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Full text of "The works of President Edwards .."


y * 









watts's notion of 
the preexistence of 
Christ's human soul. 





■ 1803. 



1 HERE is no question whatsoever, that is of green- 
er importance to mankind, and that it more concerns every indi- 
vidual person to be zvell resolved in, than this. What are the 
distinguishing qualifications of those that are in favor with 
God, and intitled to his eternal rewards ? Or, which comes to 
the same thing, What is the nature of true religion ? And 
wherein do lie the distinguishing notes of that virtue and holi- 
ness that is acceptable in the sight of God? But though it be 
of such importance, and though we have clear and abundant light 
in the word of God to direct us in this matter, yet there is no one 
point, wherein professing Christians do more differ one from 
another. It would be endless to reckon up the variety of opin- 
ions in this point, that divide the Christian world ; making mani- 
fest the truth of that of our Saviour, " Strait is the gate and 
narrow is the way, that leads to life, and few there be that find 

The consideration of these things has long engaged me to at- 
tend to this matter, with the utmost diligence and care, and ex- 
actness of search and inquiry, that I have been capable of: It is 
a subject on which my mind has been peculiarly intent, ever since 
Ifrst entereel on the study of divinity. But en to the success of 
viy inquiries, it must be Irft to the judgment of the reader of the 
following treatise. 

I am sensible it is much more difficult to judge impartially of 
that which is the subject of this discourse, in the midst of the dust 
and smoke of such a state of controversy, as this land is now in, 
about things of this nature : As it is more difficidi to write im- 
partially, so it is more difficult to read impartially. Many will 
probably be hurt in their spirits, to find so much that appertains 
to religious affection, here condemned : And perhaps indignation 
and contempt will be excited in others by finding so much here 
justified and approved. And it may be, some will be rendu to 
charge me with inconsistence with myself, in so much approving 
some things, and so much condemning others ; as 1 have found 
this has always been.objected to by some, ever since the beginning 


of our late controversies about religion. It is a hard thing to be 
a hearty zealous friend of what has been good and glorious, in the 
late extraordinary appearances, and to rejoice much in it ; and at 
the same time to see the evil and pernicious tendency of what has 
been bad, and earnestly to oppose that. But yet, I am humbly, 
but fully persuaded, we shall never be in the way of truth, nor go 
on in a way acceptable to God, and tending to the advancement of 
Christ's kingdom, till we do so. There is indeed something very 
mysterious in it, that so much good and so much bad, should be 
mixed together in the church of God : As it is a mysterious 
thing, and what has puzzled and amazed many a good Christian, 
that there shoidd be thai which is so divine and precious, as the 
saving grace of God, and the new and divine nature, dwelling 
in the same heart, with so much corruption, hypocrisy, and ini- 
quity, in a particular saint. Yet neither of these is more myste- 
rious than real. And neither of then is a new or rare thing. It 
is no new thing, that much false religion should prevail, at a time 
cf great reviving of true religion ; and that at such a time mul- 
titudes of hypocrites should spring up among true saints. It nvas 
so in that great teforituttlon, and revival of religion, that was in 
Josiah's time ; as appears by Jer. iii. 10, andiv. 3, 4, and also 
by the great aflostacy thai there was in the land, so soon after 
his reign. So it was in thai great outpouring of the Spirit upon 
the Jews, that was in the days of John the Baptist ; as appears 
by the great aftdsiacy of thai people so soon after so ge?ural an 
awa'-enhig, arid the temporary religious comforts and joys of ma- 
ny ; John v. 35. " Ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his 
light." So ii was in those great commotions that were among 
the multitude, occasioned by the preaching of Jesus Christ ; of 
the many that were then called, but few were chosen ; of the mul- 
titude that were roused and affected by his preaching, and at one 
time or oilier appeared mightily engaged, full of admiration of 
Christ, and elevated with joy^ but few were true disciples, that 
stood the shock cf the great trials that came afterwards, and en- 
dured to the end : Many were like the stony ground, or thorny 
ground ; and but few , comparatively like the good ground. Of 
.:,'.','• whole hen/: that war. gathered great part was chaff, thai the 
wind afterwards drove away ; and the heap of wheat that was 
lift, was comparatively sinall ; as appears abundantly, by the his- 
tory qftht .'■ , ..< '/'■•• tami . Sb ii v.- - in that great outpouring 
of the Spirit that \. ty tfo . . • ; a.< appears by Maith. 

xxiv. 10.... 13. Gal. iii. I, and iv. 11, 15. Phil. ii. 21, and iii. 
18, 19, and the two epis'.i-s to the Corinthians, and many other 
parts cf the New Testament.' And so it was in the great reform- 
:>( •■> Pbfiery. it apjiears plainly to have beeh'in the visi- 
ble church ef God, in times of great reviving of religion, from 


lime to time, as it is faith the fruit trees in the spring ; there are 
a multitude of blossoms ; all which appear fair and beautiful, and 
there is a premising appearance of young fruits ; but many of 
them are but of short continuance, i hey soon fall off) and never 
come to maturity. 

Not that it is to be supposed that it mill always be so ; for though 
there never will, in this world, be an entire purity ; either in par- 
ticular saints, in a perfect freedom from mixtures of corruption ; 
or in the church of God, without any mixture of hypocrites with 
saints, and counterfeit religion, and false appearances of grace 
•with true religion, and real holiness : Yet it is evident, that there 
ivill come a time of much greater purity in the church of Go.!, 
than has been in ages past ; it is plain by these texts of scripture, 
Isa. Hi. Ezek. xliv. 6, 7, 9. Joel in. 17. Zech. xiv. 2 1 . Psal. Ixix. 
32, 35, 36. Isa. xxxv. 8, 10. chap. iv. 3, 4. Ezek. xx. 38. Psal. 
xxxvii. 9, 10, 21, 29. And one great reason of it will be thai at 
that time God will give much greater light to his people, to dis- 
tinguish between true religion and its counterfeits ; Mai. Hi. 3. 
" And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver : And he 
shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, 
that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness." 
With ver. 18, which is a continuation of the prophecy of the same 
happy times. « Then shall ye return, and discern between the 
righteous and the wicked ; between him that serveth God, and him 
that serveth him not" 

It is by the mixture of counterfeit religion with true, not dis- 
cerned and distinguished, that the devil has had his greatest ad- 
vantage against the cause and kingdom of Christ, all along hither- 
to. It is by tliis means, principally, that he has prevailed again.,: 
all revivings of religion, that ever have been, since the first 
founding of the Christian Church. By this, he hurt the cause of 
Christianity, in, and after the apostolic age, much more than by 
all the persecutions of both Jews and Heathens : The apostles, 
in all their epistles, shew themselves much more concerned ai the 
former mischief, than the latter. By this, Satan prevailed a- 
gavist the reformation, began by Luther, Ztdnglius, (Sfc. to pint a 
Otofl to its progress, and bring it into disgrace ; ten times more, 
than by all those bloody, cruel, and before unheard of persecutions 
of the church of Rome. By this, principally has he fircvail&l 
against revivals of religion, that have been in our nation since the 
reformation. By this he prevailed against, Newenghanl, to quench 
the love and spoil theijoy of her espousals-, about an hundred years 
ago. And I think, I have had opportunity enough to see plainly 
that by this the de~cil has prevailed against the late, great revival 
of religion in Newengland, so happy and promising in its begin- 
ning : Here most evidently has been the main advantage Satan 


has had against i:s ; by this he has foiled us : It is by this means, 
that the daughter of Zion in this land, now lies on the ground, in 
such piteous circumstances, as we now behold her, ; with her gar- 
ments rent, her face disfigured, her nakedness exposed, her limbs 
broken, and weltering in the blood of her own wounds, and in no 
ivisc able to arise ; and this, so quickly after her late great joys 
and hofies : Lam. i. \7. " Zion sprcadcth forth her hands, and 
there is none to comfort her : The Lord hath commanded conccr::- 
ing Jacob, that his adversaries shall be round about him : Jerusa- 
lem is as a menstruous woman (unong them." I have seen the 
devil prevail the same way, against two great receivings of relig- 
ion in this country. Satan goes on with mankind, as he began 
with them. lie prevailed against our first parents, and cast them 
out of paradise, and suddenly brought all their happiness and glo- 
ry to an end, by appearing to be a friend to their happy Jiaradi- 
saic slate, and pretending to advance it to higher degrees. So 
the same cunning serpent, that beguiled Eve through his sublilty, 
by perverting us from the simplicity that is in Christ, hath sud- 
denly prevailed to deprive us of that fair prospect, we had a lit- 
tle while ago, of a kind of paradisaic state of the church of God 
in JVewengland. 

After religion has revived in the church c/ God, and enemies 
appear, people that are engaged to defend its cause, are common- 
ly most exposed, where they are least sensible of danger. While 
they are wholly intent upon the opposition that appears openly be- 
fore them, to make head against, that, and do neglect carefully to 
look all around them, the devil comes behind them, and gives a fa- 
tal stab unseen ; and has opportunity to give a more home stroke, 
and wound the deeper, because he strikes at his leisure, and ac- 
cording to his pleasure, being obstructed by no guard or resist- 

And so it z'v likely ever to be in the church, whenever religion 
revives remarkably, till we have learned well to distinguish be- 
tween true and false religion, between saving affections and ex- 
periences, and those manifold fair shews, and glistening appear- 
ances, by which they are counterfeited ; the consequences of which 
when they are not distinguished, are often inexpressibly dreadful. 
By this means, the devil gratifies himself by bringing it to pass, 
that that should be offered to God, by multitudes, under a notion 
of a pleasing acceptable service to him, that is indeed above all 
things abominable to him. By this means he deceives great mul- 
titudes about the state of their souls j making them think they 
are something, <:.•/<•; they ere nothing ; and so eternally undoes 
them ; and not only so, bur establishes many in a strong confi- 
■ of ihir eminent holiness, who arc in God's sight some of 
'.he vile. .■•:' if hypocrites. By t his means, he many ways damps 


and wounds religion in the hearts of the saints y obscures and de~ 
forms it by corrupt mixtures, causes their religious affections 
woefully to degenerate, and sometimes for a considerable time, to 
be like the manna, that bred worms and stank ; and dreadfully 
ensnares and confounds the minds of others of the saints, and 
brings them into great difficidties and temptation, and entangles 
ihem in a wilderness, out of which they can by no means extri- 
cate themselves. By this means, Satan mightily encourages the 
hearts of open enemies of religion, and strengthens their hands, 
and f Us them with weapons, and makes strong their fortresses ; 
when, at the same time, religion and the church of God lie ex- 
posed to them, as a city without walls. By this means, he brings 
it to pass, that wen work wickedness under a notion of doing God 
service, and so sin without restraint, yea with earnest forward- 
ness and zeal, dnd with all their might. By this means, he 
brings in even the friends of religion, insensibly to themselves, to 
do the work of enemies, by destroying religion in afar more ef- 
fectual manner than open enemies can do, under a notion of ad* 
vancing it. By this means the devil scatters the fiock of Christ, 
and sets them one against another, and that with great heat of 
spirit, under a notion of zeal for God : and religion, by degrees, 
degenerates into vain jangling ; and during the strife, Satan leads 
both parties far out of the right way, driving each to great ex- 
tremes, one on the right hand, and the other on the lift, ace or ding 
as he finds they are most inclined ', or most easily moved and sway'' 
ed,till the right path in the middle is almost wholly neglected. And 
in the ?nidsl of this confusion, the devil has great opportunity to 
advance his own interest, and make it strong in ways innumera- 
ble, and get the government of all into his own hands, and work 
his own will. And by what is seen of the terrible consequences 
of this counterfeit religion, when not distinguished from true re- 
ligion, God's people in general have their minds unhinged and 
•unsettled, in things of religion and know not where to set their 
foot, or what to think or do ; and many arc brought into doubts, 
whether there be any thing at all in religion ; end heresy and, 
infidelity, and atheism greatly prevail. 

'Therefore it greatly concerns us to use our utmost endeavors 
clearly to discern, and ha<ve it ivell settled and established, ivhere- 
in true religion does consist. Till this be done, it may be expected, 
that great revivings of religion ivill be but of short continuance ; 
Till this be done, there is but little good to be expected of all our 
'warm debates, in conversation and from the press, net knowing 
clearly and distinctly vjhat ive ought to contend for. 

My design is to contribute my mite, and use my best f however' 
feeble J endeavors to this end, in the ensuing treatise ; txiberein if 
must be noted, that my design is someivhat diverse from the de- 
sign of ivbat I have formerly published, vuhicb tv.is to shew the 
distinguishing marks of a work of the Spirit of God, including bed 


his common and saving operations ; but -what I aim at novj, is to 
sbetv the nature and signs of the gracious operations of Cod's 
Spirit,bv which they ere to be distinguished from ail things 'what- 
soever, that the minds of men are the subjects of, 'which are not 
of a saving nature. If I have succeeded, in this my aim, in any 
tolerable measure, I hope it 'will tend to promote the interest of re- 
ligion. And 'whether I have succeeded to bring any light to this 
subject or no, and hoive'ver my attempts may be reproached, in 
these captious and censorious times, I hope in the mercy of a gra- 
ciius God, for the acceptance of the sincerity of my endeavors ; and 
hope als^ for the candor and prayers of the true followers of the 
meek and charitable Lamb of Cod. 




Vol. IV. 


Px\RT I. 

Concerning the Nature of the Affections, and their 
Importance in Religion. 

I PETER i. 8. 

Whom having not seen, ye love 5 in whom, though now 
ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy 
unspeakable, and full of glory- 

1 N these words, the apostle represents the state of 
the minds of the Christians he wrote to, under the persecu* 
tions they were then the subjects of. These persecutions are 
what he has respect to, in the two preceding verses, when he 
speaks of the trial of their faith, and of their being in heaviness 
throicgh manifold temptations. 

Such trials are of threefold benefit to true religion. Here= 
by the truth of it is manifested, and it appears to be indeed 
true religion ; they, above all other things, have a tendency 
to distinguish between true religion and false, and to cause 
the difference between them evidently to appear. Hence they 
are called by the name of trials, in the verse nextly preceding 
the text, and in innumerable other places ; they try the faith 
and religion of professors, of what sort it is, as apparent gold 
is tried in the fire, and manifested, whether it be true gold or 
no. And the faith of true Christians being thus tried and 
proved to be true, is " found to praise, and honor, and glory," 
as in that preceding verse. 

And then, these trials are of further benefit to true relig- 
ion ; they not only manifest the truth of it, but they make its 
genuine beauty and amiableness remarkably to appear, Tru* 

Vol. IV. B 


virtue never appears so lovely, as when it is most oppressed ; 
and the divine excellency of real Christianity, is never exhib- 
ited with such advantage, as when under the greatest trials : 
Then it is that true faith appears much more precious than 
gold ! And upon this account is " found to praise, and honor, 
and glory." 

And again, another benefit that such trials are of to true re- 
ligion, is, that they purify and increase it. They not only 
manifest it to be true, but also tend to refine it, and deliver it 
from those mixtures of that which is false, which encumber 
and impede it ; that nothing may be left but that which is 
true. They tend to cause the amiableness of true religion to 
appear to the best advantage, as was before observed ; and 
not only so, but they tend to increase its beauty, by establish- 
ing and confirming it, and making it more lively and vigor- 
ous, and purifying it from those things that obscured its lustre 
and glory. As gold that is tried in the fire, is purged from 
its alloy, and all remainders of dross, and comes forth more 
solid and beautiful ; so true faith being tried as gold is tried 
in the fire, becomes more precious, and thus also is " found 
unto praise, and honor, and glory." The apostle seems to 
have respect to each of these benefits, that persecutions arc of 
to true religion, in the verse preceding the text. 

And in the text, the apostle observes how true religion op- 
erated in the Christians he wrote to, under their persecutions 
whereby these benefits of persecution appeared in them ; or 
what manner of operation of true religion, in them, it was, 
Avhereby their religion, under persecution, was manifested to 
be true religion, and eminently appeared in the genuine beau- 
ty and amiableness of true religion, and also appeared to be 
increased and purified, and go was like to be " found unto 
praise, and honor, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus 
Christ." And there were two kinds of operation, or exer- 
cise of true religion, in them, under their sufferings, that the 
apostle takes notice of in the text, wherein these benefits ap- 

1 . Lcve to Christ ; « Whom having not yet seen, ye love." 
The world was ready to wonder, what strange principle it 


was, that influenced them to expose themselves to so great 
sufferings, to forsake the things that were seen, and renounce 
all that was dear and pleasant, which was the object of sense. 
They seemed to the men of the world about them, as though 
they were beside themselves, and to act as though they hated 
themselves ; there was nothing in their view, that could in- 
duce them thus to suffer and support them under, and carry 
them through such trials. But although there was nothing 
that was seen, nothing that the world saw, or that the Christ- 
ians themselves ever saw with their bodily eyes, that thus influ- 
enced and supported them, yet they had a supernatural prin- 
ciple of love to something unseen ; they loved Jesus Christ, 
for they saw him spiritually Avhom the world saw not, and 
whom they themselves had never seen with bodily eyes. 

2. Joy in Christ. Though their outward sufferings were 
very grievous, yet their inward spiritual joys were greater 
than their sufferings ; and these supported them, and enabled 
them to suffer with cheerfulness. 

There are two things which the apostle takes notice of in 
the text concerning this joy. 1. The manner in which it rises, 
the way in which Christ, though unseen, is the foundation of 
it, viz. by faith ; which is the evidence of things not seen : 
" In whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye re- 
joice." 2. The nature of this joy ; « unspeakable and full of 
glory." Unspeakable in the kind of it ; very different from 
worldly joys, and carnal delights ; of a vastly more pure, sub- 
lime, and heavenly nature, being something supernatural, and 
truly divine, and so ineffably excellent ; the sublimity and ex- 
quisite sweetness of which, there were no words to set forth. 
Unspeakable also in degree ; it pleasing God to give them 
this holy joy, with a liberal hand, and in large measure, in 
their state of persecution. 

Their joy was full of glory. Although the joy was un- 
speakable, and no words were sufficient to describe it, vet 
something might be said of it, and no words more fit to repre- 
sent its excellency than these, that it was full of glory ; or, as 
it is in the original, glorified joy. In rejoicing with this joy, 
their minds were filled, as it were, with a glorious brightness, 


and their natures exalted and perfected. It was a most wor- 
thy, noble rejoicing, that did not corrupt and debase the mind s 
as many carnal joys do ; but did greatly beautify and dignify 
it ; it was a prelibation of the joy of heaven, that raised their 
minds to a degree of heavenly blessedness ; it filled their 
minds with the light of God's glory, and made themselves to 
shine with some communication of that glory. 

Hence the proposition or doctrine, that I would raise from 
these words, is this : 

Doctrine. True religion., in great part, consists in holy 

We see that the apostle, in observing and remarking the 
operations and exencisesof religion in the Christians he wrote* 
to, wherein their religion appeared to be true and of the right 
kind, when it had its greatest trial of what sort it was, being 
tried by persecution as gold is tried in the fire, and when 
their religion not only proved true, but was most pure, and 
cleansed from its dross and mixtures of that which was not 
true, and when religion appeared in them most in its genuine 
excellency and native beauty, and was found to praise, and 
honor, and glory ; he singles out the religious affections of 
love andjoij, that were then in exercise in them : These are 
the exercises of religion he takes notice of, wherein their re- 
ligion did thus appear true and pure, and in its proper glory. 
Here I would, 

1. Shew what is intended by the affections. 

2. Observe some things which make it evident, that a great 
part of true religion lies in the affections. 

I. It may be inquired, what the affections of the mind arc r 
I answer. ...The affections are no other than the more vig- 
orous and sensible exercises of the inclination and will of the 

God has endued the soul with two faculties : One is that 
by which it is capable of perception and speculation, or by 
which it discerns, and views, and judges of things ; which is 
called the understanding. The other faculty is that by which 
the soul does not merely perceive and view things, but is 
some way inclined with respect to the things it views or von- 


ciders ; either is inclined to them, or is disinclined and averse 
from them ; or is the faculty by which the soul does not be- 
hold things, as an indifferent unaffected spectator, but either 
as liking or disliking, pleased or displeased, approving 
or rejecting. This faculty is called by various names ; it is 
sometimes called the inclination : And, as it has respect to 
the actions that are determined and governed by it, is called 
the will : And the mind, with regard to the exercises of this 
faculty, is often called the heart. 

