in his time, counselleth to 
this purpose in this point* ^I express the sense and sum, 
and no more than may be collected and concluded from the 
place. 1 will never confine myself grammatically and pedan- 
tically to the words precisely, and render verbatim, save 
only in some cases, as of controversy, or some other such- 
like necessity of more punctual quotation). " The conscience 
is not to be healed if it be not wounded. Thou preachest 
and pressest the law, comminations, the judgment to come, 
and that with much earnestness and importunity. He who 
hears, if he be not terrified, if he be not troubled, is not to 
be comforted. Another hears, is stirred, is stung, grieves 
extremely: cure his contritions; because he is cast down 
and confounded in himself." 

"After that John Baptist," saith Chrysostomt, "had 
thoroughly frighted the minds of his hearers with the terror 
of judgment and expectation of torment ; and with the name 

* On Psalm lix. ' t On Malt, iii, Honi. 11. 



96 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COxMFORTING 

of an axe, and their rejection, and entertainment of other 
children, and by doubling the punishment, to wit, of being 
hewed down and cast into the fire: when he had thus 
every way tamed and taken down their stubbornness, and 
from fear of so many evils had stirred them up to a desire 
of deliverance, then at length he makes mention of Christ." 
" God pours not the oil of his mercy," saith Bernard, 
" save into a broken vessel." 

So also all our modern divines, who are iiiStmcted unto 
the kingdom of heaven. 

Peter Martyr* magnifies Nathan's method of preaching, 
and commends it to all the ministers of God. He first pro- 
poseth a parable, as we do doctrines, for the illumination 
and conviction of the understanding. 1 hen he applies it 
more particularly, and to the present case, where he doth 
notably expose and aggravate the sin by recounting and 
opposing God's extraordinary bounty and most merciful 
dealing with David, by the cause of it, contempt of the 
Lord's commandment, and dreadful things ensuing thence. 
Afterward, that he might strike the heart through with 
a.'^tonishmeat and dread, he threatens terribly. At last, 
upon compunction, and crying " I have sinned," he sweetly 
comforteth and raiseth to the assurance of God's favour 
again. 

If this course must be taken with relapsed Christians ; 
why not much more with those who are " dead in trespasses 
and sinsi " 

" Christ is promised to them alone," saith Calvin t, " who 
are humbled and confounded with a sense of their own 
sins." 

"Then is Christ seasonably revealed," saith Musculust, 
•' when the hearts of men being soundly pierced by preach- 
ing repentance, are possessed with a desire of his gracious 
righteousness." 

" The way to faith," saith Beza§, "is penitence (legal 
compunction) ; because sickness enforceth men, however 
unwilling, to fly unto the physician." 

" Men are ever to be prepared for the gospel by the 
preaching of the law 1|." 

" A sermon of the law," said Tilenus, while he was yet 
orthodox^, " must go before the doctrine of the gospel, that 
the oil of mercy may be poured into a coritrite vessel." 

" In our exhortations to follow Christ," saith Kolloc**, 
" the minds of men are ever to be prepared with a sense of 

* On 2 Sam. xii. 1 On Isa. Ixi. t On Matt. iii. 

§ On Matt, xxi, 32. || Ibid, on 2 Cor. iii, 11. 

<f[ Svntag. Tlieol. p. 2, c. xlv. ** On John viii. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 97 

misery and their dark estate : and afterward with a desire of 
enlargement and light." 

" It is the care of those ministers which divide God's 
word aright," say our great divines of Great Britain *, first 
fitly and wisely to wound the consciences of their hearers 
with the terrors of the law, and after to raise them by the 
promise of the gospel, <Sc'-."— "The Spirit first terrifies 
those who are to be justified with the law; breaking and 
humbling them with threats, scourges, and lashes of con- 
science, that thereby despairing of themselves they may 
fly unto Christ t." 

" AVe cannot learn out of the gospel," saith Chemnitiust, 
that V e are to be blessed in Christ, except by an antithesis, 
as Luther speaks, we also acknowledge that we are accursed 
by the law." 

" I'he doctrine of the law," saith Davenant§, " is to be 
propounded to the impious and impenitent, to strike terror 
into their hearts, and to demonstrate their just damnation, 
except they repent and fly to Jesus Christ." 

Perkins, that great light of our church, both for soundness 
of learning, sincerity of judgment, and insight into the mys- 
tery of Christ, teaching how repentance is wrought, tells 
usjl, that •' first of all a man must have knowledge of four 
things. Of the law of God ; of sin against the law ; of the 
guilt of sin ; and of the judgment of God against sin, which 
is his eternal wrath. In the second place must follow an 
application of the former knowledge to a man's self, by the 
work of the conscience assisted by the Holy Ghost (which 
for that cause is called the spirit of bondage, Rom. viii, 15), 
in this manner : — 

" The breaker of the law is guilty of eternal wrath, saith 
the mind ; but I am a breaker of the law of God, saith the 
conscience, as a witness and an accuser : therefore I am 
guilty of eternal death, saith the same conscience as a 
judge. 

" Every liar shall have his part in the lake, which burneth 
with fire and brimstone (Rev. xxi, 8) ; but 1 am a liar ; 
therefore I shall have my part in that everlasting fiery 
lake." 

And so of other sins : Covetousness, cruelty, drunken- 
ness, lewdness, swearing, defrauding, temporizing, usury, 
filthiness, foolish talking, jesting ( Kphes. v, 4), revelling 
(Gal. V, 21), profaning the Lord's day, stran!;e apparel, 
(Zeph. i, 8), and innumerable sins more, which being all 

* Theologoruni .Ma^. Britan., &c. t Paraphrase on Honi. viii. 
t Harmo. Evang. cap. IxxiJi. 5 On Col. i. 

!i Of the Nature and Practice of Repentance, cluip. iii. 

K 



98 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

severally pressed upon the heart by a discourse of the guilty 
conscience, as I have said, must needs full sorely crush it 
with many cutting conclusions ; from which, set on by the 
" spirit of bondage," is wont to arise much trouble of mind, 
which, saith he, is commonly called '' the sting of the con- 
science, or penitence, and the compunction of heart" 
(Acts ii, 37); and then succeeds seasonably and comfort- 
ably the v/ork of the gospel. The soul being thus sensible 
of, and groaning under the burthen of all sin, is happily 
fitted for all the glorious revelations of the abundant riches 
of God's dearest mercies (See Isa. Ivii, 15 ; Matt, xi, 28; 
and ix, 13); for all the comforts, graces, and favours which 
shine from the face of Christ ; for all the expiations, re- 
freshings, and exultations, which spring out of that blessed 
"fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness " (Zech. 
xiii, 1). 

" Never any of God's children," saith Greenham*. 
" were comforted thoroughly, but they were first humbled 
for their sins." 

'* The course warranted unto us by the Scriptures," saith 
Hieront," is this: First, to endeavour the softening of our 
hearers' hearts, by bringing them to the sight and sense of 
their own wretchedness, before we adventure to apply the 
riches of God's mercy in Christ Jesus. The preaching of 
the gospel is compared by our Saviour himself unto the sow- 
ing of seed (Matt, xiii) : as therefore the ground is first 
torn up with the plough before the seed be committed unto 
it ; so the fallow ground of our hearts must first be broken 
up with the sharpness of the law (Jerem. iv, 3), and the 
very terror of the Lord, before we can be fit to entertain the 
sweet seed of the gospel. I would have a preacher to 
preach peace, and to aim at nothing more than the com- 
fort of the souls of God's people (2 Cor. v, 11); yet I 
would have him withal frame his course to the manner of 
God's appearing to Elijah. The text saith, that first a 
mighty strong wind rent the mountains and brake the rocks, 
then after that came an earthquake, and after the earth- 
quake came fire ; and, after all these, then came a still 
and a soft voice (2 Kings xix, 11, 12). After the same 
manner 1 would not have the still and mild voice of the 
gospel come, till the strong tempest of the law hath rent 
the stony hearts of men and made them to tremble, and 
rottenness to enter into their bones (Habak. iii, 16), or at 
least, because our auditories are mixed, consisting of men 
of divers humours, it will be good for him to deliver his 

* Of Repentance, Sermon 7. t Tlic Preixlier's Plea. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 99 

doctrine with such caution, that neither the humble souls 
may be affrighted with the severity of God's judgments, 
nor the profane and unrepentant grow presumptuous by the 
abundance of God's mercy. The person that is full de- 
spiseth the honeycomb, saith Solomon (Prov. xxvii, 7). And 
what doth a proud Pharisee, or a churlish Nabal, or a po- 
litic Gallio, or a scoffing Ishmael, care to hear of ihe 
breadth, and length, and depth, and height of the love of 
God in his son Jesus 1 (Ephes. iii, 1 8) except it be to set- 
tle them faster upon their lees. Doctrine of that nature is 
as unfiting such uncircumcised ears (Actsvii, 51) as the 
snow the summer, and the rain the harvest. Unto the horse 
belongs a whip, to the ass a bridle, and a rod to the fool's 
back, &CC (Prov. xxvi, I, 3). He that intendeth to do any 
good in this frozen generation, had need rather to be Boa- 
nerges, one of the sons of thunder (Mark iii, 17), than Bar- 
Jonah, the son of a dove." 

" The word of God," saith Forbes*, " hath three degrees 
of operation in the hearts of men. For, first, it falleth to men's 
ears as the sound of many waters, a mighty, great, and 
confused sound, and which commonly bringeth neither ter- 
ror nor joy, but yet a wondering and acknowledgment, of 
a strange force, and more than human power. This is that 
effect which many felt on hearing Christ, when they were 
astonished at his doctrine, as teaching with authority. 
" What manner of doctrine is this ? " " Never man spake 
like this man" (Mark i, 22, 27 ; Luke iv, 32 ; John vii, 46). 
This effect falleth even to the reprobate (Habak. i, 5 ; Acts 
xiii, 41). The next effect is the voice of thunder ; which 
bringeth not only wonder but fear also ; not only filleth the 
ears with sound and the heart with astonishment, but more- 
over shaketh and terrifieth the conscience. And this se- 
cond eff'ect may also befal a reprobate, as Felix (Acts 
xxiv, 25). The third effect is proper to the elect, the sound 
of harping, while the word not only ravisheth with admira- 
tion and striketh the conscience with terror, but also, lastly, 
filleth it with sweet peace and joy, &c. Now albeit the 
first two degrees may be without the last ; yet none feel 
the last, who have not in some degree felt both the first 
two." 

" God healeth none," saith Gouget, " but such as are 
first wounded. The whole need not a physician, but they 
that are sick ( Matt, ix, 12)- Christ was anointed to preach 
the gospel to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, &c. 
(Luke iv, 18)." 

^ In his Commentary upon Rev. xiv. t The whole Armour of God. 



100 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

Obj. Many have believed vi'ho never grieved for their 
misery, as Lydia, &c (Acts xvi, 14). 

Answ. Who can tell that these grieved not? It fol- 
low^eth not that they had no grief, because none is recorded. 
All particular actions and circumstances of actions are 
not recorded. It is enough that the grief of some, as of the 
.lews, of the jailor, of the woman that washed Christ's feet 
witir her tears, and of others, is recorded (.Acts ii, 37; 
xvi, 29; Luke vii, .38). Lydia might be prepared before 
she heard Paul ; for she accompanied them which went out 
to pray, and she worshipped God (Acts xvi, 13, 14); or 
else her heart might be touched when she heard Paul 
preach, i he like may be said of those who heard Peter 
when he preached to Cornelius; and of others (Acts x, 
44.45). Certain it is that a man must both see and feel 
his wretchedness, and be wounded in soul for it, before 
faiih can be wrought in him. Yet I deny not but there may 
be great difference in the manner and measure of griev- 
ing," &c. 

" The heart is prepared for faith, and not by faith. Jus- 
tification being the work of God is perfect in itself, but our 
hearts are not fit to apply it until God have humbled us, 
and brought us to despair in ourselves. The whole prepa- 
ration being legal, wrought by the Spirit of bondage to 
bring us to the spirit of adoption (Rom. viii, 15), leaves us 
in despair of all help, either of ourselves or the whole world, 
that so being in this woful plight we might now submit our- 
selves to God, wlio, infusing a lively faith into our hearts, 
gives us his Son, and our justification with him *." 

" None ever had conscience truly pacified, that first felt 
not conscience wounded t." 

"The preparations to repentance" (evangelical) "are 
those legal fits of fear and terror, which are, both in nature 
and time too, before faith J." "As there can be no birth 
without the pains of travail going before, so neither no true 
repentance without some terrors of the law, and straits of 
conscience. The reason is plain. None can have repent- 
ance, but such as Christ calls to repentance. Now he 
calls only sinners to repentance (INlat. ix, 13), even sinners 
heavy laden with the sense of God's wrath against sin 
(Mat. xi, 28). He comes only to save the lost sheep, that 
is, such sheep as feel themselves lost in themselves, and 
knovv not how to find the v,ay to the fold. It is said, 
Rom. viii, 15, ' Ye have not received the spirit of bondage 

* Yates. Of Mr. Montague's eiTor against the Simplicity of God's 
Will, chap, i. sec. 5. 
t Sclater, The sicli Soul's salve, t Dike on Repentance, chap. i. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. lOl 

again to fear,' whicli shows that once they did receive it, 
namely, in the very lirst preparation unto conversion ; that 
then the Spirit of God in the law did so bear witness unto 
theni of their bondage and miserable slavery, that it made 
them to tremble. ISow there, under the person of the Ro- 
mans, the apostle speaks to all believers, and so shows that 
it is eveiy Christian's common case*." 

" The law hath its use to work neraiseXeiav, peniteidiam ; 
the gospel its force to work /jLeravo'iav, resipiscentiam ; and 
both are needful for Christians even at this present, as for- 
merly they have ever beent." 

" God's mercy may not be such whereby his truth in any 
sort should be impeached, as it should if it be prostituted 
indifferently and promiscuously to all, as well the insolent 
and impenitent, as the poor, humble, and broken-hearted 
sinner. For unto these latter only is the promise of mercy 
made. And if to others the gate of mercy should be set 
open, God's mercies (as Solomon saith of the wicked's, that 
they are cruel mercies) should be false and unjust mercies. 
But God never yet learned so to be merciful as to make 
himself false and unfaithful. The first thing that draws 
unto Christ is to consider our miserable estate without him. 
Therefore we see that the law drives men to Christ ; and 
the law doth it by showing a man his sin, and the curse 
due unto the same. We must know, that nothing per- 
formed of us can give satisfaction in this matter of humi- 
liation. Yet it is a thing without which we cannot come 
to Christ : it is as much as if a man should say, the physi- 
cian is ready to heal thee, but then it is required that thou 
must have a sense of the disease, &c. No man will come 
to Christ except he be hungry. Only those that are troubled 
receive the Gospel. 

" No man will take Christ for his husband, till he come 
to know and feel the weight of Satan's yoke. Till that time 
he will never come to take upon him the yoke of Christ. 

"To all you 1 speak that are humbled. Others, that 
mind not this doctrine, regard not the things of this nature ; 
but you that mourn in Zion, that are broken-hearted ; you 
that know the bitterness of sin, to you is this salvation 
sent J." 

" Under the causes I comprehend all that work of God 
whereby he worketh faith in any, which standeth especially 
in these three things :— 

* Ibid, chap, ii. 

i Hinde, of the Office and Use of the Moral Law of God in tiie Days 
of the Tjospel. 
X Dike, of the Deceitfulnesi of Man's Heart, chap. xv. 

K 3 



102 INSTKUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

" 1. That God by his word and Spirit first enlighteneth 
the understanding, truly to conceive the doctrine of man's 
misery, and of his full recovery by Christ. 

"2. By the same means he worketh in his heart both such 
sound sorrow for his misery, and fervent desire after Christ 
the remedy, that he can never be at quiet till he enjoy 
Christ. 

" 3. (iod so manifesteth his love in freely offering Christ 
with all his benefits to him, a poor sinner, that thereby he 
draws him so to give credit to God therein, that he gladly 
accepts Christ offered unto him. 

" These three works of God, whosoever findeth to have 
been wrought in himself, he may thereby know certainly 
he hath faith ; but without these, what change of life soever 
may be conceived, there can be no certainty of faith*." 

" The law first breaks us and kills us with the sight and 
guilt of sin, before Christ cures us and binds us up. 

" The Holy Ghost worketh and maketh faith effectual by 
these three acts : — 

" First, it puts an efficacy into the law, and makes that 
powerful to work on the heart ; to make a man poor in 
spirit, so that he may be fit to receive the gospel. The 
spirit of bondage must make the law effectual, as the spirit 
of adoption doth the gospel, Sec. 

" The second work is to reveal Christ when the heart is 
prepared by the Spirit in the first work ; then in the next 
place he shows the unsearchable riches of Christ, what is 
the hope of his calling and the glorious inheritance pre- 
pared for the saints, what is the exceeding greatness of his 
power in them that believe. I say we need the Spirit to 
show these things, Ike. 

" The third act of the Spirit is the testimony which he 
gives to our spirit, in telling us that these things are ours. 
When the heart is prepared by the law, and when these 
things are so showed unto us that we prize them and long 
after them, yet there must be a third thing : to take them 
to ourselves, to believe they are ours : and there needs a 
work of the Spirit for this. For though the promises be 
never so clear, yet having nothing but the promises, you 
will never be able to apply them to yourselves. But when 
the Holy Ghost shall say, Christ is thine ; all these things 
belong to thee, and God is thy Father ; when that shall 
witness to our spirit by a work of his own, then shall we 
believe, &c.+ " 

"This is the order observed in our justification: First, 
* Calverwell, in his Treatise of Faith. 
t Throgmorton, in his Treatise of Faith. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 103 

Iheie is a sight of our misery, to which we are brought by 
the law. Secondly, there is by the gospel a holding forth 
of Christ, as our redemption from sin and death. Thirdly, 
there is a working of faith in the heart to rest on Christ as 
the ransom from sin and death. Now when a man is come 
hither, he is truly and really just*." 

" We teach, that in true conversion a man must be 
wounded in his conscience by the sense of Lis sins. His 
contrition must be pungent and vehement, bruising, break- 
ing, rending the heart, and feeling the pains (as a woman 
labouring of child) before the new creature be brought 
forth, or Christ truly formed in him. It is not done without 
bitterness of the soul, without care, indignation, revenge 
(2 Cor. vii, 11). But as some infants are born with less 
pain to the mother, and some with more ; so may the new 
man be regenerated in some with more, in some wiih less 
anxiety of travail. But surely grace is not infused into the 
heart of any sinner, except there be at least so great afflic- 
tion of spirit for sin foregoing that he cannot but feel it," 
&c.t 

"This bruising is required before conversion. 1. That 
so the Spirit may make way for itself into the heart by 
levelling all proud high thoughts, &c. 2. To make us set 
a high price upon Christ's death. — This is the cause of re- 
lapses and apostasies, because men never smarted for sin 
at the first. They were not long enough under the lash of 
the law. Hence this inferior work of the Spirit in bringing 
down high thoughts is necessary before conversion^." 



CHAP. II. 

Danbers reprehended. Faithfulness in preaching and Daubing com- 
pared. 

By this time it doth most clearly and plentifully appear 
what a foul and fearful fault it is, for men, either in the 
managing of their public ministry, or in their more private 
conferences, visitations of the sick, consultations about a 
good estate to God-ward, and other occasions of like nature, 
to apply Jesus Christ and the promises, to promise life and 
safety in the evil day, to souls as yet not soundly enlight- 
ened and afflicted with sight of sin and sense of God's 
wrath ; to consciences never truly wounded and awakened. 

* Baiue, in his Sermon upon John iii. 16. 

t Cade, in his Justification of the Church of England, lib. i, cap. v 
sec. 1. 

t Sibbs, in his Bruised Reed. 



104 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

I insisted the longer upon this point, because I know it full 
well to be a most universal and prevailing policy of the 
devil, whereby he keeps many thousands in his cursed sla- 
very, and from salvation, to confirm as many pastors as he 
can possibly, willing enough to drive their flocks before 
them to perdition iii an ignorant or affected prejudice, and 
forbearance of that saving method of bringing souls out of 
hell, mentioned before, and made good with much variety 
of evidence ; and to nourish also in the hearts of natural 
men a strong and sturdy dislike, opposition, and raging 
against downright dealing and those men of God (sufficient, 
as they say, but falsely and against their own souls, by 
their terrible teaching to drive their hearers to distraction, 
self-destruction, or despair) who take the only right course 
to convert them and to bring them to Jesus Christ as he 
himself invites them, to wit, " labouring and heavy laden" 
with their sins (Matt, xi, 28). 

Daubers, then, who serve Satan's craft in this kind, and 
all those who dispense their ministry without all spiritual 
discretion and good conscience, of whom there are too 
many, as great strangers to the right way of working 
grace in others as to the woik of grace in themselves ; 
i say, they are a generation of dangerous men ; adepts 
in an accursed art of conducting poor blinded souls 
merrily towards everlasting misery, and setting them down 
in the very midst of bell, before they be sensible of 
any danger, or discovery of their perilous state. Great men 
they are with the men of this world, with all those wise 
fools and sensual great ones, who are not willing to be tor- 
mented befoie their time, or rather who desire impossibly 
to live the life of pleasures now, and yet at last to " die the 
death of the righteous." They have still ready at hand 
mercy and pardon, heaven and salvation for all comers, 
and all that come near, without so much as a desire to put 
any difference, or to divide the precious from the vile, wliich 
is a prodigiously arrogant folly, pernicious in the highest 
degree both to their own souls and those they delude. 
Hear how they are branded in the Book of God, calling 
them, "pillow-sewers" under men's elbows (Ezek.xiii, 18); 
that being laid soft and locked fast in the cradle of security, 
they may sink suddenly into the pit of destruction before 
they be aware. "Criers of Peace, peace, when there is 
no peace" (Jer.vi, 14), but horrible stirs ; tumbling of gar- 
ments in blood ; burning and devouring of fire ; " men- 
pleaseis" (Gal. i, 10), who choose rather to tickle the 
itching ears of their carnal hearers with some frothy, friar- 
like conceits, and so smooth great ones in their humours 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 105 

by their cowardly flatteries (especially if they any ways 
depend upon them for maintenance, rising, and preferment) ; 
rather than conscientiously to discharge that trust laid upon 
them by their great Lord and Master in heaven, upon 
answerableness for the blood of those souls which shall 
perish by their temporizing silence and flattering unfaith- 
fulness. Healers of the hurt of their hearers with sweet 
words (Jer. vi, 14), while their souls aie bleeding by the 
wounds of sin unto eternal death. Preachers of smooth 
things (Tsa. xxx, 10); which kind of men, the greatest part, 
and all worldlings, wonderfully affect and applaud, though 
to their own everlasting undoing. They swell under such 
teachers with a pharisaical conceit that they are as safe 
for salvation as the precisest of them all. But, alas ! their 
hope is but like a hollow wall, which being put to any stress 
when the tempest of God's searching wrath begins to shake 
it, in the time of a final trial of its truth and soundness, it 
shatters into pieces and comes to nought. Hear the pro- 
phet : " Now go, write it before them in a table, and note 
it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever 
and ever : that this is a rebellious people, lying children, 
children that will not hear the law of the Lord : which say 
to the seers, See not ; and to the prophets. Prophesy not 
unto us right things ; speak unto us smooth things ; pro- 
phesy deceits : get you out of the way, turn aside out of 
the path, cause the. Holy One of Israel to cease from before 
us. Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because 
ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverse- 
ness, and stay thereon ; therefore this iniquity shall be to 
you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, 
whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant. And he 
shall break it as the breaking of the potter's vessel that is 
broken in pieces ; he shall not spare : so that there shall 
not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from 
the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit" (Is'a.xxx, 
8—14). "Daubers with untempered mortar" (Ezek.xiii, 11), 
who erect in the conceits of those who are willing to be de- 
luded by them (pharisees ai the best) a rotten building of 
false hope, like a " mud-wall without straw, or mortar made 
only of sand without lime to bind it," which in fair weather 
makes a fair show for a while ; but when abundance of rain 
falls and winter comes, it moulders away and turns to mire 
in the streets. Their vain-confidence in prosperous times, 
before it come to the touchstone of the fiery trial by God's 
searching truth, may seem current ; but in the tempest of 
God's wrath, when the stormy winter's night of death ap- 
proacheth, or at furthest at the judgment-seat of the just 



106 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

and highest God, it proves to be counterfeit ; when at the 
last they shall cry " Lord, Lord," like the foolish virgins, 
and those JNJat. vii, instead of imaginary comfort they shall 
be crushed with horrible and everlasting confusion. Hear 
the prophet : " Say unto them which daub it with untem- 
pered mortar, that it shall fall : there shall be an overflow- 
ing shower, and ye, O great hail-stones, shall fall, and a 
stormy wind shall rend it. Lo, when the wall is fallen, 
shall it not be said unto you, Where is the daubing where- 
vvith ye have daubed it 1 Therefore thus saith the Lord 
Crod, I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury j 
and there shall be an overflowing shower in mine anger, 
and great hail-stones in my fury to consume it. So will 
I break down the wall that ye have daubed with untera- 
pered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that the 
foundation thereof shall be discovered, and it shall fall, 
and ye shall be consumed in the midst thereof: and ye shall 
know that 1 am the Lord. Thus will I accomplish my 
wrath upon the wall, and upon them that have daubed it 
with untempered mortar, and will say unto you, The wall 
is no more, neither they that daubed it ; to wit, the pro- 
phets of Israel, which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, 
and which see visions of peace for her, and there is no 
peace, saith the Lord God" (Ezek. xiii, 11 — 16). Such as 
"with lies make the heart of the righteous sad, whom God 
hath not made sad ; and strengthen the hands of the wicked, 
that he should not return from his wicked way, by promis- 
ing him life" (ver. 22) ; these fellows hold, and would per- 
suade mere civil men, that their estate is sound enough to 
God-ward, whatsoever the purer and preciser brethren 
prate to the contrary ; and yet the Holy Ghost tells us, 
that " without holiness no man shall see the Lord" (Heb. 
xii, 14 : — That formal professors are very forward men; 
whereas Jesus Christ professeth that he will " spew the 
lukewarm out of his mouth :" — Nay, and if there be talk 
even of a good fellow, especially of some more commen- 
dable natural parts and plausible cariage ; if he be so but 
moderately, if 1 may so speak, and not every day drunk ; 
Well, well, will they say, we have all our faults, and that 
is his. But as concerning the faithful servant of God, they 
are wont to entertain the same thought of him which Ahab 
did of Elijah, that " he was a troubler of Israel ;" which 
one of the captains had of the prophet sent to anoint Jehu, 
that he was a mad fellow ; which the false prophets had of 
Micaiah, that he was a fellow of a singular and odd hu- 
mour by himself, and guided by a private spirit of his own ; 
which Tertullus had of Paul, that he was a pestilent fellow ;, 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 107 

which the Pharisees had of Christ's followers, that they 
were a contemptible and cursed generation, a company of 
base, rude, illiterate underlings. Nay, sometimes when 
the rnad fit is upon them, they will not stick to charge God's 
people in some proportion most wickedly and falsely, as 
the ancient heathens did the primitive Christians — with 
conventicles and meetings of hateful impurities, faction, 
disaffection to Cesar, and jnany other horrible things ; 
vvhereas, poor souls, they were most innocent, and infi- 
nitely abhorred all such villanies ; and they met in the 
morning, even before day, not to do, God knows, any such 
ill, but for the service of God (even their most ingenious 
adversaries being witnesses), to sing praises to Christ. 
God, to confirm their discipliae, forbidding all manner of 
sin, (Sec; — with all the miscarriages, miseries, and calamities 
that fell upon the state, as though they were the causes. 
Whereas those few neglected ones which truly serve God 
are the only men in all places where they live to make up 
the hedge, and to stand in the gap against the threatened 
inundations of God's di'eadful wrath ; and all the opposites 
to their holy profession are the real enemies of kingdoms, 
able by their dissoluteness and disgracing godliness to dis- 
solve the sinews of the strongest state upon earth. Look 
upon Amos iv, 1, 2, and there you shall find who they are 
which cause God to enter a controversy with the inhabit- 
ants of a land. 

Hear how Austin describes some of these self-seeking and 
soul-murdering daubers in his days : " Far be it from us," 
saith he, " that we should say unto you, live as you list, do 
not trouble yourselves, God will cast away none, only hold 
the Christian faith. He will not destroy that which he 
hath redeemed, he will not destroy those for whom he hath 
shed his blood; and if you please to recreate yourselves at 
plays, you may go ; what hurt is there in it 1 And you 
may go to those feasts which are kept in all towns by jovial 
companions, making themselves merry, as they suppose, at 
these public meetings, but indeed rather making them- 
selves most miserable ; I say you may go and be jovial, 
God's mercy is great and may pardon all. Crown your- 
selves with roses before they wither. You may fill your- 
selves with good cheer and wine amongst your good-fellow 
companions ; for the creature is given unto us for that pur- 
pose, that we may enjoy it. — If we say these things, per- 
adventure we shall have greater multitudes applaud and 
adhere unto our doctrine. And if there be some, which 
think, that speaking these things we are not well advised, 
we offend but a few, and those precise ones ; but we win 



108 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

thereby a world of people. But if we shall thus do, speak- 
ing not the words of God, not the words of Christ, but our 
own ; we shall be pastors feeding ourselves, not our flock*.' 

The author of the imperfect commentary in Chrysostomj. 
sorted by somebody into homilies upon Matthew, seems to 
intimate, that the cause of the overflowing and rankness oi 
iniquity is the baseness of these self-preaching men-pleasers. 
*' Take this fault from the clergy," saith he, " to wit, thai 
they be not men-pleasers, and all sins are easily cut down ;' 
but if they blunt the edge of the sword of the Spirit with 
daubing, flattery, temporizing ; or strike with it in a scabbard 
garishly and gaudily embroidered with variety of human 
learning, tricks of wit, friar-like conceits, &c., it cannot 
possibly cut to any purpose ; it kills the soul, but not the 
sin. They are the only men, howsoever worldly wisdom 
rave, and unsanctified learning be beside itself, to beat 
down sin, batter the bulwarks of the devil, and build up 
the kingdom of Christ, who, setting aside all private ends 
and bye-respects, all vain- glorious, covetous, and ambitious 
aims ; all serving the times, projects for preferment, hope 
of rising, fear of the face of man, &c. address themselves 
with faithfulness and zeal to the work of the Lord, seeking 
sincerely to glorify him in converting men's souls " by the 
foolishness of that preaching," which God hath sanctitied 
"to save them that believe,'' in a word, who labour to 
imitate their Lord and Master Jesus Christ and his blessed 
apostles in teaching " as men having authority ;" in "de- 
monstration of the Spirit and power, and not as the scribes." 
By embroidered scabbard, I mean the very same which 
King James not long before his death did most truly out 
of his deep and excellent wisdom conceive to be the bane 
of this kingdom; to wit, "a light, affected, and unprofit- 
able kind of preaching, which hath been of late years taken 
up in court, university, city, and country." Hear some- 
thing more largely what reason led his royal judgment to 
this resolution, and desire of reformation : — 

" His Majesty being much troubled and grieved at the 
heart to hear every day of so many defections from our 
religion, both to popery and anabapiism, or other points of 
separation, in some parts of this kingdom ; and considering 
with much admiration what might be the cause thereof, 
especially in the reign of such a king, who doth so con- 
stantly profess himself an open adversary to the superstition 
of the one, and madness of the other ; his princely wisdom 
could fall upon no one greater probability, than the light- 

♦ Lib. de Pastoribus, toin. ix. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 109 

ness, affected ness, and unprofitablene.ss of that kind of 
preachini;, which hath been of late years too much taken 
up in court, university, city, and country. The usual scope 
of very many preachers is noted to be a soaring up in 
points of divinity, too deep for the capacity of the people ; 
or a mustering up of much reading, or a displaying of their 
own wits, &c. Now the people bred up with this kind of 
teaching, and never instructed in the catechism and funda- 
mental grounds of religion, are for all this airy nourishment 
no better than abrasa: tahulce, mere table books, ready to be 
filled up, either with the manuals and catechisms of the 
popish priests, or the papers and pamphlets of anabap- 
tists*," &c. 

In another place he resembles with admirable fitness the 
unprofitable pomp and painting of such self-seeking dis- 
courses, patched together, and stuffed with a vain-glorious 
variety of human allegations, " to the red and blue floweis 
that pester the corn, when it stands in the field ; where they 
are more noisome to the growing crop than beautiful to the 
beholding eye" — they are King James's own words t; 
whereupon a little after he tells the Cardinal, that " it was 
no decorum to enter the stage with a Pericles in his mouth, 
but with the sacred name of God. Nor should his lordship," 
saith his Majesty, " have marshalled the passage of a royal 
prophet and poet, after the example of a heathen orator." 

These things being so, how pestilent is the an of spiritual 
daubing! What miserable men are men-pleasers, who 
being appointed to help men's souls out of hell, carry them 
headlong and hoodwinked by their unfaithfulness and 
flatteries towards everlasting miseries? Oh, how much 
better were it, and comfortable for every man that enters 
upon and undertakes that most weighty and dreadful charge 
of the ministry, a burthen, as some of the ancients elegantly 
amplify it, able to make the shoulders of the most mighty 
angel in heaven to shiink under it, to tread in the steps of 
blessed Paul, by using " no flattering words, nor u cloak of co- 
vetousness, nor seeking glory of men ; but preaching in season 
and out of season ; not as the scribes, but in the demonstra- 
tion of the Spirit and of power ; keeping nothing back that 
is profitable, declaring unto their hearers all the counsel of 
God ; " holding the spiritual children which God hath 
given them, their " gloiy, joy, and crown of rejoicing ; still 
watching for the souls of tlieir flock, as they that must give 

* King James. The reasons of the I'ving's directions fur Preacliing 
and Preitchers, as I received them from the ha.'id of a public register. 

t In tiie Preface to his Remonstrance against an Oration of Car- 
dinal Perron. 

L 



no INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

account" (Heb. xiii, 17) ; the terror of which place, Chry- 
sostom professeth, made his heart to tremble ; — I say, by 
such holy and heavenly behaviour as this, in their ministry, 
to be able at least to say with him in sincerity, not without 
unspeakable comfort ; " I take you to record this day that 
I am pure from the blood of all men ! " (Acts xx, 26.) Let 
us be moved to this course and frighted from the contrary by 
consideration of the different effects and consequences of 
plain dealing and daubing, in respect of comfort or confu- 
sion. Faithfulness this way, — 

1. Begets those which belong unto God to grace and new 
obedience. See Peter's piercing sermon, Acts ii, 14—36. 

2. Recovers those Christians which are fallen, by remorse 
and repentance, to their former forwardness and first love. 
See Nathan's downright dealing with David, 2 Sam. xii, 
7-13. 

3. Makes those which will not be reformed inexcusable. 
See Paul's Sermon to Felix, Acts xxiv, 25. How strangely 
will this man be confounded, and more than utterly without 
all excuse, when he shall meet Paul at that great day be- 
fore the highest Judge ! 

4. It is very pleasing and profitable to upright- hearted 
men, and all such as happily hold on in a constant and com- 
fortable course of Christianity. " Do not my words do 
good to him that walketh uprightly!" (Micah ii, 7.) Jt 
makes them still more humble, zealous, watchful, heavenly- 
minded, &c. 

5. Hardens the rebellious and contumacious. See Isa. vi. 
In which faithful ministers are also "unto God a sweet 
savour of Christ" (2 (^or. ii, 15). 

6. And the man of God himself shall hereafter blessedly 
" shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars 
for ever and ever ; " and all those happy ones which he 
hath pulled out of hell by his downright dealing, shall reign 
and rejoice with him in unknown and unspeakable bliss 
through all eternity. 

But now on the other side, the effects of daubing and 
men -pleasing are most accursed and pestilent in many 
respects. 

1. In respect of God's word and messages : First, not 
dividing it and dispensing them aright. Secondly, dis- 
honouring the majesty and weakening the power of them 
many times with the unprofitable mixture of human allega- 
tions, ostentations of wit, fine friar-like conceits, &c. Even 
as we may see at harvest time a land of j;ood corn quite 
choked up with red, blue, and yellow flowers, as Kintj 
James doth excellently nllude in the forecited place. Thirdly, 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. Ill 

iearful profaning ihem by misapplication against Cod's 
will, "making the heart of the righteous sad, whom God 
would not have made sad : and strengthening the hands of 
the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, 
by promising him life " (Ezek. xiii, 22). Fourthly, viilanous 
perverting and abusing them to their own advantage, ap- 
plause, rising, revenge, and such other private ends. 

2. In respect of the flattering and unfaithful ministers 
themselves. First, extreme vileness (Isa. ix, 15). Secondly, 
guiltiness of spiritual bloodshed (Ezek. iii, 18). Thirdly, 
liableness to the fierce wrath of God in the day of visitation 
(Jer. xiv, 15 ; 1 Kings xxii, 25). 

3. In respect of their hearers, who delight in their lies, 
in their smooth and silken sermons; sudden, horrible, and 
unavoidable confusion (Isa. xxx, 13, 14). 

4. Burning both together in hell for ever without timely 
and true repentance, cursing there each other continually, 
and crying with mutual hideous yellings, " O thou destroyer 
of our souls, hadst thou been faithful in thy ministry, we 
had escaped these eternal flames ! " — " O miserable man 
that I am ! Wo is me that ever I was minister ; for now, 
besides the horror due unto the guiltiness of mine own un- 
done soul, I have drawn upon me by my unfaithfsl dealing 
the cry of the blood of all those souls who have perished 
under my ministry, to the everlasting enraging of my already 
intolerable torment," 

Give me leave to conclude this point with that pathetical 
and zealous passage of reverend and learned Greenham 
against negligent pastors, amongst whom I may justly rank 
and reckon all daubers and men-pleasers ; for self-preachers 
are for the most part seldom-preachers. Hear his words : — 

" Were there any love of God from their hearts in those, 
who, instead of feeding to salvation, starve many thousands 
to destruction ; I dare say, and say it boldly, that for all 
the promotions under heaven they would notofl'er that injury 
to one soul, that now they offer to many hundred souls. 
But, Lord, how do they think to give up their reckoning to 
thee, who in most strict account wilt take the answer of 
every soul committed unto them one by one ! Or with what 
concern do they often hear that vehement speech of our 
Saviour Christ, Feed, feed, feed ! With what eyes do they 
so often read that piercing speech of the apostle. Feed the 
flock committed unto you ! But if none of these will move 
them, then the Lord open their eyes to hear the grievous 
groans of many souls lying under the grisly altars of de- 
struction, and complaining against them ; * O Lord, the 
revenger of blood, behold theso men whom thou hast set 



11-2 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

over us to give us the bread of life, but they have not given 
it us. Our tongues and the tongues of our children have 
stuck to the roof of our mouths for calling and crying, and 
they would not take pity on us. We have given tbem the 
tenths v^hich thou appointedst us, but they have not given 
us thy truth which thou hast commanded them. Reward 
them, O Lord, as they have rev/arded us. J>et the bread 
between their teeth turn to rottenness in the boweh. Let 
them be clothed with shame and confusion of face as with a 
garment. Let their wealth, as the dung from the earth, be 
swept away by their executors ; and upon their gold and 
silver, which they have falsely treasured up, let continually 
be written, The price of blood, the price of blood ; for it 
is the value of our blood, O Lord. If thou didst hear the 
blood of Abel, being but one man, forget not the blood of 
many, when thou goest into judgment *.' " 



CHAP. III. 

A general Direction for avoiding the former Error. 

I NOW leturn to rectify and tender a remedy against the first 
aberration, which I told you was this : \Vhen mercy, Christ, 
the promises, salvation, heaven, and all are applied hand 
over head, and falsely appropriated to unhumbled sinners, 
whose souls were never rightly enlightened with sight of sin 
and weight of God's wrath, nor afflicted to any purpose 
with any legal wound or hearty compunction by the spirit 
of bondage ; in whose hearts a sense of their spiritual misery 
and want hath not yet raised a restless and kindly thirst 
after Jesus Christ ; in this case my advice is, that all those 
who deal with others about their spiritual states, and under- 
take to direct in that high and weighty affair of men's salva- 
tion, cither publicly or privately, in their ministry, visita- 
tions of the sick, or otherwise ; that they would follow that 
course of which I largely discoursed a little before, taken 
by God himself, his prophets, his Son, the apostles, and all 
those men of God in all ages who have set themselves with 
sincerity, faithfulness, and all good conscience to seek God's 
glory in the salvation of men's souls, to discharge aright 
their dreadful charge, and " to keep themselves pure from 
the blood of all men ; " to wit, that they labour with all 
earnestness, in the first place, by the knowledge, power, 
and application of the law, to enlighten, convince, and 

* Godly Observations, concerning divers Arguments and Commcit 
Pliices ill Religion, chap. xiii. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. lU 

lerrify those that they have to do with, concerning conver- 
sion, with a sensible, particular apprehension and acknow- 
ledgment of their wretcliedness and miserable estate, by 
reason of their sinfulness and cursedness ; to break their 
hearts, bruise their spirits, humble their souls, wound and 
awake their consciences ; to bring them by all means to that 
legal astonishment, trouble of mind, and melting temper, 
whicli the ministry of John Baptist, Paul, and Peter 
wrought upon the hearts of their hearers (Luke iii, 10, 12, 
14; Acts ii, 37; xvi, 30), that they may come crying feel- 
ingly and from the heart to those men of God who happily 
fastened those keen arrows of compunction and remorse in 
the sides of their consciences; and say, "Men and 
brethren, what shall we dol Sirs, what must we do to be 
saved { '' As if they sliould have said, Alas ! we see now 
we have been in hell all this while ; and if we had gone on 
a little longer, we had most certainly lain for ever in the 
fiery lake. The devil and our own lusts were carrying us 
hoodwinked and headlong towards endless perdition. Who 
would have thought we had been such abominable beasts 
and abhorred creatures as your ministry hath made us, and 
in so forlorn and woful estate? Now, you blessed men of 
God, help us out of this gulf of spiritual confusion, or we 
are lost everlastingly. By your discovery of our present 
sinful and cursed estate, we feel our hearts torn in pieces 
with extreme and restless anguish, as though many fiery 
scorpions' stings stuck fast in them. Either lead us to the 
sight of that blessed antitype of the brazen serpent to cool 
and allay the boiling rage of our guilty wounds, or we are 
utterly undone. Either bring us to the blood of that just 
and holy One, which with execrable villany we have spilt 
as water upon the ground, that it may bind up our broken 
hearts, or they will presently burst with despair and bleed 
to eternal death. Give us to drink of that sovereign foun- 
tain opened by the hand of mercy for all thirsty souls, or 
else we die. There is nothing you can prescribe and appoint, 
but we will most willingly do. We will with all our hearts 
"pluck out our right eyes, cut off our right hands;" we 
mean, part with our beloved lusts and dearest sinful plea- 
sures ; abominate and abandon them all for ever, from the 
heart root to the pit of hell. If we can be rid of the devil's 
fetters, welcome shall be Christ's sweet and easy yoke. In 
a word, we will sell all, even all our sins, to the last filthy 
rag of our heretofore doted-upon and darling delight, so that 
we may enjoy our blessed Jesus, whom you have told us, 
and we now believe, "God hath made both Lord and 
Christ." 

L 3 



114 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

Now, when we shall see and find in some measure the 
hearts of our hearers and spiritual patients thus prepared, 
both by legal dejections and terrors from the spirit of bond- 
age, and also possessed with such melting and eager affec- 
tions, wrought by the light of the gospel and offer of Christ ; 
when their souls once begin to feel ail sins, even their best 
beloved one, heavy and burthensome ; to prize Jesus Christ 
far before all the world ; to thirst for him infinitely more 
than for riches, pleasures, honours, or any earthly thing .; 
to resolve to take him as their husband, and to obey him as 
their Lord for ever, and all this in truth ; — 1 say, then and 
in this case we may have reason to minister comfort ; then 
upon good ground we may go about our Master's command, 
which man-pleasers many times pitifully abuse, " Comfort 
ye, comfort ye my people : " I mean in respect of spiritual 
bondage. "Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry 
unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity 
is pardoned " (Isa. xl, 1, 2). We may tell them with what 
a compassionate and tender address God himself labours to 
refresh them. " O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and 
not comforted, behold, 1 will lay thy stones with fair 
colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires" (Isa. liv, 
11). We may assure them in the word of life and truth, 
that Jesus Christ is theirs, and they are his ; and compel 
them, as it were, by a holy violence, not without a great 
deal of just indignation against their loathness to believe 
and holding off in this case, to take his person, his merit, 
his blood, all his spiritual riches, privileges, excellencies, 
and with him possession of all things, even of the most 
glorious Deity itself, blessed for ever. See 1 Cor. iii, 21, 22, 
23; Johnxvii,21. 

But now in the mean time, until sense of spiritual misery 
and poverty raise an hunger and thirst after Jesus Christ, 
before such like preparations and precedent affections as 
have been spoken of be wrought in the hearts of men by 
pressing the law and proclaiming the gospel, and that in 
sinceiity (for the degree and measure we leave it to God, 
as a most free agent, in some they may be stronger, in some 
weaker), the preaching or promising of mercy, as already 
belonging unto them, is far more unseasonable and unseemly 
than snow in summer, rain in harvest, or honour for a fool. 
It is, in short, the very sealing them up with the spirit of 
delusion, that they may never so much as think of taking 
the right course to be converted. What sottish and sacri- 
legious audaciousness then is it in any dauber to thrust his 
profane hand into the treasury of God's mercy, and there 
carelessly, without any allowance from his highest ]-,ord, to 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 115 

scatter his dearest and most orient pearls amongst swine! 
To warrant salvation to any unhumbled sinner! "To 
strengthen the hands of the wicked," who never yet took 
sin to heart to any purpose ; and thirst far more (such true 
Gadarenes are they) after gold, satisfying their own lusts 
and perking above their brethren, than for the blood of 
Christ, by promising them life ! To assure mere civil men, 
and Pharisees, who are so far from the sense of any spiritual 
poverty, that they are already swoln as full as the skin will 
hold with a self-conceit of their own rotten righteousness, 
that they shall be saved as well as the most strict disciple 
of Christ I Especially since there is such a cloud of wit- 
nesses to the contrary, as you have heard before. Besides 
all which, upon this occasion take two or three more. Hear 
a most faithful and fruitful workman in the Lord's harvest, 
of great skill, experience, and success in the most glorious 
art of converting souls, which makes me more willing to 
urge his authority, and esteem his judgment in points of 
this nature*. "None," saith he, "can prove or show 
precedent, that faith was wrought in an instant at first, 
without any preparation going before. Nor can it be con- 
ceived how a man should believe in Christ for salvation, 
that felt not himself before in a miserable estate, and 
wearied with it, and desired to get out of it into a better. 
As the needle goes before to pierce the cloth, and makes 
way for the thread to sew it, so is it in this case." After- 
ward he tells us how and in what inanner and order these 
predispositions and preparative acts, required for the plan- 
tation of faith and so securing us of the right season, and 
a comfortable calling to assure men of spiritual safety, are 
wrought in such as God is drawing unto Jesus Christ. He 
requires from the law, first, illumination ; secondly, convic- 
tion ; thirdly, legal terror. From the gospel, by the help of 
the Spirit : first, revealing the remedy ; secondly, belief of it 
in general ; thirdly, present support from sinking under the 
burthen and falling into despair ; fourthly, contrition, which 
is attended with some kind of, first, desire ; secondly, re- 
quest ; thirdly, care ; fourthly, hope ; fifthly, joy ; sixthly, 
hungering and thirsting after mercy and after Christ ; 
seventhly, resolution to sell all, to wit, all sins, not to leave 
a hoof behind, &c. " And thus," saith he, " God brings 
along the man that he purposeth to make his ; and when he 
is at this pass, God seals it up to him and enables him to 
believe ; and saith. Since thou wilt have no nay, be it unto 
thee according to thy desire ; and God seals him up by the 

* Uogers of Deilhain, in his Doctrine of Faith. 



116 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

Spirit of promise, as surely as any writing is made sure by 
sealing of it. Then he believes the word of God, and 
rests and casts himself upon it. And thus he finds himself 
discharged of all woe, made partaker of all good, at peace 
in himself, and fitted and in tune to do God service. This 
is to some sooner, to some later, according to the helps 
and means they have, and wise handling they meet withal, 
aiid as God gives power. It is hard to say at what instant 
faith is wrought, whether not till a man feels that he appre- 
hends tire promises, or even in his earnest desires, hunger- 
ing and diirsting ; for even these are pronounced blessed." 

But here (for 1 desire and endeavour as much as I can 
possibly in every passage to prevent all matter both of 
scruple in the upright-hearted, and of cavil in the contrary 
minded) let no truly humbled sinner be discouraged, because 
he cannot find in himself these several workings, or other 
graces, in that degree and height, which he desires and hath 
perhaps seen, heard, or read of in some others. If he have 
them in truth, and truly thirsts and labours for their increase, 
he may go on with comfort. Neither let any be disheart- 
ened, though he did not observe so distinctly the order of 
the precedent acts, nor could discern so punctually their 
several operations in his soul ; yet, if in substance and ef- 
fect they have been wrought in him, and made way for 
Jesus Christ, he need not complain. 

As this man of God in experimental divinity, so our re- 
nowned and invincible champions in their polemical dis- 
courses upon other occasions speak to the same purpose, 
telling us also of some antecedent acts humbling and pre- 
paring the soul for conversion. " There are," say they, 
" certain internal effects going before conversion or regene- 
ration, which by virtue of the word and Spirit are wrought 
in the hearts of tliose which are not yet justified ; such as, 
illumination of the mind and conscience with the know- 
ledge of the word and will of God for that purpose ; sense of 
sin ; fear of punishment, or legal terror ; advising and cast- 
ing about for enlargement from such a miserable estate ; 
some hope of pardon*," &c. Let me but add one other, 
and he also of excellent learning, and then I have done. 
" Such is the nature of man," saith het, " that before he 
can receive a true justifying faith, he must, as it were, be 
broken in pieces by the law (Jer. xxiii, 29). We are to be 
led from the fear of slaves through the fear of penitents to 
the fear of sons ; and indeed one of these makes way for 

* Sutfrag. Colleg. Tlieologoruiii Magna' lUitamiiie. 
+ Yates, in his Model of L>iviuity, book ii, chap. xxvi. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 117 

another, and the perfect love thrusts out fear; yet must 
fear bring in that perfect love, as a needle or bristle draws 
in the thread after it; or as the potion brings health. In 
the preparation and fitting us for our being in Christ, he 
requireth two things : First, the cutting us otl' as it were from 
the wild olive-tree: by wfiich he meaneth two things: 1st, 
a violent pulling of us out of the corruption of nature, or a 
cutting, as it were, by the knife of the law, of an unregene- 
rate man from his security, &c. : 2dly, a violent attrac- 
tion to Christ for ease ; man at the first plainly refusing it. 
The hunted beast flies to his den, the pursued malefactor to 
the horns of the altar, or city of refuge. Paul's misery 
drives him to God's mercy (Rom. vii, 24). The Israelites 
•are driven into their chambers by the destroying angel ; 
Balaam is made to lean back by the naked sword ; Agur to 
run to Ithiel and Ucal, that is, Christ, when he is con- 
founded with his own brutishness (Prov. xxx, 1, 2, 3). God 
must let loose his law, sin, conscience, and Satan to bait us, 
and kindle hell fire in our souls, before we shall be driven 
to seek to Christ. Secondly, a paring and trimming of us 
for our putting into Christ by our humiliation for sin, which 
is thus wrought. God giveth the sinner to see by the law 
his sin and the punishment of it, the detection whereof 
drives him to compunction and a pricking of heart, which is 
greater or lesser, and carries with it divers symptoms and 
sensible passions of grief; and works a sequestration from 
his former courses, and makes him loathe himself,'* &cc. 

And yet by the way take this caution and forewarning : 
If any should think of these precedent acts, these prepara- 
tive workings of the law and gospel, which make way for 
the infusion of faith, as any meritorious means to draw on 
Christ, it were a m.ost false, rotten, foolish, execrable, po- 
pish, absurd, Luciferian misconceit, and might justly merit 
never to obtain mercy at God's bountiful hands, nor part 
in the merits of Christ. I speak thus to fright every one 
for ever from any such abhorred thought. God the Father 
offers his Son most freely. " God so loved the world, that 
he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on 
him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John iii, 
16). " Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given" 
(Isa. ix, 6). " If thou knewest the gift of God," saith 
Christ unto the woman of Samaria, " and who it is that 
saith to thee, give me to drink." ( Jotin iv, 10). " Much 
more they, which receive abundance of grace, and of the 
gift of righteousness," &;c. (Rom. v, 17). Christ calleth 
himself a " gift," and it is called the "gift of righteous- 
ness ; " and nothing so free as gift. And therefore those di- 



118 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

vines speak not unfitly who say, "It is given unto us, as 
fathers give lands and inheritance to their children; as 
kings give pardons to their subjects, having merited death. 
They give them, because they will, out of the freeness of 
their minds.'' All those who would come unto Christ, and 
desire to take him as their wisdom, rigliteousness, sanctifi- 
cation, and redemption, must be utterly unbottomed of 
themselves, and built only on the rich and free mercy of 
God revealed in the gospel. They must be emptied first of 
all conceit of any righteousness or worth in themselves at 
all. Secondly, of all hope of any ability or possibility to 
help themselves. Nay, tilled, thirdly, with sense of their 
own unworthiness, naughtiness, nothingness. Fourthly, 
and with such a thirst after that water of life, that they are 
most willing to sell all for it, and cry heartily. Give me 
drink, or else I die. And then when they are thus most no- 
thing in themselves, and do so long for the " rivers ot living 
water," they are certainly most welcome unto Jesus Christ, 
and may take him most freely. Hear how sweetly he calls 
them : " Ho ! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the 
waters ; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy, and eat ; 
yea come, buy wine and milk, without money, and without 
price" (Isa. lv,l). "In the last day, that great day of 
the feast, Jesus stood, and cried, saying. If any man thirst, 
let him come unto me and drink. lie that believeth on me, 
as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers 
of living water" (John vii, 37, 38). "It is done: I am 
Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give 
unto him that is atliirst, of the fountain of the water of life 
freely " ( Revel, xxi, 6). " And let him that is athirst come, 
and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" 
(Rev xxii, 17). We must therefore by no means conceive 
of the forenamed preparative humiliations and precedent 
works of the law and gospel as of any meritorious qualifi- 
cations to draw on Christ (for he is given most freely), but 
as of needful predispositions to drive us unto Christ. For 
a man must feel himself in misery before he will go about 
to find a remedy ; be sick before he will seek the physician ; 
be in prison before he will sue for a pardon ; be wounded 
before he will prize a plaister and precious balsam. A 
sinner must be weary of iiis former wicked ways, and tired 
with legal terror, before he will have recourse to Jesus 
Christ for refreshing, and lay down his bleeding soul in his 
blessed bosom. He must be sensible of his spiritual po- 
verty, beggary, and slavery under the devil, before he 
thirst for heavenly righteousness, and willingly take up 
Christ's sweet and easy yoke. He must be cast down, con- 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 119 

founded, condemned, a cast-away, and lost in himself, be- 
fore lie will look about for a Saviour. He must cry hear- 
tily, " 1 am unclean, 1 am unclean," before he will long 
and labour to wash in that most sovereign and soul-saving 
fountain, opened to the house of David and to the inhabi- 
tants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness " (Zech. 
xiii, 1). He must sell all, before he will be willing and 
eager to buy the treasure hid in the field. 



CHAP. IV. 

Four particnlar directions for the avoiding this error. I. How the 
Law is to be pressed. II. How the Gospel to be preached. III. How 
Christ to be proposed. IV. How pardon to be assured. Am! ways 
to be used for the putting of these directions in practice. 

Now thus to prepare, wound, afflict, and humble the soul 
that it may be fitted for Jesus Christ, and so for comfort 
upon good ground, let ministers, or whosoever meddle in 
matters of this nature, publicly or privately, use all war- 
rantable means, let them press the law, promise mercy, 
propose Christ, &cc., do what they will seasonably and 
wisely. Let them improve all their learning, wisdom, dis- 
cretion, mercifulness, experience, wit, eloquence, sanctified 
unto them for that purpose, so that the work be done. 

I. In pressing the law, besides other dexterities and di- 
rections for managing their ministry in this point success- 
fully by God's blessing, let them take notice of this parti- 
cular, which may prove very available to begin this legal 
work. It is a principle attended with much success. 

Pressing upon men's consciences with a zealous, discreet 
powerfulness their special, principal, fresh bleeding sins, 
is a notable means to break their hearts and bring them to 
remorse. That most heinous and bloody sin of killing 
Jesus Christ, in which they had newly imbrued their hands, 
pressed upon the consciences of Peter's hearers, breaks and 
tears their hearts in pieces (Acts ii, 23, 36, 37). So adul- 
tery, secretly intimated by Christ's words unto the wo- 
man of Samaria (John iv, 18), seems to have struck her to 
the heart (ver. 19). So the Jews having idolatry pressed 
upon their consciences by Samuel (1 Sam. vii, 6) ; the 
sin of asking a king (1 Sam. xii, 19) ; usury by Nehemiah 
(chap. V, 12) ; strange wives by Ezra (chap, x, 9), were 
thereupon mightily moved and much softened in their 
hearts, as appears in the cited places. Consider for this 
purpose that work upon David's heart by Nathan's minis- 



120 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

try, and Felix trembling when Paul struck him on the 
right vein. 

The reasons why this more particular discovery and de- 
nouncing of judgment against a man's principal sin is like 
God assisting with the spirit of bondage to put such life into 
the work of the law, are such as these : — 

1. " The sword of the Spirit," which is the word of God, 
being wielded by the hand of the Holy Ghost, and edged, 
as it were, with the special power of God's blessing for the 
cutting asunder of the iron sinews of a stubborn and stony 
heart, doth crush and conquer, strike through and break m 
pieces with an irresistible power, proportioned to the inso- 
lency or easiness of resistance. My meaning is this, as 
philosophers say of the lightning, that by reason of the 
easiness of the passage, weakness of resistance, porosity of 
the parts, it pierceth through the purse, scabbard, and bark, 
without any such scorching and visible hurt ; but melts the 
money, the sword, rends and shivers the tree, because their 
substance and solidity doth more exercise and improve its 
activeness and ability : so this spiritual sword, though it 
strike at every sin, and passeth through " even to the di- 
viding asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and 
marrow," yet the hairy pate of the main corruption and 
master sin it wounds with a witness ; it there tortures and 
teais in pieces with extraordinary anguish and smart, 
searching and sense ; for that opposeth with the most 
flinty iron sinew, to blunt and deaden its edge if it were 
possible. 

2. In consciences regularly and rightly wounded and 
awakened, sins are wont to bite and sting proportionably 
to tlieir heinousness and the exorbitancy of their form.er 
sensual impressions. Some like a mastiff, some like a scor- 
pion, some like a wolf in the evening. But understand, 
that spiritual anguish surpasseth immeasurably any corporal 
pain, therefore conceive of them with a vast disproportion. 
Now the darling delight or captain sin frighting the heart 
with greatest horror, and stinging with extremity propor- 
tionable to its former outrages upon conscience, doth by an 
accidental power (God blessing the business) give a great 
stroke to drive a man to deepest detestation of himself, to 
throw him down to the lowest step of penitent dejection, to 
render more eager his thirsty greediness after pardon and 
grace, and at length to terrify him out of his natural 
estate. 

3. A man's principal and most prevailing sin is Satan's 
strongest hold. When he is in danger to be dislodged and 
driven by the power of the word out of the other parts of 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 121 

the soul, as it were, and from possession of a man by all 
other sins, he retires hither as to his castle and most impreg- 
nable fort. And therefore if this be soundly beaten upon 
by the hammer and horror of the law, and battered about 
his ears, he will be quickly enforced to quit the place alto- 
gether. 

It may be good counsel then, and often seasonable, to 
say unto those men of God who desire to drive the devil 
out of others in some sort, as the king of Syria said to his 
captains, " Fight neither with small nor great, save only 
with the king of Igrael." My meaning is, let them address 
the sharpest edge of their spiritual sword, yet as well with 
a holy charitable discretion as with resolute downright 
dealing, against those sins which bear greatest sway in 
them they have to deal with. Be it their covetousness, 
ambition, lust, drunkenness, lukewarmness, monstrousness 
of the fashion, sacrilege, oppression, usury, backsliding, 
murder, luxury, opposition to the good way, hatred of the 
saints, or what other sin soever they discover in them to 
minister greatest advantage to Satan, to keep them fastest 
in his clutches. No sin must be spared, but let the reign- 
ing sin be thrust at especially. 

II. For opening of the most rich and orient mines of all 
those sweetest mercies folded up within the bowels of God's 
dearest compassions and of the mystery of his free grace 
and love through the Son of his love ; upon purpose to in- 
vite and allure those that are without to come in ; and to 
stir up our hearers to bring broken hearts, bruised spirits, 
bleeding souls unto the throne of grace, upon the same 
ground, but infinitely more gracious, that encouraged the 
servants of Benhadad to address them.selves towards the 
king of Israel ; " And his servants said unto him, Behold 
now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel 
are merciful kings : let us, I pray thee, put sackcloth on 
our loins, and ropes upon our heads, and go out to the king 
of Israel : peradventure he will save thy life" (1 Kings xx, 
31). The most desperate rebels heretofore, upon present 
true remorse for their former rage in sin, resolving sincerely 
to stand on God's side for ever hereafter, may safely and upon 
good ground thus reason within themselves : Alas ! we liave 
done very villanously ; we have served Satan along time ; we 
walk up and down as condemned men, ripe fordestruclionlong 
ago ; hell itself even groans for us ; we may justly look every 
moment for a mittimus to cast us headlong into the dungeon 
of brimstone and fire ; and yet we will try ; we will go and 
throw down ourselves before the throne of grace in dust 
and ashes, and cry as the publican did unto the great God 

M 



122 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

of heaven ; for he is a " merciful God, gracious, long-sui- 
fering, abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for 
thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin." And 
then, not only peradventure, but most certainly, they shall 
be received to mercy, and he will save the life of their 
souls ; for this point of preaching mercy only to hearten 
men to come in, and to nourish in them a hope of pardon in 
case of penitency, &c., see my Discourse of True Happi- 
ness. And I will only add and advise at this time this one 
thing of great importance in the point, that after a plenti- 
ful magnifying and amplifying the merqy of God, by its 
infiniteness, eternity, freeness, and incomparable excellency 
every way, only upon purpose to assure the greatest sinneis 
of most certain acceptation and pardon if they will presently 
turn with truth of heart from Satan to the living God, 
from all sin to his holy service ; I say, that we then take 
heed and make sure as much as in us lies, that no impeni- 
tent unbelieving wretch, none that goes on in his trespasses 
and sins, willingly and delightfully in any one sin, receive 
any comfort by any such discourse, as though as yet he had 
any part or interest at all in any one drop of all that bound- 
less and bottomless sea of mercy ; that were a means to 
nail him fast to his natural estate for ever. But only thence 
conceive, that if he will presently lay down arms against 
the INJajesty of heaven, and come in with a truly penitent, 
humbled soul, thirsting heartily for Jesus Clnist, and re- 
solve unfeignedly to take his yoke upon him, there is no 
number or notoriousness of sins that can possibly hinder his 
gracious entertainment at God's mercy seat. For this end, 
let us tell all such, that though the mercies of God be in- 
finite, yet they are dispensed according to his truth. Now 
the oracles of divine truth tell us, that those who shall find 
mercy are such as confess and forsake their sins. " Whoso 
confesseth and forsaketh his sins shall have mercy" (Prov. 
xxviii, 13). Those men who do not confess and forsake 
them shall have no mercy. That the parties to whom good 
tidings of mercy and comfort are to be preached, are the 
"poor, the broken- hearted, them that are bruised, those 
that labour and are heavy laden, all that mourn," &c. 
(Luke iv, 18 ; Matt, xi, 28 ; Isa. Ixi, 2, 3). J hat the man 
to whom the Lord looks graciously, is " even he that is 
poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at his word" 
(Isa. Ixvi, 2). That whosoever by his free mercy through 
Christ "is born of God, doth not commit sin" (1 John iii, 
9) ; I mean with allowance, purpose, perseverance. No 
sin reigns in such a one, &:c. And yet, alas ! how many 
miserable men will needs most falsely persuade themselves 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 123 

and others that they have a portion in the mercies of God, 
and hug with extraordinary applause and embracement the 
formal flatterinu; messages of men-pleasers and time- 
servers, to daub over such rotten hopes, who yet notwith- 
standing " go on still in their trespasses j who were never 
yet sensible of the burthen of their corruptions and spi- 
ritual beggary ; never wounded in conscience, or troubled 
in mind to any purpose for their sins ; never mourned in 
secret and sincerely for the abominations of their youth ; 
could never yet find in their hearts to sell all for the buy- 
ing of that one pearl of great price ; nor ever yet so prized 
Jesus Christ as to leave their darling pleasures, though very 
base and abominable, to enjoy the unspeakable and glorious 
pleasures of his gracious kingdom 1 Nay, such as heartily 
serve some captain and commanding sin in heart, or life, 
or calling, as their own consciences, if they consult with 
them impartially in cool blood, can easily tell them ; as lust, 
the world, ambition, the times, the fashion, their pleasures, 
their profits, their passions, their ease, self- love, pride, 
revenge, the dunghill delight of good fellowship, or the 
like. 

And here then let me discover a notable depth of Satan, 
whereby he doth batHe and blindfold his slaves most grossly. 
You know full well and hear often the common cry of all 
carnal men, especially under any conscientious ministry, 
against preaching of judti;ment, and for preaching of mercy. 
(See the causes why they cannot approve downright deal- 
ings and powerful application of the law, in my Discourse 
of True Happiness.) But what do you think is the reason 
that they gape so greedily after preaching of mercy 1 Not 
that they can endure the preaching of it, as I now have 
taught, and as it only ought to those that are without ; to 
wit, to have first the dearaess, the sweetness, the freeness, 
the full glory of God's immeasurable mercy revealed unto 
them, only as a motive and encouragement to come in, 
but ever at the close and conclusion to be made to under- 
stand and know certainly, that not so much as one drop of 
all that bottomless depth of mercy and bounty in Jesus 
Christ doth as yet belong unto them, lying in any state of 
unregenerateness, or in in any kind of hypocrisy, whilst 
they "regard any wickedness in their heart," and are not 
willing to " pluck out their right eyes and cut off their right 
hands ;" I mean, to make an everlasting divorce from their 
former dearest sensual delights and sins of their bosom : 
for only " they who confess and forsake their sins shall 
have mercy" (Prov. xxviii, 13). This way of preaching 
mercy would nettle and gall them a? much perhaps as 



124 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

pressing of judgment. Nay, why not more? Proportion- 
ably to that which divines hold, that the privation and loss 
of heavenly joys and the beatific presence of God is far more 
bitter than the torments of sense and positive pains of hell. 
But to tell you their true meaning and their very hearts : 
their aim in so complaining and calling for mercy from our 
ministry is to have it so and in such a manner proposed and 
preached, that they may thence collect and conceive, that 
they are in state good enough to go to heaven as they are, 
though in truth they be mere strangers to the life of God 
and holy strictness of the saints ; were never truly humbled 
with sight of sin and sense of wrath, nor experimentally ac- 
quainted at all with the mystery of the new birth ; that they 
may conclude and say within themselves, Howsoever some 
ministers of the purer and preciser strain fright us continually 
with nothing but judgment, terror, damnation, and will not 
suffer us to be quiet, no not so much as in one sin, yet it is 
our good hap sometimes to meet with some merciful men 
who will help us to heaven without so much ado, and upon 
easier terms. In a word, they would if possible have just so 
much mercy as might assure and warrant them to carry se- 
curely their sins in their bosom to heaven with them ; to 
live as they list in this life, and to die the death of the 
righteous ; which is a conceit most ridiculous, absurd, and 
more than utterly impossible. What a hateful trick then 
is this, and horrible imposture, which they suffer Satan to 
put upon them. 

111. In proposing of Christ, let the man of God set out as 
much as he can possibly the excellency of his person, the 
invaludblepreciousness of his blood, the riches of his heavenly 
purchases, the gracious sweetness of his invitations, the 
generality and freeness of his offers (INI ark xvi, 16 ; Matt, 
xi, 28 ; John vii,37; Revel, xxii, 17) ; the glorious privileges 
he brings with him, reconciliation to God, adoption, forgive- 
ness of sins, justification, righteousness, wisdom, sanctifica- 
tion, redemption, 6cc. Possession of all things, " For all 
things are yours ; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas ; or 
the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to 
come, all are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's " 
(1 Cor. iii, 22, 23). Let him tell his hearers that the blood 
of Christ is called the " blood of God " (Acts xx, 28), and 
therefore of infinite merit and invaluable price. It sprang 
out of his human nature, and therefore finite in its own na- 
ture, and lost upon the ground. But the person that shed 
it being the Son of God, did set upon it such an excellency 
and eternity of virtue and value, that the infiniteness of its 
merit, andinestimablenessofitsworth,lastseverlasting]y. It 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 125 

will be as fresh and effectual to wash away the sins of the 
last man that shall be called upon earth, as it was those of 
the penitent thief, wlio saw it with his bodily eyes gushing 
out of his blessed side upon the cross, or the first man who 
did first savingly apprehend that first promise, "The seed 
of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." Let him as- 
sure them it is so sovereign, that in a truly broken, humbled, 
and thirsty soul, it turneth the most scarlet and crimson sins 
into snov^ and wool; that upon compunction and coming 
in, it washed away that horrible and bloody guilt from the 
souls of them that spilt it (Acts ii). Let them know also, 
in how high a degree and heinously they offend from time 
to time, who refuse to take Jesus Christ offered most freely, 
and without exception of any person, every sabbath, every 
sermon, either in plain and direct terms, or impliedly at the 
least. Oh ! little do people think who sit under our ministry 
unwrought upon by the word, what a grievous and fear- 
ful sin they commit and carry home from the house of God, 
day after day, in " neglecting so great salvation, in forsak- 
ing their own mercy, and in judging themselves unworthy 
of everlasting life ; " I mean, by choosing upon a free offer 
of his soul-saving blood, to cleave rather to a lust (horrible 
indignity!) than to Jesus Christ blessed for ever ; rather to 
wallow in the mire and mud of earthly pelf, in the filth and 
froth of swinish pleasures, in idleness, pride, worldliness, 
uncleanness, drunkenness, strange fashions, scorning pro- 
fessors, conteinpt of the power of godliness, railing against 
religion, revelling, Cxc. than abandoning these filthy harlots 
to take the Son of God for their dear and everlasting husband. 
This not believing, this refusing Christ, this not taking him 
in the manner and sense as I have said, is such a sin, though 
not so thought upon and taken to heart, that divines speak 
of it as of a most transcendent sin, the greatest sin, the sin 
of sins, the only sin, as it were, from such places as these : — 
"But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth, and he 
sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and 
burnt up their city'' ( Matt, xxii, 7). He means those who 
were invited to the " Son's marriage, and made light of it." 
" He that believeth not is condemned already, because he 
hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of 
God" (John iii, 18). When the Comforter is come "he 
will convince the world of sin ; because they believe not on 
me." He means this sin alone, saith Austin. As though not 
believing on the Son of God were the only sin. It is indeed 
the main and master sin, because, as the same father speaks 
truly, " this remaining, the guilt of all other sins abides 
upon the soul : this removed, alJ other sins are remitted." 

M 3 



126 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

Nay, and besides the horribleness and heinousness of the 
sin, what height and perlection of madness is it? That 
whereas a man but renouncing his base, rotten, transitory, 
sinful pleasures, followed continually at the heels with 
vengeance and horror, and only taking Jesus Christ, in 
whom are hidden and heaped up the fulness of grace and 
treasures of all perfection, might have thereupon (to say 
nothing of the excellency of his person, purchases of his 
passioij, and possession of the most blessed Deity) a full 
and free discharge thereby at the hands of so happy a hus- 
band, from every moment of the everlastingness of hellish 
torments, and a deed presently sealed with his own heart's 
blood, for an undoubted right to every minute of the eternity 
of heavenly joys -, yet should in cool blood most wickedly 
and willingly, after so many entreaties, invitations, impor- 
tunity only for the good of his poor immortal soul, refuse 
the change! Heaven and earth may be astonished ; angels 
and ail creatures may justly stand amazed at this prodigious 
sottishness and monstrous madness of such miserable men ! 
The world is wont to call God's people precise fools, because 
they are willing to sell all they have for that one pearl of 
great price ; to part with profits, or pleasures, preferments, 
their right hand, their right eye, every thing, any thing, 
rather than to leave Jesus Christ. But who do you think 
now are the true and great fools of the world ; and who are 
likeliest one day to groan for anguish of spirit, and say 
within themselves, " This was he whom we had sometimes 
in derision, and a proverb of reproach 1 We fools accounted 
his life madness, and his end to be without honour. Now 
is he numbered among the children of God, and his lot is 
among the saints ; therefore have we erred from the way of 
truth, andthelightof righteousness hath not shined unto us; 
and the sun of righteousness hath not rose upon us. We 
wearied ourselves in the way of wickedness and destruction. 
Yea, we have gone through deserts where there lay no way. 
But as for the way of the Lord, we have not known it. \\ hat 
hath pride profited us, or what good hath riches with our 
vaunting brought us 1 All these things are passed away like 
a shadow, and as a post that hasteth by." 

Nay, and yet further, besides the extraordinariness of the 
iniquity and folly in refusing Christ freely offered, it shall 
most certainly be hereafter plagued with extremest torment- 
ing fury, and most desperate gnashing of teeth. For with 
what infinite horror and restless anguish will this thought 
rend a man's heart in pieces, and gnaw upon his conscience, 
when he considers in hell, that he hath lost heaven for a 
lust ; and whereas he might at every sermon had even tlie 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 127 

Son of God to be his husband for the very taking ; and have 
lived with him for ever in unspeakable bliss, yet neglecting 
so great salvation, must now, crying out therefore continually 
against himself as the most raging madman that ever 
breathed, lie in unquenchal)le flames without remedy, ease, 
or end ! It is the highest honour that can be imagined, 
and a mystery of greatest amazement that ever was^ that 
the Son of God should make suit unto sinful souls to be their 
husband.^ And yet so it is; "he stands at the door and 
knocks ; " if you will give him entrance, he will bring him- 
self and heaven into your hearts. " VVe are Christ's am- 
bassadors, as though God did beseech you by us. We pray 
you in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God." We are 
Christ's spokesmen, if I may so speak, to woo and win you 
unto him. Now what can you say for yourselves that you 
stand out? Why come you not in? If the devil would 
give you leave to speak out and in plain terms, one would 
say, I had rather be damned than leave my drunkenness ; 
another, I love the world better than Jesus Christ ; a third' 
I will not part with my easy and gainful trade of usury for 
the " treasure hid in the field ;" and so on : so that in truth 
you must needs all confess, that you hereby "judge your- 
selves unworthy of everlasting life ; " that you are wilful 
murderers of your own souls ; that you commit such a 
wickedness, that all the creatures in heaven and earth cry 
shame upon you for it. Nay, and if you go on without re- 
pentance, you may expect that the gnawings of conscience 
for this one sin of refusing Christ may perhaps be equal to 
the united horrors of all the rest. 