The exercise of this faculty are of two sorts ; either thosa 
by which the soul is carried out towards the things that are 
in view, in approving of them, being pleased with them, and 
inclined to them ; or those in which the soul opposes the 
things that are in view, in disapproving them, and in being 
displeased with them, averse from them, and rejecting 

And as the exercises of the inclination and will of the soul 
are various in {heir kinds, so they are much more various in 
their degrees. There are some exercises of pleasedness or 
displeasedness, inclination or disinclination, wherein the soul 

is carried but a little beyond a state of perfect indifference 

And there are other degrees above this, wherein the approba- 
tion or dislike, pleasedness or aversion, are stronger, where- 
in we may rise higher and higher, till the soul comes to act 
vigorously and sensibly, and the actings of the soul are with 
that strength, that (through the laws of the union which the 
Creator has fixed between the soul and body) the motion 
of the blood and animal spirits begins to be sensibly altered ; 
whence oftentimes arises some bodily sensation, especially 
about the heart and vitals, that arc the fountain of the fluids 
of the body : From whence it comes to pass, that the minoV 
with regard to the exercises of this faculty, perhaps in#all na- 
tions and ages, is called the heart. And, it is to be noted, 
that they are these more vigorous and sensible exercises of 
this faculty that are called the affections. 

The will, and the affections of the soul, are not two facul- 
ties ; the affections are not essentially distinct from the will, 
oor do they differ from the mere actings of the will, and in? 


clination of the soul, but only in the liveliness and sensible* 
ness of exercise. 

It must be confessed, that language is here somewhat im- 
perfect, and the meaning of words in a considerable meas- 
ure loose and unfixed, and not precisely limited by custom, 
-which governs the use of language. In some sense, the af- 
fection of the soul differs nothing at all from the will and in- 
clination, and the will never is in any exercise any further 
than it is affected ; it is not moved out of a state of perfect 
indifference, any otherwise than as it is affected one way or 
•other, and acts nothing any further. But yet there are many 
• actings of the will and inclination, that are not so commonly 
called affection* : In every thing we do, wherein we act vol- 
untarily, there is an exercise of the will and inclination, it is 
our inclination that governs us in our actions; but all the 
actings of the inclination and will, in all our common actions 
of life, are not ordinarily called affections. Yet, what are 
commonly called affections are not essentially different from 
them, but only in the degree and manner of exercise. In ev- 
ery act of the will whatsoever, the soul either likes or dislikes 
is either inclined or disinclined to what is in view : These 
are not essentially different from those affections of love and 
hatred : That liking or inclination of the soul to a thing, if 
it be in a high degree, and be vigorous and lively, is the very 
same thing with the affection of love ; and that disliking and 
disinclining, if in a greater degree, is the very same with ha- 
tred. In every act of the will for, or towards something not 
present, the soul is in some degree inclined to that thing ; and 
that inclination, if in a considerable degree, is the very same 
with the affection of desire. And in every degree of the act 
of the will, wherein the soul approves of something present, 
there is a degree of pleasedness ; and that pleasedness, if it 
be in a considerable degree, is the very same with the affec- 
tion of joy or delight. And if the will disapproves of what is 
present, the soul is in some degree displeased, and if that dis- 
plcascdness be great, it is the very same with the affection of 
r-rief or sorrow. 


Such seems to be our nature and such the laws of the union 
of soul and body, that there never is, in any case whatsoever, 
any lively and vigorous exercise of the will or inclination of 
the soul- without some effect upon the body, in some alteration 
of the motion of its fluids, and especially of the animal spir- 
its. And, on the other hand, from the same iaws of the u- 
nion of soul and body, the constitution of the body, and the mo- 
tion of its fluids, may promote the exercise of tne affections. 
But yet it is not the body, but the mind only, that is the prop- 
er seat of the affections. The body of man is no more ca- 
pable of being really the subject of love or hatred, joy or sor- 
row, fear or hope, than the body of a tree, or than the same 
body of man is capable of thinking and understanding. As it 
is the soul only that has ideas, so it is the soul only that is 
pleased or displeased with its ideas. As it is the soul only 
that thinks, so it is the soul only that loves or hates, rejoices 
or is grieved at what it thinks of. Nor are these motions of 
the animal spirits, and fluids of the body, any thing properly 
belonging to the nature of the affections, though they always 
accompany them, in the present state ; but are only effects 
or concomitants of the affections that are entirely distinct 
from the affections themselves, and no way essential to them ; 
so that an unbodied spirit may be as capable of love and ha- 
tred, joy or sorrow, hope or fear, or other affections, as one 
that is united to a body. 

The affections and passions are frequently spoken of as 
the same ; and yet in the more common use of speech, there 
is in some respect a difference ; and affection is a word, that 
in its ordinary signification, seems to be something more ex- 
tensive than passion, being used for all vigorous lively actings 
of the will or inclination ; but passion for those that are more ' 
sudden, and whose effects on the animal spirits are more vi- 
olent, and the mind more overpowered, and less in its own 

As all the exercises of the inclination and will, arc either 
in approving and liking, or disapproving and rejecting ; so 
the affections are of two sorts ; tliey arc those by which the 


soul is carried out to what is in view, cleaving to it, or seek* 
ing it ; or those by which it is averse from it, and opposes it. 

Of the former sort, are love, desire, hope, joy, gratitude, 
complacence. Of the latter kind, are hatred, fear, anger, 
grief, and such like ; which it is needless now to stand par- 
ticularly to define. 

And there are some affections wherein there is a compo- 
sition of each of the aforementioned kinds of actings of the 
will ; as in the affection of fiity, there is something of the 
former kind, towards the person suffering, and something of 
the latter towards what he suffers. And so in zeal, there is 
in it high approbation of some person or thing, together 
with vigorous opposition to what is conceived to be contrary 
to it. 

There are other mixed affections that might be also men- 
tioned, but I hasten to, 

II. The second thing proposed, which was, to observe 
some things that render it evident, that true religion, in great 
part consists in the affections. And here, 

1. What has been said of the nature of the affections makes 
this evident, and may be sufficient, without adding any thing 
further, to put this matter out of doubt ; for who will deny 
that true religion consists in a great measure, in vigorous and 
lively actings of the inclination and will of the soul, or the 
fervent exercises of the heart ? 

That religion which God requires, and will accept, does 
not consist in weak, dull, and lifeless wouldings, raising us 
but a little above a state of indifference : God, in his word, 
greatly insists upon it, that Ave be good in earnest, « fervent 
in spirit," and our hearts vigorously engaged in religion : 
Rom. xii. 11. " Be ye fervent inspirit, serving the Lord." 
Deut. x. 12. And now " Israel, what doth the Lord thy God 
require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all 
his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with, 
all thy heart, and with ail thy soul ?" And chap. vi. 4, 5. 
" Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord : And thou 
shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all 
thy soul, and with all thy might." It is such a fervent, ?ig- 


orous en^agedness of the heart in religion, that is the fruit of 
a real circumcision of the heart, or true regeneration, and 
that has the promises of life ; Deut. xxx. 6. « And the Lord 
thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy 
seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all 
thy soul, that thou mayest live." 

If we be not in good earnest in religion, and our wills and 
inclinations be not strongly exercised, we are nothing. The 
things of religion are so great, that there can be no suitable- 
ness in the exercises of our hearts, to their nature and impor- 
tance, unless they be lively and powerful. In nothing is vig- 
or in the actings of our inclinations so requisite, as in relig- 
ion ; and in nothing is lukewarmness so odious. True relig- 
ion is evermore a powerful thing ; and the power of it ap- 
pears, in the first place in the inward exercises of it in the 
heart, where is the principal and original seat of it. Hence 
true religion is called the power of godliness, in distinction 
from the external appearances of it, that are the/or??* of it, 
2 Tim. iii. 5. « Having a form of godliness, but denying the 
power of it." The Spirit of God, in those that have sound 
and solid religion, is a spirit of powerful holy affection ; and 
therefore, God is said " to have given the Spirit of power, 
and of love, and of a sound mind," 2 Tim. i. 7. And such, 
when they receive the Spirit of God, in his sanctifying and 
saving influences, are said to be " baptized with the Holy 
Ghost, and with fire ;" by reason of the power and fervor of 
those exercises the Spirit of God excites in their hearts, 
whereby their hearts when grace is in exercise, may be said 
to " burn within them ;" as is said of the disciples, Luke 
xxiv. 32. 

The business of religion is from time to time compared to 
those exercises, wherein men are wont to have their hearts 
and strength greatly exercised and engaged, such as running, 
wrestling or agonizing for a great prize or crown, and fight- 
ing with strong enemies that seek our lives, and warring as 
those, that by violence take a city or kingdom. 

And though true grace has various degrees, and there are 
some that are but babes in Christ, in whom the exercise of 
Vol. IV. C 


of the inclination and will, towards divine and heavenly thing!!* 
is comparatively weak ; yet every one that has the power of 
godliness in his heart, has his inclinations and heart exercised 
towards God and divine things, with such strength and vigor 
that these holy exercises do prevail in him above all carnal or 
natural affections, and are effectual to overcome them : For 
every true disciple of Christ " loves him above father or 
mother, wife and children, brethren and sisters, houses and 
lands : Yea, than his own life." From hence it follows, that 
wherever true religion is, there are vigorous exercises of the 
inclination and will towards divine objects : But by what was 
said before, the vigorous, lively, and sensible exercises of the 
will, are no other than the affections of the soul. 

2. The Author of the human nature has not only given af- 
fections to men, but has made them very much the spring of 
men's actions. As the affections do not only necessarily belong 
to the human nature, but are a very great part of it ; so inas« 
much as by regeneration, (persons are renewed in the whole 
man, and sanctified throughout) holy affections do not only 
necessarily belong to true religion, but are a very great part 
of it. And as true religion is of a practical nature, and 
God hath so constituted the human nature, that the affec- 
tions are very much the spring of men's actions, this also 
shews, that true religion must consist very much in the af- 

Such is man's nature, that he is very unactive, any other- 
wise than he is influenced by some affection, either love or 
hatred, desire, hope, fear, or some other. These affections 
we see to be the springs that set men a going, in ail the af- 
fairs of life, and engage them in all their pursuits : These 
are the things that put men forward, and carry them along, in 
all their worldly business ; and especially are men excited 
and animated by these, in all affairs wherein they are earnest- 
ly engaged, and which they pursue with vigor. We see the 
world of mankind to be exceeding busy and active ; and 
the affections of men are the springs of the motion : Take 
away all love and hatred, all hope and fear, all anger, zeal, 
and affectionate desire, and the world would be, in a great 


measure, motionless and dead ; there would be no such thing 
as activity amongst mankind, or any earnest pursuit whatso- 
ever. It is affection that engages the covetous man, and him 
that is greedy of worldly profits, in his pursuits ; and it is by 
the affections, that the ambitious man is put forward in his 
pursuit of worldly glory ; and it is the affections also that 
actuate the voluptuous man, in his pursuit of pleasure and sen- 
sual delights : The world continues, from age to age in a 
continual commotion and agitation, in a pursuit of these things ; 
but take away all affection, and the spring of all this motion 
would be gone, and the motion itself would cease. And as 
in worldly things, worldly affections are very much the spring 
of men's motion and action ; so in religious matters, the 
spring of their actions is very much religious affection : He 
that has doctrinal knowledge and speculation only, without 
affection, never is engaged in the business of religion. 

3. Nothing is more manifest in fact, than that the things of 
religion take hold of men's souls, no further than they affect 
them. There are multitudes that often hear the word of 
God, and therein hear of those things that are infinitely great 
and important, and that most nearly concern them, and all 
that is heard seems to be wholly ineffectual upon them, and to 
make no alteration in their disposition or behavior ; and the 
reason is, they are not affected with what they hear. There 
are many that often hear of the glorious perfections of God, 
his almighty power and boundless wisdom, his infinite maj- 
esty, and that holiness of God, by which he is of purer eyes 
than to behold .evil, and cannot look on iniquity, and the heav- 
ens are not pure in his sight, and of God's infinite goodness 
and mercy, and hear of the great works of God's wisdom, 
power and goodness, wherein there appear the admirable man- 
ifestations of these perfections ; they hear particularly of the 
unspeakable love of God and Christ, and of the great things 
that Christ has done and suffered, and of the great things of 
another world, of eternal misery in bearing the fierceness and 
wrath of Almighty God, and of endless blessedness and glo- 
ry in the presence of God, and the enjoyment of his dear love ; 
they also hear the peremptory commands of God, and his 


gracious counsels and warnings, and the sweet invitations of 
the gospel ; I say, they often hear these things and yet re- 
main as they were before, with no sensible alteration in them, 
either in heart or practice, because they are not affected with 

what they hear ; and ever will be so till they are affected 

I am bold to assert, that there never was any considerable 
change wrought in the mind or conversation of any person, 
by any thing of a religious nature, that ever he read, heard or 
saw, that had not his affections moved. Never was a natural 
man engaged earnestly to seek his salvation ; never were any- 
such brought to cry after wisdom, and lift up their voice for 
understanding) and to wrestle with God in prayer for mercy ; 
and never was one humbled, and brought to the foot of God, 
from any thing that ever he heard or imagined of his own un- 
worthiness and deserving of God's displeasure ; nor was ever 
one induced to fly for refuge unto Christ, while his heart re- 
mained unaffected. Nor was there ever a saijnt awakened 
out of a cold, lifeless frame, or recovered from a declining 
state in religion, and brought back from a lamentable depart- 
ure from God, without having his heart affected. And in a 
word, there never was any thing considerable brought to pass 
in the heart or life of any man living, by the things of religion, 
that had not his heart deeply affected by those things. 

4. The holy scriptures do every where place religion very 
much in the affections ; such as fear, hope, love, hatred, de- 
sire, joy, sorrow, gratitude, compassion, and zeal. 

The scriptures place much of religion in godly fear ; inso- 
much, that it is often spoken of as the character of those that 
are truly religious persons, that they tremble at God's word, 
that they fear before him, that their flesh trembles for fear of 
him, and that they are afraid of his judgments, that his excel- 
lency makes them afraid, and his dread falls upon them, and 
the like : And a compellation commonly given the saints in 
scripture, is " fearers of God," or, " they that fear the Lord." 
And because the fear of God is a great part of true godliness, 
hence true godliness in general, is very commonly called by 
the name of ths frar of God ; as every one knows, that knows 
as\y thing of the Bible. 


So hope in God and in the promises of his word, is often 
spoken of in the scripture, as a very considerable part of true 
religion. It is mentioned as one of the three great things of 
which religion consists, 1 Cor. xiii. 13. Hope in the Lord is 
also frequently mentioned as the character of the saints : Psal. 
cxlvi. 5. « Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his 
help, whose hope is in the Lord his God." Jer. xvii. 7. 
" Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose 
hope the Lord is." Psal. xxxi. 24. « Be of good courage, 
and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the 
Lord." And the like in many other places. Religious fear 
and hope are, once and again, joined together, as jointly con- 
stituting the character of the true saints; Psal. xxxiii. 18. 
" Behold the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, up- 
on them that hope in his mercy." Psal.cxlvii.il. "The 
Lord taketh plea Hire in them that fear him, in those that hope 
in his mercy." Hope is so great a part of true religion, that 
the apostle says, " we are saved by hope," Rom. viii. 24. 
And this is spoken of as the helmet of the Christian soldier. 
1 Thes. v. 8. " And for an helmet, the ho/ie of salvation ;" 
and the stire and stedfast anchor of the soul, which preserves 
it from being cast away by the storms of this evil world. 
Heb. vi. 19. " Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, 
both sui'e and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the 
vail." It is spoken of as a great fruit and benefit which true 
saints receive by Christ's resurrection, 1 Pet. i. 3. « Blessed 
be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, ac- 
cording to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto 
a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the 

The scriptures place religion very much in the affection of 
love, in love to God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and love to 
the people of God, and to mankind. The texts in which this 
is manifest, both in the Old Testament and New, arc innu- 
merable. But of this more afterwards. 

The contrary affection of /ia (red also, as having sin for its 
object, is spoken of in scripture as no inconsiderable part of 
true religion. It is spoken of as that by which true religion 


may be known and distinguished; Prov- viii. 13. " The feaj? 
of the Lord is to hate evil." And accordingly the saints are 
called upon to give evidence of their sincerity by this, Psal. 
xcvii. 10. « Yc that love the Lord hate evil." And the Psalm- 
ist often mentions it as an evidence of his sincerity ; Psal. ci. 
2, 3. "I will walk within my house Avith a perfect heart. I 
■will set no wicked thing before mine eyes ; I hate the work 
©f them that turn aside." Psal. cxix. 104. " I hate every 
false way." So ver. 128. Again, Psal. exxxix. 21. " Do I 
not hate them, O Lord, that hate thee ?" 

So holy desire, exercised in longings, hungerings, and 
thirsiings after God and holiness, is often mentioned in scrip- 
ture as an important part of true religion ; Isa. xxvi. 8. " The 
desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of 
thee." Psal. xxvii. 4. " One thing have I desired of the 
Lord, and that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house 
of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the 
Lord, and to inquire in his temple." Psal. xlii. 1, 2. "As 
the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul 
after thee, O God ; my soul thirsteth for God, for the living 
God : When shall I come and appear before God ?" Psal. 
Ixiii. 1,2. " My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for 
thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is ; to see thy 
power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary." 
Psal. lxxxiv. 1,2. "How amiable are thy tabernacles, O 
Lord of hosts ! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the 
courts of the Lord : My heart and my flesh crieth out for the 
living God." Psal. cxix. 20. « My soul breaketh for the 
longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times." So 
Psal. lxxiii. 25, and cxliii. 6, 7. and exxx. 6. Cant. iii. 1, 2, and 
vi. 8. Such a holy desire and thirst of soul is mentioned, as 
one thing which renders or denotes a man truly blessed, in 
the beginning of Christ's sermon on the mount, Mat. v. 6. 
" Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteous- 
ness ; for they shall be filled." And this holy thirst is 
spoken of, as a great thing in the condition of a participation 
of the blessings of eternal life, Rev. xxi. 6. « I will give 


unto him that is athirst, of the fountain of the water of life 

The scriptures speak of holy joy, as a great part of true 
religion. So it is represented in the text. And as an impor- 
tant part of religion, it is often exhorted to, and pressed, with 
great earnestness j Psal. xxxvii. 4. " Delight thyself in the 
Lord ; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." 
Psal. xcvii. 12. " Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous." So 
Psal. xxxiii. 1. " Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous." Mat. 
v. 12. " Rejoice, and be exceeding glad." Phil. iii. 1. " Fi- 
nally, brethren, rejoice in the Lord." And chap. iv. 4. " Re- 
joice in the Lord alway ; and again, I say, Rejoice." 1 Thes. 
v. 16. " Rejoice evermore." Psal. cxlix. 2. " Let Israel re- 
joice in him that made him ; let the children of Zion be joy- 
ful in their King." This is mentioned among the principal 
fruits of the Spirit of grace, Gal. v. 22. "The fruit of the 
Spirit is love, joy," he. The Psalmist mentions his holy 
joy, as an evidence of his sincerity. Psal. cxix. 14. " I 
have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all 

Religious sorrow, mourning, and brokenness of heart, are 
also frequently spoken of as a great part of true religion. 
These things are often mentioned as distinguishing qualities 
of the true saints, and a great part of their character ; Mat. v. 
4. " Blessed are they that mourn ; for they shall be comfort- 
ed." Psal. xxxiv. 18. « The Lord is nigh unto them that 
are of a broken heart ; and saveth such as be of a contrite 
spirit." Isa. lxi. 1, 2. « The Lord hath anointed me... .to 
bind up the broken hearted, to comfort all that mourn." This 
godly sorrow and brokenness of heart is often spoken of, not 
only as a great thing in the distinguishing character of the 
saints, but that in them, which is peculiarly acceptable and 
pleasing to God ; Psal. li. 17. " The sacrifices of God are a 
broken spirit : A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou 
wilt not despise." Isa. Ivii. 15. " 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." Chap. Ixvi. 2. 
" To this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a 
contrite spirit." 

Another affection often mentioned, as that in the exercise 
of which much of true religion appears, is gratitude ; espe- 
cially as exercised in thankfulness and praise to God. This 
being so much spoken of in the book of Psalms, and other 
parts of the holy scriptures, I need not mention particular 

Again, the holy scriptures do frequently speak of compas- 
sion or mercy, as a very great and essential thing in true re- 
ligion ; insomuch that good men are in scripture denominated 
from hence ; and a merciful man, and a good man, are equiv- 
alent terms in scripture, Isa. Ivii. 1. " The righteous perish- 
eth, and no man layeth it to heart ; and merciful men are 
taken away." And the scripture chooses out this quality, as 
that by which, in a peculiar manner, a righteous man is decy- 
phered ; Psal. xxxvii. 21. " The righteous sheweth mercy, 
and giveth ;" and ver. 26. « He is ever merciful, and lend- 
eth." And Prov. xiv. 31. " He that honoreth the Lord, hath 
mercy on the poor." And Col. iii. 12. " Put ye on, as the 
elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies," Sec. This 
is one of those great things by which those who are truly 
blessed are described by our Saviour, Mat. v. 7. " Blessed 
are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." And this 
Christ also speaks of, as one of the weightier matters of the 
law, Mat. xxiii. 23. " Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, 
hypocrites, for ye pay tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin, 
and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, 
mercy, and faith." To the like purpose is that, Mic. vi. 8. 
" He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good : And what 
doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justice, and love mer- 
cy, and walk humbly with thy God ?" And also that, Hos. 
vi. 6. " For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice." Which 
seems to have been a text much delighted in by our Saviour, 
by his manner of citing it once and again, Mat.ix. 13, and xii. 7. 

Zeal is also spoken of, as a very essential part of the relig- 
ion of true saints. It is spoken of as a great thing Christ had 


in view, in giving himself for our redemption, Tit. ii. 14, 
« Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all 
iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of 
good works." And this is spoken of, as the great thing want- 
ing in the lukewarm Laodiceans, Rev. iii. 15, 16, 19. 

I have mentioned but a few texts, out of an innumerable 
multitude, all over the scripture, which place religion very 
much in the affections. But what has been observed, may be 
sufficient to shew that they who would deny that much of true 
religion lies in the affections, and maintain the contrary, must 
throw away what we have been wont to own for our Bible, 
and get some other rule, by which to judge of the nature of 

5. The scriptures do represent true religion, as being sum- 
marily comprehended in love, the chief of the affections, and 
fountain of all other affections. 

So our blessed Saviour represents the matter, in answer to 
the lawyer, who asked him, which was the great command- 
ment of the law, Mat. xxii. 37 40. « Jesus said unto him. 

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with 
all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great 
commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt 
love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments 
hang all the law and the prophets." Which last words sig- 
nify as much, as that these two commandments comprehend 
all the duty prescribed, and the religion taught in the law and 
the prophets. And the apostle Paul does from time to time 
make the same representation of the matter ; as in Rom. xiii. 
8. « He that loveth another, hath fulfilled the law." And 
ver. 10. " Love is the fulfilling of the law." And Gal. v. 14. 
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, " Thou 
shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." So likewise in 1 Tim. 
i. 5. " Now the end of the commandment is charity, out of a 
pure heart," Sec. So the same apostle speaks of love, as the 
greatest thing in religion, and as the vitals, essence and soul 
of it ; without which, the greatest knowledge and gifts, and 
the most glaring profession, and every thing else which ap- 

Vol. IV. D 


pertains to religion, are vain and worthless ; and represents 
it as the fountain from whence proceeds all that is good, in I 
Cor. xiii. throughout ; for that which is there rendered char- 
ity, in the original is ctyctTrv, the proper English of which is 

Now, although it be true, that the love thus spoken of in- 
cludes the whole of a sincerely benevolent propensity of the 
soul towards God and man ; yet it may be considered, that it 
is evident from what has been before observed, that this pro- 
pensity or inclination of the soul, when in sensible and vigor- 
ous exercise, becomes affection, and is no other than affec- 
tionate love. And surely it is such vigorous and fervent love 
which Christ speaks of, as the sum of all religion, when he 
speaks of loving God with all our hearts, with all our souls, 
and with all our minds, and our neighbor as ourselves, as the 
sum of all that was taught and prescribed in the law and the 

Indeed it cannot be supposed, when this affection of love is 
here, and in other scriptures, spoken of as the sum of all re- 
ligion, that hereby is meant the act, exclusive of the habit, or 
that the exercise of the understanding is excluded, which is 
implied in all reasonable affection. But it is doubtless true, 
and evident from these scriptures, that the essence of all true 
religion lies in holy love ; and that in this divine affection, 
and an habitual disposition to it, and that light which is the 
foundation of it, and those things which are the fruits of it, 
consists the whole of religion. 

From hence it clearly and certainly appears, that great part 
of true religion consists in the affections. For love is not only 
one of the affections, but it is the first and chief of the affec- 
tions, and the fountain of all the affections. From love arises 
hatred of those things which are contrary to what we love, or 
which oppose and thwart us in those things that we delight 
in : And from the various exercises of love and hatred, ac- 
cording to the circumstances of the objects of these affections, 
lis present or absent, cei'tain or uncertain, probable or improb- 
able, arise all those other affections of desire, hope, fear, joy, 
grief, gratitude, anger, Sec. From a vigorous, affectionate, 


and fervent love to God, will necessarily arise other religious 
affections ; hence will arise an intense hatred and abhorrence 
of sin, fear of sin, and a dread of God's displeasure, gratitude 
to God for his goodness, complacence and joy in God, when 
God is graciously and sensibly present, and grief when he is 
absent, and a joyful hope when a future enjoyment of God is 
expected, and fervent zeal for the glory of God. And in like 
manner, from a fervent love to men, will arise all other virtu- 
ous affections towards men. 

6. The religion of the most eminent saints we have an 
account of in the scripture, consisted much in holy affections. 

I shall take particular notice of three eminent saints, who 
have expressed the frame and sentiments of their own hearts, 
and so described their own religion, and the manner of their 
intercourse with God, in the writings which they have left us, 
that are a part ©f the sacred canon. 

The first instance I shall take notice of, is David, that " man 
after God's own heart ;" who has given us a lively portrait- 
ure of his religion in the Book of Psalms. Those holy songs 
of his he has there left us, are nothing else but the express- 
ions and breathings of devout and holy affections ; such as an 
humble and fervent love to God, admiration of his glorious 
perfections and wonderful works, earnest desires, thirstings, 
and pantings of soul after God, delight and joy in God, a sweet 
and melting gratitude to God, for his great goodness, an holy 
exultation and triumph of soul in the favor, sufficiency, and 
faithfulness of God, his love to, and delight in the saints, the 
excellent of the earth, his great delight in the word and ordi- 
nances of God, his grief for his own and others sins, and his 
fervent zeal for God, and against the enemies of God and his 
church. And these expressions of holy affection, which the 
psalms of David are every where full of, are the more to our 
present purpose, because those psalms are not only the ex- 
pressions of the religion of so eminent a saint, that God speaks 
of as so agreeable to his mind ; but were also, by the direc- 
tion of the Holy Ghost, penned for the use of the church of 
God in its public worship, not only in that age, but in after 
ages ; as being fitted to express the religion of all saints, in 


all ages, as well as the religion of the Psalmist. And it h 
moreover to be observed, that David, in the book of Psalms, 
speaks not as a private person, but as the Psalmist of Israel, 
as the subordinate head of the church of God, and leader in 
their worship and praises ; and in many of the Psalms speaks 
in the name of Christ, as personating him in these breathings 
forth of holy affection ; and in many other Psalms he speaks 
in the name of the church. 

Another instance I shall observe, is the apostle Paul ; who 
was, in many respects, the chief of all the ministers of the 
New Testament ; being above all others, a chosen vessel unto 
Christ, to bear his name before the Gentiles, and made a chief 
instrument of propagating and establishing the Christian 
church in the world, and of distinctly revealing the glorious 
mysteries of the gospel, for the instruction of the church in 
all ages ; and (as has not been improbably thought by some) 
the most eminent servant of Christ that ever lived, received 
to the highest rewards in the heavenly kingdom of his Master. 
By what is said of him in the scripture, he appears to have 
been a person that was full of affection. And it is very mani- 
fest, that the religion he expresses in his epistles, consisted 
very much in holy affections. It appears by all his expres- 
sions of himself, that he was, in the course of his life, inflam- 
ed, actuated, and entirely swallowed up, by a most ardent love 
to his glorious Lord, esteeming all things as loss, for the ex- 
cellency of the knowledge of him, and esteeming them but 
clung that he might win him. He represents himself, as over- 
powered by this holy affection, and as it were, compelled by 
it to go forward in his service, through all difficulties and suf- 
ferings, 2 Cor. v. 14, 15. And his epistles are full of expres- 
sions of an overflowing affection towards the people of Christ : 
He speaks of his dear love to them, 2 Cor. xii. 19. Phil. iv. 1. 
2 Tim. i. 2 ; of his " abundant love," 2 Cor. ii. 4 ; and of his 
« affectionate and tender love," as of a nurse towards her chil- 
dren, 1 Thess. ii. 7, 8. " But we were gentle among you, 
even as a nurse chcrisheth her children ; so, being affection- 
ately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto 
vou, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, be- 


cause ye were dear unto us." So also he speaks of his 
« bowels of love," Phil. i. 8. Philem. 5, 12, and 20. So he 
speaks of his " earnest care" for others, 2 Cor. viii. 1 6, and 
of his " bowels of pity, or mercy towards them, Phil. ii. 1 ; 
and of his concern for others, even to anguish of heart," 2 Cor. 
ii. 4. " For out of much affliction and anguish of heart, I wrote 
unto you with many tears ; not that you should be grieved, 
but that ye might know the love which I have more abund- 
antly unto you." He speaks of the great conflict of his soul 
for them, Col. ii. 1. He speaks of great and continual grief 
that he had in his heart from compassion to the Jews, Rom. 
ix. 2. He speaks of " his mouth's being opened, and his 
heart enlarged" towards Christians, 2 Cor. vi. 11. " O 
ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is 
enlarged." He often speaks of his " affectionate and longing 
desires," 1 Thess. ii. 8. Rom.i. 11. Phil. i. 8, and Chap. iv. 
1. 2 Tim. i. 4. The same apostle is very often, in his epis- 
tles, expressing the affection of joy, 2 Cor. i. 12, and Chap. 
vii. 7, and ver. 9. 16. Phil. i. 4, and Chap. ii. 12. and Chap. iii. 
3. Col. i. 24. 1 Thess. iii. 9. He speaks of his " rejoicing 
with great joy," Phil. iv. lo. Philem. i. 7 ; of his "joying 
and rejoicing," Phil. ii. 1.7, and "of his rejoicing exceed- 
ingly," 2 Cor. vii. 13, and of his being "■filled with comfort, 
and being exceeding joyful," 2 Cor. vii. 4. He speaks of 
himself as " always rejoicing," 2 Ccr. vi. 10. So he speaks 
of the triumphs of his soul, 2 Cor. ii. 14, and of " his glorying 
in tribulation," 2 Thess. i. 4, and Rom. v. 3. He also ex- 
presses the affection of hope ; in Phil. i. 20, he speaks of his 
" earnest expectation, and his hope." He likewise expresses 
an affection of godly jealousy, 2 Cor. xi. 2, 3. And it appears 
by his whole history, after his conversion, in the Acts, and 
also by all his epistles, and the accounts he gives of himself 
there, that the affection of zeal, as having the cause of his 
■ Master, and the interest and prosperity of his church, for its 
.object, was mighty in him, continually inflaming hi,s heart, 
strongly engaging to those great and constant labors he went 
through, in instructing, exhorting, warning, and reproving 
others, M travailing in birth with them ;"* conflicting with 


those powerful and innumerable enemies who continually 
opposed him, wrestling with principalities and powers, not 
fighting as one who beats the air, running the race set before 
him, continually pressing forwards through all manner of dif- 
ficulties and sufferings ; so that others thought him quite be- 
side himself. And how full he was of affection, does further 
appear by his being so full of tears : In 2 Cor. ii. 4, he speaks 
of his " many tears ;" and so Acts xx. 19 ; and of his " tears 
that he shed continually night and day," ver. 31. 

Now if any one can consider these accounts given in the 
scripture of this great apostle, and which he gives of himself, 
jand yet not see that his religion consisted much in affection, 
must have a strange faculty of managing his eyes, to shut out 
the hght which shines most full in his face. 

The other instance I shall mention, is of the apostle John, 
that beloved disciple, who was the nearest and dearest to his 
Master, of any of the twelve, and was by him admitted to the 
greatest privileges of any of them ; being not only one of the 
three who were admitted to be present with him in the mount 
at his transfiguration, and at the raising of Jairus's daughter, 
and whom he took with him when he was in his agony, and 
one of the three spoken of by the apostle Paul, as the three 
main pillars of the Christian church ; but was favored above 
all, in being admitted to lean on his Master's bosom at his last 
supper, and in being chosen by Christ, as the disciple to whom 
he would reveal his wonderful dispensations towards his 
church, to the end of time ; as we have an account in the 
Book of Revelation ; and to shut up the canon of the New 
Testament, and of the whole scripture ; being preserved 
much longer than all the rest of the apostles, to set all things 
in order in the Christian church, after their death. 

It is evident by all his writings (as is generally observed by 
divines) that he was a person remarkably full of affection : 
His addresses to those whom he wrote to, being inexpressi- 
bly tender and pathetical, breathing nothing but the most fer- 
vent love ; as though he were all made up of sweet and holy 
affection. The proofs of which cannot be given without dis- 
advantage, unless we should transcribe his whole writings, 


, ; . He whom God sent into the world to be the light of the 
world, and head of the whole church, and the perfect example 
of true religion and virtue, for the imitation of all, the Shep- 
herd whom the whole flock should follow wherever he goes, 
even the Lord Jesus Christ Was a person who was remark- 
ably of a tender and affectionate heart ; and his virtue was 
expressed very much in the exercise of holy affections. He 
was the greatest instance of ardency, vigor and strength of 
love, to both God and man, that ever was. It was these af- 
fections which got the victory, in that mighty struggle and 
conflict of his affections, in his agonies, when " he prayed 
more earnestly, and offered strong crying and tears," and 
wrestled in tears and in blood. Such was the power of the 
exercises of his holy love, that they were stronger than death, 
and in that great struggle, overcame those strong exercises 
of the natural affections of fear and grief, when he was sore 
amazed, and his soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto 
death. And he also appeared to be full of affection in the 
course of his life. We read of his great zeal, fulfilling that 
in the 69th psalm, « The zeal of thine house hath eaten me 
up." John ii. 17. We read of his grief for the sins of men, 
Mark iii. 5. " He looked round about on them with anger, 
being grieved for the hardness of their hearts ;" and his break- 
ing forth in tears and exclamations, from the consideration 
of the sin and misery of ungodly men, and on the sight of the 
city of Jerusalem, which was full of such inhabitants, Luke 
xix. 41, 42. " 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 
peate ! But now they are hid from thine eyes." With chap, 
xiii. 34. « O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the proph- 
ets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee ; how often 
would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth 
gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not ?" We 
read of Christ's earnest desire, Luke xxii. 15. " With de- 
sire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suf- 
fer." We often read of the affection of pity or compassion 
in Christ, Malth. xv. 32, and xviii. 34. Luke vii. 13, and of 


his " being moved with compassion," Matth. ix. 36, ami xiv 
14, and Mark vi. 34. And how lender did his heart appear 
to be, on occasion of Mary's and Martha's mourning for their 
brother, and coming to him with their complaints and tears ? 
Their tears soon drew tears from his eyes ; he was affected 
with their grief, and wept with them ; though he knew their 
sorrow should so soon be turned into joy, by their brother's 
being raised from the dead ; see John xi. And how ineffa- 
bly affectionate was that last and dying discourse, which Jesus 
had with his eleven disciples the evening before he was cru- 
cified ; when he told them he was going away, and foretold 
them the great difficulties and sufferings they should meet 
with in the world, when he was gone ; and comforted and 
counselled them as his dear little children ; and bequeathed 
to them his Holy Spirit, and therein his peace, and his com- 
fort and joy, as it were in his last will and testament, in the 
13, 14, 15, and 16 chapters of John ; and concluded the whole 
with that affectionate intercessory prayer for them, and his 
whole church, in chap. xvii. Of all the discourses ever penn- 
ed, or uttered by the mouth of any man, this seems to be the 
most affectionate and affecting. 