What is the matter, I wonder, that you will not entertain 
the match 1 If we stand upon honour and noble family, he 
that makes love and suit unto our souls " hath on his ves- 
ture and on his thigh a name written, "King of kings, and 
Lord of lords" (Rev. xix, 16). If upon beauty, hear 
how he is described : " My beloved is white and ruddy, the 
chiefest among ten thousand. His head is as the most fine 
gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven. His eyes 
nre as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed 
with milk, and fitly set. His cheeks are as a bed of spices, 
as sweet flowers : his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smell- 
ing myrrh. His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl : 
liis belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires. His legs 
are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold : his 
countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His 
mouth is most sweet : yea, he is altogether lovely " (Cant. 
V, 10 — 16). Now you must understand, that the Spirit of 
God, by these outward beauties and excellencies, labours in 



12B INSTRUCTIONS FOR COxMFORTING 

some mcasuie to shadow out and represent unto us the m- 
comparal)lo excellency of inward graces, the dignity, the 
glory, the spiritual fairness of Jesus Christ, that we may 
know that he is wholly and altogether lovely, delightful, and 
precious. If our hearts are set upon ease and contentment, 
he can lead us to " fulness of joy and pleasures at God's 
right hand for evermore." If we desire honourable alliance, 
he will bring us to " an innumerable company of angels, to 
the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are 
written in heaven ; and to God the judge of all, and to the 
spirits of just men made perfect." If we stand upon wealth, 
we shall have all things with him, which is a large pos- 
session. If we respect love, "greater love hath no man 
than thii, that a man lay down his life for his friends" 
(John XV, 13): and he, " being the brightness of his Father's 
glory, and the express image of his person," came down 
from his bosom, the well-spring of immortality and bliss, 
the fulness of joy and unapproachable light, into a house of 
flesh upon this base and miserable earth. He passed through 
a life lull of all manner of vexations, miseries, persecutions, 
indignities, slanders, speaking against of sinners, iS:c. He 
was so prodigiously slandered that they said he had a devil 
(John viii, 48) ; whereas " tlie fulness of the Godhead 
dweltin him bodily " (Col. ii, 9). He was cunningly hunted 
long, and at last violently haled by a pack of hell-hounds to 
a cruel and bloodly death, which for the extremity and 
variety of pains, for the enraged spite of the executioners, 
for the innocency and excellency of the person suffering, 
the like never was, shall, or can be endured. His passions 
were such, so bitter and insupportable, that they would 
have made any mere creature to have sunk down under the 
burthen of them to the bottom of hell. He was tortured 
extremely, and suffered grievous things both in body and 
soul, from heaven, earth, and hell. His blessed body was 
given up as an anvil to be beaten upon by the violent and 
villanous hands of wretched miscreants, without all measure 
or mercy, until they had left no one part free from some 
particular and special torment. His skin and flesh were 
rent with scourges, his hands and feet pierced with nails, 
his head with thorns, his very heart with a spear point. All 
his senses, all his parts, indeed his whole sacred body, was 
made a rueful spectacle to angels and to men, of all the 
most base and barbarous usage which malice could devise 
and cruelty execute. Yet all this was but a shadow of his 
suti'ering ; the substance of his suffering was the agony of 
his soul. Give me any affliction save the affliclion of the 
mind; "for the spirit of a man," saith Solomon, "will 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 129 

sustain all his other infirmities ; but a wounded spirit who 
can bearl" Yet his soul, though he was the Prince of 
glory, and Lord of heaven and earth, upon the cross was 
even as a scorched heath, without so much as any drop of 
comfort either from heaven or earth. The grievous weight 
of all the sins of all his children, the least of which had been 
enough to have pressed them down into the bottom of hell, 
lay now heavy upon him. The powers of darkness were let 
loose to afflict him. He wrestled even with the fierce wrath 
of his Father, and all the forces of the infernal kingdom, 
with such anguish of heart, that in the garden it wrung out 
of his precious body a sweat " as it were great drops of 
blood falling down to the ground, " with such agony of 
spirit, that upon the cross he cried, "My God, my God, 
why hast thou forsaken me 1 " And the measure of all 
these sufferings and sorrows was so past all measure, that 
all the creatures, save sinful men only, both in heaven and 
earth, seemed to be amazed and moved with them. The 
sun in the heavens drew in his beams, unwilling as it were 
to see the spotless blood of the Son of God spilt as water 
upon the ground. The earth itself shrunk and trembled 
under it. The very rocks rent asunder, as if they had 
sense and feeling of his intolerable, and, save by himself, 
unconquerable pains. The whole frame of nature seemed 
astonished at the mournful complaint of the Lord of the 
whole world. These, and far more than these, or than can 
be expressed, our blessed Saviour, being Son of the Most 
high God, endured for no other end but to ransom us from 
the bondage of Satan and of hell, in a thirsting desire of 
saving all penitent sinners, and to offer himself freely a 
most glorious and everlasting husband to all those who with 
broken and believing hearts cast themselves into his bosom. 
Such admirable and unutterable perfections, beauties, en- 
dowments, sufferings, and inflamed affections as these in 
the heavenly suitor unto our sinful souls, doth mightily 
aggravate the heinous and horrible sin of refusing him. 

Thus, and in this manner, would I have the men of God 
to magnify, enlarge, and represent to the hearts of their 
hearers all the excellences of Jesus Christ, with the worth, 
merit, and efficacy of his blood. To set out to the utmost 
they can possibly, the glory of the gospel, with all the 
riches of mercy, goodness, and free grace, revealed and 
offered therein, &c. So that they tell them withal that 
Jesus Christ takes none but such as are willing to take upon 
them his yoke ; that he gives himself to none but such as 
are ready to sell all, in the sense 1 have said, that they may 
enjoy his blessed self. That the glorious grace of the gospel 



130 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

f^hines savingly to none but such as " deny uni^odliness and 
worldly lusts ; and live soberly, righteously, and godly, in 
this present world" Tlit. ii, 11,12). That those, whose 
souls are cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ from all sin, 
are only such as walk in the light, as God is in the light ; 
who make conscience of detesting and declining all sins and 
works of darkness discovered to them by the light of God's 
holy book, and sincerely set their hearts and hands with 
love and careful endeavour to every duty enjoined therein. 
In a word, that as that fountain opened to the house of 
David for sin and for uncleanness (1 mean the blood of that 
immaculate lamb, Jesus Christ, the holy and the righteous) 
doth turn all the sins, even the very scarlet and crimson, 
of a truly broken heart, and every true mourner in Zion, 
into snow and wool, so it will never wash away the 
least sinful stain from the proud heart of any unhumbled 
pharisee. 

That hereby no strangers unto the love and life of godli- 
ness may be deceived by appropriating unto themselves any 
of these glorious things, which are only proper to the sealed 
fountain, but only conceive of them as excellent motives to 
cause them to come in, I would have the preaching of 
Christ fill the soul of every true hearted Nathanael every 
time with " unspeakable and glorious joy," with all those 
evangelical pleasures, which neither "eye hath seen, nor 
ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man." 
But I would have it only make every unregenerate man sen- 
sible of what infinite blessedness he bereaves himself by 
continuing a rebel ; that thereupon he may be moved to 
make liaste out of his present hell into this new heaven, so 
fairly opened and freely offered unto him. 

IV. Besides pressing the law, promising mercy, proposing 
Christ, &c. to stir iiien in their natural states, to make them 
entertain thoughts of coming in, to humble them in the 
sight of the Lord under the heavy burthen of all their sins, 
assure them also of pardon, in case they will leave Satan's 
service, and so prepare them for Christ ; let God's ministers 
lay hold upon all warrantable ways which they shall find 
and feel out of their ministerial experience and holy wisdom 
to be available and prevail for that purpose : so that the 
work be done in truth, and that they do not, like the devil's 
daubers, deceive them to the eternal ruin and damnation of 
their souls, by telling them that they have Christ already, 
and are safe enough for salvation, whereas indeed as yet 
there is no such matter. 

Such points as these are wont to make attentive natural 
men to startle in their seats, to look about them something 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 131 

moie than ordinarily, — to wit, to divide the precious from 
the vile ; to distinguish that one true happy state of grace 
from all states of unregenerateness, and all kinds of hypo- 
crisy; to tell them out of the book of (Jod, how far a man 
may go in general graces and doing many things, and yet 
come short of heaven; to deliver marks of sincere professors, 
of a saving faith, of true repentance, of a sound conversion. 
But I would have this done with a great deal of spiritual 
wisdom and heavenly understanding, with much godly dis- 
cretion and caution ; lest thereby, either the formal pro- 
fessor may be encouraged, or the weakest Christian dis- 
heartened. To discourse of the fewness and scarcity of 
those which shall be saved, and that even under tlie light 
and within the sound of the gospel ; "many are called, but 
few chosen " (Matt, xx, 16). Consider the parable of the 
sower. Matt. xiii. There is but one good soil upon which 
the word falls prosperously ; but three reprobate grounds, 
as it were, upon which it is lost as water upon the ground. 
Thus let the men of God acquaint tliemselves with such 
points as they conceive the likeliest and most pregnant to 
pierce their hearers' hearts, and come closest to their con- 
sciences, that so by the help of God they may pull them 
out of hell. 

And there are some places also in the book of God, whicli 
being rightly handled and powerfully applied, seem to have 
a special keenness to strike at and cut asunder the iron 
sinews of the most obstinate heart, and of more aptness to 
serve for the rousing and awaking of mere civil men, formal 
professors, pharisees, and foolish virgins out of their des- 
perate slumber of spiritual self deceit. Such as these : 
" And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this 
curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, 1 shall 
have peace, though 1 walk in the imagination of mine heart, 
to add drunkenness to thirst : the Lord v/ill not spare him, 
but then the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke 
against that man, and all tiie curses that are written in this 
book shall lie upon him, and tiie Lord shall blot out his 
name from under heaven" (Deut. xxix, 19, 20). " God 
shall wound the hairy scalp of such a one as goeth on still 
in his trespasses" (Psalm Ixviii, 21). "Because 1 have 
called and ye refused, 1 have stretched out my hand, and 
no man regarded, ixc. Then shall they call upon me, but 
I will not answer : they shall seek me early, but they shall 
not find me " (Prov.'i, 24, 28). '-' He that being often 
reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, 
and that without remedy " (Prov. xxix, 1). " In thy fil- 
thiness is lewdness ; because I have purged thee, and thou 



132 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

wast not purged, thou shalt not be purged from thy fil- 
thiness any more, till I have caused my fury to rest upon 
thee" (Ezek, xxiv, 13). " If the righteous scarcely be saved, 
where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear V (1 Pet. 
iv, 18.) " Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin" 
(1 John iii, 9). " Love the brotherhood" (1 Pet. ii, 17). 
" Without holiness no man shall see the Lord" (lleb. 
xii, 14). " The devils also believe and tremble " (James 
ii, 19). " Strive to enter in at the strait gate ; for many, 
I say unto you, will seek to enter in and shall not be able " 
(I^uke xiii, 24). " And whosoever shall not receive you, 
&c. Verily, I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for 
the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment 
than for that ciiy " (Matt, x, 14, 15). " And from the days 
of John the Baptist, until now, the kingdom of heaven suf- 
fereth violence, and the violent take it by force " (Matt, 
xi, 12). " And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye 
more than others 1 " (Matt, v, 47.) " 1 say unto you, that 
except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of 
the scribes and pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the 
kingdom of heaven" (Matt, v, 20). These fellows repre- 
sented to the eye of the world a goodly and glorious show 
of freedom from gross sins : " I am not," saith the phari- 
see, Luke xviii, 11, "as other men are, extortioners, un- 
just, adulterers," 6cc ; of works; first, of righteousness, 
" 1 give tithes of all that I possess." Secondly, of piety, 
" He went up to pray." Thirdly, of mercy, besides fasting 
and prayer, they gave alms (Matt, vi); and yet Christ 
speaks thus peremptorily to his hearers: " Except your 
righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and 
pharisees, &c. ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of 
heaven." He saith not simply, ye shall not enter ; but ye 
shall " in no case" enter. And yet how many who come 
short of these will be very angry, if the ministers tell them 
that they shall certainly come short of the kingdom of 
heaven. 

I have done with daubing and plaistering over rotten 
hearts with plausible persuasions, that they shall not be 
damned: I mean that most cruel and accursed trade of 
" strengthening with lies the hands of the wicked, that he 
should not return from his wicked way, by promising him 
life" (Ezek. xiii, 22), whereby thousands are sent hood- 
winked to hell (more is the pity!) even in this blessed 
time of the gospel : and I come now to another error about 
comforting afflicted consciences. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 133 



CHAP. V. 

The Second Error is tlie indiscreet applying of Comfort to thcni that 
are not jicrieved aright. Two Cases wherein Men grieved are not to 
be presently comforted. 

VVhkn the spiritual physician promiseth comfort, applies 
the promises, assures of mercy, acceptation, and pardon, — 
1. When the ground of grief is not in truth trouble for 
sin, but some outward trouble. Some in such a case may 
cast out by the way some faint and formal complaints of 
their sins, and seem to seek direction and satisfaction about 
the state of their souls, while the true root arid principal 
spring of their present heaviness and heart's grief, is some 
secret earthly discontentment, the biting and bitterness of 
some worldly sting. It may be the loss or desperate course 
of some overioved child ; decay and going backward in 
their estate ; fear of falling into beggary ; some unexpected 
discontents and disappointments after marriage ; some great 
disgrace and shame fallen upon them in the eye of the 
world ; some long and tedious sickness, pinching them ex- 
tremely, for want of peace with God, and patience to pass 
through it, or the like. 

In this case, after the man of God by his best wisdom 
and searching, experimental trials and interrogatories fitted 
for that purpose, whereby he may give a strong conjecture, 
if not a peremptory censure, hath discovered the imposture, 
let his desire and endeavour be to turn the torrent of worldly 
tears, and grief for transitory things, upon sin. When a 
vein is broken and bleeds inward, or a man bleeds exces- 
sively at the nose, the physician is wont to open a vein in 
the arm, so to divert the current of the blood, that it may 
be carried the right way, for the safety and preservation of 
the party. Do proportionably in this point. 

Let such know :— First, that " sorrow of the world work- 
eth death " (2 Cor. vii, 10). It dries the bones, consumes 
the marrow, chills the blood, wastes the spirits, eats up the 
heart, shorteneth life, and cutteth off too soon from the 
day of gracious visitation. It is a base thing for an immor- 
tal soul to be put thus out of tune and temper with mortal 
things, and most unworthy its heavenly birth, breeding un- 
der the ministry, and everlasting abode. Secondly, that 
sorrow spent upon the world is like a perfumed precious 
water thrown into the channel or sink-hole, which would 
make a sweet scent in a humbled soul, and help excellently 
against the noisome savour of sin. Fire put into the thatch 
M'ould turn all into combustion ; dung placed in your par- 

N 



134 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

lour would poison all. But lay the one upon the hearth, 
and it would warm and comfort ; the other upon the land, 
and it fatteneth and makes fruitful, bo sorrow misplaced 
upon earthly things, fills a man with swarms of gnawing 
cares, and brings many devouring harpies into the heart ; 
but being turned upon sin and former sinful courses, which 
is the only right, proper, profitable use thereof, it may pio- 
cure a great deal of ease and enlargement to the heavy 
spirit, and help to " bring forth fruits meet for repentance." 
Thirdly, that the tithe perhaps of grief, trouble of mind, 
vexation ol spirit, sadness and sorrow about worldly things, 
in respect of the bulk and quantity, if sincere, and set upon 
the right object, might serve to drive us unto Christ, and 
afterwards in God's gracious acceptation, for saving repent- 
ance. Methinks it should be a very quickening motive to 
make a man " be sorry for nothing but sin," and to turn all 
his grief and groans, sighs and tears upon his transgressions 
only ; to wit, to consider that an impenitent carnal world- 
ling doth pass through even in this life (where he kath all 
the heaven he is ever like to have) incomparably more com- 
fortless heart's grief, slavish torments of mind, and heavi- 
ness of spirit towards endless pains than the strictest Chris- 
tian and most mortified saint doth endure in his passage to 
everlasting pleasures. Fourthly, that besides many otlier 
pestilent properties, worldly sorrow doth also double, nny 
multiply and mightily enrage tlie venon), bitterness, and 
sting of every cross accident, loss, disgrace, iS:c. When 
Ahithophel was disgraced by neglect of his counsel, which 
" was in those days as if a man had inquired at the oracle 
of God," carnal grief so grew upon him, that " he gat him 
home to his house, put his household in order, and hanged 
himself." What was the disgrace to this desperate end ! 
Haman being crossed by Ivlordecai's discourtesy and con- 
tempt, did so grieve and trouble himself, that having " told 
his wife and friends of the glory of his riches, and tue mul- 
titude of his children, aud all the things wherein the king 
had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above 
the princes and servants of the king, &c. ; yet professeth 
unto them, that all this availed him nothing so long as he 
saAv Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate." ( Esther 
V, 11, 12, 13). Now whether do you think was the most 
grievous thing to bear ; the bare omission of a mere com- 
pliment, or an universal distaste, and disenjoyment of all 
outward comforts heaped upon him to the height and in 
excellency ? The hundredth part of Job's losses, and less, 
hath m.any times since made many a covetous worldling to 
cut his own throat. I have known some for the loss of an 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 135 

overloved child to have languished, fallen into a consump- 
tion, and lost their own lives. But now on the other side, 
besides many other gracious effects, " sorrow according to 
God is more delicious and sweeter than any worldly delight," 
us Chrysostom truly tells us in many places. To whom 
modern divines accord. " The very tears that a good con- 
science sheds," saith one *, " have more joy and pleasure 
in them than the world's greatest joys." " This is certain, 
saith another t, " that there is more lightness of heart and 
true delight in the sorrow of the saints, than in the loudest 
laughter of the world. For unspeakable joy is mingled 
with unutterable groans." 

2. When it is not any kindly touch of conscience for sin 
wrought by the ministry ; but terrors and affrighting dis- 
tempers arising from the dark mists of a melancholic hu- 
mour in the biain, which cause a man to complain. In this 
black and sad humour, Satan, God suffering him (and of 
itself also it is pregnant enough this way), hath great ad- 
vantage to raise and represent to the fantasy many fearful 
things, terrible objects, grisly thoughts, hideous injections, 
and temptations to despair, self-destruction, &c. Where- 
upon the party so affected and afflicted is wont, out of im- 
patience of such uncouth horrors and heavmess, to address 
himself and have recourse to some man of God, some noted 
physician of the soul ; not from any purpose and resolution 
to become a new man and alter his courses ; but only for 
hope of ease, enlargement from the tyranny of that passion, 
and recovery to wonted quietness of mind ; not expecting 
or aiming at all at any other change, but fiom present me- 
lancholy to former mirth, from this abhorred, irksome, in- 
supportable state of sadness, to his accustomed sensual, or 
civil contentment at least. 

In this case, let the art and aid of physic be improved to 
abate and take off the excess andfantasticaltiess of this hor- 
rible humour, and then let the party be advised to employ 
and spend tlie native and kindly sadness of that uncomfort- 
able constitution in sorrowing for sin, in trembling at the 
threats of God's judgments, in fearing to offend, and fly- 
ing under the wings of Christ for sanctuary, that so he may 
happily bring supernatural and heavenly lightsomeness into 
his soul, by pardon from God, peace of conscience, and 
evangelical pleasures. It is incredible to consider what 
assistance and advantage a gracious man hath by his sweet 
communion with Jesus Christ, and those refreshing beams 
of comfort which shine from his face, to confine and con- 

* Dike, of Conscience, cliap. iii. t Kolloc, on John xi. 



136 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

quer those many impertinent, irksome, and vexing vagaries 
of this wild humour, which with much folly and fury tyran- 
nize in the fearful fantasies of graceless men, and make 
their life very disconsolate and abhorred. I am persuaded 
the very same measure of melancholic matter, which raises 
many times in the heads and hearts of worldlings (having 
besides the guilt of their unforgiven sins staring with grisly 
representations in the face of their consciences, and ac- 
quainted with no comfort but that which coa-es from carnal 
joys) continual clouds of many strange horrors and ghastly 
fears, nay, and sometimes make them stark mad ; I say, the 
very same in a sanctified man may be so mollified and mo- 
derated by spiritual delight and sovereignty of grace, that 
he is not only preserved irom the sting and venom of them, 
but, by God's blessing, from any such desperate extremities, 
violent distempers and distractions, which keep the other in 
a kind of hell upon earth. If the very darkness of the 
hellish dungeon were in the heart, yet reaching out the 
hand of faith and receiving Christ, that blessed sun of 
righteousness, would dispel and disperse it to nothing. 
Much more methinks the light of grace and heavenly wis- 
dom may in some good measure dissolve and master the 
mists and miseries of this earthly humour. Religion then, 
and religious courses and conformities, do not make me- 
lancholic men mad, as the true madmen of this world 
would persuade us. For you must know, that besides Be- 
Jials and debauched companions, there are a generation of 
worldly wise men also, right brave and jolly fellows in 
their own conceits and in the opinion of some flattering 
claw-backs ; but by testimony of the truth itself stark mad 
about the service of God and their own salvation, who 
cursedly sear their own consciences with the hottest irons 
in the devil's forge, by breaking out into such blasphemies 
as these, when they hear or see any extraordinary heavy- 
heartedness, temptation, distraction, or spiritual distemper 
to have seized upon any that desire to be saved : " You 
see now what becomes of so much reading the scriptures, 
of plying prayer and private duties with so much ado ; of 
meddling with mysteries of religion ; of meditating so much 
of heavenly things, of taking sin so deeply to heart, and 
holding such strict conformity to God's word," &c. Blessed 
God ! Is thine holy book become (execrable blasphemy ! ) 
a perverter. distracter, and poisoner of men's souls ; which 
being the glorious issue of thine own infinite understanding 
was purposely created as a most precious panacea, an uni- 
versal medicinal storehouse for the cure of all spiritual ma- 
ladies ; an inexhausted treasury of all sound comfort, true 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 137 

joy, peace, and refreshing? Now the Lord rebuke thee, 
Satan, and return as dung upon thine own face this villan- 
ous, base, and wicked slander, which by thy graceless in- 
struments thou labourest to cast upon the glorious face of 
Christianity, the incomparable sweetness of the ways of 
grace, and that one necessary thing- 1 have known, when 
the cnly wise God hath suffered, for ends seen and seeming 
good to his heavenly wisdom, the hideous and raging hu- 
mour of melancholy to darken the native clearness of the 
animal spirits in the brain, requisite to a due discretion of 
things apprehended, and to blunder and disorder the ob- 
jects and operations of the imagination in ins dearest child, 
even to distraction and breaking out into that inordinate 
passion against reason; — 1 say, then, the concurrent cry 
and clamour of the enemies of the power of godliness to be, 
" This it is now to be so bookish, to follow preachers so 
much, to be more holy than their neighbours, never to have 
done in serving of God." " Her so much reading the 
scriptures, and such poring upon precise books (so they call 
those which most pierce the conscience, and guide the 
clearest in the holy path) hath made her stark mad. The 
puritan is now beside herself," 6lC. Now I say again, the 
Lord rebuke thee, Satan, who sits vinth such extreme ma- 
lice and soul-killing folly in the hearts and heads of such 
miserable men, whom thou so sottishly hoodwinks, and 
hardens to the height for a most desperate downfal and 
horrible confusion at last. 

Were now the glorified soul of that blessed saint consulted 
with and asked, Didst thou ever receive hurt by reading 
God's blessed book ; by searching sweetly into the great 
mystery of Christ ciucified ; by meditation upon heavenly 
tilings 1 Did th.e sacred sense of those divine oracles un- 
settle thy noble faculties, or ever make sad thy heart 1 6cc. 
Oh ! with what infinite indignation would it fly in the face 
of such cursed cavillers and wranglers against the truth. 

Is it possible for the sole and sovereign antidote sent from 
heaven by God himself against the sting and venom of all 
heart grief and horror, the sacred sun of saving truth, which 
is only able to ennoble and glorify our understandings with 
wisdom from the breast of the everlasting counsel of Jesus 
Christ, should become the cause of discomfort and dissettle- 
ment of the soul 1 No, no. There is such a quickening, 
healing, and mighty efficacy and vigour shed into it from 
the Father of lights, and shining in it from the face of Christ, 
that by the heli of the blessed Spirit, it can turn darkness 
into light, death into life, hell into heaven, the deepest 
horroJ" into height of jov- 1 ell me of any misery upon the 

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138 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

body, soul, outward slate, or good name : any calamity felt 
or feared in this life, or the life to come ; and if thou wilt be 
converted and counselled, 1 can send thee to some, both 
promise and precedent in this boolc of God, which may 
upon good ground lill thine heart as full with sound comfort, 
as the sun is of light, and the sea of waters. Nay, give me 
a wounded spirit with all its inexplicable terrois and bitter- 
ness, which is the greatest misery and extremest affliction of 
which an understanding soul is capable in this life ; and let 
first all tlie physiciaiis in the world lay all their heads, 
skill, and experience together for the cure : let all the highest 
monarchs upon earth shine upon it with their imperial fa- 
vours for comfort ; let the depth of all human wisdom and 
the height of the most excellent oratory be improved to per- 
suade it to peace ; let all the creatures in heaven and earth 
contribute their several abilities and utmost to still its rage ; 
and when all these have done, and have done just nothing, 
I will fetch a cordial out of God's own book which shall 
mollify the anguish, expel the venom, and bind it up with 
everlasting peace which passeth all understanding ; that 
the broken bones may rejoice, and the poor soul groaning 
most grievously under the guilty horror of many foul abo- 
minations, and ready to sink into the gulph of despair, be 
sweetly bathed and refreshed in the fountain opened by the 
hand of mercy for sin and foruncleanness, Christ's dearest 
blood, the glorious well-spring of all lightsomeness and joy. 

Plear how precisely for this purpose, and how punctually 
against such pestdent cavillers, some of the ancient fathers 
do puritanize : — 

" There is no malady," saith Chrysostom *, " either of body 
or soul, but may receive a medicine out of God's book. One 
comes oppressed with sadness and anxiety of business, over- 
whelmed with grief ; but presently hearing the prophet 
saying, ' Why art thou cast down, O my soul 1 and why art 
thou so disquieted within me 1 hope thou in God : for I shall 
yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and 
my God' (Psalm xlii, 11); he receives abundance of 
comfort, and abandons all heaviness of heart. Another is 
pinched with extreme poverty ; takes it heavily, and grieves, 
seeing others flowing in riches, swelling with pride, attended 
with great pomp and state ; but he also hears the same pro- 
phet saying, ' Cast thy burthen upon the Lord, and he shall 
sustain thee' (Psalm Iv, 22); and again, * Be not thou 
afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is 
increased : for when he dieth he shall carry nothing away : 

* Clirvsost.on Gcii. Hoin.29. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 139 

his glory shall not descend after him' (Psalm xlix, 16, 17). 
There is another which, assaulted with insinuations and 
calumnies, is much troubled, thinks his life uncomfortable, 
findini:^ no help in man. He is also taught by the same pro- 
phet, that in such perplexities we must not resort to the arm 
of flesh. Hear what lie saith : They slandered, and I prayed. 
* The mouth of the wicked, and the mouth of the deceitful 
are opened against me : they have spoken against me with 
a lying tongue. They compased me about also with words 
of hatred ; and fought against me without a cause. For my 
love ■ they are my adversaries ; but I give myself unto prayer ' 
(Psalm cix, 2, 3, 4). Another is slighted and contemned by 
some base contemptible underlings and forsaken of his 
friends ; and that is it which most troubles his mind and 
goes nearest to his heart. But he also, if he will come 
hither, doth hear that blessed man saying, ' iMy lovers and 
my friends stand aloof from my sore ; and ray kinsmen stand 
afar off. They also that seek after my life lay snares for 
me : and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, 
and imagine deceits all the day long. But I. as a deaf 
man, heard not ; and I was as a dumb man that openeth 
not his mouth. Thus I was as a man that heareth not, and 
in whose mouth are no reproofs. For in thee, O Lord, do I 
hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God' (Psalm xxxviii, 
11, 12, 13, 14, 15)." He concludes thus : — 

" Thou hast seen, how that any misery pressing our mor- 
tality, a convenient antidote may be taken out of scripture, 
and all the gnawing cares of this life maybe cured ; neither 
need we to be grieved for any thing which befals us : there- 
fore, I beseech you, that henceforvvard you would come 
hither, and listen diligently to the reading of divine writ. 
And not only when you come hither, but also take the Bible 
into your hands at home, and receive with great affection 
the profit to be found in it : for from thence springs much 
gain. First, that the tongue may be reformed by it : the 
soul also takes wings, soars aloft, and is gloriously en- 
lightened with the beams of the sun of righteousness, and 
for a time is freed from the enticements of impure thoughts, 
enjoying much calmness and contentment. Furthermore, 
that which corporal food doth for increasing bodily strength, 
the same doth reading perform to the soul." 

" All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is pro- 
fitable, and writ by the Spirit of God for this purpose," 
saith the great Basil*, "that in it, as a common mart of 
soul-medicines, every one of us may choose a medicine pro- 
per and fit for his spiritual malady." 
* Basil on Psalin i. 



140 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFOI.TING 

Jerome, writing to many even of her sex whom as I told 
you before much reading of scriptures and other good books 
made mad, if the extremest malice of the most mortal ene- 
mies to the ways of God may be credited, doth stir them 
up with extraordinary earnestness to a diligent, industrious, 
and fruitful reading of God's book, in many passages of his 
epistles. 

In that toGaudentius, about bringing up a young maiden, 
" he would have her at seven years old, and when she be- 
gins to blush, learn the Psalms of David without book ; and 
until twelve make the books of Solomon, the gospels, the 
apostles, and prophets, the treasure of her heart." 

To one he speaks thus : " This one thing above all others 
I would foreadvise thee ; and inculcating it I will admonish 
again and again, that thou wouldst possess thy mind with 
love of reading scriptures." 

To another : " Let the book of God be ever in thy hands. 
— And after the Holy Scriptures read also the treatises of 
learned men." 

To another : " Let the sacred scriptures be ever in thine 
hands, and revolved continually in thy mind." 

" Reading scripture," saith Origen, " daily prayers, the 
word of doctrine, nourish the soul, even as the body is 
stiengtliened by dainty fare. The spirit is nourished, grows 
strong, and is made victorious by such food, which if you 
use not, do not complain of the inhrmity of the flesh ; do 
not say, we would, but cannot." ^cc. 

Those reverend men that made the homilies seem to ap- 
prehend themselves, and they commend to us the excellent 
sweetness which may be sucked from the breasts of con- 
solation in meditating upon the scriptures, by this their 
emphatical and effectual expression : " Let us ruminate," 
say they*, "and as it were chew the cud, that we may have 
the sweet juice, spiritual effect, marrow, honey, kernel, 
taste, comfort, and consolation of them." 

I have said all this upon purpose, lest melancholic men 
should be misled or disheartened by the cursed counsel of 
carnal friends and wicked clamours of the world, from turn- 
ing their sadness into sorrow for sin, and from using God's 
blessed book and the powerful ministry thereof, the only 
well-spring of all true lightsomeness and joy ; and able, as 
I said before, if they will be converted and counselled, to 
dispel the very darkness of hell out of their hearts. Me- 
thinks they, above all others, should be encouraged here- 
unto, (1.) Because they have a passive advantage, if I 

* Homily for Readina^ of Scriptures. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 141 

may so speak, when it pleasethGod to sanctify for that pur • 
pose and set on work the spirit of bondage, by reason of 
their sad dispositions and fearful spirits, to be sooner af- 
frighted and dejected by comminations of judgment 
against sin, more feelingly to take to heart the miseries 
and dangers of their natural state ; more easily to tremble 
and stoop under the mighty hand of God and hammer of 
his law. Guiltiness and horror, damnation and hell, beget 
in their timorous natures stronger impressions of fear : 
whereupon they are wont to taste deeper of legal contrition 
and remorse, and so proportionably to feel and acknowledge 
a greater necessity of Jesus Christ ; to thirst after him 
more greedily ; to prize him more highly, and at length to 
throw their trembling souls into his blessed bosom with 
more eagerness and importunity. And having once entered 
into the holy path, their native fearfulness being rectified, 
and turned the right way, they many times walk on after- 
ward with more fear to offend (and " happy is the man that 
feareth alway"), more watchfulness over their ways, ten- 
derness of conscience, impatiency of losing spiritual peace, 
sensibleness of infirmities and failings, reverence of God's 
word, &c. (2.) And because of all others such men have 
most need of lightsomeness and refreshing, which when 
carnal counsellors and flattering mountebanks of the mi- 
nistry labour to introduce into their dark heads and heavy 
hearts by the arm of flesh, outward mirth, and such other 
means, they only palliate and daub, and are so far from 
doing any true good, that thereby they drown them many 
times deeper and more desperately in the dungeon of me- 
lancholy afterward. So that a melancholic man, let him 
turn him which way he will, is likely, without the light of 
grace, to live a very miserable life upon earth, and as it 
were in some part of hellish darkness, to which also at 
length shall be added the torment, if he die impenitently. 
But now let them address themselves to the " book of life," 
and thence only they may " suck and be satisfied with the 
breasts of consolation." Let them lean their sorrowful 
souls (improving natural sadness to mourn more heartily 
for sin) upon the promises there, and every several one will 
shine upon them with a particular heavenly and healing 
light, with sound and lasting joy. All those then are stark 
mad, either with ignorant or learned malice, who would 
persuade the world that reading the scriptures, attending a 
powerful ministry, taking sin to heart, ixc. will make me- 
lancholic men mad. 

If you desire to know before 1 pass out of this point, the 
differences between the heaviness of a melancholic humour 



14-2 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

and affliction of conscience for sin, lake notice of such as 
these : 

[l.J Terror for sin springs out of the conscience, and from 
the sn^art of a spiritual wound there. Melancholy dwells 
and hath its chief residence in the imagination, and un- 
comfortably overcasts and darkens the splendour and light- 
someness of the animal spirits in the brain. 

[2.] The melancholy man is extremely sad, and knows 
nut wliy. He is full of fear, doubts, distrust, and heaviness, 
without any true and just ground, arising only from the 
darkness and dir^order of the imagination, the grisly fumes 
of that black humour in the brain. But a broken heart, in 
almost every case, can readily tell you the particular sins, 
the crying abemination, the legal hammer, and ministerial 
hand that made it bleed- His trouble is ever upon cause 
clear and evident, and the greatest that ever brought mi- 
sery upon mankind, weight of sin and the wrath of God. 
A melancholic man will ride many miles, walk many hours, 
and at length be able to give no account of the exercise 
' and discourse of his mind, or what his thoughts have been 
all the while. But he that is troubled in mind for sin can, 
for the most part, tell with certainty, and recount exactly 
to his spiritual physician the several temptations, sugges- 
tions, and injections; the hideous conflicts with Satan; his 
objections, exceptions, replies, methods, devices, and 
depths, which have afflicted his heavy spirit, since the 
first enlightening, convincing, and affrighting his awaked 
and working conscience. 

[3.] The soul may be seized upon with terror of con- 
science and spiritual distemper, the body being sound and 
in good temper; in excellency of health, purity of blood, 
symmetry of parts, vivacity of spirit, &c. But the horrors 
of melancholy are wont to haunt corrupted constitutions ; 
where obstructions hinder the free passage of the humours 
and spirits, the blood is overgross and thick, &c. 

[4.J Melancholy makes a man almost mad with imagi- 
nary fears, and strange chimeras of horror which have no 
being, but only in the monstrous compositions of a darkened 
and distempered brain. He is many times, by the predo- 
minancy of that cowardly humour, afraid of every man, of 
every thing, of any thing; of a shadow, of the shaking of 
a leaf, of his own hands, of his own heart. He fears where 
no fear is, where there is no probability, no possibility, 
even in the very midst of security. His fear sometimes is 
so extremely foolish, that he can hear of no fearful thing 
fallen upon others, but he thinks verily the very same thing 
shall befal him ; so prodigious, that some of them, thinkinj.^ 



AFFLICTED C0NSCIENC1<:S. 113 

iheir feet to be of glass, have been afraid to walk ; otiiers, 
iraagiuing tliemselves to be noted for lepers, durst not come 
into any company, 6ic. But now a troubled conscience is 
ordinarily fearless of any tiling but the anger of God. 
Bodily tortures, outward trouble, tyrant's threats, even the 
prince of terror, death itself, in his apprehension and eye 
would be as nothing to the guilty glance of one cursed lust. 
He would not care or fear, though all the creatures in 
Christendom were turned into bears or devils about him, 
so that all were well at home. ]f he could get into his 
bosom that sweet peace which passeth all unuerstanding, 
oh ! tlien would he be more than conqueror over the whole 
world and ten thousand hells. 

[5.] Melancholy may be something abated, the Inain 
cleared, the heart eased, by the aid and excellency of the 
art of physic. But in the case of a wounded conscience, 
there is no help under heaven to be had. Ao friends nor 
physic ; no mirth nor music ; no princely favour nor dainty 
fare, can possibly give any ease at all. Nay, they will al) 
far rather enrage the wound than weaken the rage. It is 
Christ, Christ, and nothing but Christ, which can comfort 
in this confusion of spirit. 



CHAP. VI. 

Two other cases whereiu Spuitual Physicians niast take heed of tl\e 
Second Error. 

3. When complaint of sin is confusedly only and in general. 
"Many deal with God and his ministers in confession of 
their sins," saith a >;;ood divine, " as jNebuchadnezzar with 
his enchanters about his dream that he had dreamed ; he 
told them and desired an interpretation ; but what his dream 
was he could not tell." So many confess themselves sinners, 
and cry out that they are grievous offenders, and desire 
pardon ; but wherein they have sinned, and what their sins 
are, they cannot or will not tell. And how is it possible the 
physician should help him who only saith he is not well, 
but will not tell him where? I have sometimes visited 
those, who being pressed to a sight and sense of their sin- 
fulness and cursedness, upon purpose to fit them for Christ, 
have acknowledged in general that they were sinners, but 
descending to the particulars of the law (which was hor- 
rible to hear) justified themselves throughout. Of which 
extreme spiritual misery and prodigious madness, ignorance 



144 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

(though I know Satan manageth that and all other advan- 
tages with all the malice and cunning he can possibly, to 
the overthrow of souls) is the principal ground ; the prime, 
but pestilent occasion : I say ignorance, which though it 
be not perhaps so much talked of, taxed, and taken to heart 
as others, yet is a loud crying sin of the kingdom. For it is 
a most incredible thing, and of infinite amazement, how 
universally it reigns in this glorious noontide of the gospel ; 
and therefore must needs provoke God mightily, and hasten 
the " removing of our candlestick." And in the mean time, 
besides many more, and that dreadful doom at last (2Thes. i, 
7, 8) it brings upon most (more is the pity and shame, es- 
pecially so glorious beams of a blessed ministry shining 
about us) these two special mischiefs ; which at this time 1 
only mention, because they serve fitliest for illustration of 
the point. First, ignorant people sticking fast in his clutches, 
stand all at the devil's mercy and devotion to do with them 
what he will ; even as a poor helpless lamb in the paw of 
a lion, or a silly wren in the ravenous claw of a kite ; to 
slash and mangle their woTul souls at his pleasure, with a 
cursed variety of innumerable sins ; they, in the mean time, 
which is the perfection of their misery, neither fearing nor 
feeling any hurt at all, by reason of the hellish mists and 
miserable lethargy of spiiitual blindness, which makes them 
sightless and senseless. Secondly, when times of sorrow 
come upon them, when melancholy and old age grows on, 
and they say unto the world upon which they have doated 
all their life long, I have no pleasure in thee ; when losses, 
crosses, and heavy accidents befal them ; when hideous 
injections, temptations to self-murder, despair, &c. press 
them full sore, and they thereupon begin to cast about se- 
riously, and to conceive with great terror and anxiety of 
spirit %vhat is likely to become of them in the other world ; 
then, in such extremity, and forced by necessity, they are 
wont to have recourse to ministers for ease and help ; and, 
alas ! then we are at our wits' end, and in much perplexity 
how to deal, and what to do with them. For upon the first 
entrance into a discovery of their spiritual state, we see evi- 
dently, with grief of heart, that their ignorance hath be- 
trayed them to the devil, and now in the evil day exposed 
them to merciless cruelty and cunning ; even as if a man 
should commit a ship without sails, rudder, pilot, 6cc. to 
the rage and roaring of the tempestuous devouring sea ; 
or put a poor weak naked man into the field against an im- 
placable mighty adversary, completely armed from top to 
toe. We tell them truly, that the true way to comfort is 
to repent and believe. But for the first, by reason of the 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 145 

sottish disacquaintance with themselves, with their misera- 
ble sinful uatural state, and their gross ignorance in the law 
and word of God, they only cry out in the general they are 
very grievous sinners ; but to descend to any competent 
examination of the conscience, search of their souls by the 
sight of the law, particular survey of their sins, and so to 
special repentance, because of their spiritual blindness they 
are utterly unable. Nay, many in this case are so desti- 
tute of matter of humiliation for sin, that they can scarcely 
tell you what sin is. At the most they have not learned, or 
think that there is any other breach of the iei^^xi/i command- 
ment, but the gross acts of uncleanness ; that there is any 
sin against the nintli, but giving in false witness against 
their neighbours in open court. They look no further into 
the sixth commandment, but unto actual murder by the 
hand ; into the third, but to blasphemy and swearing ; and 
so proportionably in the other commandments. For the 
other also, although they have heard much of Jesus Christ, 
and if he be talked of, pretend a very foolish and false pre- 
sumption of having pan in him ; yet to the knowledge of 
his person, offices, excellency, sweetness, effectual ministry, 
and of his whole mystery, they are mere strangers. And so, 
when they should now upon this occasion of trouble -of 
mind, be brought by knowledge and application of the law 
and gospel, through the pangs of the new birth into the 
holy path, they are to begin to learn the very first princi- 
ples of religion ; in which they have not so much skill (1 
speak a reproachful thing) as I could teach a child of five or 
six years old in a few days. Now when the old red dragon 
hath drawn them into the lists, armed with all the power 
and policy of hell, and furnished with all his fiery darts, 
they are so far from ability to put on and manage the whole 
spiritual armour with dexterity and wisdom, that they are 
stark idiots and infants in the very speculative knowledge 
of the nature and. use of every piece thereof. They have 
no skill at all at that excellent, invincible weapon, " the 
sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," by which 
Jesus Christ foiled that foul fiend in the most hideous and 
horrible temptations that were ever suggested to the mind 
of man ; and therefore he doth bring them too often thus 
bUndfolded and baffled to perish in a most desperate man- 
ner, both temporally and eternally. 

The Pharisees, papists, and our ordinary ignorants, are 
all foully faulty this way. They love and labour to in- 
quire and look no further into God's law than to the gross 
acts and greatest transgressions only. If they find them- 
selves free from these, they, out of a most absurd and sot- 

O 



146 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

tish self-conceitedness, justify and applaud themselves as 
no such enormous and dangerous delinquents. Hence it 
■was, that Christ teaches and tells the pharisees, that not 
only the gross act of adultery was to be taken notice of, but 
also that even a lascivious and lustful look after a w^oman 
was a transgression of that law, and to be taken to heart 
as adultery before God. That not only killing a man in the 
literal sense, but also rash anger in the heart, railing, and 
reviling speeches ; nay, even a frowning face, a contemp- 
tuous gesture, discovering inward rancour and rage, kill 
the soul, and cast into hell, &c. Hence it was that Bellar- 
mine, as the grand impostor and poisoner, so the great pha- 
risee of Christendom, upon his bed of death " could hardly 
find what to confess, or any matter of absolution." Pro- 
digious Pharisaism I Of which hear some passages from 
the reporter of his death *. 

" Suchwasthe innocency ofthisman(to wit, Bellarmine), 
that albeit he was in his perfect sense, yet could he hardly 
find what to confess ; insomuch as his ghostly father was in 
some perplexity, as wanting matter of absolution, till by 
recourse to his life past he found some small defects, of 
which he absolved him." 

" ' Now nothing troubles my conscience. For God (his 
goodness be still thanked therefore) hath so preserved me 
hitherto, as I do not remember in the whole course of my 
life ever to have committed any scandalous action.' How 
holy was his life ; not stained witli mortal sin ! How se- 
cure a conscience, that had at his death no scruple ; but for 
the exchange of one good work for another, &c. This holy 
man began his prayers, snid the Paternoster and Ave Maria, 
and began again the Paternoster ; which being ended he said 
distinctly the psalm Miserere to the end : and being warned 
to say also the Creed, &c. said it all through, and with the 
end of the Creed ended his speech. His last words were. 
* vitam aternam. Amen.' " 

Hence it is, that carnal men are well enough content to 
hear the commandments read, and perhaps will be angry if 
at any time they be omitted. Would you know tlie reason ? 
They go along with the minister, and applaud themselves 
pharisaically all the while ; saying secretly and securely to 
their own souls, We thank God we are no image worship- 
pers, no murderers, no adulterers, bcc. ; and so depart home 
from time to time as highly conceited of themselves, and yet 
more horribly deceived, than that pharisee (Luke xviii, 
11, 12), of whose outward religious, charitable, and righ- 

* Bellarmine's Death, by C. J. a Jesuit. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 147 

teous perfoj-mances they come far short. But they cannot 
possibly with any patience endure a particular unfolding 
and powerful application of God's law after Christ's man- 
ner (Matt, v); a punctual survey of their sinful states and 
special search into their lives and hearts. This cutting, 
yet reasonable course, stirs up and raises in them the ill- 
spirits of murmuring, cavilling, reviling, and perhaps per- 
secuting the faithful messengers of God as a generation 
of terrible teachers. To expositions, exercises, and con- 
siderations of this nature they are drawn with very ill v/ill 
and much ado, even as a bankrupt to his accompt book, a 
foul face to the looking glass, and a traitor to the rack. 

By reason of this affected ignorance in the law of God, 
and lothness to descend to particulars, it comes to pass 
that many in trouble of mind complain of sin only in gene- 
ral and confusedly ; and thereupon, as though they were 
competently cast down, expect comfort, and perhaps many 
draw it from some daubers ; whereas particuiarizmg of our 
sins is a necessary precedent and preparative to a sound 
humiliation. And therefore in this case we must deal with 
such as surgeons are wont to do with a tumour or swelling 
in the body, who first apply to the affected place drawing 
and ripening plaisters to bring the sore to a head, that the 
corruption may have issue, and then heal. So a general 
complaint of sin and confused grief must be reduced to par- 
ticulars. It is a principle in the mystery of Christ, resolved 
upon by the best divines rightly instructed to the kingdom 
of heaven, " that a confused acknowledgment and general 
repentance only for known sins is never sound and saving ; 
but only common, formal, careless, and that of counterfeit 
converts, not truly touched with sense of their sins, nor 
heartily resolved to forsake their pleasures." If they can 
be first brought to the sight, sense, and acknowledgment of 
some one special notorious sin which hath most reigned in 
their heart, life, or calling ; and be in some good measure 
enlightened, convinced, and terrified about the heinousness 
and horrible guilt of it, it may be a good means by God's 
blessing to bring in the rest. For ordinarily true repent- 
ance is first occasioned by some one special sin laid to 
heart. The apostles ( Acts ii) do specially press the murder 
of Christ upon the Jews ; Christ himself, adultery upon the 
woman of Samaria (John iv) ; Samuel, idolatry upon the 
Israelites (1 Sam. vii) ; the sin of asking a king (chap.xii) ; 
Ezra, taking strange wives (Ezra x) ; Nehemiah, usury 
(Neh. v). 

To further the work of a more particular " setting their 
sins in order before their eyes," it were much to be wished 



148 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

and a very happy thing if all the wounded consciences am? 
troubled in mind we meet with, were furnished beforehand 
Avith a competent speculative knowledge at the least of the 
particulars in God's law, exorbitant passages of their life, 
and gross corruptions of their hearts. \^ e might so, by 
God's help, more easily bring them to particular remorse, 
and fit them sooner and more seasonably for comfort. We 
find it a most hard and heavy task to encounter the 
devil's devices, wiles, and depths in a poor distressed, 
tempted ignorant. 

4. When the party is dejected for some notorious sin only. 
It is sometimes seen in mere civil men, that having a long 
time preserved their reputations entire and unstained in the 
eye of the world from gross and notable enormities, and yet 
after foully shaming themselves in the sight of men by some 
infamous fall, seem, to grieve much, as though they were 
truly troubled with remorse ; whereas, perhaps the pre- 
sent heart's-grief ariseth rather from loss of credit than 
wound of conscience, though to favour their credit they 
cunningly father it upon conscience. Or let them be in- 
deed affrighted very grievously for a time with the horror 
of that one sin, yet stay the cry and abate the rage of that 
one with some superficial comfort, and they are healed and 
put into a happy case in their ov/n conceit, and in the opi- 
nion also perhaps of their unskilful physician ; though they 
search no further and dive no deeper into the loathsome 
dunghill of those many abominable lusts and corruptions 
in their heart and life, of which they are as full as the skin 
will hold. 

Now it is a foul and fearful oversight in a minister, nay, 
it may prove an error stained with spiritual bloodshed, to 
promise pardon to such partial penitents. 

Suppose a man sick of the pleurisy should send to a phy- 
sician, and tell him he is sore troubled with a cough, and 
entreat his help, concealing other signs and symptoms which 
ordinarily accompany that disease ; as his short and difficult 
breathing, the stinging stitch in his side, &c. ; the physi- 
cian may address himself to cure the cough, and yet the 
patient die of an inflammation seized upon the menibrane 
girding the ribs and sides. It is proportionably so in the 
present point. A. man may complain and cry out, howl and 
lament extremely for some one horrible heinous sin, and 
that may be well ; but except he proceed to a further dis- 
covery, and sorrow proportionably for his other known sins, 
they will be the destruction and death of his soul. If a 
dozen thieves be entered into thy house, it is not enough for 
thee to lay hold on the captain thief only, and thrust him 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 149 

out at doors ; if thou suffer but one of them to lurk in any 
corner undiscovered and not turned out, he will suffice to 
cut thy throat and take away thy treasure. Crying out of 
one capital sin only is not sufficient, we must confess and 
forsake all, if we look to find mercy (Prov. xxviii, 13). 

And yet here I would have no true penitent dejected or 
mistake ; the bare omission of some particular sins in this 
case is not ever damnable. For we must know, that if a 
man deal truly with his own heart in a sincere acknowledg- 
ment, confession, and repentance for discovered and known 
sins (and he ought to labour by clearing the eye of natural 
conscience and industrious inspection into God's pure law, 
to know as many as may be), and for all those that come 
into his mind, when he sets himself apart solemnly to hum- 
ble and afflict h's soul before God ( and he ought to remember 
as many as he can possibly) ; 1 say, if so, then for secret 
and unknown sins, which are committed in weakness and 
ignorance, the Lord accepteth a general confession, as we 
see in David's practice, " Who can understand his errors'? 
Cleanse thou me from secret faults " (Psalm xix, 12). Sins 
there are many, and that in the best men, which are not 
only unnoted of others and free from the world's observa- 
tion, but even unknown to a man's own self, and invisible 
to the watchfullest eye of the most waking conscience ; 
which notwithstanding are clearly subject to the search of 
God's all-seeing eye, and to the censure of his pure majesty. 
" For hell and destruction are before the Lord, how much 
more the most secret ways of the sons of men ? " Sins there 
are also, which even in the zealous exercise and holy work 
of repentance may not come into the consideration and re- 
membrance of one truly penitent, which if he could recover 
into his memory, he would heartily and with much indigna- 
tion acknowledge, bewail, and detest : so unnumbered are 
the cursed bye-paths of men's crooked ways. But for both 
these sorts of sins I must say thus much for the comfort of 
the true convert ; that both those unknown sins which he 
commits of ignorance, if he truly repent for all his known 
sins, and labour with sincerity and zeal for further illumina- 
tion of conscience and fuller revelation of every corrupt 
passage both in heart and life, in judgment and practice ; 
and those sins of knowledge also, which came not into his 
mind, if with diligence and without dissimulation, with 
hearty prayer and best intention of spirit, he endeavour to 
recover them into his memory, that he might also mouru 
for and mortify them with the rest, carrying ever in his 
heart this resolution, that as any sin shall be discovered to 
his conscience, or return into his mind, he will abominate 
O 3 



150 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

and abandon it ; I say, both these kinds of sins (it is a pearl 
for the true penitent ; let no stranget meddle with it) to 
such an one, upon such conditions, are most certainly 
washed away by Christ's blood, and God's free mercy, upon 
his general confession and repentance. David's petition, 
" O cleanse thou me from my secret faults," did assuredly 
prevail with God for the forgiveness of all his unknown sins, 
and shall be powerful for that end to the world's end, to all 
those that so pray with David's spirit, and sincerely. 

Besides these two cases ; first, want of knowledge ; and 
secondly, want of remembrance in the sense I have said ; 
there is also a third, and that is want of time, which if 
truly so, doth also sometimes excuse the omission of some 
particular sins. As we may see in the thief upon the cross. 
For want of leisure, he could not possibly punctually revise 
bis vile abominable life, nor peruse with remorse all the 
particulars of his former wicked and abhorred courses ; but 
he had infused into his soul by Jesus Christ an habitual 
grace of true repentance, which, if he had lived, would 
have carried him faithfully along over all the notorious 
passages of his lewd and loathsome life, with a truly con- 
trite, broken, and bleeding soul. So that if he had had 
space, I doubt not but he would have proved a very emi- 
nent, extraordinary, and exemplary penitent ; and therefore 
the Lord in mercy did graciously accept the desire and pur- 
pose, the inclination and preparation of his heart that way. 

But to return to the point, and give my advice in the 
case proposed : — 

Let the party who so grieves for some notorious sin only, 
and there takes up his rest, be told, that though he dwell 
with deepest sighs, heaviest heart, and saltest tears upon 
some of his greatest and most special sins, yet the rest must 
by no means be neglected. That which is most crying and 
crimson must serve as a crier, if I may so speak, to summon 
the rest into the court of conscience ; and as a remem- 
brancer to bring them to mind and remorse ; as David's 
murder and adultery brought even his birth sin into his 
memory (Psalm li) ; and that sin of strange wives, many 
other sins to Ezra's mind (Ezra ix). When a father beats 
his child for some one special fault, he is wont to remember 
unto him and reckon with him for many former misdemea- 
nors also. When a bankrupt is once shut up for one prin- 
cipal debt, the rest of his creditors ordinarily come thick 
and threefold upon him. When once thou beginnest to 
reckon with thy conscience for some one extraordinary re- 
bellion, never cease until thou hast searched thoroughly, 
and ransacked it to the bottom, that it may smart soundly 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 151 

before thou hast done, Avith penitent anguish and true re- 
morse for all thy other sinful corruptions also. When horror 
for some one heinous sin hath seized upon thy heart, follow 
God's blessed hand leading thee to conversion, and through 
the pangs of the new birth to unspeakable and glorious joy, 
by giving way to all the rest to bring in their several indict- 
ments against thy soul. And be not afraid thus to arraign, 
cast, and condemn thyself as guilty of innumerable sins, 
and -worthy ten thousand hells before God's just tribunal. 
For then shalt thou there most certainly find a gracious ad- 
vocate at his right hand ; to whom if thou make suit and 
seek in truth, he will by the plea and price of his own 
precious blood, sue out a pardon for thine everlasting peace. 
When the guilty rage of thy reigning corruption begins to 
press upon thy conscience, lay on more weight still by a 
penitent addition and painful apprehension of all thy other 
sins, that growing very sensible of thy spiritual slavery, 
weary of the dungeon of lewdness and lust, sensuality and 
death, wherein the devil hath kept thee long; and thine 
heart being happily broken and bruised to the bottom, and 
scorched as it were in some measure with hellish flames of 
guilty horror, thou mayest see and feel the greater necessity 
of Jesus Christ, set him at a higher price, with more eager- 
ness and impatience thirst for his righteousness and blood ; 
long for spiritual enlargement more than for worlds of plea- 
sures, glory, or wealth ; relish the hidden manna of the 
promises more eagerly, and cast thy wounded and bleeding 
soul with more delight and sweetness into iiis blessed arms 
of mercy and love. For, " O how acceptable is the foun- 
tain of living waters," saith a worthy divine, " to the 
chased and panting hart! the blood of Christ to the 
weary and tired soul ! to the thirsty conscience scorched 
with "the sense of God's wrath ! He that presents him with 
it, how welcome is he ! Even as a special choice man ; one 
of a thousand. The deeper the sense of misery, the sweeter 
is the sense of mercy. The traitor laid dov/n upon the block 
is more sensible of his sovereign's mercy in pardoning, than 
he who is not yet seized. In our dead security before con- 
version, God is fain to let the law, sin, conscience, Satan, a 
deep sense of our abominable and cursed state, loose upon 
us, and to kindle the very tire of hell in our souls, that so 
we might be roused, and afterward more sweetly and 
soundly raised and refreshed. For after the most toilsome 
labour is the swetest sleep ; after the greatest tempests the 
stillest calms. Sanctified troubles and terrors establish the 
surest peace ; and the shaking of these winds makes the 
trees of God's Eden take the deeper rooting." 



152 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

I confess, that commonly true converts at the first touch 
and turning, and after too, cry out most of, and are extra- 
ordinarily troubled with, some one capital sin, and that 
which in their days of darkness and vanity wasted their 
conscience most, and detained them with strongest entice- 
ments and holdfast in the devil's bondage. Hence it was 
that Zaccheus was so ready and willing to restore fourfold, 
that so he might be rid of the sting and horror of his former 
reigning sin (Luke xix, 8) ; that blessed Paul, as it seems, 
amongst other dreadful apprehensions of his former unrege- 
nerate courses, was so much vexed and wounded in heart 
for that he had been a persecutor ( 1 Tim. i, 13 j 1 Cor. xv, 9). 
But yet should they lament never so much, howl and roar 
for that one sin ; if besides they d^d not by the conduct of 
the blessed Spirit, descend also to a m.ore particular acknow- 
ledgment, confession, and repentance of all other known 
sins (and they ought by clearing the eye of natural con- 
science, industrious inspection into the pure crystal of God's 
law, discover as many as they can possibly), all were 
nothing. " He which is grieved," say divines, " for one sin 
truly and unfeignedly from his heart, will proportionably 
be grieved for all the sins that he knoweth to be in himself." 
If we favour any one sin in our heart, or life, or calling, we 
cannot enjoy God's favour. If there be any sensual lust, 
or secret corruption, which a man purposely labours to 
cover and conceal from God's pure eye, the search of his 
word, and mortifying grace, what hope can he have that it 
is covered with the blood of Christ from the wrath that is 
to come, or warranted by any promise of grace from the 
damnation of hell ? In a true penitent there ought to be an 
utter cessation from all gross abominable sins ; and at least 
disallowance, disaffection, and all possible opposition even 
to unavoidable infirmities and inseparahle frailties of the 



CHAP. VII. 

A Fifth Case wherein spiritual Physicians raust take heed of that second 
Error. The divers kinds of Death iu Godly Men. 

5. When the physician of the soul promiseth mercy and 
pardon at random, without that spiritual discretion which 
is convenient for a matter of so great consequence, and 
requiring such a deal of dexterity in discerning to a man 
upon his bed of death, who hath formerly been notorious, 
or only civil, howsoever a mere stranger to the power of 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 153 

godliness and the truth of profession, because now in the 
evil dav he grieves extremely by reason ot his extremitj', 
cries out of his sins, " O, I am an heinous, horrible, and 
grievous sinner ! If I were lo live again what would not i 
do ! " A world for comfort now, and " to die the death ot the 
righteous ; " because he howls upon his bed, as the prophet 
speaketh, and breaks out oftentimes into a roaring com- 
plaint of sin and cry for pardon, by reason he now begins to 
fear and feel the revenging hand of God ready to seize upon 
him for his former rebellions, 6cc. i tr when he assures him, 
having been a formal professor only and " foolish virgin, 
of bliss and glory ; because out of a former habituated 
spiritual self-deceit^he cries, " Lord, Lord ; " seems to by- 
standers verv confident that he shall presently receive a 
crown of life ; thanks God that nothing troubles him, pro- 
fesses to every one that comes to visit him that he believes 
and repents with all his heart, forgives all the world, makes 
no doubt of heaven, &c. 

Here, by the way, we must take notice, that many 
having outstood the day of their gracious visitation, having 
"neglected so great salvation, forsaken their own mercy, 
and judged themselves unworthy of everlasting hte all 
their life long, by standing out against the ministry ct the 
word, in respect of any saving work upon their souls ; and 
now at length being overtaken, after the short gleam ot 
worldly prosperity, with the boisterous winter-night ot 
death and darkness of the evil day, may keep a great stir 
upon their dying beds, or in some great extremity, with 
grievous complaints of their present intolerable misery and 
former sinful courses procuring it, with incessant cues tor 
ease and deliverance, being now caught like wild bulls in a 
net, full of the wrath of God, with earnest and eager suing 
and seeking for pardon and salvation, now when worldly 
pleasures are past; and yet be not truly penitent, not 
soundly and savingly humbled, not rightly fitted for Christ 
and comfort. Consider for this purpose Prov. i, 24, 28. in 
the day of visitation God called upon them and stretched 
out his hand, but they refused, did not regard ; set at nought 
all his counsel, and would none of his reproof ; and there- 
fore in the day of vexation, when extremity and anguish 
shall come upon them like a thief in the night, a whirlwind, 
travail upon a woman, suddenly, extremely, unavoidably, 
he professeth beforehand, that then they shall call upon 
him, but^he will not answer ; they shall seek him early, but 
they shall not find him. When God's hand was upon them, 
then they sought him ; and they returned and inquired early 
after God, 6cc. " Nevertheless, they did fiatter him with 



154 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues ; 
for their heart was not right with him," &c. (Psalm Ixxviii, 
34, 35, 36, 37). "They howled upon their beds" (Hos. 
vii, 14). Will not a dog or a beast, or any irrational 
creature, when they are in extremity, will they not cry, will 
they not moan for help 1 Their cries in the evil day were 
not hearty prayers, but bowlings upon their beds. Their 
earnestness in such a case is ordinarily like the tears, prayers, 
and cries of a malefactor newly condemned. He is very 
earnest with the judge to spare him ; he roars out sometimes, 
and grieves extremely, yet not heartily, for his former lewd- 
ness ; but horribly, because he must now lose his life. He 
seems now, when he sees his misery, to relent, and to be 
touched with remorse ; but it is only because he is likely to 
be hanged. Again, many there are, who satisfying them- 
selves and others with a goodly show of a form only of god- 
liness, may upon their last bed discover and represent to by- 
standers a great deal of fearlessness about their spiritual 
state, much confidence, many ostentations of faith and full 
assurance, and behave themselves as though they were most 
certainly going to everlasting bliss, when, as God knows, 
their answer at his just tribunal must be, "I know you 
not ; " and in truth and trial they have no more part in 
Christ, nor other portion in heaven, than the foolish virgins, 
and those, Luke xiii, 26, 27. They are so confident, not 
because they have escaped the danger, but because they 
never saw the danger ; and hence it is, that many of them 
die with as much confidence as the best Christians ; they 
have no more trouble than holy men. To be sure I am free 
from danger, and not to know my danger, may beget equal 
confidence. 

Now concerning the present case, I must tell you, that for 
my part, I would not much alter my opinion of a man's 
spiritual state whom I have thoroughly known before, for the 
manner of his death. The end of God's dearest servant, 
after a holy life and unblameable conversation, may not 
appear in the eye of man so calm and comfortable as was 
expected ; by reason of much tenderness of conscience, 
some strong temptation, spiritual desertion, violent distem- 
per of body ; or because God would have the manner of his 
death serve the glory of his justice in hardening those about 
him who were so far from being won by his godly life that 
they heartily hated it ; or for some other secret and sacred 
end, seen and seem.ing good to Divine wisdom, whoever 
disposeth every circumstance even of the least affair most 
sweetly and wisely. And yet this, as it doth not prejudice 
his salvation, neither should it his Christian reputation. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 155 

Hear that great doctor in the art of rightly comforting af- 
flicted consciences, Greenhara, in his Grave Counsel and 
Godly Observation : " But what if you should die in this 
discomfort? For my part (as I myself look for no great things 
in my death ) 1 would not think more hardly of you ; neither 
would I wish any to judge otherwise of God's child in 
that state of death. For we shall not be judged according 
to that particular instant of death, but according to our 
general course of life ; not according to our deed in that 
present, but according to the desireof our hearts ever before. 
And therefore we are not to mistrust God's mercy in death, 
be we never so uncomfortable, if so be it hath been before 
sealed in our vocation and sauctification." 

On the other side, a notorious wretch, who hath swam 
down the current of the times, and wallowed in worldly 
pleasures all his life long, may seem to die penitently, and 
resolvedly to be reformed if he recover ; and yet his sorrow 
of mind may be such only as the terrors of an awakened 
guilty conscience produce ; and his resolution to cast away 
his sins, only such as a man hath in a storm to cast away his 
goods, not because he doth not love them, but because he 
feareth to lose his life ifhe part not with them. Or a mere civil 
man, or formal professor, may upon his bed of death be very 
confident and seem to be full of comfort, and yet that con- 
fidence no other than the strong imaginary joyful conceit of a 
covetous man grasping a great deal of gold in a dream, but 
when he awaketh, behold his hands are empty. 

For a more full and clear apprehension of my meaning 
and judgment in the point, let us take a survey of the dif- 
ferent and several kinds of death which ordinarily befal the 
godly and the wicked. 

The deaths of God's children are divers : — 

(1.) Some of their holy and zealous lives do determine 
and expire sweetly, fairly, and gloriously, even like a clear 
sun in a summer's evening, without any storm or cloud of 
temptation and discomfort. The darksome and painful 
passages and pangs oi death are enlightened and sweetened 
with the shining beams of God's glorious presence, and fast 
erabracement of Jesus Christ in the arms of their laith. So 
that to them the very joys of heaven and exultations of ever- 
lasting rest mingle themselves with those last agonies and 
expirations of death. Their heads are, as it were, crowned 
with immortality and endless peace upon their beds of death. 
Luther, that blessed man of God, died sweetly and tri- 
umphantly over hell, the pope, and the devil. " My iieavenly 
Father," said he at his death, "eternal and merciful God, 
thou hast manifested unto me thy dear Son, our Lord Jesus 



156 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

Christ. I have taught him, 1 have known him, I love him 
as my life, my health, and ray redemption, whom the wicked 
have persecuted, maligned, and with injury afflicted. 
L»raw my soul to thee." After this he said as ensues thrice. 
" I commend my spirit into thine hands ; thou hast redeemed 
me, O God of truth. God so loved the world that he gave 
his only Son, that all that believe in him should have life 
everlasting" (John iii, 16). Hear how another blessed 
saint of God * ended his days : " Having the day before he 
died continued his meditations and expositionupon Rom. viii, 
for the space of two hours more, on the sudden he said, 
' O stay your reading. What brightness is this 1 see ? Have 
you lighted up any candles 1 ' To which 1 answered, ' No ; 
it is the sun-shine ; ' for it was about five o'clock in a clear 
summer's evening. 'Sunshine,' saith he, ' nay, my Saviour- 
shine. Now, farewell world ; welcome heaven ; the day 
star from on high hath visited my heart. O speak it when 
I arn gone, and preach it at my funeral, God dealeth 
familiarly with man. I feel his mercy, I see his majesty ; 
whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell. God, 
he knoweth ; but I see things that are unutterable.' So 
ravished in spirit he roamed towards heaven, with a cheerful 
look, and soft sweet voice, but what he said we could not 
conceive. With the sun in the morning following, raising 
himself as Jacob did upon his staff, he shut up his blessed 
life with these blessed words : ' O what a happy change 
shall I make ! From night to day ; from darkness to light ; 
from death to life ; from sorrow to solace ; from a factious 
world to a heavenly being ! O my dear brethren, sisters, 
and friends, it pitieth me to leave you behind ; yet remember 
my death when I am gone ; and what I now feel, I hope 
you shall find ere you die, that God doth and will deal 
familiarly with men! And now thou fiery chariot, that 
came down to fetch up Elijah, carry me to my happy hold : 
and all ye blessed angels who attended the soul of Lazarus 
to bring it up to heaven ; bear me, O bear me into the 
bosom of my best beloved ! Amen, Amen, come Lord 
Jesus, come quickly ! ' And so he fell asleep." That this 
is true, the reporter and by-stander, that ancient, learned, 
and reverend minister of God, Mr Leigh, addeth t, " I say 
the truth, my brethren, I lie not, my conscience bearing me 
witness in the Holy Ghost," &c. 

(2.) Others may end their days very uncomfortably, in 
ravings, impatiences, and other strange behaviours. Nay, 

* Mr. John Holland, a faithful minister of God's word. 

t In his Sermon, entitled, The Soul's Solace against Sorrow. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 157 

the fiery distempers of their hot disease may sometimes even 
in the saints oi' God produce furious carriages, fearful dis- 
tractions, an<l some despairful speeches. But these being 
the natural effects and issues of melancholic excesses, 
frenzies, and burning fevers, are sins of infirmity in sanctified 
men. For w^hich, if they come again to themselves, they 
actually repent ; if not, they are all undoubtedly by a general 
habitual repentance and God's gracious acceptation thereof, 
pardoned by the passion of Christ, and buried for ever in his 
precious death, ihat last and irreversible doom at the 
dreadful tribunal of the ever-living God must pass upon us, 
not according to the violent and involuntary distempers at 
our last hour, but according to the former passages of our 
life, the sinful or sanctified expense of the days of health. 
Hear that other great artist in the mystery of dealing with 
troubled consciences *, "The common opinion is, that if a 
man die quietly and go away like a lamb, which in some 
diseases, as consumption and such like, any man may do, 
then he goes straight to heaven ; but if the violence of the 
disease stir up impatience, and cause frantic behaviours, then 
men use to say there is a judgment of God, serving either to 
discover a hypocrite, or to plague a wicked man. But the 
truth is otherwise ; for indeed a man may die like a lamb, 
and yet go to hell ; and one dying in exceeding torments 
and strange behaviours of the body may go to heaven." 

(3.) The death of some others is mixed ; to wit, of fear- 
ful tempestuous storms, and almost if not altogether des- 
pairful agonies in the beginning of their last sickness, and 
a fair, refreshing, glorious calm and joyful triumph over 
temptations and fear towards the conclusion of their life. 
For some secret end and holy purpose, seeming good to his 
heavenly wisdom, God suffers sometimes even his dearest 
servants to taste, as it were, of the fire of hell, and for a 
while to feel in their consciences those infernal flames, as a 
preparative to drink more sweetly of the well of life and 
rivers of endless pleasures. So himself is most honoured 
by helping when all hope is past ; the heart of his child 
more ravished with the first sight of those unutterable joys, 
being suddenly raised to the height of happiness from the 
depth of horror ; the enemies to the narrow way dashed 
and confounded by observing his deliverance, whom out of 
profane blindness they deemed a hypocrite ; godly Chris- 
tians graciously revived when they see, that though the Lord 
hide his face from his child for a moment, yet at last with 
everlasting kindness will he have mercy on him ; and that 

* Perkins, in his Salve for a Sick Man. 
P 



158 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

he will never utterly and finally forsake any of his. Thus 
died thoseblessed servants of God, Mrs. Brettergh, Mr. Pea- 
cock, &c. Mrs. Brettergh in the heat of temptation 
" wished that she had never been born, or that she had 
been made any other creature rather than a woman." But 
when that hellish storm was overblown by the return of the 
glorious beams of the sun of righteousness into her soul, she 
turned her tune and triumphed thus : "Oh happy am i , that 
ever I was born to see this blessed day ! I confess before 
the Lord his loving-kindness, and his wonderful works before 
the sons of men. For he hath satisfied my soul, and filled 
my hungry soul with goodness." 

Mr. Peacock, in the height of his dreadful desertion told 
those about him, that he " conversed with hell-hounds ; 
that the Lord had cursed him ; that he had no grace ; that 
it was against the course of God's proceeding to save him," 
&c. But when that horrible tempest of spiritual terrors 
was happily dispersed, and the light of God's comfortable 
countenance began to shine again upon his most heavy and 
afflicted spirit, he disavowed all " inconsiderate speeches," 
as he called them, in his temptation, and did humbly and 
heartily ask mercy of God for them all, and did thus tri- 
umph : " What ! should I extol the magnificence of God, 
which is unspeakable, and more than any heart can con- 
ceive 1 Nay, rather let us with humble reverence acknow- 
ledge his great mercy. V/hat great cause have I to mag- 
nify the great goodness of God, that hath humbled, nay ra- 
ther exalted such a wretched miscreant of so base condi- 
tion to an estate so glorious and stately ! The Lord hath 
honoured me with his goodness. I am sure he hath pro- 
vided a glorious kingdom for me. The joy which I feel in 
my heart is incredible." 

(4.) Some of God's worthiest champions and most zea- 
lous-servants do not answer the irreprovable sanctity of 
their life and unspotted current of their former conversation 
with those proportionable extraordinary comforts and glo- 
rious passages upon their beds of death, which in ordinary 
congruity might be expected, as a convenient conclusion to 
the rare and remarkable Christian carriages of such blessed 
saints. So bottomless and infinitely unfathomable by the 
utmost of all created understandings are the depths of 
God's most holy ways and his inscrutable counsels ; quite 
contrary many times to the probable conclusions of man's 
best wisdom. But every one of his, since he certainly 
passes through those pangs into pleasures and joys endless 
and unspeakable, must be content to glorify God and to be 
serviceable to his secret ends with what kind of death he 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 159 

please : whether it be glorious and untempted, or discom- 
t'ortable because of bodily distempers, and consequently 
uninterpretable by undiscerning spirits ; or mingled of temp- 
tations and triumphs ; or ordinary, and without any great 
show or remarkable speeches, after extraordinary singulari- 
ties of a holy life, which promised an end of special note 
and admiration. 

Wliy may not some worthy heavenly-minded Christians 
sometimes, by strong mortifying meditations and many con- 
quering fore-conceits of death in their life-time, make it be^ 
forehand so familiar and easy unto them, and by conti- 
nual conversing above, and constant peace of conscience, 
taste so deeply of spiritual joys, that that dreadful passage 
out of this life, as it may breed no great sense of alteration 
in themselves, so no extraordinary matter of special obser- 
vation to others 1 



CHAP. VIII. 
The ciivei-s kiuds of Death in Wicked Men. 

Of the wicked, and those who were ever strangers to the 
mystery of Christ and triith of godliness, — 

(1.) Some die desperately. Though thousands perish by 
presumption to one of those who despair, yet some there 
are, to whom, upon their beds of death, all their sins are 
set in order before ihem, and represented to the eye of their 
awaked consciences in such grisly forms and so terribly, 
that at the very first and fearful sight they are presently 
struck dead in soul and spirit, utterly overv/helmed and 
quite swallowed up with guilty aud desperate horror. So 
that afterward no counsel nor comfort ; no consideration of 
the immeasurableness of God's mercy, of the invaluable- 
ness and omnipotency, if I may so speak, of Christ's blood- 
shed, of the variety and excellency of gracious promises, 
of the loss of their own immortal souls, can possibly drive 
and divert from that infinitely false conceit and cursed cry, 
" My sins are greater than can bepardoned." Whereupon, 
most miserable and forlorn wretches ! they very wickedly 
and wilfully throw themselves into hell, as it were, upon 
earth, and are damned above ground. Thus the Lord some- 
times for the terror of others, glorifying his own justice, and 
bringing exemplary confusion upon impenitent obstinacy in 
sin, and wilful opposition to grace, doth in greatest indig- 
nation by the hand of divine vengeance unclasp unto them 



160 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

the book of Iheir own conscience and of his own holy law. 
In one of which they find now at length all their innumer- 
able iniquities, transgressions, and sins engraven with the 
point of a diamond, enraged with God's implacable wrath, 
aggravated with the utmost malice of Satan, and never to 
be razed out or remitted but by the blood of the Son of 
God, in which they peremptorily profess themselves to have 
no part. In the other they see the fierceness and fulness of 
all the curses, plagues, and torments denounced there, and 
due unto all impenitent sinners, ready to be poured upon 
their bodies and souls for ever; and no possibility to pre- 
vent them, no way to decline them, but by God's infinite 
bounty through Jesus Christ, in which they also utterly 
disc) am all right and interest ; and therefore they are now 
finally and desperately resolved to look for no mercy ; but 
in their own judgment and by their own confession stand 
reprobates from God's covenant, and void of all hope of 
his inheritance, expecting with unspeakable terror and 
amazement of spirit the consummation of their misery and 
fearful sentence of eternal damnation. They are commonly 
such as have been gross hypocrites like Judas, and lie in 
some secret abomination against the knowledge of their 
hearts all their life long ; that have followed still their own 
sensual ways and course oi the world against the light of 
the ministry, standing like an armed man in their con- 
sciences to the contrary ; who have been scorners and per- 
secutors of the power of godliness and the good way ; who 
have abjured the gospel of Jesus Christ and forsaken the 
truth for honour, wealth, or worldly happiness; to whom 
the Lord in their lifetime vouchsafed many mercies, much 
prosperity, great means of salvation, long forbearance, &c. 
And yet they stood out still, they still hated to be reformed, 
" set at nought all his counsel, and would none of his re- 
proof." Wherefore the day of gracious visitation being once 
expired, a thousand worlds will not purchase it again : 
heaven and earth cannot recal it. No mercy, no comfort, no 
blessing can then be had, though they seek it with tears and 
yelling. They shall never more be heard, though with much 
violence they throw their shrieks into the air, they cry with 
sighs and groans as piercing as a sword. Not but that the 
gates of heaven and arms of mercy may stand wide open 
until their last breath. But, alas ! ihey have already so 
hardened their hearts that they cannot repent. " After 
thine hardness, saith Paul (Rom. ii, 5), and heart that can- 
not repent." They now but howl upon their beds, they do 
not cry unto God vvith their hearts, as the prophet speaks 
(Hos.vii, 14). Tlieir earnest and early crying in this last 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 161 

extremity is only because their " fear is come upon them as 
desolation, and their destruction as a whirlwind." When 
they cast out their considerations for comfort, it is not the 
whole creation can possibly help them ; for they must stand 
or fall to the tribunal of the " everlasting God, mighty and 
terrible, and Creator of the ends of the earth." If they 
look up to God the Father, that scripture, Prov. i, 24, 26, 
comes presently into their head v\ith much horror, and 
quite kills their hearts ; because he hath called all our life 
long, and all that goodly time we refused, he will laugh now 
at our calamity, and mock when our fear is come. Jesus 
Christ, as they strongly conceive, andimmoveably conclude 
against themselves, hath now to them for ever closed up his 
wounds as it were, and will not afford them one drop of his 
blood; because tliey have so often by coming unworthily 
spilt it in the sacrament, persecuted him in his members, 
and despised him in the ministry. The blessed Spirit, be- 
cause in the day of visitation they repelled all his inward 
warnings and holy motions, preferring Satan's impure sug- 
gestions before his sacred inspirations, doth now in their own 
acknowledgment, by the equity of a just proportion, in this 
day of vexation leave them to eat the fruit of their former 
wilfulness, and reap the reward of their own ways. Thus 
these forlorn wretches are disclaimed, forsaken, and aban- 
doned of heaven and earth, God and man ; of all the com- 
forts in this life and blessings of the world to come. And so 
by final despairing of God's mercy, the greatest of sins, 
they most unhappily and cursedly follow Judas, the worst 
of men, into the darkest and most horrible cavern in hell. 