8. The religion of heaven consists very much in affec- 

There is doubtless true religion in heaven, and true relig- 
ion in its utmost purity and perfection. But according to the 
scripture representation of the heavenly state, the religion of 
heaven consists chiefly in holy and mighty love and joy, and 
the expression of these in most fervent and exalted praises. 
So that the religion of the saints in heaven, consists in the 
same things with that religion of the saints on earth, which is 
spoken of in our text, viz. love, and " joy unspeakable and full 
of glory." Now it would be very foolish to pretend, that be- 
cause the saints in heaven be not united to flesh and blood, 
and have no animal fluids to be moved (through the laws of 
union, of soul and body) with those great emotions of their 
souls, that therefore their exceeding love and joy are no af- 
fections. We arc not speaking of the affections of the body* 
but of the affections of the soul, the chief of which axoJowc 


iMjoy. When these are in the soul, whether that be in the 
body or out of it, the soul is affected and moved. And when 
they are in the soul, in that strength in which they are in the 
saints in heaven, the soul is mightily affected and moved, or, 
which is the same thing, has great affections. It is true, we 
<lo not experimentally know what love and joy are in a soul 
out of a body, or in a glorified body ; i. e. we have not had 
experience of love and joy in a soul in these circumstances ; 
but the saints on earth do know what divine love and joy in 
the soul are, and they know that love and joy are of the same 
kind with the love and joy which are in heaven, in separate 
souls there. The love and joy of the saints on earth, is the 
beginning and dawning of the light, life, and blessedness of 
heaven, and is like their love and joy there ; or rather, the 
same in nature, though not the same with it, or like to it, in 
degree and circumstances. This is evident by many scrip- 
tures, as Prov. iv. 1 8. John iv. 14, and chap. vi. 40, 47, 50, 51, 
54, 58. 1 John Hi. 15. 1 Cor. xiii. 8.... 12. It is unreasonable 
therefore to suppose, that the love and joy of the saints in 
heaven, not only differ in degree and circumstances, from the 
holy love and joy of the saints on earth, but is so entirely dif- 
ferent in nature, that they are no affections ; and merely be- 
cause they have no blood and animal spirits to be set in mo- 
ticr. by them, which motion of the blood and animal spirits 
is not of the essence of these affections, in men on the earth, 
but the effect of them ; although by their reaction they may 
make some circumstantial difference in the sensation of the 
mind. There is a sensation of the mind which loves and 
rejoices, that is antecedent to any effects on the fluids of 
the body ; and this sensation of the mind, therefore, does not 
depend on these motions in the body, and so may be in the 
soul without the body. And wherever there are the exercis- 
es of love and joy, there is that sensation of the mind, wheth- 
er it be in the body or out ; and that inward sensation, or kind 
of spiritual sense, or feeling, and motion of the soul, is what 
is called affection : The soul when it thus feels, (if I may 
say so) and is thus moved, is said to be affected, and espec^ 
ially when this inward sensation and motion are to a very high 
Vol. IV. E 


degree, as they are in the saints in heaven. If we can learn 
any thing of the state of heaven from the scripture, the love 
and joy that the saints have there, is exceeding great and 
vigorous ; impressing the heart with the strongest and most 
lively sensation of inexpressible sweetness, mightily moving, 
animating, and engaging them, making them like to a flame 
of fire. And if such love and joy be not affections, then the 
word affection is of no use in language. Will any say, that the 
saints in heaven, in beholding the face of their Father, and 
the glory of their Redeemer, and contemplating his wonder- 
ful works, and particularly his laying down his life for them, 
have their hearts nothing moved and affected by all which 
they behold or consider ? 

Hence, therefore, the religion of heaven, consisting chief- 
ly in holy love and joy, consists very much in affection ; and 
therefore, undoubtedly, true religion consists very much in 
affection. The way to learn the true nature of any thing, is 
to go where that thing is to be found in its purity and per- 
fection. If we would know the nature of true gold, we must 
view it, not in the ore, but when it is refined. If we would 
learn what true religion is, we must go where there is true 
religion, and nothing but true religion, and in its highest per- 
fection, without any defect or mixture. All who are truly 
religious are not of this world, they are strangers here, and 
belong to heaven ; they are born from above, heaven is their 
native country, and the nature which they receive by this 
heavenly birth, is an heavenly nature, they receive an anoint- 
ing from above ; that principle of true religion which is in 
them, is a communication of the religion of heaven ; their 
grace is the dawn of glory ; and God fits them for that world 
by conforming them to it. 

- 9. This appears from the nature and design of the ordin- 
ances and duties, which God hath appointed, as means and 
expressions of true religion. 

To instance in the duty of prayer : It is manifest, we are 
not appointed in this duty, to declare God's perfections, his 
majesty, holiness, goodness, and allsufficiency, and our own 
meanness, emptiness, dependence, and unworthiness, and our 


wants and desires, to inform God of these things, or to in- 
cline his heart, and prevail with him to be willing to shew us 
mercy ; but suitably to affect our own hearts with the things 
we express, and so to prepare us to receive the blessings we 
ask. And such gestures and manner of external behavior in 
the worship of God, which custom has made to be significa- 
tions of humility and reverence, can be of no further use than 
as they have some tendency to affect our own hearts, or the 
hearts of others. 

And the duty of singing praises to God seems to be ap- 
pointed wholly to excite and express religious affections. No 
other reason can be assigned why we should express our- 
selves to God in verse, rather than in prose, and do it with 
music, but only, that such is our nature and frame, that these 
things have a tendency to move our affections. 

The same thing appears in the nature and design of the 
sacraments, which God hath appointed. God, considering 
our frame, bath not only appointed that we should be told of 
the great things of the gospel, and of the redemption of Christ, 
and instructed in them by his word ; but also that they should 
be, as it Avere, exhibited to our view, in sensible representa- 
tions, in the sacraments, the more to affect us with them. 

And the impressing divine things on the hearts and af- 
fections of men, is evidently one great and main end for 
which God has ordained, that his word delivered in the holy 
scriptures, should be opened, applied, and set home upon 
men, in preaching. And therefore it does not answer the 
aim which God had in this institution, merely for men to have 
good commentaries and expositions on the scripture, and 
other good books of divinity ; because although these may 
tend, as well as preaching, to give men a good doctrinal or 
speculative understanding, of the things of the word of God, 
yet they have not an equal tendency to impress them on 
men's hearts and affections. God hath appointed a particular 
and lively application of his word to men, in the preaching of 
it, as a fit means to affect shiners with the importance of the 
things of religion, and their own misery, and necessity of a 
remedy, and the glory and sufficiency of a remedy provided ; 


and to stir up the pure minds of the saints, and quicken their 
affections, by often bringing the great things of religion to 
their remembrance, and setting them before them in their 
proper colors, though they know them, and have been ful- 
ly instructed in them already, 2 Pet„ i. 12, 13. And particu- 
larly, to promote those two affections in them, which are 
spoken ofin the text, love and joy : " Christ gave some, apos- 
tles ; and some, prophets ; and some evangelists ; and some, 
pastors and teachers ; that the body of Christ might be edi- 
ified in love," Eph. iv. 11, 12, 16. The apostle, in instruct- 
ing and counselling Timothy concerning the work of the 
ministry, informs him that the great end of that word which 
a minister is to preach, is love or charity, 1 Tim.i. 3, 4, 5. 
And another affection which God has appointed preaching as 
a means to promote in the saints, is joy ; and therefore min- 
isters are called " helpers of their joy," 2 Cor. i. 24. 

10. It is an evidence that true religion, or holiness of 
heart, lies very much in the affection of the heart, that the 
scriptures place the sin of the heart very much in hardness of 
heart. Thus the scriptures do every where. It was hard- 
ness of heart which excited grief and displeasure in Christ 
towards the jews, Mark iii. 5. "He looked round about on 
them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their 
hearts." It is from men's having such a heart as this, that 
they treasure up wrath for themselves, Rom. ii. 5. "After 
thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself 
wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the right* 
eons judgment of God." The reason given why the house 
of Israel would not obey God, was, that they were hard- 
hearted, Ezekiel iii. 7. " But the house of Israel will ttbt 
hearken unto thee ; for they will not hearken unto me : 
For all the house of Israel are impudent and hard hearted." 
The wickedness of that perverse rebellious generation in the 
wilderness, is ascribed to the hardness of their hearts, Psal. 

xcv. 7 10. « To day if ye will hear his voice, harden 

not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of 
temptation in the wilderness ; when your lathers tempted 
sne, proved me, and saw my work : Forty years long was 1 


grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that da 
err in their heart," &c. This is spoken of as what prevented 
Zedekiah's turning to the Lord, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 13. " He 
stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning to 
the Lord God of Israel. 5 ' This principle is spoken of, as that 
from whence men are without the fear of God, and depart 
from God's ways : Isa. Ixiii. 17„ " O Lord, why hast thou 
made us to err from thy ways ? And hardened our heart 
from thy fear ?" And men's rejecting Christ, and opposing 
Christianity, is laid to this principle, Acts xix. 9. « But when 
divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that 
way before the multitude." God's leaving men to the power 
of the sin and corruption of the heart, is often expressed by 
God's hardening their hearts, Rom. ix. 18. " Therefore hath 
he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he 
hardeneth." John xii. 40. " He hath blinded their minds, 
and hardened their hearts." And the apostle seems to speak 
of" an evil heart that departs from the living God, and a hard 
heart," as the same thing, Heb. iii. S. " Harden not your 
heart, as in the provocation," &c. ver. 12, 13. « Take heed, 
brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, 
in departing from the living God : But exhort one another 
daily, while it is called today ; lest any of you be hardened 
through the deceitfulness of sin." And that great work of 
God in conversion, which consists in delivering a person from 
the power of sin, and mortifying corruption, is expressed, once 
and again, by God's " taking away the heart of stone, and giv- 
ing an heart of flesh," Ezek. xi. 19, and chap, xxxvi. 26. 

Now by a hard heart, is plainly meant an unaffected heart, 
Or a heart not easy to be moved with virtuous affections, like 
a stone, insensible, stupid, unmoved, and hard to be impress- 
ed. Hence the hard heart is called a stony heart, and is op- 
posed to an heart of flesh, that has feeling, and is sensiblv 
touched and moved. We read in scripture of a hard heart, 
and a tender heart ; and doubtless we are to understand these, 
as contrary the one to the other. But what is a tender heart, 
but a heart which is easily impressed with what ought to af- 
fect it ? God commends Josiah, because his heart was tender .; 


and it is evident by those things which are mentioned as ex- 
pressions and evidences of this tenderness of heart, that by his 
heart being tender is meant, his heart being easily moved 
with religious and pious affection, 2 Kings xxii. 19, « Be- 
cause thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself 
before the Lord, when thou heardst what I spake against this 
place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should be- 
come a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and 
wept, before me, I also have heard thee, saith the Lord." And 
this is one thing, wherein it is necessary Ave should ll become 
as little children in order to our entering into the kingdom of 
God," even that we should have our hearts tender, and easily 
affected and moved in spiritual and divine things, as little chil- 
dren have in other things. 

It is very plain in some places, in the texts themselves, that 
by hardness of heart is meant a heart void of affection. So, 
to signify the Ostrich's being without natural affection to her 
young, it is said, Job xxxix. 16. « She hardeneth her heart 
against her young ones, as though they Mere not hers." So 
a person having a heart unaffected in time of danger, is ex- 
pressed by his hardening his heart, Prov. xxviii. 14. " Happy 
is the man that feareth alway ; but he that hardeneth his 
heart shall fall into mischief." 

Now, therefore, since it is so plain, that by a hard heart, in 
scripture, is meant a heart destitute of pious affections, and 
s.ince also the scriptures do so frequently place the sin and 
corruption of the heart in hardness of heart ; it is evident, that 
the grace and holiness of the heart, on the contrary, must, in a 
great measure, consist in its having pious affections, and be- 
ing easily susceptive of such affection. Divines are generally 
agreed, that sin radically and fundamentally consists in what 
is negative, or privative, having its root and foundation in a 
privation or want of holiness, And therefore undoubtedly, if 
it be so that sin docs very much consist in hardness of heart, 
and so in the want of pious affections of heart, holiness does 
consist very much in those pious affections. 

I am far from supposing that ail affections do shew a tender 
leurt : Hatred, anger, vain glory, and other selfish and self- 


halting affections, may greatly prevail in the hardest heart. 
But yet it is evident, that hardness of heart and tenderness of 
heart, are expressions that relate to the affections of the heart, 
and denote the heart's being susceptible of, or shut up against 
certain affections ; of which 1 shall have occasion to speak 
more afterwards. 

Upon the whole, I think it clearly and abundantly evident, 
that true religion lies very much in the affections. Not that 
I think these arguments prove, that religion in the hearts of 
the truly godly, is ever in exact proportion to the degree of 
affection, and present emotion of the mind : For undoubtedly, 
there is much affection in the true saints which is not spirit- 
ual ; their religious affections are often mixed ; all is not 
from grace, but much from nature. And though the affec- 
tions have not their seat in the body ; yet the constitution of 
the body may very much contribute to the present emotion 
of the mind. And the degree of religion is rather to be 
judged of by the fixedness and strength of the habit that is ex- 
ercised in affection, whereby holy affection is habitual, than 
by the degree of the present exercise ; and the strength of 
that habit is not always in proportion to outward effects and 
manifestations, or inward effects, in the hurry and vehemence, 
and sudden changes of the course of the thoughts of the mind. 
But yet it is evident, that religion consists so much in affec- 
tion, as that without holy affection there is no true religion ; 
and no light in the understanding so good, which does not 
produce holy affection in the heart : No habit or principle in 
the heart is good, which has no such exercise ; and.no ex- 
ternal fruit is good, which does not proceed from such ex- 

Having thus considered the evidence of the proposition 
laid down, I proceed to some inferences. 

1. We may hence learn how great their error is, who are. 
for discarding all religious affections, as having nothing solid 
or substantial in them. 

There seems to be too much of a disposition this way, pre- 
vailing in this land at this time. Because many who, in the 
late extraordinary season, appeared to have greet religious af- 


fections, did not manifest a right temper of mind, and run in- 
fo many errors, in the time of their affection, and the beat of 
their zeal ; and because the high affections of many seem to 
be so soon come to nothing, and some who seemed to be 
•mightily raised and SAvallowed up with joy and zeal, for a while, 
seem to have returned like the dog to his vomit ; hence relig- 
ious affections in general are grown out of credit with great 
numbers, as though true religion did not at all consist in them. 
Thus we easily and naturally run from one extreme to an- 
other. A little while ago we were in the other extreme ; 
there was a prevalent disposition to look upon all high relig- 
ious affections as eminent exercises of true grace, without 
much inquiring into the nature and source of those affections, 
and the manner m which they arose : If persons did but ap- 
pear to be indeed very much moved and raised, so as to be 
full of religious talk, and express themselves with great 
warmth and earnestness, and to be filled, or to be very full, as 
the phrases were ; it was too much the manner, without fur- 
ther examination, to conclude such persons were full of the 
Spirit of God, and had eminent experience of his gracious in- 
fluences. This was the extreme which was prevailing three 
or four years ago. But of late, instead of esteeming and ad- 
miring all religious affections without distinction, .it is a thing 
much more prevalent, to reject and discard all without dis- 
tinction. Herein appears the subtilty of Satan. While he 
saw that affections were much in vogue, knowing the greater 
part of the land were not versed in such things, and had not 
had much experience of great religious affections to enable 
them to judge well of them, and distinguish between true 
and false ; then he knew he could best play his game, by sow- 
ing tares amongst the wheat, vv.d mangling false affections 
with the works of Ciod's Spirit : Jlc knew this to be a likely 
way to delude and cteiv.ally ruin many soul:., and greatly to 
wound religion in the saints, a ■ ihem in a dreadful 

wilderness, and by and by, to bring all religion into disrepute. 
But now, when the ill consequences of these false affections 
appear, and it is become very apparent, that some of those 
emotions which made a gkui.v, shew, and were by many 


greatly admired, were in reality nothing ; the devil sees it to 
be for his interest to go another way to work, and to endeavor 
to his utmost to propagate and establish a persuasion, that all 
affections and sensible emotions of the mind, in things of re- 
ligion, are nothing at all to be regarded, but are rather to be 
avoided, and carefully guarded against, as things of a perni- 
cious tendency. This he knows is the way to bring all relig- 
ion to a mere lifeless formality, and effectually shut out the 
power of godliness, and every thing which is spiritual, and to 
have all true Christianity turned out of doors. For although to 
true religion there must indeed be something else besides af- 
fection ; yet true religion consists so much in the affections, 
that there can be no true religion without them. He who has 
no religious affection, is in a state of spiritual death, and is 
wholly destitute of the powerful, quickening, saving influences 
of the Spirit of God upon his heart. As there is no true re- 
ligion where there is nothing else but affection, so there is no 
true religion where there is no religious affection. As on the 
one hand, there must be light in the understanding, as well as 
an affected fervent heart ; where there is heat without light, 
there can be nothing divine or heavenly in that heart ; so on 
the other hand, where there is a kind of light without heat, a 
head stored with notions and speculations, with a cold and un- 
affected heart, there can be nothing divine in that light, that 
knowledge is no trae spiritual knowledge of divine things. If 
the great things of religion are rightly understood, they will 
affect the heart. The reason why men are not affected by 
such infinitely great, important, glorious, and wonderful 
things, as they often hear and read of, in the word of God, is 
undoubtedly because they are blind ; if they were not so, if 
would be impossible, and utterly inconsistent with human na- 
ture, that their hearts should be otherwise, than strongly im- 
pressed, and greatly moved by such thing?. 

This manner of slighting all religious affections, is the way 
exceedingly to harden the hearts of men, and to encourage 
them in their stupidity and senselessness, and to keep them 
in a state of spiritual death as long as they live, and bring 

Vol. IV, F 


them at last to death eternal. The prevailing prejudice against 
religious affections at this day, in the land, is apparently of 
awful effect to harden the hearts of sinners, and damp the 
graces of many of the saints, and stun the life and power of 
religion, and preclude the effect of ordinances, and hold us 
down in a state of dulness and apathy, and undoubtedly causes 
many persons greatly to offend God, in entertaining mean and 
low thoughts of the extraordinary work he has lately wrought 
in this land. 

And for persons to despise and cry clown all religious affec- ' 
lions, is the way to shut all religion out of their own hearts, 
and to make thorough work in ruining their souls. 

They who condemn high affections in others, are certainly 
not likely to have high affections themselves. And let it be 
considered, that they who have but little religious affection, 
have certainly but little religion. And they who condemn 
others for their religious affections, and have none them- 
selves, have no religion- 
There are false affections, and there are true. A man's 
having much affection, does not prove that he has any true 
religion : But if he has no affection, it proves that he has no 
true religion. The right way, is not to reject ail affections, 
nor to approve all ; but to distinguish between affections, ap- 
proving some, and rejecting others ; separating between the 
wheat and the chaff, the gold and the dross, the precious and 
the vile. 

2. If it be so, that true religion lies much in the affec- 
tions, hence we may infer, that such means are to be desired, 
as have much of a tendency to move the affections. Such 
books, and such a way of preaching the word, and adminis- 
tration of ordinances, and such a way of worshipping God in 
prayer, and singing praises, is much to be desired, as has a 
tendency deeply to affect the hearts of those who attend these 

Such a kind of means would formerly have been highly ap- 
proved of, and applauded by the generality of the people of 
the land, as the most excellent and profitable, and having the 
greatest tendency to promote the ends of the means of grace. 


But the prevailing taste seems of late strangely to be altered : 
That pathetical manner of praying and preaching, which 
would formerly have been admired and extolled, and that for 
this reason, because it had such a tendency to move the af- 
fections, now, in great multitudes, immediately excites dis- 
gust, and moves no other affections, than those of displeasure 
and contempt. 

Perhaps, formerly the generality (at least of the common 
people) were in the extreme, of looking too much to an affec- 
tionate address, in public performances : But now, a very great 
part of the people seem to have gone far into a contrary ex- 
treme. Indeed there may be such means, as may have a 
great tendency to stir up the passions of weak and ignorant 
persons, and yet have no great tendency to benefit their souls : 
For though they may have a tendency to excite affections, 
they may have little or none to excite gracious affections, or 
any affections tending to grace. But undoubtedly, if the 
things of religion, in the means used, are treated according to 
their nature, and exhibited truly, so as tends to convey just 
apprehensions, and a right judgment of them ; the more they 
have a tendency to move the affections the better. 

3. If true religion lies much in the affections, hence we 
may learn, what great cause we have to be ashamed and con- 
founded before God, that we are no more affected with the 
great things of religion. It appears from what has been said, 
that this arises from our having so little true religion. 

God has given to mankind affections, for the same purpose 
which he has given all the faculties and principles of the hu- 
man soul for, viz. that they might be subservient to man's 
chief end, and the great business for which God has created 
him, that is, the business of religion. And yet how common 
is it among mankind, that their affections are much more ex- 
ercised and engaged in other matters, than in religion ! In 
things which concern men's worldly interest, their outward 
delights, their honor and reputation, and their natural rela- 
tions, they have their desires eager, their appetites vehement, 
their love warm and affectionate, their zeal ardent ; in these 
things their hearts are tender and sensible, easily moved* 


deeply impressed, much concerned, very sensibly affected^ 
and greatly engaged ; much depressed with grief at worldly 
losses, and highly raised with joy at worldly successes and 
prosperity- Eut how insensible and unmoved are most men, 
about tbe great things of another world ! How dull are their 
affections ! How heavy and hard their hearts in these mat- 
ters ! Here their love is cold, their desires languid, their zeal 
low, and their gratitude small. How they can sit and hear of 
the infinite height, and depth, and length, and breadth of the 
love of God in Christ Jesus, of his giving his infinitely dear 
Son, to be offered up a sacrifice for the sins of men, and of 
the unparalleled love of the innocent, and holy, and tender 
Lamb of God, manifested in his dying agonies, his bloody 
sweat, his loud and bitter cries, and bleeding heart, and all 
this for enemies, to redeem them from deserved, eternal burn- 
ings, and to bring to unspeakable and everlasting joy and glo- 
ry ; and yet be cold, and heavy, insensible, and regardless ! 
Where are the exercises of our affections proper, if not here ? 
What is it that does more require them ? And Avhat can be a 
fit occasion of their lively and vigorous exercise, if not such 
an one as this ? Can any thing be set in our view, greater and 
more important ? Any thing more wonderful and surprising ? 
Or more nearly concerning our interest ? Can we suppose 
the wise Creator implanted such principles in the human na- 
ture as the affections, to be of use to us, and to be exercised 
on certain proper occasions, but to lie still on such an occa- 
sion as this ? Can any Christian, who believes the truth of 
these things, entertain such thoughts ? 

If we ought ever to exercise our affections at all, and if the 
Creator has not unwisely constituted the human nature in 
making these principles a part of it, when they are vain and 
useless ; then they ought to be exercised about those objects 
which are mest worthy of them. But is there any thing 
which Christians can find in heaven or earth, so worthy to be 
the objects of their admiration and love, their earnest and 
longing desires, their hope, and their rejoicing, and their fer- 
vent zeal, as those things that are held forth to us in the gos- 
pel of Jesus Christ ? In which, not only are things declared 


gnost worthy to affect us, but they are exhibited in the most 
affecting manner. The glory and beauty of the blessed Je- 
hovah, which is most worthy in itself, to be the object of our 
admiration and love, is there exhibited in the most affecting 
manner that can be conceived of, as it appears, shining in all 
its lustre, in the face of an incarnate, infinitely loving, meek, 
compassionate, dying Redeemer. All the virtues of the. 
Lamb of God, his humility, patience, meekness, submission, 
obedience, love and compassion, are exhibited to our vieAV, in 
a manner the most tending to move our affections, of any that 
can be imagined ; as they all had their greatest trial, and 
their highest exercise, and so their brightest manifestation, 
when he was in the most affecting circumstances ; even 
when he was under his last sufferings, those unutterable and 
unparalleled sufferings he endured, from his tender love and 
pity to us- There also the hateful nature of our sins is man- 
ifested in the most affecting manner possible : As we see the 
dreadful effects of them, in what our Redeemer, who under- 
took to answer for us, suffered for them. And there we have 
the most affecting manifestation of God's hatred of sin, and 
his wrath and justice in punishing it ; as we see his justice 
in the strictness and inflexibleness of it ; and his wrath in its 
terribleness, in so dreadfully punishing our sins, in one who 
was infinitely dear to him, and lo\ing to us. So has God dis- 
posed things, in the affair of our redemption, and in his glo- 
rious dispensations, revealed to us in the gospel, as though 
every thing were purposely contrived in such a manner, as to 
have the greatest possible tendency to reach our hearts in the 
most tender part, and move our affections most sensibly and 
strongly. How great cause have we therefore to be humb- 
ted to the dust, that we are no more affected ! 



Shewing w hat are no certain signs that Religious 
Affections are truly gracious, or that they are not. 

IF any one, on the reading of what has been just now said, 
is ready to acquit himself, and say, " I am not one of those 
who have no religious affections ; I am often greatly moved 
with the consideration of the great things of religion :" Let 
him not content himself with this, that he has religious affec- 
tions : For, as wc observed before, as we ought not to reject 
and condemn all affections, as though true religion did not at 
all consist in affection ; so on the other hand, we ought not to 
approve of all, as though every one that was religiously af- 
fected had true grace, and Avas therein the subject of the sav- 
ing influences of the Spirit of God ; and that therefore the 
right way is to distinguish among religious affections, be- 
tween one sort and another. Therefore let us now endeavor 
to do this : And in order to it, I would do two things. 

I. I would mention some things, which are no signs one 
way or the other, either that affections are such as true re- 
ligion consists in, or that the)' are otherwise ; that we may- 
be guarded against judging of affections by false signs. 

II. I would observe some things, wherein those affections 
which are spiritual and gracious, differ from those which are 
not so, and may be distinguished and known. 

First, I would take notice of some things, which are no 
signs that affections are gracious, or that they are not. 

I. It is no sign one way or the ether, that religious affec- 
tions are very great, or raised very high. 

Some are ready to condemn all high affections : If persons 
appear to have their religious affections raised to an extraor- 
dinary pitch, they are prejudiced against them, and determine 
that they arc delusions, without further inquiry. But if it be, 
as has been proved, that true religion lies very much in re- 
ligious affections, then it follows, that if there be a great deal 
of true religion, there v. ill be great religious affections ; if 


true religion in the hearts of men be raised to a great height, 
divine and holy affections will be raised to a great height. 

Love is an affection, but will any Christian say, men ought 
not to love God and Jesus Christ in a high degree ? And will 
any say, we ought not to have a very great hatred of sin, and 
a very deep sorrow for it ? Or that we ought not to exercise 
a high degree of gratitude to God for the mercies we receive 
of him, and the great things he has done for the salvation of 
fallen men ? Or that we should not have very great and strong- 
desires after God and holiness ? Is there any who will pro- 
fess, that his affections in religion are great enough ; and 
will say, " I have no cause to be humbled, that I am no more 
affected with the things of religion than I am ; I have no 
reason to be ashamed, that I have no greater exercises of love 
to God and sorrow for sin, and gratitude for the mercies 
which I have received ?" Who is there that will bless God 
that he is affected enough with what he has read and heard of 
the wonderful love of God to worms and rebels, in giving his 
only begotten Son to die for them, and of the dying love of 
Christ ; and will pray that he may not be affected with them 
in any higher degree, because high affections are improper, 
and very unlovely in Christians, being enthusiastical, and ru- 
inous to true religion ? 

Our text plainly speaks of great and high affections when it 
speaks of " rejoicing with joy unspeakable, and full of glory :" 
Here the most superlative expressions are used, which lan- 
guage will afford. And the scriptures often require us to 
exercise very high affections : Thus in the first and great 
commandment of the law, there is an accumulation of expres- 
sions, as though words were wanting to express the degree 
in which we ought to love God : " Thou shalt love the Lord 
thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy 
mind, and with all thy strength." So the saints are called 
upon to exercise high degrees of joy : " Rejoice," says Christ 
to his disciples, "and be exceeding glad. 5 ' Matth. v. 12. 
So it is said, Psalm lxviii. 3. « Let the righteous be glad : 
Let them rejoice before God ; yea, let them exceedingly re- 
joice." So in the same book of Psalms, the saints are often 


called upon to shout for joy ; and in Luke vi. 23, to leap for 
joy. So they are abundantly called upon to exercise high de- 
grees of gratitude for mercies, to " praise God with all their 
hearts, with hearts lifted up in the ways of the Lord, and 
their souls magnifying the Lord, singing his praises, talking 
of his wondrous works, declaring his doings, &x." 

And we find the most eminent saints in scripture often pro- 
fessing high affections. Thus the Psalmist speaks of his 
love, as if it were unspeakable ; Psal. cxix. 97. " O how 
Jove I thy law !" So he expresses a great degree of hatred of 
sin. Psal. exxxix. 21, 22. "Do not I hate them, O Lord, 
that hate thee ? And am not I grieved with them that rise up 
against thee ? I hate them with perfect hatred." He also 
expresses a high degree of sorrow for sin : He speaks of his 
sins « going over his head as an heavy burden, that was too 
heavy for him : And of his roaring all the day, and his mois- 
ture's being turned into the drought of summer," and his 
bones being as it were broken with sorrow. So he often ex- 
presses great degrees of spiritual desires, in a multitude of 
the strongest! expressions which can be conceived of ; such 
as " his longing, his soul's thirsting as a dry and thirsty land, 
where no water is, his panting, his flesh and heart crying out, 
his soul's breaking for the longing it hath," &c He expres- 
ses the exercises of great and extreme grief for the sins of 
others, Psal. cxix. 136. "Rivers of water run down mine 
eyes, because they keep not thy law." And ver. 53. " Hor- 
ror hath taken hold upon me, because of the wicked that for- 
sake thy law." He expresses high exercises of joy, Psal. xxi. 
1. " The king shall joy in thy strength, and in thy salvation 
how greatly shall he rejoice, Psal. lxxi. 23. " My lips shall 
greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee." Psal. lxiii. 3, 4, 5, 6, 
7. " Because thy loving kindness is better than life ; my lips 
shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee, while I live : I will 
lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as 
with marrow and fatness ; and my mouth shall praise thee 
with joyful lips; when I remember thee upon my bed, and 
meditate on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast 


been my help ; therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I 

The Apostle Paul expresses high exercises of affection. 
Thus he expresses the exercises of pity and concern for oth- 
ers' good, even to anguish of heart ; a great, fervent, and a- 
bundant love, and earnest and longing desires, and exceed- 
ing joy ; and speaks of the exultation and triumphs of his 
soul, and his earnest expectation and hope, and his abundant 
tears, and the travails of his soul, in pity, grief, earnest desires 
godly jealousy, and fervent zeal, in many places that have 

been cited already, and which therefore I need not repeat 

John the Baptist expressed great joy, John iii. 39. Those 
blessed women that anointed the body of Jesus, are repre- 
sented as in a very high exercise of religious affection, on oc- 
casion of Christ's resurrection, Matth; xxviii. 8. " And they 
departed from the sepulchre with fear and great joy.' 5 

It is often foretold of the church of God, in her future hap- 
py seasons here on^earth, that they shall exceedingly rejoice, 
Psal. lxxxix. 15,16. "They shall -walk, O Lord, in the 
light cf thy countenance. In thy name shall they rejoice all 
the day : Aid in thy righteousness shall they be exalted. "' 
Zech. ix. 9. " Pejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion ; shout, 
O' daughter of Jerusalem : Behold thy King comedi," Sec. 
The same is represented in innumerable other places. And 
because high degrees of joy are the proper and genuine fruits 
of the gospel of Christ, therefore the angel calls this gospel, 
" good tidings of great joy, that should be to all people." 

The saints and angels in heaven, that have religion in its 
highest perfection, are exceedingly affected with what they 
behold and contemplate of God's perfections and works..... 
They are all as a pure heavenly flame of fire in their love, 
and in the greatness and strength of their joy and gratitude : 
Their praises are represented, " as the voice of many waters 
and as the voice of a great thunder." Now the only reason 
why their affections are so much higher than the holy affec- 
tions of saints on earth, is, they see the things they are af- 
fected by, more according to their truth, and have their affec- 
tions more conformed to the nature of things. And, there- 
Vol. IV. G 


fore, if religious affections in men here below, are but of the 
same nature and kind with theirs, the higher they are, 
and the nearer they are to theirs in degree, the better, be- 
cause therein they will be so much the more conformed to 
truth, as theirs are. 

From these things it certainly appears, that religious af- 
fections being in a very high degree, is no evidence that they 
are not such as have the nature of true religion. Therefore 
they do greatly err, who condemn persons as enthusiasts, 
merely because their affections are very high. 

And on the other hand, it is no evidence that religious af- 
fections are of a spiritual and gracious nature, because they 
are great. It is very manifest by the holy scripture, our sure 
and infallible rule to judge of things of this nature, that there 
are religious affections which are very high, that are not spir- 
itual and saving. The apostle Paul speaks of affections in 
the Galatians, which had been exceedingly elevated, and 
which yet he manifestly speaks of, as fearing that they were 
vain, and had come to nothing, Gal. iv. 15. ." Where is the 
blessedness you spoke of I For I bear you record, that if it 
had been possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes, 
and have given them to me." And in the 1 1th verse, he tells 
them, " he was afraid of them, lest he had bestowed upon 
them labor in vain. 5 ' So the children of Israel were greatly 
affected with God's mercy to them, when they had seen how 
wonderfully he wrought for them at the Red Sea, where they 
sang God's praise ; though they soon forgat his works. So 
they were greatly affected again at mount Sinai, when they 
saw the marvellous manifestations God made of himself there ; 
and seemed mightily engaged in their minds, and with great 
forwardness made answer, when God proposed his holy cov- 
enant to them, saying, " All that the Lord hath spoken will 
we do, and be obedient." But how soon was there an end to 
all this mighty forwardness and engagedness of affection ? 
How quickly were they turned aside after other gods, rejoic- 
ing and shouting around their golden calf ? So great multi- 
tudes who were affected with the miracle of raising Lazarus 
from the dead, were elevated to a high degree, and made a 


mighty ado, when Jesus presently after entered into Jerusa- 
lem, exceedingly magnifying Christ, as though the ground 
were not good enough for the ass he rode to tread upon ; and 
therefore cut branches of palm trees, and strewed them 
in the way ; yea, pulled off their garments, and spread them 
in the way ; and cried with loud voices, " Hosanna to the 
Son of David, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the 
Lord, Hosanna in the highest ;" so as to make the whole cjly 
ring again, and put all into an uproar. We learn by the 
evangelist John, that the reason why the people made this 
ado, was because they were affected with the miracle of rais- 
ing Lazarus, John xii. 18. Here was a vast multitude crying 
Hosanna on this occasion, so that it gave occasion to the 
Pharisees to say, " Behold the world has gone after him," 
John xii. 19, but Christ had at that time but few true disci- 
ples. And how quickly was this ado at an end ? All of this 
nature is quelled and dead, when this Jesus stands bound with 
a mock robe and a crown of thorns, to be derided, spit upon, 
scourged, condemned, and ex ecuted. Indeed there was a 
great and loud outcry concerning him among the multitude, 
then, as well as before ; but of a very different kind : It is 
not then, Hosanna, Hosanna, but, Crucify, Crucify. 

And it is the concurring voice of all orthodox divines, that 
there may be religious affections, which are raised to a very 
high degree, and yet there be nothing of true religion.* 

II. It is no sign that affections have the nature of true re- 
ligion, or that they have not, that they have great effects on 
the body. 

All affections whatsoever, have in some respect or degree, 
an effect on the body. As was observed before, such is our 
nature, and such are the laws of union of soul and body, that 
the mind can have no lively or vigorous exercise, without some 
effect upon the body. So subject is the body to the mind, 
and so much do its fluids, especially the animal spirits, attend 
the motions and exercises of the mind, that there cannot be 
so much as an intense thought, without an effect upon them. 

* Mr. Stoddard observes, " That common affections are sometimes 
stronger than saving," Guide to Christ, p. 21. 


Yea, it is questionable v.hethcr ari ir- bodied soul ever so 
much as thinks one thought, or has v.vy exercise at al!, but 
that there is some corresponding motion or alteration of mo- 
tion, in sonic degree, of the fluid:-, in some part of the body. 
Btlt universal experience shews, that the exercise of the af- 
fections have in a special manner a tendency to some sensible 
effect upon the body. And if this be so, that all affections hove 
some effect on the body, wc may then veil suppose, the 
greater those affections be, and. ihc move vigorous their exer- 
cise (other circumstances being equal] the greater will be the 
effect on the body. Hence it is not to be -wondered at, that 
very great and strong exercises of the affections should have 
great effects on the body. And therefore, seeing there are 
very great affections, both common and spiritual ; hence it 
is not to be wondered at, that great effects on the body should 
arise from both these kin Is of affections. And consequently 
these effects arc no signs, that the affections they arise from, 
are of one kind or the otlu t. 

Great effects on the body certainly are no sure evidences 
that affections are spiritual ; for we see that such effects of- 
tentimes arise from great affections about temporal things, 
and when religion is no way concerned in them.- And if 
great affections about secular things, that are purely nat- 
ural, may have these effects, I know not by what rule wc 
should determine that high affections about religious things, 
which arise in like manner from nature, cannot have the like 

Nor, on the other hand, do I know of any rule any have to 
determine, that gracious and holy affections, when raised as 
high as any natural affections, and have equally strong and 
vigorous exercises, cannot have a great effect on the body. 
No such rule can be drawn from reason : I know of no rea- 
son, why a being affected with a view of God's glory should 
not cause the body to faint, as well as being affected with a 
view of Solomon's glory. And no such rule has as yet been 
produced from the scripture ; none has ever been found in all 
the late controversies which have been about things of this na- 
ture. There is a great power in spiritual affections: Wcnuc' 


of the power which worketh in Christians,* and of the Spirit 
of God being in them as the Spirit of power,! and of the 
effectual working- of his power in them,! yea, of the work- 
ing of God's mighty power in them.jj But man's nature is 
weak : Flesh and blood are represented in scripture as ex- 
ceeding weak ; and particularly with respect to its unfitness 
for great spiritual and heavenly operations and exercises, 
Mat. xxvi. 41. 1 Cor. xv. 43, and 50. The text we are 
upon speaks of " joy unspeakable, and full of glory." And 
who that considers what man's nature is, and what the nature 
of the affections is, can reasonably doubt but that such xinut- 
erable and glorious joys, may be too great and mighty for 
weak dust and ashes, so as to be considerably overbearing to 
it ? It is evident by the scripture, that true divine discoveries, 
or ideas of God's glory, when given in a great degree, have a 
tendency, by affecting the mind, to overbear the body ; be- 
cause the scripture teaches us often, that if these ideas or 
views should be given to such a degree, as they are given in 
heaven, the weak frame of the body could not subsist under it, 
and that no man can in that manner, see God and live. The 
knowledge which the saints have of God's beauty and glory 
In this world, and those holy affections that arise from it, are 
of the same nature and kind with what the saints are the sub- 
jects of in heaven, differing only in degree and circumstances : 
What God gives them here, is a foretaste of heavenly happi- 
ness, and an earnest of their future inheritance. And who 
shall limit God in his giving this earnest, or say he shall give 
so much of the inheritance, such a part of the future reward, 
as an earnest of the whole, and no more ? And seeing God has 
taught us in his word, that the whole reward is such, that it 
would at once destroy the body, is it not too bold a thing for 
us, so to set bounds to the sovereign God, as to say, that in 
giving the earnest of this reward in this world, he shall never 
give so much of it, as in the least to diminish the strength of 
the body, when God has no where thus limited himself? 

The Psalmist, speaking of the vehement religious affections 
he had, speaks of an effect in his flesh or body, besides what w as 

* Eph, iii. 7. t 2 Tim, 1.7. $ Eph. iii, 7. 20. || Eph. i, 19. 


5n his soul, expressly distinguishing one from the other, once 
and again, Psal. Ixxxiv. 2. " My soul longelh, yea, even 
fainteth for the courts of the Lord : My heart and my flesh 
crieth out for the living God." Here is a plain distinction 
between the heart and the flesh, as being each affected. So 
Psal. lxiii. 1 . " My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth 
for thee, in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is." Here 
also is an evident designed distinction between the soul and 
the flesh. 