(2.) Others die senselessly and blockishly. They demean 
themselves upon their dying beds as though there were no 
immortality of the soul, no tribunal above, no strict account 
to be given up there for all things done in the flesh, no ever- 
lasting estate in tiie v\orld to come, wherein everyone must 
either lie in unspeakable pains, or live in unutterable plea- 
sures. In their lifetime they were never wont to tremble 
at God's judgments, or lejoice in his promises, or much 
trouble themselves with the ministry of the word, or about 
the state of their souls. All was one to them, what minis- 
ter they had, whether a man " taught to the kingdom of 
Christ," or a general teacfier, or an ignorant mangier of the 
word, or a dissolute fellow, or a dauber with untempered 
mortar, or a dumb dog. If they were neither prostitutes 
nor thieves, but well accounted of amongst their neigh- 
bours, thrived m the world, prospered in their outward 
stale, provided for posterity, slept lu a whole skin, were 
P 3 



162 INSTRUCTIOxNTS FOR COMFORTING 

not vexed on the Lord's day with any of these precise 
trouble-towns ; they were well enough, and had all they 
looked for, either in this world or the world to come. 
Wherefore at their death, by reason of their former disac- 
quaintance with spiritual things, and God not opening their 
eyes, they are neither afflicted with any fear of hell, or af- 
fected with any hope of heaven ; they are both unappre- 
hensive of their present danger, and fearless of the fiery 
lake into which they are ready to fall. In these regards 
they are utterly untouched, die most quietly, and without 
any trouble at all. And it is their ordinary answer, when 
they are questioned about their spiritual state, and how it 
stands with them between God and their own consciences, 
"I thank God, nothing troubles me ;" which though they 
think it makes much for their own credit, yet, alas ! it is a 
small comfort to judicious by-standers. and such as wish 
V ell to their souls ; but rather a fearful confirmation that 
they are finally given over to the spirit of slumber, and 
sealed up by divine justice in the sottishness and security 
of their own senseless hearts for most deserved condemna- 
tion. Thus these men, as one speaks, " live like stocks and 
die like blocks." " And yet the ignorant people," saith 
Greenham, " will still commend such fearful deaths, say- 
ing. He departed as meekly as a lamb ; he went away as a 
bird in a shell , when they might as well say (but for their 
feather bed and their pillow) he died like a beast, and 
perished like an ox in a ditch." 

(3.) Others die formally. I mean, they make very goodly 
shows and representations of much confidence and comfort. 
Having formerly been formal professors, and so furnished 
with many forms of godly speeches, and outward Christian 
behaviours ; and the spirit of delusion and spiritual self- 
cozenage, which in their life-time detained them in con- 
stancy of security and self-conceitedness about the spiritual 
safety of their souls, without any such doubts, troubles, 
feais, temptations, as are wont to haunt those who are true 
of heart (for ordinarily such is the peace of unsound pro- 
fessors), continuing their imaginary groundless persuasion 
and presumption in the height and strength unto the end, 
for their very last breath may be spent in saying " Lord, 
Lord, open unto us," aa we see in the foolish virgins and 
those Mat. vii ; I say such men as these, thus wofully de- 
luded and fearfully deceiving others, may cast out upon 
their last beds many glorious speeches, intimating much 
seeming confidence of a good estate to God-ward, contempt 
of the world, willingness to die, readiness to forgive all the 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 163 

world, hope lo be saved, desire to be dissolved and go to 
heaven, &c. They may cry aloud with a great deal of 
iormal confidence, " Lord, Lord ; Mercy, mercy in the 
name of Christ ; Lord Jesus receive our spirits," &c. ; and 
yet all these goodly hopes, and earnest ejaculations, growing 
only from a form, and not from the power of godliness, are 
bur, as 1 said somewhere before, as so many catcliings and 
scramblings of a man over head in water. He struggles 
and strives for hold to save himself, but he grasps nothing 
but water, it is still water which he catches, and therefore 
sinks and drowns. They are all but as a spider's web, 
upon wMch, one falling from the top of a house lays hold 
by the way for stay and support. " He shall lean upon his 
house, but it shall not stand; he shall hold it fast, but it 
shall not endure" (Job viii, 14, 15). "Oh, how many 
descend," saith an ancient father, " with this hope to eter- 
nal travails and torment?" " How many," saith another 
worthy doctor*, "goto hell with a vain hope of heaven, 
whose chiefest cause of damnation is their false persuasion 
and groundless presumption of salvation ! " Of all the four 
kinds of death which ordinarily befal such as are not saved, 
this is the fairest in show ; but yet of greatest imposture 
to those about them, and of most pestilent consequence to 
harden especially all of the same humour that hear of it. 

(4.) Some die penitently. But 1 mean seemingly so, not 
savingly. Many having served tlieir appetites all their 
lives and lived in pleasure ; now, when the sun of their 
sensual delights begins to set, and the dark midnight of 
misery and horror to seize upon them, would very gladly 
be saved. And I blame them not, if they might first live 
the life of the wicked, and then die the death of the righ- 
teous : if they might have the earthly heaven of the world's 
favourites here, and the heaven of Christ's martyrs in the 
world to come. Tliese men are wont in this last extremity 
to grieve extremely ; but it is but like their "howling upon 
their beds," Hos. vii, 14. Because they are pinched with 
some sense of present horror and expectation of dreadful 
things, they cry out mightily for mercy ; but it is no other 
than their early seeking, Prov. i, 28. Because distress and 
anguish is come upon then), they inquire eagerly after God, 
and would now be gladly acquainted with him ; but just 
like them. Psalm Ixxviii, 34, "When he slew them, then 
they sought him : and they returned and inquired early 
after God. And they remembered that God v/as their rock, 
and the high God their redeemer. Nevertheless they did 
* Dr. Featlv. 



164 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto ' im with 
their tongues. For their heart was not right with him." 
They promise very fair, and protest gloriously what mended 
men they will be if the Lord restore them. But all these 
goodly promises are but as a morning cloud, and as the 
early dew. i hey are like those of a thief or murderer at 
the bar, who being now cast, and seeing there is now no 
way but one, O what a reformed man would he be, if he 
might be reprieved ! Antiochus, as the apocryphal book of 
the Maccabees reports (2 Maccab. ix), when the hand of 
God was upon him horribly, vowed excellent things. O 
what he would do : so and so extraordinarily for the people 
of God ! yea, and that "he himself also would become a 
Jew ; and go through all the world that was inhabited and 
declare the power of God." But what was it, think you, 
that made this raging tyrant to relent and thus seemingly 
repent 1 "A pain of the bowels that was remediless came 
upon him, and sore torments of the inner parts ; so that no 
man could endure to carry hini for his intolerable stench ; 
and he liimself could not abide his own smell." Many 
may thus behave themselves upon their beds of death with 
very strong shows and many boisterous representations of 
true turning unto God, whereas in truth and trial they are 
.as yet rotten at heart-root; and as yet no more comfort 
upon good ground belongs unto them than to those in the 
fore-cited places ; and if any spiritual physician in such a 
case do press it hand over head, or such a patient presume 
to apply it, it is utterly misgrounded, misapplied. Hear 
what one of the worthiest divines in Christendom saith * : 
" Now put the case, one cometh to his ghostly father with 
such sorrow of mind as the terrors of a guilty conscience 
usually do produce, and with such a resolution to cast 
away his sins as a man hath in a storm to cast away his 
goods ; not because he doth not love them, but because he 
feareth to lose his life if he part not with them : doth not 
he betray this man's soul, who putteth into his head that 
such an extorted repentance as this, which hath not one 
grain of love to season it witiial, will qualify him suffici- 
ently for the receiving of an absolution ?" ike. And another, 
excellently instructed unto the kingdom of heaven t: " Re- 
pentance at death is seldom sound. For it may seem 
rather to arise from fear of judgment, and a horror of hell, 
than for any grief for sin. And many seeming to repent 
aflectionately in dangerous sickness, when they have re- 

* Dr. Usher, in his Answer to a Jesuit's Challenge, 
t Dvke, of Kepenfance, chap. xvi. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 165 

covered, have been rather worse than before. It is true, 
that true repentance is never too Late, but late repentance 
is seldom fruf : " for here our sins rather leave us than we 
them, as Ambrose says, and as he adds, " Woe be unto 
them whose sin and life end together." This received 
principle among the ancient fathers, that late repentance 
is rarely true, implies that it is often false and unsound, 
and so by consequence confirms the present point. Too 
manifold experience also makes it good. Amongst many, 
for my part I have taken special notice of two. The one 
being laboured with in prison, was seemingly so extraor- 
dinarily humbled, that a reverend man of God was moved 
thereby to be a means of his reprieve, whereupon a pardon 
was procured. And yet this so extraordinary a penitent 
while death was in his eye, having the terror removed, re- 
turned to his vomit, and some two years after to the same 
place again, as notorious a Belial as he was before. Another, 
having upon his bed of sickness received in his own conceit 
the sentence of death against himself ; and being pressed 
to humiliation and broken-heartedness, for he had formerly 
been a stranger and an enemy to purity and the power of 
godliness, answered thus: " My heart is broken ; " and so 
broke out into an earnest confession of particular sins ; he 
named uncleanness, stubbornness, obstinacy, vain-glory, 
hypocrisy, dissimulation, uncharitableness, covetousness, 
lukewarmness, iScc. He compared himself to the thief 
upon the cross. " And if God," saith he, " restore me to 
health again, the world shall see what an altered man I 
will be." When he was pressed to sincerity and true 
heartedness in what he said ; he protested that he repented 
with all his heart and soul, and mind, and bowels, ^:c. ; 
and desired a minister that stood by to be a witness of these 
things between the world and him. And yet this man 
upon his recovery became the very same, if not worse than 
he was before. 



CHAP. IX. 

The Remedy iii this Fifth Case. 1. Admonition to the Ministers, to be 
careful in comforting at that time. 2. To the People, not to defer 
Repentance till that time. 

Now since upon this perusal of the different deaths incident 
to the godly and the wicked, it appears that some men never 
soundly converted, may in respect of all outward repre- 
sentations die as confidently and comfortably in the judg- 



166 INSTllUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

ment of the most as God's dearest children ; and that 
Christ's best servants sometimes may depart this life uncom- 
fortably to the eye and in the opinion of the greater part ; 
and we heard before that our last and everlasting doom 
must pass upon us, according to the sincerity or sensuality, 
the zealous forwardness or formality of our former courses, 
and not according to \he seeming of our last carriage upon 
the bed of death, and enforced behaviour in that time of ex- 
tremity : I say, these things being so, I hold my conclusion 
still, and resolution not much to alter my estimation of a 
man's spiritual state for the manner of his death (I except 
the thieves upon the cross) : my meaning is, that there may 
be some (I know not how few, but I am sure there is none, 
except he have in him the perfection of the madness of all 
the maniacs that ever breathed, would run that hazard), 
who formerly out of the way and unreformed, may now at 
last, being very extraordinarily and mightily humbled under 
God's mighty hand, and cleaving to the Lord Jesus with 
truly broken hearts indeed, follow by a miracle, as it were, 
the thief upon the cross to an everlasting crovvn. And 
here now I require the care, conscience, heavenly wisdom, 
experimental skill, and all his ministerial dexterity in the 
physician of the soul, to discern aright between these and 
seeming penitents ; and then to apply himself proportion- 
ably with all holy discretion and seasonableness to their 
several different estates. 

But to fright and turn every one for ever from that extre- 
mest folly of hoping to follow that miraculous penitent thief, 
and from going ou in sin and deferring repentance upon such 
a deceiving and desperate ground ; let us consider, — 

(1.) What a holy and learned man of God (Greenham) 
saith to this point. " In great wisdom, that men at the 
last gasp should not utterly despair, the L,ord hath left us 
but one example of exceeding and extraordinary mercy, by 
saving the thief on the cross. Yet the perverseness of all 
our nature may be seen by this, in that this one serveth us 
to looseness of life, in hope of the like ; whereas we might 
better reason, that it is but one, and that extraordinary ; 
and that besides this one, there is not one more in all the 
Bible ; and that for this one that sped, a thousand thousands 
have missed : and what folly is it to put ourselves in a way 
where so many have miscarried ! To put ourselves into the 
hand of that physician that hath murdered so many ; going 
clean against our sense and reason : whereas in other we 
always lean to that which is most ordinary, and conclude 
not the spring to be come because of one swallow 1 It is as 
if a man should spur his ass till he spoke, because Balaam's 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 167 

ass did once speak. So grossly hath the devil bewitched 
us." 

(2.) The singularities about the good thief. First, his 
heart was broken with one short sermon as it were ; but 
thou hast or mightest have heard many, and art yet hard- 
hearted. Secondly, the other thief saw also that sovereign 
soul-healing blood gush freshly and abundantly out of his 
blessed side, and yet was not struck or stirred at all. 
Thirdly, his example is only for true penitents : but thou, 
upon this presumption despising in the mean time the riches 
of God's goodness and forbearance and long-suffering, lead- 
ing thee to repentance, hardenest, thy heart that thou canst 
not repent. Fourthly, his case was singular, and such that 
the like is not to be found in the whole scripture. A king 
sometimes pardons a malefactor at the place of execution ; 
wilt thou therefore run desperately into some horrible villany 
deserving death, hoping to be that one among many thou- 
sands! Fifthly, "It was a miracle," saith an excellent 
divine *, "with the glory whereof our Saviour would honour 
the ignominy of the cross. We may almost as well expect 
a second crucifying of Christ, as such a second thief Christ 
then triumphing on the cross, did as princes do in the 
triumph of entering into their kingdoms, they pardon gross 
offences before committed, such as they pardon not after- 
wards." Sixthly, having an eye upon this thief, that thou 
mayest more fully and freely follow thy pleasures, thou 
makest "a covenant with death, and an agreement with 
hell, and puttest the evil day far from thee ; " but the Lord 
hath professed, " that thy covenant with death shall be dis- 
annulled, and thy agreement with hell shall not stand ; when 
the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then shalt thou 
be trodden down by it. 

(3.) The ordinary impossibilites of following the blessed 
thief in his miraculous repentance. First, thou art cried 
unto continually by God's messengers to come in now, while 
it is called to-day; yet thou standest out still, out of this 
thought only, or rather v/ant of thought, to take thy till of 
pleasure in the mean time, and to seek God sufficiently 
upon thy bed of death, by repenting with the thief at last. 
But know, for thy terror and timely turning, that the longer 
thou puttest off and deferresl, the more unht thou shalt be 
to repent. Thy custom in sinning will exercise more tyranny 
over thee : the curse of God for thy going on still in thy 
trespasses will be more heavy upon thee : the corruptions 
that lurk in thine own bosom will be more strengthened 

* Dyke on Repentance, cliap. xvii. 



168 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

against thee ; and this threefold cord is hardly broken ; 
these three giants will be mastered with very much ado. The 
farther thou waikest in the ways of death, the more un- 
willing and more unable wilt thou be to return and be re- 
formed. Thine understanding will be more darkened with 
hellish mists ; tliy judgment more perverted ; thy will more 
stubborn ; thy memory more stufted with sensual notions ; 
thine affections will become more rebellious ; thy thoughts 
more earthly ; thine heart more hardened ; thy conscience 
more seared ; thyself more sold to sin ; and every day that 
comes over thine head in this state of darkness, much more 
the child of the devil than thou wast before. To refuse 
Christ upon this point so freely and fairly offered, is to re- 
ceive God's curse under seal, and to make sure thy cove- 
nant with hell and league with death, until thou be slain 
by the one and swallowed up of the other, without all mercy 
or recovery. For in this time of delay God grows more 
angry, Satan more strong, thyself more unable to repent, 
sin more unconquerable, thy conversion more hard, thy sal- 
vation more impossible. A ruinous house, the longer thou 
lettest it run, the more labour and charge will it require in 
repairing. If thou drive a nail with a hammer, the more blows 
thou givest to it, the more hard will it be to draw it out again. 
It isjust so in the case of continuing in sin; and every new sin 
is a new stroke with a hammer that drives the nail in farther. 
Secondly, with what possibility art thou likely to pass 
through the great work of saving repentance ] or with what 
heart canst thou address thyself unto it ^ when upon thy 
sick bed thou art set upon at once, if thy conscience be 
waking, with the ugly sight of all thy sins charging upon 
thee vvith insupportable horror, with the pangs of death, 
with Satan's utmost malice and his very powder-plot, and 
with the terror of that approaching strict tribunal ; 
winch dreadful encounter is able to put to it the spiritual 
strength of many years gathering. Thirdly, resolution to 
defer repentance, when grace is offered, doth justly merit 
to be deprived for ever after of all opporunity and ability to 
repent. Fourthly ; it is just vvith God, that tliat man who 
doth purposely put off repentance and provision for his soul 
until his last sickness, should for that sin alone be snatched 
out of the world in great anger, even suddenly, so that there 
be scarce a moment betwixt the height of his temporal hap- 
piness and the depth of his spiritual misery. That his foolish 
hope may be frustrated and his vain purpose come to no- 
thing ; he may be cut off as the top of an ear of corn, and 
put out like a candle, when he least thinks of death, and 
dreams of nothing less than departure from his earthly 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 169 

paradise. " They are exalted for a little while," saith Job, 
" but are sone and brouu;lit low ; they are taken out of the 
way as all other, and cut off as the tops of the ears ot" corn'' 
(Job xxiv,24). Fifthly, a long continued custom is not 
wont to be shaken off in an instant. Is it likely that a black- 
moor should chani^e his skin and a leopard his spots in three 
or four days, wliich they have contracted in forty or three- 
score years ? Therefore I marvel that any should be so 
blindfolded and baffled by the devil as to embolden himself 
to drive off' until the last, by that passage of scripture — 
"At what time soever a sinner doth repent him of his sin 
from the bottom of his heart, I will put all his wickedness 
out of my remembrance, saith the Lord ; " especially if he 
look upon the text from whence it is taken, which methinks 
being rightly understood, and the conditions well con- 
sidered, is most punctual and precise to fright any from 
that desperate folly. The words run thus : " But if the 
wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, 
and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and 
right, he shallsurely live, he shall not die. All his trnns- 
gressions," &cc. ( Ezek. xviii, 21, 22). Hence it appears, 
that if any man expect upon good ground any portion in 
this precious promise of mercy and grace, he must " leave 
all his sins, and keep all God's statutes.'' Now, how per- 
formest thou the condition of leaving all thy sins, when, as 
in this last extremity, having received the sentence of death 
against thyself, thy sins leave thee, and not thou thy sins, 
that I may speak in the phrase of an ancient father! And 
what space is left to come to comfort by keeping all God's 
statutes, when thou art presently to pass to that highest 
and dreadful tribunal, to give an exact and strict account for 
the continual breach of all God's laws all thy life long? 
Sixthly, many seem to be very penitent and promise exceed- 
ing fair in the evil day and upon their sick beds, who being 
recovered and restored to their former state are the very 
same they were before, if not worse. I never knew, nor 
heard of any unwrought upon under conscionable means, 
who after recovery performed the vows and promises of a 
nev/ life, which he made in his sickness and times of ex- 
tremity. For if he will not be moved with the ministry, 
God will never give that honour unto the cross to do the 
deed. " Nay, Father Abraham," saith the rich glutton, 
" but if one went unto them from the dead they will re- 
pent. And he said unto him, If they hear not iNIoses and 
the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one 
rose from the dead" (Luke xvi, 30, 31). It would amaze 
thee much if one of thy good-fellow companions should now 

Q 



170 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

rise from the dead and tell thee, that he who was thy bro- 
ther in iniquity is now in heli, and if thou follow the same 
sensual courses still, thou must shortly most certainly fol- 
low him to the place of torment. And yet even this would 
not work at all if thou be a despiser of the word. It may 
be while the dead man stood by thee thou wouldest be ex- 
traordinarily moved and promise much ; but no sooner 
should he be in his grave, but thou wouldst be as graceless 
as thou wast before. Seventhly, what wise man, seeing a 
fellow who never gave his name to religion in his life-time, 
now only troubled about sin, when he is sure he must die, 
will not suspect it to be wholly slavish and extorted for fear 
of hell ? " My sentence is," saith Greenham, " that a man 
lying nov/ at the point of death, having the snares of death 
upon him, in that strait of fear and pain, may have a sorrow 
for his life past ; but because the weakness of flesh, and the 
bitterness of death dothmost commonly procure it, we ought 
to suspect," &c. Eighthly, painful distempers of body are 
wont to weaken much and hinder the activeness and freedom 
of the soul's operations ; nay, sometimes to distract and 
utterly overthrow them. Many, even of much knowledge, 
grace, and good life, by reason of the damp and deadness 
which at that time the extremity and anguish of their disease 
brings upon their spirits, are able to do no great matter, if 
any thing at all, either in meditation or expression. How 
then dost thou think to pass through the incomparably 
greatest work that ever the soul of man was acquainted with 
in this life (I mean the /leuj-/)//'^/;) at the point of death ? 
It is a woful thing to have much work to do, when the power 
of working is almost done. When we are come to the very 
last cast, our strength is gone, our spirits clean spent, our 
senses appalled, and the power of our souls as numb as our 
senses ; when there is a general prostration of all our powers, 
and the shadow of death upon our eyes, then something we 
would say or do, which should do our souls good. But, 
alas ! how should it then be 1 



CHAP. X. 

The Third Error of applyiiitr comfort, which is iudiscrect application. 
Tiie first case wherein" it happens, which is too sudden application; 
and the demonstration of that error. 

When the spiritual physcian pours the balm of mercy and 
oil of comfort into a wounded conscience — 
1. Too soon. The surgeon that heals up a dangerous sore. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 171 

and draws a skin over it before his corrosive have consumed 
the dead Heth, before he hath opened it vi'ith his tents, 
ransacked it to llie root, and rent out the core, is so far from 
serving, that he procures a great deal of misery to his 
patient. For the rotten matter that remains behind will 
continue to rankle and fester underneath, and at length 
break out again perhaps, both with more extremity of 
anguish and difficulty of cure. They are but mountebanks, 
smatterers in physic and surgery, in short, but plain cheaters 
and cozeners, who are so ready and resolute for extemporary 
and palliative cures. Sudden recoveries from rooted and 
old distempers are rarely sound. If it be thusin bodily cures, 
what a deal do you think of extraordinary discretion, 
heavenly wisdom, precise and punctual pondering of cir- 
cumstances, well-advised and seasonable leisure, both 
speculative and experimental skill, heartiest ejaculations, 
wrestlings with God by prayer for a blessing, is very con- 
venient and needful for a true and right method in healing 
a wounded conscience ! which doth pass immeasurably all 
other maladies, both in exquisiteness of pain, tenderness of 
touch, deceitfulness of depth, and in highest and greatest 
consequence, either for the everlasting health or endless 
horror of an immortal soul. Hence it was that that one of 
a thousand and learned doctor in this heavenly mystery *, 
did so far differ from all daubers with untempered mortar 
and the ordinary undoing courses in this kind : — ; 

" But now coming to the salving of this sore," saith he, "I 
shall seem very strange in my cure, and so much the more 
be wondered at, by how much in manner of proceeding I 
differ from the most sort of men herein. I am not ignorant 
that many visiting afflicted consciences cry still. Oh, com- 
fort them ! Oh, speak joyful things unto them ! Yea, 
there be some, and those of the most learned, who in such 
cases are full of these and such like speeches : Why are you 
so heavy, my brother? Why are you so cast down, my 
sister? Be of good cheer. Take it not so grievously. 
What is there that you should fear? Cod is merciful; 
Christ is a Saviour. These be speeches of love indeed ; 
but they often do the poor souls as much good herein, as if 
they should pour cold water into their bosoms ; whenas 
without further se irching of their sores they may as well 
minister a malady as a medicine. For as nutritive and cor- 
dial medicines are not good for every sick person, especially 
when the body needeth rather a strong purgative than a 
matter restorative ; and as carminative medicines may for 

• Greenharo, in his Treatise for an Afflicted Conscience. 



172 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

a time allay the pain of the patient, but after the grief be- 
cometh more grievous : so the comfortable applying of G od's 
promises are not so profitable ibr every one that is humbled, 
especially when their souls are rather further to be cast 
down than as yet to be raised up ; so those sugared consola- 
tions may for a while overheal the conscience and abate 
some present grief; but so as afterwards the smart may be 
the sorer, and the grief may grow the greater. Hereof en- 
sueth this effect, that comfort seemeth to cure for a while, 
but for want of wisdom in the right discerning of the cause, 
men minister one medicine for another ; and so for want of 
skill the latter grindeth sorer than the former." 

Calvin, also, that great pillar and glory of the Christian 
world, for sincere and sound orthodox doctrine*, concurs 
in judgment with this blessed man of God ; and so, I doubt 
not, do all the faithful ministers of Jesus Christ. " Let this 
be the first degree of repentance, when men feel that they 
have been grievous offenders; and then the grief is not to 
be immediately cured, as impostors deal flatteringly and 
nicely wath men's consciences, that they may favour them- 
selves as much as may be, and be notably deceived with 
superficial daubing. The physician will not forthwith 
assuage the pain, but will consider what may be more ex- 
pedient. Perhaps he will increase it, because a sharper 
medicine will be necessary. Even so the prophets of God, 
when they see trembling consciences, do not presently ap- 
ply sweet consolations ; but rather tell ihem, that they must 
not dally with God, and stir up those who are so forward of 
their own accord, that they would propose unto themselves 
the terrible judgment of God, that they may yet be more 
and more humbled." 

Another excellent and skilful workman in the great mys- 
tery of saving souls t, tells us truly, " That the promise of 
salvation doth not immediately belong to one terrified in 
conscience, but to one that is not only terrified for his pu- 
nishment, but is contrite-hearted for sin, which is the work 
of the gospel. Let not these be weary of the yoke of God 
and the law, and make overmuch haste out of this state, for 
so they may undo themselves. For some withstanding their 
terror, have withstood their salvation, &c. Even as an impa- 
tient patient gets the surgeon to pull out the tent and 
corrosive, or pulls it oft' himself as soon as it begins to smart 
a little, and so thinks it is searched enough, and now lays 
on healing plaisters : but afterwards breaks oft" again worse 
than ever. Whereas if the corrosive had been let lie on till 

* On Joel, chap, ii, f Mr. Rogers of Dedham, Doctrine of Faith. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 173 

it had eaten out the corruption indeed, then it might have 
been whole Ions; ago." 

If daubers in this kind did rightly understand and acknow- 
ledge, or had ever had any experimental feeling in their 
own souls of Christ's rule, and the Holy Ghost's method, 
which is first to convince of sin, to deject and humble in 
the sight of the Lord with apprehension and sense of a most 
abominable and cursed state, before there follow a convic- 
tion of the righteousness of Christ to raise up (see John 
xvi, 8), or of the necessity of the work of the spirit of 
bondage, to fit and prepare for Christ and comfort ; I say, 
then, they would not deal so ignorantly in a matter of so 
dear and e\'erlasting importance. They would not so has- 
tily and rashly, without all warrant and wisdom, without 
any further search, discovery, or dejection, oflPer mercy, 
pardon, and all the promises to a man formerly wicked, only 
for some faint and enforced confession of sins, or because 
now being overtaken by the evil day, he howls upon his 
bed, not for any true hatred of sin, but for present smart 
and expected horror, 6cc. But would labour to let the spirit 
of bondage have its full work, and lay him open more at 
large in the true colour of his scarlet sins ; and not only- 
cause a bare confession of them, but such a conviction as 
may stop his mouth, so that he hath not a word to speak, 
but trembles to see such a sink, Sodom, and hell of sin and 
abomination in himself, &c. Oh, how oft have I heard 
many a poor ignorant soul in the day of sorrow, being 
moved to humble himself in the sight of the Lord that he 
might lift hira up, first to get his heart broken with the 
abhorred burthen of all his sins, and then to bring it thus 
bleeding to the throne of grace, that Christ might bind it 
up ; I say, being thus intreated, to answer, Yes, yes, with 
all my heart ; I am sorry for ray sins with all my heart ; I 
trust in Jesus Christ with all my heart ; and thus, whatso- 
ever you can counsel or advise, he doth it with all his heart ; 
whereas, alas ! poor heart, as yet his understanding is as 
dark as darkness itself, in respect of any, I say not only 
saving knowledge, but almost of any knowledge at all ; and 
his heart in respect of any true remorse as hard as a rock of 
flint. Now those unskilful physicians of the soul, who in 
this and the like cases will needs without any more ado, 
without any further enlightening or labour, thrust mercy 
and comfort upon them, are like those " foolish shepherds," 
as lMarbury,in his Exposition upon Psalm xxxii, calls them, 
" who when they want skill to help their poor sheep out of 
the ditch, are driven to play the miserable comforters, and 
to take some other indirect course (as many use to do in such 

Q 3 



174 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

cases), to cut the sheep's throat in time to make him man's 
meat, lest it should be said, he died in a ditch." They are 
desolators not consolators, as Austin sometimes calls them ; 
not sound comforters, but true cut-throats. 

Besides that which i have said before of the precedency 
of the woiking of the law and of the spirit of bondage to 
make way for Christ, let me further tell you upon this oc- 
casion (that it may appear that much more is to be done 
herein than is ordinarily imagined before comfort may upon 
good ground and seasonably be applied to the conscience 
awaked) what an excellent divine, both for depth of learn- 
ing and height of holiness, delivered somewhere in this 
point to this purpose. 

" No man must think this strange, that God dealeth with 
men after this strange manner; as it were to kill them 
before he make them alive ; to let them pass through, or by, 
as it were, the gates of hell to heaven ; to suffer the spirit 
of bondage to put them into a fear, into a shaking and 
trembling, &c. For he suffers those that are his to be terri- 
fied with this fear, — 

" First. In respect of his own glory, for the magnifying 
both of his justice and of his mercy. 

"(1.) He glorifies his justice when lessening, or altoge- 
ther, for the time, abstracting all sight of mercy. He lets 
tlie law, sin, conscience, and Satan loose upon a man to 
have their course and several comminations, and sets the 
spirit of bondage on work, &c. Thus as in the great work 
of redemption*, he would have the glory of his justice 
appear ; so would he have it also in the application of our 
redemption, that justice should not be swallowed up of 



* As in the work of creation, so in the work of redemption, God 
would have the praise of all his attributes. He is much honoured when 
tliey are ackuowledi^ed to be in him in hiirhest perfection, and their in- 
finiteness and excellency admired and magnified. In the former there 
appeareth gloriously his infinite wisdom, goodness, power, justice, 
mercy, &c.; and yet in the work of redemption, which wasthe greater, 
they seem to shine with more sweetness, amiableness, and excellency; 
for in it appeared all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, &c. And 
in conveying it to the churcli — First, His wisdom there appeareth 
intinite wisdom, in finding out such a means for the redemption of man- 
kind as no created understanding could possibly imagine or think of. 
Secondly, His mercy inuiieasurably sweet and admirable, in not sparing 
his own Son, the Son of his love," that lie might spare us, who had so 
grievously transgressed against iiim. Thirdly, His justice in its highest 
excellency, in sparing us, not to spare his own only Son; laying, as it 
were, his tiead upon the block, andchoppinar it off ; rending and tearing 
tliat blessed body, even as the veil of the temple was rent, and making 
his soul an offering for sin, &c. This was the perfection of justice. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 175 

mercy ; but even as the woman, 2 Kings iv, who had nothing 
to pay was threatened by creditors to take away her two 
sons, and put them in prison, so we having nothing to pay, 
the law is let loose upon us, to threaten imprisonment and 
■damnation-, to affright and terrify, and all this for the ma- 
nifesting of his justice. Furthermore, the book of God is 
full of terrible threatenings against sinners. Now, shall all 
those be to no purpose? The wicked are insensible of them, 
to ihem therefore in that respect they are in vain. Some 
there must needs be upon whom they must work. * Shall 
the lion roar,' saith the prophet, ' and no man be afraid 1 ' 
Since, then, they who should, will not; some there be who 
must tremble. This the prophet excellently setteth forth, 
Isa. Ixvi, 2, where the Lord showeth whom he will regard. 
* Bwt to this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and 
of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.' Neither is 
it without good cause that God dealeththus with his own in 
this manner, though it be sharp in the experience. First, 
we must fear, tremble, and be humbled ; and then we shall 
receive a spirit not to fear again. 

"(2.) His mercy is also thereby mightily magnified; 
which would never be so sweet, nor relish so well, nor be so 
esteemed of us, if the awful terror of justice had not 
formerly made us smart. A king sometimes doth not only 
suffer the law to pass upon some grievous malefactor for 
high treason, but also causeth him to be brought to the place 
of execution, yea, and lay down his head upon the block 
ere he pardon ; and then mercy is mercy indeed, and melts 
the heart * abundantly with amazement and admiration 
of it. So God dealeth with us many times ; lets the law 
loose against us, puts us in fear, casts us into prison, and 
threateneth condemnation in hell for ever ; so that when 
mercy cometh to the soul, being now lost in itself and at the 
pit's brink, it appears to be a wonderful mercy, the riches 
of exceeding mercy, most seasonable, most sweet, most 



* A man who otherwise would not cry nor shed a tear for any thing, 
despiseth death, and would not fear to meet a host of men ; I say, such 
a one now having at the last instant a pardon brought from the king, it 
workech wonderfully upon him, and will cause softness of heart and 
tears to come many times where nothing else could. He is so struck 
with admiration of so great mercy, so sweet and seasonable in such an 
extremity, that he stands amazed and knows not what to say ; but many 
times falls to weeping, partly for joy of his deliverance, arid partly also 
out of indignation against himself, 'for his barbarous behaviour towards 
so merciful a prince. This was to be seen in some great men, at the 
beginning of King James's reign, condemned for treason, and pardoned 
at the block. 



176 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

ravishing. Why do so many find no savour in the gospel? 
Is it because there is no matter of sw^eetness or delight in 
it 1 No ; it is because they have not tasted of, not been 
soundly touched and terrified by the law and the spirit of 
bondage. They have not smarted, nor as yet been afflicted 
with a sense of the bitterness of sin, nor of the just punish- 
ment due unto the same. God therefore sends into our 
hearts the spirit of fear and bondage to prepare us to relish 
mercy ; and then the spirit of adoption not to fear again. 
And thus by this order the one is magnified and highly 
esteemed by the foregoing sense of the other. 

" Secondly, for our good ; and that two ways : 1. In jus- 
tification ; and 2. In sanctification. 

" (1.) We are such strangers unto God that we will ne- 
ver come unto him till we see no other remedy ; being at 
the pit's brink, ready to starve, hopeless, &c. We see it 
in the prodigal son. He would never think of any return 
unto his father till all other helps failed him ; money, 
friends, acquaintance, all sorts of food ; nay, if he might 
have fed upon husks with the swine he would not have 
thought of returning anymore to his father. This being de- 
nied him, the texth saith, ' he came to himself : ' showing 
us, that when men run on in sinful courses they are mad- 
men, out of themselves, even as we see those in Bedlam are 
beaten, kept under, denied comforts till they come to 
themselves. And what saith he theni ' I will arise and 
go to my father ; and I will say unto him. Father, I have 
sinned against heaven and against thee,' &c. So it is with 
us : until the Lord humble and bring us low in our own eyes, 
show us our own misery and spiritual poverty, and that in 
us there is no good thing ; that we be stripped of all helps 
in and without ourselves, and see that we must perish un- 
less we beg his mercy: I say, until then we will not seek 
his face and favour, nor have recourse to Jesus Christ, the 
rock of our salvation. It is with us in this case as it was 
with the woman whom Christ healed of the bloody issue 
(Luke viii, 43). How long was it ere she came to Christ 1 
She had been sick twelve years ; she had spent all her liv- 
ing upon physicians, neither could she be healed of any. 
Now this extremity brought her to Jesus Christ. This then 
is the means to bring to Christ, to bring us upon our knees, 
to drive us out of ourselves hopeless, as low as maybe ; to 
show us where help is only to be found, and make us run 
unto it. The hunted beast flies unto his den ; the Israelites 
being stung by fiery serpents made haste to the brazen ser- 
pent, a type of Christ, for help ; the man-killer under the 
law, chased by the avenger of blood, ran apace to the city 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 177 

of refuge ; Joab, being pursued for his life, fled to the ta- 
bernacle of the Lord, and laid fast hold upon the horns 
of the altar ; a wounded man hies unto the surgeon : pro- 
portionably a poor soul, broken and bruised with the in- 
supportable buithens of all his abominations, bleeding at 
heart's root under sense of Divine wrath hy the cutting 
edge of the sword of the Spirit, managed aright by some 
masters of assemblies, chased furiously by the law, sin, 
conscience, and Satan ; sometimes even to the brink of des- 
pair, will be willing in good earnest to cast itself into the 
sweet, compassionate, inviting arms and embracements of 
Jesus Christ, broken and bleeding upon the cross for our 
sins, and so be made his for ever. 

"(2.) For our sanctification, also, it is good for us that 
the Comforter's first work be to v/ork fear in us ; for we are 
naturally so frozen in our dregs, that no fire will warm or 
thaw us. We wallow in our own blood ; we stick fast in 
the mire of sin up to the chin, that we cannot stir ; so that 
this fear is sent to pull us violently as it were from our cor- 
ruptions, to make us holy, and look unto our ways for the 
time to come. Now to effect this, sharpest things are best, 
us are the law and threatenings of condemnation, the open- 
ing of hell, the racking of the conscience, and a sense of 
svrath present and to come. So hard-hearted are we by 
nature, being as the children of the bondwoman, to whom 
Violence must be used, even as we see a man riding a young 
and wild horse to tame him. He will run him against a 
wall that he may make him afraid ; ride him in deep and 
rough places ; or, if this will not do, take him up to some 
high rock, and bringing him to the brink thereof, he threat- 
eneth to throw him down headlong ; maketh him shake and 
quake, whereby at the last he is tamed. So deals the Lord 
with us : he gives us a sight of sin and of the punishment 
due thereunto, a sense of wrath, setteth the conscience on 
fire, as it were ; fiUeth the heart with fears, horrors, and 
disquietness ; openeth hell thus unto the soul, bringeth us 
to the gates thereof, and threateneth us to throw us in ; and 
all this to make a man more holy, and hate sin the more." 

" The cure of the stone in the heart," saith another*, 
speaking to the same purpose, " is like that of the stone in 
the bladder. God must use a sharp incision, and come 
with his pulling and plucking instruments, and rend the 
heait in pieces, ere that sin can be got out of it." " Even 
as in a lethargy it is needful the patient should be cast into 
;i burning fever, because the senses are benumbed, and this 

• Dyke of Repentance, chap, ii. 



170 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

will wake them, and dry up the besotting humours; so in 
our dead security before our conversiou, God is pleased to 
let the law, sin, conscience, and Satan loose upon us, and 
to kindle the fire ofhell in our souls, that so we might be 
roused. Our sins stick close unto us as the prisoners' bolts, 
and we are shut up under them as in a strong prison ; and 
therefore, unk ss as once in Paul and Silas's case an earth- 
quake, so here there come a mighty heart-quake, violently 
breaking open the prison doors and shaking oft' our fetters, 
never shall we get our liberty," *5lC. 

Thus we see what a mighty work of the law and of the 
spirit of bondage there must be to prepare for Christ, and 
how requisite ii is both for the glorifying of God's justice 
and mercy, and also for the furtherance of our justification 
and sanctihcation. For illustration of which point, besides 
all that hath been said before, 1 have more willingly in this 
last passage pressed at large the authority of so great a di- 
vine (in which I hope I have not swerved from his sense), 
because he is without exception, both for holiness and 
learning ; and so his sincere and orthodox judgment more 
current and passable. 



CHAP, XI. 

Objection against the former Doctrine. Differences between legal 
Terrors in Ihe Elect and others. 

Object. But hence, it may be, some troubled soul may 
take up a complaint and say : Alas ! if it be thus, what 
shall 1 think of myself f I do not remember that ever 1 
tasted so deeply of such terrors and legal troubles as you 
seem to require. 1 have not been so humbled and terrified, 
nor had such experience of that state under the " spirit of 
bondage " as you talk of, &c. ; and therefore you have cast 
scruples into my conscience about the truth and soundness 
of my conversion. 

Answer. I answer : in this work of the " spirit of bon- 
dage ; " in this case of legal terrors, humiliations, and other 
preparative dispositions, we do not prescribe precisely just 
such a measure and quantity : we do not determine peremp- 
torily upon such or such a degree or height ; we leave that 
to tlie wisdom of our great Master in heaven, the " only 
wise God/' who is a most free agent ; but sure we are a 
man must have so much, and in that measure, as to bring 
him to Christ. It must make him weary of all his sins, and 
of Satan's bondage wholly ; willing " to pluck out his right 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 179 

eye, and cut off his right hand," I mean, to part with his 
best beloved bosom lusts, to sell all, and not to leave so 
much as a hoof behind. It must be so much as to make him 
see his danger, and so haste to the city of refuge ; to be 
sensible of his spiritual misery, that he may heartily thirst 
for mercy ; to find himself lost and cast away in hiijiself, 
that Christ may be all in all unto him ; and after must fol- 
low a hatred of all false and evil ways for the time to come ; 
a thorough change of former courses, company, conversa- 
tion ; and setting himself in the way and practice of so- 
briety, honesty, and holiness. If thou hast had experience 
of these affections and effects in thine own soul, whatsoever 
the measure of the work of the " spirit of bondage" hath 
been in thee, less or more, thou art safe enough, and mayest 
go on comfortably in the holy path, without any discourage- 
ment either from such pretended scruples in thyself, or any 
of Satan's cruel cavils and oppositions to the contrary. 

Upon this occasion it will not be here unseasonable to 
tell you how that legal terror, which God appoints to be a 
preparative in his elect for the spirit of adoption, and a 
true change, differs from that which is found in aliens, and 
not attended with any such saving consequents ; that every 
one who hath had trouble of conscience for sin, may dearly 
discern whether it hath brought him to Christ, or left him 
unconverted. 

1. That happy soul, which is under the terrifying hand 
of God preparing by the work of the spirit of bondage for 
the entertainment of Christ and a sound conversion, upon 
that fearful apprehension of God's wrath and strict visitation 
of his conscience for sin, casts about for ease and reconcile- 
ment only by the blood of the Lord Jesus, and those soul- 
healing promises in the book of life, with a resolute con- 
tempt of all other means and offers for pacification ; feeling 
now, and finding by experience, that no other way, no 
earthly thing, not this whole world, were it all dissolved into 
the most curious and exquisite pleasures that ever any car- 
nal heart conceived, can any way assuage the least pang 
of his grieved spirit. Glad therefore is he to take counsel 
and to advise with any that is able or likely to lead him by 
a wise and discreet hand to a well-grounded comfort and 
refreshment ; and resolveth greedily, whatever the pre- 
scription and direction be, to give way unto it most will- 
ingly in his performance and practice. " And the people 
asked him, saying. What shall we do then? Then came 
also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, 
what shall we do ? And the soldiers likewise demanded of 
him, saying, And what shall we do 1 " Thus were John's 



180 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING^ 

hearers affected (Luke iii, 10, 12, 14), being afflicted with 
the piercing passages of John's thundering sermon. " Men 
and brethren, what shall we do V say the penitent Jews, 
pricked in their hearts (Acts ii, 37). The jailor (Acts xvi, 
29, 30) " came trembling and fell down before Paul and 
Silas, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved 1 " As if 
they had said, Prescribe and enjoin what you will, be it 
never so harsh and distasteful to flesh and blood, never so 
cross and contrary to carnal reason, profit, pleasure, prefer- 
ment, acceptation with the world, ease, liberty, life, &c. 
having warrant out of the word, we are resolved and ready 
to do it. Only inform us first how to partake and be as- 
sured of the person and passion of Christ Jesus; how to 
have the angry facer of our blessed God, to whom we have 
continued rebels so long, turned into calmness and favour 
unto us. But now a cast-away and alien thus legally terri- 
fied and under wrath for sin, is never wont to come to this 
earnestness of care, eagerness of resolution, stedfastness of 
endeavour, willingness upon any terms, to abandon utterly 
all his old ways, and to embrace new, strict, and holy 
courses. These things appear unto him terrible, puritani- 
cal, and intolerable. He commonly in such cases hath 
recourse for ease and remedy to worldly comforts and the 
arm of flesh. He labours to relieve his heavy heart by a 
strong and serious casting his mind and nestling his con- 
ceit upon his riches, gold, greatness, great friends, credit 
amongst men, and such other transitory delights and fading 
flowers of his fool's paradise. For he is at a point, and 
resolute with a sensual impenitent obstinacy, not to pass 
forward through the pangs of the new-birth by repentance 
and sanctification into the holy life of new obedience ; lest 
he should (as out of a foolish and frantic baseness he is apt 
to fear) be engaged and enchained, as it were, to too much 
strictness, preciseness, holiness of life, communion with 
God's people, and opposition to good fellowship. 

2. He that is savingly wounded with legal terror, is wont 
in cool blood, and being something come to himself, to en- 
tertain the very same thought (or rather mingled with a 
great deal more reverence, afl'ectionateness, and love, as 
far as the life of an iminortal soul doth surpass in dearness 
and excellency the cure of a frail and earthly body) of that 
man of God, who by a right managing the edge of his spi- 
ritual sword hath pierced his heart, scorched his conscience, 
and bruised his spirits ; I say, the same in proportion, which 
a wise and thankful pTtient would have of that faithful 
surgeon who hath seasonably and thoroughly lanced some 
deep and dangerous sore, which otherwise would have been 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 181 

his death. Upon the search and discovery he clearly sees 
and acknowledges, that had not that holy incision been 
made into his rotten and ulcerous heart, it had cost him the 
eternal life of his soul. But now the alien, put out of his 
sensual humour with horror of conscience, is ordinarily 
transported with much rageful discontentment against the 
powerful ministry of God's earnest messengers, who put 
him to such torture by troubling him for sin and frighting 
him with hell ; and thereupon cries out against them, at 
least with secret indignation and fretting, as the devils did 
against Christ, " Why do you thus torment us betbre the 
time 1 

3. Aliens in such cases entertain no other thought, and 
cast about for no other comfort at all, but only how they 
may recover their former quietness of mind, carnal ease, and 
freedom from present terror. But he that is fitting by the spirit 
of bondage for faith and the fellowship of the saints, will 
never by any means, whatsoever come of him, relapse to 
his wonted sensual security. Nay, of the two, he will 
rather lie still upon the rack, waiting for the Lord Jesus all 
lheda>sof his life, than " return any more unto foolish- 
ness," or hunt again after any contentment in the mise- 
rable pleasures of good-fellowship. 

4. That messenger, an interpreter, one among a thousand, 
who in such a case can seasonably and soundly declare 
unto a savingly v/ounded soul his righteousness ; assure 
him it was Christ Jesus' only business in coming from 
heaven to disburthen " all that labour and are heavy 
laden," and ease such trembling hearts, 6cc. ; I say such a 
blessed man of God to such a broken heart is for ever after 
most dear and welcome ; "his feet are beautiful" in his 
eye every time becomes near him. Comfort of so high a 
nature in extremity of such iiorrible consequence doth in- 
finitely and endlessly endear the delivered soul to such an 
heavenly doctor. But aliens commonly make no great 
account of godly ministers any longer than they have pre- 
sent need of them, and trouble of mind makes them melan- 
cholic and out with mirth. They seem to reverence them, 
while from their general discourses of micrcy and God's 
free grace, of merciful invitations to Christ and certainty of 
acceptation (if they will come in), they suck into their false 
hearts before the time and truth of humiliation some super- 
ficial glimmerings and flashes of comfort and cooling; but 
if once the heat of their guilty rage begin to assuage, and 
they find again some ease from their former terrors and 
wonted relish in earthly delights, they turn such holy men 



182 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

out of their hearts, cast them out of their consciences, and 
hold no higher or further estimatioh of them, than of other 
and ordinary men, if they forbear to persecute them with 
thoughts of disdain and contempt. 

5. The true penitent having smarted under the sense of 
Divine wrath, and frighted witii the flames of horror for 
sin, doth grow fearful for ever after to offend, and with 
much gracious care dreads that " consuming fire." But 
the alien, while he is upon the rack indeed, and hath the 
heinousness of his sins and hell freshly in his eye, will 
easily make many glorious protestations and promises what 
a rare and resolute convert he will become upon his re- 
covery. But if once the storm be oveiblown, God's hand 
withdrawn, and his peiinful conscience cast agam into a 
dead sleep by the power, or rather poison of some sensual 
receipt, he performs just nothing ; but like a filthy swine 
wallows again in tiie mire and mud of earthliness and car- 
nality, and again with the beastly dog returns unto and 
resumes his vomit. 

6. He that hath savingly passed through the pangs of 
such spiritual afflictions, is wont to be very kindly affected, 
most compassionate and tender-hearted to others afflicted 
with the same woful terrors and troubles of conscience. A 
woman, who hath herself with extraordinary pain expe- 
rienced the exquisite torture of childbirth, is wont to be 
more tenderly and mercifully disposed towards another in 
the like torment, than she that never knew what that misery 
meant ; and is more ready, willing, and skilful to relieve 
in such distresses. It is proportional)ly so in the present 
case ; but the alien being tainted in some measure with 
the devil's hateful disposition, is by the heat of his slavish 
horror rather enraged with malice than resolved into mercy ; 
he is rather tickled with a secret content, than touched 
with true commiseration, to see and hear of others plunged 
into the same gulf of misery and plagued like himself. He 
is much troubled with soleness in suffering, and the singu- 
larity of any sorrowful accident. Companionship in cros.>-e,s 
doth something allay the discomlorts of carnal men ; so 
that sometimes they secretly but very sinfully rejoice (such 
is their dogt:,ed devilish disposition) even to see the hand 
of God upon their neighbours. Neither can he in such ex- 
tremities minister any means of help or true comfort at all, 
either by prayer, counsel, or any experimental skill, because 
the "evil spirit" of his vexed conscience was not driven 
away by any well-grounded application of God's mercies 
and Christ's blood ; but as Saul's was by music, worldly 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 183 

uiirth, carnal advice, soul -slaying flatteries of men-pleas- 
ing ministers, plunging desperately into variety of sensual 
pleasures, 6cc. 

7. He who after the boisterous tempest of legal terrors, 
hath happily arrived at the port of peace, 1 mean that 
blessed peace " which passeth all understanding," made 
with God himself in the blood of his Son, enters presently 
thereupon into the good way, takes upon him the yoke of 
Christ, and serves him afterwards "in holiness and right- 
eousness all the days of his life," and ordinarily his deeper 
humiliation is an occasion of his more humble, precise, 
holy, and strict walking, and of more watchfulness over 
his heart and tenderness of conscience about lesser sins also, 
all occasions of scandal, appearances of evil, even aberra- 
tions in his best actions and holiest duties. But aliens, 
when once they be taken off the rack, and their torture de- 
termine, either become just the same men they were before, 
or else reform only some one or other gross sin which stuck 
most upon their consciences, but remain unamended and 
unmortified in the rest; or else, which often comes to pass, 
grow a great deal worse : for they are, as it were, angry 
with God that he should give them a taste of hell-fire before 
their time ; and therefore knowing their time but short, fall 
upon earthly delights more furiously, and engross and grasp 
the pleasures of the world with more greediness and im- 
portunity. 



CHAP. XII. 

Instructions for the avoiding this fault of applying comfort too soou. 

These things thus premised, I come to tell you, that for the 
rectifying of the forementioned error, and prevention of the 
danger of daubing and undoing for ever in a matter of so 
weighty importance, I would advise the spiritual physician 
to labour with the utmost improvement of all his divine 
skill, heavenly wisdom, best experience, heartiest prayers, 
most piercing persuasions pressed out of the word for thai 
purpose, wisely to work and watchfully to observe the season 
when he may warrantably and upon good ground apply 
unto the wounded soul of his spiritually sick patient assured 
comfort in the promises of life, and that sovereign blood 
which was spilt for broken hearts, and assure him in the 
word of truth, that all those rich compassions which lie 
within the compass of that great covenant of everlasting mercy 
and love, sealed with the painful sufferings of the Son of 



184 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

God, belong unfo him. Which is then when his troubled 
heart is soundly humbled under God's mighty hand, and 
brought at length to, first, a truly penitent sight, sense, and 
hatred of all sin ; secondly, a sincere and insatiable thirst 
after Jesus Christ and righteousness both imputed and in- 
herent ; thirdly, an unfeigned and unreserved resolution of 
an universal new obedience for the time to come, Here 1 
had purposed to have enlaiged ; but I am prevented by 
that which hath been said already ; and therefore to avoid 
repetition, I must remit you to the consideration of those 
legal and evangelical preparations for the entertainment of 
Christ and true comfort which I handled before, which may 
give some good direction and satisfaction in the point. 
See p. 92 to 103. 

Yet take notice, that in the mean time, before such fit- 
ness be fully effectuated, I would have the man of God ply 
his patient with his best persuasions and proofs, seasonably 
mingled with motives to humiliation, of the pardonableness 
of his sins, possibility of pardon, damnableness of despair, 
danger of ease by outward mirth, &c. ; and to hold out to 
the eye of the troubled conscience as a prize and lure, as it 
were, the freenessof God's immeasurable mercy, the general 
offer of Jesus Christ without any exception of persons, 
tiines, or sins ; the preciousness and infallibility of the pro- 
mises, in as fair and lovely a fashion, in as orient and allur- 
ing forms as he can possibly. But it is one thing to say, If 
these things be so, 1 can assure you in the word of life of 
the promises of life, and already real right and interest to 
all the riches of God's free grace and glorious purchase of 
Christ's meritorious blood ; another thing to say, if you will 
suffer your understandings to be enlightened, your con- 
sciences to be convinced, your hearts to be wounded with 
sight, sense, and horror of sin ; if you will come in and 
take Jesus Christ, his person, his passion, his yoke ; if you 
will entertain these, and these affections, longings, and 
resolutions, then most certainly our merciful Lord will 
crown your tjuly humbled souls with his dearest com- 
passions and freest love. 

Lastly, be informed that when all is done, I mean when 
the men of God have their desire, that the patient in their 
persuasion is soundly wrought upon, and professeth under- 
standingly and feelingly, and as they verily think from his 
heart; first, that he is "heavy laden" with the grievous 
burthen of all his sins; secondly, that he is come by his 
pi esent spiritual terror and trouble of mind to that resolu- 
tion, " to do any thing," which we find in the hearers of 
John and Peter (Luke iii, Actsii) ; thirdly, that he rac^t 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 185 

highly prizeth Jesus Christ far above the riches, pleasures' 
and glory of the whole earth ; thirsts and longs for him in- 
finitely : fourthly, that he is most willing " to sell all," to 
part with all sin, with his right eye and right hand, those lusts 
and delights which stuck closest to his bosom, not to leave 
so much as a hoof behind ; fifthly, that he is content with 
all his heart to take Christ, as well for a lord and husband, 
to serve, love, and obey him, as for a Saviour to deliver 
him from the miseries of sia ; to take upon him his yoke ; 
to enter into the narrow way and walk in the holy path ; 
to associate himself to that sect which is " so spoken against 
everywhere" (Acts xxviii, 22); I say, when it is thus 
with the afflicted party, and most happy is he when it is 
thus with him ; yet, notwithstanding, because God alone 
is the searcher of the heart, and the heart of man is de- 
ceitful above all things, we can assure mercy and pardon 
only conditionally, though by the mercy of God we do it 
many and many times with strong and undeceiving confi- 
dence. We must ever add, either expressly or impliedly, 
such forms of speech as these : If all tliis which you profess 
be in truth ; if you be thus resolved indeed ; if these things 
be so as you have said, why then we assure you in the word 
of life and truth, your case is comfortable ; you may 
sweetly repose your troubled and truly humbled soul upon 
Jesus Christ as your " wisdom, righteousness, sanctifica- 
tion, and redemption ;" upon all the promises of life, God's 
free grace, &c. as truly belonging unto you and certainly 
yours for ever. 

Hear two master builders upon the matter, confirming the 
present point : — 

1. "To think that it lieth in the power of any priest truly 
to absolve a man from his sins, without implying the condi- 
tion of his believing and repenting as he ought to do, is 
both presumption and madness in the highest degree *." 

2. " In the pardon whereby a priest pardonetht a sinner 

* Dr. Usl:er, in his Answer to a Jesuit's Challenge ; Of the Priest's 
power to forsrive sins. 

t By pardoning here understand not any sovereis^nty of remitting 
sins; we leave that error to the Luciferian pride of that '• man of sin, 
who exalteth himself above all that is called God: " whom if we follow, 
we must say that in this high priest there is the fulness of all grace, 
because he alone giveth a full indulgence of all sins, that that may 
agree unto him which we say of the chief prince our Lord, that "of 
his fulness all we have received " (De Regimine Principuura, lib. iii, 
cap. X, inter Opuscula Thoma;, num. 20). Nay, we nmst acknowledge, 
that the meanest in the whole army of priests that follows this king of 
pride, hath such fulness of power derived unto him for the opening and 
shutting of heaven before men, "that foruiveness is denied to them 

R 3 



lae INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

for an offence by him committed against God, there are two 
things to be considered ; one, that there is no pardon if the 
sinner doth not earnestly repent ; the other, that he himself 
which pardoneth hath need of pardon. Of these two points, 
the first is the cause that the priest's pardon is conditional, 
because he knoweth not the heart ; the other is a cause that 
the priest should consider of himself that he is rather a 
delinquent than a judge ; and to teach him to fear, lest that 
after he hath pardoned others, he himself may not obtain 
pardon. It is a thing certain, that if a sinner seriously con- 
verted and believing in Jesus Christ cannot obtain absolution 
of his pastor, who is passionate or badly informed of the 
truth, God will pardon him. On the contrary, if a pastor 
that is indulgent and winketh at vices, or that is deceived 
by appearance of repentance, absolveth an hypocritical 
sinner and receiveih him into the communion of the faithful, 
that hypocritical sinner remaineth bound before God, and 
shall be punished notwithstanding. For God partaketh not 
with the errors of pastors, neither regardeth their passions ; 
nor can be hindered from doing justice by their ignorance *." 

3. Let me add Cyprian, who at the first rising of the 
Novatian heresy, wrote thus to Antonianust ; " We do not 
prejudice the Lord that is to judge, but that he, if he find 
the repentance of the sinner to be full and just, may then 
ratify that which shall be here ordained by us. But if any 
one do deceive us with the semblance of repentance, God, 
who is not mocked, and who beholdeth the heart of man, 
may judge of those things which we did not well discern, 
and the Lord may amend the sentence of his servants." 

Neither let this truth (to wit, that our assuring of mercy 
and pardon must be conditional upon such like terms as 
these, " If thou dost believe and repent as thou oughtest 
to do ; if these things be in truth as you promise and con- 
fess," &c.) discourage or trouble any that are true of heart : 



whom the priest will not forgive" (Bellarm. de Poeniteiit. lib. iii, 
cap. ii), I say then, by pardoning, we must not understand any sove- 
reignty of remitting sins ; but a declaring and showing to the true 
repentant that they are pardoned, ministerially only. To which truth, 
it is so mighty, even some popish writers subscribe. *' God," saith 
Lomburd, the father of the Romish school, " hath given to priests to 
bind and unbind, that is, to show that men are bound or unbound." 
Nay, our polemical divines prove it to be publicly taught from the time 
of Satan's loosing until his binding again by the restoring of the purity 
of the gospel in our days. 

* Buckler of the taith, by Peter de Moulin against Armour the 
Jesuit, of Auricular Confession. 

t Ad Antonianum, epist. ii, lib. iv. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 187 

for it should not prejudice or hinder their application of the 
promises, taking Christ as their own, assurance of mercy and 
comfort ; because they are conscious to themselves of the 
sincerity of their own hearts : and therefore look how the 
prophet Isaiah was comforted when the angel said unto 
him, "Thine iniquity is taken away and thy sin purged" 
(Isa. vi,t7), and the poor woman in the gospel, when Jesus 
said unto her, " Thy sins are forgiven " (Luke vii, 48) : the 
like consolation doth the distressed sinner receive from the 
mouth of the minister, when he hath compared the truth of 
God's word faithfully delivered by him with the work of 
God's grace in his own heart. According to that of Elihu, 
"If there be an angel, or a messenger with him, an inter- 
preter, one of a thousand, to declare unto man his righteous- 
ness ; then will God have mercy upon him, and say. Deliver 
him from going down to the pit, 1 have found a ransom " 
(Jobxxxiii, 23,24)*. 



CHAP. XllL 

The Second Case wherein the former Error is committed, which is in 
applying too much. Two things concerning which the afflicted Is to 
be advised for avoiding tliis error. 

2. Too much. A little aqua vita may happily revive and 
refresh the fainting spirits of a swooning man, but too much 
would kill. A spoonful of cinnamon water mingled with 
twelve spoonfuls of spring water and one spoonful of rose 
water, &c. may be sovereign against the sinking of the heart ; 
but pour at once a pint into the stomach, and it might un- 
happily choke the natural heat, waste the radical moisture, 
and burn up a man's bowels. Mercy being wisely admi- 
nistered in the right season, and mingled with convenient 
counsels and cautions, may by God's blessing bind up a 
broken heart with a progressive and kindly cure, it may 
mollify for the present with an healing and heavenly heat 
the smarting anguish of a wounded conscience, and at 
length seasonably close it up with sound and lasting com- 
fort ; but poured out at random by an unsteady and indis- 
creet hand, it may by accident dangerously dry up penitent 
tears too soon, and stifle the work of the spirit of bondage 
in tlie beginning. 

But here let none either out of ignorance or malice mis- 
take or be troubled with this too much. The same phrase la 

* Usher, in his Answer to a Jesuit's Challcuge. 



188 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

the same sense is to be found in Mr. Perkins *, a great 
master in the deep mystery of dealing with afflicted con- 
sciences. For we must know, that too inuch is by no means 
to be meant of any ways restraining or confining the infinite- 
ness of God's mercy. It were execrable blasphemy to dis- 
robe God's most glorious attribute of its immensity ; but in 
respect of not mingling some cautions to keep from presump- 
tion, as will appear in the ensuing counsels 1 shall commend 
for that purpose. 

Upon this ground, I reason thus : — 

A man may press and apply God's justice and the terrors 
of the law loo much ; therefore also mercy and the comforts 
of the gospel too much : the consequence is clear ; for as 
the former may plunge into the gulf of despair, so the other 
may cast upon the rock of presumption. Nay, it is more 
than unanswerably strong, because we are far readier to 
apprehend and apply unto ourselves mercy than judgment ; 
and thousands are endlessly overthrown through presump- 
tion for one by despair. And the antecedent who will deny 1 
It is rather so preposterously applauded and pressed, that 
most, if a minister, even with his best discretion, reveal the 
whole counsel of God, and tell them that none shall be 
refreshed by Christ, but only those who " labour and are 
heavy laden" (Matt, xi, 28); that they must "humble 
themselves in the sight of the Lord," if they would have 
him "to lift them up " (James iv, 10); that none "shall 
have mercy " but such as " confess and forsake their sins " 
(^Prov. xxviii, 13) ; that the mere civil man and lukewarm 
formal professor without holiness and zeal can never be 
saved (Heb. xii, 14; Revel, iii, 19) ; that all "the wicked 
shall be turned into hell," &c. (Psalm ix, 17) ; in a word, 
if he take the right course to bring men " from darkness to 
light, from Satan to the living God;" by first wounding 
with the law before he heal with the gospel ; — I say, the 
most in this case are ready to cry out and complain that he 
throws wildfire, brimstone, and gunpowder into the con- 
sciences of men. 

Conceive, therefore, I pray you, — 

That there is in God, first, his justice ; and secondly, his 
mercy, both infinite and equal. Only in regard of man 
there is an inequality, for God may be said to be more mer- 
ciful unto them that are saved, than just to them that are 
damned. For of damnation, the just cause is in man ; but 
of salvation, it is wholly from grace. In himself, and origi- 

* Cases of Conscience, book i, chap, vii, ject. 6; and chap, xi, 
sect. 1. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 189 

nally, they are both equal, and so are all his attributes ; 
but in respect of the exercise and expression upon his crea- 
tures, and abroad in the world, there is some difference. 
But for my purpose and our ministerial employment and 
commission, take notice, 

That as the revealed effects of God's mercy are love, 
tender-heartedness, compassions, his own dear Son's precious 
heart-blood, pardon of sins, peace of conscience, unspeak- 
able and glorious joy thereupon, evangelical pleasures, com- 
fortable presence of the Spirit even in this life, and in the 
other world pleasures infinitely more than the stars of the 
firmament in number, even for ever and ever ; and all 
these upon all true penitents : — 

So the revealed effects of his justice are " indignation and 
wrath, tribulation and anguish ; " that sword, " which will 
devour flesh ; " those arrows, that " drink blood ; " that 
fiery anger, " which will burn unto the lowest hell, and set 
on fire the foundations of the mountains ; " that coming 
against, which is " with fire and chariots like a whirlwind, 
to render anger with fury, and rebuke with flames of fire ; " 
that meeting, which is as of a " bear bereaved of her 
whelps, to rend the caul of the heart, and devour like a 
lion," 6cc. ; all plagues, with the extremity, temporal, 
spiritual, eternal ; all the curses in this book of his ; all 
the torments of hell, to the utmost spark of those infernal 
flames ; and all these upon all impenitent sinners. Now 
God will be glorified both ways and by them both. 

Give us leave, then, to give them both their due. 

We are most willing and ready, as our great Master in 
heaven would have us (Isa. xl, 1, 2), and our blessed 
Saviour by his example doth teach us (Luke iv, II), to 
convey by our ministry into every truly broken heart and 
bleeding soul the warmest blood that ever heated Christ's 
tender heart, and to keep back from the true penitent not 
any one grain of that immeasurable mine of all the rich 
mercies purchased Avith that precious blood. 

Be content therefore on the other side that we open the 
armoury of God's justice, and " reveal his wrath from heaven 
against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men ; that 
indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, shall be 
upon every soul of man that doth evil," &c. As we are ever 
ready to bind up the bruised spirit with the softest oil of 
God's sweetest mercy ; so let us, 1 pray you, have leave, in 
the equity of a just and holy proportion, to wound with the 
hammer of the law the hairy scalp of every one that goes 
on in his sin. 

Let us deal faithfully even with wicked men, lest we 



190 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

answer for the blood of their souls, by telling them, that as 
certainly as all the glorious comforts and blessed conse- 
quents of God's infinite mercy shall crown the heart and 
head of every true-hearted Nathanael for ever, so all the 
dreadful effects of his angry justice will at length seize upon 
the souls and confound the consciences of all unholy men 
with extremest severity and terror. 

Let it be thus, then, and let our ministerial dispensation 
be in this manner. If thou be an impenitent person, I would 
tell thee that the utmost wrath of God, unquenchable and 
everlasting vengeance, all earthly and infernal plagues, are 
thy certain portion ; but I would mollify and sweeten the 
bitterness of this sentence with assurance of mercy upon 
repentance, to prevent the assaults of despair. 

On the other side ; if the ministry of the word hath 
wrought upon thee effectually, and now thy truly humbled 
soul thirsts after Christ with a sincere hatred and opposition 
against all sin ; I would assure thy troubled and trembling 
heart in the word of life and truth, of all those most preci- 
ous blessings and sweetest comforts, which the book of God 
doth promise, and the blood of Christ hath bought. But 
withal I would commend unto thee some coolers and coun- 
ter-poisons against presumption and falling to pharisaism. 

For which purpose, and for prevention of danger and 
spiritual undoing by unskilful and indiscreet daubing in the 
case proposed, 1 come now to tender such counsels and cau- 
tions as these, or the like, which the faithful physician of the 
soul, according to occasions, circumstances, and present 
exigencies, may think fit to be mingled with administration 
of mercy, and wisely propounded to the afflicted party. 

It may not prove unseasonable to speak thus, or in some 
such manner, to thy spiritual patient : — 

I. If these things be truly and soundly so ; if thou find 
and feel indeed such a mollified and melting spirit, such 
broken and bleeding affections in thy bosom, thou art cer- 
tainly blessed. If thai sorrowful soul of thine doth renounce 
from the very heart-root with special distaste and detesta- 
tion all manner of sin ; insatiably " tliirst after righteous- 
ness ;" unfeignedly resolve for the short remainder of a few 
and evil days to bend itself towards heaven in all new obe- 
dience ; I say, if this be sincerely the holy disposition and 
resolution of thine heavy heart, notwithstanding all thy 
present terror and trouble of mind, thou art truly and ever- 
lastingly happy. Only take notice (lest my ministering of 
mercy be mistaken, or thy conceiving of comfort miscarry) 
that the '* heart of man is deceitful above all things." A 
bottomless depth it is of falsehoods, dissemblings, hypoeri- 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 191 

sies ; aa endless maze of windings, turnings, and hidden 
passages. No eye can search and see its centre and secrets, 
but that all-seeing One alone, which is ten thousand times 
brigliter than the sun, to which the darkest nook of hell is 
as the noon-day : and therefore not I nor any man alive 
can promise pardon, or apply the promises, but conditionally 
upon supposition, "if these things be so and so, as thou 
hast said." And the sincerity of thy heart and truth of these 
hopeful protestations, which we now hear from thee in this 
extremity (and I must tell thee by the way, such like rnay 
be enforced by the slavish sting of present tenor, not fairly 
and freely flow from a true touch of conscience for sin; I 
say this may be, though I hope better things of thee) -, the 
truth, as 1 said, both of thy heart and these affectionate 
promises will appear when the storm is over, and this dismal 
tempest, which hath overcast and shaken thy spirit with 
extraordinary fear and astonishment, is overblown. Thy 
course of life to come will prove a true touchstone, to try 
whether this be the kindly travail of the new birth, or only 
a temporary terror during the fit, by reason of the uncouth- 
ness and exquisiteness of this invisible spiritual torture, 
without true turning to Jesus Christ. If when the now- 
troubled powers of thy soul, which the wound of thy con- 
science hath cast into much distracted and uncomlortable 
confusion, shall recover tlieir wonted calmness and quiet, 
thou turn unto thine old bias, humour, company, and con- 
versation, it will then be more than manifest that this 
furnace of terror and temptation, wherein thou now liest 
and languishest, was so lar from working thine heart to 
heavenliness and grace, that it hath hammered it to more 
hardness and ungraciousness — from purging and refining, 
that it hath occasioned more earthliness, epicurism, and 
raging affections in sensuality and sinful pleasures. But if, 
when thou art up again and raised by God's merciful hand 
out of the depth of this spiritual distress, into which the 
horrible sight and heavy weight of thy sins hath sunk thee ; 
if then thou express and testify thy true heartedness in these 
present solemn protestations, made now, as it were, in thy 
hot blood ; I mean, of thy hatred against sin, by an earnest 
opposition, watchfulness, and stiiving against all, especially 
that, which in thine unregenerate time stuck closest to thy 
bosom, of thine hunger and thirst after a comfortable frui- 
tion of God's face and favour, by a conscientious and con- 
stant pursuit and exercise of all good means and opportuni- 
ties, of all his blessed ordinances appointed and sanctified 
for growth in grace, and bringing him nearer unto him ; of 
thy future new obedience and Christian walking, by plyinc; 



192 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

industriously and fruitfully with thy }>est endeavour and 
utmost ability those three glorious works of Christianity, 
preservation of purity in thine own soul and body, righteous 
dealing with all thou hast to do with, holy carriage towards 
God in all religious duties ; in a word, by " denying un- 
godliness and worldly lusts, and living soberly, righteously, 
and godlily in this present world," of which the " grace of 
God teacheih " every true convert to make conscience (Tit. 
ii, 11, 12) ; — I say, if upon thy recovery this be thy course, 
thou art certainly new-created. Such blessed behaviour as 
this will infallibly evidence these present terrors to have 
been the pangs of thy new-birth, and thy happy translation 
from death to life, from the vanity and folly of sin into the 
light and liberty of God's children. 

II. Secondly, say unto him : When once that blessed 
fountain of soul-saving blood is opened upon thy soul in 
the side of the Son of God by the hand of faith for " sin 
and for uncleanness ;" then also must a counter-spring, as 
It were, of repentant tears be opened in thine humbled 
heart, which must not be dried up until thy dying day. 
This is my meaning (for every Christian hath not tears at 
command : the heart sometimes may bleed when the eyes 
are dry). Thou must be content to continue the current 
of thy godly sorrow upon that abominable sink of all the 
lusts, vanities, and villanies of thy dark and carnal time ; 
and also upon those frailties, infinnities, imperfections, de- 
fects, relapses, backslidings, which may accompany thy 
regenerate state, even until that body of sin which thou 
carriest about thee be dissolved by the stroke of death. As 
concerning thine old sins, and those that are past, it is not 
enough that now the fresh horror of them, and those grisly 
affrighting forms wherein they have appeared to the eye of 
thy wounded conscience, have wrought upon thy heart, by 
God's blessing, some softness, heart-rising, remorse, and 
hatred : but thou must many and many a time hereafter, 
in the extraordinary exercises of renewed repentance, press 
thy penitent spirit to bleed afresh within thee, and draw 
water again out of the bottom of thy broken heart with 
those Israelites (1 Sam. vii, 6), and pour it out before the 
Lord in abundance of bitter tears for thy never -sufficiently- 
sorrowed-for abominations and rebellions against so blessed 
and bountiful a God. 

Now the solemn times and occasions when we are called 
to this renewed repentance are such as these : — 

1. When we are to perform some special services unto 
God; because then out of a godly jealousy we may fear 
lest the face and favour of God, the love and light of his 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 19J 

countenance, may not lie so open unto us, by reason of the 
cloudy interposition of our former sins. 2. When we seek 
for any special blessing at God's merciful hands ; because 
then out of a gracious fear we may suspect that our old 
sins may intrude, and labour to intercept and divert from 
our longing souls the sweet and comfortable influences ot 
the throne of grace. It may seem that David, in the cur- 
rent of his prayer, saw his old sins charge upon him, and 
therefore cries out by the way, " Remember not the sins oi 
my youth." 3. In the time of some great affliction and 
remarkable cross, when upon a new search and strict ex- 
amination of our hearts and lives, we, humbling ourselves 
more solemnly again in the sight of the Lord, and mourn- 
ing afresh over him whom we have pierced with our youthful 
pollutions and provoke daily vvith many woful failings, are 
wont to seek God's pleased face and our former peace, 
sanctification of it unto us at the present time, and the re- 
moval of it from us in due time in the name of Jesus C'hrist. 
4. After relapse into some old secret lust, or fall into some' 
new scandalous sin. David's remorse for adultery and 
murder brought his heart to bleed over his birth sin 
(Psalm li, 5). 6. Above all, upon all those mighty days 
of humiliation by prayer and fasting, public, private, or 
secret, wherein God's people wrestle with God by the om- 
nipotency of prayer, and work so many wonders from time 
to time. Some there are also, who setting apart some spe- 
cial times to confer with God in secret, lay together before 
him the glorious catalogue of the riches of his mercy, 
reaching from everlasting to everlasting, all his favouis, 
preservations, deliverances, protections, &c. from their first 
being to that time, and the abhorred catalogue of all their 
sins from .^dam to that hour; original, both imputed and 
inherent; actual, both before and since their calling; and 
this they do with hearty desire of such different afl'ections 
as they severally require. A serious and sensible com- 
paring of which two together, makes sin a great deal more 
loathsome and the mercies of God more illustrious, and so 
proves effectual many times, by the help of the Holy Ghost, 
to soften their hearts extraordinarily, to make them weep 
heartily, and fills their soul with much joyful sorrow and 
humble thankfulness. 6. Upon our beds of death. Then, 
because we take our faiev.ell of repentance, we should 
take our fill of it; because it is the last time we shall look 
upon our sins for that purpose, we should dismiss them 
with utmost and extreinest loathing. At such times and 
upon such occasions as these and the like, when thou art 
called to a more solemn, strict, and severe search and re- 

S 



194 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

view of thy old sins and former life, thou must renew this 
present repentance of thy new birth, make thine heart 
break again and bleed afresh with the sight of thy hereto- 
fore much doated upon but now most abhorred abominable 
courses. And so often also as thou lookest back upon them, 
thou must labour to abominate and abandon them with 
more resolute aversion and new decrees of detestation. 
Though it may be, by the mercies of God, they shall never 
be able to sting thee again with the same slavishness of 
guilty horror, yet thou must still endeavour in thy cool 
blood to strangle utterly thy former delight in them with 
more hearty additions of deadly hatred, and to be more 
and more humbled for them until thy ending hour. It is a 
very high happiness and blessing above ordinary to be able 
to look back upon thy choicest youthful pleasures and pol- 
lutions, without either sensual delight or slavish horror ; 
with sincere hatred, holy indignation, and hearty mourn- 
ing. 

Now for the time to come, and those sins which here- 
after the rebelliousness of thy sinful nature, and violence of 
the devil's temptations may force upon thee ; if thy heart 
be now truly touched and conscience savingly enlightened, 
thou shalt find much matter, necessity, and use of con- 
tinuing thy repentance so long as thy life lasts. In a leak- 
ing ship there must be continual pumping. A ruinous 
house must be still in repairing. These bodies of death we 
bear about us, are naturally liable to so many batteries and 
breaches by the assaults of original sin and other impla- 
cable enemies to our souls, that there is extreme need of 
perpetual watch and ward, repenting and repairing, lest 
the new man be too much oppressed and too often sur- 
prized by the many and cunning encounters of the old 
Adam. When thou art in company, solitary, busied about 
thy particular calling, there may suddenly arise in thine 
heart sqme greedy wish, some gross conceit, some vain, un- 
clean, ambitious, revengeful thought : ejaculate presently 
a penitent sigh and fervent prayer for pardon of it in the 
passion of Christ. In thy family, perhaps amongst thy 
children and servants, by reason of some cross accident, 
thou mayest break out into some unadvised passionate 
speech, and disgrace thyself and profession by over-hasty 
intemperate heat, not without some danger of hurting and 
hardening those about thee thereby : get thee presently 
upon it into thy closet, or some place for that purpose, 
throv.' thyself down with a truly grieved and humbled soul 
before the throne of grace, and rise not until thou be recon- 
ciled unto thy God. If at any time, which God forbid, 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 195 

thou be overtaken with some more public and scandalous sin, 
or tlangerously haunted with some enormous secret lust ; 
appoint for thyself a solemn day of humiliation, and then 
cry unto the Loid " like a woman in travail," and give him 
no rest until he return unto thee with the wonted favour 
and calmness of his pleased countenance. If Christians 
would constantly take to heart and ply this blessed busi- 
ness of immediately rising by repentance after every relapse 
and fall into sin, they would find a further paradise and 
pleasure in the ways of God than they ever yet tasted. 
'I'his course continued with present feeling and after-watch- 
fulness, would help excellently, by the blessing of God and 
exercise of faith, the only conduit of all spiritual comfort, 
to keep in their bosoms that which they much desire and 
often bewail the want of, a cheerful, bold, and heavenly 
spirit. 

Neither let any here be troubled because I press the ex- 
ercise and use both of renewed and continued repentance 
all our life long, as though thereupon the Christian's life 
might seem more uncomfortable. For we are to know that 
" sorrow after a godly sort," evangelical mourning, is 
mingled with abundance of spiritual joy, which doth in- 
finitely surpass in sweetness and worth all worldly plea- 
sures and delights of sense. Nay, whereas all the jovial 
good-fellow mirth of carnal men is but a flash of hellish 
folly, this is a very glimpse of heavenly glory. Let me 
tell you again how sweetly and truly that excellent 
divine of Scotland* speaks of it: "There is," saiih he, 
" more lightness of heart and true delight in the sorrow 
of the saints, than in the world's loudest laughter. For 
unspeakable joy is mingled with unutterable groans." The 
ancient fathers are of the same mind with this man of God. 
" Godly sorrow," saith Chrysostom, " is better than the 
joys of the world." Even as " the joy of the world is ever 
accompanied with sorrow, so godly tears beget continual 
and certain delight." Again, " Such a maii as this now" 
(meaning him whose heart is inflamed with a heavenly 
heat), " despising all things here below, doth persevere in 
continual compunction, pouring out abundance of tears 
everyday, and taking thence a great deal of pleasure!." 
•' Let the penitent," saith Austin, '* be always sorrowful 
for sin, and always rejoice for that sorrow t." 

* Rolloc, on John, cb;ip. xi. 

t Chi-ysostoni, 2 Cor. vii, hom. 15; Matt, ii, lioiii. (>. 

t De vera et falsa Heiiiterjtia, cap. xiii. 



196 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 



CHAP. XIV. 

Two Things more, concerning wliicli the Afflicted Is to be advised, and 
Two Things wliich the Minister is to heed for avoiding that Error. 

III. Beware of two dangerous errors : — 1. Either to con- 
ceive that thou mayest not admit of any comfort, or apply 
the promises comfortably, because thou still findest in thy- 
self more matter of mourning and further humiliation. 
2. Or to think, when thou hast once laid hold upon Christ's 
person and precious sufferings for the pardon of thy sins 
and quieting of thy soul, that then thou must mourn no 
more. 

1. For the first know, that were our heads seas, and our 
eyes fountains of tears, and poured out abundantly every 
moment of our life ; should our hearts fall asunder into 
drops of blood in our breast, for anguish and indignation 
against ourselves for our transgressions, yet should we come 
infinitely short of the sorrow and heart's grief which our 
many and heinous lusts and pollutions justly merit and 
exact at our hands. Therefore we cannot expect from our- 
selves any such sufficiency of sorrow or worthiness of weep- 
ing for our sins, as by the perfection and power thereof to 
win God's favour and draw his mercy upon us. Such a 
conceit were most absurd, senseless, and sinful, and would 
rather discover and taste of natural pride than true humi- 
lity, and tend unhappily to the disgrace of God's mercies 
and gracing our own merits. True it is, had we a thousand 
eyes it were too little to weep them all out, for the very 
vanity of that one sinful sense. Had we a thousand hearts, 
and they should all burst with penitent grief and bleed to 
death for the sins of our souls, it were more than immea- 
surably, inconceivably insufficient. For were all this so, 
yet were it not this, but the heart's blood of Jesus Christ 
could make the Father's heart to yearn compassionately 
over us, or purchase pardon and acceptation at his hands. 
Tender therefore unto that poor troubled soul, who being 
sorely crushed and languishing under the burthen of his 
sins refuses to be raised and refreshed, endlessly pleading 
and disputing against himself out of a strong, fearful appre- 
hension of his own vileness and unworthiness, putting off 
all comfort by this misconception, that no seas of sorrow, 
no measure of mourning, will suffice to enable him to come 
comfortably unto Jesus Christ ; — I say, press upon such an 
one this true principle in the high and heavenly art of 
lightly comforting afflicted consciences : — 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 197 

So soon as a man is truly and heartily humbled tor all 
liis sins, and weary of their weight, thougli the degree of 
his sorrow be not answerable to his own desire, yet he shall 
most certainly be welcome unto Jesus Christ. 

It is not so much the amount and measure of our sorrow, 
as the truth and heartiness, which fits us for the promises 
and comforts of mercy. Though I must say this also, He 
that thinks he hath sorrowed enough for his sins, never 
sorrowed savingly. 

2. For the second, which is more properly and specially 
pertinent to our purpose, take notice, that the blood of 
Christ being seasonably and savingly applied to thine hum- 
bled soul for the pardon and purgation of thy sin, must by 
no means dam and dry up thy well-spring of weeping, but 
only assuage and heal thy wound of horror. That precious 
balm hath this heavenly property and power, that it rather 
melts, softens, and makes the heart a great deal more 
weeping-ripe. If these be truly the pangs of the new birth 
wherewith thou art now afflicted, thou shalt find that thy 
now cleaving with assurance of acceptation unto the Lord 
Jesus will not so much lessen, hinder, or cease thy sorrow, 
as rectify, season, and sweeten it. If thy right unto that 
soul-saving passion be real, and thou cast thine eye with a 
believing, hopeful heart upon him whom thou hast therein 
pierced with thy sins (and those sins alone are said pro- 
perly to have pierced Christ which at length are pardoned 
by Ins blood), thou canst not possibly but entertam excess 
of love unto thy crucified Lord; and sense of God's mercy 
shed into thy soul through his merits will make thee weep 
again, and fairly force thine heart to burst out abundantly 
into fresh and filial tears. 

See how freshly David's heart bled with repentant sor- 
row upon his assurance by Nathan of the pardon of his sin 
(Psalm li). Thou canst not choose but mourn more 
heartily, evangelically, and (which should passingly please 
thee and sweetly perpetuate the spring of thy godly sorrow) 
more pleasingly unto God. 

Take therefore special notice and heed of these two depths 
of the devil that I have now disclosed unto thee. 

First. When thou art truly wrought upon by the ministry 
of the word, and now fitted for comfort, " believe the pro- 
phets," those ones of a thousand, learned in the right hand- 
ling of afflicted consciences, " and thou shalt prosper." 
As soon as thy soul is soundly humbled for sin, open and 
enlarge it joyfully like the thirsty ground, that the refresh- 
ing dew and doctrine of the gospel mav drop and distil 

S 3 



198 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

upon it as the small rain upon the parched grass. Other- 
wise — 

(1.) Thou ofFerest dishonour and disparagement as it 
were to the dearness and tenderness of God's mercy, who 
is ever infinitely more ready and forward to bind up a 
broken heart, than it to bleed before him*. Consider for 
this purpose the parable of the prodigal son (Luke xv, 11) ; 
he is there said to go, but the father ran. 

(2.) Thou mayest by the unsettledness of thy heavy 
heart unnecessarily unfit and disable thyself for the duties 
and discharge of both thy callings. 

(3.) Thou shalt gratify the devil, who will labour mightily 
by his lying suggestions (if thou wilt not be counselled and 
comforted when there is cause) to detain thee in perpetual 
horror here, and in an eternal hell hereafter. Some find 
him as furiously and maliciously busy to keep them from 
comfort when they are fitted, as from fitness for comfort. 

(4.) Thou ait extremely unadvised, nay, very cruel to thine 
own soul. For whereas it might now be filled with " un- 
speakable and glorious joy" (1 Pet. i, 8), with " peace that 
passeth all understanding" (Phil, iv, 7), with evangelical 
pleasures, which are such as " neither eye hath seen nor 
ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man" 
(1 Cor. ii, 9), by taking Christ, to which thou hast a strong 
and manifold calling — " Ho ! every one that thirsteth, come 
ye to the waters," &c. (Isa. Iv, 1) ; " Come unto me all ye 
that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" 
(Matt, xi, 28) ; " If any man thirst, let him come unto me 
and drink'* (John vii, 37) ; "and let him that is athirst, 
come : and whosoever will, let him take the water of life 
freely" (Revel, xxii, 17) ; yea, a commandment — "And 
this is his commandment, that we should believe on the 
name of his Son Jesus Christ" ( 1 John iii, 23) : — and yet, 
for all this, thou as it were wilfully standest out, will not 
" believe the prophets," forsakest thine own comfort, and 
liest still upon the rack of thy unreconcilement unto God. 

Secondly. On the other hand, when the anguish of thy 
guilty conscience is upon sure ground something allayed 
and suppled with the oil of comfort, and thy wounded 
heart warrantably revived with the sweetness of the pro- 
raises, as with " marrow and fatness," thou must not then 

* "And therefore will the Lor J wait that he may be gracious unto 
you" (Isa. XXX, 18). "O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not 
comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and thy foun- 
dations with sapphires" (isa. liv, II). "He rctaineth not his anger 
for ever, because lie delighteth in mercy" (Micah vii, 18). 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 109 

either shut up thine eyes from further search into thy sins, 
or dry them up from any more mourning. But comfort of 
remission must serve as a precious eye-salve, both to clear 
their sight, that they may see more and with more detes- 
tation ; and to enlarge their sluices, as it were, to pour out 
repentant tears more plentifully. Thou must continue rip- 
ping up and ransacking that hellish heap of thy former re- 
bellions and pollutions of youth ; still dive and dig into 
that body of death thou bearest about thee, for the finding 
out and furnishing thyself vi^ith as much matter of sound 
humiliation as may be, that thou mayest still grow viler 
and viler in thine own eyes, and be more and more humble 
until thy dying day. But yet so, that as thou boldest out 
in the one hand the clear crystal of God's pure law to dis- 
cover the vileness and variety of thy sins, all the spots and 
stains of thy soul, so thou hold out in the other hand, or 
rather with the hand of faith lay hold upon the Lord Jesus, 
hanging bleeding and dying upon the cross for thy sake. 
The one is sovereign to save from slavish stings of con- 
science, bitterness of horror, and venom of despair. The 
other, mingled with faith, will serve as a quickening preser- 
vative to keep in thy bosom an humble, soft, and lowly 
spirit, which doth ever excellently fit to live by faith more 
cheerfully, to enjoy God more nearly, to apply Jesus Christ 
more feelingly, and to long for his coming more earnestly : 
in a word, to climb up more merrily those stairs of joy, 
which are pressed upon us by the holy prophet, " He 
glad — rejoice — and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in 
heart" (Psalm xxxii, 11). 

IV. Conceive that hypocrisy may lurk in very goodly out- 
ward forms and fairest promises and protestations of self- 
seeming earnest humiliation. Look upon Ahab (1 Kings 
xxi, 27^ ; upon the Israelites (Psalm Ixxviii, 34, 35). I mean 
not only gross hypocrisy, whereby men's false hearts teach 
them to deceive others; but also that which elsewhere I 
have styled formal hypocrisy, whereby men's own hearts 
deceive even their ownselves. For I make no question but 
the promises of amendment which many make when they 
are pressed and panting under some heavy cross or grievous 
sickness, proceed from their hearts ; I mean they speak as 
they think, and, for the present, purpose performance, who 
notwithstanding upon their recovery and restitution of 
former health and wonted worldly happiness, return " with 
the dog unto their vomit," and plunge again perfidiously 
into the cursed current of their disclaimed pleasures. But 
by the way, and in a word, to enlighten a perplexed point, 



200 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

and prevent a scruple which may trouble true hearts indeed, 
who hold truth of heart in their repentances, services, and 
duties towards God to be their peculiar and a special touch- 
stone to try and testify tlie soundness of their sanctification, 
the truth of their spiritual states, and a distinctive character 
from all sorts of unregeuerate men, and all kinds of hypo- 
crisy ; — i say, purposes and promises made from the heart 
in the sense 1 have stated, with earnest eager protestation 
while they are in anguish and extremity, and yet after de- 
liverance and ease melt away " as a morning cloud and 
like the early dew," proceed from hearts rather affected 
only with sting of present horror, natural desire of happi- 
ness, misconceit that it is a light thing to leave sin, and the 
like, than truly broken and burthened with sight of their 
own viieness, sense of God's displeasure, hatred of wicked- 
ness and former sensual ways ; or enamoured with the 
sweetness of Jesus Christ, amiableness of grace, and good- 
ness of God, 6cc. Howsoever for my purpose certain it is, 
and too manifest by many woful experiences, that as it 
often falls out and fares with men in their corporal visita- 
tions and outward crosses, to wit, that while the storm and 
tempest beats sore upon them they run unto God as " their 
rock, and inquire early after him," as it is said of the 
Israelites, Psalm Ixxviii, 34 ; but when once a hot gleam of 
former health and prosperity shines upon them again, they 
hie as fast out of God's blessing into the warm sun ; from 
sorrow for sin to delight of sense ; from seeking God to 
security in their old ways : 1 say, even so it is sometimes 
also with men in afflictions of soul and troubles of con- 
science. While the agony and extremity is upon them, they 
grieve as though they would become true converts ; both 
promise and purpose many excellent things for the time to 
come, and a remarkable change ; but if once the fit be over, 
they " start aside like a broken bow," and fearfully fall away 
from what they have vowed, with horrible ingratitude and 
execrable villany, having been extraordinarily schooled and 
scorched, as it were, in the flames of horror, and warned 
to take heed by the very vengeance of hell. For the former, 
hear the experience of reverend divines. " jMany seeming," 
saith one, " to repent affectionately in dangerous sickness, 
when they have recovered have been rather worse than 
before." " 1 would have thought myself," saith another, 
" that many monstrous persons whom 1 have visited, when 
God's hand upon them caused them to cry out and promise 
amendment, would have proved rare examples to otiicrs of 
true conversion unto God. But to my great grief, and to 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES* 2M 

teach me experience what becometh of such untimely fruits, 
they have turned back again as an arrow from a stone wall, 
and as the dog to his own vomit." 

For the latter, 1 could here make it good also by too 
many experiences, were it convenient ; but I forbear for 
some reasons to report them at this time. 

I publish this point and speak thus, not to trouble any 
true converts about the truth of their hearts in their troubles 
of conscience : consciousness unto themselves of their new 
birth, already happily past; their prizing and cleaving to 
the Lord Jesus invaluably, invincibly ; their present new 
obedience, new courses, new company, new conversation, 
<S;c. makes it more than evident that they were savingly 
mollified and melted in the furnace of their spiritual afflic- 
tions, fashioned and framed by the hand of the Holy Ghost 
to be God's jewels : but to terrify those miserable men, who 
having tasted that transcendent torture of a wounded con- 
science, dare upon any terms look back again upon the world 
with delight and doating, and again commit those sins 
which have already stung their hearts with the very terrors 
of hell : or rather at this time to teach and tell the afflicted 
in conscience, that when the rich treasures of God's free 
mercy and " the unsearchable riches of Christ " are opened 
and offered unto him, he drink not so indiscreetly at first of 
that immeasurable sea as presently to fall into a surfeit of 
security. But to prevent miscarriage in a matter of so in- 
valuable moment, let him rather mingle motives to humilia- 
tion with his medicine of mercy. Let him look well to the 
grounds and good speeches upon which the spiritual physi- 
cian is encouraged to comfort him, that they shrink not hi 
the wetting. Let him fear and attend his own deceitful 
heart with all nairow watch and a very jealous eye. Other- 
wise that false heart of his may prove a depth to drown his 
own dear soul in the pit of endless perdition. For in time 
of extremity and terror, especially of conscience, it may 
seem pliable and promise fair, and yet when it comes to 
performance and practice, either impudently and perfidiously 
wallows again in open wickedness, or rests only in a " form 
of godliness " at the best. Let him be " stedfast in the 
covenant," and then he may be suie that his " heart was 
upright," and that he did not " flatter with his mouth, or 
lie unto God with his tongue." 



202 INSTRUCTIOxXS FOR COMFORTING 



CHAP. XV. 

Tlie Fiftli Advice to the Afflicted. Two Directions to the Minister, to 
be observed towards his Patient. 

V. Since thou art now upon terms of turning unto God, 
taking profession upon thee, and giving up thy name unto 
Christ, the blessedest business that ever thou wentest about, 
be well advised, consider seriously what thou undertakest, 
and cast deliberately beforehand what it is like to cost thee. 
Thou must make an account to become the drunkard's song, 
and to have those " that sit in the gate to speak against 
thee ;" the vilest of men to rail upon thee, and the wisest 
of the world to laugh at thee. Thou must be content to 
live a despised man, to be scoffed at, to "be hated of all 
men," to " crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts ; " 
to look upon the world, set out in the gaudiest manner with 
all her baits and Babels of riches, honours, favours, great- 
ness, pleasures, &c. as upon an unsavoury rotten carcass. 
Thou and the world must be as two dead bodies upon one 
bier, without any delightful mutual commerce or inter- 
course, strangers and stark dead one unto another in respect 
of thy any farther trading with the vanities thereof. For 
keeping a good conscience, standing on God's side and for 
Christ's sake, thou must deny thyself thy v/orldly wisdom, 
carnal reason, corrupt affections ; thy acceptation with the 
world, favour of great ones, credit and applause with the 
most ; thy passions, profit, pleasures, possibility of rising 
and growing great ; thy nearest friends, dearest companions, 
ease, liberty, life ; and grow by little and little into Esther's 
most noble and invincible resolution, when doing God's will 
threateneth any earthly danger; "And if 1 perish, I 
perish ; " but not to perish so is everlastingly to perish, and 
so to perish is to be saved for ever. Thou must thus resolve 
upon this self-denial when thou first enterest into profession, 
or else thou wilt never be able to hold out in thy spiritual 
building, or conquer in the Christian warfare (See and con- 
sider the occasion, and how earnestly Christ enjoins it. 
Matt, xvi, 24 ; Luke xiv, 26, &c., and presses it with two 
parables.) ; but all will come to nought, and thou cursedly 
conclude in open apostasy, gross hypocrisy, or self- deceiving 
formality. Consider the young man in the gospel. He 
came hastily to Jesus Christ, and would needs be his disciple 
and follower upon the sudden. But alas ! he did wofully 
mistake. Little did he know, neither indeed would know, 
what belonged unto it. That the servant of such an heaveiily 
Master must be no earth-worm ; that every one of his dis- 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 203 

ciples must " take up their cross and follow him; " for his 
sake part with any thing, every thing, be it riches, honours, 
credit, pleasures, &c. And therei'ore wiien once Christ for 
the trial of his heart had bid him " go and sell that he had," 
&c., he had soon done ; he was quickly gone. Now had 
this young man gone away without this lesson, he had gone 
away a disciple as well as any other, and perhaps as jolly a 
professor as the forwardest of them all ; and that both in his 
own strong opinion and uncharitable misconceit of the rest 
who were true of heart : as Judas did a long time ; and the 
foolish virgins all their life long. Too many such professors 
as he would have proved, are to be found even in this noon- 
tide of the gospel abroad in the world ; who being at their 
first entrance into profession not soundly humbled, nor lay- 
ing a sure foundation ; not resolved upon an universal self- 
denial, nor weighing with due forecast what it will cost 
them ; do afterward misbehave themselves upon any gainful 
occasion, or greater trial and temptation, or being put to it 
indeed. They are wont from time to time to discover their 
rottenness, open the mouths of the profane, and shame all. 
They are like unto reeds, which in a calm stand upright and 
seem stiff and strong; but let the tempest break in upon 
them and they bend anyway. While their lemporal state 
is untouched, their outward happiness unhazarded, they 
seem resolute, thorough, and courageous ; but let a storm of 
persecution be raided against them ; let them be put into 
a great fright that if they stand to it they may be undone, 
&c. and then like cowards they hide their heads, pull in the 
horns; and shamefully shrink in the wetting ; unhappily 
holding it better to sleep in a whole skin than with a good 
conscience. Like the eagle, they soar aloft with many good 
religious shows and representations, but they still keep their 
eye upon the prey ; and therefore when advantage is offered 
they will basely stoop from forwardness, honesty, generosity, 
humanity, anything, to seize upon a worldly commodity, 
office, honour, soine earthly pelf, and transitory nothing. 
Some of these, after profession for some tin)e, fall quite 
away from it, and turn epicures or worldlings, if not scor- 
ners and persecutors. Others hold on in a plodding course 
of formal Christianity all their life long ; and at last depart 
this life like the foolish virgins, and in that formal manner 1 
told you of before. Neither be thou disheartened with this 
counsel of leaving all for Christ. For thou shalt be no loser, 
but a great gainer thereby. Besides "eternal life in the 
world to come," tliou shalt receive a hundredfold now in 
this time," as Christ himself tells thee, ]\lark x, 30. If 
thou part with worldly joys, thou shalt have quiet in 



204 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

the Holy Ghost, spiritual joy unspeakable and glorious, 
nearer familiarity with God, dearer communion with Jesus 
Christ, &ic. ; to which the pleasures ot ten thousand worlds, 
were they all to be enjoyed at once, were but extremest 
pain. If thou lose thine husband, he that made thee will 
be in his stead unio thee, " Thy Maker is thine husba:id, 
the Lord of Hosts is his name " (Isa. liv, 5). Jf thou lose 
thy father, the all-sufficient Jehovah, blessed for ever, " will 
pity thee as a father pitieth his children " (Psalm ciii, 13). 
if thou lose thy friends and the world's favour, thou shalt 
have all and the only excellent upon earth to love thee 
dearly, and to pray heartily for thee (Psalm xvi, 3) ; in a 
word, if thou lose all for Christ's sake, he will be unto thee 
" all in all" (Coloss. iii, 11). And in him all things shall 
be thine in a faj more sweet and eminent manner. " All 
things are yours, whether Paul, or ApoUos, or Cephas, or 
the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to 
come; all are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is 
God's" (1 Cor. iii, 21, 22, 23). 

VI. When the spiritual physician shall see the soil of his 
patient's heart well softened with sorrow for sin, comforta- 
bly warmed with refieshing beams of favour from the face 
of Christ, and so seasonably fitted to enter a Christian 
course, and to " bring forth fruits meet for repentance," let 
him throw in some timely seeds of zeal, holy preciseness, 
undaunted courage, and unshaken resolution about the 
affairs of heaven, and in the cause of God ; from such 
quickening scriptures and excellent examples as these, 
Luke xiii, 24 ; Rom. xii, 11, 12 ; Kphes. v, 15 ; Phil, i, 10, 
11; Matt, xi, 12; Revel, iii, 16; Ruth iv, 11; Esther iv, 
16; Nehem. vi, 11 ; 1 Kings xxii, 14; Heb. xi, 24, 25; 
1 Sam. XX, 32 ; Acts xxi, 13, &c. that it may be happily 
preserved from the rank and flourishing, but rotten and 
fruitless weed of formality and lukewarmness ; which pesti- 
lent canker, if it once take root in the heart, it will never 
suffer the herb of grace, if 1 may so speak, the heavenly 
unfading flowers of saving grace, to grow by it while the 
world stands. Nay, and will prove one of the strongest 
blots to bar them out ; and the most boisterous cart- rope to 
pull down extraordinary vengeance upon the head of the 
party. For as a loathsome vomit is to the stomach of him 
that casts it out, so are lukewarm professors to the Lord 
Jesus (Revel, iii, 10). 1 marvel many times what such 
men mean, and what worship, service, and obedience they 
would have the mighty Lord of heaven and earth to accept. 
He offers to us in the ministry his own blessed Son to be 
our dear and everlasting husband, his person with all the 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENGES. 205 

rich and royal endowments thereof, the glory and endless 
felicities above, his own thrice-glorious and ever-blessed 
self to be enjoyed through all eternity, which is the very 
soul of heavenly bliss, and life of eternal life. Do you 
think it then reasonable or likely that he will ever accept at 
our hands a heartless, formal outwardness ; a cold, rotten 
carcass of religion ; that we should serve ourselves in the 
first place, and him in the second ; that w^e should spend 
the prime and flower of our loves, joys, services, upon some 
abominable bosom sin ; and then proportion out to the ever- 
lasting God, mighty and terrible Creator and Commander 
of heaven and earth, only some outward religious forms 
and conformities, and those also so far only as they hurt 
not our temporal happiness, but may consist with the entire 
enjoyment of some inordinate lust, pleasure, profit, or pre- 
ferment ] Prodigious folly, nay, fury to their own souls ! 
This very one most base and unworthy conceit of so great a 
God, and his due claims, meriteth ju>tly exclusion from the 
kingdom of heaven with the foolish virgins for ever. jMy 
counsel therefore is, when the spiritual patient hath passed 
the tempestuous sea of a troubled conscience, and is now 
upon terms of taking a new course, that by'kll means he 
take heed that he run not upon this rock. It is better to 
be key-cold than lukewarm ; and that the milk boil over 
than be raw. 
Vn. I hough itbeanordinary,yetitisadangerousand utterly 
undoing error and deceit to conceive that all is ended when 
the afflicted party is mended, and hath received ease and 
er largement trom the terrible pressures ( f his troubled con- 
science ; to think that after the tempest of present terror and 
rage of guiltiness be allayed and overblown there needs no 
more to be done. As though the new birth uere not ever 
infallibly and inseparably attended with new obedience. \s 
though when once the soul is soundly and savingly struck 
through, humbled, and prepared for Christ by the terrifying 
power of the law revealing the foulness of sin and fierceness 
of Divine wrath, which set on by the " spirit of bondage " 
is able like a mighty thunder to break and tear in pieces the 
iron sinews of the most stubborn and stony heart, there 
followed not hearty showers of repentant tears, never to be 
dried up uritil our ending hour (as 1 taught before), when 
all tears shall be everlastingly wiped away with God's mer- 
ciful hand: and that the Sun of righteo'isness did not 
presently break forth upon that happy soul, to dispel the 
hellish clouds of sensuality, lust, lying in sin, iSic. and to 
enlighten, inflame, and fill it with the serenity and clear sky 
as it were of sanctification and purity, a kindly fervour of 

r 



206 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

zeal for God's glory, good causes, good men, and keeping a 
good conscience and fruitful influence of sobriety, righteous- 
ness, and holiness for ever after. And therefore, if upon 
recovery out of trouble of conscience there follow not a 
continued exercise of repentance, both for sins past, present, 
and to come, as you heard before, an universal change in 
every power and part both of soul and body, though not in 
perfection of degrees, yet of parts ; a heart-rising hatred 
and opposition against all sin ; a shaking off old com- 
panions, brethren in iniquity, all Satan's good-fellow revel- 
lers; a delight in the word, ways, services, sabbaths, and 
saints of God ; a conscientious and constant endeavour to 
express the truth of the protestations and promises made in 
time of terror, as I told you before, &c. ; — in a vv^ord, if 
there follow not a new life, " if all things do not become 
new" (2 Cor. v, 17), there is no new-birth in truth : all is 
nought, and to no purpose in the point of salvation. 

I'hey are then miserable comforters, physicians of no 
value; nay, of notorious spiritual bloodshed, who having 
neither acquaintance with, nor much caring for the manner, 
means, method, any heavenly wisdom, spiritual discretion, 
or experimental skill in managing aright sucli an important 
business ; if any ways they can assuage the rage and still 
the cries of a vexed, guilty conscience, they think they have 
done a worthy work, though after their daubing there be 
nothing left behind in it but a senseless scar ; nay, and per- 
haps more searedness and benumbedness brought upon it, 
because it was not kin-ilily wrouglit upon in the furnace of 
spiritual affliction, and rightly cured. 

I fear many poor souls are fearfully deceived, who being 
recovered out of terrors of conscience too suddenly, unsea- 
sonably, or one way or other unsoundly, conceive presently 
they are truly converted, though afterward they be the very 
same men, of the same company and conditions they were 
before, or at best bless themselves in the seeming happiness 
of a half conversion *. 

* By this half Herodlan conversion they may leave many sins, and 
" do niany things," hear the best ministers gladly, respect and counte- 
nance them, &c. ; and yet for all this, in respect of their own personal 
salvation, as well never a whit as never the better; as wel I not at all as 
nor thorough-stitch. 



afflictp:d consciences. 207 



CHAP. XVI. 

Two Cases wherein pangs of Conscience are not healed, whatever they 
seem. 

For a more full discovery of this mischief, and prevention 
of those miseries which may ensue upon this last miscarriage, 
let me acquaint you with four or five passages out ot pangs 
of conscience, which still lead amiss and leave a man to 
the devil still, and for all his fair warning by the smart ot 
a wounded spirit, drown him in the works of darkness and 
ways of death. 

1. Some, when by the piercing power and application of 
the law, their consciences are pressed with the terrible and 
intolerable weight of their sins ; and the worm that never 
dies, which hath been all this while dead drunk with sen- 
sual pleasures, is now awaked by the hand of Divine justice, 
and begins to sting ; they presently with unspeakable rage 
and horror fall into the most abhorred and irrecoverable 
dungeon of despair. The flames of eternal fire seize upon 
them even in this life ; they are in hell upon earth, and 
damned, as it were, above ground. Such they are com- 
monly who all their life long have been contemners of the 
gospel ministry ; scorners of the " good way ;" quenchers of 
the Spirit ; revolters from good beginnings and profession of 
grace ; harbour ers of some secret, vile, abominable lusts in 
their hearts against the light of their conscience ; close 
agents for popery and profaneness ; plausible tyrants against 
the power of godliness, and such other like notorious cham- 
pions of the devil, and infamous rebels to the Highest Ma- 
jesty : whom, since they have been such, and have so des- 
perately and so lung "despised the riches of his goodness 
and forbearance and long suflering, leading them to repen- 
tance," God most justly leaves now in the evil day : when 
once the hot transitory gleam of worldly pleasures is past, 
and his judgments begin to grow upon their thoughts like a 
tempestuous storm ; and death to stand before them irre- 
sistible like an armed man ; and sin to lie at the door like 
a bloodhound ; and the guilty conscience to gnaw upon 
the heart like a vulture, &c. ;— I say, then he leaves them 
in his righteous judgment to sink or swim, " to eat the 
fruit of their own ways" to the fulness of that unquench- 
able wrath which by their innumerable sinful provocations, 
impenitency, and unbelief, they liave " treasured up against 
this day of wrath." That raging worm, which never dies 
in the damned, and naturally breeds in every graceless 



208 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

conscience by their insatiable surfeit in sin, and greedy 
" drinking in iniquity like water," grows so strong and to 
such a strange bigness, that taking advantage, especially 
in the time of terror, of their weakness and confusion of 
spirit upon the bed of death, at some season of irrecove- 
rable danger, it surprises them upon the sudden with un- 
expected hellish armies of guiltiness and horror, and over- 
throws them quite, horse and man, never to rise again in 
this world or the world to come. Then would those woful 
wretches who would never be warned betinie, give ten 
thousand worlds, if they had them, for one moment of that 
merciful time of grace which they have cursedly long abused, 
for the benefit of the ministry which they have insolently 
scorned, for a drop of that precious blood which by their 
desperate villanies and hatred to be reformed they have 
trampled under foot. But, alas ! no mercy, no blessing, 
no comfort will then be had, though, with profane Esau, 
they seek it with tears, and throw their rueful and piercing 
cries into the air with hideous groans and yelling. And 
therefore turning their eye upon their torments will roar 
out like those sinful hypocrites, Isaiah xxxiii, 14, with un- 
utterable anguish of spirit, " Who among us shall dwell 
with the devouring fire 1 who among us shall dwell with 
everlasting burnings'?" "In the morning they shall say, 
Would God it were even ; and at even they shall say, 
Would'God it were morning ; for the fear of their hearts 
wherewith they shall fear, and for the sight of their eyes 
which they shall see" (Deut. xxviii, 67). In their life- 
time they behaved themselves like cruel beasts and bloody 
goads in the sides of the saints and against their sincerity ; 
and now at last themselves are caught with a witness, and 
lie upon their beds of extremity and terror " like wild bulls 
and beasts in a net, full of the fury of the Lord." 

JI. Others there are, who finding their sins discovered, 
and their consciences wounded by the light and power of 
the word, and now feeling sadness, heavy-heartedness, 
uncouth terrors, much perplexity and anxiety of spirit 
coming upon them, address themselves presently and have 
speedy recourse to the "arm of flesh," outward mirth, 
carnal contentment, and such other miserable comforters. 
They falsely suppose, and to their own utter and everlasting 
overthrow, that these spiritual pangs that are now upon 
them, which if rightly managed might prove a happy pre- 
parative and legal artillery, as it were, to break the iron 
bars and open the everlasting doors of their souls that the 
King of Glory might come in, be nothing but fits of melan- 
choly, or sour and unseasonable eflects and impressions of 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 209 

some puritanical ministry and dangerous temptations to 
despair. And therefore they hie out of them as fast as they 
can, by posting after worldly pleasures, pastimes, plays, 
music, gaming, merry company, jovial meetings of good 
fellowship, taverns, ale-houses, visits, entertainments, im- 
provement of their chief carnal contentment, &,c. ; if not to 
wizards and even to light a candle at the devil for light- 
someness ef heart. Thus, I know not whether with more 
sin or folly, they endeavour to come unto themselves again 
by the mirth and madness of wine, earthly joy, carnal 
counsel, &c. ; wherein they are not unlike those idolatrous 
Israelites, who while they burnt up their children in sacri- 
fice to Moloch, filled iheir ears with noise of instruments, 
lest by the rueful cries of their little babes they should be 
moved to pity, and so stayed in the cruel service of that 
blood-sucking idol. Just so these men of pleasure and per- 
dition do sinlully seek to stop the guilty clamours of their 
vexed consciences with the comforts of this life and sensual 
joy, while their souls are sacrificing to Satan, and making 
fit fuel for the fire of hell, lest by listening to their cries 
and controlments they should be stirred up to take com- 
passion of their own poor immortal souls, and be stopped 
in the pursuit of their fugitive follies and delights of sense. 
But, alas ! in so doing they are also like a man in a burn- 
ing fever, who lets down cold drink eagerly and merrily, 
because in the extremity of thirst it cools him a little ; but 
after a wliile he shall find the heat, the pain, and the 
danger all doubled upon him. Earthly pleasures may for 
the present still the noise of an accusing conscience, and 
seem somewhat to allay its guilty rage, but assuredly they 
will afterwards kindle such a fire in the bowels of these 
miserable men as will burn even to the very bottom of hell, 
and blow them up body and soul with irrecoverable ruin 
for ever. He that goes about to cure the wound of his con- 
science for sin with sensual delight, is as if to help the 
toothache he should knock out his brains, or when he is 
stung with a wasp siiould rub with a nettle the smarting 
place, or finding no good by physic should run unto wizards ; 
as if in extremity of thirst he should drink rank poison to 
quench it, apply a venomous plaister to his sore, and prop 
up his falling roof with burning firebrands ; remedies far 
worse and more pestilential than the malady, for they 
either plunge them deeper into the dungeon of melancholy 
and heavy-heartedness, or else draw a skin only over the 
spiritual wound, whereby it festers and rankles underneath 
more dangerously. For thus stopping the mouth of that 

1 3 



210 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

never-dying worm, that insatiable wolf in the mean time 
doth make it, when there is no more supply of carnal plea- 
sures whereupon it feeds for a while, to fall more furiously 
upon the conscience that bred it, and to gnaw more ra- 
gingly by reason of its former restraint and enforced diver- 
sion. 

I know full well, Satan is right well pleased, and doth 
much applaud this pestilent course of theirs, and therefore 
he helps forward this accursed business all he can, of aban- 
doning and banishing all trouble of mind for sin with 
worldly toys. For ordinarily out of his cruel cunning thus 
he proceeds in these cases : — 

1. In the first place, and above all, he labours might 
and main to detain men in that height of hard-heartedness, 
that they may not be moved at all with the ministry, or 
suffer the sword of the Spirit to pierce. And then like " a 
strong man armed" he possesseth their bodies and souls, 
which are his palace, with much peace, and disposeth them 
wholly in any hellish service at his pleasure. Thus he 
prevails with a world of men amongst us. They hear ser- 
mon after sermon, judgment upon judgment, and yet are no 
more stirred with any penitent astonishment for sin or saving 
work of the word, than the very seats whereon they sit, the 
pillars to which they lean, or dead bodies upon which they 
tread. They are ordinarily such as these: — First; Igno- 
rants of two sorts : (1.) Unskilled both in the rules of rea- 
son and religion ; such are our extremely sottish and grossly 
ignorant people, which swarm among us in many places, 
to the great dishonour of the gospel, by reason of the want 
of catechising and other discipline. (2.) Led by the light 
of natural conscience to deal something honestly, but idiots 
in the great mystery of godliness ; such are our merely 
civil honest men. Secondly ; Those that are wise in their 
own conceits (Isa. v, 21), being strongly persuaded of their 
good estate to God-ward, whereas, as yet, they have no 
part at all in the first resurrection : such as those, 
Matt, vii, 22; and xxv, 11. Thirdly ; All such as are re- 
solved not to take sin to heait (See Isa. xxviii, 15). These 
either, (1.) iMake God all of mercy; (2.) Or preserve a 
secret reservation in their hearts to repent hereafter ; 
(3.) Or have so prodigiously hardened their hearts that they 
fear not the judgment to come ; (4.) Or with execrable 
villany desire to extinguish the very notions of a Deity by 
a kind of an affected atheism, and, being drowned in sen- 
suality, labour not to believe the word of God, that they 
may sin without all check or reluctance. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 211 

% But if it fall out by God's blessing that the word once 
l>egin to get within a man, and to work terror and trouble 
of mind for sin ; so that he sees him grow sensible of his 
slavery, weary of his former ways, and like enough to break 
the prison and be gone ; then doth he seriously observe 
and attend which way the party inclines, and how he may 
be most easily diverted, that he may thereafter proportion 
his plots and attempts against him the more prosperously. 

(1.) If he find him to have been a horrible sinner, of a sad 
and melancholic disposition, much artlicted with outward 
crosses, &c., he then lays load upon his affrighted soul with 
all his cunning and cruelty, that if it be possible he may 
drive him to despair. For this purpose he makes keen the 
sting of the guilty conscience itself all he can, sharpens the 
empoisoned points of his own fiery darts ; adds more gris- 
liness to his many hateful transgressions, more horror to 
the already flaming vengeance against sin, i\c.; that, if 
God so permit, he may be sure to strike desperately home, 
and sink him deep enough into that abhorred duneenn. 

(2.) But if he perceive him not to have been infamous 
and noted for any notorious sins, by natural constitution to 
be merrily disposed, impatient of heavy-heartedness, and 
formerly much addicted to good-fellowship ; if he spy him 
to strive and struggle for disentanglement out of these un- 
couth terrors, and re-enjoyment of his former worldly de- 
lights and jovial companions ; — I say, then he is most for- 
ward to follow and feed his humour this way also, that so 
he may stifle and utterly extinguish the work of the spirit 
of bondage in the very beginning. And to this end he 
blunts with all the cunning he can the sting of a man's own 
conscience, and quite removes his own : he procures and 
offers all occasions of outward contentment, he furnishes 
his fellows in iniquity and the devil's proctors with per- 
nicious eloquence and store of enticements to bring him 
back again to their bent and beastly courses ; he ministers 
his own delicious potions of carnal pleasure to cast his con- 
science asleep again. In brief, he leaves no policy, plot, 
or practice unassayed, unattempted, to make the power of 
the law unprofitable unto him, and to drown all his sorrow 
for sin in sensual drunkenness. 

This, then, I make the second pestilent passage out of 
pangs of conscience ; to wit, when a man to decline them 
is driven by the subtlety of Satan and perverseness of his 
own flesh, if not to wizards and fortune-tellers, as they call 
them, and other such oracles of the devil, yet at best to 
human helps, lo worldly wisdom, to outward mirth, good- 
fellowship, pleasant company, his hea' s of gold, hoards of 



212 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

wealth, riches, pastures, variety of choicest pastimes; nay, 
for ease to any thing, even to drinking, dancing, dicing, 
masking, revelling, roaring, or any other such ribald, bed- 
lam, and raging fooleries. 



CHAP. XVII. 

A Third Case, wherein Fangs of Conscience may seem to be healed 
and are not; with tht; l>iscovery of Men's Errors in that kind. 

III. Some there are, vv-ho pass out of trouble of mind for sin and 
legal terrors into a kind of an artificial, enforced, unsound, 
untimely, and counterfeit peace of conscience. I mean it 
thus : when a man's carnal heart, wounded by the terrify- 
ing power of the word, with sight and horror of his former 
wicked ways ; but weary of the wound, impatient of spi- 
ritual heaviness, wilfully set and resolved obstinately against 
the holy severities of the school of repentance, mortifica- 
tion, godly strictness, walking with God, 6cc., and withal 
meeting with some dauber with untempered mortar, who is 
very reatiy to heal his heart with sweet words, saying, 
" i eace, peace, when there is no peace " (Jer. vi, 14) ; — 
I say, in this case snatches hold of comfort, and applies 
the promises of mercy and salvation before they belong 
unto him; before he be searched to the quick, sounded to 
the bottom, and soundly humbled ; before the spirit of 
bondage hath its perfect work, and he be kindlily fitted for 
Jesus Christ. For this purpose they are wont to wrest, 
abuse, misapply many places in the book of God; the un- 
skilful physicians in application, and the deluded patients 
in apprehension of them ; even such as these : " Come unto 
me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and 1 will give 
you rest " (Matt, xi, 28). Yea, but they are not weary of 
all their sins, but only troubled with the present terror ; 
nor willing to take upon them the cross ot Christ. Well 
enough content they are to take him as a Saviour to pre- 
serve them from hell, but not as a lord, a king, and a hus- 
band, to serve, obey, and love him. " Whosoever shall 
call upon the name of the T^ord shall be saved " (Rom. x, 
13). Yea, but they do not consider that many also shall 
cry "Lord, Lord," (Matt. vii,22, andxxv, 11) and yet be ex- 
cluded from eternal bliss ; and therefore " all that call 
savingly upon the name of Christ, must depaitfrom iniquity" 
(2 Tim. ii, 19). But they upon lecovery will by no means 
depart from their darling delight. " He that believeth on 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 213 

tlie Son hath everlastins life" (John iii, 36) Yea, but jus- 
tifying faith purifies the heart (Acts xv, 9), fills it with dear 
affections unto heavenly things, deadens it to the world, and 
divorces it quite from all former carnal pleasures and com- 
panionship. " I will give unto him that is athirst of the 
fountain of the water of life freely" (Revel, xxi, 6). Yea, 
but they thirst only for salvation, not for sanctification ; 
for mercy, not for grace ; for happiness, not for holiness, 
&c. These men, as well as the second sort, will by no 
means pass through the pangs of the new birth into the 
holy path. They wickedly misconceive, out of the rotten 
principles of their own worldly wisdom, prejudice against 
the power of godliness, and pestilent persuasions of " pillow- 
sewers under their elbows," that in so doing they shall be 
utterly undone and never have a good day afterward ; but, 
to speak in their own language, fall presently into the hands 
of the puritans, into the strict tortures and hypocritical 
miseries of preciseness, into sourness, unsociableness,nielan- 
choly ; and indeed into a state only a step short of distrac- 
tion and madness. And these therefore cast about to get 
out of trouble of mind and sense of Divine terror with as 
great impatiency and precipitation as the former, only more 
plausibly and with seemingly fairer, but truly false satis- 
faction to their own souls. For the former rush with furious 
indignation out of these spiritual dejections of conscience, 
as unmanly fears not fit for worthy spirits and men of jovial 
resolution, into greater excess and variety of vyorldly de- 
lights and sensual looseness ; and so ordinarily become 
afterward very notorious and more desperate enemies to the 
kingdom of Christ. Jiecause the power of the word hath 
once stung their carnal hearts with some remorseful terror, 
they ever after heartily hate the sound and searching 
ministry, and managers thereof, the inflicters of their 
smart ; for no other reason in the world but that they tell 
them the truth, and thereupon torment them before their 
time, that so, if they be not wanting unto themselves, they 
may escape the torments of eternity hereafter. And they 
set themselves against godly Christians with incompatible 
estrangement and implacable spite, only because they are 
professors of self-denial, holy strictness, nonconformity to 
the world, repentance, mortification, .Stc. ; the entertain- 
ment and exercise whereof they furiously more detest and 
fly from, than the death of their bodies and damnation of 
their souls. But these latter pass more plausibly out of 
trouble of conscience, and take a fairer course of the two, 
though it prove but an imaginary and counterfeit cure. For 
they labour to close up their spiritual wourwl with comfort 



214 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

out of the word, and promise peace to their troubled hearts 
from the promises of life. But herein they tail and fearfully 
deceive themsslves, in that they co'jceive the first fits and 
quHim<, as it were, of legal terror, to be savini;- repentance ; 
a general speculative apprehension of Christ's passion, to 
procure a special pardon for all their sins ; fruitless specula- 
tions of faith, to prevent and secure them from the wrath 
that is to come ; a mere verbal profession, to be forwardness 
enough except a man would be too precise. Upon the first 
fright and feebng the smart of a confused remorse and 
horror lor sm, without any further penitent wading into 
particulars, or thorough search into their hearts, lives, con- 
sciences, and callings ; without suffering the work of the 
spirit of bondage to drive them to Christ, and a resolution 
to sell all, &c. ; they presently apply, by the strong delusion 
of their own idle groundless conceit, all the gracious pro- 
mises and privileges of God's child to their unhumbled 
souls, and enforce their understandings, by a violent greedy 
error, to think they are justified by such an artificial heart- 
less notion, which falsely they call faith : and so, resting in 
a counterfeit pei suasion that they are true converts, ordina- 
rily turn carnal professors. 

These are a kind of people who have no more spiritual life 
than a dead faith can infuse into them ; no more comfort in 
the communion of saints than an outward correspondence 
in profession, speculative discourses of religion, and meet- 
ings at the means of grace, can yield ; no more interest or 
right to heaven, than a bold presumptuous confidence, built 
first upon their own wilful fancy, and seconded with Satan's 
lying suggestion, can give them : whose sorrow for sin at 
the most is commonly no more than " afflicting their souls 
for a day, and bowing down their heads like a bulrush, 
without loosing the bands of wickedness or departing from 
iniquity," whose conversion is nothing but a speculative 
passage from a confused apprehension of sin to a general 
application of Ciiiist, vvithout any sensible or saving altera- 
tion in their ways : whose new obedience consists only in a 
formal conformity to outw^ard exercises of religion, without 
all true zeal, life, heartiness, holiness, or indeed honest 
dealing with their brethren. But these men are to know, 
that Christ's blood never pardoned any man's soul from sin, 
whose spirit the power thereof did not purge from ;v;uile. It 
never saves any one from hell whom it doth not hist in some 
good measure season with holiness and heavenly life. In 
vain do they build comfort upon his passion, who do not 
conscientiously conform to the practice of his word. And 
let them further be informed, for a more clear discovery of 



AFFLICTED COJ^J SCIENCES. 215 

their giossand damnable self-deceili that howsoever a di^ad 
faith, according to its n;ime and nature, enters (if it hath 
any being at all) into the understanding without any re- 
markable motion, sense, and alteration ; yet that faith 
which truly justities, pacilies, purities, mortifies, sanctifies, 
and saves, is evidently discernible by — First, many stirring 
preparatives ; sight and sense of a man's miserable state by 
nature, of his siniuluess and cursedness, humbling himself 
in the sight of the Lord," fearful apprehensions wrought by 
the spirit of bondage ; illumination, conviction, legal terrors, 
ixc. Secondly, violent affections about the infusing of it, 
which are wont to be rai>:ed in the humbled heart by the 
Holy Ghost; extreme thust, infiamed desires, vehement 
longings, unutterable groanings of spirit, prizing and pre- 
ferring the person and passion of Christ before the possession 
of infinite worlds; willingness to "sell all," to part with 
any thing for him, though never so dear or so much doated 
upon heretofore ; with pleasure, riches, preferments, " a 
right hand, aright eye," liberty, life, 6cc. Nay, in such 
a case, if even hell itself should stand between Jesus Christ 
and a poor soul, he would most willingly pass through the 
very flames thereof to embrace his blessed crucified Lord in 
the arms of a lively faith. Thirdly, inseparable consequents 
and companions : 1. A hearty and everlasting falling out 
with all sin. 2. Sanctification throughout in body, souL 
spirit, and calling, and in every power, part, and passage 
thereof, though not in peifection of degrees, yet in truth and 
effectually. 3. A set and solemn course of new obedience, 
spent principally in self- sobriety, righteousness towards our 
brethren, and holiness towards (jod. 

Many unfaithful men in the m.inislry, both in their public 
teaching, and private visitations of the sick, have much to 
answer for in this point ; who for want of skill in that 
highest art of saving souls : of familiarity with God, and 
secret working of his Spirit ; of experience in their own 
change, and of the spiritof discerning, &c. many times concur 
with such miserable men to mar all, in stifling the very first 
stirrings of legal remorse, by healing the wounds of their 
conscience with sweet words before they be searched and 
sounded to the bottom ; and by an unseasonable and indis- 
creet heaping a great deal of comfort there, where as yet a 
good ground-work of true humiliation is not soundly laid. 
Many and lamentable are the spiritual miseries in those 
places where such daubers with untempered mortar have 
the direction, who never passed through the pangs of the 
new birth themselves, were never feelingly acquainted with 
the wonderful dealings of God in that great miracle of a 



216 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

man's conversion; or*" trained up experimentally in the 
school of temptations, painful exercises of mortification and 
counterminings against the depths, wiles, devices, and 
stratagems of the devil. The blessed prophet paints them 
to the life, and denounces a dreadful woe against such 
flattering and foolish prqphets (Ezek. xiii). A ship-master, 
skilful only in astronomy and other speculative passages of 
the art of navigation, is nobody in conducting men safely 
over some dangerous sea, to him that beside sufficiencies 
of art, is furnished also with experimental skill in those 
parts, by passing formerly that way himself, and having 
discovered those dangers of ruin and hidden rocks, which 
the other man might easily run upon. Give me a man in 
whom variety and profoundness of best learning doth con- 
cur in the highest degree of excellency ; yet if his own 
heart be not soundly wrought upon and seasoned with 
saving grace, himself experimentally seen into the mystery 
of Christ and secrets of sanctitication ; as he shall be hardly 
able to wound other men's consciences, and pierce them to 
the quick, so he will be found very unfit to manage aright 
the spiritual miseries of a troubled soul, and to transport it 
savingly through the tempestuous terrors and temptations 
incident to the new creation, into the port of true peace 
and paradise of the blessed brotherhood. A dreadful and 
tender point it is to deal with distressed consciences ; so 
many depths of Satan and deceits of man's heart mingle 
themselves with business of so great consequence. Even a 
well-meaning man without much heed and good experience, 
both in the point and the party, may err dangerously and be 
much deceived herein, i have heard from a man of con- 
science and credit, besides many and many in the same 
kind, of a fearful imposture to this purpose. " A man who 
for the world was well enough, visited with some trouble of 
mind for his sins, sent for a minister to comfort him. He, 
it seems, not sounding him to the bottom, or searching to 
the quick, heaped upon him unseasonably and too soon, 
mercies and hopes of spiritual safety. Amongst other 
things he asked him, whether formerly he had ever felt tes- 
timonies and refreshings of God's favour and love. Yea, 
answered the party (and heie take notice of a notorious 
depth of the devil); once riding alone upon the way in 
sucii a place, 1 grew upon the sudden veiy lightsome and 
light-hearted, &c. (I'his was but a flash of Satan's angelical 
glory, cunningly to lighten and lead him the way to further 
confusion.) VVhy then, replied the minister, you may 
build upon it. God is constant in his favours ; and whom 
lie loves once he loves for ever. Hereupon the patient was 



AFFLICTED COiNSCIENCES. 217 

presently healed of his wounded heart, and after fell into 
his former courses, and grew fully as profane as he was 
before." Amongst tlie many important passages of our 
ministerial employment, 1 fear this weighty affair of visiting 
the sick is passed over also (more is the pity ! ) w-ith much 
ignorance, slightness, and neglect. It is incredible to con- 
sider how fearfully many offend, and what a deal of hurt 
they do by observing one plodding general form, and that a 
poor one too, towards all patients promiscuously, without 
any judicious discretion in distinguishing the variety of 
spiritual states, the different degrees of unregenerateness, 
former courses of life, -Sec. Commonly their carriage in 
such cases is the same to the notorious sinner, the mere 
civil man, gross hypocrite, carnal gospeller, formal professor, 
backslider, the weak and strong, the tempted and untempted 
Christian. If they but hear from the sick man a general 
acknowledgment of his sins, forural cries for mercy and 
pardon, earnest desires to die the death of the righteous, 
6cc. which may be easily and ordinarily found in a pharisee 
or foolish virgin, as you have heard before, they will pre- 
sently needs persuade him that he is as surely a saved man 
as if he were in heaven already. Herein resembling, saith 
Marbury on Psalm xxxii, " a foolish shepherd, who want- 
ing skill to help his poor sheep out of the ditch, is driven to 
play the miserable comforter, and to take some other indi- 
rect course (as many use to do in such cases), to cut the 
bheep's throat in time to make him man's meat ; lest it 
should be said he died in a ditch." Many and many a time 
do such fellows as these empty and discharge their common 
place books of all the phrases of mercy and comfort, 
collected curiously and industriously for that purpose, upon 
those men who were never acquainted with the ways of God 
in their life-time, nor with the truth of humiliation, or truly 
with the great work of repentance upon their beds of death. 
Those formal churchmen who stood about Marshal Biron, 
that great peer and pillar of France, at his death, did in 
this respect very ill offices of ghostly fathers unto hirn in 
his greatest need and last extremity. For when he behaved 
himself more like a furious devil already amongst the 
damned spirits in blasphemies, impatiencies, and most 
raging passions, than a meek and humble saint of (lod, 
ready to pass into everlasting mansions of peace, they not- 
withstanding, out of their popish divinity, gave him " this 
absolution, assuring him that his soul was ready to see God, 
and to be partaker of his glory in heaven;" when it had 
been far fitter to have diiven him to the sight of his sins, 
sense of that dreadful hour, terror of that strict tribunal to 

U 



218 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

which he was ready to pass, and fearfulness of that infernal 
fiery lake from which no greatness can privilege graceless 
men. I fear there are many time-serving ministers of the true 
religion also, who are ready to do proportionable service to 
ungodly great ones upon whom they depend, by promising 
them life. But many and dreadful are the mistakings and 
miseries which fall upon the souls of men, both patients 
and by-standers, by these flattering formal visitations and 
funeral panegyrics which ordinarily follow after. Happy 
then, and hopeful is that man, who in the troubles of his 
soul meets with that " one of a thousand" (Job xxxiii, 23), 
with those sons both of consolation and thunder, who are 
as able, ready, and willing rightly to bind up a bruised 
spirit with the balm of mercy and promises of life, as to 
break in pieces a stubborn heart with the terrors of the 
law : who, as they labour in the first place to frighten men 
out of their sinful courses into penitent dejections of con- 
science, a needful preparative to a saving conversion, so 
they have learned both speculatively and experimentally to 
conduct them through the pangs of the new birth to sound 
comfort in Christ, mortification, new obedience, walking 
with God, &c. 



CHAP. XVIII. 

Three Cases more, wherein the pangs of Conscience are not healed. 

4. Others there are who pass out of trouble of conscience 
for sin into some more tolerable courses for the time to 
come ; bui yet not thoroughly and savingly into the truth 
and pursuit of Christianity. For when Satan once per- 
ceives that sorrow for sin lies so heavy upon a man's heart, 
and the rage of guiltiness doth sting him still with such 
restless anguish, that in all likelihood it will at length 
draw and drive him to some alteratiou at least, and work 
out at last some measure of amendment, then doth he, out 
of an insatiable hellish thirst to hold him still in his clutches, 
bend and employ all his power and policy to make him 
satisfy himself, and rest finally, as sufficiently fitted for 
salvation, in some partial, insufficient, half conversion ; 
and to sit down contentedly with religious forms only, and 
some outward reformation. The devil's first desire in work- 
ing our destruction is to keep a man who is notoriously 
naught in the highest strain of impiety ; a traitor in grain. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 219 

as it were, and most desperate rebel to the Divine Majesty, 
wallowing still in all variety of viilany and vanity, iiut 
if that will not be, he is glad to detain him in what degree 
of profaneness he can most conveniently and with greatest 
safety, though the least and the lowest ; in any state of un- 
regenerateness, though furnished with the utmost perfec- 
tion of which it is capable, so that he step not into the 
kingdom of Christ. Rather than he will utterly lose him 
and part with him quite, he will leave possession of him in 
part, and be willing, though full sore against his will, to 
lose a great deal of his former more furious service, and 
something of the fulness of his conformity to the fashions of 
hell. If he cannot do as he would, he will do as he may. 
When he sees him grumbling, and grow discontent and 
weary with the loathsomeness of the dungeon and weight 
of his fetters, rather than he should escape and break quite 
away, he will knock off some of his irons, grant him the 
liberty of the prison, the comfort of the walks ; nay, and 
suffer him sometimes to walk abroad, so that he be still 
watchfully attended by his keeper, and continue a retainer 
to the kingdom of darkness. He will be content to give 
him the benefit of the fewest stripes in hell, and the least 
measure of damnation, though that also be more than in- 
finitely terrible and intolerable, rather than he should not 
be damned at all. And therefore in such a case he will 
easily suffer him to proceed to some kind of repentance, 
and reformation of some one or more outward gross no- 
torious sins, remorse whereof, perhaps, did first raise the 
terror and trouble in his mind, so that he will there rest 
and remain unmortified and unamended in the rest. Or, 
he cares not much though he be universally outwardly 
reformed, and unblameable for the most part in his visible 
carriage and conversation, though he restore ill-gotten goods, 
say his prayers, give alms, fast often, give tithes of all that 
he possesses with the pharisee, hold out a lamp of goodly 
profession to the eye of the world with the foolish viigins, 
observe godly ministers, reform many things after their 
preaching, and hear them gladly, with Herod ; so that for 
all this plausible and unpernicious outside the heart con- 
tinue unchaste, impure, unholy, unheavenly still ; and he 
still hug in his bosom some secret lusts and sensual cor- 
ruptions with willing delight and loathness to leave them. 
Or, if a man, besides outward religious representations and 
conformities, desires also to find and feel in himself some 
kind of inward work, he will not be much troubled with 
addition of the spirit of illumination, temporary faith, some 
"joy in the word" (Matt. xiii,20), "taste of the powers 



220 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

of the world to come," &c. (lleb. vi, 5) ; so that the spirit 
of special sanctification be wanting still, and that some 
darling deliglit be maintained in heart, life, or calling ; 
which the man by no means would have meddled with or 
mortified. On that (which is a notable depth of the devil, 
of which take special notice), wheieas a man hears many- 
times out of the ministry of the word, that the abandoning 
of his bosom sin is a good token of a true conversion, and 
the embracing of it still is too sure a sign that he is Satan's 
still ; to the end he may blind him in this important point, 
he will suffer him to exchange the visible form and outward 
exercise even of his beloved sin. For example: a man's 
captain and commanding sin is covetousness, and it is out- 
wardly exercised in usury, bribery, sacrilege, &c. He is 
well enough content in this case to let him be frighted by 
the terror of the ministry from those grosser acts of cruelty 
for which the world cries shame on him (especially not 
restoring), so that he insensibly fall into and secretly prac- 
tise some other cunning invisible oppressions, or any un- 
lawful ways of getting. His sweet sin is voluptuousness ; 
he hunts after it in the horrible villanies of adultery or for- 
nication ; but at some sermon or other, he is told and ter- 
rified, that by such sins he doth not only damn himself, 
but also even draw another to hell with him ; whereupon 
he may grow into a slavish distaste and discontinuance from 
them, and Satan will not say much, so that there succeed 
in their rooms some other kinds of sins of the same class. 
Nay, he will yet yield further, and endure an utter cessation 
from the external acts and visible practice of a man's pre- 
dominant and reigning sin, so that he delightfully feed 
upon it still in his' heart with speculative greediness, and 
spend the strength of his affections and the most of his 
thoughts that way. He will give him leave to leave off" his 
usury, and to call in his money (but ordinarily ever without 
restitution), so that he may hold his heart still "exercised 
with covetousness." He can well enough abide abandon- 
ing the gross acts of uncleanness ; so that he lie frying in 
the flames of his own scorching concupiscence, and consume 
his thoughts in the adulteries of the heart and contem- 
plative filth. O the endless mazes, unfathomed depths, and 
deepest malice of that old red dragon ! He will yield unto 
any thing, rake in the very darkest nook of hell for some 
cunning device, rather than part with a precious soul out 
of his hellish paw. If a man be so haunted with horror of 
conscience that he dare not for his life lie any longer in 
notoriousness, but will needs get into som.e new course, he 
can put him into many new fashions, and yet no new birth, 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. "221 

no new man. He will suffer him to pass into a more to- 
lerable conversation, and yet come short of a true conver- 
sion ; he can afford him a moral change, or a formal change, 
or a mental change (I mean it only in respect of the spirit 
of illumination and general graces), or a temporary change 
(of which see my " Directions for Walking with God"), 
and yet continue him still within the confines of his cursed 
kingdom, and in a damnable state. He doth improve to 
the utmost, as occasion of advantage is offered, both the 
grisliest shape of a foul fiend, and the most alluring light 
of his angelical glory, to do us a mischief any way, either 
upon the right hand or the left. How many thousands, 
(ah, pity!) even in this clearest noon-tide of the Gospel 
doth he keep in a presumptuous confidence, that they are 
converted ; and yet most certainly his own still, and in a 
willing slavery to some one or other predominant lust at 
the least ! Be advised, then, in the name of Christ, who- 
soever thou art, when the hand of God in great mercy shall 
visit and vex thy conscience for sin by the piercing power 
of the ministry, be sure to follow the direction and guidance 
of that blessed hand, without daubing or diversion, out of 
the kingdom of darkness, through the pangs of the new 
, birth into the holy path, wholly and for ever. Make sure 
work, whatsoever it cost thee ; go thorough-stitch, though 
thou lose a right hand or right eye by it ; " sell all that 
thou hast ; " the pearl is of great price ; have never any 
thing more to do with the devil ; give over the trade of 
sinning entirely; never more to "turn again unto folly" 
upon any terms. And if Satan set upon thee with baits 
and allurements to detain thee in his spiritual bondage but 
by one darling delight to which thou hast been most ad- 
dicted, answer him in this case with unshaken resolution, 
as Moses did Pharaoh in a point of temporal bondage, 
" There shall not so much as a hoof be left behind ;" yield 
not a hair's breadth upon any condition to that hellish 
Pharaoh ; especially in so great a matter as the endless 
salvation or damnation of thy soul. If he can keep pos- 
session but by one reigning sin, in which thou liest with 
delight against the light of thy conscience, hating to be re- 
formed, he desires no more. One knot in a thread will stay 
the needle's passage as well as five hundred. See to this 
purpose my Directions of Walking with God. Beware then 
of closing up the wound of thy terrified and troubled con- 
science with any outside, half, or unsound conversion ; 
which I make the fourth passage out of trouble of mind for 
sin. 
5. And why may not Satan sometimes by God's permis- 

V 3 



222 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

sion be suffered to inflict and fasten his fieiy darts of terrorj 
and temptations upon a man's conscience, continue them 
there some while with much anguish and horror for some 
secret holy end, seen and seeming good to Divine wisdom, 
and at length remove and withdraw them, not upon suc- 
cession of any sound comfort or true peace from the pro- 
mises of life and pardon of sin ; but only upon a mere ces- 
sation of the devil's pleasure to torment and terrify any 
longer'? Not that he can hurt the least or most contemp- 
tible creature that ever God made when he pleases ; but 
that it pleaseth God sometimes to give him the reins and 
leave to rage. Quieting the conscience in this case is no 
comfortable cure from positive help ; but a counterfeit pal- 
liation by ceasing to hurt. 

6. Nay, let me here further, before I pass out of the 
point, discover unto you a mystery ; but it is of iniquity and 
horrible hypocrisy. I have known some (would you think 
it?) who have counterfeited even trouble of conscience; 
and made show without all truth or true touch of sundry 
temptations and spiritual distempers incident only to the 
saints. And have for that purpose addressed themselves 
Avith much industry and noise, and had recourse many 
times to some spiritual physicians, with many tears, a 
heavy countenance, and other rueful circumstances, ex- 
pressing almost exactly the scruples, doubts, distrusts, com- 
plaints, of such as are truly grieved in spirit and true of 
heart. O the wonderful depth which lieth hid in the con- 
fluence of the hypocrisies of man's false heart ; and the 
devices of " that old serpent, which deceiveth the whole 
world!" (Revel, xii, 9.) Such as these take upon them 
and lay aside terrors of conscience, as players do their ap- 
parel and parts. 



SECT. II, PART II. 

CHAP. I. 

The rk^ht method of curing an Afflicted Conscience. Four things re- 
quired in the riglit method of curing. 

The passages past do all mislead into bye-paths ; but there 
is one blessed way, besides all these, though it be a narrow 
one, which conducts directly out of a natural state through 
the pangs of the new birth without diversion or daubing ; 
without any longer detainment in any lust, sensual plea- 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 223 

sure, or beloved vanity ; in any kind of hypocrisy, or de- 
gree of unregenenition, into the paradise of grace fully and 
for ever. This neither plunges a man into the pit of des- 
pair, nor misguides him by carnal counsel and his ovi^n 
wicked conceit into the fool's paradise, and tasteless fool- 
eries of outward mirth ; nor pacifies unseasonably with un- 
timely and counterfeit peace ; nor leaves in the deceiving 
forms of an unsound conversion, and unsaving flourishes of 
general graces only, (S:c. ; but conveys and transports him 
happily by an universal, sincere, supernatural, thorough 
change, into the •' holy path ; " and that thus, and by such 
degrees as these : — 

i. The fiist is an illumination of the mind, conviction of 
the conscience, terrifying the heart with sight, sense, and 
horror of sin in some true measure. The first work of the 
Spirit is to " convince of sin " (John xvi, 8), which presup- 
poseth illumination and produceth terror. The Spirit of 
bondage must be first set on work to show us our spiritual 
misery, to humble us to prepare for Christ. And yet this 
work in itself is common to the alien with the child of the 
new birth ; and ordinarily here they part. The alien, and he 
that hates to be reformed, out of an inveterate, unhappy pre- 
judice against the saving preciseness of the saints and loath- 
ness to leave utterly his foimer courses, company, conver- 
sation ; being obstinately against passing on forward into 
the way which is called holy (regeneration, the new birth, 
repentance, mortification, sanctification, self-denial, new 
obeuience, walking with God, turning Puritan, &c., are 
terras perhaps of as great terror unto him as his present 
trouble of conscience), doth now here divert, and afterward 
wilfully and wofully perish in some pestilent or plausible 
bye-path. In this case he labours and lays about him for 
ease any way (yea, sometimes he will have it from the 
devil himself, if he can, rather than miss of it) so that he 
niay attain and keep it without any great alteration of 
his former ways, or especially without parting with 
his darling pleasure. And therefore he assays either 
to conquer his spiritual affliction with worldly comforts, 
carnal counsel, choice contentments, &c., or else to allay 
the present storm of his guilty rage with some counterfeit 
calm ; or at best to still the cry of his conscience, with put- 
ting forth his hand to some outward works of Christianity, 
and some kind of conversion, which may yet well enough 
consist with the secret enjoyment of his bosom sin ; or by 
some other such indirect course and unsound cure. But 
now the other, whom the Lord doth purpose to prepare for 
himself by this first work, and to call effectually, doth en- 



224 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

tertain at the same time by the help of God a strong, invin- 
cible resolution, not only never more to return unto foolish- 
ness, whatsoever comes of hicn, never upon any terms to 
fall back again into his former sinful pleasures, which have 
now fastened so many fiery scorpion's stings in his con- 
science ; but also never to admit of any cure, recovery, 
and comfort to his afHicted soul but only by Jesus Christ. 
Never to have the bleeding wounds of his bruised spirit 
bathed, bound up, and healed, but in tliat " fountain, 
opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of 
Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness." Nay, rather than 
he will do the one or the other, he will abide upon the rack 
of his spiritual torture unto his ending hour. Whereupon 
he directly addresseth and applies himself to the only 
means appointed and sanctified by God for working a sure, 
kindly, and lasting cure in such a case ; 1 mean, the mi- 
nistry of the word. And if he may have his will, he would 
hit upon the most skilful, experienced, searching, and 
sound-dealing man, amongst all God's faithful messengers. 
2. And so in a second place, without all reservation or 
any purpose ever to return or divert, he comes unto the 
ministers of God in the same mind and with the same mean- 
ing that Peter's hearers did, having his heart pricked and 
rent in pieces with legal terror, as theirs were : " Men and 
brethren, what shall we dol" (Acts ii, 37.) If there be 
any instruction, direction, or duty, which upon good ground 
out of God's blessed book you can enjoin, we will willingly 
follow it, embrace it, and rather die than not do it. Pre- 
scribe any course whereby we may have the boiling rage 
of our guilty consciences somewhat assuaged, and we will 
bless God that ever we saw your faces ;. nay, that ever he 
made you the happy instruments to fasten these keen ar- 
rows of truth and terror in our amazed and afflicted spirits. 
And now here the ministers of God have a strong and sea- 
sonable calling to set forth in the highest degree the ex- 
cellency, amiableness, and soul-saving sufficiency of Jesus 
Christ, blessed for ever ; to amplify and magnify to the life 
the heavenly beauty, invaluableness, and sweetness of his 
person, passion, promises. No sin of so deep a dye, be it 
scarlet or crimson, but his precious blood can raze it out. 
No heart so dark or heavy, but one beam shining from his 
pleased face can fill it as full of spiritual glory and joy as 
the sun is of light, or the sea of waters. No man so mi- 
serable, but if he will go out of himself and the devil's sla- 
very quite, and come in, when he is dearly invited, he will 
advance him " without money, and without pricef»'' from 
depth of horror to height of happiness. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 22& 

3. By this time, being thus told and truly informed in the 
mystery and mercy of the gospel, the poor wounded and 
weary soul begins to be deeply and dearly enamoured of 
Jesus Chi ist. 'l"o advance him highest in his thoughts, as 
the only jewel and joy of his heart, without which he hath 
been heretofoie a dead man, and shall hereafter be sunk m 
endless perdition ; to prefer and pnze him far above the 
pleasures, riches, and glory of the whole earth ; to set his. 
eye and longing so upon him, as to hold himself lost forever 
without his love. Nay, in the case in which he now stands, 
he is most willing for a sound and saving cure to pass 
through a piece of hell, if need were, to such a heavenly 
physician, in whose blessed person alone, as he hears, all 
the riches of mercy, goodness, compassion, and comfort are 
to be found, and in whom are hid and heaped up the fulness 
of grace and treasures of all perfection. So that now the 
current of his best affections, and all the powers of his hum- 
bled soul are wholly bent and directed towards him, as the 
sunflower towards the sun, the iron to the loadstone, and 
the loadstone to tlie pole star : to whom the nearer he draws, 
the more heartily it grieves him that ever he pierced so 
sweet and dear a Saviour with such a former impure, loath- 
some life, and so many abominable and now most abhorred 
provocations. 