The prophet Habakkuk speaks of his body's being over- 
born by a sense of the majesty of God, Hah. iii. 16. " When 
I heard, my belly trembled : My lips quivered at the voice : 
Rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself." 
So the Psalmist speaks expressly of his flesh trembling, Psal, 
cxix. 120. " My flesh trcmbleth for fear of thee." 

That such ideas of God's glory as are sometimes given in 
this world, have a tendency to overbear the body, is evident, 
because the scripture gives us an account, that this has some- 
times actually been the effect of those external manifestations 
God has made of himself to some of the saints which were 
made to that end, viz. to give them an idea of God's majesty 
and glory. Such instances we have in the prophet Daniel, 
and the apostle John. Daniel giving an account of an exter- 
nal representation of the glory of Christ, says, Dan. x. 8. 
" And there remained no strength in me ; for my comeli- 
ness was turned into corruption, and I retained no strength." 
And the apostle John giving an account of a like manifesta- 
tion made to him, says, Rev. i. 17. " And when I saw him, 
I fell at his feet as dead." It is in vain to say here, these 
were only external manifestations or symbols of the glory of 
Christ, which these saints beheld : For though it be true, that 
they were outward representations of Christ's glory, which 
they beheld with their bodily eyes ; yet the end and use of 
these external symbols or representations, was to give to these 
prophets an idea of the tiling represented, and that was the 
true divine glory and majesty of Christ, which is his spiritual 
glory ; they were made use of only as significations of this 
spiritual glory, and thus undoubtedly they received them, and 


improved them, and were affected by them. According to 
the end. for which God intended these outward signs, they re- 
ceived by them a great and lively apprehension of the reai 
glory and majesty of God's nature, which they were signs of; 
and thus were greatly affected, their souls swallowed up, and 
their bodies overborn. And I think they are very bold and 
daring, who will say God cannot, or shall not give the like 
clear and affecting ideas and apprehensions of the same real 
glory and majesty of his nature, to any of his saints, without 
the intervention of any such external shadows of it. 

Before I leave this head, I would farther observe, that it is 
plain the scripture often makes use of bodily effects, to ex- 
press the strength of holy and spiritual affections ; such as 
trembling,* groaning,! being sick,| crying out,|| panting,§ and 
fainting.ff Now if it be supposed, that these are only figura- 
tive expressions, to represent the degree of affection : Yet I 
hope all will allow, that they are fit and suitable figures to rep- 
resent the high degree of those spiritual affections, which the 
Spirit of God makes use of them to represent ; which I do 
not see how they would be, if those spiritual affections, let 
them be in never so high a degree, have no tendency to any 
such things ; but that on the contrary, they are the proper- 
effects and sad tokens of false affections, and the delusion of 
the devil. I cannot think, God would commonly make use 
of things which are very alien from spiritual affections, and 
are shrewd marks of the hand of Satan, and smell strong of 
the bottomless pit, as beautiful figures, to represent the high 
degree of holy and heavenly affections. 

III. It is no sign that affections are truly gracious affec- 
tions, or that they are not, that they cause those who have 
them to be fluent, fervent, and abundant, in talking of the 
things of religion. 

There are many persons, who, if they see this in others, are 
greatly prejudiced against them. Their being so full of talk, 
is with them a sufficient ground to condemn them, as Phari- 

* Psal. cxix. 120. Ezra ix. 4. Isa. lxvi. 2, 5. Hab. iii. 16. + Rom. 
viii, 26. I Cant. ii. 5, and v. 8. || Psal. lxxxiv. 2. ^ Psal. xxxviii. ic, 
and xlii. j,aad cxis, 131. ft Psal, lxxxiv. 2, and cxix. 81, 


sees, and ostentatious hypocrites. On the other hand, ther t . 
arc many, who if they sec this effect in any, are very igno- 
rant]}- and imprudently forward, at once to determine that 
they are the true children of God, and are under the saving 
influences of his Spirit, and speak of it as a great evidence of 
a new creature ; they say, " such an one's mouth is now 
opened : Ke used to he stow to speak ; hut now he is full 
*ind free : He is free new to open his heart, and tell his ex- 
periences, and declare the praises of God ; it comes from 
him, as free as water from a fountain ;" and the like. And 
especially are they captivated into a confident and undoubt- 
ing persuasion, that they are savingly wrought upon, if they 
are not only free and abundant, but very affectionate and ear- 
nest in their talk, 

But this is the fruit of but little judgment, a scanty and 
short cxpericr.ee ; as events do abundantly shew : And is a 
mistake persons often run into, through their trusting to 
their own wisdom and discerning, and making their own no- 
tions their rule, instead of the holy scripture. Though the 
scripture he full of nileS, both how we should judge of our 
own state, and aleo how Ave should be conducted in our opin- 
ion of others ; yet wc have no where any rule, by which to 
judge ourselves or others to be in a good estate, from any 
such effect : For this is but the religion of the mouth and of 
the tongue, and what is in the scripture represented by the 
leaves cf a tree, which, though the tree ought not to be with- 
out them, yet are nowhere given as an evidence of the good- 
ness of the tree. 

That persons are disposed to be abundant in talking of things 
of religion, may Ikj from a good cause, and it may be from a 
•ie. It may be because their hearts arc very full of holy 
affections ; " for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth 
speaketh :" And it may be b'. cause persons' hearts arc very 
full of religious affection which is not holy; for still out of 
the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. It is very 
much the nature of the affections, of whatever kind they be, 
and whatever objects they are exercised about, if they are 
strong, to dispose persons to be very much In speaking of that 


which they are affected with : And not only to speak much, 
but to speak very earnestly and fervently. And therefore 
persons talking; abundantly and very fervently about the things 
Of ■religion, can be an evidence of no more than this, that they 
•a;e very much affected With the things of religion ; but this 
may be (as has been already shown) and there be no grace. 
That which men are greatly affected with, while the high af- 
fection lasts, they will be earnestly engaged about, and will be 
fikely to shew that earnestness in their talk and behavior ; as 
the greater part of the Jews, in all Judah and Galilee, did for a 
while, about John the Baptist's preaching and baptism, when 
thev were willing for a season to rejoice in his light ; a 
mighty ado was made, all over the land, and among ail sorts 
of persons, about this great prophet and his ministry. And 
so the multitude, in like manner, often manifested a great 
earnestness, a mighty engagedness of spirit, in everything 
that was external, about Christ and his preaching and mira- 
cles, " being astonished at his doctrine, anon with joy receiv- 
ing the word," following him sometimes night and day, leav- 
ing meat, drink, and sleep to hear him ; once following him 
into the wilderness, fasting three days going to hear him ; 
sometimes crying him up to the clouds, saying, " Never man 
spake like this man !" Being fervent and earnest in what they 
said. But what did these things come to, in the greater part 
of them ? 

A person may be over full of talk of his own experiences ; 
commonly falling upon it, every where, and in all companies ; 
and when it is so, it is rather a dark sign than a gnod one. 
As a tree that is over full of leaves seldom bears much fruit ; 
and as a cloud, though to appearance very pregnant and full 
of water, if it brings with it over much wind, seldom affords 
much rain to the dry and thirsty earth ; which very thing the 
Holy Spirit is pleased several times to make use of, to repre- 
sent a great shew of religion with the mouth, without answer- 
able fruit in the life, Prov. xxv. 14. " Whoso boasteth him- 
self of a false gift, is like clouds and wind without rain." And 
the apostle Ju.de, speaking of some in the primitive times, 

Vol. IV. i 1 


that crept in unawares among the saints, and having a gres 
shew of religion were for a while not suspected, " These are 
clouds (says he) without water, carried about of winds," Jude 
ver. 4 and 12. And the apostle Peter, speaking of the same, 
says, 2 Pet. ii. 17. » These are clouds without water, carried 
with a tempest." 

False affections, if they are equally strong, are much more 
forward to declare themselves, than true : Because it is the 
nature of false religion, to affect shew and observation ; as it 
was with the Pharisees.* 

IV. It is no sign that affections are gracious, or that they 
are otherwise, that persons did not make them themselves, 
or excite them of their own contrivance, and by their own 

There are many in these days, that condemn all affections 
which are excited in a way that the subjects of them can give 
no account of, as not seeming to be the fruit of any of their 
own endeavors, or the natural consequence of the faculties 
and principles of human nature, in such circumstances, and 
under such means ; but to be from the influence' of some 
extrinsic and supernatural power upon their minds. How 

* That famous experimental divine, Mr. Shepherd, says, " A Pharisee's 
trumpet shall be heard to the town's end ; when simplicity walks through 
the town unseen. Hence a man will fometimes covertly commend himself, 
(and myse/J ever comes in) and tells you a long story of conversion ; and an 
hundred to one if some lie or other slip not out with it. Why, the secret 
meaning is, I pray admire me. Hence complain of wants and weaknesses: 
Pray think what a broken hearted Christian I am." Parab. of the ten virgins. Part 
I. page 179, 180. 

And holy Mr. Flavel says thus, " O reader, if thy heart were right with 
God, and thou didst not cheat thyself with a vain profession, thou wouldst 
have frequent business with God, which thou wouldst be loth thy dearest 
friend, or the wife of thy bosom should be privy to. Non est religio, ubi om- 
nia patent. Religion doth not lie open to all, to the eyes of men. Observed 
duties maintain our credit ; but secret duties maintain our life. It was the 
saying of an heathen, about his secret correspondency with his friend, What 
need the world be acquainted with it ? Thou and J are theatre enough to each other. 
There are inclosed pleasures in religion, which none but renewed spiritual 
souls do feelingly understand." Hani's Toutchstone of Sincerity, Chap. II. 
Sett. 2. 


greatly has the doctrine of the inward experience, or sensible 
perceiving of the immediate power and operation of the Spirit 
of God, been reproached and ridiculed by many of late ? 
They say, the manner of the Spirit of God is to cooperate in 
a silent, secret, and undiscernible way with the vise of means, 
and our own endeavors ; so that there is no distinguishing by 
sense, between the influences of the Spirit of God, and the 
natural operations of the faculties of our own minds. 

And it is true, that for any to expect to receive the saving 
influences of the Spirit of God, while they neglect a diligent 
improvement of the appointed means of grace, is unreason- 
able presumption. And to expect that the Spirit of God will 
savingly operate upon their minds, without the Spirit's mark- 
ing use of means, as subservient to the effect, is enthusiastical. 
It is also undoubtedly true, that the Spirit of God is very va- 
rious in the manner and circumstances of his operations, and 
that sometimes he operates in a way more secret and gradual, 
and from smaller beginnings, than at others. 

But if there be indeed a power, entirely different from, and 
beyond our power, or the power of all means and instru- 
ments, and above the power of nature, which is requisite in 
order to the production of saving grace in the heart, accord- 
ing to the general profession of the country ; then, certainly 
it is in no wise unreasonable to suppose, that this effect should 
very frequently be produced after such a manner, as to make 
it very manifest, apparent, and sensible that it is so. If grace 
be indeed owing to the powerful and efficacious operation of 
an extrinsic agent, or divine efficient out of ourselves, why is it 
unreasonable to suppose it should seem to be so to them who 
are the subjects of it ? Is it a strange thing, that it should 
seem to be as it is ? When grace in the heart indeed is not 
produced by our strength, nor is the effect of the natural pow- 
er of our own faculties, or any means or instruments, but is 
properly the workmanship and production of the Spirit of the 
Almighty, is it a strange and unaccountable thing, that it 
should seem to them who are subjects of it, agreeable to 
truth, and not right contrary to truth ; so that if persons tell 


of effects that they are conscious to in their own mir.ds, that 
seem to them not to be from the natural power or operation 
of their mine's, but from the supernatural power of son-.? oth- 
er age .it, it should at once be looked upon as a sure evidence 
of their being under a delusion, because things seem to them 
to be as they are ? For this is the objection which is made : 
It is looked upon as a clear evidence, that the apprehensions 
and affections that many persons have, are not really from 
such a cause, uccause they seem to them to be from that 
cause : They declare that what they arc conscious of, seems 
to them evidently not to be from themselves, but from the 
mighty power of the Spirit of God ; and others from hence 
condemn them, and determine what they experience is not 
from the Spirit of God, but from themselves, or from the 
devil. Thus unreasonably are multitudes treated at this day 
by their neighbors. 

If it be indeed so, as the scripture abundantly teaches, that 
grace in the soul is so the effect of God's power, that it is 
fitly compared to those effects which are farthest from being 
owing to any strength in the subject, such as a generation, 
or a being begotten, and resurrection, or a being raised from 
the dead, and creation, or a being brought out of nothing in- 
to being, and that it is an effect wherein the mighty power 
of God is greatly glorified, and the exceeding greatness of 
his power is manifested ;* then what account can be given 
of it, that the Almighty, in so great a work of his power, 
should so carefully hide his power, that the subjects of it 
should be able to discern nothing of it ? Or what reason or 
revelation have any to determine that he does so ? If we 
may judge by the scripture this is not agreeable to, God's 
manner, in his operations and dispensations ; but on the con- 
trary, it is ('.(mi's manner, in the great works of his power 
and mercy which he works for his people, to order things 
so as to make his hand visible, and his power conspicuous, 
and men's dependence on him most evident, that no flesh 
should glory in his presence;! that God alpne might be ex- 

* Eph. i. 17. ...20. i 1 Cot. i. 27, 28, 29. 


altedjt and that the excellency of the power might be of 
God and not of man,j and that Christ's power might be 
manifested in our weakness,|| and none might say mine own 
hand hath saved me.§ So it was in most of those temporal 
salvations which God wrought for Israel of old, which were 
types of the salvation of God's people from their spiritual 
enemies. So it was in the redemption of Israel from their 
Egyptian bondage; he redeemed them with a strong hand, and 
an outstretched arm ; and that his power might be the more 
conspicuous, he suffered Israel first to be brought. into the most 
helpless and forlorn circumstances. So it was in the great 
redemption by Gideon ; God would have his army diminish- 
ed to a handful, and they without any other arms than trum- 
pets, and lamps, and earthen pitchers. So it was in the de- 
liverance of Israel from Goliath, by a stripling with a sling 
and a stone. So it was in that great work of God, his calling 
the Gentiles, and converting the Heathen world, after Christ's 
ascension, after that the world by wisdom knew not God, and 
all the endeavors of philosophers had proved in vain, for ma- 
ny ages, to reform the world, and it was by every thing be- 
come abundantly evident, that the world was utterly helpless, 
by any thing else but the mighty power of God. And so it 
was in most of the conversions of particular persons, we have 
an account of in the history of the New Testament : They 
■were not wrought on in that silent, secret, gradual, and insen- 
sible manner, which is now insisted on ; but with those man- 
ifest evidences of a supernatural power, wonderfully and sud- 
denly causing a great change, which in these days are looked 
upon as certain signs of delusion and enthusiasm. 

The Apostle, in Eph. i. 18, 19, speaks of God's enlighten- 
ing the minds of Christians, and so bringing them to believe 
in Christ, to the end that they might know the exceeding 
greatness of his power to them who believe. The words are, 
" The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that 
ye may know what iff the hope of his calling, and what the 
riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what 

+ Isa, ii. it 17. % 2 Cor, iv. 7. |] 2 Cor. xii» 9. § Ju<ig. vii. 2. 


is the exceeding greatness of his power to us ward who ho 
lieve, according to the working of his mighty power,'' &c. 
Now when the apostle speaks of their being thus the subjects 
of his power, it: their enlightening and effectual calling, to the 
end that they might know what his mighty power was to 
them who believe, he c:m mean nothing else than " that 
they might know by experience." But if the saints know this 
power by experience, then they feel it and discern it, and are 
conscious of it ; as seusibly distinguishable from the natural 
operations of their own minds, which is not agreeable to a 
notion of God's operating so secretly, and undiscei nably, that 
it cannot be known that they are the subjects of the influence 
of any extrinsic power at all, any otherwise than as they may 
argue it from scripture assertions ; which is a different thing 
from knowing it by experience. 

S.o that it is very unreasonable and unscriptural, to deter- 
mine that affections arc not from the gracious operations of 
God's Spirit, because they are sensibly not from the persons 
themselves that are the subjects of them. 

On the other hand, it is no evidence that affections are gra- 
cious, that they are not purposely produced by those who are 
the subjects of them, or that they arise in their minds in a 
manner they cannot account for. 

There are some who make this an argument in their own 
favor ; when speaking of what they have experienced, they 
say, " I am sure I did not make it myself ; it was a fruit of 
no contrivance or endeavor of mine ; it came when I thought 
nothing of it ; if I might have the world for it, I cannot make 
it again when I please." And hence they determine that 
what they have experienced, must be from the mighty influ- 
ence of the Spirit of God, and is of a saving nature ; but very 
ignorantly, and without grounds. Y/hat they have been the 
subjects of, may indeed not be from themselves directly, but 
may be from the operation of an invisible agent, some spirit 
besides their own : But it docs not thence follow, that it was 
from the Spirit ef God. There are other spirits who have in- 
fluence on the minds of men, besides the Holy Ghost. We 
are directed not to believe every spirit, but to try the spirits. 


whether they he of God. There are many false spirits, ex- 
ceeding busy with men, who often transform themselves into 

angels of light, and do in many wonderful ways, with great 
snbtilty and power, mimic the operations of the Spirit of God. 
And there are many of Satan's operations, winch are very 
distinguishable from the voluntary exercises of men's own 
minds. They are so, in those dreadful and horrid sugges- 
tions, and blasphemous injections with which he follows ma- 
ny persons ; and in vain and fruitless frights and terrors, 
which he is the author of. And the power of Satan may be 
as immediate, and as evident in false comforts and joys, as in 
terrors and horrid suggestions ? And oftentimes is so in fact. 
It is not in men's power to put themselves into such raptures, 
as the Anabaptists in Germany, and many other raving en- 
thusiasts like them, have been the subjects of. 

And besides, it is to be considered that persons may have 
those impressions on their minds, which may not be of their 
own producing, nor from an evil spirit, but from the Spirit of 
God, and yet not be from any saving, but a common influence 
of the Spirit of God ; and the subjects of such impressions 

may be of the number of those we read of, Heb. vi. 4, 5 

" That are once enlightened, and taste of the heavenly gift, 
and are made, partakers of the Holy Ghost, and taste the 
good word of God, and the power of the world to come ;'*' and 
yet may be wholly unacquainted with those " better things 
that accompany salvation," spoken of ver. 9. 

And where neither a good nor evil spirit have any imme- 
diate hand, persons, especially such as are of a weak and va- 
pory habit of body, and the brain weak and easily suscep- 
tive of impressions, may have strange apprehensions and im- 
aginations, and strong affections attending them, unaccounta- 
bly arising, which are not voluntarily produced by themselves. 
We sec that such persons are liable to such impressions a- 
bout temporal things ; and there is equal reason, why they 
should about spiritual things. As a person who is asleep has 
dreams that he is not the voluntary author of ; so may such 
persons in like manner, be the subjects of involuntary im- 
pressions, when thev are awake. 


V. It is no sign that religious affections are truly hoi- ... 
spiritual, or that they arc not, that they conic -\vi f .h texts of 
scripture, remarkably brought to the mind. 

It is no sign that affections are not gracious, that they are 
occasioned by scriptures so coming to mind ; provided it be 
the scripture itself, or the truth which the scripture so brought 
contains and teaches, that is the foundation of the affection, 
and not merely, or mainly, the sudden and unusual manner 
of its coming to the mind. 