4. I'pon this discovery, survey, and admiration of this 
" pearl of great price," this rich treasure, the now truly 
broken and contrite heart doth cast about by all means how 
to compass it. Oh ! what would he now give for the sweet 
fruition and ravishing possession of it ! Heart's blood, life, 
lying in hell for a season, were nothing in this case. The 
imperial crowns and command of ten thousand worlds, 
could they be all enjoyed at once, would be in his thoughts 
but as dust in the balance laid in the scale against Jesus 
Christ. But these things are not required at his hands. At 
last he happily hits upon that which God would have him ; 
he even resolves to " sell all that he hath," to part with all 
sin, though it should be as dear and as much doated upon as 
that compared to a right eye or right hand ; be it that which 
hath kept him longest in hell, most wasted the conscience, 
and stuck closest to his bosom ; I mean his captain corrup- 
tion, master lust, or dearest delight, he will spare none, he 
will quite depart from Sodom, he will not leave so much as 
a hoof behind. For he well now remembers what he hath 
often heard heietofore, though then he took no heed, that 
the Lord Jesus and any one allowed lust are never wont to 
lodge together in the same soul. 



226 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

CHAP. II. 

Three Things more required in those who are rightly cured. 

5. To the party thus legally afflicted, evangelically affected, 
and fitted savingly, now do all the promises of life in God's 
blessed book offer themselves as so many rocks of eternity 
in " faithfulness and truth;" for his wearied soul, tossed 
with tempest, and sorely bruised with storms of terror, 
sweetly to rest upon with everlasting safety. God the Fa- 
ther, his bowels of tenderest compassion and bounty already 
stirring within him, runs, if I may so say, as the father in 
the gospel, to fall upon its neck and to kiss it with the kisses 
of his sweetest mercy. Jesus Christ opens himself, as it 
were, upon the cross to receive it graciously into his bleed- 
ing wounds ; all which, he beholding with a spiritually en- 
lightened eye, admiring and adoring, cannot choose but sub- 
scribe and seal unto them that they are true, and so by the 
help of the Holy Ghost casts himself with all the spiritual 
strength he can, at least with infinite longings, most thirsty 
desires, and resolution never to part, into his blessed bosom, 
saying secretly to himself. Come life, come death, come 
heaven, come hell, come what may, here will I stick for 
ever : and if ever I perish, they shall pluck me out of the 
hands, and rend me from between the arms of this mighty, 
glorious, and dearest Redeemer of mine. 

6. And having now taken Christ as a Saviour, to free him 
from the miseries of sin, he is willing also to take him as a 
Lord, husband, and king, to serve, love, and obey him. For 
every one that is truly Christ's, doth as well thirst heartily 
and sincerely endeavour after mortification, conquest over 
corruptions, sanctification, purity, new obedience, ability to 
do or suffer any thing for Christ, as for pardon of sin and 
salvation from hell : and therefore he willingly " takes tipon 
him his yoke," which though so called, is " easy and light;" 
enters in earnest into the " narrow way," which though it 
be " everywhere spoken against," as it was in Paul's time 
(Acts xxviii, 22), yet in truth and upon trial is most pre- 
cious, profitable, and pleasant. See Prov. iii, " Happy is 
the man that findeth wisdom," to wit, in the word, to walk 
in the ways of God. "She is more precious than rubies ; 
and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared 
unto her. Length of days is in her right hand, and in her 
left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of plea- 
santness, and all her paths are peace." He now, for the 
short remainder of his abode in the vale of tears, vows and 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 227 

gives up the flower and prime of all his abilities, loves, joys, 
endeavours, performances of every kind, to the Highest 
Majesty ; and consecrates all the powers and possibilities of 
body and soul to do him the best and utmost service he can 
any way devise, until his dying day, and still grieves and 
walks more humbly because he can do no better. For when 
he casts his eyes upon God the Father's free love, and 
Christ's dear passion, he thinks with himself (and so he 
well may), that if he were able to do him as much service 
as all the saints do, both in this and the church above, with 
addition of all the angelical obedience, it were all infinitely 
less than nothing towards the discharge of his debt and 
incomprehensible everlasting obligation. 

7. And being thus incorporated into Christ, he presently 
associates himself to the brotherhood, to the " sect that is 
everywhere spoken against : " for so is profession accounted 
(Acts xxviii, 22). After that Peter's hearers " were pricked 
in their hearts," they were counselled to repent, believe, be 
baptized, &c. and to " save themselves from that untoward 
generation" (Acts ii, 40). He now begins to delight him- 
self in them whom he heartily hated before; 1 mean, the 
people of God, professors of the truth and power of religion, 
and that as the most " excellent of the earth," the only true 
noble worthies of the world, worthy for ever of the flower, 
fervency, and dearness of his most melting aff'ections and 
intimate love. And he labours also might and main to ingra- 
tiate himself into their blessed communion, by ail engage- 
ments and obligations of a comfortable, fruitful, and con- 
stant '• fellowship in the gospel ;" by a humble mutual in- 
tercourse and communication of holy conference, heavenly 
counsel, spiritual encouragements, consideration one of an- 
other, confirmation in grace, and in assurance of meeting in 
heaven ; resolved to live and die with these neglected happy 
ones, in all fair and faithful correspondence, sweetest offices 
of Christianity, and constant cleaving to the Lord Jesus and 
his glorious cause ; nay, assured to reign with them here- 
after everlastingly in fulness and height of all glory, joy, 
and bliss ; for if once this divine flame of brotherly love be 
kindled by the Holy Ghost in the hearts of true-hearted 
Christians one towards another, it hath this property and 
privilege above all other loves, that it is never after put out 
or quenched, but burns in their breasts with much affec- 
tionate fervour, with mutual warmth of dearest sweetness 
here upon earth, and shall blaze eternally with seraphical 
heat in the highest heavens hereafter. In the mean time, 
he makes conscience of sympathizing both with their felici- 
ties and miseries. His heart is enlarged with lightsomeness. 



228 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

or eclipsed with grief, as he hears of the prosperity or op- 
pression of God's people. I the rather here mention this 
mark of the true convert, because it is so much required, 
nay infinitely exacted at our hands in these heavy times of 
the church ; and therefore may be to every one of us an 
evident touchstone to try whether our profession be vital or 
formal. If those terrors which 1 have heretofore many times 
threatened out of God's book against all those pitiless and 
hard-hearted cannibals who take not the present troubles of 
the church to heart, on purpose to break in pieces those 
flinty rocks which dwell in some men's breasts, and to drive 
us all to compassionateness, prayer, days of humiliation, 
and parting from our evil ways ; I say, if they have been 
thought by any to have been pressed too precisely and pe- 
remptorily, hear what I have since seen in Austin, and what 
a peremptory censure he doth pass upon those who want a 
fellow-feeling in such a case : "If thou hast this fellow- 
feeling, thou art of that blessed body and brotherhood ; if 
not, thou art not." And here can I hardly forbear crying 
out with " a voice lifted up like a trumpet," against all 
those profane Esaus, swinish Gadarenes, senseless earth- 
worms, who all this while that so many noble limbs of that 
great blessed body of the reformed churches have lain in 
tears and blood, did never take to heart to any purpose, or 
trouble themselves at all with their grievous troubles ; but 
have sottishly and securely lain " at ease in Zion," liable to 
that horrible curse denounced against Meroz: — " Curse ye 
Meroz (said the angel of the I-ord), curse ye bitterly the 
inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of 
the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty " 
(Judg. V, 23). They have not helped the people of God so 
much as with any hearty fellow-feeling, wrestling with God 
in prayer, set days to seek the return of God's face and fa- 
vour. Men they are of the world, which have their portion 
in this life ; who feel nothing but worldly losses, know no- 
thing but earthly sorrows, relish nothing but things of sense. 
If they be stung with a dear year, rot of cattle, loss by sure- 
tyship, shipwreck, robbery, fire, &c. they howl and lament 
immoderately. But let " Joseph be afflicted," God's people 
in disgrace, the ministry hazarded , Christ's spouse " sit in 
the dust," the " daughter of Zion" weep bitterly and have 
none to comfort her, and these merciless men are no whit 
moved. They have not a tear, a groan, or sigh to spend in 
such a rueful case; whereby they infallibly demonstrate to 
their own consciences, that they are no living members of 
Christ's mystical body, have no part of the holy fellowship 
of the saints, no spark of spiritual life, no acquaintance at 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 229 

all with the ways of God ; but continue cursedly careless 
what becomes of the gospel, or God's children, so that they 
may rise, grow rich, and sleep in a whole skin. 

By this time he is become the drunkard's song, table-talk 
to those that " sit in the gate," music to great men at their 
feasts, a bye-word to the children of fools and the children 
of villains, men viler than the earth, vvhose fathers he would 
have disdained to have set with the dogs of his flock. And 
what then 1 Even thus they dealt with David, Job, and 
Jeremiah (Psal. Ixxix, Job xxx, Lam. iii, 63). Nay, they 
told the Son of God himself, in whom the Godhead dwelt 
bodily, that he was " a Samaritan, and had a devil" (John 
viii, 48). What thinking man, then, that gives his name to 
Christ and looks to be saved, will look for exemption 1 
Especially since all the contumelies and contempts, all those 
nicknames of puritan, precisian, hypocrite, humourist, fac- 
tionist, with which lewd tongues are wont to load the saints 
of God, are so many honourable badges of their worthy de- 
portment in the holy path, and resolute standing on the 
Lord's side. Some noble Romans having done some singular 
service to the state, being afterwards troubled and handled 
violently in some private cases, were wont to bare their bo- 
dies, and to show in open court the scars and impressions of 
those wounds which they had received in their country's 
cause, as characters of special honour and strongest motives 
to commiseration. So many lying imputations, unworthy 
usages, and persecutions in any kind for profession of godli- 
ness, which the faithful Christian shall bring to the judg- 
ment-seat of Christ, so many glorious and royal representa- 
tions of excellency of spirit and height of courage in the 
Christian cause shall they be accounted in the sight and 
judgment of Almighty God and the blessed angels, and 
make him more amiable and admirable in the face of heaven 
and earth. 



SECT. Ill, PART I. 



CHAP. T. 

Three Principles of Comfort from without us, to be applied to AfHicted 
Consciences. 

Thus much of the theory, I come now to the practical part, 
to a particular application of some special sovereign anti^ 
dotes to the most grievous ordinary maladies incident to the 
souls of the saints. 

But first give me leave to premise some general well-heads, 
out of which do spring abundance of comfort, and over- 
flowing rivers of refreshing for all intents and effects in point 
of temptation and trouble of mind. 

And first take a fruitful cluster and heavenly heap of them 
together; those twelve heads of extraordinary, immeasura- 
ble, comfortable matter for spiritual medicines, vi'hich I 
have heretofore erected as so many invincible bulwarks 
against all assaults of despair, oppositions of Satan, excep- 
tions of distrust. 

1. The infiniteness of God's mercy, sweetly intimated in 
Isa. Iv, 6, 7, 8. The mercy of God is like himself, infinite. 
All our sins are finite, both in number and nature. Now 
between finite and infinite there is no proportion, and so no 
possibility of resistance. And therefore be thy sins never 
so notorious and numberless, yet a truly broken heart, 
thirsting for and throwing itself upon Christ, unfeignedly 
resolving upon new obedience and his glorious service for 
the time to come, can no more withstand or stand before 
God's mercies, than a little spark can withstand the bound- 
less and mighty ocean, thrown into the midst of it ; nay, 
infinitely less. If all the sins that all the sons and daugh- 
ters of Adam have committed since the creation to this time 
were all upon one soul, yet so affected as 1 have said, and 
put into such a new penitent gracious temper, it should be 
most certainly upon good ground and everlastingly safe. I 
speak not thus to make any secure ; for any one sin, pleasing 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 231 

and reigning, will ruin a soul for ever ; but to assure of 
mercy enough, how great or many soever the sins have 
been, if the heart be now truly humbled for them all, and 
wholly turned heavenward. 

2. The invaluableness of Christ's meritorious blood , which 
is called " the blood of God," and therefore of inestimable 
price. Understand me aright : it was " the blood of God ;" 
not of the Godhead, but of him who was both God and man. 
For the manhood of Christ was received into the union of 
the Second Person, and so it may be called " the blood of 
God," for so speaks St. Paul ( Acts xx, 28), "God purchased 
his church with his own blood ;" that is, Christ, God incar- 
nate. Our divines express it thus : " It was the Son of God 
and Lord of life that died for us upon the cross ; but it was 
the nature of man, not of God, wherein he died ; and it was 
the nature of God, and infinite excellency of the same, 
whence the price, value, and worth of his passion grew." 
This blessed blood then is of infinite efficacy ; and therefore, 
if thou be now turning to the Lord, assure thyself, whatso- 
ever thy sins have been, they have not outgone the price 
that hath been paid for them. This blood, upon repentance, 
did take oflf the transcendant scarlet guilt from the souls 
even of those that shed it. (Acts ii, &c.) 

3. The riches of the word, in affording precedents of the 
saints, and of the Son of God himself, who have surpassed 
thee, and that perhaps very far, in any kind of misery thou 
canst name. 

(1.) Thou art perhaps consulting with the prodigal to 
come in, but there comes terribly into thy mind the extra- 
ordinary heinousness of thy former sins, and that hinders. 
Cast thine eye then upon Manasseh, a man of prodigious 
impiety and matchless villany. He " shed innocent blood 
very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to 
another. He did that which was evil in the sight of the 
Lord, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the 
Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. He caused 
his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son 
of Hinnom. Also he observed times, and used enchant- 
ments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, 
and with wizards. He wrought much evil in the sight of the 
Lord, to provoke him to anger," &c. (2 Kings xxi, 16; 
2 Chron. xxxiii, 2 — b.) And yet this great sinner, " hum- 
bling himself greatly before the God of his fathers," was 
received to mercy (ver. 12, 13). 

(2.) Suppose (which yet were a horrible thing) that after 
conversion, by extraordinary violence of temptation, strong 
ensnarement of some sudden sensual offer and opportunity. 



232 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

treacherous insinuation of thy own false heart, and furious 
reassault of thy former bosom sin, thou shouldst be over- 
taken grossly with some grievous sin and scandalous fall, 
and then upon illumination, remorse, and meditation of 
return, reason thus within thyself : — "Alas', what shall 1 
do now ? I have undone all. I have wofully again defiled 
my soul, so fairly washed in my .Saviour's blood, with that 
disavowed sin of my unregenerate time. I have shamed 
my profession, disgraced religion for ever ; I have broke my 
vows, lost my peace, and my wonted blessed communion 
with God : and therefore what hope can I have of any ac- 
ceptance again at the throne of grace?" — I say in this case, 
to keep thee from sinking, cast thine eye upon Aaron, 
David, Peter, who, returning with sound and hearty re- 
pentance, were mercifully received into as great favour as 
they were before. But God forbid that any professor of 
religion should ever fall so foully, especially in this glorious 
mid-day of evangelical light. 

(3.) Art thou languishing under the heavy desolations of 
a spiritual desertion, and deprived of thy former comfortable 
feelings of God's favourable countenance 1 Look upon Da- 
vid: " I remembered God, and was troubled. I com- 
plained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. I am so troubled 
that I cannot speak. My soul refused to be comforted" 
(Psalm Ixxvii). Nay, upon Jesus Christ himself, crying, 
"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me 1" (Matt, 
xxvii, 46.) 

(4.) Art thou haunted with some of Satan's most hateful 
and horrible injections, grisly to the eye even of corrupted 
nature ; thoughts framed by himself immediately and put 
into thee, perhaps tending to atheism, or to tlie dishonour 
of God in the highest degree, or of his blessed word ; to 
self-destruction, or the like? — thoughts which thou canst 
not remember without horror, and darest not reveal or name 
for their strange and prodigious monstrousness ? If it be 
thus with thee, consider how this malicious fiend dealt with 
the Son of God himself. He offered to his most holy and 
unspotted imagination these propositions: First, murder 
and make away with thyself (Matt, iv, 6). Secondly, fall 
down and worship the devil (ver. 9) ; thaa which, a fouler 
thought I think was never injected ; that Jesus Christ, 
blessed for ever, in whom the Godhead dwelt bodily, should 
fall down and worship the devil, the vilest of creatures. 
And yet this was suggested to our blessed Saviour ; to 
which his purest heart, infinitely incapable of sin, was as a 
brass wall to an arrow, beating it back presently with infi- 
nite contempt, and himself did utterly conquer and confound 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 233 

the tempter, and that for thee and thy sake too. And 
therefore if thy humbled soul do abominate and abandon 
them from the heart-root to the pit of hell, they shall never 
be laid to thy charge, but set on Satan's score. Extremely 
then do those wrong themselves, and gratify the devil to 
the height, who suffer such injections, which they heartily 
hate and stand against with all their strength, to hold their 
hearts still upon the rack of extraordinary astonishment and 
distraction, whereby they are unnecessarily discouraged 
and disabled for a cheerful discharge of both their callings, 
which is the thing Satan especially aims at in vexing so 
many of God's dearest servants with this most fiery dart. 

(5.) It may be that many years after thy new birth, when 
thou thinkest the worst is past, thoumayest be revisited and 
afflicted afresh with perhaps sorer spiritual pangs and more 
horror than at the first. And what then? Hear how Da- 
vid, a man after God's own heart, cries out: " My bones 
waxed old, through my roaring all the daylong; for day 
and night thy hand was heavy upon me : my moisture is 
turned into the drought of summer" (Psal. xxxii, 3, 4). 
And Job, a God fearing man and most upright : " Where- 
fore hidest thou thy face, and boldest me for thine enemy ? 
Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro ; and wilt thou 
pursue the dry stubble 1 For thou writest bitter things 
against me, and makest me to possess the iniquities of ray 
youth. The arrows of the Almighty are within me, the 
poison thereof drinketh up my spirit : the terrors of God do 
set themselves in array against me" (Job xiii, 24, 25, 26 ; 
vi, 4). Hezekiah, that walked before God in truth and 
\yith a perfect heart -. " I reckoned till morning, that as a 
lion so will he break all my bones : from day even to night 
wilt thou make an end of me. Like a crane or a swallow, 
so did I chatter : I did mourn as a dove. Mine eyes fail 
with looking upward. O Lord, I am oppressed, undertake 
for me" (Isa. xxxviii, 13, 14). 

(6.) Dost thou day after day pour out thy soul in prayer 
before the throne of grace with all the earnestness thy poor, 
dead heart (as thou callest it) can possibly ; and dost thou 
still rise up dull, heavy-hearted, and uncomfortable, with- 
out any sensible answer from Cod, or comfortable sense of 
his favour and love shed into thy heart? Be it so : yet for 
all this, pray still in obedience unto thy God against all 
discouragements and appositions whatsoever. Still press 
hard unto and ply God's mercy-seat, if it be but with sighs 
and groanings. Assuredly at length and in the fittest time 
thou shalt be gloriously refreshed, and registered in the 
remembrance of God for a Christian of excellent faith. See 

X 3 



234 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

a. pattern of rare and extraordinary patience this way in 
Matt. XV, 23. There that woman of Canaan, having re- 
ceived many grievous repulses and cutting discouragements ; 
— the solicited was silent — the disciples grumble — she was 
not of the fold — she was a dog ; — yet for all this, by her 
constancy in crying after Christ, her petition at last was 
not only granted, but herself also crowned with a singular 
and admirable eulogy from the Lord's own mouth: " O 
woman ! great is thy faith : be it unto thee even as thou 
wilt." What an honour and comfort was this, to be thus 
commended by Jesus Christ! — and that with an admira- 
tion, " O woman! " 

(7.) Hath thy faith lost its feeling? Dost thou for the 
present feel nothing but " anger, wrath, and great indigna- 
tion 1 " Is God's face and favour, wherein is life, turned 
away from thee, and quite hid from thy sight! Nay, " hath 
he broken thee asunder, taken thee by the neck, and shaken 
thee 10 pieces, and set thee up for his mark 1" Yet for all 
this, let thy truly humbled soul be so far from loosing or 
leaving its holdfast and sure repose upon the person, pas- 
sion, and promises of Jesus Christ, that in such a case it 
cleave and cling faster to that blessed rock, and far more 
immovably. For therein especially is the strength and glory 
of faith improved and made illustrious. It is one of the 
most noble and heroical acts of faith to believe without 
feeling. " He who believeth most and feeleth least, is he 
who glorifieth God most, [t is nothing to swim in a warm 
bath : but to endure the surges and tumbling billows of the 
sea — that is the man." To believe when God doth fairly 
and sensibly shine upon the soul with the love and light of 
his countenance, is no great matter ; but to rest invincibly 
upon his mercy through Christ, when he grinds thee to 
powder, that is the faith. Thou hast before thee for this 
purpose a matchless precedent. Thus cries holy Job, vexed 
not only with an unparalleled variety and extremity of out- 
ward aifiictions, but also with the venom of the Almighty's 
arrows, drinking up his spirit — " Though he slay me, yet 
will I trust in him" (Chap, xiii, 15). So Abraham, Rom. 
iv, 18. 

(8.) Hast thou given thy name stoutly to religion, and 
dost thou stand on God's side with resolution 1 And art 
thou therefore villanously traduced with slanderous, odious 
nicknames of puritan, precisian, hypocrite, humourist, dis- 
sembler, &c. 1 Consider then for thy comfort, that grace- 
less wretches, when he was upon earth, called thy blessed 
Lord and Saviour devil (Matt, x, 25; John vii, 20), which 
passeth all, lam persuaded, that any drunken Belial ever 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 235 

fastened upon thee. Contemn thou therefore for ever, and 
trample upon with a humble and triumphant patience, all 
their contumelies and contempts. Pass by nobly, without 
touch or trouble, without wound or passion, the utmost 
malice of the most scurrilous tongues, the basest taunts of 
the most impure drunkard. 

(9.) Doth the world, carnal men, thine own friends, for- 
mal teachers, suppose and declare thee to be a dissembler 
in thy profession, and will needs concurrently and confi- 
dently, yet falsely, fasten upon thee the imputation of hy- 
pocrisy? A heavy charge ! Yet for all this, let thy truly- 
humbled heart, conscious to itself of its own sincerity in 
holy services, like a strong pillar of brass, beat back all 
their poisoned arrows of malice and mistake, without any 
direction or discouragement ; only take occasion hereby to 
search more thoroughly, and walk more warily. Job may 
be a right noble pattern to thee in this point also. He had 
against him not only the devil, his enemy, pushing at him 
with his poisoned weapons ; but even his own friends scourg- 
ing him with their tongues ; his own wife a thorn pricking 
him in the eye : yea, his own God " running upon him like 
a giant, and his terrors setting themselves in array against 
him;" powerful motives to make him suspect himself of 
former halting and hollow-heartedness in the ways of God ; 
yet notwithstanding his good and honest heart having been 
long before aquainted with, and knit unto his God in truth, 
makes him break out boldly, and resolutely protest — " Till 
1 die I will not remove my integrity from me. My righ- 
teousness I hold fast, and will not let it go. Behold, my 
witness is in heaven, and my record is on high" (Job xxvii, 
5,6; xvi, 19). 

(TO.) Art thou a loving and tender-hearted mother unto 
thy children, and hast thou lost the dearest? The greatest 
outward cross, 1 confess, that ever the sons and daughters of 
Adam tasted, and goeth nearest to the heart. Yet thy sor- 
row is not singular, but outgone m this also : for the blessed 
mother of Christ stood by, and saw her own only, dear, in- 
nocent Son, the Lord of life, most cruelly and villanously 
murdered upon the cross before her eyes (John xix, 25). 
Hast thou lost thy goods or children? Doth thy wife that 
lies in thy bosom set herself against thee ? Do thy nearest 
friends charge thee falsely? Art thou pained extremely 
from top to toe? Do the arrows of the Almighty stick fast 
in thy soul ? Thy affliction is grievous enough, if thou taste 
any of these severally ; but do they all in greatest extremity 
concur upon thee at once ? Hast thou lost all thy children 



236 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

and all thy goods? Doth thy wife afflict thy afflictions? 
If this be not thy case and rueful condition, thou comest 
yet short of Job, a most just man, and one of God's dearest 
jewels. 



CHAP. II. 

Two Principles of Comfort more. 

4. The " exceeding greatness and preciousness of the pro- 
mises." In every one of which it is incredible to consider 
what abundant matter of unspeakable and glorious joy lies 
wrapt up ! Oh ! how sweet are they to a thirsty soul m the 
tiine of anguish and trouble ! They are like a cloud of 
rain that cometh in the time of a drought. They are very 
glimpses of heaven shed into the heart, many times as dark 
as hell. They are even rocks of eternity, upon which every 
bruised reed may sweetly repose with impregnable safety. 
A truly humbled spirit, relishing spiritual things, would not 
exchange any one of them for all the riches and sweetness 
of both the Indies. Tell me, dear heart, thou that in thy 
uuregenerate time, though now happily changed, lay soak- 
ing in sins of cruelty and blood ; whether that merciful 
promise, " Come now, and let us reason together, saith the 
Lord ; Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as 
white as snow ; though they be red like crimson they shall 
be as wool" (Isa. i, 18) ; be not far dearer unto thee " than 
thousands of gold and silver?" Or thou, who formerly 
pollutedst thyself villanously with such secret execrable 
lusts, which now thou canst not remember without horror, 
tell me, if it were utterable by the tongue of man, with what 
dearest sweetness and blessed peace thy broken heart was 
bound up and revived, when thou didst cast thine eye con- 
siderately and believingly upon that precious place, " I will 
sprinkle water upon you, and ye shall be clean ; and from 
all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse 
you" (Ezek. xxxvi, 25). 

"There was beyond the seas, as my Author reports*, 
a Christian matron of excellent parts and piety, who 
languishing long under the horrible pressure of most furious 
and fiery temptations, wofully at length yielded to despair, 
and attempted the destruction of herself. After often and 
curious seeking occasion for the fulfilment of her design, at 
last, having first put off her apparel, she threw herself head- 
long from a high promontory into the sea. But having re- 

* Alexipharm. adversus desperationem ; Authore M. Nlcolao Lau- 
entio, p. 63 et seq. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIEMCES. 237 

ceived no hurt by the fall, she was there by a most ex- 
traordinary mercy strangely preserved for the space of two 
hours at the least, though all the while she laboured in- 
dustriously to destroy herself. Afterwards drawn out with 
much ado, and recovered, she yet did conflict with that 
extremest desperate horror almost a whole year ; but by 
God's good providence, which sweetly and wisely ordereth 
all things, listening on a time, though very unwillingly at 
first, to her husband, reading amongst other places Isa. Ivii, 
15, 16, ' Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth 
eternity, whose name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy 
place ; with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, 
to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of 
the contrite ones. For 1 will not contend for ever, neither 
will I be always wroth : for the spirit should fail before 
me, and the souls which I have made ; ' — I say, listening to 
these words, the Holy Ghost drawing her heart, she began 
to reason thus with herself: God doth here promise to 
revive and comfort the heart of the contrite and spirit of 
the humble, and that he will not contend for ever, neither 
be always wroth. But I have a very contrite heart, and a 
spirit humbled even unto the dust, out of the acknowledg- 
ment and sense of my sins and divine vengeance against 
them; therefore, peradventure, God will vouchsafe to re- 
vive and comfort my heart and spirit ; and not contend 
with me for ever, nor be wroth against me still. 

"Hereupon by little and little there flowed by God's 
blessing into her dark and heavy heart abundance of life, 
lightsomeness, spiritual strength, and assurance. In which 
she continued with constancy and comfort many a year 
after, crowned those happy days and a blessed old age 
with a glorious and triumphant death, and went to heaven 
in the year 1595." 

What heart now but hers that felt it can possibly con- 
ceive the depth of that extraordinary unutterable refreshing, 
which sprung out of that promise upon her forlorn and 
fearful soul ; or the excess of that love which she bore ever 
after to those blessed lines, to the mercy that made them, 
and to the blood that sealed them 1 

" Another, terrified in conscience for sin, resolves to turn 
on God's side ; but the cry of his good-fellow companions, 
strength of corruption, and cunning of Satan, carry him 
back to his former courses. A good number of years after 
he was so thoroughly wounded, that whatsoever came of 
him he would never return again unto folly. Then comes 
into his mind the first of the Proverbs, whence he reasoned 
against himself: — So many years ago God called and 



238 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

stretched out his hand in mercy, but I refused ; and there- 
lore now, though I call upon him he will not answer ; though 
I seek him early I shall not find him. Whereupon was his 
heart filled with much grief, terror, and slavish fear. But 
the Spirit of God leading him at length to that place, 
Luke xvii, 4, *If thy brother trespass against thee seven 
times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, 
saying, I repent, thou shalt forgive him.' He thence happily 
argued thus for himself: — Must I, a silly,, sinful man, for- 
give my brother as often as he repents ; and will not then 
the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort entertain 
me, seeking again in truth his face and favour? God forbid. 
From which he blessedly drew such divine sweetness and 
secret sense of God's love, that his trembling heart at first 
received some good satisfaction, and afterward was settled 
in a sure and glorious peace. 

" Another godiy man passing through his last sickness 
with such extraordinary calmness of conscience, and abso- 
lute freedom from temptation, that some of his Christian 
friends observing and admiring the smgularity of his soul's 
quiet, at that time especially, questioned him about it : — he 
answered, that he had stedfastly fixed his heart upon that 
sweetest promise, Isa. xxvi, 3, ' Thou wilt keep him in per- 
fect peace whose mind is stayed on thee ; because he 
trusteth in thee.' And his God had graciously made it 
fully good unto his soul." 

And so must every saint do who would sound the sweetness 
of a promise to the bottom ; and make it the arm of God 
unto him for sound and thorough comfort ; even settle his 
heart fixedly upon it, and set his faith on work to brood it, 
as it v/ere, with its spiritual heat, that quickness and life 
may thence come into the soul indeed. For God is wont 
to make good his promises unto his children proportionally 
to their trust in them, and dependence upon his truth 
and goodness for a seasonable performance of them. 

Now all these promises in God's blessed book (which 
adds infinitely to their sweetness and certainty) are sealed 
with the blood of Jesus Christ (Heb. ix, IG) and confirmed 
with the oath of Almighty God, Heb. vi, 17, 18; " God, 
willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise 
the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath : 
that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible 
for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have 
fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us." O 
what a mighty and precious invitation is this, to believe 
perfectly ! The special aim of God's oath, whereas his pro- 
mise had been more than infinitely suflficient, was to 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 239 

strengthen our consolation ; and therefore every heart true 
unto Christ ought hence to hold fast, not a faint, wavering, 
inconstant ; but a strong, stedfast, and unconquerable com- 
fort. Otherwise it sacrilegiously, as it were, robs God of 
the glorious end for which he swore. 

5. The free love of God ; which, how rich and glorious, 
how bottomless and boundless a treasure it is of all graci- 
ous sweetness, abundant comfort, and endless bounty, ap- 
pears in this ; that Jesus Christ blessed for ever, that in- 
valuable, incomparable jewel, came out of it. " For God 
so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, 
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but 
have everlasting life" (Johniii, 16): and therefore every 
sincere servant of Christ, who upon a serious and sad sur- 
vey of his Christian ways, finds himself to come so far 
short of that which God requires and himself desires, that 
his prayers are very faint, his sorrow for sin very scant, 
his love unto the brethren too cold, his spending the sab- 
baths very unfruitful, his spiritual growth since he gave his 
name to Christ very poor, his profiting by the means he en- 
joys most unanswerable to the power and excellency there- 
of, his new obedience almost nothing, &c. (for so he is 
wont to vilify himself) : whereupon he is much cast down ; 
and out of this apprehension of his manifold unworthiness 
concludes against himself, that he hath little cause to be 
confident in the promises of life ; or to presume of any part 
and interest in Jesus Christ ; and so begins to retire the . 
trembling hand of his already very weak faith from any 
more laying hold of comfort : — I say, in such a case, being 
true hearted, he may safely and upon sure ground have re- 
course to this ever-springing fountain of immeasurable 
mercy ; and raise up his drooping soul against all contrary 
oppositions, with unspeakable and glorious refreshing, from 
such places as these: "I will love thee freely" (Hos. 
xiv, 4) ; " Ho ! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the 
waters, and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat ; 
yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money, and without 
price." " I, even I am he that blotteth out thy transgres- 
sions for ray own sake, and will not remember thy sins " 
(Isa. Iv, 1 ; and xliii, 25) ; " I will give unto him that is 
athirst of the fountain of the water of life fieely " (Revel, 
xxi, 6). God never set the promises on sale, or will ever 
sell his S n to any. He never said, just so much sorrow, so 
much sanctity, so much service, or no Christ ; but he ever 
gives him freely. Every truly humbled heart, which will 
take him at the hands of God's free love, as a husband to 
be saved by him and to serve him in truth, may have him 



240 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

for nothing. Yet I must add this ; there was never any 
who received the Lord Jesus savingly, but he laboured sin- 
cerely to sorrow as much for sin, to be as holy, to do him 
as much service as he could possibly. And when he re- 
flected upon his best, he ever desired it had been infinitely 
better. 



CHAP. III. 

Five other Principles of Comfort. 

<i. The sweet name of the Lord, which lie proclaims, 
Exod. xxxiv, 6; 7, wherein he first expresseth his esseiice in 
one word, " Ihe Lord, the Lord : " which doubled is ef- 
fectual to stir up Moses' attention. Secondly, three attri- 
butes: first, his power in one word, "strong." Secondly, 
his justice in two forms of speech: "not making the 
wicked innocent ; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon 
the children, and upon children's children, unto the third 
and fourth generation : " Thirdly, but his special goodness 
and good affection towards repentant and believing sin- 
ners in seven: (L) "Merciful, and (2.) Gracious; (3.) Long 
suffering and abundant in (4.) Goodness and (5.) Truth, 
<6.) Keeping mercy for thousands ; (7.) Forgiving iniquity, 
transgression, and sin." In which there are contained un- 
answerable replies to all the scruples, doubts, exceptions, 
and objections, which may arise in a troubled soul. 

(1.) Thou sayest, perhaps, that thou art plunged into the 
depth of ext.remest spiritual misery, both in respect of sin- 
fulness and cursedness; the present sense whereof is ready 
to sink thee into despair. Be it so. Then take my counsel 
in this case : Cast thine eye upon the first and fairest flower 
in this heavenly, glorious garland of divine goodness ; and 
thou shalt find a far greater depth of mercy ready to swallow 
up thy depth of misery. The mercy of God and misery 
in this kind are relatives. No misery, no mercy ; much 
misery, much mercy ; transcendent misery, transcendent 
mercy; the only difference is, the mercy of God is infinite, 
thy misery finite. And therefore how much spiritual misery 
soever thoubringest in a broken heart to the throne of grace, 
God's bountiful hand will weigh out to thee a proportion- 
able measure of mercy ; nay, a measure without measure, 
superabundant, running over. For where misery in a truly 
humbled soul aboundeth, there mercy doth much more 
abound. 

(2.) Or suppose, that at thy first turning unto God, 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 24! 

tliough truly humbled, yet thou art tempted not to take 
Christ, because thou art but even now come out of hell 
and horrible courses, and as yet hast no good thing in thee 
at all ; or after some progress in Christianity, reflecting in 
time of temptation upon thy whole carriage since conver- 
sion, and finding it to have been so fruitless and full of 
failings, thou concludest thyself in thy present feeling to 
be extremely vile ; of a very doubtful state for thy soul, if 
not altogether naught ; that no professor upon earth walks 
so unworthily, and if ministers knew thy heart, and weak 
performance of holy duties, they would not be so forward 
to press comfort upon thee. I say in these two cases and 
the like, it is a great happiness and sweetest comfort that 
the mighty Lord of heaven and earth hath proclaimed him- 
self to be gracious, which imports thus much, — to pour out 
abundance of extraordinary bounty upon a most undeserv- 
ing party ; to place dearest affection and desire of doing 
good there, where there is no desert at all. As if a king, 
to make his royal favours more illustrious, should raise a 
worthless wretch, a most contemptible vassal, to be his 
worthiest favourite and highest in his love. And therefore 
bring unto the throne of grace but a true sense of thy mi- 
sery, a sincere thirst for mercy, a humble acknowledgment 
of thine unworthiness ; and God hereupon, for Christ's sake, 
will think thee worthy of the " riches of his grace," the 
righteousness of his Son ; all the promises in his book, all 
the comforts of his Spirit, a crown of immortality and bliss ; 
for he is gracious, and an universal glorious confluence of 
blessedness in all kinds is promised to poverty in spirit, and 
shall most certainly to the utmost be made good unto it for 
ever. 

(3.) But, alas ! I, saith another, have most wretchedly 
mispent the flower and strength of mine age in vanity and 
pleasure ; in lewdness and lust. The best of my time hath 
been wofully wasted in Satan's notorious service, and sen- 
sual serving myself ; and therefore, though I be now 
weary of my former ways, and look back upon them with a 
trembling heart and grieved spirit ; yet I am afraid that 
God hath given over looking after me ; that his patience 
towards me is expired, and my day of visitation outstood ; 
and that he will not vouchsafe to cast his eye of compas- 
sion upon such a Blackmoor and leopard as I am ; so over- 
grown with corruption, and grown old in sin ; especially 
having so long neglected so great salvation, forsaken mine 
own mercy so long, and so unthankfuUy " despised the riches 
of his goodness and forbearance leading me to repentance." 
I confess, it is something rare to see men gone on so long, 



242 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

and grown old in sin, to return and give way to any saving 
work of the ministry, because too often in the mean time 
they so " harden their hearts, that they cannot repent;" 
yet notwithstanding, be thou assured in the word of life and 
truth, if now at length thou be truly touched indeed, and 
wilt come in earnest, the Father of mercies will receive 
thee freely to mercy, and embrace thy bleeding soul in 
the arms of his everlasting love through Christ. For it is a 
title of highest honour unto him to be " long-sufFering." He 
all this while " waited that he might be gracious unto thee ; " 
(Isa. XXX, 18) ; andnow undoubtedly upon thy first resolution 
to return in truth he will meet thee with infinitely more com- 
passionate affectionateness than the father in the gospel 
met his prodigal ; who " when he was a great way off, his 
father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on 
his neck, and kissed him, &c." (Luke xv, 20,) 

(4.) Yea, but, saith another, though I have been a pro- 
fessor long, yet many times my heart is full heavy, and 
more loath to believe when I seriously and sensibly call to 
mind the heinousness of my unregenerate time, and see in 
myself besides, since I was enlightened and would have 
behaved myself in forwardness and fruitfulness for God 
answerably to my former folly and furiousness in evil, so 
many defects and imperfections every day ; and such weak, 
distracted discharging of commanded duties, both to God 
and man. Take then counsel and comfort in this case, by 
casting thine eye upon God's kindness. He is " abundant 
in kindness ; " which hath these four precious properties : 
first, to be easily entreated ; secondly, to be entreated for 
the greatest; thirdly, to pass by involuntary infirmities; 
fourthly, to accept graciously weak services. Even a frail 
man, if of a more noble, generous, and kind disposition, 
will be easily appeased for the unpurposed offences, errors, 
and oversights ; and well pleased with the good will, sin- 
cere and utmost endeavours, especially of those who he 
knows to be true-hearted unto him ; and desire heartily, if 
they were able, to do all he desires, even to the height of 
exactness and expectation. How much more then will our 
heavenly Father deal so with his children, who is in himself 
essentially and infinitely kind. 

(5.) Yea, but, sayest thou, many times when I reach out 
the hand of my faith to fetch some special promise into my 
soul for refreshing and comfort ; and weighing them well, 
and comparing advisedly my own nothingness, worthless- 
ness, vileness, with the riches of mercy, grace, and glory 
shining in it ; and marking the disproportion, I am over- 
whelmed with admiration and astonishment; and;, to tell 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 243 

you true, say sometimes to myself, Is it possible that this 
should be so ? That so glorious things should belong lo such 
a wretch and worm as 1 am 1 But turning thine eye from 
a distrustful and too much dejected dwelling upon thine 
own desert, to what Christ hath done for thee, and to the 
almightiness and all mercifulness of him that promiseth, 
consider withal, that God is also " abundant in truth." 
Every promise in his book is as sure as himself, sealed with 
his Son's blood, and confirmed with his own oath. He 
must sooner cease to be God and deny himself, which is 
more than infinitely impossible, and prodigious blasphemy 
to imagine, than fail in the least circumstance or syllable 
of his immeasurable love and promises of life to any one 
that heartily loves him and is true of heart : and therefore 
when thy thirsty soul makes towards the well of life, by 
virtue of that promise, Rev. xxi, 6, " I will give to him 
that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely ; " 
and upon survey of the overflowing rivers of pleasures and 
bliss, which everlastingly spring thence, begins to retire 
from it, as too good news to be true: I say then steel thy 
faith and comfort thyself gloriously by consideration of 
that " abundant truth " with which he hath crowned every 
word of his, stronger than a rock of brass, far surer than 
the pillars of the earth or poles of heaven. Nay, I speak 
an admirable thing, and of unutterable consolation, which 
cannot be violated without destruction of the Deity, most 
blessed and glorious for evermore ; and let this ever banish 
and beat back all scruples, doubts, fears, which at any time 
offer themselves, and oppose thy unspeakable joy and peace 
in believing." 

(6.) Well, saith another, I easily acknowledge the incom- 
prehensible goodness in this name of God ; and hold them 
most blessed who have their part and portion therein. But 
for my part 1 am afraid I come too late : for I have observed 
the course of the ministry amongst us, and the dispensa- 
tion of God's mercy in it. At first coming, our town being 
full of ignorance, profaneness, and much superstitious fol- 
lies, having never before enjoyed the word with any life or 
power, we all stood amazed a good while at the majesty 
and mystery of this new heavenly light. The first mes- 
sages of the ministry sounded in our ears " as the voice of 
many waters," m.ighty and great, but confused ; not work- 
ing in us either joy or terror, but only an extraordinary 
wonder, and secret acknowledgment of a strange force and 
more than human power. But afterwards, when our watch- 
man was better acquainted with our ways, and had more 
fully discovered the state of our souls, the word was unto 



•244 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

us as a " voice of a great thunder," more distinct and par- 
ticular ; breeding not only admiration but fear also ; not 
filling our ears only with an uncouth sound, but our hearts 
also with a terrible searching. For the sermons of every 
sabbath came home to our consciences, singling out our 
several reigning corruptions, beating punctually upon our 
bosom sins, manifesting clearly our spiritual misery and 
certain liableness to the exlremest wrath of God and end- 
less woe. Whereupon we were all at our wits' end what 
to do, grew weary of our lives, wished with all our hearts 
that such a puritan preacher had never come amongst us ; 
told every man almost we met, ihat we had a fellow at our 
town would drive us all to despair, distraction, self-destruc- 
tion, or some mischief or other ; that we heard nothing 
from him but of damnation, and hell, and such horrible 
things. Now in this second work of the word there was a 
good number, even some out of that cursed crew and knot 
■of good-fellowship wherein I have been ensnared so long, 
won unto Jesus Christ. For being enlightened, convinced, 
and terrified in conscience for their former sinful courses, 
the continued piercing of the word and work of the spirit of 
bondage keeping them upon the rack under the dreadful 
sense of divine wrath and their damnable state a good 
while ; at last they happily resolved, without any more 
delay, diversion, bye-path, or plunging again into worldly 
pleasures, to pass on directly, by the light and guidance of 
the gospel, into the holy path. And so undertook, and hi- 
therto have holden out in profession and a blessed confor- 
mity to the better side. But I, and a greater part, a great 
deal more was the pity, hating heartily to be reformed, and 
abhorring that precise way so much " spoken against every- 
where,'' into which we conceived such severe ministerial 
counsel would have conducted as ; I say, we wickedly 
wrested out of our vexed consciences those keen arrows of 
truth and terror with great indignation; we unhappily 
hardened our hearts and foreheads against the power of the 
word, which particularly pursued us every sabbath. Nay, 
alas ! we persecuted the very means which should sanctify 
us ; and men which would have saved us. Here then is my 
case and complaint ; neglecting that blessed season when I 
was first terrified and troubled in mind, when the angel 
from heaven, as it were, " troubled the water," and when 
some, even of mine own companions in iniquity, were con- 
verted ; I am afraid I now come too late, that the mercy of 
God to do me spiritual good is already expiied ; and that 
the ministry which I have so wretchedly opposed, is the 
very same to me that it was to the obstinate Jews (Isa. vi, 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 245 

9, 10). Nay, but yet say not so, though it be with thee as 
thou hast said ; for our gracious God " keepeth mercy for 
thousands." Here you must know that a Jinite number is 
put for an infinite, and an infinite indeed. And therefore 
if thou now be in earnest, and willing to come in, in truth ; 
and those thine other brethren in good-fellowship, and 
hundreds, thousands, millions more, or any whosoever to 
the world's end, God hath mercy in store for you all ; and 
being all weary of all your sins, unfeignedly thirsting for 
the well of life, resolving for the time to come upon new 
courses, company, and conversation, you shall all be most 
welcome to Jesus Christ. Even the last man upon earth, 
bringing a truly broken heart to the throne of grace, shall 
be crowned as richly and with as large a portion of God's 
infinite mercy and Christ's invaluable merit as Adam and 
Eve, or whosoever laid first hold of that first promise, 
" The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." 

(7.) Yea, but, alas ! I have been no ordinary sinner. My 
corruptions have carried me beyond the villanies of the 
vilest you can name. Not only the variety, but the notori- 
ousness also, and enormity of my wicked ways have set an 
infamous brand upon me, even in the sight of the world ; 
beside those secret pollutions and sinful practices which no 
eye but that which is ten thousand times brighter than the 
sun ever beheld. Had I not been extremely outrageous, 
stained with abominations of deepest dye, and gone on thus 
with a high hand, I might have had some hope ; but now 1 
know not what to say ! Take notice, then, to the end that 
nothing at all may possibly hinder or any way discourage 
any poor soul that sincerely seeks for mercy and desires to 
turn truly on God's side, from assurance of gracious accep- 
tation and entertainment at his throne of grace ; that it is 
natural also to his name " to forgive iniquity, transgression, 
and sin ; " that is, sins of all sorts, kinds, and degrees 
whatsoever. There is none so hateful and heinous, whe- 
ther natural corruption, or ordinary outward transgression, 
or highest presumption, but, upon repentance, God is most 
able, ready, and willing to remit it. 

7. God the Father's compassionate pangs of infinite afifec- 
tion, and forwardness to entertain in his arms of mercy all 
true penitents. " As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no 
pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked 
turn from his way and live : turn ye, turn ye from your 
evil ways : for why will ye die, O house of Israel 1 " (Ezek. 
xxxiii, 11.) " Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem, wilt thou not 
be made clean? when shall it once be?" ( Jer. xiii, 27.) 
" They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from 

Y^ 



246 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her 
again 1 shall not that land be greatly polluted ? But thou 
hast played the harlot with many lovers ; yet return again 
to me, saith the Lord/' (Jer. iii, 1). " Oh that my people 
had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways ! 
1 should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my 
hand against their adversaries. The haters of the Lord 
should have submitted themselves unto him : but their time 
should have endured for ever. He should have fed them 
also with the finest of the wheat : and with honey out of 
the rock should I have satisfied thee" (Psalm Ixxxi, 13 
— 16). " O that thou hadst hearkened to my command- 
ments ! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righte- 
ousness as the waves of the sea : thy seed also had been as 
the sand, and the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel 
thereof; his name should not have been cut off nor de- 
stroyed from before me" (Isa. xlviii, 18, 19). 

8. His merciful almightiness in putting life andlightsome- 
ness into the most dead and daikest heart. " Seek him," 
saith the prophet, " that maketh the seven stars and Orion, 
and turneth the shadow of death into the morning " (Amos 
v, 8). Suppose thou settest thyself to seek God's face and 
favour, and art presently set upon with this temptation — 
But alas! my soul is so black with sin and dark with sor- 
row, that it is to no purpose for me to proceed. But now, 
in this case, consider who he is that thou seekest. It is he 
that made of nothing those beautiful, shining, glorious con- 
stellations, Orion and the Pleiades ; he it is that turneth the 
darkest midnight into the brightest morning. 

9. Christ's sweetest, dearest, most melting invitations of 
all truly troubled souls for sin unto the well of life, and 
their own everlasting welfare. " Come unto me, all ye 
that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest " 
(Mat. xi, 28). " O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the 
prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how 
often would I have gathered thy children together, even as 
a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings," &c. (Matt, 
xxiii, 37). " And when he was come near, he beheld the 
city, and wept over it, saying. If thou hadst known, even 
thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto 
thy peace!" (Luke xix, 41, 42.) " In the last day, that 
great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If 
any man thirst, let him come unto ir^e and drink " (John 
vii, 37). 

10. Experience perhaps of the comforter, converted from 
a more wicked and desperate course than the patient him- 
self. And it doth not a little refresh the heart of him, who 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 247 

grievously wounded in conscience, thereupon sendeth for 
a skilful and faithful mesenger of God ; and when he hath 
opened his case fully unto him heareth him say, when he 
hath said all : " My case was far worse than yours every 
way." Nay, but besides those notorious sins I have named 
unto you, I have defiled myself with many secret execra- 
ble lusts, lie it so, saith the spiritual physician, yet in 
the days of my vanity I have been guilty of more and more 
heinous crimes than any you have yet spoken of. Yea, but 
even now, when I have most need of, should most prize, re- 
verence, and lay hold upon God's blessed word. Son, and 
promises, I am continually beset with many abhorred, vil- 
lanous, and prodigious injections about them. Not a man 
alive, replires the man of God, hath had his head troubled 
with more hideous thoughts of this hellish nature than I. 

11. That precious parable (Luke xv) wherein all those 
loving passages of the father unto his prodigal son ; to wit, 
" his beholding him when he was yet a great way off; his 
compassion, running towards him, falling upon his neck, 
kissing him, putting on him the best robe and the ring, 
killing the fatted calf," &:c. ; — do shadow that immeasurable, 
incomprehensible love of God the Father to every one that 
is willing to come out of the devil's cursed service into the 
good way ; but come as far short of expressing it to the life, 
as the infinite greatness of Almighty God surp^sseth the 
finite frailty of a weak man and worm of the earth. 



CHAP. IV. 



Foar Conclusions of Comfort, drawn from those places of Scripture 
which set forth the Lord's dealing with us as a Father with his Chil- 
dren. 

In the second place, let us take a view of some of those 
most delicious and sweetest streams of dearest comfort, 
which spring abundantly out of that fruitful fountain of 
compassion and love — "Like as a father pitieth his chil- 
dren ; so the Lord pitieth them that fear him" (Psalm 
ciii, 13 ; see also Deut. viii, 5 ; and Mai. iii, 17). 

Hence may we draw refreshing enough to our thirsty 
souls in many passages of heavy thoughts and grievous 
complaints about our spiritual state. 

1. In the distempers and damps of prayer, thus : — 
Suppose the dearest son of the most loving father to lie 
grievously sick, and out of the extremity of anguish to cry 
out and complain unto him, that he is so full of pain in. 



248 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

every part that he knows not which way to turn himself, or 
what to do ; and thereupon entreats him by the love he 
bears him, to touch him tenderly, to lay him softly, to mol- 
lify all he may his painful misery, and give him ease. How 
ready, think you, would such a father be, with all tender- 
ness and care to give his helping hand in such a rueful case ! 
But yet if he should grow sicker and weaker, so that he 
could not speak at all, but only look his father in the face 
with watery eyes, and moan himself unto him with sighs 
and groans, and other dumb expressions of his increased 
pain and desire to speak, would not this yet strike deeper 
into the father's tender heart ; pierce and melt with more 
feeling pangs of compassion, and make his bowels yearn 
within him with an addition of extraordinary solicitude to do 
him good? Even just so will thy heavenly Father be 
affected and deal with thee, in hearing, helping, and show- 
ing mercy, when all thy strength of prayer is gone, but 
only groans and sighs. Nay, with incomparably more 
affectionateness : for, look how far God is higher than man 
in majesty and greatness, which is by an infinite distance 
and disproportion ; so far doth he pass him in tender- 
heartedness and love. See Isaiah Iv, 8, 9. 

Or be it so that thou art able to speak unto God, and in 
some measure to utter thy mind, yet in thy thought it is so 
weakly, coldly, and confusedly, that thou thiukest it had 
been better altogether to have held thy peace. Take no- 
tice here, that God's child is able, first, sometimes to pour 
out his heart unto his God with life and power : secondly, 
sometimes to say something, but with much coldness, dead- 
ness of heart, and distractedness (as he complains), with- 
out his wonted feeling and freedom of spirit : thirdly, at 
other times he can say just nothing, but groan and sigh, and 
only desire he could pray. For this last, look upon the 
last passage. For the second, to wit, when the Christian 
is troubled that he can say something and speak words unto 
God, yet without that order, eflficacy, fit phrase and com- 
ing off so comfortably, as he thinks it to be found in other 
professors ; I say in this case consider, that as a father is 
more delighted with the stammering and fluttering, as it 
were, with the inarticulate and imperfect talk of his own 
little child when it first begins to speak, than with the ex- 
actest eloquence of the most famous orator upon earth ; 
so assuredly our Heavenly Father is infinitely better pleased 
with the broken, interrxipted passages and periods of prayer 
in thee, an upright heart, heartily grieved that he can do no 
better, nor offer up a more lively, hearty, and orderly sa- 
crifice, than with the excellently composed, fine-phrased. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 249 

ami most methodical petitions of the most learned phaiisee. 
Nay, his soul extremely loathes the one, and graciously 
accepts the other in Jesus Christ. As concerning the com- 
plaint of coldness ; be assured, that though thy prayers pro- 
ceed out of thy mouth faint and feeble, cold and uncom- 
fortable, yet springing from a sincere heart, purified by 
faith, truly humbled under God's mighty hand for sin, 
seconded with groans and grief, with a holy anger and 
self-indignation that they be not more fervent and piercing, 
and offered in obedience unto God ; they are most certainly 
as it were by the way fortified and enlivened with the pa- 
cifying perfections and intercessory spirit of Jesus Chiist, 
sweetly perfumed with the precious odours of his fresh 
bleeding merits and blessed mediation, so that they strike 
the ears of the Almighty with far greater strength and ir- 
resistible importunity than is ordinarily imagined ; and are 
as sweet smelling sacrifices in his nostrils ; the very sight 
of whose crucified Son at his right hand tendering the suit 
can calm his most angry countenance, and convert, by a 
sacred meritorious atonement, his displeasures and wrath 
into compassions and peace. Now blessed be God that the 
weak prayers and broken sighs of tempted and troubled 
spirits have this happy promise and prerogative, that be- 
fore they press, as it were, into the presence of God the 
Father, they are mingled in the mean lime with the sove- 
reign and satisfactory incense in the " golden censer," 
whence evaporating out of the angel's hand (I mean the 
" Angel of the Covenant," for so the truest interpreters 
understand the place) they ascend into the sight of our 
gracious Father, incorporated and enwoven into that pre- 
cious and pleasing fume ; and that it pleaseth the blessed 
Spirit, in the needful time of spiritual extremities, to draw 
the petitions of our sometimes speechless, heavy, and dis- 
tracted hearts ; Jesus Christ the great angel of the cove- 
nant to perfect, perfume, and present them : he that by an 
excellency and title of the highest honour is styled the 
Hearer of prayers, to receive them into his merciful hand 
and bosom of compassionate acceptation ! Go on then, 
poor soul ! thou that sorely droopest under the sensible 
weight of thy manifold weaknesses and unworthiness this 
way ; and thereupon sometimes sinfully drawest back, with 
some thoughts of giving over quite, which is that the devil 
desires, and would utterly undo thee for ever, — press forward 
in the name of Christ unto the throne of grace with a lighter 
heart than thou art wont. Shall the Lord Jesus call and 
cry for a pardon for those who put him to death, who were 
so far from seeking unto liim, that like so many evening 



250 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

wolves they sought and sucked his blood ; and will he shut 
his ears, thinkest thou, from thy complaints and groans, 
who values one drop of his blood to quench thy spiritual 
thirst at a higher price than the worth of many worlds'? 
Comfort thyself invincibly. It cannot be. 

2. In the faintness of faith, and want of feeling. 

Thou beholdest sometimes a father holding a little child 
in his arms : now, whether dost thou think is the child safe 
by its own or by the father's hold 1 It clasps about the fa- 
ther with its little weak hands as well as it can ; but the 
strength of its safety is in the father's arm ; nay, and the 
father holds the faster when at any time he perceives the 
child to have left its hold. Thou art tied as it were unto 
Christ by a double bond ; first, of the Spirit, and secondly, 
of faith. Thou layest hold on Christ by faith, and he holds 
thee by his Spirit. Now thy infant faith, or after some 
good standing in Christianity weakened and sorely wounded 
in thy present feeling, hath lost its holdfast ; and therefore 
thou thinkest all is gone, and walkest dejectedly and un- 
comfortably, as though not any promise in God's book, or 
drop of Christ's blood were thine. But assure thyself, be- 
ing sound at the heart-root, and " walking in the light, as 
God is in the light," thy heavenly Father in this case holds 
thee so fast by his Spirit, that no man or devil, not all the 
powers of darkness or gates of hell, can possibly pluck 
thee out of his hand. Nay, the excellency of his power is 
most gloriously improved and made more illustrious in thy 
greatest extremities and extremest spiritual weakness ; and 
he holds it his highest honour to hold thee the fastest when 
thy hold is gone. Here then and upon this ground thou 
hast a calling, and mayest comfortably, for he is ever most 
loving and tender-hearted in times of temptation to all that 
are true of heart, exercise that most excellent act of faith, 
" to believe without feeling : " to believe when the face of 
God doth shine upon thee with sensible refreshing, and 
when thou enjoyest plentiful and pregnant proofs of his fa- 
vour, is no great matter, no such mastery ; but to believe 
when all sense of God's love is gone, and the light of his 
countenance hid from thee, when all go quite cross and con- 
trary in the apprehension of carnal reason, then is the 
highest praise ; this is the perfection of faith. The very 
dull, senseless, and soul-less earth upon which we tread, 
may teach us to rest and depend upon God in such a case. 
It is a mighty and massy body, planted in the midst of thin 
air, and hangs upon just nothing in the world, but only 
upon God's word. By that alone it is there established 
immoveably, keeps its place most steadily, never stirs an 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 251 

inch from it. It hath no props nor pillars to uphold it ; no 
bars nor beams to fasten it ; nothing to stay and support it, 
but the bare word of God alone. " He upholdeth all things 
by the word of his power," saith the apostle, Heb. i, 3 ; 
and yet not all the creatures in the world can shake it, or 
make it tremble. Be it so then that thy faith hath lost its 
holdfast ; that for the present thou findest no feeling ; no 
encouragements of " joy and peace in believing," no sensi- 
ble pawns and pledges of God's wonted favour ; yet for all 
this, cast thyself upon the sure word of that mighty God 
who hath established all the ends of the earth ; and reared 
sucli a great and goodly building where there was no foun- 
dation ; and doubtless thou slialt be more than infinitely, 
everlastingly safe, and settled like " mount Zion, which can- 
not be removed, but abidetn for ever." 

3. In failings of new obedience. 

Thou puttest thy son in employment, settest him about 
thy business, he improves the utmost of his skill, strength, 
and endeavour to do thee the best service he can, and 
please thee, if it were possible, to perfection ; but yet comes 
short of what thou desirest, and fails in many particulars ; 
and therefore he weeps and grieves, and is much troubled 
that he can give no better contentment. Now tell me, thou 
whose heart is warmed with the tenderness of a father's 
affection, whether thou wouldst not be most ready and will- 
ing to pardon and pass by all defects and failings in this kind"? 
Nay, I know thou wouldst rejoice and bless (iod that he had 
given thee a child so obedient, willing, and affectionate. 
In like manner thy heavenly Father sets thee on work, to 
believe, repent, pray, read the Scriptures, hear the word, 
confer, meditate, love the brethren, sanctity his sabbaths, 
humble thyself in days of fasting and prayer, pour out thy 
soul day and night (as the times require) in compassion, 
fellow-feeling, and strong cries for the afflictions of Joseph, 
the destruction of the churches, and those brethren of 
thine which have so long lain in blood and tears ; to be in- 
dustrious and serious in all works of justice, mercy, and 
truth. And thou goest about these blessed tasks with an 
upright heart and obedience unto God, but the several per- 
formances come far short of what his word requires and thy 
heart desires ; and thereupon thou mournest and grievest, 
and afflictest thy soul in secret, because thou canst not come 
off with more power and life ; nor bring that glory unto God 
in thy Christian walking, which so many mercies, means, 
and such a ministry may exact at thy hands. In this case 
now, of these involuntary failings and humble disposition 
of thy heart, therefore be most assured thy All-suffiicient 



252 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

Father " will spare thee as a man spareth his own son, that 
serveth him." Nay, and with so much more kindness and 
love, " as the heavens are higher than the earth," and God 
greater than man. 

4. In case of spiritual desertion. 

A father solacing himself with his little child, and de- 
lighting in its pretty and pleasing behaviour, is wont some- 
times to step aside into a corner or behind a door, upon 
purpose to quicken yet more its love and longing after him, 
and try the impatiency and eagerness of its affections. In 
the mean time he hears it cry, run about, and call upon 
him, and yet he stirs not, but forbears to appear; not for 
want of compassion and kindness, which the more it grieves 
the more abounds ; but that it may prize more dearly the 
father's presence, that they may meet more merrily, and re 
joice in the enjoyment of each other more heartily. Con- 
ceive then, and consider to thine own exceeding comfort, that 
Ihy heavenly Father deals just so with thee in a spiritual 
desertion. He sometimes hides his face from thee, and 
withdraws his quickening and refreshing presence for 3 time, 
not for want of love, for he loves thee freely ; he loves thee 
w^ith an everlasting love ; he loves thee with the very same 
love with which he loves Jesus Christ ; and that dear Son 
of his loves thee with the same love his Father loves him. 
But to put more heat and life into thine affections towards 
him and heavenly things ; to cause thee to relish commu- 
nion with Jesus Christ, when thou enjoyest it, more sweetly ; 
to preserve it more carefully ; to joy in it more thankfully ; 
and to shun more watchfully whatsoever might rob thee of 
it ; to stir up all the powers of thy soul and all the graces 
of God in thee ; to seek his face and favour again with more 
extraordinary and* universal seriousness and industry. For 
we find with pleasure, possess with singular contentment, 
and keep with special care, what we have sought with pain. 
We may see this in the spouse. Cant, iii, 1,6, under the 
pressure of a grievous desertion. Ponder every particular. 
" By night on my bed I sought him. whom my soul loveth : 
I sought him, but I found him not. I will rise now, and go 
about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will 
seek him whom my soul loveth : I sought him, but I found 
him not. The watchmen that go about the city found me : 
to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth ? It was 
but a little that I passed from them, but 1 found him whom 
my soul loveth : 1 held him, and would not let him go, un- 
til I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the 
chamber of her that conceived me. I charge you, O ye 
daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 253 

the field, that ye stir not up nor awake my love till he 
please." And lastly, that when the comfortable beams of 
God's lightsome countenance shall break out again upon 
thy soul, and thy beloved is returned, thou mayest sing 
that triumphant song of faith most joyfully ; " I am my 
beloved's, and my beloved is mine." i)esertions then and 
delays of this nature are fruits of thy heavenly Father's 
love, and ought to be no discouragements unto thee at all, 
holding thy integrity. His love thereby is intended to- 
wards thee by the restraint of the influence and sense of it 
from thy soul, as a brook grows big by damming it up for a 
while ; and thy love is more inflamed towards him, when 
thou feelest by the want of it what a heaven upon earth it 
is to have his face shine upon thee with its quickening, re- 
freshing presence ; and that a sensible embracement of 
Jesus Christ in the arms of thy faith is the very life of the 
soul, as the soul is the life of the body, the crown of all 
sweet contentment in this vale of tears, and a piece, as it 
were, of everlasting pleasures. 



CHAP. V. 

Eight Conclusions more drawn from the afore-mentioned places. 

5. In times of trial. 

Thou seest sometimes a father setting down his little one 
upon its feet to try its strength, and whether it be yet able 
to stand by itself or no ; but withal he holds his arms on 
both sides to uphold it, if he see it incline either way, and 
to preserve it from hurt. Assure thyself thy heavenly 
Father takes care of thee with infinitely more tenderness in 
all thy trials, either by outward afflictions or inward 
temptations. "Though thou shouldst fall, yet shalt thou 
not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth thee with 
his hand" (Psalm xxxvii, 24). Never did goldsmith 
attend so curiously and punctually upon those precious 
metals he casts into the fire, to observe the very first season, 
and be sure that they tarry no longer in the furnace than 
the dross be wasted, and they be thoroughly purified and 
fitted for some excellent use, as our gracious God lovingly 
waits to take thee out of trouble and temptation when the 
rust is removed from thy spiritual armour, thy graces shine 
out, and thou art heartily humbled and happily fitted to do 
him more glorious service for the time to come ; 1 mean 
when he hath attained the end which he mercifully in- 
tended in love and for thy good. 
Z 



254 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

6. In thoughts of our unworthiness. 

David commanded Joab and the other captains " to en- 
treat the young man Absalom gently for his sake " (2 Sam. 
xviii, 5). A rebellious, traitorous son up in arms against his 
own father, gracelessly and unnaturally thirsting, out of a 
furious ambitious humour, to wring the regal sceptre out of 
his hand, and to set the imperial crown upon his own head. 
How dearly and tenderly then will the Father of mercies 
deal with a poor humbled soul that sighs and seeks for his 
favour infinitely more than any earthly treasure, or the 
glory of a thousand worlds ! 

7. I will suppose thou hast broke some special vow 
(which were a grievous thing) made before the sacrament 
upon some day of humiliation, or such other occasion, and 
so forfeited thyself, as it were, and thy soul into the hands 
of God's justice, to be disposed of to the dungeon of utter 
darkness, if thou wert served as thy sin hath deserved. 
And thereupon thou art much afflicted and sore troubled in 
mind, to have suffered thyself to be so sottishly ensnared 
again in such a disavowed sin, against so strong a purpose. 
But here consider whether thou, being a father, wouldst 
take the forfeiture of a bond, and advantage of breaking 
day, especially full sore against his will, from thy dearest 
child, entreatmg thee to regard him kindly. Much, nay 
infinitely less will thy heavenly Father deal hardly with 
thee in such a case, if thou complain at the throne of grace 
with a grieved spirit, renew thy covenant, and tell him truly 
that thou wilt, by the help of the Holy Ghost, guard thy 
heart with a narrower v/atch and stronger resolution for the 
time to come. " If we confess our sins, he is faithful and 
just to forgive us our sins" (1 John i, 9) ; and in such a 
case we have ever a blessed " advocate with the Father, 
Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John ii, 1). 

A father sometimes threatens and offers to throw his little 
one out of his arms •, but upon purpose only to make him 
cling closer unto him. Our heavenly Father may seem to 
cast oflf his child, and leave him for a while in the hands 
of Satan for inward temptation, or to the rage of his blood- 
thirsty agents for outward persecution : but it is only to 
draw him nearer to himself by more serious seeking and 
sure dependence in the time of trouble, and that with the hand 
of his faith he may lay surer hold upon his all-sufficiency. 

And the child, especially if of riper age and wiser 
thoughts, laughs perhaps in the father's face, dreads no 
danger, dreams not of being hurt : and what is the reason, 
think yel Only because he knows he that holds him is his 
father. So thy heavenly Father holds thee as it were over 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. , 255 

hell in some strong temptation, upon purpose to terrify thee 
I'rom tampering so much with the devil's baits ; so that thou 
seest nothing about thee for the present but darkness and 
discomforts, and the very horrors of eternal death ready to 
take hold of thee ; yet for all this, upon the ground of this 
loving, gracious resemblance, thou mayest be comforted 
and cry confidently with Job, " Though he slay me, yet 
will I trust in him" (Job xiii, 15) ; with David, " though 
I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear 
no evil " (Psalm xxiii, 4). " Who is among you," saith 
the Prophet (Isaiah 1, 10), "that feareth the Lord, that 
obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, 
and hath no light ? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, 
and stay upon his God." 

9. A son, by the seduction of some dissolute and drunken 
Belials is drawn into lewd and licentious company, and 
so plunges presently over head and ears into pestilent 
courses ; falls unhappily to swaggering, drinking, gaming, 
the mirth and madness of wine and pleasures ; and at 
length to express to the life an exact conformity to that 
complete character given in the book of Wisdom* of the 
professors of good-fellowship (astheycall it) and epicurism, 
both for pursuit of sensual delights and persecution of true 
professors, whereby he wastes his patrimony, cuts the heart 
of his parents, and wounds his conscience. His father 
mourns and grieves, consults and casts about with all love 
and longing for his recovery and return. At length, out of 
sense and conscience of his base and debauched behaviour, 
vile company, dishonouring God, banishing good motions, 
" he comes to himself," entreats his father upon his knees 
with many tears that he would be pleased to pardon what 
is past, receive him into favour again, and he will faithfully 
endeavour to displease him no more, but redeem the loss 
of the former with the improvement of the time to come. 
How willingly and welcomely think you would such a 
father receive such a son into the bosom of his fatherly af- 
fection, and arms of dearest embracement. And yet so, 
and infinitely more, is our heavenly Father merciful and 
melting towards any of his relapsed children, returning unto 
his gracious throne with true remorse and hearty grief for 
so going astray ; which is an incomparable comfort in case 
of backsliding, which yet God forbid. 

10. A father indeed will lay heavier burthens upon his 
son now grown into years and strength, and puts him to 
sorer labour and harder tasks ; but while he is very young 
he is wont to forbear him with much tenderness and com- 
passion ; because he knows he is scarcely able to carry him- 
* Wisd. ii, 6, &c. ; xii, &c. 



256 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

self out of the mire. Even so, but with infinitely more affec- 
tionateness and care, watchfulness and love, doth our 
heavenly Father bear in his arms and forbear a babe in 
Christ. See Isa. xl, 11. This maybe a very sweet and 
precious cordial to weak consciences at their first conversion, 
who when they cast their eye upon the heinousness and 
number of their sins, the fiery and furious darts of the devil, 
the frowns and angry foreheads of their carnal friends, the 
world's lowering and enmity, the rebelliousness and un- 
towardness of their own hearts, pressing upon them all at 
once, and so considering that " refraining from evil, they 
make themselves a prey," are ready to sink and faint, and 
fear that they shall never hold out. For they may hence 
ground upon it, being upright-hearted, and believing that 
(jod, who knows their weakness full well, " will not suffer 
them to be tempted above that they are able ; but will with 
the temptation also make a way to escape, that they may 
be able to bear it." So that over all these adversaries and 
ungodly oppositions they shall most certainly be more than 
conquerors. 

11. When thou art dejected in spirit, and walkest more 
heavily, because thou comest short of stronger Christians in 
all performances, services, duties, and fruitful walking, and 
thereupon sufFerest slavish doubts and distrusts, lest thy 
groundwork be not well laid, and beat back and bar out 
all spiritual joy and expected contentments in thy Christian 
course ; 1 say then, and in such a case, suppose a father 
should call unto him in haste two of his children, one of 
three years old, the other of thirteen : they both make all 
the haste they can, but the elder makes much more speed, 
and yet the little one comes on waddling as fast as it can, 
and if it had more strength it would have matched the 
other. Now would not the father accept of the younger's 
utmost, endeavour according to its strength, as well as of 
the elder's faster gait, being stronger! I amsure he would ; 
and that with more tenderness too, and taking it in his arms 
to encourage it. And so certainly will thy heavenly Father 
deal with thee in the like case about thy spiritual state, 
being true-hearted, and heartily grieving, praying, and en- 
deavouring to do better. 

12. Suppose a child to fall sick in a family. The father 
presently sets the whole house on work for the recovery of 
its welfare. Some run for the physician, others for friends 
and neighbours ; some tend it, others watch it ; all contri- 
bute their several abilities, endeavours, and diligence to do 
it good; and thus they continue in motion, afi'ection, and 
extraordinary employment about it, far more than about 
all the rest that are well, until it recover. With the very 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 257 

same but incomparably more tender care and compassion 
will thy heavenly Father visit thee in all thy spiritual 
maladies and sicknesses of soul. The whole blessed Trinity 
is stirred, as it were, extraordinarily, and takes to heart thy 
troubles at such a time. Even as a shepherd takes more 
pains and exercises more pity and tenderness about his 
sheep when they are out ot tune. See Isa. xl, 11 ; Ezek. 
xxxiv, 16 ; upon which places hear the paraphrase of a 
blessed divine : "The Lord v/ill not be unfaithful to thee 
if thou be upright with him, though thou be weak in thy 
carriage to him ; for ' he keeps his covenant for ever ; ' and 
therefore in Isa. xl, the Lord expresseih it thus : ' You shall 
know me as sheep know their shepherd, and I will make 
a covenant with you,' and thus and thus I will deal with 
you. And how is that? Why the covenant is not thus 
only — as long as you keep within the bounds and keep within 
the fold, as long as you go along the paths of righteousness 
and walk in them; — but this is the covenant that I will 
make : I will drive you according to that you are able to 
bear. If any be great with young, I will drive them softly ; 
if they be lame that they are not able to go, saith he, ' I 
will take them up in mine arms and carry them in my 
bosom.' If you compare with Ezek. xxxiv, j'ou shall find 
there he puts down all the slips we are subject to (speaking of 
the time of the gospel, when Christ should be the shepherd), 
he shows the covenant that he will make with those that are 
his. Saith he ; 'if any thing be lost,' if a sheep lose itself, 
this is my covenant, ' I will find it ; ' if it be driven away 
by any violence of temptation, ' 1 will bring it back again:' 
If there be a breach made into their hearts by any occasion 
through sin and lust, ' 1 will heal them and bind them up.' 
This the Lord will do ; this is the covenant that he makes." 
But I was telling you the whole blessed Trinity grieves (if 
I may so speak) after a special manner in all the spiritual 
troubles especially of all those who are true of heart. God 
the Father's bowels of mercy yearn compassionately over 
thee when he sees thee spiritually sick. The distressed and 
disconsolate state of thy soul, puts him into such melting 
and affectionate pangs as these: "O thou afflicted, tossed 
with tempest, and not comforted ; behold, I will lay thy 
stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sap- 
phires," &c. " Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith 
your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto 
her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is 
pardoned," &c. (Isa. liv, 11 ; and xl, 1, 2.) Jesus Christ, 
out of his own experience, knoweth full well what it is to be 
grievously tempted, what it is to have the most hideous 
Z 3 



253 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

thoughts and horrible injections thrown into the mind that 
can be possibly imagined ; nay, that the devil himself can 
devise. See Matt, iv, 6, 9. What a hell it is to want the 
comfortable influence of the Father's pleased face and 
favour. See INIatt. xxvii, 46. And therefore he cannot 
choose but be "afflicted in our afflictions;" and very 
sensibly and sweetly tender-hearted in all our spiritual 
troubles. They pity us most in our sicknesses, who have 
felt the same themselves. *' In that he himself suffered and 
was tempted, he is able to sviccour them that are tempted " 
(Heb. ii, 18). As for the blessed Spirit, it is his proper 
work, as it were, " to comfort them that mourn in Zion ; to 
give unto them beauty for ashes ; the oil of joy for mourning, 
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." And yet 
besides all this, thy heavenly Father, in the distress of thy 
soul, sets also on work the church of God about thee ; 
faithful ministers to pray for, and prepare seasonable and 
sound arguments, reasons, counsels, and comforts out of 
God's blessed book, to support, quicken, revive, and recover 
thee all they can ; private Christians to commend thy case 
unto the "throne of grace and mercy;" and that ex- 
traordinarily with mightiness of prayer upon their more 
solemn days of humiliation. 

Thus, and in the like manner, peruse all the compassionate 
passages of the most tender-hearted parents to their best- 
beloved children in all cases of danger and distress ; and so 
and infinitely more tenderly will our heavenly Father deal 
with all that are upright-hearted in all their troubles, trials, 
and temptations, tor the dearest love of the most affectionate 
father and mother to their child is nothing to that, which 
lie bears to those that fear him (Isa. xlix, 15; Psalm ciii, 13; 
Deut. viij, 5), 



CHAP. VI. 

A Principle of Conifoit from something within us, confirmed from 
several Testimonies and Instances of Scripture, and by one Reason. 

Thirdly. There is a precious principle in the mystery of 
salvation, which, as a comforting cordial water, serves to 
quicken and revive in the swoonings and faintings of the 
body, defection of the spirits, and sinking of the heart ; so 
it may be sovereign to support and succour in afflictions 
and dejections of soul, and weaknesses of our spiritual 
state. It is thus delivered by divines : — 

" A constant and earnest desire to be reconciled to God. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 269 

to believe and to repent, if it be in a touched heart, is in 
acceptation with God as reconciliation, faith, repentance 
itself*." 

" A weak faith shows itself by this grace of God, namely, 
an unfeigned desire, not only of salvation (for that the 
wicked and graceless man may have), but of reconciliation 
with God in Christ. This is a sure sign of faith in every 
touched and humbled heart, and it is peculiar to the 
elect t." 

" Those are blessed who are displeased with their own 
doubting and unbelief ; if they have a true earnest desire 
to be purged from this distrust, and to believe in God 
through Christ :t." 

"Our desire of grace, faith, and repentance, are the 
graces themselves which we desire ; at least, in God's 
acceptation, who accepteth of the will for the deed, and of 
our affections for the actions §." 

'• Hungering and thirsting desires are evidences of a 
repenting heart II." 

" Tjue desire argues the presence of things desired, and 
yet argues not the feeling of it If." 

" It may not be dissembled, that there are in the world 
many definitions or descriptions of faith, such as do not 
comprehend in them that only thing which is the chief stay 
of thousands of the dear servants of God, and that is, desires 
which may not be denied to be of the nature of faith. I ex- 
press my meaning thus : That when a man or woman is 
so far exercised in the spiritual seeking of the Lord his 
God, that he would be willing to part with the world and 
all things thereof if he had them in his own possession, 
so that by the Spirit and promises of God he might be as- 
sured that the sins of his former life, and such as presently 
do burthen his soul were forgiven him ; and that he might 
believe that God were now become his God in Christ ; — I 
would not doubt to pronounce that this person (thus prizing 
remission of sins at this rate, that he would sell all to buy 
this pearl) did undoubtedly believe. Not only because it 
is a truth (though a paradox) that the desire to believe is 
faith ; but also because our Saviour Christ doth not doubt 
to affirm that they are blessed that ' hunger and thirst after 
righteousness, because they shall be satisfied' (Matt, v, 6). 

' Perkins, in his Grain of Mustard Seed, Concl. 3. 

t Idem, in his Exposition of the Creed. 

t Idem, upon the Sermon on the Mount. 

5 Downam, in his Christian Warfare, chap. .xlii. 

|| Dvke, of Kepentance, chap. xv. 

II T'T. upon Psalm xxxii. 



260 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

And to * him that is athirst I will give to drink of the water 
of life freely ' (Revel, xxi, 6). And David doubted not to 
say, 'The Lord heareth the desire of the humble' (Psalm 
X, 17)*." 

" I think, whensoever the humbled sinner sees an infinite 
excellency in Christ, and the favour of God by him, that it 
is more worth tiian all the world, and so sets his heart upon 
it that he is resolved to seek it without ceasing, and to 
part with all for the obtaining it ; now, I take it, is faith 
begun." — "What graces thou unfeignedly desirest, and 
constantly usest the means to attain, thou haslt." 

" There is no rock more sure than this truth of God, that 
the heart that complaineth of the want of grace, desireth 
above all things the supply of ihat want, useth all holy 
means for the procurement of that supply, cannot be desti- 
tute of saving grace |." 

** Such are we by imputation as we be in affection. And 
he is now no sinner, who for the love he beareth to righteous- 
ness would be no sinner. Such as we be in desire and 
purpose, such we be in reckoning and account with God, 
who giveth that true desire and holy purpose to none but to 
his children whom he justifieth §." 

" We must remember that God accepts affecting for 
effecting ; willing for working ; desires for deeds ; purposes 
for performances ; pence for pounds ; and unto such as do 
their endeavour, hath promised his grace enabling them 
every day to do more and more ||." 

"If there be in thee a sorrow for thine unbelief ; a will 
and desire to believe ; and a care to increase in faith by 
the use of good means ; there is a measure of true faith 
in thee, and by it ihou mayest assure thyself that thou art 
the child of God If." 

"It is a great grace of God to feel the want of God's 
graces in thyself, and to hunger and thirst after them**." 

" If you desire healing of your nature, groan in desire for 
grace, perceive your foulness unto a loathing of yourself, 
fear not, sin hath no dominion oyer you." — " Sense of want 
of grace, complaint and mourning from that sense, desire, 
settled and earnest, with such mourning to have the want 
supplied, use of good means, with attending upon him 
therein for this supply, is surely of grace." — " What graces 

* Byfield, In his Exposition upon the Epistle to the Colossiaiis, 
chap, i, ver. 4. 

t Rogers of Dedhani, iu his Doctrine of Faith, chap. ii. 
t (!rook, scrm. ill. $ Greenliani. 

II DvkCjOf vSelf-Deceivinjr, chap. xix. % Perkins, on (iaiatians. 

* * Broad, p. 88. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 261 

thou unfeignedly desirest and constantly usest the means to 
attain, thou hast*." 

Take it in short from me thus : — 

A true desire of grace argues a saving and comfortable 
estate. 

The truth of which appears clearly by scripture, reason, 
both ancient and modern divines. 

Proofs: "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst 
after righteousness, for they shall be filled'' (iNIatt. v, 6). 
Here to a desire of grace is annexed a promise of blessed- 
ness, which comprehends all the glory and pleasures of 
Christ's kingdom here, and all heavenly joys and everlasting 
bliss hereafter. " If any man thirst, let him come unto me 
and drink" (John vii, 37;. " The Lord heareth the desire 
of the humble " (Psalm x, 17). " He will fulfil the desire 
of them that fear him" (Psalm cxlv, 19). "The Lord 
filleth the hungry with good things" (Luke i, 53). "Let 
him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take 
the water of life freely" (Kev. xxii, 17). "Ho! every 
one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters," &c. "1 will 
pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the 
dry ground " (Isa. Iv, I ; and xliv, 3). 

"(J Lord, I beseech thee," saith Nehemiah, "let now 
thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to 
the prayer of thy servants who desire to iear thy name." 
Here those who desire to fear the Lord are styled his 
servants ; and proposed as men qualified and in a fit dis- 
position to have their prayers heard, their petitions granted, 
their distresses relieved, their atfairs blessed with success. 
And no doubt this man of God would make special choice 
of such attributes and afl^ections, which might prove power- 
ful and pleasing arguments to draw from (jod compassion, 
favour, and protection. And therefore a true-hearted de- 
sire to fear the Lord is a sign of his servant. 

Abraham, as you know. Gen. xxii, did not indeed when 
It came to the point, sacrifice his son ; an angel irom heaven 
stayed his hand. Only he had a will, purpose, and resolu- 
tion, if the Lord would so have it, even to shed the blood 
of his only child. Now this desire to please God was 
graciously accepted at his hands as though the thing had 
been done, and thereupon crowned with as many blessings 
as there are stars in the heaven, and sands upon the sea 
shore. " By myself have 1 sworn, saith the Lord, because 
thou hast done this thing, and hast not spared thine only 
t;ou" (and yet he spilt not a drop of his blood, save only 

* Wilson on Faith. 



262 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

in purpose and preparedness to do God's will), " therefore 
will 1 surely bless thee and greatly multiply thy seed as 
the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea 
shore" (Gen. xxii, 16, 17). 

Rich men cast into the treasury large gifts and royal 
offerings no doubt (Mark xii) ; for it is there said, " Many 
that were rich cast in much " (ver. 41) ; and yet the poor 
widow's two mites, receiving worth and weight from her holy 
and hearty atfection, in Christ's esteem did outvalue and 
overweigh them all. " Verily," saith Christ, " 1 say unto 
you, that this poor widow hath cast more in than all they 
which have cast into the treasury." 

Reaso7is. 1. One argument may be taken from the 
blessed nobleness of God's nature, and the incomparable 
sweetness of his divine disposition, which by intinite 
distance, without all degree of comparison and measure ot 
proportion, doth surpass and transcend the ingenuousness 
of the noblest spirit upon earth. Now, men of ingenuous 
breeding and generous dispositions are wont to receive 
sweetest contentment, and rest best satisfied in prevailing 
over and winning the hearts, good wills, and affections of 
those who attend or depend upon them. Outward perform- 
ances, gratifications, and visible effects, are often beyond 
our strength and means ; many times mingled and quite 
marred with hypocrisies, disguisemeuts, feigned accom- 
modations and tiatteries, with self-advantages, bye-respects, 
and private ends. But inward reverence and love, kind 
and affectionate stirrings of the heart, are ever and alone 
in our power, and ever by an uncontrollable freedom ex- 
empted from enforcement, dissembling, and formality. No 
marvel then though the most royal and heroical spirits prize 
most, and be best pleased with possession of men's hearts, 
and being assured of them can more easily pardon the 
want of those outward acts of sufficiency and service (most 
minded by basest men) which they see to be above the 
reach of their ability and power. Now if it be so that 
even ingenuous and noble natures accept with special 
respect and esteem the afiectionateness and hearty well 
willing of their followers and favourites, though they want 
dexterity and means to express it actually in visible effects 
and executions answerable to their afiections, how much 
more are spiritual longings, holy affections, thirsty desires, 
graciously accepted of that God, in respect of whose com- 
passions, the bowels of the most merciful man upon earth 
are cruelty ; in respect of whose unmeasurably amiable, 
melting, sweetest disposition, the ingenuousness of the 
noblest spirit is doggedness and disdafti. Especially since 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 263 

men's good turns and offices of love turn many times to our 
good and benefit, to our advancement, profit, preferment : 
but our "well-doing extendeth not unto God" (Psalm 
xvi, 2). That infinite essential glory with which the highest 
Lord, alone to be blessed, adored, and honoured by all for 
ever, was, is, and shall be everlastingly crowned ; can 
neither be impaired by the most desperate rebellions, nor 
enlarged by the most glorious good deeds, " Can a man," 
saith Eliphaz to Job, " be proifitable unto God : as he that 
is wise may be profitable unto himself? Is it any pleasure 
to the Almighty that thou art righteous? Or is it gain to 
him that thou makest thy ways perfect? If thou sinnest, 
what doest thou against him ? Or if thy transgressions be 
multiplied, what doest thou unto him ? If thou be righteous, 
what givest thou him "^ or what receiveth he of thine hand? 
Thy wickedness may hurt a man, as thou art ; and thy 
righteousness may profit the son of man " (Job xxii, 2, 3 ; 
and XXXV, 6, 7, 8). Were all the wicked men upon earth 
turned into human beasts, desperate Uelials, nay, in- 
carnate devils ; and the whole world full of those outra- 
geous giants of Babel, and those also of the old world ; and 
all with combined force and fury should bend and band 
themselves against heaven, yet they could not hurt God. 
" The Lord is king, be the people never so impatient; he 
sitteth between the cherubim, be the earth never so un- 
quiet." Or were all the sons of men Abrahams or angels, 
and as many in number as the stars in heaven; and as 
shining both with inward graces and outward good deeds 
as they are in visible glory ; yet could they make no addi- 
tion unto that incomprehensible Majesty above ; they could 
not confer so much as one drop to that boundless and 
bottomless sea of goodness, or the least glimpse unto that 
Almighty Sun of Glory. " All nations before him are as 
nothing, and they are counted to him less than nothing, 
and vanity" (Isa. xl, 17). Our sins hurt him not; our 
holiness helps him not. It is only for our good, that God 
would have us good. No good, no gain accrues unto him 
by our gcodness. For what good can come by our imperfect 
goodness to that which is already infinitely good ? What 
glory can be added by our dimness to him, which is already 
incomprehensibly glorious ? Every infinite thing is naturally 
and necessarily incapable of addition ; possibility of which 
supposed, implies contradiction, and destroys the nature of 
infinity. If it be so then, that good turns do good unto 
men, and yet out of their ingenuousness they most esteem 
goodwills, true-heartedness, kind affections, and can well 
find in their hearts to pass by failings where there is heart 



264 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

and good will ; to pardon easily want of exactness in per- 
formance where there are unfeigned purpi ses ; how much 
more will your gracious God, who gains nothing by all the 
good works in the world, out of the depth of his dearest 
compassions, kindly interpret and accept in good part the 
holy longings and hungry desires of a panting and bleeding 
soul ? How dearly will he love the love of a true-hearted 
Nathanael 1 How willingly will he take the will for the 
deed, the groanings of the heart before the greatest sa- 
crifice'? 

But lest you mistake, take notice here of a twofold 
glory: — 

1. Essential, infinite, everlasting. It is impossible that 
this should either receive disparagement and diminution, or 
addition and increase by any created power. And this I 
meant in the precedent passage. 

2. The other I may call accidental, finite, temporary. 
This ebbs or flows, shines oris overshadowed, as goodness or 
gracelessness prevails in the world ; as the kingdom of 
Christ or powers of darkness get the upper hand amongst 
the sons of men. In this regard indeed, rebellious wretches 
dishonour God upon earth, I confess ; and godly men by 
their holy duties, good works, and gracious behaviour, make 
his name more illustrious in the world ; but what is this to 
that essential, infinite, everlasting glory, which was as great 
and lull in all that former eternity, before the world was, 
when God, blessed for ever, enioyed only his glorious self, 
angels, men, and this great universe lying all hid as yet in 
the dark and abhorred dungeon of nothing, as now it is or 
ever shall be? 



CHAP. VII. 

One Reason more, confirming the Truth of the former Principle. 

Reason 2. A second reason may be taken from God's pro- 
portionable proceedings in his courses of justice and mercy. 
In his executions of justice and inflictions of punishment, 
he interprets and accepts desires for the deeds, aftections 
for actions, thoughts for the things done. " Whosoever," 
saith Christ, " looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath 
committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matt. 
V, 28). In God's interpretation, in the search and judg- 
ment of divine justice, he that lusts after a woman in his 
heart is an adulterer ; and without true and timely repent- 
ance shall be so taken and proceeded against at that great 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 265 

and last day. " Whosoever hateth his brother," saithJohn. 
" is a murderer" (1 John iii, 15). A hateful thought of our 
brother, murders nim and spills his blood by the verdict of 
the blessed Spiiit ; and a malicious man, at the bar of God, 
goes for a manslayer. If this, then, be God's manner of 
proceeding in justice, we may much more confidently ex- 
pect, nay, with reverent humUity challenge (way being 
made by the mediation of Christ) the same proportionable 
measure in those his most sweet and lovely inclinations and 
expressions of mercy. Shall a lewd desire after a woman 
fall under the axe of God's justice, as if it were the gross 
act of lust ; and shall not a longing desire after grace be 
graciously embraced in the arms of mercy as the grace 
itself? Shall an angry thought, invisible, immaterial, hurt- 
ful only to the heart which harbours it, be charged with 
actual bloodshed ; and shall not a panting thirst of a broken 
and bleeding soul after Christ's saving and sanctifying blood 
be bathed and refreshed in his precious blood? Yes, cer- 
tainly, and much rather ; for " God's tender mercies are 
over all his works" (Psalm cxlv, 9), and mercy with a 
holy exultation triumpheth and " rejoiceth against judg- 
ment " (James ii, 13). " His mercy is great unto the hea- 
vens" (Psalm Ivii, 10). He doth with much sweet content- 
ment, and as it were natural propension, incline to the 
gracious effusions of mercy. " He delighteth in mercy," 
saith Micah (chap, vii, 18) ; he is most highly pleased and 
exalted most gloriously when he is pardoning sins, purging 
souls, pulling out of the devil's paw, pouring in grace, 
shining into sad and uncomfortable hearts, saving from hell, 
&c. 1 his makes him so passionate (in a holy sense) when 
he hath no passage for his love. (See Deut. v, 29; Psalm 
Ixxxi, 13 ; Isa. xlviii, 18 ; Matt, xxiii, 37 ; Luke xix, 41, 42.) 
But now on the other side he is hardly drawn, not without 
much reluctancy, delays, forbearance, and as it were some 
kind of violence offered by excess of multiplied rebellious 
provocations, to exercise his justice and to punish for sin. 
(See 2 Chron. xxxvi, 16 ; Hos. vi, 4, &c.) It appears from 
the emphasis of the original in Zeph. ii, 2, that in this 
respect, in a right and sober sense, God travaileth as it were 
with anger. When the cry of our sins comes first to heaven, 
he doth not presently pour upon our heads fire and brim- 
stone, according to our desert ; but as loath to enter into 
judgment with us, he then but begins to conceive, as it 
were, wrath, which he bears, or rather forbears, full many 
and many a month ; still waiting, when upon our re- 
pentance he might "be gracious unto us;" until it come 
to that ripeness by the fulness and intolerable weight 

2 A 



266 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

of our sins that, he can possibly bear no longer. And then 
also, when he is about to be delivered of his justly-con- 
ceived and long-forborne vengeance, mark how he goes 
about it: "Ah!" says he (Isa. i, 24). This aspiration 
argues a compassionate pang of grief, speaking after the 
manner of men, to proceed against his own people, though 
they had provoked him as enemies. "How shall I give 
thee up, Ephraim ? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? How 
shall 1 make thee as Admah ? How shall I set thee as 
Zeboim? ]\iine heart is turned within me : my lepentings 
are kindled together" (Hos. xi, 8). When he came against 
Sodom and Gomorrah, the most prodigiously wicked people 
that ever the earth bore, what a miracle of mercy was it 
that he should be brought so low as to say, "I will not 
destroy it for ten's sake " (Gen. xviii, 32). 

So it is, then, that mercy flows naturally and easily from 
God, and he is most forward and free-hearted in granting 
pardons and receiving into grace and favour. But justice is 
ever, as it were, violently with " cart-ropes of iniquity" 
pulled from him. He is pressed with our sins, as a cart is 
pressed that is full of sheaves, before we wring from him 
the vials of just wrath, and wrest out of iiis hands the 
arrows of deserved indignation. That you err not in this 
point, conceive thai both God's mercy and justice are ori- 
ginally and fundamentally, as God himself, infinite; both 
of the same length, height, breadth, and depth; that is, 
equally endless, boundless, bottomless, unsearchable. Yet, 
if we consider the exercise and execution of them amongst 
the creatures and abroad in the world ; mercy, that sweetest 
attribute and most precious balm to all bruised hearts, doth 
far surpass and outshine the other though incomparable ex- 
cellencies of his divine nature, and all the perfections which 
accompany the greatness of God ; as appears Exod. xx, 5, 6; 
Gen. xviii, 32; Joel ii, 13 ; Jonah iv, 2; Psalm xxxvi, and 
ciii ; 2 Chron. xxi, 13. His influences and beams of mercy 
are fairly and plentifully shed into the bosom of every crea- 
ture, and shine gloriously over all the earth, even from one 
end of heaven to the other. The whole world is thickly set 
and richly embroidered as it were with wonderful variety of 
impressions and passa;^es of his goodness and bounty. In 
this great volume of nature round about us we may run and 
read the deep prints and large characters of kindness and 
love, which his merciful and munificent hand hath left in 
all places, in every leaf, and page, and line of it. If mercy 
then be so graciously magnified over all his works, Me may 
more strongly build upon it, that if the hand of justice seize 
upon a hateful thought as a murderer and stained with 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCI':S. 267 

blood, and arraign a lustful thought as guilty of adultery 
and actual pollution ; his arms of mercy will most certainly 
embrace and accept of a sincere desire of the deed done, of 
hearty affections for the actions, and of a grieved spirit for 
the grace it groans for. 

Yea, but, may some say, if mercy be so fair a flower in 
the garland of God's incomprehensible greatness, if it so 
far excel his other attributes in amiableness amongst his 
creatures, how comes it to pass that the number of his elect 
is so small, and the sway of the multitude sink down urider 
the burthen of their iniquities, transgressions, and sins, into 
the pit of endless perdition? How comes it to pass, that 
out of the great heap and mass of all mankind, there are 
made but so few vessels of mercy ; and that so many vessels 
of wrath are justly for their sins filled brini full with the 
vials of everlasting vengeance? See Matt, vii, 13, 14 ; and 
XX, 16. 

Some matter of answer to this point (would ye think it?) 
may be taken even from the schoolmen. 

If we consider, first, the inconceivable eminency and in- 
valuable worth of the crown of glory, which doth so far and 
disproporlionabiy surpass and transcend the common slate 
and condition of our nature. Secondly, the preciousness of 
the effusion of the blood of the dear and only Son of God 
for the purchasing of that so glorious a crown. Thirdly, the 
necessary and inevitable defectibility of the creature. 
Fourthly, the most free and wilful apostasy of Adam, and 
in him of all his posterity. Fifthly, the abominable and 
villanous nature and stain of sin. Why should we^not, 
therefore, rather wonder at the unsearchableness of God's 
mercy for advancing one soul to that endless bliss in heaven, 
than repine at the equity of his justice, if he should have 
suffered all the polluted and sini'ul sons of Adam to pass 
from the mass of corruption into which they freely fell of 
their own accord and cursed choice, through a rebellious 
life, into the endless miseries of their deserved confusion ? 
Would it not have been a greater marvel to have seen any 
one clearly convinced and found guilty of that rnost horrible 
villany that ever was bred in hell, or heard of in the world 
(I mean the Popish powder treason), pardoned, than all 
those desperate assassins to have justly perished in their so 
abhorred and execrable rebellion? And it is utterly unima- 
ginable, either by man or angel, what a deal of mercy doth 
flow out of the bowels of God's dearest compassions, through 
the heart's blood of his only Son, to the washing and salva- 
tion but of one soul ! 



•268 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 



CHAP. VIII. 

The former Principla confirmed by Two more Reasons, and by 
Aatliority. 

Reason 3. A third reason may be taken from its part and 
interest in the fountain of salvation and rivers of living 
water. He that thirsts after grace is already entitled to the 
well of life and fulness of heavenly bliss, by a promise from 
God's own mouth, in Kev. xxi, 6, " I will give to him 
that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely." 
In that place, after God himself had confirmed and crowned 
the truth and certainty of the gloriousness of the holy city, 
and the happiness of the inhabitants thereof, with a solemn 
asseveration of his own immutability and everlastingness — 
" It is done. 1 am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and 
the end" — he then notifies and describes the persons to 
whom the promise and possession of so great and excellent 
glory doth appertain, and those also which shall be eter- 
nally abandoned from the presence of God, and burned in 
the lake of fire and brimstone for ever. 
Inhabitants of heaven elect are : — 

1. Humble souls, thirsting after grace, God's favour, and 
that blessed fountain open to all broken hearts for sin and 
uncleanness, "1 will give to him that is athirst of the well 
of the water of life freely" (ver. 6). 

2. Christ's champions here upon earth against the powers 
of darkness, and conquerors of their own corruptions. " He 
that overcometh shall inherit all things ; and i will be his 
God, and he shall be my son" (ver. 7). But the fearful, 
&CC. are marked out for hell (ver. 8); for all that cursed 
crew and slaves of sin are overcome of Satan and their own 
lusts, and so carried away captives into everlasting misery 
and woe. 

Cast not away thy confidence then, poor heart ; no, not 
in the lowest languishings of thy afflicted soul. If thou be 
able to say sincerely with David (Psalm cxliii), " My soul 
thirsteth after thee as a thirsty land ;" if thou feel in thy 
affections a hearty hunger after righteousness, both infused 
and imputed, as well after power against, as pardon of sin ; 
be assured the well of life stands already wide open unto 
thee, and in due time thou shalt drink thy fill. Thy soul 
shall be fully satisfied with the excellencies of Jesus Christ, 
evangelical joys, " as with marrow and fatness," and thou 
shalt be abundantly refreshed out of the river of his plea- 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 269 

Ueason 4. That which Paul tells us in the point of com- 
municating to the necessities of the saints ; to wit, " If 
there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that 
a man hath, and not according to that he hath not" (2 Cor. 
viii, 12), holds true also in all other services and divine du- 
ties ; so that we are accepted with the Lord accordingly as 
we are inwardly affected, although our actions be not an- 
swerable to our desires. He that hath a ready and resolved 
mind to do what he may, would undoubtedly do a great 
deal more if ability were ministered. God, saith Paul, 
" worketh both to will and to do." If both be his own 
works, the desire as well as the deed, he must needs love 
and like both the one and the other, both in respect of ac- 
ceptation and reward. David did but conceive a purpose to 
build God a house, and he rewarded it with the building 
and establishing of his own house (2 Sam. vii, 16). He did 
but conceive a purpose to confess his sin, and God's ear was 
in his heart before David's confession could be in his tongue 
(Psalm xxxii, 5). To poor beggars that wanted food for 
themselves, Christ shall say at the last day, Ye have fed 
me when I was hungry, only in regard of their strong affec- 
tions if they had had means. The prodigal child, when he 
was but conceiving a purpose of returning, was prevented 
by his father first coming to him ; nay, running towards him 
(Luke XV, 20). God will answer us before we call (Isa. 
Ixv, 24) ; that is, in our purpose of prayer. 

Besides scripture and reasons, I add ancient a,nd modern 
authority ; not for any other confirmation, but only to show 
consent. 

" To desire the help of grace is the beginning of grace," 
saith Austin*. 

" Only thou must will, and God will come of his own 
accord," saith Basil t. 

" He that thirsts, let him thirst more ; and he that desires, 
let him yet desire more abundantly ; because, so much as he 
can desire, so much he shall receive." — Bernard t. 

" Christ," saith Luther§, " is then truly omnipotent, and 
then truly reigns in us, when we are so weak that we can 
scarce give any groan." 

Again : " The more we find our unworthiness, and the 
less we find the promises to belong unto us, the more we 
must desire them ; being assured that this desire doth greatly 
please God, who desiieth and willeth that his grace should 
be earnestly desired ||." 

* Lib. tie Correptioiic ct Gratia, cap. i. t 8erm. de Penitentia. 

t De Lectione Evaugelica, senn.i. i Tom. iv, p. 124. 

II Ibid, r- 300. 

2A 3 



270 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

" When I have a good desire," saith Kemnicius*, " though 
it doth scarcely show itself in some little and slender sigh, 
1 must be assured that the Spirit of God is present, and 
worketh his good work." 

'' Faith," saith Ursint, "in the most holy man in this life, 
is imperfect and weak ; yet, nevertheless, whosoever feels in 
his heart an earnest desire and striving against his natural 
doublings, both can and must assure himself that he is en- 
dued with true faith." 

" If thou shalt feel thyself," saith RollocJ, " to believe in 
Christ, and that for Christ ; or at least, if thou canst not 
forthwith attain that, if thou feel thyself willing to believe 
in Christ for Christ, and willing to do all things for God's 
sake and sincerely, thou hast certainly a very excellent ar- 
gument, both of perseverance in faith, and of that faith 
which shall last for ever." 

" Our faith may be so small and weak," saith Taffin§, 
" that it doth not yet bring forth fruits that may be lively 
felt in us ; but if they which feel themselves in such estate 
desire to have these feelings (namely, of God's favour and 
love) ; if they ask them at God's hands by prayer, this de- 
sire and prayer are testimonies that the Spirit of God is in 
them, and that they have faith already. For is such a de- 
sire a fruit of the flesh or of the Spirit] It is of the iloly 
Spirit, who bringeth it forth only in such as he dwells in." 

" Is it possible," saith Hooker||, speaking of Valentinian 
the emperor, out of Ambrose, " that he which had purposely 
the Spirit given him to desire grace, should not receive the 
grace which that Spirit did desire?" 

" Where we cannot do what is enjoined us, God accepteth 
our will to do, instead of the deed itself^f." 

" I am troubled with fear that my sins are not pardoned, 
saith Careless. They are, answered Bradford ; for God 
hath given thee a penitent and believing heart ; that is, a 
heart which desireth to repent and believe. For such a one 
is taken of him ( he accepting the will for the deed) for a 
penitent and believing heart**. 

* Loc. Com. par. i. t Catechis. t On John v. 

^ I n his Marks of God's Children. || Lib. v, sec. Ix. 

% Ibid. ** Acts and Monuments, Bradford's Letter to Careless. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 271 

CHAP. IX. 

By uiiut Marks true Desires of Grace in us may be known. 

BtFORE 1 come to the use of this comfortable point, lest any 
deceive themselves about it, as the notorious sinner, the 
mere civil man, and the formal professor may all do very 
easily, take notice of some marks of this saving desire. 
It is— 

1. Supernatural ; for it follows an effectual conviction of 
sin and co-operation of the spirit of bondage with the 
preaching and power of the law ; for a thorough casting a 
man down in the sight of the Lord, showing and convincing 
him to be a sink of sin, abomination, and curse ; to be quite 
undone, lost, and ruined in himself (which preparative 
work, precedent to the desire I speak of, is itself above 
nature); whereupon the soul thus enlightened, convinced, 
and terrified, being happily led unto and looking upon the 
glorious mystery of the gospel, the excellency and otier of 
Jesus Christ, the sweetness and freeness of the promises, 
the heavenly splendour and riches of " the pearl of great 
price," doth conceive by the help of the Holy Ghost this 
desire and vehement longing, which you may then know to 
be saving, when it is joined with a hearty willingness and 
unfeigned resolution to sell all, to part with all sin, and to 
bid adieu for ever to our darling delight. It is not then an 
effect only of self-love, not an ordinary wish of natural ap- 
petite, like Balaam's (Numb, xxiii, 10) ; of those who desire 
to be happy, but are unwilling to be holy ; who would 
gladly be saved, but are loath to be sanctified. 

2. It ever springs from a humble, meek, and bruised spi- 
rit ; very sensible, both of the horror of sin and happiness of 
pardon ; both of its own emptiness and of the fulness in 
Christ ; never to be found in the affections of a self-ignorant, 
self-confident, unhumbled phaiisee. 

3. It must be constant, importunately greedy after supply 
and satisfaction. Not out of a pang or passion only, or 
begot by the tempest of some present extremity, like a flash 
of lightning, and ihen quite vanishing away when the storm 
of terror and tempation is over. For if a sincere thii st after 
Christ be once on foot, and takes root in a heart truly hum- 
bled, it never determines or expires in this life or the life to 
come. 

4. It is ever linked and enlivened with a continued and 
conscientious use and exercise of the means ; and draws 



272 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

from them, by little and little, spiritual strength and vigour, 
much vital efficacy and increase. Not idle, ignorant, un- 
exercised. It were very vain and absurd to hear a man 
talk of his desire to live, and yet would neither eat nor 
drink, nor sleep, nor exercise, nor take physic, nor use 
those means which are ordinary and necessary for the 
maintenance of life. It is as fruitless and foolish for any 
one to pretend a desire of grace after Christ, and to be 
saved, and yet will not prize and use the faithful ministry, 
the word preached and read, prayer, meditation, conference, 
vows, days of humiliation, the use of good company and 
good books, and all divine ordinances and blessed means 
appointed and sanctified by God for the procuring and pre- 
serving a good spiritual state. 

5. It is not a lazy, cold, heartless, indifferent desire, but 
earnest, eager, vehement, extremely thirsting, as the parched 
earth for refreshing showers, or the hunted hart for the 
water-brooks. Never was Ahab more sick for a vineyard ; 
Rachel more ready to die for children ; .Sisera or Sampson 
for thirst, than a truly humbled soul after Jesus Christ, 
after bathing in his blood and hiding itself in his blessed 
righteousness. This desire deadens the heart to all other 
desires after earthly things, gold, good-fellowship, pleasures, 
fashions, even the delights of the bosom sin. All other 
things are but dross and dung, vanity and vile in respect of 
that object it hath now found out and affects. As Aaron's 
rod, managed miraculously by the hand of Divine power, 
swallowed up all the other rods of Pharaoh's sorcerers, so 
this spiritual desire, planted in the heart by the Holy Ghost, 
eats up and devours all other desires and over-eager affec- 
tions after worldly contentments, as worthless, vain, tran- 
sitory ; as empty clouds, wells without water, comforters 
of no value. We that deal with afflicted consciences hear 
many times some expressions of this impatient, violent de- 
sire in troubled minds. " I have borne nine childien," 
said one, "with as great pain I think as other women. I 
would with all my heart bear them over a^ain, and pass 
again through the same intolerable pangs every day, as 
long as I live, to be assured of my part in Jesus Christ." 
Complaining another time that she had no hold of Christ, 
it was said unto her : But doth not your heart desire and 
long after him ! " Oh ! " says she, " I have a husband and 
children, and many other comforts ; I would give them all, 
and all tlie good I shall ever see in this world or in the 
world to come, to have my poor thirsty soul refreshed with 
that precious blood of his." 

6. It is growing from appetite to endeavour, from endea- 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 273 

vour to action ; from action to habit ; from habit to some 
comfortable perfection and stature in Christ. If it be 
quite quenched and extinguished when the spiritual an- 
guish and agony is over, or stand at a stay, never trans- 
cending the nature of a naked wish, it is to be reputed 
rootless, heartless, graceless. There are Christians that lie 
as yet, as it were, struggling in the womb of the church, 
who, for a time at the least, live spiritually only by grievings 
and groans, by hearty desires, eager longings, and affec- 
tionate stirrings of spirit : there are also babes in Christ ; 
young men in Christ; strong men in Christ ; old Christians. 
A perpetual infancy argues a nullity of sound and saving 
Christianity. The child that never passeth the stature and 
state of an infant will prove a monster. He that grows not 
by the sincere milk of the word is a true changeling, not 
truly changed. He that rests with contentment upon a desire 
only of good things, never desired them savingly. But 
here, lest any tender conscience be unnecessarily troubled, 
1 must confess, it is not so growing as I have said, or not so 
sensibly, at certain times — as while the pangs of the new- 
birth are upon us, in times of desertion, temptation, though 
even then it grows in a holy impatiency, restlessness, and 
longing, which is well-pleasing unto the Father of mercies, 
and which he accepts graciously until he give more 
strength. 



CHAP. X. 

Two especial Times wlierein the former Principle is to be applied. 

The point thus cleared is very sweet and sovereign ; but 
so that no carnal man must come near it, no stranger meddle 
with it, much less swine trample upon it. It is a jewel for 
the true-hearted Nathanael's wearing alone. Nay, the 
Christian himself, in the time of his soul's health, height of 
feeling, and flourishing of his faith, must hold off his hand ; 
only let him keep it fresh and orient in the cabinet of his 
memory, as a very rich pearl against the day of spiritual 
distress. As precious and cordial waters are to be given 
only in swoonings, faintings, and defection of the spirits ; 
so this delicious manna is to be ministered specially, and 
to be made use of in the straits and extremities of the soul, 
at such times and in such cases as these : In 

1. The strugglings of the new-birth. 

2. Spiritual desertions. 



274 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

3. Strong temptations. 

4. Extraordinary troubles upon our last bed. 

1. When thou art once come so far as I intimated before ; 
to wit, that after a thorough conviction of sin, and sound 
humiliation under God's mighty hand, upon a timely and 
seasonable revelation of the glorious mystery of Christ, his 
excellencies, invitations, his truth, tender-heartedness (for 
the desire I speak of is an effect and affection wrought ever 
immediately by the gospel alone) ; 1 say, when in this case 
thine heart is filled with vehement longings after the Lord 
of life, if ihou be able to say with David, " jMy soul thirsteth 
after thee, as a thirsty land" (Psalm cxliii, 6) ; if thou feel 
in thy-elf a hearty hunger and thirst after the favour of 
God, that fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness, and 
fellowship with Christ, assuredly then the well of life is 
already opened unto thee by the hand of thy faithful Re- 
deemer, and in due time thou shalt drink thy fill. He that 
is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the eter- 
nal and unchangeable God, hath promised it. And amidst 
the sorrows of thy trembling heart, and longings of thy 
thirsty soul, thou mayest even challenge it at his hands 
with a humble, sober, and zealous confidence. As did that 
Scottish penitent (George Sprot) a little before his execu- 
tion. He freely *' confessed his fault, to the shame, as he 
said, of himself, and to the shame of the devil, but to the 
glory of God. He acknowledged it to be so heinous and 
horrible, that had he a thousand lives, and could he die ten 
thousand deaths, he could not make satisfaction. Not- 
withstanding, said he, Lord, thou hast left me this comfort 
in thy word, that thou hast said, ' Come unto me all ye that 
are weary and laden, and I will refresh you.' Lord. I am 
weary ; Lord, I am heavily laden with my sins, which are 
innumerable. I am ready to sink, Loid, even to hell, with- 
out thou in thy mercy put to thine hand and deliver me. 
Lord, thou hast promised by thine own word, out of thine 
own mouth, that thou wilt refresh the weary soul. And 
with that he thrusts out one of his hands; and reaching 
as high as he could, with a louder and a strained voice 
cried, I challenge thee, Lord, by that word, and by that 
promise which thou hast made, that thou perform and 
make it good unto me that call for ease and mercy at 
thine hands." Proportionably when heavy-heartedness for 
sin hath so dried up thy bones, and the angry counte- 
nance of God so parched thine heart that thy poor soul be- 
gins to gasp for grace, as the thirsty land for drops of rain, 
thou mayest, though dust and ashes, with a holy humility 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 275 

thus speak unto thy gracious God. O merciful Lord God, 
thou art Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. 
Thou sayest, It is done, of things that are yet to come, so 
faithful and true are thy decrees and promises. And thou 
hast promised by thine own word out of thine own mouth, 
that " unto him that is athirst, thou wilt give of the fountain 
of the water of life freely" (Rev. xxi, 6). O Lord, I thirst, 
I faint, i languish, I long for one drop of mercy. " As the 
hart panteth for the water brooks, so panieth my soul after 
thee, O God," and after the yearning bowels of thy wonted 
compassions. Had I now in possession the glory, the 
"wealth, and the pleasures of the whole world ; nay, had I ten 
thousand lives, joyfully would I lay them all down and part 
with them to have this poor trembling soul of mine received 
into the bleeding arms of my blessed Redeemer. O Lord, 
and thou only knowest it, my spirit within me is melted 
into tears of blood, ray heart is shivered into pieces. Out 
of the very place of dragors and shadow of death do I lift 
up my thoughts, heavy and sad, before thee ; the remem- 
brance of my former vanities and pollutions is sickening to 
my soul ; and it is sorely wounded with the grievous re- 
presentation thereof. The very flames of hell, Lord ! the 
fury of thy just wrath, the scorchings of mine own con- 
science, have so wasted and parched mine heart, that my 
thirst is insatiable. JNly bowels are hot within me ; my de- 
sire after Jesus Christ, pardon, and grace, is greedy as the 
grave; "the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a 
most vehement flame." And, Lord, in thy blessed book 
thou callest and criest, " Ho ! every one that thirsteth, 
come ye to the waters," &c. (Isa. Iv, 1). " In that great 
day of the feast, thou stoodest and criedst with thine own 
mouthj saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me 
and drink" (John vii, 37). And these are thine own 
words, those " who hunger and thirst after righteousness 
shall be filled" (Watt, v, 6). I challenge thee. Lord, in 
this my extremest thirst after thine own blessed self, and 
spiritual life in thee, by that word, and by that promise 
which thou hast made, that thou perform and make it good 
unto me that lie grovelling in the dust and trembling at thy 
feet. Oh! open now that promised "well of life;" fori 
must drink, or else I die. 

Here then, and in a word, is thy comfort : in these hun- 
gerings and thirstings of ihe soul, there is as it were the 
seed of faith, there is something of faith in them, as excel- 
lent divines both for learning and holiness do affirm. How- 
soever, or in Avhat phrase soever it be expressed, sure I am, 



276 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

such desires, so qualified as before, shall be fulfilled, satis- 
fied, accomplished, possessed of the well of life ; and that 
is abundant to put the thirsting party into a comfortable 
and saving state. The words of Scripture are punctual and 
downright for this. " Blessed are they which do hunger 
and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled " 
(Matt. V, 6). "If any man thirst, let him come unto me 
and drink" (John vii, 37). "The Loid heareth the desire 
of the humble" (Psalm x, 17). " He will fulfil the desire 
of them that fear him" (Psalm cxlv, 19). "The Lord 
filleth the hungry with good things" (Luke i, 53). "Let 
him that is athirst. come. And whosoever will, let him 
take the water of life freely" (Rev. xxii, 17). " Ho ! every 
one that ihiisteth, come ye to the waters" &c. (Isa. Iv, 1). 
" I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon 
the dry ground" (Isa. xliv, 3). These longings and de- 
sires, this hunger and thirst, before a sensible apprehension 
and enjoyment of Christ, arise from a sense of the necessity 
and want of his blessed person and precious bloodshed, 
which the afflicted soul now prizeth before ten thousand 
worlds : and for whose sake is most willing to sell all, and 
to abandon wholly the devil's service for ever. Those, after 
a full entrance into the holy path, and joyful grasping of 
the Lord Jesus in the arms of our faith, arise partly from 
the former state of unutterable sweetness we found in him ; 
partly from the want of a more full and farther fruition of 
hiu), especially when he is departed, in respect of present 
feeling ; as in times of desertion, extraordinary temptation, 
&c. In the passage that is past 1 understand the former ; 
in those that follow, the latter. 

2. Concerning desertions, I intend a larger anvl moie 
particular discourse ; and therefore 1 pass by them here. 



CHAP. XI. 

Two other especial Times wherein use is to be made of the former 
Principle. 

3. We may have recourse for comfort to this precious point 
in some special temptations of doubtfulness and fear about 
our spiritual state. When spiritual life is run, as it were, 
into the root in some particulars, and actual abilities to 
exercise some graces and discharge some duties aie returned 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 277 

to nothing for the present, but groans, desires, and longings 
to do as God would have us. 

For instance : — 

Thou art much afflicted, because thou feelest the spirit of 
prayer not to stir and work in thee with that life and vigour 
as it was wont ; but beginnest to languish in the inward man 
for lack of that vital heat and feeling in the mutual inter- 
course and commerce between God and thine own soul, 
which heretofore many times warned thine heart with many 
sweet refreshings, springing from a comfortable correspon- 
dence between thy holy ejaculations and his heavenly in- 
spirations ; between thine humble complaints at the throne 
of grace and his gracious answers; nay, it maybe, thou 
throwest down thyself before his seat of mercy in much 
bitterness of spirit ; and for the time can say little or 
nothing ; the present dulness and indisposition of thine 
heart stopping all passages to thy wonted prayers, and 
damming up, as it were, the ordinary course of thy most 
blessed heart-ravishing conference with thy God in secret. 
But tell me true, poor soul, though at such a time, and in 
such an uncomfortable damp and spiritual deadness, thou 
feelest not thine heart enabled and enlarged for the pre ent, 
to pour out itself with accustomed fervency and freedom ; 
yet doth not that heart of thine with an unutterable thirst 
and desire long to offer up unto his throne of grace thy 
suits and sacrifices of prayer and praises with that hearti- 
ness and feeling, with all those broken and bleeding affec- 
tions, which a grieved sense of sin that hangs so l^ast on, 
and a holy greediness after pardon, grace, and nearer com- 
munion with his heavenly highness, are wont to beget in 
truly humbled souls 1 If so, assure thyself this very desire 
is a prayer of extraordinary strength, dearness, and accep- 
tation with thy God ; — I say, with that thy merciful Lord 
God, who is as far more compassionately and lovingly af- 
fected to his child, than the kindest father to his dearliest 
beloved Son ; as the infinite love of a tender-hearted God 
doth surpass the faint affection of a frail and mortal man. 
Suppose thy dearest child were in great extremity, and 
should at last grow so low and weak, that it were not able 
to speak, but only groan and sigh, and cast its eye upon 
thee, as one from whom alone it looked for help. Would 
not thine heart melt over thy child a great deal more in 
that misery than ever before when it was able to express its 
mind? I am sure it would. It is just so in the present 
point : for " like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord 
pitieth them that fear him." Nay, and much more, if we 
consider the amount and quantity. For look how far God 

■2 B 



278 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

is higher than man in majesty and greatness, which is with 
an infinite distance and disproportion ; so fai doth he pass 
him in tender-heartedness and mercy. See Isa. Iv, 8, 9. 

Thou mayest sometimes upon the awakening, illumina- 
tion, and search of thy conscience after some drowsy repose, 
and deeper sleep upon the bed of security ; some fouler 
ensnarement and longer abode in some knows scandalous 
sin, after the canker of earthly cares and teeth of v/orldly 
mindedness have, ere thou be well aware, with an in- 
sensible pleasing consumption eaten too far into the 
heart of thy zeal and other graces ; in the apprehension 
of some present terror, arising from a more serious 
and sensible survey of the new abhorred villanies and 
abominations of thine unregenerate time; or from the 
grieved remembrance of thy falls and failings ; of thy sins 
and unserviceableness since thy conversion, which I am 
persuaded trouble the Christian most, and go nearest to his 
heart, &c. ; — I say, in such cases as these thou mayest feel 
such a fearfulness and faintness to have surprised the hand 
of thy faith, that it cannot so presently and easily recover 
its former hold ; nor clasp about the glorious justice and 
meritorious blood of Christ with that fastness and firmness 
of assent, with that comfort and confidence, as it was wont. 
So that for a time thou mayest lie under the torture of a 
heavy heart, uncheerfulness in all thy ways, and some de- 
gree of horror, because thou canst get no better hold-fast. 
But more is thy fault ; for never did dearest father so 
lovingly entertain into his greedy arms a penitent sou, re- 
turning from going astray, than our merciful God upon thy 
renewed humiliation is willing to shine upon thee again 
with the refreshing beams and blessings of his wonted fa- 
vour. Yet tell me true, dear heart, though for the present 
that precious and happy prayer of Paul for the Romans, 
" The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believ- 
ing" (Rom. XV, 13), be not fulfilled upon thy soul ; though 
thy former joyful feelings be turned into distrustful fears ; 
yet doth not that heavy heart of thine desire far more to be 
recomforted with the presence and pleased face of thy be- 
loved, than crowned with the glory and pleasures of many 
worlds? Wouldst thou not much rather feel the hand of 
thy faith fastened again with peace and full persuasion 
upon the person, passion, and piomises of the Lord Jesus, 
than grasp in thy bodily hand the richest imperial crown 
that ever sat upon any Cesar's head? If Satan's spiteful 
craft, taking a cruel advantage of thy present dejection of 
spirit, do not hinder thy trembling heart from telling the 
truth, I know thou canst not deny this. And then I must 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 279 

tell thee, these hearty longings and lorkging desires in the 
mean time, until God give more strength, be right dear to 
that tender-hearted Father of thine, who doth infinitely 
more esteem one groan or sigh from a broken spirit, than 
" a thousand rams, or ten thousand rivers of oil," and are 
most precious and piercing to that compassionate heart, that 
poured out its warmest and dearest blood to purchase the 
salvation and refresh the sadness of every truly humbled 
soul. Ground upon it then, and be of good cheer. If thy 
troubled spirit, filled with the sense of the want of its former 
sweet and joyful feelings, find in itself a true and hearty 
longing after the supply of that want; a constant and con- 
scientious pursuit of all holy means for the procurement of 
that supply, I can assure thee in the word of life and truth, 
in God's season thou shalt be satisfied. " He will fulhl the 
desire of them tliat fear him ; he also will hear their cry 
and will save them" (Psalm cxlv, 19). And this blessed 
promise for the accomplishment of thy desire is as surely 
thine as the breath in thy body. He must sooner cease to 
be God, and deny himself, which is more than infinitely 
impossible and prodigious blasphemy to imagine, than fail 
in the least circumstance or syllable of all his love and pro- 
mises of life to any one that heartily loves him. All the 
sacred sayings in his holy book, and all those promises of 
salvation, are signed with the hand of truth itself, and sealed 
with the blood of his beloved Son ; and so are far surer than 
the pillars of the earth, or poles of heaven : for heaven and 
earth must pass away before any tittle of his word fall unto 
the ground ; and therefore, as he will most certainly pour 
upon the hairy pate of every one which hates to be reformed 
all the plagues and curses threatened there, even to the 
least spark of the flames of hell ; and the last drop of the 
full vials of his infinite, endless, unquenchable wrath ; so 
will he abundantly make good to every upright soul, sin- 
cerely thirsting after Jesus Christ, in the best time, all the 
promised good in his blessed book, and that above all ex- 
pectation, expression, or imagination. 

Fourthly. Thou mayest be in many ways distressed upon 
thy bed of death. 

1. Casting thine eye back upon thy whole life, all thy 
sins from Adam to that hour, and willing, as thou must 
now take thy farewell so to take thy fill of repentance ; they 
appear to the eye of thy conscience far more in number, and 
more ugly than ever before. And no marvel ; for being 
now sequestered for ever from all worldly comforts and 
company, distractions and diversions, and the clouds of 
natural fear, raised by the dreadful circumstances of ap- 



280 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

proaching dissolution, uniting, as it were, and collecting the 
sight of thy soul, which employments, in the world, com- 
merce among men, and sunshine of outward prosperity, 
did before too much disperse, dazzle, and divert; they are 
represented far more to the life, and in their true colours. 
Whereupon, comparing the poor weak, nothingness, as thou 
now apprehendest, of thy godly sorrow, hatred, and oppo- 
sition against them, with thy present apprehension of their 
heinousness, hatefulness, and horrible number, thou begin- 
nest to be dejected, and knowest not well what to think of 
thyself : I say then for thy comfort, consult with thy sanc- 
tified heart, and thou shalt find and feel an infinite hearty 
desire that thy repentance for them, detestation of them, 
and heart rising against them, had been, and now were as 
thorough, sound, and resolute as ever was in any penitent 
soul that breathed the lite of grace upon earth. 

2. Revising now thy whole Christian conversation, spend- 
ing of sabbaths, pouring out prayers, reading scriptures, 
hearing the word, love of the brethren, days of humiliation, 
works of mercy, receiving the sacrament, godly conference, 
living by faith in all estates, Sec, thou mayest see them in 
this last, impartial, clear, retired examination of thy con- 
science, to have been beset with so many failings, imper- 
fections, deadness of spirit, distractions, distempers, that 
thou beginnest to fear and conceive thou mightest as well 
never have entered the Christian course at all as to have 
made so little progress therein. In this case also reflect 
upon the holy habitual disposition of thy heart, and thou 
shalt feel it thirsting and longing unfeignedly that all the 
holy duties and good deeds that ever passed through thy 
heart and hands had been done in answerable exactness to 
the rules of divine truth ; and, if it had so pleased God, 
with absolute freedom from all infirmities. 

3. Thou mayest be troubled at that time, because, be- 
ing perhaps, as yet, but of little standing in profession, thou 
hast done God so little service ; and in that short time hast 
not stood on God's side with that courage and life, nor 
walked in his holy ways with that watchfulness and zeal 
as thou mightest. And it cuts thy heart the more, because 
thou hast spent so much of thy time in serving thyself and 
Satan, and expectesc now to enjoy immortal joys and a 
crown of endless bliss. But here is thy comfort — it is the 
unfeigned desire and resolution of thine heart. If the Lord 
would be pleased to allow thee a longer time in this life, 
and add many more years unto it, thouvvouldest double 
thy diligence, and improve all opportunities to do thy God 
every way far more glorious service than heretofore, all the 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 281 

days of thine appointed time. Oh ! then thou wouldst do 
so and so ! 

Assure now thyself in these three cases and troubles upon 
thy last bed, this sincere desire of thine upright soul will be 
graciously accepted of our merciful God in the name of 
Jesus Christ ; as though, first, thy repentance had been to 
the full ; secondly, thy obedience to the height ; thirdly, 
thy present promises, vows, and resolutions for future for- 
wardness and fruitfulness performed to the utmost. For 
when all is done, Jesus Christ is all in all. He alone is the 
only sanctuary and tower of everlasting safety, for every 
truly humbled soul to fly unto, both in life and death. He 
is made untcr us " wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, 
and redemption" (1 Cor. i, 30). 



SECT. Ill, PART II. 

CHAF.I. 

The First particular Malady set down, with a general Principle for the 
Cure of it. 

I COME now, as I promised, to some special cures and par- 
ticular application of comfortable antidotes to divers spiri- 
tual maladies, of which Christians especially complain ; to 
those terrors and temptations which are wont most to afflict 
sin-troubled and truly humbled souls. 

1. I will suppose thou art eftectually and savingly 
wrought upon by the preaching and power of the word ; 
enlightened and convinced to acknowledge and feel thy- 
self to be a most sinful and cursed wretch by nature ; lost 
and forlorn, damned and utterly undone in thyself, <Scc. ; and 
upon the opening of the glorious mystery of the gospel, and 
offer therein of the person and precious merits of Jesus 
Christ, for the present binding up of thy broken heart and 
endless blessedness, thou art ravished with extraordinary 
admiration and affection after that " hidden treasure and 
pearl of great price," holding thyself happy that ever 
thou wast born, and made for ever if thou canst get posses- 
sion of it ; but a lost man if thou canst not get it, and an 
everlasting castaway. Most willing therefore art thou to 
" sell all that thou hast; " prizing it infinitely before the 
riches, glory, and pleasures of the whole earth. In which 
state thou hast a strong, direct, and special calling to fill 
thine hungry soul with Jesus Christ ; to lay hold upon his 

2 B 3 



^282 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

person, sufferings, promises, and all the rich purchases of 
his dearest blood as thine own for ever ; to take him as 
thy " wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and 
redemption ; " that so " unspeakable joy, and full of glory," 
" peace which passeth all understanding," evangelical 
pleasures, which " neither eye hath seen, nor ear heard, nei- 
ther have entered into the heart of man," might abun- 
dantly flow into thine heart from the " fountain of all com- 
fort." But yet so it is, alledging that thou art the unwor- 
thiest upon earth, the vilest of men ; no heart so hard as 
thine ; thy sins far above ordinary ; of an abominable and 
most abhorred strain ; of a scarlet and crimson dye; for 
thou hast done so and so ; sinned many and many a time 
against that divine, nay and even natural light, which stood 
in thy conscience like an armed man ; persecuted the 
saints ; lived in Sodom ; and that which troubles thee most 
of all, for all these sins thy sorrow is very poor and scant, 
in no proportion to thy former heinous provocations: — I 
say upon these, and the like mistaken grounds, thou very 
unadvisedly professest, but against thine own soul, that as 
yet thou canst not, thou darest not, thou wilt not meddle 
with any mercy, apply any promise, or be persuaded that 
Jesus Christ belongs unto thee. What! such a vile, un- 
worthy, abominable wreicli as thou, to expect such glorious 
things, to come near so pure a God, to lay violent hands 
upon the Lord of life, and look for everlasting bliss ! Alas ! 
say what you will, sayest thou, as yet 1 cannot, I dare 
not, I will not. Whereupon thou wilfully, as it were, 
liest still jupon the rack of much spiritual terror and trou- 
ble of mind ; and, which is a miserable addition and mis- 
chief, for which thou mayest thank thyself, art all the 
while far more liable and liest much more open to Satan's 
most horrible injections, and cruellest temptations to self- 
destruction, despair, plunging again into former pleasures 
of good-fellowship, and the like. 

It grieves me to consider how fearfully and falsely thou 
deceivest thine own heart in a point of so great importance, 
to thy much spiritual hurt and further horror. Why, this it 
is which maketh thee most welcome to Jesus Christ; be- 
cause thou art so sensible of thy spiritual misery and beg- 
gary ; because thou art so vile, so abominable, so unwor- 
thy and wretched in thine own conceit. " Those that be 
whole, need not a physician, but they that are sick. Christ 
came not to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mat. ix, 
12,13). And in this respect he is said to " justify the un- 
godly " (Rom. iv, 5) ; and to " die for the unjust" (1 Pet. 
iii, 10) ; and to seek those that find themselves lost : and 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 283 

therefore that which thou makest thy greatest discourage- 
ment to come unto ("hrist, should be, and in truth is the 
greatest encouragement to cast thyself with confidence into 
tiie bosom of his love. 

But before 1 come to speak more fully to the point, let 
me premise this principle : — 

When a man is once sincerely humbled under God's 
mighty hand, with sight of sin and sense of divine wrath ; 
so that now all his former wicked ways, pollutions, and pro- 
vocations of God's pure eye, lie so heavy upon his heart, 
that he is truly weary, willing to be rid of them all, un- 
feignedly thirsting after the blood and righteousness of 
Christ ; and therefore as well content to take upon him his 
sweet and easy yoke, to please him in new obedience 
for the time to come, as to partake of the merit of his pas- 
sion for the present pardon of his sins : — I say then he 
must conceive that he hath a sound, seasonable, and com- 
fortable calling to lay fast hold upon Jesus Christ, and to 
be undoubtedly persuaded that he hath his part and por- 
tion in him. And besides that God's blessed word deter- 
mines it, he may the rather assent unto it and the more 
boldly believe it, because he hath now found and feels by 
his own expeiience the practice of that double policy of 
the devil, so often discovered unto him heretofore by God's 
faithful messengers ; to wit, that whereas he was a long 
time uiOit industrious to keep his heart resolutely stubborn 
and unstirred against the might and piercing of the most 
powerful ministry, and when at any time he once perceived 
it to begin to work upon him, raised all possible opposition 
against his yielding ; so now, when he is truly touched in- 
deed and resolute to abandon his hellish slavery for ever, 
he labours might and main, with all restless cruelty and 
malice, to keep his conscience continually upon the rack. 
To this purpose he objects and urges to the utmost the 
heinousness of his former sins, the fierceness of God's 
wrath (vyhich he cunningly concealed before), the little- 
ness of his sorrow, his unworthiness to meddle with any 
prouiise, and the like. And what is the reason, think you, 
that he who was so daubing before is now so downright ? 
he that was so indulgent before is now so desperate, and for 
nothing but despair and damnation] It is easy to tell : for 
tliat foul fiend knows full well, if a poor soul in the sup- 
posed case and such a truly humbled state, shall but come 
now, when Christ calls him, and " set to his seal that God 
is true " (which not to do shall ever be an unmannerly mad- 
ness, and wilful cruelty to a man's own conscience), he is 
then quite gone out of his kingdom of darkness, and an im- 
mortal soul is pulled out of his hellish paw for ever. This 



284 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

is the true reason why he so rageth when he sees a weary 
soul make towards Jesus Christ for rest. I have often fore- 
told you of Satan's method and malice in managing his 
temptations in this kind, that being forewarned ye may be 
fore-armed. He plots first, and prevails with most 
amongst us, to keep them from terror and trouble for sin : 
but if they be once happily wounded that way, then his 
next plot is to allay and take away the smart by outward 
mirth, or daub and draw over a skin only with unsound and 
superficial comfort. But if he find that it bleeds still, and 
will not be stanched but only by the blood of Christ, and 
that no earthly pleasure can any whit assuage the pain ; 
then in the third place doth he cast about and contend with 
all cruelty to keep the poor soul in a perpetual sad, slavish 
trembling, that it may not dare to meddle wiih any comfort, 
or apply the promises ; but cherishing the bruise, against 
the counsel of the prophets, bleed inwardly still. And this 
point he plies with more eagerness and fury, because the 
very next step, to wit, but even reaching out of this spiri- 
tual gulf and grief for sin towards the merciful hand of 
Christ holden out to help him up, is the next and imme- 
diate act by which a man is quite and for ever pulled out of 
his power and put into the paradise of grace. 

Or in a word, and shorter, thus : — Though thou comest 
freshly out of a hell of heinous sins ; and hitherto hast nei- 
ther thought, nor spoke, nor done any thing but abomi- 
nably ; yet if now with true remorse thou groanest under 
them all, as a heavy burthen, and sincerely longest for the 
Lord Jesus and newness of life, thou art bound presently, 
immediately after that act and unfeigned resolution of thy 
soul, to take Christ himself and all the promises of life as 
thine own for ever. All delays, demurs, exceptions, objec- 
tions, pretexts, standing out, scruples, distrusts, and con- 
tradictions to the contrary, are dishonourable to God's 
mercy and free grace, disparagement to the promises, dero- 
gatory to the truth and tender-heartedness of Jesus Christ ; 
an unnecessary detainment of the soul in terror, and only 
a gratification of that roaring lion, whose trade is to tear 
souls in pieces and torture them all he can. For as soon as 
we are poor in spirit, we are presently blessed (Mat. v, 3) ; 
as soon as we are weary of our sins, the hand of Christ is 
ready to take off the burthen (Mat. xi, 28) ; as soon as we 
thirst in the sense I have said, the " fountain of the water 
of life " is set wide open unto us (Rev. xxi, 6) ; as soon as 
we have got "contrite and humble spirits," we become 
royal thrones for " the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth 
eternity" to dwell in forever (Isa. Ivii, 15). 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 285 



CHAP. II. 

Tlif /irst partic'.ilar ar^'ument to l>e applied for the Cure of the former 
Malady. 

And now come and take abundantly mighty arguments and 
invincible motives, which neither man, nor devil, nor na- 
tural distrust can ever any ways possibly disable ; not to 
lie any longer, being in the supposed state, upon the rack of 
terror ; but to lay hold upon the rock of eternity. I mean, 
to rest and establish thy trembling heart upon the Lord 
Jesus with everlasting peace and safety ; and af;er\vards to 
walk watchfully and fruitfully in the holy way until thine 
ending hour. 

1. And first take notice, that Jesus Christ, God blessed 
for ever, keeps an open house for all such hungry and thirsty 
souls. " Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever 
will, let him take the water of life freely " (Rev. xxii, 17). 
" Whosoever will ; " in whose heart soever the Holy Ghost 
hath wrought an eflectual, earnest, hearty will ; that su- 
pernatural sincere desire described before, which prizeth 
the " uell of life" before the whole world, and is ever ac- 
companied with an unfeigned resolution to sell all for the 
pearl of great price ; 1 say, such a one may come and 
welcome, and that without bidding, and drink his fill of 
the river of all spiritual pleasures. If there were no 
more but this, this is more than enough to bring thee to 
Jesus Christ. If a proclamation should be made, that 
such or such a great man kept open house for all comers, 
there need no move to bring in all the poor hungry people 
in the country, without any further waiting or inviting. 
But here, above all degress of comparison, the hunger is 
more importunate and important ; the feast-maker more 
faithful and sure of his word ; the fare more delicious and 
ravishing. And why dost thou refuse? Thou hast a war- 
rant, infinitely above all exception. 1 he Lord of life keeps 
open house for all that mil come; and thou knowest in 
thine own conscience, and canst not deny but that he hath 
already honoured thee with that singular favour as to plant 
in thy soul a icill this way, and that most earnestly. For 
what wouldst thou not part with to have assurance of thy 
part in Jesus Christ ? What wouldst thou not give, if it 
might be bought, to hear him speak peace unto thy soul, 
and say sweetly unto it, " I am thy salvation 1" And 
therefore if thou come not in presently, and take the com- 
fort of this precious place and promise, " setting to thy 



286 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

seal that God is true," consider by the foregoing view of 
thy case, whether thy terrors and temptations be not justly 
upon thee until thou dost. 

2. If this will not serve (which God forbid), then in a 
second place thou art invited solemnly by the feast -maker, 
as it were, himself, with his own mouth, which is an infi- 
nite mercy, honour, and comfort: " Come unto me, all ye 
that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest " 
(Mat. xi, 28). Here is no exception of sins, times, or per- 
sons. And if thou shouldst reply. Yea, but alas ! I am the 
unworthiest man in the world to draw near unto so holy a 
God ; to press into so pure a presence ; to expect upon the 
sudden such glorious, spiritual, and heavenly advance- 
ment; most impure, abon.inable, and vile wretch that I 
am ! readier far and fitter to sink into the bottom of hell 
by the insupportable weight of my manifold heinous sins: — 
I say then the text tells thee plainly, that thou mightily 
mistakest ; for therefore only art thou ht, because thou 
feelest so sensibly thy unfitness, unworthiness, vileness, 
wretchedness. The sorer and heavier thy burthen is, the 
rather shouldst thou come. In a word, it appears by thine 
own words expressing such a penitent apprehension of thy 
spiritual poverty, that thou art the only man, and such as 
thou alone, which Christ here specially aims at, invites, 
and accepts. 

3. " He knowing our frame," our sluggish, dull, and heavy 
disposition, our spiritual laziness, natural neglect of our 
own salvation, and loathness to believe ; adds in another 
place to ordinary invitation, a stirring, compassionate, and 
quickening compellation, or rather exclamation. "Ho!" 
saith he, Isaiah Iv, 1, " every one that thirsteth, come ye to 
the waters," 6ic. And lest any think he shall come to his 
cost, or shall bring any thing in his hand, he calls upon 
" him that hath no money ; ' and thus doubles his cry : 
" Come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wiue and milk, 
without money, and without price." O most blessed and 
sweetest lines ! So full of love and longing to draw us to 
the well of life, that besides that holy pang of compassion 
and excitation, " Ho ! " he cries thrice, " Come, come, 
come ! " Yea, but,mayest thou say, alas ! I am so far from 
bringing any thing in my hand, that I bring a world of 
wickedness upon my heart ; and that above ordinary, both 
in notoriousness and number ; and therefore I am afraid the 
heinousness of my sins will hinder my acceptation, though 
the invitation be most sweet and precious. Be it so ; yet 
the Spirit of God in the same chapter doth purposely meet 
with and remove that very scruple : " Let the wicked, saith 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 287 

he, " forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts " 
(and this is thy case ; thou art unfeignedly set against all 
sin, both inward and outward), *' and let him return unto 
the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our 
God, for he will abundantly pardon " (ver. 7). He will 
not only have mercy upon thee, but he will also abundantly 
pardon. He will multwl.y his pardons according to thy pro- 
vocations, and that with superabundance (Kom. v, 20). 

4. If all this will not yet do, he descends, out of the infi- 
nite riches of his grace, to a miracle of further mercy. For 
the mighty Lord of heaven and earth sends ambassadors 
unto us, dust and ashes, worms and no men, to beseech us 
to be reconciled unto him. " Now then we are ambassadors 
for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray 
you, in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled unto God " (2 Cor. 
V, 20). What man can possibly ponder seriously upon this 
place, but must be transported with extraordinary admira- 
tion ; nay, adoration of the bottomless depth and infinite 
height of God's incomprehensible, everlasting, and free 
love ! We most abhorred, vile wretches, are the offenders, 
traitors, rebels, and enemies, and ought to seek and sue unto 
him fi.rst upon the knees of our souls, trembling in the dust, 
and, if it were possible, with tears of blood. And yet he 
begins unto us, entreating us by his own Son, and his ser- 
vants, the ministers, to come in, accept his favour and grace, 
enter into the wise and good way, which is precious, profi- 
table, honourable, and pleasant ; that he may hereafter set 
upon our heads everlasting crowns of glory and bliss. An 
earthly prince would disdain and hold it in foul scorn to 
send unto his inferior for reconcilement, especially who 
had behaved himself basely and unv/orthily towards him, 
and justly provoked his royal indignation. It is thus indeed 
with worms of the earth, " in whom there is no help," and 
whose breath is in their nostrils. But it is otherwise with 
the King of kings, " who sitteth upon the circle of the 
earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers, and 
the nations as the drop of a bucket ; who bringeth the 
pririces to nothing, and maketh the judges of the earth as 
vanity." He is content to put up at our hands this indig- 
nity and affront, if I may so speak. He is glad to sue unto 
us first, and send his ambassadors day after day, beseeching 
us to be reconciled unto him. O incomprehensible depth of 
unspeakable mercy and encouragement to come in and trust 
in his mercy in case of spiritual misery, able to trample 
under foot triumphantly all oppositions of the most raging 
hell or distrustful heart ! 

5. Nay, he commands us ; " and this is his command- 



288 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

ment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus 
Christ" ( 1 John iii, 23). This command alone of the All- 
powerful God should infinitely outweigh and prevail against 
all other countermands of heaven or earth, flesh and blood, 
Satan, nature, reason, sense, the whole creation, all the 
world. It should swallow up all scruples, doubts, fears, 
despairs. Coming to Jesus Christ with broken hearts ac- 
cording to this commandment, it will bear us out against 
all oppositions, accusations, weaknesses of faith, in the evil 
times, in the hour of temptation, upon our beds of death, at 
the last and greatest day. It will be a plea at such times 
utterly above all exception, against all allegations, terrors, 
and temptations to the contrary, to say, i was humbled 
under the burthen of sin and sense of my spiritual misery. 
God in mercy offered me his Son Jesus Christ freely in the 
mystery of the gospel by the ministry of the word. I there- 
upon thirsted infinitely for his person and precious blood, 
that I might thereby obtain pardon and power against my 
sins. He called upon me and commanded me to drink my 
fill of the water of life freely. I accepted his gracious offer, 
and according to his commandment cast myself upon the 
Lord Christ against all the contradictions of carnal reason 
and sophistry of Satan ; and since that time he hath given 
me power to serve him in sincerity of heart. This is my 
ground and warrant, even the commandment of my blessed 
God, thus to drink when 1 was thirsty ; against which the 
gates of hell can never possibly prevail. In thy case then, 
who thirstest extremely, and upon free ofter yet refusest to 
drink, consider how unworthily thou dishonourest God and 
wrongest thine own soul ; by suffering the devil's cavils and 
the groundless exceptions of thine own distrustful heart to 
prevail with thee against the direct command of Almighty 
God, which thou oughtest to obey against all reason, sense, 
fears, doubts, despairs, and hellish suggestions. Abraham, 
the father of the faithful, did readily and willingly submit 
to God's commandment, even to kill his own only dear son 
with his own hand, naturally, matter of a great grief as 
could possibly pierce the heart of a mortal man. And wilt 
thou, being broken-hearted, stand off from believing, and 
refuse when he commands thee to take his own only dear 
Son ; especially since thou takest with him the excellency 
and variety of all blessings both of heaven and earth ; a 
discharge from every moment of the everlasting pains of 
hell ; deeds sealed with his own blood, of thy right to the 
glorious inheritance of the saints in light 1 In a word, even 
all things, the most glorious Deity itself blessed for ever, to 
be enjoyed through him, with unspeakable and endless 



rVFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 289 

pleasure through all eternity ! Prodigious madness ! cruelty 
to thine own soul ; or something at which heaven and earth, 
man and angel, and all creatures may stand amazed, that 
thou shouldst so wickedly and wilfully " forsake thine own 
mercy," and " neglect so great salvation." 

6. Lastly, lest he should let pass any means, or be any 
ways warning on his part to drive us to Christ, and settle 
our souls upon him with sure and everlasting confidence, he 
also threateneth : " And to whom sware he, that they 
should not enter into his rest ; but to them that believed 
notV (Heb. iii, 18.) Wherein he expresseth extremest 
anger, unquenchable and implacable indignation. He 
swears in his wrath that no unbeliever shall ever enter into 
his rest. In the threats of the moral law there is no such 
oath, but a secret reservation of mercy upon the satisfaction 
of divine justice some other way. But herein the Lord 
is peremptory, and a third way shall never be found or 
afforded the sons of men. Neglect of such a gracious offer 
of so great salvation, must needs provoke and incense so 
great a God extraordinarily : for with prodigious ingratitude 
and folly it slings as it were God's free grace in his face 
again, and sins against his mercy. Suppose a mighty prince, 
passing by all the royal and noble blood in Christendom, 
many brave and honourable ladies, should send to a poor 
maid, bred in a base cottage, born both of beggarly and 
wicked parents, offer her marriage, and to make her a prin- 
cess ; and she then should foolishly refuse and reject so 
infinitely undeserved and unexpected advancement. As 
she might thereupon be justly branded for a notorious ma- 
niac ; so would not so great a prince, think you, be mightily 
enraged at such a dunghill indignity and peevish afiVont ? 
The Prince of peace, upon whose thigh is written " King of 
kings, and Lord of lords," passing by more excellent and 
noble creatures, sends unto thee, whose "father is corrup- 
tion and the worm thy mother and thy sister," and who in 
respect of thy spiritual stateliest "polluted in thine own 
blood," and offers to "betroth thee unto himself in righ- 
teousness and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in 
tender mercies" (Ilos. ii, 19); to crown thee with all the 
riches both of his kingdom of grace and glory. Now if thou 
shouldest stand off (which God forbid !) as thereupon out 
out of perfection of madness thou forsakest thine own sal- 
vation, so thou most justly enforcest that blessed Lord to 
swear in his wrath that thou shalt never be saved. 

Thus thou hast heard how, first, he keeps open house to 
all such hungry and thirsty souls (Rev. xxii, 17; ; secondly, 
he invites (Mat.xi, 28) ; thirdly, invites with an awakening 



290 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

and rousing compellation (Isa.lv, 1); fourthly, entreats 
(2 Cor. V, 26) ; fifthly, commands (1 John iii, 23) ; sixthly, 
and threatens (Heb. iii, 18). How cruel then is that man 
to his own wounded conscience, who in his extreme spiri- 
tual thirst will not be drawn by this sixfold merciful cord to 
drink his fill of the fountain of the water of life ; to cast 
himself with confidence and comfort into the arms of the 
Lord Jesus, which is more than infinitely able to tie the 
most trembling heart, and that which hangs off most by 
reason of pretended doubts, scruples, and distrusts, to that 
blessed Saviour of his with all full assurance and perfect 
peace ! How is it possible but that all, or some of these 
should bring in every broken heart to believe ; and cause 
every one that is weary of his sins to rely upon the Lord of 
life for everlasting welfare ! 



CHAP. in. 



The Second particular Argument to be used for the Cure of the Foi-mer 
Malady. Five Parts of that Argument laid open. The First Branch 
of the Fifth Part. 

But that which I desire principally to press for my purpose 
in the point at this time, is this : Thy conscience is now 
awakened, terrified, and troubled, and therefore, as I sup- 
pose, tender and very sensible, at least for a time, of the 
least sin. Every sin lies now upon thy soul as heavy as a 
mountain of lead ; and therefore thou wouldst not willingly 
add unto thy already insupportable burthen any more 
weight. All thy youthful lusts and abominations stare in 
the face of thy conscience with grisly and horrible looks ; 
and therefore, for the present especially, thou art notably 
scared from a willing provocation of God's anger and 
wounding it afresh with a new sin. Well, it being thus then, 
if it appear unto thee, that by thy standing off, in the case 
I have supposed thee, from taking Christ as thine own, 
applying the promises as most certainly belonging unto 
thee, and so "setting to thy seal that God is true," thou 
dishonourest him extraordinarily in many respects. Me- 
thinks then thou shouldst be mightily moved, without any 
more ado, to cast thyself presently upon the Lord Jesus 
with comfort and much assurance; especially since thy so 
yielding to the law of faith is for thy infinite good. And 
assure thyself thou oft'endest in the mean time many ways. 
L By a sour and self-willed unmannerliness towards 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 291 

Christ in not coming when he calls thee, Mat. xi, 28. " It 
is pride, and high pride," saith a worthy divine*, "not 
to come when thou art called. It is rudeness, and not good 
manners, not to do as thou art bidden to do ; yea, so often 
and earnestly charged to do." It would be a foul fault and 
unmannerly disobedience for any subject in this kingdom, 
though never so ragged and tattered, or pretending never so 
much his unfitness and unfineness to press into so great a 
presence, not to come unto the king, if he should please 
earnestly to call upon him. Disobedience to the law of 
faith and rejecting God's gracious ofi'er of his Son freely, is 
the greatest, and an inexpiable sin. He hath sworn in his 
wrath that such as thus refuse shall never enter into his 
rest. 

2. By a saucy prescribing unto him upon what terms he 
shall take thee. "Ho!" says he, "everyone that thirst- 
eth, come ye to the waters ; and he that hath no money ; 
come ye, buy and eat ; yea, come, buy wine and milk, 
without money and without price" (Isa. Iv, 1). Nay, 
sayest thou, I will either bring something in mine hand, or 
I will have none. Whereas it appears in the cited place, 
that Christ calls not only those that are "thirsty," but also 
such as " have no money." 

3. By undervaluing the invaluable worth of his precious 
blood, as though thy sins had exceeded the price that hath 
been paid for them. Whereas it is called, Acts xx, 28, 
God's own blood ; and therefore no want in it to wash away 
any sin, and for ever. 

4. By offering disparagement to all the promises in God's 
blessed book ; every one whereof doth now sweetly and 
upon geod ground invite thee, as it were, to repose upon it 
as upon a sure word of God with everlasting rest and 
safety. But thou, giving too much way to the devil's lies, 
and the dictates of thine own distrustful heart, keepest off 
and retirest, as though they were too weak to support thy 
now troubled and trembling soul, especially laden with so 
many and heinous sins. Whereby consider how great in- 
dignity thou offerest to such promises and places as these, 
Isa. i, 18 ; Ezek. xxxvi, 25 ; Isa. Iv, 7, 8, 9 ; and Ivii, 15. 
Especially being so strongly backed by God's blessed oath : 
" God willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of 
promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an 
oath. That by two immutable things, in which it was im- 
possible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, 
who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before 

* Ward, in his Life of Faith. 