But on the other hand, neither is it any sign that affec- 
tions are gracious, that they arise on occasion of scriptures 
brought suddenly and wonderfully to the mind ; whether 
those affections be fear or hepe, joy or sorrow, or any other, 
Some seem to look upon this as a good evidence that their 
affections are saving, especially if the affections excited arc 
hope or joy, or any other which are pleasing and delightful. 
They will mention it as an evidence that all is right, that 
their experience came with the word, and will say, « There 
were such and such sweet promises brought to my mind : 
They came suddenly, as if ihey were spoke to me : I had no 
hand in bringing such a text to my own mind ; I was not 
thinking of any thing leading to it ; it came all at once, so 
that I was surprised. I had not thought of it a long time be- 
fore ; I did not know at first that it was scripture ; I did not re- 
member that ever I had read it." And it may be, they will add, 
« One scripture came flowing in after another, and so texts 
all over the Bible, the most sweet and pleasant, and the most 
apt and suitable which could be devised ; and filled me full 
as I could hold : I could not but stand and admire : The tears 
flowed ; I was full of joy, and could not doubt any longer." 
And thus they think they have undoubted evidence that their 
affections must be from God, and of the right kind, and their 
state good : But without any manner of grounds. How 
come they by any such rule, as that if any affections or expe- 
riences arise with promises, and comfortable texts of scrip- 
ture, unaccountably brought to mind, without their recollec- 
tion, or if a great number of sweet texts follow one another in 
a chain, that this is a certain evidence their experiences are 


saving ? Where is any such rule to be found in the Bible, 
the great and only sure directory in things of this nature ? 

What deceives many of the less understanding and consid- 
erate sort of people, in this matter, seems to be this ; that 
the scripture is the wofd of God, and has nothing in it which 
is wrong, but is pure and perfect ; and therefore, those ex- 
periences which come from the scripture must be right. But 
then it should be considered, affections may arise on occasion 
of the scripture, and not properly come from the scripture, as 
the genuine fruit of the scripture, and by a right use of it ; 
but from an abuse of it. All that can be argued from the pu- 
rity and perfection of the word of God, with respect to expe- 
riences, is this, that these experiences which are agreea- 
ble to the word of God, are right and cannot be otherwise ; 
and not that those affections must be right, which arise on oc- 
casion of the word of God coming to the mind. 

What evidence is there that the devil cannot bring texts of 
scripture to the mind, and misapply them to deceive persons ? 
There seems to be nothing in this which exceeds the power of 
Satan. It is no work of such mighty power, to bring sounds or 
letters to persons' minds, that we have any reason to suppose 
nothing short of Omnipotence can be sufficient for it. If Sa- 
tan has power to bring any w ords or sounds at all to persons' 
minds, he may have power to bring words contained in the 
Bible. There is no higher sort of power required in men, to 
make the sounds which express the words of a text of scrip- 
ture, than to make the sounds which express the words of an 
idle story or song. And so the same power in Satan, which 
is sufficient to renew one of those kinds of sounds in the mind, 
is sufficient to renew the other : The different signification, 
which depends wholly on custom, alters not the case, as to 
ability to make or revive the sounds or letters. Or will any 
suppose, that texts or scriptures are such sacred things, that 
the devil durst not abuse them, nor touch them ? In this also 
they are mistaken. He .who was bold enough to lay hold on 
Christ himself, and cany him hither and thither, into the 
wilderness, and into an high mountain, and to a pinnacle of the 
temple, is not afraid to touch the scripture, and abuse that 
Yoi. IV, J 


for his own purposes ; as he shewed at the same time that 
he was so bold with Christ, he then brought one scripture and 
another, to deceive and tempt him. And if Satan die! pre- 
sume, and was permitted to put Christ himself in mind 
of texts of scripture to tempt him, what reason have we to de- 
termine, that he dare not, or will not be permitted, to put 
wicked men in mind of texts of scripture, to tempt and 
deceive them ? And if Satan may thus abuse one text of scrip- 
lure, so he may another. Its being a very excellent place of 
scripture, a comfortable and precious promise, alters not the 
case, as to his courage or ability. And if he can bring one 
comfortable text to the mind, so he may a thousand ; and may 
choose out such scriptures as tend most to serve his purpose ; 
and may heap up scripture promises, tending, according to 
the perverse application he makes of them, wonderfully to re- 
move the rising doubts, and to confirm the false joy and con- 
fidence of a poor deluded sinner. 

We know the devil's instruments, corrupt and heretical 
teachers, can and do pervert the scripture, to their own and 
others' damnation, 2 Pet. iii. 16. We see they have the free 
use of scripture, in every part of it : There is no text so pre- 
cious and sacred, but they are permitted to abuse it, to the 
eternal ruin of multitudes of souls ; and there are no weap- 
ons they make use of with which they do more execution. 
And there is no manner of reason to 'determine, that the dev- 
il is not permitted thus to use the scripture, as well as his 
instruments. For when the latter do it, they do it as his in- 
struments and servants, and through his instigation and influ- 
ence : And doubtless he does the same he instigates others 
to do ; the devil's servants do but follow their master, and do 
the same work that he does himself. 

And as the devil can abuse the scripture, to deceive and 
destroy men, so may men's own folly and corruptions as well. 
The sin which is in men, acts like its father. Men's own 
hearts arc deceitful like the devil, and use the same means to 

So that it is evident, that persons may have high affections 
of hope and joy, arising on occasion of texts of scripture, yea 


precious promises of scripture coming suddenly and remark - 
bly to their minds, as though they were spoke to them, yea, 
a great multitude of such texts, following one another in a 
wonderful manner, and yet all this be no argument that these 
affections are divine, or that they are any other than the effects 
of Satan's delusions. 

And 1 would further observe, that persons may have rais- 
ed and joyful affections, which may come with the word of 
God, and not only so, but from the word, and those affections 
not be from Satan, nor yet properly from the corruptions of 
their own hearts, but from some influence of the Spirit of 
God with the word, and yet have nothing of the nature of 
true and saving religion in them. Thus the stony ground 
hearers had great joy from the word ; yea which is repre- 
sented as arising from the word, as growth from a seed ; and 
their affections had, in their appearance, a very great and ex- 
act resemblance with those represented by the growth on the 
good ground, the difference not appearing until it was discov- 
ered by the consequences in a time of trial : And yet there 
was no saving religion in these affections.* 

VI. It is no evidence that religious affections are saving, 
or that they are otherwise, that there is an appearance of 
love in them. 

There are no professing Christians who pretend, that this 
is an argument against the truth and saving nature of relig- 
ious affections. But, on the other hand, there are some who 
suppose, it is a good evidence that affections are from the 
sanctifying and saving influences of the Holy Ghost. ...Their 
argument is that Satan cannot love ; this affection being 
directly contrary to the 'devil, whose very nature is enmity 
and malice. And it is true, that nothing is more excel- 

* Mr. Stoddard, in his Guide to Christ, speaks of it as a common thing, for 
persons, while in a natural condition, and before they have ever truly accepted 
of Christ, to have scripture promises come to them, with a great deal of re- 
freshing ; which they take as tokens of God's love, and hope that God has ac- 
cepted them ; and so are confident of their good estate. Page 8, 9. Impres- 
sion anno 1735. 


lent, heavenly, and divine, than a spirit of true Christum 
love to God and men : It is more excellent than knowledge, 
or prophecy, or miracles, or speaking with the tongue of men 
and angels. It is the chief of the graces of God's Spirit, 
and the life, essence and sum of all true religion ; and that 
by -which we are most conformed to heaven, and most con- 
trary to hell and the devil. But yet it is ill arguing from 
hence, that there are no counterfeits of it. It may be ob- 
served that the more excellent any thing is, the more will be 
the counterfeits of it. Thus there are many more counter- 
feits of silver and gold, than of iron and copper : There are 
many false diamonds and rubies, but who goes about to coun- 
terfeit common stones ? Though the more excellent things 
are, the more difficult it is to make any thing that shall be like 
them, in their essential nature and internal virtues ; yet the 
more manifold will the counterfeits be, and the more will art 
and subtilty be displayed, in an exact imitation of the outward 
appearance. Thus there is the greatest danger of being 
cheated in buying of medicines that are most excellent and 
sovereign, though it be most difficult to imitate them with 
any thing of the like value and virtue, and their counterfeits 
are good for nothing when we have them. So it is with Christ- 
ian virtues and graces ; the subtilty of Satan, and men's de- 
ceitful hearts, are wont chiefly to be exercised in counterfeit- 
ing those that are in highest repute. So there are perhaps 
no graces that have more counterfeits than love and humility ; 
these being virtues wherein the beauty of a true Christian 
does especially appear. 

But with respect to love ; it is plain by the scripture, 
that persons may have a kind of religious love, and yet have 
no saving grace. Christ speaks of many professing Christ- 
ians that have such love, whose love will not continue, and 
so shall fail of salvation, Matth. xxiv. 12, 13. " .And be- 
cause iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall w*x cold. 
But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be 
saved." Which latter words plainly show, that those spoken 
of before, whose love shall not endure to the end, but wax 
cold, should not be saved. 


Persons may seem to have love to God and Christ, yea to 
nave very strong and violent affections of this nature, and yet 
have no grace. For this was evidently the case with many 
graceless Jews, such as cried Jesus up so high, following him 
day and ni"M, without meat, drink, or sleep ; such as said, 
" Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest," and cri- 
ed, " Hosanna to the Son of David."* 

The Apostle seems to intimate, that there were many in 
his days who had a counterfeit love to Christ, in Eph. vi. 24. 
" Grace be with all them that love cur Lord Jesus Christ in 
sincerity." The last word, in the original, si gnifies incor- 
ru/ition ; which shews, that the Apostle was sensible that there 
were many who had a kind of love to Christ, whose love was 
not pure and spiritual. 

So also Christian love to the people of God may be counter- 
feited. It is evident by the scripture, that there may be strong 
affections of this kind, without saving grace ; as there were 
in the Galatians towards the Apostle Paul, when they were 
ready to pluck out their eyes and jgivfe them to him ; although 
the Apostle expresses his fear that their affections were come 
to nothing, and that he had bestowed upon them labor in vain, 
Gal.iv. 11, 15. 

VII. Persons having religious affections of many kinds, 
accompanying one another, is not sufficient to determine 
whether they have any gracious affections or no. 

Though false religion is wont to be maimed and monstrous, 
and not to have that entireness and symmetry of parts, which 
is to be seen in true religion : Yet there may be a great va- 
riety of falsp affections together, that may resemble gracious 

* Agreeable to this, Mr. Stoddard observes, in his Guide to Christ, that some 
sinners have pangs of affection, and give an account that they find a spirit of 
]ove to God, and of their aiming at the glory of God, having that which has 
a great resemblance of saving grace ; and that sometimes their common affec- 
tions are stronger than saving, And supposes, that sometimes natural men 
may have such violent pangs of false affection to God, that they may think 
shemselves willing to be damned. Page 21, snd 65. 


It is evident that there are counterfeits of all kinds of gra- 
cious affections ; as of love to God, and love to the brethren, 
as has been just now observed ; so of godly sorrow for sin, as 
in Pharaoh, Haul, and Ahab, and the children of Israel in the 
■wilderness, Exod. ix. 27. 1 Sam. xxiv. 1G, 17, and xxvi. 21. 
1 Kings, xxi. 27. Numb. xiv. 39, 40, and of the fear of God, 
as in the Samaritans, " who feared the Lord, and served their 
own gods at the same time," 2 Kings xvii. 32, 33, and those 
enemies of God we read of, Psal. lxvi. 3, who, " through the 
greatness of God's power, submit themselves to him," or, as 
it is in the Hebrew, " lie unto him," i. e. yield a counterfeit 
reverence and submission : So of a gracious gratitude, as in 
the children of Israel, who sang God's praise at the Red Sea, 
Psal. cvi. 12, and Naaman the Syrian, after his miraculous 
cure of his leprosy, 2 Kings, v. 15, Sec. 

So of spiritual joy, as in the stony ground hearers, Mat. 
xiii. 20, and particularly many of John the Baptist's hearers, 
John v. 35. So of zeal, as in Jehu, 2 Kings x. 16, and in 
Paul before his conversion, Gal. i. 14. Phil. iii. 6, and the un- 
believing Jews, Acts xxii. 3. Rom. x. 2. So graceless per- 
sons may have earnest religious desires, which may be like 
Balaam's desires, which he expresses under an extraordinary 
view that he had of the happy state of God's people, as distin- 
guished from all the rest of the world, Numb, xxiii. 9, 10. 
They may also have a strong hope of eternal life, as the Phar- 
isees had. 

And as men, while in a state of nature, are capable of a re- 
semblance of all kinds of religious affections, so nothing hin- 
ders but that they may have many of them together. Ansl 
what appears in fact, does abundantly evince that it is very 
cltc:i so indeed. It seems commonly to be so, that when 
false affections arc raised high, many false aiTections attend 
each other. The multitude that attended Christ into Jerusa- 
lem, after that great miracle of raising Lazarus, seem to have 
been moved with many religious affections at once, and all in 
a high degree. They seem to have been filled with admira- 
tion, and there was a shew of an high affection of love, and 
also of a great degree of reverence, in their laying their gar- 


merits on the ground for Christ to tread upon ; and also of 
great gratitude to him, for the great and good works he had 
wrought, praising him with loud voices for his salvation ; and 
earnest desires of the coming of God's kingdom, which they 
supposed Jesus was now about to set up, and shewed great 
hopes and raised expectations of it, expecting it would imme- 
diately appear ; and hence were filled with joy, by which they 
were so animated in their acclamations, as to make the whole 
city ring with the noise of them ; and appeared great in their 
zeal and forwardness to attend Jesus, and assist him without 
further delay, now in the time of the great feast of the passo- 
ver, to set up his kingdom. And it is easy, from nature, and 
the nature of the affections, to give an account why, when one 
affection is raised very high, that it should excite others ; es- 
pecially if the affection which is raised high, be that of coun- 
terfeit love, as it was in the multitude who cried Hosanna. 
This will naturally draw many other affections after it. For, 
as was observed before, love is the chief of the affections, and 
as it were the fountain of them. Let us suppose a person 
who has been for some time in great exercise and terror 
through fear of hell, and his heart weakened with distress and 
dreadful apprehensions, and upon the brink of despair, and is 
all at once delivered, by being firmly made to believe, through 
some delusion of Satan, that God has pardoned him, and ac- 
cepts him as the object of his dear love, and promises him 
eternal life ; as suppose through some vision, or strong idea 
or imagination, suddenly excited in him, of a person with a 
beautiful countenance, smiiing on him, and with arms open, 
and with blood dropping clown, which the person conceives to 
be Christ, without any other enlightening of the understand- 
ing, to give a view of the spiritual divine excellency of Christ 
and his fulness ; and of the way of salvation revealed in the 
gospel : Or perhaps by some voice or Avords coming as if they 
were spoken to him, such as these, " Son, be of good cheer, 
thy sins be forgiven thee ;" or, « Fear not, it is the Father's 
good pleasure to give you the kingdom," which he takes to be 
immediately spoken by God to him, though there was no pre- 
ceding acceptance of Christ, or closing of the heart with him : 


I say, if we should suppose such a case, what various passion; 
uould naturally crowd at once, or one after another, into such 
a person's mind ? It is easy to be accounted for, from mere 
principles of nature, that a person's heart, on such an occa- 
sion, should be raised up to the skies with transports of joy ; 
and be filled with fervent affection, to that imaginary God or 
Redeemer, who he supposes has thus rescued him from the 
jaws of such dreadful destruction, that his soul was so amazed 
with the fears of, and has received him with such endearment, 
as a peculiar favorite ; and that now he should be filled with 
admiration and gratitude, and his mouth should be opened, 
and be full of talk about what he has experienced ; and that, 
for a while, he should think and speak of scarce any thing 
else, and should seem to magnify that God who has done so 
much (or him, and call upon others to rejoice with him, and 
appear with' a cheerful countenance, and talk with a loud 
voice : And however, before his deliverance, he was full of 
quarrellings against the justice of God, that now it should be 
easy for him to submit to God, and own his unworthiness, and 
cry out against himself, and appear to be very humble before 
God, and lie at his feet as tame as a lamb ; and that he should 
now confess his unworthiness, and cry out, r - Why me ? Why 
me ?" (Like Saul, who when Samuel told him that God had 
appointed him to be king, mAkes answer, " Am not I a Hen- 
jamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family 
the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin ? Where- 
fore then speakest thou so to me :" Much in the language 
of David, the true saint, 2 Sam. vii. 18. " Who am I, and 
what is my father's house, that thou hast brought me hith- 
erto ?*') Nor is it to be wondered at, that now he should de- 
light to be with them who acknowledge and applaud his happy 
circumstances, and should love all such as esteem and admire 
him and Avhat he has experienced, and have violent zeal 
agaimt all such as would make nothing of such things, and be 
disposed openly to separate, and as it were to proclaim war 
with all who be not of his party, and should now glory in his 
sufferings, and be very much for condemning and censuring 
all who seem to doubt, or make any difficulty of these things : 


and while the warmth of his affections lasts, should be mighty 
forward to take pains, and deny himself, to promote the in- 
terest of the party who he imagines favors such things, and 
seem earnestly desirous to increase the number of them, as 
the Pharisees compassed sea and land to make one firoselyte.* 
And so I might go on, and mention many other things, which 
will naturally arise in such circumstances. He must have but 
slightly considered human .nature, who thinks such things as 
these cannot arise in this manner, without any supernatural 
interposition of divine power. 

As from true divine love flow all Christian affections, so 
from a counterfeit love in like manner naturally flow other 
false affections. In both coses, love is the fountain, and the- 
Other affections are the streams. The various faculties, prin- 
ciples, and affections of the human nature, arc as it were ma- 
ny channels from one fountain : If there be sweet water in 
the fountain, sweet water will from thence flow out into those 
various channels ; but if the water in the fountain be poison- 
ous, then poisonous streams will also flow out into all those 
channels. So that the channels and streams will be alike, 
corresponding one with another ; but the great difference 
will lie in the nature of the water. Or, man's nature may be 
compared to a tree, with many branches, coming from one 
root : If the sap in the root be good, there will also be good 
sap distributed throughout the branches, and the fruit that is 
brought forth will be good and wholesome ; but if the sap in 
the root and stock be poisonous, so it will be in many branches 
(as in the other case) and the fruit will be deadly. The tree 
in both cases may be alike ; there may be an exact resem- 
blance in shape ; but the difference is found only in eating 
the fruit. It is thus (in some measure at least) oftentimes 
between saints and hypocrites. There is sometimes a very 

* " Associating with godly men does not prove that a man has grace : 
Ahithophel was David's companion. Sorrows for the afflictions of the church, 
and desires for the conversion of souls, do not prove it. These things may- 
be found in carnal men, and so can be no evidences of grace." Stoddard'r 
Nature of Saving Conversion, p. 82. 

Vol. IV. K 


great similitude between true and false experiences, in their 
appearance, and in what is expressed and related by the sub- 
jects of them: And the difference between them is much 
like the difference between the dreams of Pharaoh's chief 
butler and baker ; they seemed to be much alike, insomuch 
that when Joseph interpreted the chief butler's dream, that 
he should be delivered from his imprisonment, and restored 
to the king's favor, and his honorable office in the palace, the 
chief baker had raised hopes and expectations, and told his 
dream also ; but be was wofully disappointed ; and though 
his dream was so much like the happy and well boding dream 
of his companion, yet it was quite contrary in its issue. 

VIII. Nothing can certainly be determined concerning 
the nature of the affections, by this, that comforts and joys 
seem to follow awakenings and convictions of conscience, in a 
certain order. 