292 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

us" (Heb. vi, 17, 18). What a mighty strength may that 
most glorious speech of our all-merciful God infuse into our 
faith, Ezek. xxxiii, 11, " As I live," &c. ; as if he should 
have said, As sure as I am the true, eternal, living, and 
omnipotent God, &c. so certainly " 1 have no pleasure in 
the death of the wicked ; " but I have pleasure that he 
should come in, take my Son, and be my servant. Under- 
stand the same proportionably of every promise. As sure 
as I have an eternal essence and being of a Godhead, &c. ; 
so certainly will I give freely to every one, that is truly 
weary of all his sins, and thirsts unfeignedly for mercy and 
grace, eternal rest and refreshing in the ever-springing foun- 
tain of all spiritual and heavenly pleasures : and so of the 
rest. 

In a word, what an unworthy thing is this ; that all the 
precious promises in the book of God, confirmed with his 
own oath and sealed with his Son's blood, should suffer dis- 
honour and disparagement, as it were, by thy distrust. As 
if so many mighty rocks of mercy and truth were not able 
to sustain a poor bruised reed ! 

5. By disabling and dishonouring — 
(1.) God's free love. See Hos. xiv, 4; Jer. xxxi, 3; 
Ezek. xvi ; Deut. vii, 7. 8 ; John iii, 16 ; Ephes. i, 5. 

If God would not give us Christ without some matter and 
motives in us, without something done by ourselves first, it 
were something to stand out in such a case. But he gives 
him most freely, without any respect or expectation at all of 
any precedent work or worth on our part. Only there is 
required a predisposition in the party to take Christ, legal 
dejection, sight, sense, and burthen of sin ; we must be 
truly wounded, sensible of the devil's yoke, feel our own 
misery ; we must prize him above, and thirst for him more 
than the whole world (See Luke iv, 18). A man will not 
seriously seek after a physician before he feel himself to be 
sick ; for ease, before he be pressed with the weight of his 
burthen ; for a plaister, before he be wounded ; for heavenly 
riches, before he be sensible of his spiritual beggary; for 
enlargement and pardon, before he find himself in prison ; 
for mercy, before he smart with sense of his misery. Such 
dispositions, then, as these, serve only to drive us unto 
Christ, and to let us see and feel a necessity of him ; but 
they are infinitely impossible by any worthiness to draw on 
Christ. He is a "gift" (Rom. v, 16; John iii, 16), and 
what is freer than gift ? Nothing is required at our hands 
for receiving him, but empty-handedness and sensiblenesS 
of our own nothingness. Our heavenly Father never did, 
nor ever will sell his Son unto any one that will needs be 



AFFLICTED COjS SCIENCES. 293 

something in himself. He ever did, and ever will give him 
to every poor soul that is vile in his own eyes, nothing in 
himself ; " labours and is heavy laden," and willing to take 
him as a Saviour and a Lord. A full hand can hold nothing. 
Either it must be empty, or we cannot receive Christ. First 
thirst, and then " buy without money and without price." 

Methinks Chrysostom doth somewhere set out sweetly the 
admirable and adored frankness of this Divine bounty : — 
" If thou wilt be adorned with my comeliness, or be armed 
with my weapons, or put on my garments, or be fed with 
my dainties, or finish my journey, or come into that city 
whose builder and maker I am, or build a house in my 
country, thou mayest so do all these things, that I will not 
only not exact of thee any price or payment for any of these 
things, but 1 myself would be a debtor unto thee of a great 
reward, so that thou wouldst not disdain to use my things, 
my strength, gifts, graces. What can be ever found equal 
to this bounty *." 

If God, then, be so infinitely good as to oifer his Son so 
freely ; and thou so fitted to receive him by sensibleness of 
thy spiritual misery, thirsting for his blood, resolving upon 
his service for the time to come, &c. ; how unadvisedly 
cruel art thou to thine own conscience, and how beyond 
measure proud, that wilt needs stand off still from taking 
the Lord Jesus ; and suffer still thy poor trembling soul to 
lie unnecessarily upon the rack of terror ? Since thou 
gettest and gainest nothing thereby ; but first, God's dis- 
honour ; secondly, thine own wilful torture ; thirdly, grati- 
fication of Satan's malicious cruelty. 

Object. 1. But were it not fitter for me, mayest thou say, 
first to amend my life ; to do some good works ; to have ex- 
perience of the change of my conversation ; to grieve legally 
longer, before I be so bold as to lay hold upon Christ, and 
apply the promises 1 

Answer. Thou must first be alive before thou canst work. 
Thou must have spiritual ability inspired before thou canst 
walk in the "good way;" thou must be justified before 
thou be sanctified. Now spiritual life is only then, and 
never before or by any other means infused, but when we 
reach out an empty hand, and take Jesus Christ into our 
humbled souls. When a poor soul weary of all sin, accord- 
ing to his call, commandment, and counsel, rolls itself as it 
were and leans upon the Lord Jesus, then is spiritual life 
first breathed into it. The vital operations of grace in alt 
holy duties, good deeds, amendment of life, holy walking, 

* On Mat. xxiv, horn. 77. 

2C 3 



291 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

universal obedience, must appear afterward. Zaccheus 
received Jesus Christ first into his heart and house, before 
he M^as able to restore and distribute. Casting ourselves 
upon the Lord of life with truth of heart, as our only jewel 
and joy we have in heaven or in earth, with whom we are 
resolved to live and die, draws from him into our souls that 
heavenly virtue and vigour, whereby we are afterward en- 
abled to exercise all the functions of spiritual life, and to 
die to the world and all worldly pleasures for ever. Herein 
is thy fault and failing : thou conceivest not aright of God's 
free grace ; but thinkest thou shalt not be welcome, except 
thou cumest with thy cost. Whereas God ever gives his 
Son freely, and bids thee come and welcome, and "buy 
without money, and without price." 

Object. 2. But will it not be presumption in me, having no 
good thing in me at all to bring with me, but coming now 
as it were fresh out of hell, from a most wicked, impure, 
abominable life, to take Christ as mine own, and all those 
rich and precious promises sealed with his blood 1 

Answer. Knough hath been already said to meet with this 
objection. It is not presumption, but good manners, to 
come when thou art called. How can he be said to pre- 
sume, who is both invited and entreated, commanded and 
threatened to come in 1 Of which see before. 1 hou must 
now, in this extreme spiritual thirst of thine, drink of the 
water of life so freely offered, that thou mayest receive some 
heavenly strength to be good, and " power to become the 
son of God ■' (John i, 12). Thou must throw thy sinful 
soul upon Jesus Christ, bleeding and breathing out his last 
upon the cross (as the body of the Shunamite's child was 
applied to the prophet, who stretched himself upon it), that 
thou mayest thereby be quickened with desired fruitfulness, 
filled by little and little with " all the fulness of God " 
(Kphes. iii, 19) ; receiving " grace for grace" (John i, 16) ; 
"I am the resurrection and the life," saith Christ; "he 
that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he 
live" (John xi,25). 

It were execrable presumption for any man who pur- 
poseth to go on in the willing practice or allowance of any one 
known sin, to believe that Christ is his righteousness and 
sanctification. But, where all sin is a burthen, every pro- 
mise as a world of gold, and the heart sincere for a new 
way, there a man may be bold. For thee to have pre- 
tended part in Christ, wallowing yet in thy sins, had been 
horrible presumption indeed ; and for me to have applied 
the promises and preached pe;ice unlo thy remorseless con- 
science before the pangs of the new birth had seized upon 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 295 

thee, had been the vilest daubing. But in the case 1 now 
suppose, it is both seasonable and surely grounded for me 
to assure thee of acceptation and pardon, and for thee to 
receive Jesus Christ without any more ado into the arms of 
thy humble soul. 



CHAP. IV. 

Two Brfinclics more of the Fifth Part of the former Argument, and 
the several Particles which belong to the Second of them. 

(2.) His sweet name (Exod. xxxiv, 6, 7), wherein is an- 
swered whatsoever may any ways be pretended for standing 
out in this case, as appears fully before, chap, iii, p. 240. 

(3.) His glorious attributes. 

1st. His truth. He that believeth hath set to his seal 
that God is true (John iii, 33). He that labours and is 
heavy laden with the burthen of sin, comes to Christ for 
ease when he is called, takes him for his Saviour and his 
Lord, and thereupon grounds a resolute, unshaken, and 
everlasting confidence, that he is his for ever, puts to his 
seal that Christ is true, that his precious promise, "Come 
unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will 
give you rest " (Mat. xi, 28), is inviolable. Whereby Christ 
Jesus, blessed for ever, is mightily honoured, his truth glori- 
fied, and thine own soul with extraordinary blessedness 
everlastingly enlivened. But he now that retires in this 
case and holds ofF, makes him who is truth itself a liar. 
"He that believeth not God, hath made him a liar" 
(1 John v, 10). 

Now what a fearful indignity is this against the Lord God 
of truth ! We see too often how miserable mortal men, 
worms of the earth, take such an affront at the hands one 
of another ; for many times for the lie given them they 
throw ihemselves desperately upon the irrecoverable ruin of 
their lives, estates, soul>, and posterity, by challenging and 
killing each other ; which dishonour to the mighty Lord of 
heaven and earth is the greater, and is much aggravated by 
the infinite infallibility of the promises. For besides his 
word, which were more than immeasurably sufficient, he 
hath added a most solemn oath for our sakes, that we might 
have greater assurance and stronger consolation. 

2d. His mercy, most directly and specially. And to say 
nothing of the freeness of his mercy, which springs only out 
of the riches of his infinite bounty, and " the good pleasure 



296 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

of his will ; " of his readiness to forgive, otherwise the 
death of Christ should be of none effect, his blood shed in 
vain, the greatest work lost that ever was done ; of his 
"delight in mercy," Micah vii, 18 (Mercy in man is 
a quality, in God it is his nature and essence. Now what 
we do naturally we do willingly, readily, unweariedly. As 
the eye is not weary of seeing, the ear with hearing, &;c. 
A bee gives honey naturally, never stings but when pro- 
voked. When God is angry, it is but as it were by acci- 
dent, upon occasion, drawn unto it by the violent importu- 
nity of our multiplied provocations ; but he delights in 
mercy, ficc.) — I say, to say nothing of these, this one consi- 
deration may convince us of extreme folly in refusing mercy 
in such a case, notwithstanding the heinousness or number 
of our sins ; to wit, that no sins, either for number or noto- 
riousness, in a truly broken heart, can make so much resist- 
ance to God's infinite mercies, as the least spark of fire 
could make to the whole sea, and that is little enough. Nay, 
as infinitely less as an infinite thing exceeds a finite ; be- 
tween which there is no proportion. 

3d. His power. For thou art very likely thus or in the 
like manner to reason with thyself, and cavil cruelly against 
thine own soul. Alas ! what talk you of taking Christ, the 
promises of life, and heavenly lightsomeness ; my poor heart 
is as dark as the very middle of hell ; much harder than a 
rock of adamant ; as cold and dead as the senseless centre 
of the earth ; as uncomfortable and restless almost as des- 
peration itself. It is more than infinitely impossible that 
such a dark, hard, dead, comfortless thing should ever be 
enlightened, softened, quickened, and established with 
joy, 6lC. 

But mark how herein thou unadvisedly undervaluest and 
unworthily settest bounds to the unlimited power of God. 
Whereas thou shouldest imitate Abraham, the father of all 
them that believe, who " staggered not at the promise of 
God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory 
to God ; and being fully persuaded that what he had pro- 
mised he was able also to perform " (Rom. iv, 20, 21). 

Be advised in this case : 

[1.] To compare these two things together : " the mak- 
ing of the seven stars and Orion, and turning the shadow 
of death into the morning ; " and the infusion of heavenly 
light into thy dark and heavy heart. And dost thou not 
think that the second is as easy as the first to the same om- 
nipotent hand 1 Nay, it is easier in our own apprehension 
(to the Divine Majesty nothing is difficult or uneasy). For 
those glorious shining constellations were created of nothing j 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES; 297 

and nothing hath no disposition to any being at all, much 
less to any particular existence ; but a soul sensible and 
weary of its spiritual darkness is in the nearest and most 
immediate passive disposition, if I may so speak, to receive 
the whole sun of righteousness. Reach but out thy hand in 
this case to Jesus Christ offering himself freely unto thee 
as a Saviour and Lord, and thou shalt presently take posses- 
sion of the kingdom of grace, and undoubted right to ihe 
everlasting kingdom of glory. The prophet (Amos v, 8) 
presseth this argument of power for some such purpose ; 
and it may serve excellently against all pretences and 
counter-pleas, for a supposed impossibility of being enlight- 
ened and refreshed in the depth of spiritual darkness and 
distress. It may be thou mayest say unto me, You advise 
me indeed to seek God's face and favour ; but, alas ! mine 
is not an ordinary heart, it is so full of guilty sadness and 
horror for sin, that I have little hope. Yea, but consider, 
He that 1 counsel thee to seek, " made the seven stars and 
Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning ; " 
and will do far greater wonders for thy soul if thou wilt 
** believe the prophets that thou mayest prosper." If thou 
wilt trust in him, he will quickly turn the tumultuous roar- 
ings of thy conscience into perfect peace. " Thou wilt 
keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee ; 
because he trusteth in thee " (Isa. xxvi, 3). The prophet, 
therefore, to prevent all scruples and exceptions in this 
kind, calls upon them thus : " Seek him that maketh the 
seven stars and Orion," 6cc. 

[2.] Lay these two together: "To bring honey out of 
the rock and oil out of the flinty rock " (Deut. xxxii, 13) ; 
and to mollify thine heart, even to thine own heart's desire ; 
in which there is already some softness, else thou couldst 
not sensibly and sincerely complain of its hardness. And 
thou must needs acknowledge that they are both equally 
easy to the same Almighty arm. 

[3.] Thou mayest well consider that it is a far greater 
work " to make heaven and earth," than to put spiritual 
life and lightsomeness into thy truly humbled and thirsty 
soul, to which so many precious promises are made. And 
He, with whom thou hast to do, and from whom thou ex- 
pectest help, is He " that made heaven and earth, the sea, 
and all that therein is; which keepeth truth for ever" 
(Psalm cxlvi, 6) ; which openeth the eyes of the blind, 
and raiseth them that are bowed down ; " which healeth 
the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds; who 
taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope 
in his mercy " (Psalm cxlvii, 3, 11). 



298 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

[4.] In such an extremity of helplessness and hopeless- 
ness, in this trembling and terror of thy heart, thou 
shouldst call to mind for thy comfort, that " he who esta- 
blisheth all the ends of the earth " (Prov. xxx, 4) and hath 
"hung" that mighty and massive body " upon nothing " 
(Job xxvi, 7), can most easily stay and stablish the most 
forlorn and forsaken soul, even sinking into the mouth of 
despair. He that said at first to the earth, Stand still upon 
nothing, and it never stirred out of its place since the 
creation, can easily uphold, fortify, and refresh thine heart 
in the depth of the most grievous spiritual misery ; even 
when in the bitterness of thy spirit thou criest, " My 
strength and my hope is perished from the Lord" (Lament, 
iii, 18). 

4th. Even his justice. Christ's blood is already paid as 
a price for the pardon of the sins of thine humbled soul, 
and thou wilt needs pay it over again, or else thou wilt not 
enter upon the purchase: as though God did expect and 
exact the discharge of the same debt twice, which to ima- 
gine, were a monstrous intolerable indignity to the most 
just God. You know full well what we should think of 
that man, who having a debt fully discharged by the surety, 
should press upon the principal for the payment of the 
same again. We should indeed think him to be a very 
cruel, hard-hearted, and merciless man ; we should call 
him a Turk, a cut-throat, a cannibal, far fitter to lodge in 
a den of tigers than to live in the society of men. What a 
fearful dishonour then is it to the merciful and mighty 
Lord of heaven and earth, to the righteous Judge of all the 
world, to conceive, that having received an exact and full 
satisfaction for all our sins, by the heart's blood of his own 
dear Son, he should ever require them again at our hands ! 
Far be it then from every one, who would not offer extra- 
ordinary disparagement even to God's glorious justice, to 
entertain any such thought, especially since we have his 
word, his oath, and the seal of his Son's blood for security. 
And assuredly we may build upon it, as upon a rock of 
eternal truth ; that when we come unto Christ, weary of 
all our sins, thii sting sincerely for him, and throwing our- 
selves upon him, as salvation itself, resolved to take upon 
us his sweet and easy yoke for the time to come, he doih 
presently, as he hath promised, take off the burthen, and 
free us everlastingly from the guilt and stain, condemna- 
tion and reign of all our sins. 

But now if thou wilt cast thyself upon Jesus Christ, roll 
thyself upon the promises, being so humbled, spiritually 
thirsty, and resolved, as thou hast said and I supposed at 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 299 

the first (for we who are God's messengers, comfort and 
assure of pardon in sucli cases, only upon supposition, that 
the heart and speeches, all the promises and protestations 
of the party and patient we deal with, be sincere every 
way) ; I say, if thou thus cast thyself upon the Lord Jesus 
and the promises of lil'e, having a well-grounded, strong, 
and seasonable calling thereunto, being, as appears before, 
invited, entreated, commanded, &c. the case will be bles- 
sedly altered. Thou shalt now do as God would have thee ; 
and mightily honour the invaluable and infinite dignity of 
his Son's passion and blood, the precious freeness of all 
the promises, his free love, sweet name, truth, mercy, power, 
justice, <ScC.; thou shalt also cut off and defeat the devil's 
present fiery darts and projects of further cruelty ; disen- 
tangle and unwind thyself out of the irksome maze of rest- 
less terrors and trouble of mind ; crown thine own soul in 
the mean time " with peace thatpasseth all understanding, 
with joy unspeakable and full of glory " (Philip, iv, 7 ; and 
IPet. i, 8); with evangelical pleasures, such as "neither 
eye hath seen, ear heard, or have entered into the heart 
of man " (1 Cor. ii, 9) ; and hereafter be most certainly 
received by that sweetest Redeemer of thine into those 
glorious mansiops above, where nothing but light and 
blessed immortality, no shadow for matter of tears, dis- 
contentments, griefs, and uncomfortable passions to work 
upon ; but all joy, tranquillity, and peace, even for ever and 
ever, doth dwell. 



CHAP. V. 



The second Malady of Conscience. Three Considerations against Un- 
soundness, proposed for the Cure of this Malady j and Three more 
against Unadvisedness. 

Yea, but, may another say, I, in the case proposed, have 
cast myself, according to your counsel, upon Jesus Christ ; 
and there by the mercy of God am I resolved to stick, come 
what will ; and yet no comfort comes. What should I 
think of myself in this case 1 

I think in such a case it may be convenient, and tliat 
such an one hath thereupon some cause and calling seriously 
and impartially to search and try his spiritual state. For 
which purpose, ponder seriously upon such considerations 
as these ; some of which may discover unsoundness, others 
unadvisedness. 

1. It may be the party is not yet come in truth to that 



300 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

sound humiliation, contrition, spiritual thirsting, resolution 
to sell all, iScc, required by the reverend Author quoted 
before*: but only hath passed over them overtly, not 
soundly ; superficially, not sincerely ; and then no marvel 
though no true and real comfort come. Inform thyself fur- 
ther in this point, that thou mayest more fully knovv^ my 
meaning in it, and be guided aright in a matter of so great 
weight t. 

2. Or it may be, how^soever he protest otherwise, and for 
all his partial legal terror and trouble of mind, his deceit- 
ful heart may still secretly harbour and hanker after some 
sweet sin, as pride, revenge, strange fashions, worldliness, 
lust, plays, gaming, good-fellowship, as it is called, &c. ; 
from which it doth not heartily yield, resolve, and endea- 
vour to make an utter and final cessation and divorce. And 
assuredly that false heart which regards and allows any 
wickedness in itself, howsoever it may be deluded with 
some Anabaptistical flashes, yet shall never be truly re- 
freshed with " joy in the Holy Ghost." 

3. It may be, though there were some probable and 
plausible shows that the party was principally cast down 
and affected with the heavy weight of sin and horror of 
God's wrath for it ; yet the true predominant cause of his 
heaviness, heart's grief, and bitterest complaint, was some 
secret earthly discontentment, the restless biting of some 
worldly sting : and in such cases, remove this, and you 
remove his pains ; comfort him about his cross, and you set 
him were he was ; and therefore, as in all this he continues 
a mere stranger in affection to the sweetness, amiableness, 
and excellency of Jesus Christ, so it is impossible that he 
should be acquainted with any sound spiritual comfort. 

But I will suppose all to be sincere and as it should be ; 
let me advise thee then to take notice of thine own un- 
advisedness. 

(1.) Thou art perhaps so full of the want of feeling, 
such a stranger to so much expected and desired joy and 
peace in believing, and by consequence so drowned in the 
unnecessary distractions and distempers of a sad heart, 
that thou utterly forgettest to give thanks and magnify God's 
singular and incomprehensible mercy for enlightening, 
convincing, and territying thy conscience, offering his Son, 
raising in thine heart an insatiable thirst after him, and 
giving thee spiritual ability to rest thy weary soul upon 
him ; and who knows not that unthankfulness keeps many 
good things from us, and is an unhappy block in the way to 

* Rogers of Dedham, on Faith. t Ibid. cap. ii, and v. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 301 

intercept and hinder the comfortable influence and current 
of God's favours and mercies from being showered down 
so frankly and plentifully upon his people 1 And he is more 
likely to be the more provoked in this case, because thou 
sufferest thine heart to be locked up and thy tongue tied, by 
Satan's cunning and cruel malice, from praising the glory 
of God's free grace, for such a work of wonder ; I mean 
that mighty change of thine from nature to grace, in extol- 
ling of which, were all the hearts and tongues of all the 
men and angels in heaven and earth set on work industri- 
ously through all eternity, they would still come infinitely 
short of that which is due and deserved. 

(2.) Or it may be, when some one of a thousand, upon 
thy complaint that no comfort comes, doth seriously labour 
to settle thine heart in peace, pressing upon thee for that 
purpose invincible and unanswerable arguments out of the 
word of truth ; to open it wide, that overflowing rivers of 
evangelical joys, which may spring (to him that is advised 
and believes the Prophets) abundantly even from the 
weakest faith to refresh and comfort it ; telling thee, that 
as thine humbled soul, leaning upon Christ, draws much 
heavenly virtue, mortifying power, and sanctifying grace 
from him, so it may and ought also to draw abundance of 
spiritual-lightsomeness from that ever-springing fountain of 
life, &c. ; — yet notwithstanding all this, thou sufferest some 
malicious counter-blasts and contrary suggestions of the 
devil to disperse and frustrate all these well-grounded and 
glorious messages ; and therefore it is just with God that 
thou fare the worse at his hands, and fall short of thine 
expectation, because thou givest more credit to the father 
of lies than to the Lord of truth. Since thou spillest all 
the cordials that are tendered unto thee in the name of 
Christ by his faithful physicians, thou art deservedly desti- 
tute of comfort still. Many in such cases, while God's 
messenger, who can rightly declare his ways unto them, 
stands by, opening and applying the rich treasures of God's 
free mercy in the mystery of the gospel, and with present 
replies repelling Satan's cavils, are reasonably well cheered 
and revived ; but when he is gone they very weakly and 
unworthily give way again to that foul lying fiend, to cast 
a discomfortable mist over the tender eye of their weak 
faith, and to domineer as he did before. 

Tell me true, if thou wert in doubt and distress about 
thy temporal state, tenure of thy lands, soundness of thy 
title-deeds, wouldst thou advise with and take counsel from 
a fool, a knave, and an enemy ; or wouldst thou make 
clwice of an honest, wise, understanding friend 1 I doubt 

2 D 



302 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

not of thine answer. And wilt thou then so far disparage 
divine truth, gratify hell, and hurt thine own heart, as in 
that weightiest point of thy spiritual state to consult and 
resolve with the devil, a liar, a murderer, a sworn enemy 
to God's glory and thy soul's good ; and neglect God him- 
self, blessed for ever, speaking unto thee out of his word, 
by that minister, which in such a case durst not falsify or 
flatter thee for a world for gold ] Shall many thousands of 
worldly wise men give credit very readily and roundly to 
" daubers with untempered mortar," upon a false and rotten 
foundation, to the most certain and eternal ruin of their 
souls ; and shall not a humble, an upright-hearted man, 
believe the prophet upon good ground, that the bones 
which the heavy burthen of sin hath broken may rejoice 1 
God forbid. 

(3.) Nay, but suppose the party be truly humbled, very 
thankful, resolute against all sin, labour to believe the 
prophets, &c. and yet no comfort come. I say then there 
is one other duty expected at thy hands, right precious 
and pleasing unto God, and that is waiting ; by which God 
would, 

1. Set yet a sharper edge and eagerness, more hungering 
and thirsting, greater longing and panting after the ravish- 
ing sweetness of his comfortable presence, with which 
melting, earnest, crying dispositions, he is very much 
delighted. 

2. Cause us with peace and patience to submit unto and 
depend upon his merciful wisdom in disposing and appoint- 
ing times and seasons for our deliverances and refreshings. 
For he well knows that very point and period of time, first, 
when his mercy shall be most magnified ; secondly, his 
children's hearts most seasonably comforted and kindly 
enlarged to pour out themselves in thankfulness ; thirdly, 
his and our spiritual enemies most gloriously confounded. 

3. Quicken and set on work with extraordinary fervency 
the spirit of prayer, fright us further from sin for the time 
to come ; fit us for a more fruitful improvement of all offers 
and opportunities to do our souls good ; to make more of 
"joy and peace in believing" when we enjoy it ; and 
to declare to others in like extremity God's dealings with 
us for their support, &c. 

We must learn then to expect and be content with God's 
season ; and hold up our hearts in the mean time with such 
considerations as these : First, we perform a very ac- 
ceptable service, and a Christian duty, right pleasing unto 
and much prevailing with God, by waiting. See Isa. xl, 
31 ; xlix, 23; Ixiv, 4; and Lam. iii, 25. Secondly, By our 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 303 

patient dependence upon God in this kind, we may mightily 
increase and multiply our comfort when his time is come. 
For he is wont to recompense abundantly at last his longer 
tarrying with excess of joy, and overflowing expressions of 
his love. Thirdly, we must ever remember, that all the 
while he exerciseth us with waiting, that season is not yet 
come, which in his merciful wisdom he holds the meetest 
to magnify the glory of his mercy most, and most wisely 
to advance our spiritual good. Fourthly, and that which 
is best of all, if the true convert, resting his weary soul 
upon the Lord Jesus and promises of life, should be taken 
away before he attain his desired comfort, he shall be 
certainly saved, and undoubtedly crowned with everlasting 
blessedness; for " blessed are all they that wait for him" 
(Isa. XXX, 18). A man is saved by believing ; and not by 
"joy and peace in believing." Salvation is an inseparable 
companion of faith ; but joy and peace accompany it as a 
separable accident ; as that which may be removed from 
it ; yea, there is cause why it should be removed. The 
light would never be so acceptable, were it not for the 
usual intercourse of darkness. 

Take here notice upon this occasion, that as a truly 
humbled soul receiving Christ in the sense I have said, 
hath power given him thereby to become the Son of God ; 
so he doth draw also from that glorious object of faith, so 
full of all amiableness, excellency, and sweetness— 

L Sometimes, by the mercy of God, a very sensible, 
stirring, and ravishing joy, " unspeakable and full of glory ;" 
which though it be many times very short, yet is unutterably 
sweet. 

2. If not so, yet an habitual calmness of conscience, if 
I may so call it ; which though we do not mark it so much, 
or magnify God's mercy for it as we ought, yet it makes us 
differ as far by a comfortable freedom from many slavish, 
guilty twitches, and an universal contentedness in all our 
courses and passages through this vale of tears, from the 
world's dearest and most admired favourite, as the highest 
region of the air from the restless and raging sea : espe- 
cially if that unhappily happy wretch have a waking con- 
science. 

3. Or at least ever a secret heavenly vigour, whereby the 
soul is savingly supported in what state soever, though it 
be under the continued pressures of most hideous tempta- 
tions ; the tithe of the terror whereof would make many 
a worldling make way with himself, because he wants this 
stay. And suppose they should continue unto the last gaspi 
even unto thine ending hour, nay entrance into heaven j 



304 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

yet thy spiritual state is not thereby prejudiced, but thy 
salvation is still most sure ; and thy first taste of those 
eternal joys shall be the sweeter, by how much thy former 
temptations and trials have been the sorer : for we must 
ever hold fast this blessed tiuth, that we are justified by 
casting ourselves upon Christ, not by comfort; by faith, 
not by feeling ; by trusting the sure word of God, not by 
assurance. 



CHAP. VI. 

Two Considerations more against Unadvisedness, for the Cure of the 
former Malady. 

But I desire to come yet nearer to thy conscience, and to 
press comfort upon thee with such strong and irresistible 
arguments, as all the subtlety of the infernal powers will 
never be able to dissolve. 

Thou sayest, and 1 suppose so, that thou art "weary of 
all thy sins," dost hunger and thirst after the righteousness 
of Christ ; prizest him before all the world ; hast cast thy- 
self upon his truth and tender-heartedness for everlasting 
safety ; and yet thou feelest no special sensible joy in thine 
heart thereupon. Be it so ; yet upon this occasion take ray 
counsel, and at my request address thyself again, and have 
recourse afresh unto the promises : settle thy soul upon 
them seriously, with fixed meditation and fervent prayer : 
set thyself purposely with earnestness and industry to suck 
from them their heavenly sweetness. And then, how is it 
possible that thine humble, upright heart should make 
resist ince to those mighty torrents of spiritual joys and 
refreshings, which by a natural and necessary consequence 
spring abundantly from the ensuing comfortable conclusions, 
grounded upon the sure word of God, and thine ow^n in- 
ward sense and most certain undeniable experience t 

VVhosoever "hungers and thirsts after righteousness" 
is blessed from Christ's own mouth. Matt, v, 6. And this 
blessedness compriseth an absolute and universal confluence 
of all excellencies, perfections, pleasures, and felicities in 
this world, and in the world to come ; begun in some 
measure in the kingdom of grace, and made complete in 
the kingdom of glory through all eternity. 

But I, mayest thou say, out of evident feeling and 
experience, find myself to " hunger and thirst after righteous- 
ness." 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 305 

Therefore I am most certainly blessed and interested in 
all the rich purchases of Christ's dearest blood and merit, 
which is the full price of the kingdom of heaven and all 
the glory thereof. 

Whosoever is athirst, hath his part in the " fountain 
of the water of life " (Rev. xxi, 6 ; xxii, 17 ; John vii, 37 ; 
and Isa. Iv, 1). 

But I, mayest thou say, cannot deny, dare not belie my- 
self, but that my poor heart thirsts unfeignedly to be bathed 
in the heavenly streams of God's free favour and Christ's 
sovereign blood. 

Therefore, undoubtedly I have my part in the well of life 
everlastingly ; whence, what delicious streams of dearest 
joy do sweetly flow ! 

Whosoever " labours and is heavy laden " may justly 
challenge at the hands of Christ rest and refreshing (Matt, 
xi, 28). 

But I feel all my sins an intolerable burthen upon my 
wounded soul, and most willingly take him as a Saviour 
and a Lord. 

Therefore I have my portion in his spiritual and eternal 
rest. 

"The High and Lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, 
whose name is Holy," and who dwells " in the high and 
holy place ;" dwelleth also in every " humble and contrite 
spirit," as in a royal throne. He hath, as it were, two 
thrones ; one in the empyrean heaven, the other in a broken 
heart (Isa. Ivii, 15). 

But my heart lies groveling in the dust, humbled under 
the mighty hand of God, and trembling at his feet. 

Therefore it is the mansion of Jehovah, blessed for ever. 

Whosoever " confesseth and forsaketh his sins shall have 
mercy " (Prov. xxviii, 13). 

But I confess and abominate all sin, resolved never to 
'* turn again to folly." 

Therefore mercy is most certainly mine. 

He in whose heart the Holy Ghost hath enkindled a kindly 
heat of affection to the brethren, hath passed from death to 
life (1 John iii, 14). 

But, by the mercy of God, my heart is wholly set upon 
the "brotherhood " (1 Pet. ii, 17), which I heartily hated 
heretofore. 

Therefore I have passed from death to life. 

These and the like conclusions are in themselves as full 

of sound joy and true comfort, as the sun is of light or the 

sea of waters. Open but the eye of thine humble souL 

and thou mayest see many glorious things in them. Crush 

2 D 3 



306 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

them but a little with the hand of faith, and much delicious 
sweetness of spiritual peace may distil upon thy soul. 

Lastly, such considerations as these may contribute some 
matter of comfort and support to him of weakest apprehen- 
sion in this case. 

1. If he consult with his own conscience, he shall happily 
find in his present sincere resolution an impossibility to 
turn back again to his former sinful life, pleasures, good- 
fellowship, sensual courses, and company. He says, and 
thinks it, that he will rather die than lie, swear, profane 
the sabbaths, put to usury, do wrong, keep any ill-gotten 
goods in his hands, haunt ale-houses, play-houses, gaming- 
houses ; or willingly put his heart or hand to any kind of 
iniquity, as he was formerly wont. And doth nature, 
think you, keep him back, or grace and God's Spirit 1 

2. If he should now hear, and have his ears filled with 
oaths, blasphemies, ribald talk, rotten speeches, filthy 
songs, railing at God's people, scoffing at religion, jesting 
out of scriptures, &c., his heart would rise ; he would either 
reprove them or be rid of them as soon as he could ; whereas 
heretofore he hath been perhaps a delightful hearer of them, 
if not a notorious actor himself. And whence do you 
think doth this arise, but from the seed of God remaining 
in him ? 

3. If when you hear him complain, that howsoever he 
hath cast himself upon Christ, as the prophets have coun- 
selled him, yet since thereupon he feels no such comfort 
and peace in believing as other Christians do, he begins to 
doubt whether he hath done well or no, and to conceive 
that he hath laid hold upon the promises too soon ; nay, 
and it may be upon this discontent, doth thus further en- 
large his complaint — Alas! my sins have formerly been 
so great, my heart is at this present so hard, my sorrow so 
scant, my failings so many, that I know not what to say 
to myself. Methinks I can neither pray, confer, love the 
brethren, sanctify the sabbath, rejoice in the Lord, as I see 
other of God's children do ; and therefore I am afraid all 
is nought. What heart can 1 have to hold on ] — 1 say, if 
to such a speech thou shouldst for trial give this reply : 
Well then, if it be so, even give over all ; strive no more 
against the stream ; trouble thyself no longer with reading, 
prayer, following sermons, forbearing good-fellowship and 
thine old companions. And since no comfort comes by 
casting thyself upon Christ, cast thyself again into the 
current of the times, course of the world, and merry 
company ; for there, yet, is some little poor pleasure to be 
had at least. Oh ! No, no, no, would he say ; that will 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 307 

I never do, whatsoever comes of me. I will trust in my 
Christ, though he should kill me ; for all these discourage- 
ments 1 will by no means cast away my confidence : I 
have been so freshly stung with their guilt, that I will 
rather be pulled in pieces with wild horses than plunge 
again into carnal pleasures. 1 will put my hand to all 
holy duties in obedience to God, though I perform them 
never so weakly. 1 will, by the mercy of God, keep my 
face towards heaven and back to Sodom so long as 1 breathe, 
come what will, inc. And whence do you think springs 
this resolution, but from a secret saving power, supporting 
him in the most desperate temptations and assaults of 
distrust 1 

Now this first, secret saving power, by which an humble 
soul leaning upon Christ is supported, when it is at the 
lowest ; secondly, the seed of God ; and thirdly, presence 
of grace, do every one of them argue a blessed stale, in 
which thou shall be certainly saved ; and therefore thou 
niayesl lift up thine heart and head with comfort unspeak- 
able and glorious. 



CHAP. VII. 

The Third Malady of Conscience. The Danger of it. The Causes of 
it. Two things proposed for Cure of it. 

3. Many there are who much complain of the great dis- 
proportion between the notorious vvickedness of their former 
life and their lamentable weakness of an answerable be- 
wailing it ; between the number of their sins and fewness 
of their tears ; the heiuousness of their rebellions, and little 
measure of their humiliation. And thereupon, because they 
did not find and feel those terrors and extraordinary troubles 
of mind in their turning unto God ; those violent passions 
and pangs in their new birth, which they have seen, heard, 
or read of, or knov/n in others, perhaps far less sinners than 
themselves ; they are much troubled with distractions and 
doubts about the truth and soundness of their conversion. 
'\\ hereby they receive a great deal of hurt and hindrance 
in their spiritual state ; for Satan gains very much by such 
a suggestion, and grounds many times a manifold mischief 
upon it. For by keeping this temptation on foot, these 
doubts and troubles in their minds whether they be truly 
converted or no, he labours and too often prevails — 

1. To hinder the Christian in his spiritual building. 
With what heart can he hold on who doubts of the sound- 



308 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORtI^TG 

ness and sure laying of the foundation 1 What progress is 
he like to make in Christianity who continually terrifies 
himself with fearful exceptions and oppositions about the 
truth of his conversion 1 A man in a long journey would 
jog on but very heavily, if he doubted whether he were in 
the right way or no. 

2. To abate, lessen, and abridge his courage in standing 
on God's side, patience under the cross, and spiritual mirth 
in good company. To keep him in dulness of heart, dead- 
ness of affections, distractions at holy exercises, and under 
the reign of almost a continual sadness and uncomfortable 
walking ; to make him quite neglect and never look towards 
those sweet commands of the blessed Spirit : ' ' Rejoice 
evermore. Rejoice ; and I say again, rejoice. Be glad in 
the Lord, and rejoice ye righteous ; and shout for joy all 
ye that are upright in heart." 

3. To fasten a great deal of dishonour upon God, {when 
he can make the Christian disavow, as it were, and nullify 
in his estimation, so great a work of mercy and grace, 
stamped upon his soul by an Almighty hand. A work for 
wonder and power answerable, if not transcendent, to the 
creation of the world. To the production whereof the in- 
finite mercies of the Father of all mercy ; the warmest 
heart's blood of his only Son ; the mightiest moving of the 
blessed Spirit, were required. Now what an indignity and 
disparagement oflfered unto so glorious a workman and 
blessed a work, to assent and subscribe unto the devil, a 
known liar, that there is no such thing ! 

4. To double and aggravate upon the Christian the grie- 
vous sin of unbelief. Not to believe the promises as they 
lie in his book, is an unworthy and wicked wrong unto the 
truth of God. But for a man to draw back and deny when 
they are all made good upon his soul, makes him worse 
than Thomas, the apostle ; for when he had thrust his hand 
into Christ's side he believed. But in the present case a 
man is ready to renounce and disclaim, though he have 
already grasped in the arms of his faith the crucified bleed- 
ing body of his blessed Redeemer, the sacred and saving 
virtue whereof hath inspired into the whole man a new, 
spiritual, sanctifying life, and a sensible, undeniable change 
from what it was. 

5. To detain the heart locked up, as it were, in a per- 
petual barrenness from giving of thanks, which is one of the 
noblest and most acceptable sacrifices and services that is 
oflfered unto God. Now what a mischief is this, that an 
upiight heart should be laced up, and his tongue tied by 
the devil's temptation from magnifying heartily the ^ory 



AFFLICTED CONSCIE]\CES. 309 

of God's free grace for such a work ! I mean the new crea- 
tion, at which heaven and earth, angels and men, and all 
creatures, may stand everlastingly amazed. So sweet it is 
and admirable, and makes an immortal soul for ever. 

But to keep myself to the point. Those who complain, 
as 1 have said, that because the pangs of their new birth 
were not, in that proportion they desire, answerable to the 
heinousness of their former pestilent courses and abomi- 
nableness of their foregone ill-spent life, many times sus- 
pect themselves, and are much troubled about the truth of 
their conversion ; may have their doubts and scruples in- 
creased, by taking notice of such propositions as these, 
which divines both ancient and modern let fall sometimes 
in their penitential discourses : — 

" Ordinarily men are wounded in their consciences at 
their conversion, answerably to the wickedness of their 
former conversation." — " Contrition in true converts is for the 
most part proportionable to the heinousness of their former 
courses. — " The more wicked that thy former life hath been, 
the more fervent and earnest let thy repentance or return- 
ing be*." 

" Sorrow must be proportionable to our sins. The greater 
our sin, the fuller must be our sorrow t." 

" According to the weight of sin upon the conscience, 
ought penitent sorrow to be weighty J." 

" He that hath exceeded in sin, let him exceed also in 
sorrow^." 

"Look how great our sins are, let us so greatly lament 
them [|." 

" Let the mind of everyone drink up so much of the tears 
of penitent compunction, as he remembers himself to have 
withered from God by wickedness H." 

" Grievous sins require most grievous lamentations**." 

" The measure of your mourning must be agreeable and 
proportionable to the sin tt." 

And we may see these rules represented unto us in the 
practice of Manasseh, who being a most grievous sinner 
(2 Chron. xxxiii, 6), " humbled himself greatly before the 
God of his fathers" (ver. 12). In the woman who is called 
a sinner (Luke vii, 37) emphatically, and by a kind of sin- 
gularity, and therefore sorrows extraordinarily (ver. 38), 
and " wipes Christ's feet with tears." In the idolatrous 
Israelites upon their turning unto the Lord (I Sam, vii, 4, 

* Homil. of Repentance. t Dike on Repentance, chap. iv. 

t Ambr. ad Viri?. corr. cap. viii. § Idem de Penit. lib. i, cap. ii. 
II Cypr. de Lapsis ad fin. % (iregor. Pastor. Curse, cap. xxx. 

** Autr. ad Fratr. in ereino. tt Cireenliam's Grave Coausel. 



310 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

6), " who drew water, and poured it out before the Lord." 
In the hearers of Peter, who having their consciences all 
bloody with the horrible guilt of crucifying the Lord of life 
(Acts ii, 33, 36), were " pricked in their hearts" (ver. 37) 
with such horror and raging anguish, as if so many poisoned 
daggers and scorpions' stings were fastened in them. In 
Paul, vvho having been a heinous offender, a grievous per- 
secutor (Actsix), whereas the other apostles, as one says, 
had been honest and sober fishermen, tasted deeper of 
this cup than they ; for he tells us, Rom. viii, 11, that " the 
law slew him." He was strangely amazed with a voice 
from heaven, struck down to the earth, and stark blind. 
" He trembled and was astonished : for three days he did 
neither eat nor drink," &c. (Acts ix.) 

And there is good reason for it. For ordinarily the newly 
enlightened eye of a fresh bleeding conscience is very sharp 
and clear, piercing and sightful, greedy to discover every 
stain and spot of the soul ; to dive even to the heart root, 
to the blackest bottom and ugliest nook of a man's former 
hellish courses ; to look back with a curious survey through 
the pure perspective of God's righteous law over his whole 
life, to his very birth sin and Adam's rebellion. And in 
this sad and heavy search, it is very inquisitive after and 
apprehensive of all circumstances which may add to the 
heinousness of sin and horror in his heart. It is quick- 
sighted into all aggravating considerations ; and quickly 
learns and looks upon all those ways, degrees, and circum- 
stances by which sins are made more notorious and hateful. 
And what the spirit of bondage in a fearful heart may infer 
hereupon you may easily judge. 

Now to the case proposed ; I say, 

1. That between sin and sorrow we cannot expect a 
precise equation ; not an arithmetical, but a geometrical 
proportion. Great sins should be greatly lamented ; yet 
no sin can be sufficiently sorrowed for, though it may be 
savingly. When we say the pangs of the new birth must 
be answerable to our former sinful provocations, vve mean 
not that we can mourn for sin according to its merit ; that 
is impossible. But great sins require a great deal of sor- 
row. We must not think that we have sorrowed enough 
for any sin, though we can never sorrow sufficiently. 

Before I proceed to a farther and fuller satisfaction in 
the point, let me tell you by the way how uncomfortable 
and doubtful the popish doctrine is in this matter, that the 
truth of our tenet may appear the more precious, and taste 
more sweet. 

Their attrition and conlritiGn, as I take it, differ as our 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 311 

legal and evangelical repentance ; 1. In respect of the ob- 
ject. Contrition, as they say, is sorrow for sin, as an offence 
against God ; attrition is a grief for sin, as liable to punish- 
ment. 2. In respect of the cause. Contrition ariseth from 
son-like, attrition from servile fear*. 

This contrition is the cause of the remission of sinst. 
Well then, thou art a papist and troubled in conscience. 
Thou knowest well that without contrition, no remission : 
but when comest thou to that measure and degree which 
may give thee some contentment about the pardon of thy 
sins ? Go unto them in this point for resolution and relief, 
and thou goest unto a rack. Consult with their chapters, 
" De quantitate Contritionis," of the amount of sorrow, 
and they are able to confound thee with many desperate 
distractions. 

1. Lookback upon the elder schoolmen; and you shall 
have Adrian t and others tell you ofa contrition in the highest 
strain, and to which nothing can be added§. This opinion 
Vega refutes 1|, and Bellaimine dislikes it*[[. Note by the 
way how sweetly they agree ; our concord is angelical in 
respect of their confusions. 

2. Go to Scotus** and his followers, and you shall find 
him to talk of a certain intensity of contrition, which is only 
known unto God; but this Greg.de Valent. censures as 
very false tt. You see again, as there is no truth in their 
tenets, so no constancy, no concord, and by consequence 
no comfort to a truly troubled spirit. 

3. Come at length to the latter locusts, some modern 
Jesuits, daubers over of their superstitious ruins with many 
rotten distinctions (I mean Bellarmine, Greg, de Valent. 
and their fellows), and they dare not stand either to the 
unknown intensity of Scotus, nor that of highest pitch, whicli 
Adrian holds ; but come in with a sorrow for sin, apprecia- 
tive summus. And what is that, think you 1 

Hence Bellarmine (for ^'alent. speaks more warily in the 
quoted place, Art. '• Neque veni ;" yet very weakly too, 
for in such cases the troubled mind is not wont to rest upon 
generals only, but will in spite of ourselves bring us to 
particulars, howsoever Scotus, Navar, and Madina advise 
the contrary) — " Sorrow for sin," saith he, " is then summus 

* See Valent. Disp. vii, q. 8, De Contrit. punct, 2. 

t Bellar. lib. ii, De Poeuit. cap. xil. 

t QuEest ii, de Foenit. qnodlib. v, artic. 3. 

§ \'alent. torn, iv, disp. 7, qu. 8, de Contrltione, punct. 5. 

II De Justif. lib. xiii, cap. xiv ad princ. 

% De Poeiiit. lib. ii, cap. xi, art. denique si summus. 

** In 4 sent. dist. xiv, q. 2. tt Tom. iv, col. 17, 24. 



312 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

appi-eciative, when the will doth more esteem the detesta- 
tion of sin, than the attainment of any good, or escaping 
any ill ;" and so by consequence (for, as I intimated, a 
troubled conscience in such a case is very curious and 
inquisitive, and will not stay only upon confused and general 
notions of good and ill, but easily descend to particulars, 
to know its state more perfectly, especially in a point of so 
great importance) a man must find his heart first to prize 
the hatred of sin before the happiness of heavenly joys or 
avoiding hellish pains, before he can come to comfort of 
the remission of his sins. What a torture were it to a 
troubled spiiit to fall into the hands of such true pharisees, 
who lay heavy burthens upon others, but will not touch 
them themselves with the least of their fingers. But, 
blessed be God ! we truly teach that it is not so much the 
measure and amount, as the truth and heartiness of our 
sorrow, which fits for the promises of life and pardon of 
sin. Yet I must say this also, he that thinks he hath sor- 
rowed sufficiently, never sorrowed truly. And I like Bel- 
larmine's last proposition well, in the fore-cited place, if it 
be thus understood, that we must desire, aim, and endea- 
vour after the highest pitch of godly sorrow which can 
possibly be attained. But it is one thing to £ay, either just 
so much measure of sorrow or no mercy — such a quantity 

• of contrition or no remission — another thing to say we ntiust 
long and labour to bring our naughty hearts to this, even to 
be willing rather to lie in hell than to live in sin. Perfec- 
tions of grace are aimed at in this life, not attained. 

4. I confess some of them sometimes, by reason of free- 
dom in their schools, over-ruled like Caiaphas, or over-mas- 
tered by the clearness and invincibleness of the truth, speak 
something more orthodoxically * ; but you see them still 
like the four winds blow in one another's faces. Hereupon 
1 have many times marvelled, that understanding papists 
looking into the point are not plunged into desperate per- 
plexities, considering the variety of opinions and uncer- 
tainty of the degree of sorrow required to their contrition : 
but when I reflected upon another rotten daubing trick of 
theirs, 1 rather wonder at the depths of their antichristian 
craft in so politicly and plausibly patching together their 
popish paradoxes, that they may still keep their deluded 
disciples in contentment, and please them still at least with 

some palliatives instead of cures. It is this 1 mean : they 

* See on this point, Vega, lib. ili, cap. xxiv, art. " Ad que accedit;" 
Ibid art. " Et Sacerdotes ; " Tolet. Instruct. Sacerd. lih. ii, cap. v, art. 
"Quartani dubium ; " Navar. cap. i, num. xviii; Estius, in iv, sent, 
dist. xvi, sect, vii, art. " Adde qu«jd si sumnius." &c. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 31 3 

hold also (Prodigious infatuation ! It is impossible that the 
learned on the pope's side — were not that curse justly upon 
tliem, 2 Thes. ii, 10,11, "Because they received not the 
love of the truth, that they might be saved ; God sends 
them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie" — 
should ever be so grossly blinded) ; I say they hold, that a 
man ex attrito, by the power of the priestly absolution is 
made contiitus ; and that ex opere operato, as Valent. affirms. 
Which in effect is thus much ; that having but only attri- 
tion (legal repentance), that Iruitless sorrow which may be 
found in a Judas, a Latomus, and which a reprobate may 
carry with him to hell, is by the virtue of their feigned sa- 
crament, " by the sacramental act of absolution," as they 
call it, made truly and savingly contrite and put into a state 
of justification. Hear it in the words of that great and 
famous light of Ireland*, and for ever abhor all such popish 
impostures: " When the priest with his power of forgiving 
sins interposeth himself in the business, they tell us that 
attrition, by virtue of the keys, is made contrition ; that is 
to say, that a sorrow arising from a servile fear of punish- 
ment, and such a fruitless repentance as the reprobate may 
carry with them to hell, by virtue of the priest's absolution 
is made so fruitful, that it shall serve the turn for obtaining 
forgiveness of sins, as if it had been that godly sorrow, 
which worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented 
of (2 Cor. vii, 10) : by which spiritual cozenage many poor 
souls are most miserably deluded, while they persuade 
themselves that upon the receipt of the priest's acquittance, 
upon this carnal sorrow of theirs, all scores are cleared 
until that day, and then beginning upon a new reckoning, 
they sin and confess, confess and sin afresh ; and tread this 
round so long, till they put off all thought of saving repent- 
ance ; and so the blind follov/ing the blind, both at last 
follow into the pit." 

Or thus, a little after : — 

" It hath been always observed for a special difference 
betwixt good and bad men, that the one hated sin for the 
love of virtue, the other only for the fear of punishment. 
The like difference do our adversaries make betwixt contri- 
tion and attrition. That the hatred of sin in the one pro- 
ceedeth from the love of God, and of righteousness in the 
other from the fear of punishment ; and yet teach for all 
this that attrition, which they confess would not otherwise 
suffice to justify a man, being joined with the priest's abso- 
lution is sufficient for that purpose. He that was attrite 

* Usher, in his Answer to a Jesuit's Challenge. 
2 E 



314 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

being by virtue of this absolution made contrite and justi- 
fied : that is to say, he that was led only by a servile fear, 
and consequently was to be ranked among disordered and 
evil persons, being by this means put in as good a case for 
the matter of the forgiveness of his sins as he that loveth 
God sincerely. For they themselves do grant, that such as 
have this servile fear, from whence attrition issueth, are to 
be accounted evil and disordered men," &c. 

But leaving these blind pharisees in the endless maze of 
their inextricable errors, until it please the Lord to enlighten 
them and by a strong hand pull them out, which 1 heartily 
desire and will ever pray, I come to prosecute mine own 
point. 

2. If you ask me when trouble for sin is saving, I would 
answer, when it is true. If you further demand when is it 
true ; I would say, when it drives thee utterly out of thy 
self, and to sdl all in the sense 1 have said before ; and 
brings thee with a sincere thirst and settled resolution to 
Jesus Christ, to live and die with him as a Saviour and a 
Lord, and is accompanied with an universal change in body, 
soul, and spirit. 



CHAP. VIII. 

The Third Way of Curing ttie former Malady. One thing to be con- 
sidered to that purpose. 

In the third place, take notice of such considerations as 
these : — 

1. God, being a most free agent, doth not tie himself con- 
stantly and invariably to ordinary, expected, set, and the 
same forms, measures, times, proportions of his ways, and 
workings upon his children. For he is wise without limit 
and above measure ; and therefore hath many secret and 
glorious ends and aims, which, according to his good plea- 
sure, much diversify the means serviceable and subordinate 
thereunto. From whence may spring these three conclu- 
sions : — 

(1.) He may for the most part create in the heart of the 
true convert terrors and troubles of conscience, amazements 
and mourning, answerable in some good measure to the 
variety, vanity, and villany of his former wicked ways and 
lewd life. As appears before in Manasseh, the sinful wo- 
man, idolatrous Israelites, hearers of Peter, and many in 
these days, if it were convenient to name them. " For the 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 315 

most pait," saith a great divine, " the violence of humilia- 
tion in the calling of a sinner, is according to the continu- 
ance and greatness of his actual transgressions. According 
to the same is the rent in the conscience and soul. There- 
fore, if there be any who hath been a great and grievous 
sinner, and hath not with violence been pulled from 
his sin, he may do well to suspect and search himself 
soundly." 

(2.) He may sometimes suffer a notorious sinner to pass 
something more easily and with less terror though the pangs 
of the new birth. But then such a one is wont to walk 
more humbly before God all his life after, for that he was 
not humbled with more remarkableness of penitent remorse 
and spiritual anguish in his conversion ; and so extension 
and continuance of godly grief that he was not more grieved, 
makes up as it were that desired intensity and extremity of 
pangs which might justly have pained him in his passing 
from death to life. Every hearty and sensible complaint 
that the pangs of the new birth were not more painful and 
proportionable to the pollutions of his youth, is, as it were, 
and in the sense 1 have said, a pang of the new birth. Or 
else upon some occasion afterward in his Christian course 
he may be revisited and vexed afresh with more terror and 
trouble of conscience than in his first change ; as in such 
cases as these : — 1st. If he should (which God forbid !) by 
some violent enticement and snaring opportunity be entan- 
gled again and reinfected with any former sensual pleasure 
of his unregenerate time ; or by neglect of his care and 
watchfulness over his ways be suddenly surprised with some 
new scandalous sin. 2diy. Upon the assault of some extra- 
ordinary frighting temptation, or pressing of hideous thoughts 
upon his melancholic imagination. 3dly. When some heavy 
cross or sickness* after many prosperous days shall seize upon 
him, which may lie sore and long. 4thly. Upon his bed of 
death ; especially if he fall upon it immediately after some re- 
lapse, backsliding, or new wound of conscience. There is a kind 
of natural power besides God's special hand in sickness, 
sorrow, darkness, melancholy, the night, extraordinary 
crosses, the bed of death, to represent the true number and 

* David, Psalm xxxviii, beinsr put in mind by his sickness of Ciod's 
wrath against sin, was full sorely afflicted in soul ; so that lie cries : 
" There is no soundness in my flesh, because of thine anger : neither is 
there any rest in my bones, because of my sin. For mine iniquities 
are gone over mine head; as a heavy burthen they are too heavy for 
me. I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the 
day long. I am feeble and sore broken ; I have roared by reason of 
the distjuietiiess of my heart. My sorrow is continually before me." 



316 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

heinousness of sins with greater horror and more unto the 
life ; whereas prosperity, health, and days of peace, do 
rather delude the eyes of the conscience ; and like false and 
flattering glasses make those foul fiends seem fairer than 
they are indeed. And therefore the Christian, especially 
that I speak of, being outwardly distressed, cast upon his 
bed of death, or any ways extraordinarily visited by God's 
hand, seeing his sins upon the sudden marshalled and march- 
ing against him ; more in number and more fiercely than 
heretofore, may for the while be surprised and exercised 
with unexpected terror, until by meditation upon God's 
former special mercy unto him in spiritual things, upon the 
marks and effects of his change, upon the uprightness of 
his heart towards God in the days of health, upon those 
testimonies and assurances which his Christian friends can 
give him of his being in a gracious state, with such like 
holy helps ; and so in cool blood and above all resolving to 
stick for ever fast to the Lord Jesus, though he kill him, he 
be raised again from such dejections of spirit to the wonted 
confidence and comfort of his interest in Christ and salva- 
tion of his soul. Here, by the way, let none think it strange, 
that even the dearest servants of Christ may be revisited* 
with more horror of conscience afterward than at their first 
turning on God's side. As appears in Job, Hezekiah, David, 
in Mrs. Brettergh, Mr. Peacick, &c. Besides the proposed 
cases, this re visitation may befal them also — 5thly. For 

* But how may this revisitatioii with as great, if not greater tenoi-s 
than at first turning unto God, consist with that, Rom. viii, 15, " Ye 
have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear;" which seems to 
import thus mnch, that God's child receives the spirit of bondage no 
more after he hath once received the spirit of adoption, revealing and 
evidencing unto him that he is a son and that God is his father ? In 
answer : The same Spirit produceth these contrary effects. By the law, 
fear and terror, by the gospel, peace and prayer. Now at the first talc- 
ing a man in hand to turn him to the Lord, the spirit of bondage, by 
the work of the law, doth testify unto the soul that it is in a wretched 
and damnable state, bound over to the guilt of its own sin, and God's 
fiery wrath, to death, and hell, and damnation for ever-, that so it may 
be driven to Jesus Christ for release and pardon. But after the planta- 
tion of faith and presence of the spirit of adoption it never testifies so 
again, because it would be an untruth. It may afterward work an ap- 
prehension that God is angry ; but not that he is not a father. The 
hiding of God's face, which may often befal his child ; the darkness of 
our own spirits thereupon, wliich may revive all the old guilt again ; and 
the devil's cruel pressing upon us upon such advantages, raise these 
hideous mists of horror I am speaking of, and such terrible after-tem- 
pests, of wliich our only-wise and all powerful God makes excellent use, 
hoth for ourselves and others, and attains thereby his own most glori- 
ous, secret, and sacred end, as appears in the following passage. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 317 

• 
their own trial. This was the end, as it may seem, why 
Job was sei up as a mark for the envenomed arrows of the 
Almighty to aim at, and whole armies of terrors to fight 
against. He approved himself to be steel to the back as tliey 
say, by that victorious ejaculation, "Though he slay me, 
yet will I trust in him " (Job xiii, 15) ; whereby God was 
mightily honoured, Satan utterly confounded, and that con- 
troversy, " wlielher Job feared God for nought or no 1 " 
gloriously ended on God's side. 6thly. That they may grow 
into greater conformity with their blessed Saviour in spiri- 
tual sufferings. 7thly. That, tasting again sometimes the 
bitterness of divine wrath for sin, they may be the more 
frighted and flee further from it. 8thly. That thereby the 
incomprehensible love of Christ toward them may sink 
deeper into their hearts, who for their sakes and salvation 
drunk deep and large, and the very dregs of that cup, the 
least drop whereof is to them so bitter and intolerable. 
9thly. That by sense of the contrary, their joy in the favour 
and light of God's countenance may be more joyful, their 
spiritual peace more pleasant, the pleasure of grace more 
precious, the comforts of godliness more comfortable, &c. 
lOihly. For admonition to others ; to draw duller and 
drowsy Christians to more strictness, watchfulness, and zeal, 
by observing the spiritual troubles and terrors of those who 
are far more holy and righteous than themselves. To inti- 
mate unto formal professors that all is certainly nought 
with them, who ordinarily are mere strangers to all afflic- 
tions of soul and sorrow for sin. llthly. For terror to many, 
who going on securely in their sensual courses, are wont to 
cry down all they can the power of preaching, by crying to 
their companions thus, or in the like manner — "Well, for 
all this, we hope hell is not so hot, nor sin so heavy, nor 
the devil so black, nor God so unmerciful, as these precise 
preachers would make them." How may such as these be 
affrighted and terrified upon this occasion, with pondering 
upon that terrible place, 1 Pet. iv, 17, 18. " If judgment 
begin at the house of God, what shall the end be of them 
that obey not the gospel of God \ And if the righteous 
scarcely be saved;" if God's children have their con- 
sciences scorched, as it were, with the flames of hell ; 
" where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear," but even 
in the bottom of that fiery lake, and amidst the unquencha- 
ble rage of those endless flames ? 12thly. For the just 
hardening of such as hate to be reformed, and are despe- 
rately resolved against the saving preciseness of the saints. 
It may be in this manner : A godly man hath lived long 
amongst rebels, thorns, and scorpions, scorners, railers, per- 

2 E 3 



318 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

secutors, who although he hath shined all the while " as a 
light in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation," 
yet they were ever so far from being heated with love of 
heavenly things by his holy life, or won unto good by his 
gracious example, that like so many bats and owls, impatient 
of all spiritual light, they did either fly from it as far as they 
could in affection and practice, if not in habitation, or fell 
upon it fiercely with their envenomed claws of spite and 
cruelty, to extinguish quite, if it were possible, such blessed 
beams of saving light ; and to darken, with hellish mists of 
ignorance and ill life, the place where they live. They 
willfully blinded themselves with a pestilent conceit, that 
his sincerity was nothing but hypocrisy ; his holiness only 
humour ; his forwardness f.tntasticalness, his sanctification 
singularity. And thereupon resolved and boisterously com- 
bined against him with all their policy, purses, and possibi- 
lities, like those ungodly ones mentioned in the book of 
Wisdom, " Let us lie in wait for the righteous ; because he 
is not for our turn, and he is clean contrary to our doings ; 
he upbraideth us with our offending the law, and objecteth 
to our infamy the transgressings of our education," &cc. I 
say, God may sutler such a man upon his death-bed to fall 
into some more extraordinary observable discomfort and 
distress of conscience ; of which those graceless wretches 
taking notice, may thereby be made desperately obstinate 
and hardened in their lewd and carnal courses. For seeing 
God's hand upon him in that fearful manner, and wanting 
the spirit of discerning, they conclude most peremptorily, 
that notwithstanding his great shows, he was most certainly 
but a counterfeit. And so themselves become many times 
upon that occasion most implacable enemies to grace and 
all good men. They are more strongly locked up in the 
arms of the devil, faster nailed to formality or good-fellow- 
ship ; and, which is the perfection of their madness and 
misery, " bless themselves in their hearts," saying merrily 
to their brethren in iniquity: "You see now what these 
men are, which make themselves so holy and are so hot 
in religion : these are the fellows which pretend to be so 
scrupulous and precise ; and of that singular strain of sanc- 
tity that they think none shall be saved but themselves. You 
see in this man the desperate end of such hypocritical 
puritans." Thus the glory of God's justice is justly magni- 
fied, by letting them grow stark blind who wilfully shut 
their eyes against the light of grace, by giving ihem over to 
a reprobate mind v.'ho so maliciously hated to be reformed ; 
and so too often they walk on for ever after, with confidence 
and hardness of heart which cannot repent, in a peipetual 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 319 

prejudice against purity and the power of godliness, unto 
the pit of hell. Whereas, by the mercy of God and invio- 
lable constancy of his covenant, that blessed man, by these 
terrors and afflictions of conscience, besides glorifying God 
in hardening others, is the more thoroughly fitted and refined 
for that glory which is presently to be revealed. 

(3.) Greatest humiliations do not ever argue and import 
the greatest sinners. For sins are not always the cause of 
our afflictions, particularly and directly, but sometimes some 
other motives. Abraham was put unto that heavy task of 
taking away his own only dear son's life, principally for the 
trial of his faith. Job was visited with such a matchless 
variety and extremity of afflictions, for the purpose of end- 
ing that controversy between God and Satan, whether he 
feared God for nought or no ? God's heavy hand was some- 
times upon David especially for the manifestation of his 
innocency (Psalm xvii, 3) ; nay, our blessed Saviour, infi- 
nitely free from sin, was notwithstanding tempted and tried 
by Satan and the world, that his heavenly virtues and 
divine excellencies might appear and be made more illus- 
trious ; and himself tells us (John ix, 3) that the blind man 
was so born, neither for his own sin nor for the sin of his 
parents, " but that the works of God should be made mani- 
fest in him." 

For the particular I have in hand, — to prevent some sin 
into which he sees his child inclinable and likely to fall, by 
reason of some violent occasion, natural propensity, strong 
temptation, or industrious malice of the devil to disgrace 
him and his profession scandalously, God in great mercy 
rnay give him a taste, nay a deep draught of the inexpres- 
sible terrors of a troubled mind again ; that thereby he may 
be taught betime to take more heed, walk more warily, 
and stand upon his guard with extraordinary watchfulness 
against the very first assault and least insinuation of sin. 
There is preventing physic for preservation of health, as 
well as that when the disease is dangerously upon us, for 
recovery. There was given unto Paul a thorn in the flesh ; 
which, if we will take the interpretation of some learned 
divines, was a wound in the spirit, the sting of conscience 
pressing him down to the nethermost hell in his present 
feeling, who had lately been taken up to the highest heaven, 
purposely lest he should swell with spiritual pride, be 
puffed up and "exalted above measure with the abundance 
of revelations." If we well weigh the admirable story of 
that gracious and holy servant of Christ, JMrs. Brettergh, 
we may probably conceive that a principal end why those 
most grievous spiritual afflictions of soul upon her last bed 



320 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

were laid upon her, was in God's just judgment to blind 
yet more those bloody papists about her ; and because they 
wilfully shut their eyes against that glorious light of true 
religion which she so blessedly and fruitfully expressed in 
her godly life, to let them thereby sink yet deeper into 
strong delusion ; that they might stick still more stiffly to 
popish lies, according to that prophecy concerning the anti- 
christians (2 Thes. ii, 10, 11, 12), " Because they received 
not the love of the truth that they might be saved ; for this 
cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should 
believe a lie ; that they all might be damned who believed 
not the truth," &c. which we see at this day verified with 
a witness in popish doctors, even their greatest scholars, 
as Bellarmine, and other polemical writers. And therefore 
let us never marvel, that though they be laden with much 
learning, yet that they should lie egregiously, and defend 
with infinite obstinacy and clamour the doctrine of devils, 
that accursed hydra of heresies in their voluminous dung- 
chills. Now God's judgment in hardening them hereby, as 
I have said, was the more just ; because they were so far 
from being wrought upon and won by her heavenly conver- 
sation, that they were extraordinarily enraged against her 
goodness and profession of the gospel, as appears in that, 
besides their continual railing and roaring against her as an 
eminent light, like so many furious bedlams, they barbar- 
ously wreaked their malice and spite upon the dumb and 
innocent creatures, by killing at two several times her hus- 
band's horses and cattle in the night. 

That her fiery trial, through which she passed as purest 
gold into Abraham's bosom, did thus harden them is mani- 
fest by the event : for as the reverend penman of that story 
reports : " Those of the Romish faction bragged, as though 
an oracle had come from heaven to prove ihem catholics 
and us heretics." Prodigious folly ! Damnable delusion ! 

It is so then, that God, in his inflicting of afflictions, 
doth not ever aim at sin as at the principal end. And yet 
do not mistake : though he punishes sometimes and not for 
sin, yet never without sin either inherent or imputed. 
There is ever matter enough in our sinful souls, and bodies, 
and Jives, to afflict us infinitely. The best of us brought 
with us into this world that corruption which might bring 
upon us all the plagues of this and the other life. Every 
man hath in himself sufficient fuel for the fire of God's 
wrath to work upon still, if it pleased him in justice to set 
it on flame. As in the present point of spiritual terrors and 
troubles of mind, if God should out of his just and cause- 
ful indignation put the full sting but into the least sin, it 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 321 

were able to put a man into the very mouth of hell. But 
I speak of God's more ordinary ways and dealings with the 
sons of men ; and so I say, God may sometimes, for some 
hidden and holy ends seen and seeming good to his hea- 
venly wisdom, bring a less heinous sinner through extra- 
ordinary horror out of his natural state into the good 
way. 



CHAP. IX. 



A Second and Third Thing to be considered for the cure of the former 
Malady. 

2. Aggkavation of horror is occasioned, terrors and trou- 
bles may be multiplied and enlarged, in our enlargement 
from the state of darkness and chains of the devil, by — 

(1.) Some precedents and preparatives which God some- 
times in his unsearchable wisdom doth immediately pre- 
mise or suffer to fall out, as, 

1st. Some heavy cross and grievous affliction, to make 
the power of the law more forcible and fall more heavily 
upon our stubborn and stony hearts. This we see in Ma- 
nasseh, who was, as it were, terrified out of his bloody and 
abominable courses by the heaviness and horror of his 
chains, and so " was humbled greatly before the God of 
his fathers," (2 Chron. xxxiii, 12). God's extraordinary 
angry visitations make men many times cry with troubled 
and grieved hearts, " Come, let us turn unto the Lord, he 
hath wounded us," &c. 

2d, Strange terrors sometimes arising from external ac- 
cidents, yea hidden natural causes, uncouth visions, and 
apparitions full of amazement and fear, bodily distem- 
pers, horrible injections, hideous thoughts, whereby they 
are mightily affrighted beforehand, and prepared to pass 
through the pangs of the new birth more terribly. 

3d. Some heinous and crying sin which he suffers some to 
fall into, and immediately upon it awakes the conscience. 
That almighty physician, who is able to bring health out of 
poison, death out of life, light out of darkness, heaven out 
of hell, may by accident as it were prepare one to conver- 
sion by giving him over to the height of some one or more 
abhorred abominations and crimson sins ; as we may see in 
Peter's hearers (Acts ii), Paul, Manasseh, the sinful wo- 
man, publicans and harlots, left to the killing of Christ, 
spilling the blood of the saints, those horrible outrages, ex- 



322 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

treme filth, extortions, pollutions. Physicians, by ripening 
diseases, make way to heal them ; for diseased matter is 
never more easily removed than when it exceedeth in ripe- 
ness and quantity. 

4th. Lying long in ignorance, sensuality, and dissolute 
life, without profitable and powerful means. In this case, 
upon the first awaking and affrighting the conscience for 
sin, it may be exposed to many terrible perplexities and 
longer continued terrors. For the light of natural con- 
science bred with them in their own bosoms may in the 
mean time serve to enrage and torture, as we see in many 
guilty heathens ; but there is no natural light to lead us to 
Christ and evangelical comforts. 'J'he commandments have 
ground in nature ; but the mystery of the gospel is wholly 
supernatural. We find by manifold experience what a hard 
and heavy task it is to undertake a poor ignorant soul, 
troubled in mind. The cure is many times very difficult, 
dangerous, and long. The darkness of their ignorance, 
being now distressed in conscience, is very fit and fearful 
matter for Satan to work on hideously, and to play his pes- 
tilent pranks of most gross impostures and much hellish 
cruelty. His malicious main plot against such, and his ut- 
most endeavour ordinarily is to drive them to self-destruc- 
tion, if it be possible, before they get understanding in tlie 
■ways of God, or we can get any competent light and com- 
fort into their consciences. 

(2.) Some concurrent circumstances ; as, 

1st. The melancholic and sad constitution of the party ; 
that humour doth naturally give extraordinary entertain- 
ment and edge to terrors and sorrows. 

2d. The crabbedness and crookedness of his natural dis- 
position, which must be tamed and taken down with more 
labour and with much violence. A hard and knotty block 
must have a hard wedge. An angry word or frown will 
work more with some dispositions, than many sore blows 
upon a cross and sturdy spirit. God is here wont sweetly 
and wisely to apply himself to the several natures, condi- 
tions, and dispositions of his children. 

3d. Height of place and happiness to have for this life 
what heart can wish. Whereby it comes to pass that men 
are so deeply drowned in sensuality, epicurism, and earthly- 
mindedness, that for a thorough change they have need 
many times to be taken down thoroughly with a deep sense 
of legal terrors. 

4th. Excellency of natural or acquired parts and endow- 
ments ; as wit, learning, courage, wisdom, &c. wretchedly 
abused and long misemployed upon wrong and wicked ob- 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 323 

jects. Much ado many times and a great measure of humi- 
liation will hardly fright such vain over-valuers of them- 
selves and idolizers of their own sufficiency from their ad- 
mired follie^. And here also Satan interposeth most furi- 
ously, and hinders this hai)py work all he can possibly ; for 
he well knows, that if such noble and worthy parts should 
be sanctified to the owners and turned the right way, his 
kingdom would fare the worse and he should be a greater 
loser. Suppose a Christian prince should with his army 
break into the Turk's dominion, would not the Turk fortify 
those castles best, out of which being won, ihe enemy 
might do him most harm ? So whom the devil seeth to be 
the likeliest instruments for the overthrow of his kingdom, 
if once they become temples of the Holy Ghost, those he is 
most loath to lose, and labours mightily to keep in his slavery 
still. And therefore he opposes with all his power and po- 
licy, raising as.many tempests of terror as he is able, that he 
may either drive them back in their passage to the holy 
path, or swallow them up in the abhorred gulf of despair 
by the way. 

5th. A more searching and piercing ministry, which is 
ordinarily wont to awake the conscience with more terror, 
to irradiate and fill it with more universal and clearer light, 
to quicken it with more apprehension, and so proportion- 
ably to aftect and afflict it with a more feeling and fearful 
sense of God's most just and holy wrath against sin. 
Whereupon they become excellent and everlasting Chris- 
tians. 

6th. Biting it in, as it may be called, and not opening 
the wound of conscience betimes to some skilful soul phy- 
sician, may be an unhappy means, much to enlarge both 
the continuance and extremity of a man's spiritual trouble. 
Shame, bashfulness, pretence of want of opportunity, hope 
to get through by himself, ice., are ordinary keys to lock up 
his tongue at such a time. But sure I am, Satan hatha 
chief stroke and principal part to persuade concealment. 
For, alas ! he wins by it wofully. All the while he plies 
with great advantage and much subtlety his hideous temp- 
tations to self- killing, despair of mercy, returning again to 
folly, &c. ; and it is to be feared, which is a most grievous 
thing, that sometimes by this cruel silence he conquers 
and casts some poor souls upon the bloody and most ab- 
horred villany of self-murder. Let such a one then be ever 
sure most resolutely to break through the devil's accursed 
snare in this kind, and to pour out his soul secrets betimes 
into some faithful holy bosom. J have heard many after 
they have escaped tell what strange tricks and variety of 



324 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

devices he practised to discourage, divert, and disable them 
from discovering their minds as they purposed, even when 
they were come with much ado into the presence of the 
spiritual physician. 

3. The ends to which God prepares and fits some by 
their sore travail in the new birth and longer languishing 
under his visiting hand in this kind. God may purpose 
sometimes in such cases ; — 

(1.) To employ them as Christ's most resolute and un- 
daunted champions in more worthy services. In managing 
whereof, remembrance of their having been once, as it 
■were, in the mouth of hell and scorched with flames of 
terror, serves as a continual spur and incentive unto them 
to do nobly, and to supply them from time to time with 
mightiness of courage, height of resolution, and eminency 
of zeal in those glorious ways. As we may see in those 
renowned pillars of the church, Austin, Luther, &c. The 
higher and greater the building is, the deeper must the 
foundation be laid in the earth. 

(2.) To make them afterwards of excellent use and spe- 
cial dexterity, out of their former experience, to speak 
unto the hearts of their brethren ready to sink into the 
same gulf of horror and danger of despair, out of which the 
good hand of God's gracious providence hath by such and 
such means so mercifully pulled and preserved them. 1 he 
same keys which did open the locks and loose the fetters 
vi^hich Satan hung upon their heavy hearts, may hap- 
pily undo those also which he hath fastened upon the souls 
of others. 

(3.) To render them to the church as remarkable pre- 
cedents and mirrors of mortification, self-denial, heavenly 
mindedness, and holy walking with God, for others to look 
upon and imitate. Mindfulness of their former wrestling 
with the wrath of God, despair, and the horrors of hell, 
makes them for ever after more mindless of eaithly things, 
weaned from the world, startling at every appearance of 
evil, greedy of godliness, conversing in heaven, excellent 
Christians indeed. Mr. John Glover, after five years hor- 
rible afflictions of soul, was framed thereby, saith Mr. Fox, 
to such mortification of life, as the like perhaps hath not 
been seen ; in such sort, as he, being like one placed in 
heaven already and dead in this world, led a life altogether 
celestial*. 

* See Acts and Monuments. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 325 



CHAP. X. 

The Fourth and Fifth Considerations which belong lo the Third Way of 
Curing the tbrraer Malady. Also the Fifth Help for it by Advice. 

4th. Iv sound contrition and saving repentance, let us for 
the present t,ake notice of, — First, a sensible smart and an- 
guish of the heart. Secondly, a dislike, hatred, and aver- 
sion in the will. Thirdly, a change of the mind, enlightened 
and now enabled to give stronger reasons out of God's book, 
love of Christ, &c. against any sin, than carnal reason, the 
devil himself, or the drunken eloquence of his old good- 
fellow companions can suggest to the contrary. Fourthly, 
an universal opposition and constant endeavour against all 
manner of iniquity. Fifthly, a hearty sorrow that we are 
not more sorrowful. 

Now, say I, if thou shouldst not feel in thine heart that 
stirring grief and violent rending for those many rebellions 
and horrible filth of thy naughty heart and former wicked 
life which thou heartily desirest, their heinousness exacts 
at thine hands, and many lesser sinners than thyself have 
endured ; yet if thou findest an unfeigned hatred and dis- 
pleasedness in thy will, a settled resolution in thy mind, 
a watchful striving in all thy ways against all sin, true 
grief because thou art not more grieved, thou art by no 
means to cast away thy confidence, or be discomforted 
therefore, as though thou wert not truly converted ; but 
only be advised and take occasion thereupon to w^alk more 
humbly before thy God, with sincerity and constancy to 
oppose all things which may hinder, and pursue all means 
that may further the more kindly melting of thine heart, 
sensible sorrow, and hearty mourning over him whom thoii 
hast so cruelly pierced with thy youthful lusts and abomi- 
nations. 

5th. Lest any true hearted Christian, lying in no sin 
against conscience, and labouring sincerely to please God 
in all things, should be unnecessarily troubled and dejected 
with slavish fears and jealousies lest he be not truly turned 
unto God, because he feels not in himself that boisterous 
vehement conversion, that extremity of pangs and horror iii 
the new birth, which sometimes are to be found in some 
others, let him ponder upon these resemblances : — 

(1.) Thou mayest have thy bile or botch opened with the 
point of a needle, whereas another man endures the slash- 
ing of a surgeon's lancet ; yet, if the corruption and pu- 
trified matter be let out by this easier means, and thyself 

2 F 



326 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

thereby thoroughly cured, I hope thou hast no great cause 
to complain. It may be so in the present point. ' 

(2.) Two sons are punished for their offence ; the one 
cries, and roars, and grieves extraordinarily ; the other 
makes no great noise, but resolves silently with himself, 
and in sincerity, upon a new course as well as the former. 
Is not the change and reformation of them both equally 
welcome and accepted of the father, who only aims at and 
expects their amendment? 

(3.) Two malefactors, equally guilty of high treason, both 
apprehend their danger, acknowledge that they are utterly 
undone, hold themselves for dead men ; to the one a par- 
don comes, not yet cast, condemned, or carried to the place 
of execution ; to the other, ready to lay down his head upon 
the block. There is great difference in all likelihood in 
their terrors and deiections*; but they have equal parts in 
the pardon, and both their lives are saved. 

(4.) Two men are arrived at their wished-for port : the 
one was tossed with many roaring tempests and raging 
waves; the other hath a reasonably calm passage. How- 
soever they now stand both safe upon the shore, and have 
both escaped destruction and drowning in that great merci- 
less devouring gulf. 

(5.) Suppose a man dead for some days, and then re- 

■ vived ; he perceives his change with a witness ; another 

is not so, but himself only alive walks amongst a multitude 

of dead men ; he also may clearly enough see the difference, 

and both acknowledge and praise God for his life*. 

Yet for conclusion, let all those who have passed through 
the pangs of the new-birlh not so terribly, but more tole- 
rably, especially having been formerly notorious, take coun- 
sel and be advised to ply more carefully the great and gra- 
cious work of humiliation still, to "humble themselves in 
the sight of the Lord " yet more and more unto their dying 
day. The humblest Christians are ever highest in favour 

* Those who are so happy, as by the benefit of religious parents, a 
godly family, good education uu^ier po\ver%I means, have never en- 
tered upon any nctoiioiisness, but by God's blessing upon those means 
have sucked in grace in their younger years, as is saii of Timothy ; and 
such also as after a profuie course have been turned unto God some- 
what more easily than ordiniry ; and so both comp'ain of tiie want 
of that testimony of terrible paiigsin their conversion, which they hear 
others talk of; yet, I say, being now upright-hearted, and in the holy 
path, they may" take comfort by comparing themselves with and cast- 
ing their eyes upon a world of unregeuerate people about them, from 
which by the mercies of God they di&er as far as living men from a 
number of rotten dead carcasses ; and so may assure themselves of 
soundness. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 327 

and nearest in familiarity with Almighty God. They are, 
as it were, his second royal throne, wherein he sweetly 
dwells and delights. See Isa. Ivii, 15, and Ixvi, I, 2 ; 
Psalrn xxxiv, 18, and li, 17. And they are also of the most 
sweet, amiable, and inoffensive carriage amongst the people 
of God. Hear that excellent artist in the spiritual anatomy 
of man's deceitful heart*, " Humiliation is the procurer of 
all other graces ' God resisteth the proud, and giveth 
grace to the humble' (1 Pet. v, 5) ; and it is the preserver 
of grace procured ; and therefore compared to a strong 
foundation, upholding the building against the force of wind 
and weather. Only those streams of grace hold out that 
flovv out of the troubled fountain of a bruised spirit. An 
unhumbled professor quickly starts back, even as a broken 
egg or chesnut leaps out of the fire. Grace is nowhere safe, 
but in a sound and honest heart. Now, ordy the humble 
heart is the honest heart. Only a rent and broken heart 
is a whole and sound heart. 'J he dross cannot be purged 
out of the gold but by melting ; crooked things cannot be 
straightened but by wringing. Now, humiliation is that 
which wrings and melts us, and makes us of drossy, pure ; 
of crooked, straight and upright; and so, sound, durable, 
and persevering Christians." 

And let them consider and examine whether neglect of 
this holy endeavour I now exhort them to, may not bring 
upon them much spiritual misery ; whether they may not 
therefore be the rather exposed ; first, to many irksome 
intrusioiis of very vexing doubts and fears, and slavish 
questionings of the truth and soundness of their conversion 
all their life long. Secondly, To much deadness of affec- 
tion and listlessness ; many damps and distempers in the 
performance of holy duties, use of the ordinances, and re- 
ligious exercises. Thirdly, to greater variety of crosses and 
a heavier hand upon their outward states, purposely to 
bring the eye of their conscience to look back more heavily 
and with heartier remorse upon the loathsomeness and filth 
of their youthful folly. Fourthly, to more easiness of re- 
entry and surprise by the assaults and insinuations of old 
sins in their unregenerate time, especially that of the bosom, 
which is a horrible thing. For the less sins are sorrowed 
for, the sooner do they re-ensnare us with their sensual de- 
light, and repollute with renewed acts. Fifthly, to the en- 
tertainnient, at least for a time, of uncomfortable and 
scandalous giddiness and some fantastical tenets of new 

* Dyke, iu his Treatise on Repentance, cliap. v. 



328 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

and naughty opinions, which many times fearfully infect 
our chiefest city ; and some proud companions and ignorant 
teachers there and elsewhere, are ever ready to lay hold 
upon ; whom you may ordinarily discern by their luciferian 
pride and lewd tongues, to the great hurt and hindrance of 
the power of godliness, holy obedience to the blessed law 
of God, and humble walking with him ; if any will be so 
miserable and mad as to listen to such petty and paltry 
trash, idle and cheating dreams, contrary to the doctrine 
which they have learned, or should have learned (for these 
fellows were never well catechized); if professors will be 
children still, " tossed to and fro, and carried about with 
every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men, and cunning 
craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive," which God 
forbid. For if it be possible that any true heart be en- 
tangled, I hope he will quickly in cool blood disensnare 
himself. As these tare-sowers themselves are ordinarily 
very superficial in ministerial abilities ; so, for the most 
part, their disciples are only the foolish virgins and unsound 
professors of the places through which they pass. Sixthly, 
to danger of some future grievous desertion, extraordinary 
temptations, or revisitation with far greater terrors than 
they tasted at their first turning into the ways of God, &c. 



CHAP. XI. 

The Fourth Malady. Two Causes of this Malady. 

In a fourth place, I come to spiritual desertion, which puts 
the Christian for the present into a most dark and uncom- 
fortable condition ; 1 mean, when the most wise God, for 
some holy ends, seeming good unto himself, retires for a 
time, and withholds from the heart of his child the light of 
his countenance, the beams of his favour, and sense of his 
love. Whereupon, though the root of spiritual life, the 
habit of faith and fundamental power of salvation and eter- 
nal safety remain still and sure in his soul, never to be 
shaken or prevailed against, no, not by the very gates of 
hell, or concurrent forces and fury of all the powers of dark- 
ness ; yet for the time he finds and feels in himself a fearful 
deprivation and discontinuance of the feeling and fruition 
of God's pleased face, exercise of faith, pardon of sin, in- 
ward peace, joy in the Holy Ghost, cheerfulness in well- 
doing and godly duties, confidence in prayer, assurance ot 



AIFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 329 

being in a saving state, &c. ; so that he may judge himself 
to have been formerly a hypocrite * ; and for the present 
can very hardly, or not at all, distinguish his vvoful con- 
dition from that of a cast-away. This secret and won- 
derful work of spiritual desertion doth God much exercise 
and practise upon his children in many cases, for many 
causes. 

1. Sometimes upon a re-ensnarement in some secret 
bosom lust, which was their darling and delight in the days 
of their rebellion, relapSe into which Satan labours indus- 
triously to procure by all his devices ; for he gains greatly 
thereby. For so the new convert, considering in cool blood 
what he hath done, may be cast upon such compldints as 
these : — Alas ! what have I done now "? This pestilent old 
pollution, which so wofully wasted my conscience in time 
past, hath fearfully reinfected my newly- washed soul. I 
have again, woe is me ! fallen into the abhorred pit of this 
foul sin, 1 have grieved that good Spirit which was lately 
come to dwell in me. All the former horrors charge afresh 
upon my heart, from which I was happily freed even by 
some glimpses of heavenly joy. 1 have wretchedly let go 
my hold, lost my peace, broke my vows, and blessed com- 
munion wilh my God. Ah ! wretch that I am ; what shall 
I do ? And thereupon may fall upon a temptation of re- 
turning to his disavowed sensual delights, out of the con- 
ceit, that whatever he may do cannot make him worse than 
he is. Do what 1 can, 1 see I can never hold out, &c. 
Or he may plunge into the slavish perplexity — I dare not 
go to God, 1 liave used him so villanously after such im- 
measurable kindness ; and provoked the " eyes of his glory" 
with such prodigious impurity, after I was purged. I dare 
not fall again to good-fellowship and former courses, lest I 
draw some remarkable vengeance upon me now, and be 
certainly damned at last. So that he can neither lake plea- 
sure upon the right hand or the left : or, which is most for 
my purpose, and that which the devil specially desires, God 
therefore may hide his face from him, and leave him to the 
darkness of his own spirit, so that he may for a long time 

* But how is it possible tliat lie sliould entertain any such thought, 
since he knows in his own heart that he liath formerly made conscience 
of avoiding all sin, and laboured to please God in all things, whicli are 
infallible notes of a new man ? In height and heat of temptation, he 
may think that all the good he did was in pride and hypocrisy. So 
did one whom I might name, think that he forbore sin orily for slavish 
fear. So did another, and yet the darkness of his horror and error 
heing dispersed, he comes again to himself, and sees clearly, that, thoiitrh 
with much weakness, yet he did both the one and tlie other io since- 
rity ; as did botli these blessed sahits of God aftervvard, 

2F 3 



330 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

■walk on heavily and lame, in respect of those comfortable 
supporters of the soul, affiance, hope, spiritual joy, peace 
ot conscience, sense of God's favour, boldness m his ways, 
courage in good causes, delight in the company of the 
saints, &c. Such a damp, also, and desertion may come 
upon the soul, especially after a fall into some new open, 
scandalous sin, whereby not only their own consciences 
within are grievously wounded, but also for their sakes and 
sin, the profession of God's truth abroad scandalized and 
disgraced, the common state ef goodness questioned and 
traduced, the heart and glory of Christianity hurt and dis- 
tained. 

Uavid was thus dealt with in God's just judgment^ after 
his monstious and matchless* fall. God's good Spirit had 
richly crowned his royal heart with abundance of sancti- 
fication and purity, and had graciously filled him aforetime 
with the fruits and feeling thereof, and thereupon many 
heavenly dews, no doubt, of spiritual joys had many times 
sweetly refreshed his blessed soul ; but by the heinous 
scandalousness of his hateful fall he so grieved that good 
Spirit, and turned the face of God from him, that he had 
neither sense of the comforts of the one, nor of the favour 
of the other. The spiritual life of his soul, the eye of 
his judgm,ent, light of conscience, lightsomeness in the 
Holy Ghost, and the whole grace of sanctification, were 
so wasted, dazzled, confounded, weakened, raked under 
the ashes, as it were, and lun into the root, that he speaks 
as if he had utterly lost them, and so stood in need of a 
new infusion and creation thereof ( I'salm li, 10). But, 
by the May, conceive aright of David's spiritual condi- 
tion at this time. Though in his own feeling and present 
apprehension he so complains and cries out for a new 
creation, as though all were gone; yet even when he 
was at the lowest and worst, the soul and substance, if 
I may so speak, of saving grace and salvation did abide still 
rooted and resident in his heart ; which once implanted 
by God's omnipotent merciful hand in a humble soul, 
and taking root, it there sticks fast for ever, far more im- 
moveable than a thousand IMount Zions. The blossoms, 
buds, and fruits may sometimes be foully cankered, as it 
were, by our own conuptions, shrewdly nipped by the frost 
of some earthly affections, blasted by sharper tempests of 
Satan's temptations : but the foundation standeth sure, 
grounded and founded upon the unchangeable nature of 
God, and immutability of his counsel ; and therefore in 

* I mean, he being God' teircliild. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 331 

spite of the malice of all, both mortal and immortal rage, 
there is still life in the root, which in due season will spring 
out again and grow up to everlasting life. 

In the present instance, all purity and cleanness of heart 
was not utterly extinguished and abolished in David : lor, 

(1.) Some little at least was left, which descried and dis- 
covered those spots and pollutions of tilthiness and im- 
purity which had lately overgrown it. For grace discovers 
corruption, not nature. A sensible complaint of hardness 
of heart, and an earnest desire after softness, is a sign 
that the heart is not wholly hard. A sincere crying out 
against impurity, and hearty endeavours after purity, argues 
the presence of the punfying Spirit ! 

(2.) And how was this holy ejaculation, " Create in me 
a clean heart, () God, and renew a right spirit within me," 
created, but by the Spirit of grace and supplications ? 
Which blessed sanctifying Spirit was all the while rooted 
and resident in David's heart, by a saving existence there, 
though not so fully by an eft'ectual operation and exercise. 
TMvines about this point consider : First, The infinite, 
free, and eternal love and favour towards his child, with 
which whom he loves once, he loves for ever. The gifts 
and calling of Ood; that is, as best interpreters affirm, 
the gifts of effectual calling, effects of his free grace, are 
such as God never repenteth of, or taketh away. Se- 
condly; His sanctifying Spirit, which he gives unto him. 
Thirdly ; The habits of graces created in his heart by 
that blessed Spirit, justification, regeneration, adoption. 
Fourthly ; The feeling exercises and acts of those graces, 
with many sweet and glorious refreshings of spiritual joy 
springing thence, 'i he three first, after we be once Christ's, 
are oius for ever, the last may be suspended, and cease 
for a time. 

(3.) By way of interpretation, in the latter part of the 
verse he calleth the creation of the grace of sanctification 
in his heart, a renovation and raising thereof to the same 
degree wherein it was in former time. 

(4.) He cries unto the Lord, " Not to take his holy 
Spirit from him" (ver. 11); and therefore that blessed 
Spirit was not gone. It were very absurd and incongruous 
to desire the not taking away of that tiling which we have 
not. He certainly hath the Holy Spirit, who heartily de- 
sires he may not be taken away from him. 

David's desire then of a clean heart did not argue that 
it was utterly unclean, and wholly turned into a lump of 
filth (Sanctity and cleanness of heart is never wholly ex- 
tinguished in any one once truly sanctified, it was not in 



332 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

J^avid, nor in Peter). But he was so earnest after it : 
i'irst, because that little which was left, was scarcely or 
not at all seiisible in his spiritual distress. Where the 
glory of the sun hath lately been, the succession of a 
candle's light is little worth. Secondly, and because now 
he vehemently thirsteth after a great deal mt.re than he at 
present had. Learned and rich men think themselves not 
learned and rich in respect of what they desire. When the 
sun begins to peep up, we gaze no longer at stars. God's 
comforting Spirit began a little to warm his heart again, 
whereupon he grew so eager and greedy of that heavenly 
heat, that he thinks his heart key-cold, except it flame to 
the height. That damp and darkness of spirit into which 
he was fallen by reason of his grievous fall, had so frozen 
his affections witii disconsolate deadness and heaviness of 
heart, that a little glimpse of spiritual life and lightsome- 
ness is presently swallowed up as it were, and devoured ; 
and serves only to set an edge to his desire, to whet his 
stomach, and stir up his appetite after a more full and fur- 
ther fruition of those comfortable graces and wonted com- 
munion with his God, a retaste and return whereof is so 
sweet and dear unto his soul. 

Take heed then that you do not mistake. When I speak 
of a spiritual desertion, I mean it not either in respect of 
a total or final dereliction and forsaking on God's part, or 
a total and final falling away on the saint's side ; to hold 
such an apostasy were a fearful apostasy ; but only in re- 
spect of the exercise and operation of grace, of present 
sense and feeling, as I said before. Life lies still in the 
root ; and upon the first breaking out of the heavenly and 
healing beams upon the soul from the sun of righteousness 
returning in mercy, puts forth again and prospers. David 
being astonished with a mighty blow of temptation (as 
Bernard resembles it), lay for a time, as it were, in a 
swoon ; but upon the voice of the prophet, sounding in his 
ear, he awakened and came to himself. As we see in heated 
water, the air's blowing upon it doth recover and reduce it 
to its former natural coldness, by the aid of that little re- 
mainder of refrigerating power which is originally rooted in 
that element : so by tiie awaking of the north wind and 
coming of the south, I mean the blessed Spirit's breathing 
afresh upon David's heart, scorched dangerously with the 
fire of lust, by stirring up and refreshing the retired and 
radical power of grace, that immortal seed of God, never to 
be lost, did sweetly and graciously bring it again to its 
former spiritual, comfortable temper and constitution. 

2. Sometimes the Lord may for a time withdraw the 



AFFLICTED CONSCIEISCES. 333 

light of his countenance and sense of his graces from his 
child, that he may be driven thereby to take a new and 
more exact review, a most serious thorough survey of his 
youthful sins, of that dark time which he wholly spent 
upon the devil ; and so put again, as it were, into the 
pangs of his new-birth, that Christ may be more perfectly 
formed in him, that he may again behold with fear and 
trembling the extreme loathsomeness and aggravated guilt 
of his old abominable lusts ; and so renewing his sorrow 
and repairing repentance, grow into a further detestation of 
them, a more absolute divorce irom his insinuating bosom 
sin, and be happily frighted afresh and for ever from the 
very garment spotted of the flesh, and all appearance of 
evil. 1 hat upon this occasion he may make a new inquisi- 
tion and deeper search into the whole state of his con- 
science, several passages of his conversation, and every 
corner of his heart ; and so for the time to come more care- 
fully cut oft' all occasion of sin, and with more resolution 
and watchfulness oppose and stand at stave's end with 
every lust, passion, distraction in holy duties, enticements 
to relapse, spiritual laziness, lukewarmness, worldliness, 
&c. with greater severity to crucify our corruptions,^ and 
ever presently and impartially execute the law of the Spirit 
against the rebellions of the flesh. 

This it may seem was one end of Job's spiritual affliction 
in this kind. In chap, xiii, 23, he is earnest and importu- 
nate with God to know what be those iniquities, transgres- 
sions, and sins, which had turned his face and favour from 
him in that fearful manner, as though he was a mere 
stranger, or rather a professed enemy unto his majesty. 
And he presently apprehends the burthen and bitterness 
of the iniquities of his youth. " Thou writest," saith he, 
" bitter things against me, and makest me possess the ini- 
quities of my youth. At all such times, when God thus 
hides his face from us, and leaves us to the darkness of our 
own spirits, the sins of our youth are wont to lie most 
heavy upon our hearts, and exact at our hands a more spe- 
cial renewing, increase, and perfecting of penitent sorrow ; 
for they are acted with the very strength of corruption, in 
the heat of sensuality and heiglit of rebellion. Hence it 
was that even David himself cries out, " Remember not 
the sins of ray jouth " (Psalm xxv, 7) ; and so do many 
more many times with much bitterness of spirit. 

It is so, then, that God may deal thus in mercy even 
with his dearest servants, especially if penitent grief and 
trouble of conscience in their conversation were not in 
some good measure answerable to their former abominable 



334 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

life and sinful provocations ; if they have been extraordi- 
nary sinners, and but ordinary sorrowers for sin ; if they 
were formerly furious in the service of Satan, and now but 
somet!,ing faint-hearted in standing on God's side ; if here- 
tofore they marched inipetuously like Jehu in the pursuit of 
earthly pleasures, and now creep but slowly forward in the 
ways oi' God ; or if they begin to look back a^ain with 
some uncontrolled glances after disavowed delights and 
abandoned company, &c. — I say, in such cases the Lord may 
withdraw himself in displeasure ; leave them for a time to 
the terrors of their own hearts ; all tlieir old sins may re- 
turn to the eye of their consciences as unrem tted, 6co. ; that 
so their regeneration may be, as it were, regenerated, their 
riew birth new born, their sins new sorrowed for, the hate- 
fulness and horror of their youthful pollutions more hated 
and abhorred; and in conclusion (for all the work and 
ways of God with his chosen are ever in love and for their 
good), that the storm being dispersed, the comfortable 
beams of iJivine favour may shine more amiably upon them 
than ever before, and by the effectual stirring again, and 
stronger influence of the spiritual life, that was hid in the 
heart for a season, may sprout out fresh, spring, and spread 
abroad more flourishingly and fruitfully for ever after- 
ward. 



CHAP. XII. 

Four Cases more of the former Malady, 

3. For trial, quickening, and exercise of spiritual graces, 
that they may put foith themselves with more power, im- 
provement, and illustriousness. The cold comfort of a 
desertion in this case being unto them as water cast upon 
the smith's forge to make some of them especially to burn 
inwardly, as it were, with more intensity and heat, and all 
afterward to break out and flame more gloriously. There 
are many gracious dispositions and endowments in the 
Christian's heart which would never see the light, at least 
with such eminency, were it not for this darkness. The 
brightness of lamps langushes in the light, but they shine 
clear in the dark : the splendour and beauty of the stars 
would never appear were there no night. " Ye have heard 
of the patience of Job," saith James (chap, v, 11); and 
we read also of his excellent faith, when he said, "Though 
he slay rhe, yet will I trust in him" (Job xiii, 15) ; but 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 335 

^ve had neither heard of nor admired the one nor the other, 
had he not been afflicted both with outward troubles and 
inward terror. It is the highest and most herolcal act of 
faitli, and it is improved to the utmost, and shown to be 
armour of proof, to " trust in the name of the Lord and to 
stay upon our God when we walk in darkness and have 
no light" (Isa. 1, 10). God is best pleased and most 
honoured when we rest upon him without any sensible 
comfort. I make no doubt but that admirable ejaculation 
of Job, " Though he slay me," &c., did hold scale in God's 
acceptation with all those innocencies, integrities, and 
gracious conformities to his holy law (blessed fruits, I con- 
fess, of his invincible faith) enumerated chap, xxxi ; nay, 
did incomparably overweigh them. Abraham's believing 
against hope was far above and of infinitely more worth with 
God than the sacrifice of his son, or all his other glorious 
services. It is no such great matter or mastery to be con- 
fident when we are encouraged and hired, as it were, with 
joy and peace in believing ; but to stick to Christ and his 
sure word when we have against us sense and reason, flesh 
and blood, fears and feeling, heaven and earth, and all 
creatures, that is the faith indeed, thereis its excellency, there 
is the true and orient sparkling and splendour of that 
heavenly jewel. Tha*^ prayer is truly fervent, fullest of 
spirit, and enforced with most unutterable groans, which is 
poured out lor the recovery of God's pleased countenance 
after it hath been turned away from us for a time. That 
love is most industrious and mighty, groweth strong ;'S 
death and into a " most vehement flame," which is 
enkindled in the upright soul, when her dearest love is 
departed in respect of feeling and fruition. Oh ! then she 
prizeth and praiseth his spiritual beauty and excellency as 
one exceedingly '"sick of love," &c., grieves and luraents 
extremely; as you may see, Cant, v, 6 — 1'. "I opened 
to my beloved ; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, 
and waN gone ; my soul failed when he spuke. I sought 
him, but I could not find him ; I called him. but he gave 
me no answer. The watchmen that went about the city 
found me, they smot > me, they wounded me ; tlie keepers 
of the walls took away ray veil from me. I charge you, 
O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye 
tell him that I am sick of love. What is thy beloved more 
than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? What 
is thy beloved more tlian another beloved, that thou dost so 
charge us? My beloved is uhite and ruddy, the chiefest 
among ten thousand. His head is as the most fine gold," 
&c. That thankfulness which springs from a sensible re- 



n36 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

enjoyment of Jesus Christ, and return of the sense of the 
savour of his good ointments into the soul, hath far more 
heart and life than the free and full possession of all the 
visible glory and outward comfort of the whole world could 
possibly put into it. That joy which makes our hearts leap 
within us upon the regaining of the wonted workings of 
grace, and our heavenly feelings, is much more joyful than 
either that which followed the first taste, or the after -free 
enjoyment of them. Excellent and extraordinary good 
things tasted and lost, beget a far greater sense of their 
sweetness and comfort upon their recovery than if they had 
been either never tasted or never Ipst. That sun- shine is 
most fair and amiable which breaks out after some boisterous 
storm, or great eclipse. Restitution to sense of grace after 
some despairful sadness for God's departure, may produce 
a deeper impression of spiritual pleasure in the recovered 
patient, than the first plantation of it. Thus doth our 
gracious God, who when he pleases can bring light out of 
darkness, life out of death, something out of nothing, 
heaven out of hell, even come nearer unto us by departing 
from us. By the dead winter-time of a spiritual desertion 
he may bring, by his blessed hand of mercy and quickening 
influence, more strength, activeness, lively exercise, and 
excellency into our graces and sweetest fruits thereof. 

4. The Christian as he grows in knowledge, grace, spiritual 
abilities, forwardness, fruitfulness, and further from his 
new birth, except he be very watchful over his heart, much 
practised in the exercises of humiliation, often exercised 
in the school of afflictions, terrified sometimes with hideous 
injections, and v/alk humbly with his God, shall have, by 
a sly and insensible insinuation, privy pride to grov/ upon 
him, confidence in his own strength, too much attribution 
to the means, a self-conceit of an independent standing 
upon his own bottom, as it were, and by the power of his 
present graces ; and therefore our wise God doth sometiir.es 
take a course to take down his self-confidence by withdraw- 
ing his countenance, and to humble his spiritual presumption 
with a spiritual desertion ; I mean, by taking from him the 
sense of grace and feeling of his favour, by cutting off, 
as it were, for a time those streams of comfort which were 
wont to distil upon his soul by use and ordinary influence of 
the means, meditation, prayer, conference, public ministry, 
sabbaths, sacraments, days of humiliation and such like, 
doth mercifully force him to have recourse unto at length, 
with much longing and thirst, and to repose upon with njore 
reverence and acknowledgment, the everlasting fountain 
and founder of all graces, comforts, compassions, and life ; 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 337 

even his own glorious, merciful, and almighty self. See 
this in the beginning of the third chapter of the Canticles. 
At the latter end of chap, ii, the Christian soul is sweetly 
crowned with a glorious overflowing confluence of all 
spiritual consolations, rapt extraordinarily with unuttera- 
ble and joyful ravishment of spirit upon the nearer em- 
bracement of her dearest spouse, and more sensible grasp- 
ing of refreshing graces. She lies so peacefully in his arms 
of mercy, and under the banner of his love, that she 
sweetly sings unto herself, " My beloved is mine, and I am 
his." But in the beginning of the third (for the days of 
God's child, after conversion, are like the days of the 
year; some fair and shining, some tempestuous and cloudy ; 
some happy with heavenly honey dews, as it were, of un- 
speakable joy and inconceivable peace, others more dismal 
and disastrous, if I may so speak, for want of an amiable 
aspect from the throne of grace); I say, a little after, {the 
case is fearfully altered with her : for she lies struggling 
and distressed in the irksome and comfortless desolations of 
a spiritual desertion. Her spouse is gone, the very heart 
and life, all her lightsomeness in this world and in the world 
to come No sense now of the "savour of his good oint- 
ments ;" no feeling of the assurance of his favour ; nothing 
left of all that former heaven, but only a sad and woful 
heart, which had been happy. In this rueful case, she 
casts about for recovery of her wonted comfort ; assays 
those means which were accustomed to convey unto her 
with joy fresh streams and strength from time to time "out 
of the wells of salvation." 

First. She seeks her spouse and former refreshings of 
spirit by secret prayer, meditation, experimental considera- 
tions, calling to mind former assurances of his love, reflect- 
ing upon the footsteps of a saving work, unfeigned change 
and sweet communion with him aforetime, and other silent 
«elf-inquisitions and inward exercises of the heart. " But 
she found him not." (ver. 1.) 

Secondly. She inquires abroad, and hath recourse unto 
godly Christians, especially such as have been most ex- 
ercised and best acquainted with trials, temptations, and 
mysteries of the holy way ; to see if she can get any com- 
fort, any new hold and hope by their counsel, prayers, in- 
structions out of their own experience (for in such cases 
God's children may and ought to confess their sins and 
God's dealing with them one unto another, and pray one 
for another). But she finds none (ver. 2). 

Thirdly. She addresses herself and resorts to faithful 
ministers, God's public agents in the church, about the 
2 G 



338 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

affairs of heaven and salvation of souls, to receive from 
them some light and direction to regain her love ; but it 
will not yet be (ver. 3). No comfort comes by all or any 
of these means ; no feeling of God's favour and former 
peace for all this various and solicitous seeking and pursuit. 
For God may sometimes purposely restrain his quickening 
influence from the means, and recal as it were to the well- 
head those refreshing rivers of comfort, which ordinarily 
flow through his own holy ordinances as so many blessed 
conduits of grace into humble hearts ; that we may fetch 
them more imm.ediately from the fountain, the boundless 
sea of all heavenly treasures and true peace, and so with 
more humility, sense of self-emptiness, reverence, and 
praise, acknowledge from whence we have them. 

"It was but a little that I passed from them," saith the 
deserted soul, "but I found him whom my soul loveth " 
(ver. 4). When no means would bring him, but that she 
had passed through the use and exercise of them all, and he 
would not be found; he after, at length, comes upon his 
own compassionate accord, and enlightens her dark and 
disconsolate state with the shining beams of his glorious 
presence, and fills her plentifully with joy and believing 
again ; that so no use, variety, and excellency of means, 
but his own free mercy and goodness, might be crowned with 
the glory of it. 

Let every Christian, by the way, take notice of and treasure 
up ihis point ; it may serve him in some spiritual extremity 
hereafter. God may sometimes withdraw and delay his 
comfort, to draw his children through all the means, which 
when they have passed without prevailing, he after (and 
immediately when he so pleases) puts to his helping hand, 
that they may not attribute it to the means, though never 
so excellent, but to the mercies of God, the only well-spring 
both of the first plantation, continuance, and everlasting- 
ne^,s of all spiritual graces and true comforts in all those 
happy ones which shall be saved. 

Why doth the Lord let us use all the means, and yet not 
find him in them 1 

That we may know he only cometh when he will, no- 
thing moving him but his own good pleasure. 

Fifthly. The world sometimes, that mighty enemy to the 
kingdom of Christ, aided underhand by the covetous cor- 
ruption of our false heart and the devil's craft (for ordina- 
rily in all assaults and overthrows Satan is the bellows, the 
world the wildfire, our corruptions the tinder, and the 
precious souls of men those goodly frames which are fear- 
fully set on fire and blown up), doth wrestle so desperately 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 339 

evea with some of Christ's champions, that surprising their 
watch, cooling the tervour of their first love, and stealing 
away byhttle and little their spiritual strength, it supplants 
them at length and throws them upon the earth ; whereon 
it labours might and main to keep them down and doating, 
that so they may root in the mud andmire tuereof,to the great 
disgrace ot divine pleasures, their high aud exLellent call- 
ing, and so raising the spirit of railing in unregenerate inen 
to cast unworthy aspersions upon the glory of profession, 
for their sakes. Aay, too often by its subtle insinuations 
and syren's songs, it lulls them so long upon her lap that 
they are cast into a heavy slumber even of carnal security. 
And that so deep and dangerously, that though the Lord 
Jesus, the beloved of their soul, cry aloud in their ears by 
the shrill and piercing sound of his spiritual trumpeters, and 
by the more immediate and inward motions of his Holy 
Spirit, entreat them fairly upon all loves for his own dear 
pa>sion's sake, and all those bloody sufferings, to shake off 
that carnal drowsiness, and to delight again in God ; to let 
the earth fall out of their minds, and again to mind heavenly 
things — "Open to me, my sister, my love, ray dove, my 
undehled : for my head is filled with dew, and my locks 
with the drops of the night" (Cant, v, 2) : — Yet for all 
this, full loaih they are to leave their beds of ease, and 
therefore frame many shifts, excuses, and delays to pass by 
and put oft" these compassionate calls of love and merciful 
importunities: " 1 have put oft" my coat, how shall 1 put it on I 
1 have washed my feet, how shall 1 defile them I " (ver. 3.) 
Whereupon their blessed spouse, so unworthily repelled with 
some notorious unkindness and ingratitude, scattering only 
in iheii hearts some sense and glimmerings of his spiritual 
sweetness ana beauty, to breed the more shame and sorrow 
for so foul neglect, departeth from them for a time, with- 
draws the life and lightsomeness of his gracious presence, 
hides, as it were, in an angry cloud, the comfortable beanis 
of his former favour, and so leaves them to the darknessof their 
own spirits, and in the comfortless damp of a justly-deserved 
desertion, that thereby they may be schooled to prize Jesus 
Christ before gold and silver, and to prefer, as is most meet, 
one glimpse of his pleased face before the splendour of all 
earthly imperial crowns ; to listen with more reverence, 
cheerfulness, profit, and holy greediness to his heavenly 
voice in the ministry of the word, and to make more dear 
account of godly comforts when they shall recover and 
re-enjoy them. For the purpose we may find (Cant, v) the 
Christian soul laid too soft and lazily upon the bed of ease 
and earthly-raindedness, andslipt into a slumber of security 



340 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

and self-love (ver. 2). Her well-beloved knocks and calls 
upon her ; nay, bespeaks and entreats upon all the terms of 
dearest love, and for his painful sufferings' sake, to rise and 
open unto him. But she most unworthily puts him off with 
some slight excuses and delays of sloth (ver. 3) ; whereupon 
he drops into her heart some taste of his " sweetest oint- 
rnents," to set her aflections on edge and eagerness after 
him (ver 4, 5), and so departs and leaves her in sad and so- 
litary grief for driving away her dearest, by such intolerable 
unkindness and shameful neglect (ver. 6) ; which perplexity 
and trouble of spirit for his departure begets in her a great 
deal of zeal, fervency, and patience to follow after him 
(ver. 7, 8), an extraordinary admiration of his amiable 
excellencies and heavenly fairness (ver, 10, &c.), and no 
doubt a far nearer embracement and dearest esteem of him 
upon his return, and enjoyment of a more full, blessed com- 
munion with him again (chap, vi, 3). 

Sixthly, The graces of salvation are the most precious 
and costly things that ever issued out of the hands of God 
by creation. The dearest of his infinite mercies, the heart's 
blood of his Son, the noblest work of his blessed Spirit, do 
all sweetly concur movingly, meritoriously, efficiently to 
the production of them. No marvel then though it be right 
pleasing unto God that such rare and inestimable jewels 
should be rightly prized and holden in highest esteem by 
those that have them ; that they should still appear and 
present themselves to those souls wherein they shine in 
their true excellency, orient fairness, and native beauty. 
Now privation of excellent things hath special power to 
raise our imaginations to a higher strain of estimation of 
them, and to cause us at their return to enteitain them with 
much more longing, far dearer apprehensions and embrace- 
ment. Absence and intermission of the most desirable 
comforts add a great deal of life to the love of them, and 
weight of preciousness to their valuation. The goodness of 
whatsoever we enjoy is better perceived by vicissitude of 
want than continual fruition. Sleep is more sweet after the 
tediousness of some wakeful and wearisome nights ; liberty 
and enjoyment of the free air and faces of men after re- 
straint and imprisonment ; the glory and fairness of the sun 
after a black day or boisterous storm, &c. So God's favour- 
able aspect is much more acceptable after an angry tempest 
and hiding his face for a season, and the graces of salvation 
far more amiable and admirable to the eye of his humbled 
child, after the darkness of a spiritual desertion. Where- 
fore our gracious God doth many times in great mercy and 
wisdom deprive his dearest servants for a time of the pre- 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 341 

sence of their spouse, the assurance of his Jove, and sense 
of those graces, that the absence thereof may represent the 
glory of such an inconaparable happiness and those heavenly 
pearls more to the life ; and discontinuance of their enjoy- 
ment may inflame and afl^ect their hearts v^ith more holy 
greediness and eager pursuit after them, and stir up in them 
that height of esteem and heat of love, which may in some 
good measure be answerable to their invaluable excellency 
and sweetness. Such a dulness of heart, deadness of affec- 
tions, and declination to the world, may grow sometimes 
upon a good man, that he may find little more contentment 
in communion with Jesus Christ than in the prosperity of 
his outward affairs, which is infinitely unworthy a heir of 
heaven. But now in such a case, let God make him but to 
repossess the iniquities of his youth, and fight against him 
with all his terrors for a while, and the same man witli all 
his heart will prefer the reconciled face of God and peace 
of conscience, before the sovereignty and sole command of 
all the kingdoms upon earth. While we have a free and 
uninterrupted recourse unto the throne of grace, we are apt 
to undervalue and to conceive of that mighty grace of 
prayer, but as of an ordinary gift; but it once the Lord 
please to leave us to that confusion and astonishment of 
spirit, that our ejaculations do sadly rebound upon our 
heavy and unheated hearts without answer or encourage- 
ment from heaven, we shall easily then acknowledge the 
spirit and power of prayer to be one of the fairest flowers 
in the garland of all our graces, the very arm of God to do 
miracles for us many times, and ever to settle our troubled 
souls in sweetest peace and patience amidst the greatest 
pressures and persecutions, either cf hellish or earthly 
enemies. 



CHAP. XIII. 

Two more Causes of tlie former Malady. 

Skventhlv. Jesi'.s Christ himself, blessed for ever, drank 
full deep of the extremity and variety of sorest sufferings in 
many kinds, not, only to deliver his people from the " ven- 
geance ol' eternii^ Are," but also lovingly to learn out of the 
sense of that sympathy and self-feeling to show himself ten- 
der-hearted, kind, and coinpassicnate unto them in all their 
extremities, and never to suffer them to sink in any trouble 
or aflSiclion, though never so full of desperate representa- 

2 G 3 



342 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

tions or apprehensions of impossibility to escape, or to be 
tempted at any time above their power and patience. And 
many are the means and methods by which he is wont to 
ease and mitigate their many p .inful miseries, especially 
that extremest one of martyrdom. 1. Sometimes he rescues 
them by his own mighty and immediate arm out of the 
mouth of lions, and pulls them by a strong hand from be- 
iM-een the teeth of bloody persecuting wolves (2 Tim. iv, 17). 
2. Sometimes he takes away or lessens the sting and fury of 
the torment and torturers*. The fire had no force at all 
over the bodies of those blessed men in Uan. iii, 27. And 
no doubt in Queen Mary's days, of most abhorred memory, 
he many times mollified and sweetened the rage and bitter- 
ness of those merciless flames for our martyrs' sakes. 3. Some- 
times he supports and supplies them with supernatural 
vigour and extraordinary courage over the smart and rigour 
of the most terrible and intolerable tortures. The heart of 
that holy protomartyr, Stephen, was furnished and filled 
with those heavenly infusions of spiritual strength and joy, 
when " the heavens opening, he saw the glory of God, and 
.lesus standing on his right hand " (Acts vii, 55, 56), which 
were gloriously transcending and triumphant over the utmost 
of all corporeal pain and Jewish cruelty. And so graciously 
dealt he with many other martyrs in succeeding ages, as we 
may read in ecclesiastical history. 4. He may sometimes 
also, out of his merciful wisdom, put into their hearts so 
m\ich of heaven beforehand, and ravishing comforts of the 
world to come, that the excess thereof doth swallow up and 
devour, as it were, the bitterness of all bodily inflictions 
and sufferings of sense. Thus mercifully dealt he with that 
worthy martyr, Robert Glover, even v/hen he was going 
towards the stake. He poured into his soul upon the sudden 
such overflowing rivers of spiritual joys, that no doubt they 
mightily abated and quenched the raging fury of those 
popish flames wherein he was sacrificed for the profession of 
the gospel of Christ and God's everlasting truth. And 
assuredly that comfortable sunshine of inexpressible joy, 
which by the good hand of God was shed into Mr. Pea- 
cock's sorrowful heart in the depth of his darkness and 
desertion a little before the resignation of his happy soul 
into the hands of God, did make the pangs of death and 
that dreadful passage a great deal less painful and sensible, 
if not very lightsome and pleasant. Now in both these men 

* Let no Christian, then, afflict his soul with any corroding or vexing 
forethought of fiery times. Assure thyself, if God call thee to suffer in 
that kind, he will graciously give unto thee a martyr's faith, a martyr's 
patience, and a crown of martyrdom. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 343 

of God a woful spiritual dereliction was a fit introduction 
and immediate preparative to the effusion of such a sudden 
torrent of strange exultations and ravishment of spirit upon 
their sad and heavy hearts. Conceive the point ihen thus : 
The Lord sometimes even in tenderness and love to his 
own dear children, whom he designs for extraordinary 
sufferings, may purposely possess them with such a paradise 
of divine pleasures as a counter-comfort to the extremity of 
their pains; that, besides their own private refreshing and 
support, their courageous insensibility and victorious pa- 
titnce thereupon may bring a great deal of terror to their 
tormentors, glory to their merciful Master, credit unto the 
cause, and confusion to the enemies of grace. And that 
there may be an addition of more heart and life to such 
joyful elevations of spirit, and that he may make the excel- 
lency of that spiritual joy proportionable to the exquisiteness 
of their tortures and trouble, he may in his unsearchable 
wisdom make way thereunto by a spiritual desertion, as he 
did in the fore-named glorious martyr, hobert Glover. For 
want of the sense of the comforts of godliness for a season, 
doth make our souls a thousand times more sensible of their 
sweetness upon their reinfusion. 

Eighthly. Thus may the Lord sometimes deal with his 
best and dearest children, even by withdrawing the light 
of his countenance, leave them for a while to these inward 
conflicts and confusions of spirit, that thereby they may be 
fitted and informed with a holy experimental skill to speak 
feelingly and fully to the hearts of their Christian brethren, 
who may afterwards be tempted and troubled as they have 
been. For God is wont at all times in his church, so gra- 
cious is he, purposely to raise up and single out some special 
men, whom he instructs and enables in the school of spiri- 
tual experience and afflictions of soul, with extraordinary 
dexterity and art to comfort and recover other mourners in 
Zion, in their distresses of conscience, stronger tempta- 
tions, spiritual desertions, decays of grace, relapses, eclipses 
of God's face and favour, want of former comfortable feel- 
ings ; in case of horrible thoughts and hideous injections, 
darkness of their own spirits, and such other soul vexations. 
And such a blessed physician, who is able to speak experi- 
mentally to a dejected sorrowful heart, out of practice and 
sense in his own soul, is far more worth, both for a true 
search and discovery, and sound recovery and cure of a 
wounded conscience, than a hundred mere speculative 
divines. Such a one is that one of a thousand spoken of by 
Job, who can wisely and seasonably declare unto his soul- 
sick patient the secret tracks and hidden depths of God's 



344 INSTia;CTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

dealing with afflicted spirits. Let us take an instance in 
those experimental abilities which David gained for such a 
purpose by his passing through that most grievous spiritual 
desertion recorded in Psalm Ixxvii. The case of that Chris- 
tian were most rueful, both in his own fearful apprehension, 
and to ihe injudicious eye of the beholders, who having 
spent a long time in a ?ealous profession of the truth, walk- 
ing with God, and secret communion with Jesus Christ, 
should come to that pass, and fall into those woful straits 
of spiritual trouble, — First, That he should fear, not with- 
out extraordinary horror, lest the mercies of God were de- 
parted from him for ever, and that the Lord would never 
more be entreated, or ever shine again with his favourable 
countenance upon his confounded soul. Secondly, That 
the very remembrance of God, which was wont to crown 
his heart with a confluence of all desirable contentments, 
should even rend it asunder and make it fall to pieces in 
his bosom like drops of water. Thirdly, That the pouring 
out of his soul with pitiful groans and complaints in secret 
unto his God, which heretofore did set wide open unto him 
heavenly flood-gates of gracious refreshing, should now 
quite overwhelm his spirit with much distracted amazement 
and fear. Fourthly, That that heart of his, which had for- 
merly so sweetly tasted those holy pleasures which far pass 
the comprehension of any carnal apprehension, should now 
be so brimfull and dammed up with excess of grief, that no 
vent or passage should be left unto his speech. Fifthly, 
And which methinks is the perfection of his misery in this 
kind, that amidst all these heavy discomforts his soul should 
refuse to be comforted ; that though the ministers and men 
of God stand round about him, bring into his mind and 
press upon him the pregnant evidences and testimonies of 
his own godly life, the unchangeableness of God's never- 
failing mercies to his people, the sweetness of his glorious 
name, the sovereign power and mighty price of his Son's 
blood, the infallible and inviolable preciousness and truth 
of the promises of life, &ic. ; yet in the agony and anguish 
of his grieved spirit he puts them all away from him as 
none of his, nor as properly beloriging to his present state. 
He is readier out of his spiritual distemper to spill, as water 
upon the ground, the golden vials of the water of life, and 
sovereign oils of evangelical joy tendered unto him by the 
physician of his soul, than to receive them with wonted 
thirst and thankfulness into the bruised bosom of his bleed- 
ing conscience. Though they assure him in the word of life 
and truth, having had (for that 1 must suppose) true and 
sound experience of his conversion and former sanctified 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 345 

courses, from Isa. xliv, 22, that as the heat and strength of 
tlie summer's sun doth disperse and dissolve to nothing a 
thick mist, or foggy cloud, so the inflamed zeal of God's 
tender love through the bloodshed of his ow^n only dear Soa 
hath done av^'ay all his oflences, his iniquity, transgression, 
and sin, as though they had never been : and, Micah vii, 
19, that that God which " delighteth in mercy" (ver. 18) 
hath cast all his sins into the bottom of the sea, never to 
rise again, either in this world or the world to come. The 
prophet alludes to the drowning of the Egyptians in the Red 
Sea ; and therefore they assure him, that as that mighty 
host sunk down to the bottom like a stone (Exod. xv, 5), or 
as lead (ver. 10), so that neither the sun of heaven nor son 
of man ever saw their faces any more, so certainly all his 
sins are so swallowed up for ever in the soul-saving sea of 
his Saviour's blood, that they shall never more appear before 
the face of God or angel, man or devil, to his damnation 
or shame. Yet for all this, lying in a spiritual swoon, he 
finds his heart even key-cold, and as it were stark dead in 
respect of relishing or receiving all or any of these incom- 
parable comforts. The case thus proposed may seem very 
deplorable and desperate ; yet consider what good David's 
experience might do in such distress ; what a deal of life 
and light were it able to put into the very darkest damp, 
and most heartless faintings of such a dying soul, to have 
such a one as IJavid, even a man after God's own heart, 
remarkably enriched and eminent with heavenly endow- 
ments, one of the highest in the book of life and favoui* 
with God, to assure it, that himself had already suffered as 
grievous things in his soul, if not greater, and passed 
through the very same passions and pressures of a troubled 
spirit, if not with more variety and sorer pangs ; that pro- 
portionably to his pre-ent perplexities, he cried out with a 
most heavy heart — First, " W ill the Lord cast off for everl 
and will he be favourable no more 1 Is his mercy clean gone 
for ever l Doth his promise fail for everm. re 1 Hath God for- 
gotten to be gracious? Hath he in anger shut up his tender 
mercies ? " (Psalm Ixxvii, 7, 8, 9.) Secondly ; That " when 
he remembered God he was troubled " (ver. '6). Thirdly ; 
That when he prayed unto God, and " complained, his 
spirit was overwhelmed." Fourthly; That lie "was so 
troubled that he could not speak " (ver. 4). Fifthly ; That 
" his soul refused to be comforted " (ver. 2), which painful 
passages of his spiritual desertion answer exactly to the 
comfortless case of the supposed soul-grieved patient. Nay, 
and besides assurance of the very sameness in apprehen- 
sions of fear and thoughts of horror, David also out of his 



346 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

own experience and precedency might sweetly inform and 
direct such a poor panting soul in a comfortable way to come 
out of the place of dragons and depths of sorrow, by teach- 
ing and telling him the manner and means of his rising and 
recovery. Meditations of God's singular goodness and ex- 
traordinary mercy to himself, his church, and childien 
aforetime, gave the first lift, as it were, to raise his drooping 
soul out of the dust. And no doubt ever since the same 
consideration, by the blessing of God, hath brought again 
many a bruised spirit from the very gates of hell and brink 
of despair. And in his happy perusal of ancient times, and 
God's compassions of old, it is very probable that his me- 
mory first met with Adam, a most wonderful and matchless 
pattern of God's rarest mercies to a most forlorn wretch. 
For he was wofully guilty by his transgression of casting 
both himself and all his sons and daughters from the crea- 
tion to the world's end out of Paradise into the pit of hell, 
and also of poisoning with the cursed contagion of original 
corruption, the souls and bodies of all that ever were or 
shall be born of woman, the Lord Jesus only excepted. 
And yet this man, as best divines suppose, though he had 
cast away himself and undone all mankind, was received to 
mercy. Let never poor soul, then, while the world lasts, 
upon true and timely repentance, suffer the heinousness 
and horror of his former sins, whatsoever they have been, 
to hinder his hopeful access unto the throne of grace, for 
present pardon of them all ; or at any time afterward con- 
found his comfort and confidence in God's gracious pro- 
mises. Thus, no doubt, the weary soul of this m.an of God 
waded further into those bottomless seas of mercies, mani- 
fested and made good from time to time upon his servants. 
His heavy heart might sweetly refresh and repose itself 
upon the contemplation of God's never-failing compassion 
in not casting off Auron everlastingly for his fall into most 
horrible idolatry ; in not suffering the murmuring and re- 
bellious Jews to perish all and utterly in the wilderness, 
considering their many prodigious provocations and impa- 
tiencies, &c. But at length, as we may see in the fore-cited 
psalm, his soul sets its triumphant Selali upon that great and 
miraculous deliverance at the Red Sea, one of the most 
glorious and visible miracles of mercy that ever shone from 
heaven upon the sons of men, and also a blessed type of the 
salvation of all truly penitent and perplexed souls from the 
hellish Pharaoh and all infernal powers, in the Red Sea of 
our Saviour's blood. How fairly now and feelingly might 
these experimental instructions, and this passage of proof, 
trodden and marked out by this holy man, enlighten and 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 347 

conduct any, * that walks in darkness andhatli no comfort," 
out of the like distracted horror of a spiritual desertion? 
Let him in such a case first cast back his eye upon God's 
former maniibid merciful dealings with himself. If his God 
made his soul, of the darkest nook of hell, as it were, by 
reason of its sinfulness and curseciness, as fair and beautiful 
as the brighte.^t sun-beam by that sovereign blood which 
gushed out of the heart, and those precious graces which 
shine upon it from the face of his Son, that never-setting 
sun of righteousness, he will undoubtedly in due season 
dispel all those mists of spiritual misery which overshadow 
the glory and comfort of it for a time. If he upheld him 
by his merciful hand from sinking into hell when he was a 
horrible transgressor of all his laws with greediness and de- 
light, he will most certainly (though perhaps for a small 
moment he hide his face from him) bind up his soul in the 
bundle of the living for ever ; now especially, when he pre- 
fers the love and light of his countenance before life, and 
would not willingly offend him in the least sin for all the 
world, ice. Let him yet proceed further in David's foot- 
steps, and strengthen his fainting soul with all that heavenly 
manna of richest mercy which he hath heard, read, or 
known to have been showered down at any time from the 
throne of grace into the heavy, humble, and hungry hearts 
of his afflicted hidden ones. Let him refiesh iiis memory 
Avith consideration of David's deliverance by this means 
from deeper distress, of that most memorable and triumphant 
resurrection, as it were, and recovery of those three worthy 
saints of God, Mr. Glover, Mrs. Brettergh, and Mr. Pea- 
cock, from greatest extremity in this kind, into most unut- 
terable joyful exultations of spirit. And so of others within 
the register of his observation, remembrance, and reading. 
But principally, and above all, let him live and die, let him 
rest and recreate himself for ever, with surest holdfast and 
sweetest thoughts upon that heavenly and healing anti-type 
of the Ked Sea, the precious blood of thf^ Lord .Tesus. And 
let him ground upon it, that though Satan with all his 
hellish hosts and utmost fury pursue his fearful soul like a 
partridge in the mountains, even to the very brink of des- 
pair and mouth of hell, yet even then, when all rescue and 
deliverance is nearest to be utterly despaired of (for it is 
the crown of God's glorious mercy to save when the case 
Stems desperate, and there is no hope of human help or 
possibility of created power to comfort') ; I say, then that 
soul-saving sea of his Saviour's heart's- blood wall rnost cer- 
tainly and seasonably open itself wide unto him, as it did to 
those above-named blessed saints, and swallow up into 



348 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

victory, hell, death, the grave, damnation, the present 
woful desertion, with all other adversary povs^er ; and at 
length make him a fair and pleasant passage through the 
sweetened pangs of death into the heavenly Canaan, which 
flows with joys and pleasures unmixed and endless, more 
than either tongue can tell or heart can think. 



CHAP. XIV. 

The Ninth and Tenth Causes of the former Malady. 

Ninthly. A spiritual desertion may seem a proportionable, 
fit, and most proper punishment and m.eans to correct and 
recover the Christian, who out of infirmity and fear deserts 
the Lord Jesus and the profession of his blessed truth and 
gospel. If any be ashamed of him, refuse to do or sufl^er 
any thing for his sake, who hath given unto us his own 
heart's-blood, it is most just that in such a case he with- 
draw himself in respect of all sense and feeling of Divine 
favour and fruits of grace, or any comfortable influence at 
all upon the consciences of such cowards ; that so, they 
being left to the darkness of their own spirits, and by con- 
sequence to the taste even of hellish horror for the time, 
they may be brought again to themselves, and taught by 
such terrors to return and become infinitely more willing 
to embrace the stake, if the times should be so cruel, and 
kiss the instruments of death, than languish any longer in 
the despairing extremities of such a desertion ; to acknow- 
ledge it incomparably better to pass through the temporary 
bitterness of popish fire than to be abandoned to everlasting 
flames : nay, and that which is the greater hell, to be 
robbed of and rent from him, in whose glorious presence 
alone is not only life and all lightsomeness even in this life, 
but also " fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore " in 
the life to' come. This point appears and is proved by 
God's dealing with some of our martyrs in Queen Mary's 
time : — 

Thomas Whittell, a blessed martyr of Jesus, vyas by the 
wicked suggestions of some popish incarnate devils, drawn 
to subscribe to their hellish doctrine ; but considering in 
cool blood what he had done, was horribly vexed, and as 
he reports of himself, " felt hell in his conscience and 
Satan ready to devour him ; " which terrible desertion and 
trouble of mind made him quickly return with great con- 
stancy and fortitude, and turn a most invincible and im- 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 349 

moveable martyr. Hear some passages from his own 
pen : — 

" The night after I had subscribed I was sore grieved, 
and for sorrovv of conscience could not sleep. For in the 
deliverance of my body out of bonds which I might have 
had, 1 could find no joy, nor comfort ; but still was in my 
conscience tormented more and more," &c. 

" And I said (to Harpesfield, iicc), that my conscience 
had so accused rrie through the just judgment of God and 
his word, that I had felt hell in my conscience, and Satan 
ready to devour me ; and therefore 1 pray you, Mr. Harpes- 
field, said 1, let me have the bill again, for I will not 
stand to it." 

" When the Lord had led me to hell in my conscience 
through the respect of his fearful judgments against me for 
my fearfulness, mistrust, and crafty cloaking in such spiri- 
tual and weighty matters, yet he brought me from thence 
again," &c.* 

Tenthly. God is many times forced by their frowardness, 
lukewarraness, worldly-mindedness, cowardliness, self- 
confidence, falling from their first love, and other such spi- 
ritual distempers, to visit and exercise his children with 
variety and sometimes severity of crosses and corrections ; 
as losses in their outward state, afflictions of body, dis- 
graces upon their good name, oppression by great ones, dis- 
comforts in wives, neighbours, friends, children, &c. pur- 
posely to put life, quickness, fruitfulness, and forwardness 
into them, that thereby they may be more gloriously ser- 
viceable to himself, more profitable to others, and more 
provident to treasure up peace unto their own souls against 
an evil day. " God humbleth us," saith a worthy divine, 
" by afflictions, and pricketh the swelling of our pride. 
He cutteth and loppeth us, to the end we may bring forth 
the more fruit. He filleth us with bitterness in this life, 
to the end we might long for the life to come. For those 
whom God afflicteth grievously in this world, leave it with 
less grief. He who hath formed us to fear him, knoweth 
that our prayers are slack and cold in prosperity, as pro- 
ceeding from a spirit that is cooled by success, and as being 
only indited by custom. The cries which our own will 
produced are feeble in comparison of those which grief ex- 
presseth. Nothing so ingenious to pray well as sorrow, 
which in an instant formeth the slowest tongues to a holy 
eloquence, and furnisheth us with sighs which cannot be 

* Fox's Acts and Monuments. See also in the same book the ac- 
count of James Abbes and Thomas Benbridge. 

•2H 



350 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COiMFORTING 

expressed." But now many times this physic which 
pincheth only the body, and wasteth us but in things of this 
world, doth not so woik as he would have it, and therefore 
he is constrained in love and for nur good to proceed to 
more sharp and searching medicines, to apply more strong 
and stirring purges, which immediately vex the soul ; as 
horrible and hideous injections, a spiritual desertion, and 
other affrighting and stinging temptations. He deals with 
them in this case as Absalom with Joab, when he would not 
come to him by sending once and again ; he causes his 
servants to set his field of barley on fire, and then there was 
no need to bid him hasten. When inferior miseries and 
other means will not do it, God sets as it were their souls 
on fire with flames of horror in one kind or other, and then 
they look about them indeed with much care and fear, 
searching and sincerity : they seek him then to purpose, 
earnestly and early. Tor afflictions of soul aie very sove- 
reign, and have singular efficacy to stir and quicken ex- 
traordinarily, to wean quite from the world, and keep a 
man close and clinging unto God. How many (though 
perhaps they think not so) would grow proud, worldly, 
lukewarm, cold in the use of the ordinances, self-confi- 
dent, or something that they should not be, if they were 
not sometimes exercised with injections of terrible thoughts? 
By this fiery dart the devil desires and endeavours to de- 
stroy and undo them quite ; but by the mercy of God it is 
turned to their greater spiritual good. It is in this case as 
it was with him, " who thrusting his enemy into the body 
with full purpose to have killed him, lanced the ulcer 
which no physician was able to cure, and let out that cor- 
rupt matter that would have cost him his life." By re- 
presentation of such horror out of Satan's cruellest malice, 
they are happily kept more humble, watchful, earnest in 
prayer, eager after the means, weaned from the world, 
compassionate to others, &cc. Hiding of God's face from 
him, and leaving him to the darkness of his own spirit, 
did put and preserve Mr. Jolin Glover in a most zealous, 
holy, and heavenly life for ever after. Hear the story : — 

" This gentleman being called by the light of the Holy 
Spirit to the knowledge of the Gospel, and having received 
a wondrous sweet feeling of Christ's heavenly kingdom ; 
his mind after that falling a little to some cogitation of his 
former affairs, belonging to his vocation, began by and by 
to misdoubt himself upon occasion of those words, Heb. 
vi, 4, " For it is impossible," &c. Upon consideration of 
which words he was so far deserted as to be persuaded 
that he had sinned against the Holy Ghost ; even so much, 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 361 

that if he had been in the deepest pit of hell, he could al- 
most have despaired no more of his salvation. " Being 
young (saith Fox ), 1 remember 1 was once or twice with 
him, whom partly by his talk I perceived, and partly by 
mine own eyes saw, to be so worn and consumed by the 
space of five years, that neither almost any brooking of 
meat, quietness of sleep, pleasure of lile, yea and almost 
no kind of senses was leit in him. Who in such intolera- 
ble griefs of mind, although he neither had nor could have 
any joy of his meat, yet was he compelled to eat against 
his appetite, to tlie end to defer the time of his damnation 
so long as he might, thinking with himself no less, but that 
he must needs be thrown into hell, the breath being once 
out of the body. Albeit Christ he thought did pity his 
case and was sorry for him, yet he could not (as he ima- 
gined) help, because of the verity of the word which said, 
' It is impossible ' &c.* " But what was the happy issue 
and effect of those extraordinary spiritual terrors and ter- 
rible desertion? The same blessed man of God, who 
writes the story and was himself with the party, tells us : 
" Albeit he suffered many years so sharp temptations, and 
strong buffetings of Satan, yet the Lord who graciously 
preserved him all the while, not only at last did rid him out 
of all discomfort, but also framed him thereby to such mor- 
tification of life, as the like lightly hath not been seen. 
In such sort as he, being like one placed in heaven already, 
and dead in this world, both in word and meditation, led 
a life altogethei- celestial, abhorring in his mind all profane 
doings." i hus a spiritual desertion, or some other afflic- 
tion of spirit, doth that alone many times, which variety 
and a long continued succession of ordinary outward 
crosses, one upon the neck of another, is not able to effect. 
For troubles of soul sooner take, and are of a quicker and 
stronger operation, than those which afflict the body. 
" The spirit of a man will sustain his intirmity ; but a 
wounded spirit who can bear 1 " Prov. xviii, 14. All other 
afflictions are nothing to this ; they are but flea-bitings to 
the liery scorpion. The stoutness of a man's spirit will 
stand under a world of outward miseries many times ; but 
if the eye, which is the light of the body, be in darkness, 
how great is that darkness ! If the spirit itself be crushed, 
which should support the whole man, how great is the con- 
fusion ? Hence it was that faithful David waded through 
a world of troubles , yet all that time no malice of Saul, 
no hatred of the Philistines, no rebellion of Absalom, no 

* Fox's Acts and Monuments. 



352 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

treachery of Ahithophel, no grappling with a lion, no fight- 
ing with a bear, no threatening of a vaunting Goliah, could 
so much discourage him. But when at any time he suf- 
fered immediately in his soul under the wrath of God, oh ! 
then his very bones, the master- timbers of his body, are 
broken in pieces. " He roars all the day, and his moisture 
is turned into the drought of summer." Then he speaks 
thus unto God: "When thou with rebukes dost correct 
man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away 
like a moth." 



CHAP. XV. 

Two Helps for the curing of a Man troubled with the former Malady. 

Thus having discovered the cases and causes of spiritual 
desertion, I come now to the comforts and the cure. 

I. And let us first take notice of a double desertion : — 
First. Passive, when God withdraws himself from us. 
Secondly. Active, when we withdraw ourselves from God. 
And they are both twofold: — 1. Temporary; and 2. 
Final. 

1. Passive desertion temporary : as in David (Psalm 
Ixxvii) ; Heman the Kzrahite (Psalm Ixxxviii) ; Job ; both 
the Glovers ; Mrs. Breltergh ; Mr. Peacock ; and many 
more of God's children. 

2. Final : in many after a woful and wilful abuse of 
many mercies, means of salvation, and general graces. As 
Saul, Judas, tkc. ; such as have outstood all opportunities 
and seasons of grace ; and all those, Prov. i, 24. 

(1.) Active desertion temporary ; as Solomon, &c. 

(2.) Final; as in those, Heb. x. 

Now in the present point 1 understand only a passive 
temporary desertion ; and therefore in that man who is 
truly engrafted into Christ by a justifying faiih, and rege- 
nerated, who can never possibly either forsake finally, or 
be finally forsaken of God. Of whom Hooker thus speaks * : — 
" Blessed for ever and ever be that mother's chdd whose 
faith hath made him the child of God. The earth may 
shake ; the pillars of the world may tremble under us ; the 
countenance of the heaven may be appalled ; the sun may 
lose his light, the stars their glory ; but concerning the man 

* In his Sermon on Habac. i, 4: " Of the certainty and perpetuity 
of the Faith in the Elect. 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 353 

that trusteth in God, if the fire hath proclaimed itself un- 
able as much as to singe ;i luiir of his head ; if lions, beasts 
ravenous by nature and keen with hunger, being set to 
devour, have, as it were, religiously adored the very flesh 
of the faithful man ; what is there in the world that shall 
change his heart, overthrow his faith, alter his affection 
towards (Jod, or the affection o; God to him 1" Nay, and 
besides, since I only understand a temporary passive de- 
sertion, 1 must suppose it in him also, who sees full well 
and doth acknowledge from whence he is fallen, is very 
seusible of his spiritual loss, afflicted much with the ab- 
sence of the quickening and comforting influence of grace, 
and grieved at the heart-root that lie cannot do God service, 
and perform holy duties with that life, power, and light- 
someness as he was wont ; and thereupon resolves to give 
no rest unto his discontented soul from cries, complaints, 
and groans, until God's face and favour be turned towards 
him again, and bring with it former feelings and fruitful- 
ness, now so highly prized and heartily prayed for ; uhich 
blessed behaviour cloth clearly show him to differ from the 
backslider, a truly miserable and right woful creature in- 
deed, who insensibly falls from his forvi'ardness, first love, 
intimate fellowship with the saints, all lively use and ex- 
ercise of the ordinances and divine duties, and yet is never 
troubled to any purpose, neither doth challenge nor judge 
himseJf for it at all. For we are to know, that the presence 
of spiritual weaknesses, decays, and wants, and absence of 
due dispositions, accustomed feelings, and former abilities 
of grace, only then argue a backslider, and are evil signs of 
a dangerously declining soul, when they are willingly car- 
ried without remorse, or taking much to heart without any 
eager desire or earnest endeavour after more heat and hea- 
venly-mindedness. A Christian may be without God's gra- 
cious presence and comtbrtable exercise of grace in present 
feeling, and yet no forsaker of God ; but rather left of him for 
a time (his heavenly wisdom for some secret holy ends so 
disposing), while by grieving, striving, and strong desires, 
he unfeignedly thirsts after and seriously pursues his former 
acceptation and forwardness. Here then is comfort : God 
hath hid his face from thee for a season, and thou art left 
to the darkness and discomforts of thine own spirit, and 
thereupon art grievously dejected, thinkest thyself utterly 
undone ; yet take notice, that in a spiritual desertion pro- 
perly so called, thou dost not willingly forsake God, but God 
lorsakes thee ; or rather, as divines truly speak, seems to for- 
sake thee ; for he deals with thee in this case as a father 

2H 3 



354 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

with his child, who sometimes on purpose, still loving him 
extremely, hides himself from him, as though he were quite 
gone, to make it discover and manifest its love unto him 
by longing, seeking, and crying after him ; and that for ex- 
cellent ends, and ever for thy endless comfort : — first, to 
try whether thou will trust in him though he slay thee, as 
Job did. Every cock-boat can swim in a river, every 
sculler sail in a calm. In ordinary gusts, any man of 
meaner skill and lesser patience can steer aright and hold 
up the head ; but when the black tempest comes, a tenth 
wave flows, one deep calls another, when the tumultuous 
darkness of the sky, the roaring of the restless element re- 
presents terrible things, and heaven and earth are blundered 
together, as it were, v/ith horrible confusion ; when nature 
yields, spirits faint, hearts fail ; then to stand upright and 
unshaken ; then to say with David, " I will not fear though 
the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried 
into the midst of the sea ; though the waters thereof roar 
and be troubled; though the mountaiiis shake with the 
swelling thereof. Selah : " I say, that is the man who is 
sound at the heart-root indeed, and sieel to the back ; and 
then is the invincible might and incomparable valour of 
faith made known with a witness, whoever hath God's sure 
word for the compass, and the Lord Jesus at the helm. 
Then doth this glorious grace shine and triumph above na- 
ture, sense, reason, worldly wisdom, the arm of flesh, and 
the whole creation. In such desperate extremities, and 
sorest trials, it shows itself like the palm tree that yields 
not to the weightiest burthens ; the sheet-anchor that holds 
when other tacklings break ; the oil, that ever over-swims 
the greatest quantity of water we can pour upon it. And 
with this improvement of the extraordinary power of faith, 
God is exceedingly well pleased and highly honoured. 
Secondly. To enure thee to patience, obedience, and sub- 
mission to his blessed will in everything, even extremest 
suff"erings if he so please. Thirdly. To work in thee a 
deeper dete^^tation of sin and further divorce from the 
world. Fourthly. To quicken, improve, and exercise some 
special graces extraordinarily. "Thou didst hide thy face," 
saith David, " and I was troubled. Then 1 cried unto thee, 
O Lord," &c. (Psalm xxx, 7, 8.) Then was the spirit of 
prayer put to it indeed, and so was the grace of patience, 
waiting, and the like. Fifthly. To cause thee to prize more 
dearly and to keep more carefully, when it comes agaiii, 
God's glorious presence, and the quickening influence of his 
grace and comfort. We never apprehend the worth and 



AFFLICTED COISJSCIENCES. 355 

excellency of any thing so well as by the want of it. The 
uninterrupted and secure enjoyment of the best things, and 
even those that please us best, without vicissitude and in- 
terchange, is wont to breed such cheapness and satiety, and 
so dulls the soul's appetite, that it is neither so affected with 
their precious sweetness, nor thankfully ravished with the 
present possession of them as it ought. Health is highly 
valued when sickness hath made us sensible of such a jewel ; 
we relish our food extraordinarily when we have fasted 
longer than ordinary ; rest refreshes us most when our bodies 
have been tired and over-travelled. Sixthly. To make thee 
conformable in some measure to Christ's immeasurable 
spiritual suffeiings. Seventhly. To manifest and make illus- 
trious his mightiness and mercy in thy deliverance, and the 
power of Christ's resurrection." " Wilt thou show wonders 
to the dead 1" saith Heman, "Shall the dead arise and 
praise thee! Selah." (Psalm Ixxxviii). Those whom the 
merciful hand of God hath lifted up out of the depth of a 
spiritual desertion, will easily acknowledge it as omnipotent 
a work and wonder, as to pull out of the mouth of hell, and 
raise the dead men out of the grave. Eighthly. To repre- 
sent unto thee the difference of thy condition in this life 
and that which is to come. This is our time of nurture, not 
of inheritance. Here we walk by faith, not by sight. We 
live by faith, not by feeling. In this vale of tears we are 
killed all the day long. But heavenly glimpses of unspeak- 
able and glorious joy, and spiritual ravishments of soul, are 
seldom and short; their fulness and constant fruition is 
reserved for the next life. Here we are trained, as it were, 
in a spiritual warfare against the world, the flesh, and the 
devil ; we are exercised unto new obedience by manifold 
crosses, troubles, and temptations. Satan is sometimes set 
upon us to afflict us with his own immediate hellish sug- 
gestions. Sometimes our own sins grievously affright us 
with renewed representations of horror. Sometimes our 
own God frowns upon us himself with his displeased and 
angry countenance ; and in love leaves us awhile to the 
terrors of a spiritual desertion. He sometimes lays his 
visiting hand upon our bodies, and casteth us down upon 
our beds of sickness ; sometimes he sends heavy crosses 
upon our outward states, and breaks the staff of our pros- 
perity. Continually, almost, he suffers many malicious 
curs to bark at us with slanders, lies, disgraceful imputa- 
tions, and all the enemies of grace to pursue us bitterly 
with much malice and disdain. Thus are we trained and 
entertained in this world ; our crowning comes in the world 
tojcome. Ninthly, To cause thee to have recourse witli 



356 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMFORTING 

move reverence, thirst, and thankful acknowledgment to the 
well-head of refreshings. If God once withdraw the light 
of his countenance and comfortable quickening of his Spirit, 
we shall find no comfort at ali in any creature, no life in 
the ordinances, no feeling of our spiritual life, and there- 
fore we must needs repair to the ever-springing fountain of 
all-sufficiency, &c. — Which blessed ends and effects, when 
the good hand of our God hath wrought, he will as cer- 
tainly return as ever the sun did after the darkest midnight, 
and that with abundance of glory, and sweetness propor- 
tionable to the former dejection and darkness of our spirits. 
The lowest ebb of a spiritual desertion brings the highest 
tide of spiritual exaltation, as we may see before in 
Mrs. Biettergh and Mr. Peacock. 

"2. What is the reason that thou art so sad and sore 
afflicted for the absence of thy beloved, and with want of 
the wonted gracious and comfortable workings of the Spirit! 
It is because thou hast formerly grasped the Lord Jesus 
sweetly and savingly in the arms of thy soul, been sensibly 
refreshed with the savour of his good ointments, ravished 
extraordinarily with the beauty of his person, dearness of 
his blood, riches of his purchase, and glory of his kingdom, 
and hast heretofore holden him as the very life of the soul, 
and chiefest and only treasure ; ejaculating with David 
unfeignedly from tl.e heart-root, " Whom have I in heaven 
but thee ? and there is none upon earih that I desire besides 
thee" (Psalm Ixxiii, 25). Earih is a hell and heaven no 
heaven \vithout Jesus Christ. I say, the present grief that 
thy well-beloved is now gone, argues evidently this former 
enjoyment of his gracious presence:— and then build upon 
it as the surest rock. Unce Christ's, and his for ever. The 
gifts and calling of God are without repentance (Rom. xi, 
29): "whom he loveth once he loveth unto the end" 
(John xiii, 1) : he is no changeling in his love, " I am the 
Lord," saith he, " 1 change not : therefore ye sons of Jacob 
are not consumed'"' (Malachi iii, 6). Once elected, ever 
beloved ; once new-born, and born lo eternity : if once the 
sanctifying Spirit hath seized upon thee ibr Jesus Christ, 
thou art made sure and locked fast for ever in the arms of 
his love with everlasting bars of mercy and might from any 
mortal hurt and adversary power. Thou raayest then cast 
down the gauntlet of defiance against the devil and the 
whole world ; and take up with Paul that victorious chal- 
lenge unio all created ihings — "I am persuaded that 
neither death, nor liie, nor angels, nor principalities, not 
powers, nor things present, nor things to con)e, nor height, 
nor f epth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate 



AFFLICTED CONSCIENCES. 357 

nie from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." 
He may hide his face from thee for a while ; but thou hast 
his own sure and inviolable word from his own mouth, that 
he will return and with "everlasting kindness have mercy 
on thee." He may frown upon thee, I confess, for a season, 
and so fright thee with his terrors as though in thy present 
apprehension thou wert a lost man ; but he never will, he 
cannot possibly forsake thee finally. " 1 have sworn once 
by