Many persons seem to be prejudiced against affections and 
experiences that come in such a method, as has been much 
insisted on by many divines ; first, such awakenings, fears, 
and awful apprehensions, followed with such legal humblings, 
in a sense of total sinfulness and helplessness, and then, such 
and such light and comfort : They look upon all such schemes, 
laying down such methods and steps, to be of men's devising ; 
and particularly if high affections of joy follow great distress 
and terror, it is made by many an argument against those af- 
fections. But such prejudices and objections are without 
reason or scripture. Surely it cannot be unreasonable to sup- 
pose, that before God delivers persons from a state of sin and 
exposedness to eternal destruction, he should give them some 
considerable sense of the evil he delivers from ; that they 
may be delivered sensibly, and understand their own salva- 
tion, and know something of what God docs for them. As 
men that are saved are in two exceeding different states, first 
a state of condemnation, and then in a state of justification 
and blessedness : And as God, in the work of the salvation of 
mankind, deals with them suitably to their intelligent rational 
nature ; so it seems reasonable, and agreeable to God's wis- 
dom, that men who are saved should be in these two states 


sensibly ; first, that they should sensibly to themselves, be in 
a state of condemnation, and so in a state of woful calamity 
and dreadful misery, and so afterwards sensibly in a state of 
deliverance and happiness ; and that they should be first sen- 
sible of their absolute extreme necessity, and afterwards of 
Christ's sufficiency and God's mercy through him. 

And that it is God's manner of dealing with men, to " lead 
them into a wilderness, before he speaks comfortably to 
them," and so to order it, that they shall be brought into dis- 
tress, and made to see their own helplessness and absolute 
dependence on his power and grace, before he appears to 
work any great deliverance for them, is abundantly manifest 
by the scripture. Then is God wont to " repent himself for 
his professing people, when their strength is gone, and there 
is none shut up or left," and when they are brought to see 
that their false gods cannot help them, and that the rock in 
whom they trusted is vain, Deut. xxxii. 36, 37. Before God 
delivered the children of Israel out of Egypt, they were pre- 
pared for it, by being made to see that they were in an evil 
case," and " to cry unto God, because of their hard bondage," 
Exod. ii. 23, and v. 19. And before God wrought that great 
deliverance for them at the Red Sea, they were brought into 
great distress, the wilderness had shut them in, they could 
not turn to the right hand nor the left, and the Red Sea was 
before them, and the great Egyptian host behind, and they 
were brought to see that they could do nothing to help them- 
selves, and that if God did not help them, they should be im- 
mediately swallowed up ; and then God appeared, and turned 
their cries into songs. So before they were brought to their 
rest, and to enjoy the milk and honey of Canaan, God "'led 
them through a great and terrible wilderness, that he might 
humble them and teach them what was in their heart, and so 
do them good in their latter end," Deut. viii. 2, 16. The 
woman that had the issue of blood twelve years, was not de- 
livered, until she had first " spent all her living on earthly 
physicians, and could not be healed of any," and so was left 
helpless, having no more money to spend ; and then she came 
to the great Physician, without any money or price, and was 


healed by him, Luke viii. 45, 44. Before Christ would an- 
swer the request of the woman of Canaan, he first seemed ut- 
terly to deny her, and humbled her, and brought her to own 
Kerself .worthy to be called a dog-; and then he shewed her 
mercy, and received her as a dear child, Mat. xv. 22, Stc. 
The Aposlle Paul, before a remarkable deliverance, was 
" pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that he 
despaired even of life ; but had the sentence of death in him- 
self, that he might not trust in himself, but in God that rais- 
eth the dead," 2 Cor. i. 8, 9, 10. There was first a great 
tempest, and the ship was covered with the waves, and just 
ready to sink, and the disciples were brought to cry to Jesus, 
*< Lord, save us, we perish ;" and then the winds and seas 
were rebuked, and there was a great calm, Mat. viii. 24, 25, 
26. The leper, before he is cleansed, must have his mouth 
stopped, by a covering on his upper lip, and was to acknowl- 
edge his great misery and utter uncleanness, by rending his 
clothes, and crying, " Unclean, unclean," Lev. xiii. 45. And 
backsliding Israel, before God heals them, are brought to 
" acknowledge that they have sinned, and have not obeyed the 
voice of the Lord," and to see that " they lie down in their 
shame, and that confusion covers them," and " that in vain is 
salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of 
mountains," and that God only can save them, Jer. iii. 23, 24, 
25. Joseph, who was sold by his brethren, and therein was a 
type of Christ, brings his brethren into great perplexity and 
distress, and brings them to reflect on their sin, and to say, 
We are verily guilty ; and at last to resign up themselves en- 
tirely into his hands for bondmen ; and then reveals himself 
to them, as their brother and their saviour. 

And if we consider those extraordinary manifestations 
which God made of himself to saints of old, we shall find 
that he commonly first manifested himself in a way which 
was terrible, and then by those things that were comfortable. 
So it was with Abraham ; first, a honor of great darkness 
fell upon him, and then God revealed himself to him in sweet 
promises, Gen. xv. 12, 13. So it was with Moses at Mount 
Sinai ; first, God appeared to him in all the terrors of his 


dreadful Majesty, so that Moses #aid, " I exceedingly fear 
and quake," and then he made all his goodness to pass be- 
fore him, and proclaimed his name, " The Lord God gracious 
and merciful," Sec. So it was with Elijah ; first, there is a 
stormy wind, and earthquake, and devouring fire, and then a 
still, small, sweet voice, 1 Kings xix. So it was with Dan- 
iel ; he first saw Christ's countenance as lightning, that ter- 
rified him, and caused him to faint away ; and then he is 
strengthened and refreshed with such comfortable words as 
these, " O Daniel, a man greatly beloved," Dan. x. So it 
was with the apostle John Rev. i. And there is an analogy 
observable in God's dispensations and deliverances which he 
works for his people, and the manifestations which he makes 
of himself to them, both ordinary and extraordinary. 

But there are many things in scripture which do more di- 
rectly shew, that this is God's ordinary manner in working 
salvation for the souls of men, and in the manifestations God 
makes of himself and of his mercy in Christ, in the ordinary 
works of his grace on the hearts of sinners. The servant 
that owed his prince ten thousand talents, is first held to his 
debt, and the king pronounces sentence of condemnation up- 
on him, and commands him to be sold, and his wife and child- 
ren, and payment to be made ; and thus he humbles him, 
and brings him to own the whole of the debt to be just, and 
then forgives him all. The prodigal son spends all he has, 
and is brought to see himself in extreme circumstances, and to 
humble himself, and own his un worthiness, before he is re- 
lieved and feasted by his father, Luke xv. Old inveterate 
wounds must be searched to the bottom, in order to healing : 
And the scripture compares sin, the wound of the soul, to 
this, and speaks of healing- this wound without thus searching 
of it, as vain and deceitful, Jer. viii. 1 1 . Christ, in the work 
of his grace on the hearts of men, is compared to rain on the 
new mown grass, grass that is cut down with a scythe, Psal. 
Ixxii. 6, representing his refreshing, comforting influences 
on the wounded spirit. Our first parents, after they had sin- 
ned,' were first terrified with God's majesty and justice, and 
had their sir. with its aggravations, set before them by their 


Judgej before they were fclieved by the promise of the seed 
of the woman. Christians are spoken of as those " that have 
fled for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before them," 
Heb. vi. 18, which representation implies great fear and sense 
of danger, preceding. To the like purpose, Christ is called 
« a hiding place from the -wind, and a covert from the tempest, 
and as rivers of water in a dry place, and as the shadow of a 
great rock in a weary land," Isa. xxsii. at the beginning. 
And it seems to be the natural import of the word gosfiel, 
glad tidings, that it is news of deliverance and salvation, after 
great fear and distress. There is also reason to suppose, 
that God deals with particular believers, as he dealt with his 
church which he first made to hear his voice in the law, with 
terrible thunders and lightnings, and kept her under that 
schoolmaster, to prepare her for Christ ; and then comforted 
her with the joyful sound of the gospel from mount Zion. So 
likewise John the Baptise came to prepare the way for Christ, 
and prepare men's hearts for his reception, by shewing them 
their sins, and by bringing the selfrighteous Jews off from 
their own righteousness, telling them that they were " a gen- 
eration of vipers," and shewing them their danger of " the 
Avrath to come," telling them that " the axe was laid at the 
root of the trees, &c. 

And if it be indeed God's manner, (as I think the forego- 
ing considerations shew that it undoubtedly is) before he gives 
men the comfort of a deliverance from their sin and misery 
to give them a considerable sense of the greatness and dread- 
fulness of those evils, and their extreme wretchedness by 
reason of them ; surely it is not unreasonable to suppose, 
that persons, at least oftentimes, while under these views, 
should have great distresses and terrible apprehensions of 
mind ; especially if it be considered what these evils are that 
they have a view of ; which arc no other than great and man- 
ifold sins, against the infinite majesty of the great Jehovah, 
and the suffering of the fierceness of his Avrath to all eternity. 
And the more so still, when we have many plain instances 
in scripture of persons that have actually been brought into 
great distress, by such convictions, before they have received 


saving consolations : As the multitude at Jerusalem, who 
were " pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest 
of the apostles, men and brethren, what shall we do ?" And 
the apostle Paul, who trembled and was astonished, before he 
was comforted ; and the gaoler, when ' s he called for a light, 
and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul 
and Silas, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved ?" 

From these things it appears to be very unreasonable in 
professing Christians tomake this an objection against the truth 
and spiritual nature of the comfortable and joyful affections 
which any have, that they follow such awful apprehensions 
and distresses as have been mentioned. 

And, on the other hand, it is no evidence that comforts and 
joys are right, because they succeed great terrors, and amaz- 
ing fears of hell.* This seems to be what some persons lay 
a great weight upon ; esteeming great terrors an evidence 
of the great work of the law wrought on the heart, well pre- 
paring the way for solid comfort ; not considering that ter- 
ror and a conviction of conscience are different things. For 
though convictions of conscience do often cause terror ; yet 
they do not consist in it ; and terrors do often arise from oth- 
er causes. Convictions of conscience, through the influences 
of God's Spirit, consist in conviction of sinfulness of heart and 
practice, and of the dreadfulness of sin, as committed against 
a God of terrible majesty, infinite holiness and hatred of sin, 
and strict justice in punishing of it. But there are some per- 
sons that have frightful apprehensions of hell, a dreadful pit 
ready to swallow them up, and flames just ready to lay hold 
of them, and devils around them, ready to seize them ; who 
at the same time seem to have very little proper enlighten- 
ings of conscience, really convincing them of their sinfulness 
of heart and life. The devil, if permitted, can terrify men 

* Mr. Shepard fpeaks of " men's being cast down as low as hell by sor- 
row and lying under chains, quaking in apprehension of terror to come, 
and then raised up to heaven in joy, not able to live ; and yet not rent from 
lust : And such are objects of pity now, and are like to be the objects of 
terror at the great day." Parable of the ten Virgins, P. i. p. 125. 


as well as the Spirit of God, it is a work natural to him, and 
he has many ways of doing it, in a manner tending to no good. 

He may exceedingly affright persons, by impressing on 
them images and ideas of many external things, of a counte- 
nance frowning, a sword drawn, black clouds of vengeance, 
words of an awful doom pronounced,* hell gaping, devils corn- 
ins;-, and the like, not to convince persons of things that are 
true, and revealed in the word of God, but to lead them to 
vain and groundless determinations ; as that their day is past, 
that they are reprobated, that God is implacable, that he has 
come to a resolution immediately to cut them off, Sec. 

And the terrors which some persons have, are very much 
owing to the particular constitution and temper they are of. 
Nothing is more manifest than that some persons are of such 
a temper and frame, that their imaginations are more strong- 
ly impressed with every thing they are affected with, than 
others ; and the impression on the imagination reacts on the 
affection, and raises that still higher ; and so affection and 
imagination act reciprocally, one on another, till their affec- 
tion is raised to a vast height, and the person is swallowed 
up, and loses all possession of himself. t 

And some speak of a great sight they have of their wicked- 
ness, who really, when the matter comes to be well examin- 
ined into and thoroughly weighed, aie found to have little or 
no convictions of conscience. They tell of a dreadful hard 
heart, and how their heart lies like a stone ; Avhen truly they 

* " The way of the Spirit's working when it does convince men, is by en- 
lightening natural conscience. The Spirit does not work by giving a testi- 
mony, but by assisting natural conscience to do its work. Natural con- 
science is the instrument in the hand of God to accuse, condemn, terrify, and 
to urge to duty. The Spirit of God leads men into the consideration of their 
danger, and makes them to be affected therewith, Prov. xx. 27. " The spir- 
it of man is th: candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly." 
Stoddard's Guide to Christ, page 44. 

+ The famous Mr. Perkins distinguishes between " those sorrows that 
tome through convictions of conscience, and melancholic passions arising on- 
ly from mere imaginations, strongly conceived in the brain ; which, he says, 
vs'.-allv come on a sudden, like lightning into a house." Vol. I. ot his works, 
P ? 8 C 3 8 £- 


"have none of those things in their minds or thoughts, where- 
in the hardness of men's heart does really consist. They tell 
of a dreadful load and sink of sin, a heap of black and loath- 
some filthine'ss within them ; when, if the matter be careful- 
ly inquired into, they have not in view any thing Wherein the 
corruption of nature does truly consist, nor have they any 
thought of any particular thing wherein their hearts are sin- 
fully defective, or fall short of what ought to to be in them, or 
any exercises at all of corruption in them. And many think 
also they have great convictions of their actual sins, who truly 
have none. They tell how their sins are set in order before 
them, they see them stand encompassing them round in a 
row, with a dreadful frightful appearance ; when really they 
have not so much as one of the sins they have been guilty of 
in the course of their livesj coming into view, that they are 
affected with the aggravations of. 

And if persons have had great terrors which really have 
been from the awakening and convincing influences of the 
Spirit of God, it doth not thence follow that their terrors 
must needs issue in true comfort. The unmortified cor- 
ruption of the heart may quench the Spirit of God (after he 
has been striving) by leading men to presumptuous, and self- 
exalting hopes and joys, as well as otherwise. It is not eve- 
ry woman who is really in travail, that brings forth a real 
child ; but it may be a monstrous production, without any 
thing of the form or properties of human nature belonging to 
it. Pharaoh's chief baker, after he had lain in the dungeon 
with Joseph, had a vision that raised his hopes, and he was 
lifted up out of the dungeon, as well as the chief butler ; but 
it was to be hanged. 

But if comforts and joys do not only come after great ter- 
rors and awakenings, but there be an appearance of such pre- 
paratory convictions and humiliations, and brought about 
very distinctly, by such steps, and in such a method, as has 
frequently been observable in true converts ; this is no 
certain sign that the light and comforts which follow are true 
and saving. And for these following reasons : 
Vol. IV. L 


First, As the devil can counterfeit all the saving opera- 
tions and graces of the Spirit of God, so he can counterfeit 
those operations that are preparatory to grace. If Satan can 
counterfeit those effects of God's Spirit, which arc special, 
divine and sanctifying, so that there shall he a very great, 
resemblance, in all that can be observed by others ; much 
more easily may he imitate those works of God's Spirit 
which are common, and which men, while they are yet his 
own children, are the subjects of. These works are in no 
wise so much above him as the other. There are no works 
of God that are so high and divine, and above the powers of 
nature, and out of the reach of the power of all creatures as 
those works of his Spirit, whereby he forms the creature in 
his own image, and makes it to be a partaker of thedivine 
nature. But if the devil can be the author of such resem- 
blances of these as have been spoken of, without doubt he 
may of those that are of an infinitely inferior kind. And it 
is abundantly evident in fact, that there are false humilia- 
tions and false submissions, as well as false comforts.* How- 
far was Saul brought, though a very wicked man, and of a 
haughty spirit, when he (though a great king) was brought, in 
conviction of his ^in, as it Were to fall down, all in tears, 
Weeping aloud, before David his own subject, (and one that 
he had for a long time mortally hated, and openly treated as 
an enemy) and condemn himself before him, crying out, 
" Thou art more righteous than I : For thou hast rewarded 
me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil I" And at an- 
other time, " I have sinned, I have played the fool, I have 
erred exceedingly," 1 Sam. x:;iv. 16, 17, and chap. xxvi. 21. 

* The venerable Mr. Stoddard observes, " A man may say, that now he 
ran justify God however he deals with him, and not he brought off from his 
own righteousness ; and that some men do justify God from a partial con- 
viction of the righteousness of their condemnation ; conscience takes notice 
of their sinfulness, and tells them that they may be righteously damned ; as 
Pharaoh, who justified God, Exod. ix. 27. And they give some kind of 
ronsent to it, but many times it does not continue, they have only a pang up- 
on them, that usually dies away after a little time. 

Guile to Christ, page 71. 


And yet Saul seems then to have had very little of the influ- 
ences of the Spirit of God, it being after God's Spirit had 
departed from him, and given him up, and an evil spirit from 
the Lord troubled him. And if this proud monarch, in a 
pang of affection, was brought to humble himself so low before 
a subject that he hated, and still continued an enemy to, there 
doubtless may be appearances of great conviction and humili- 
ation in men, before God, while they yet remain enemies to 
him, and though they finally continue so. There is often- 
times in men who are terrified through fears of hell, a great ap- 
pearance of their being brought off from their own righteous- 
ness, when they are not brought off from it in all waysaithough 
they are in many ways that are more plain and visible. They 
have only exchanged some ways of trusting in their own 
righteousness, for others that are more secret and subtle. 
Oftentimes a great degree of discouragement, as to many 
things they used to depend upon, is taken for humilia- 
tion : And that is called a submission to God, which is no ab- 
solute submission, but has some secret bargain in it, that it i3 
hard to discover. 

Secondly, If the operations and effects of the Spirit of God, 
in the convictions, and comforts of true converts, may be 
sophisticated, then the order of them may be imitated- If 
Satan can imitate the things themselves, he may easily put 
them one after another, in such a certain order. If the devil 
can make A, B, and C, it is as easy for him to put A first, and 
B next, and G next, as to range them in a contrary order. 
The nature of divine things is harder for the devil to imitate, 
than their order. He cannot exactly imitate divine operations 
in their nature, though his counterfeits may be very much 
like them in external appearance ; but he can exactly imi- 
tate their order. "When counterfeits are made, there is no 
divine power needful in order to the placing one of them first, 
and another last. And therefore no order or method of oper- 
ations and experiences is any certain sign of their divinity. 
That only is to be trusted to, as a certain evidence of grace, 
which Satan cannot do, and which it is impossible should be 
brought to pass by aDy power short of divine. 


Thirdly, We have no certain rule to determine how far 
God's own Spirit may go in those operation", and conviction's 
which in themselves are not spiritual and saving, and yet the 
person that is the subject of them never be converted, but 
fall short of salvation at last. There is no necessary connex- 
ion in the nature of things, between any thing that a datura! 
man may experience while in a state of nature, and the sav- 
ing grace of God's Spirit. And if there be no connexion in 
the nature of things, then there can be no known and certain 
connexion at all, unless it be by divine revelation. But there 
is no revealed certain connexion between a state of salvation, 
and any tiling that a natural man can be the subject of, be- 
fore he believes in Christ. God has revealed no certain con- 
nexion between salvation, and any qualifications in men, but 
only grace and its fruits. And therefore we do not find any 
legal convictions, or comforts, following these legal convic- 
tions, in any certain method or order, ever once mentioned in 
the scripture, as certain signs of grace, or things peculiar to 
the saints ; although we do find gracious operations and effects 
themselves, so mentioned, thousands of times. Which should 
be enough with Christians who are willing to have the word 
of God, rather than their own philosophy, and experiences, 
and conjectures, as their sufficient and sure guide in things 
of this nature. 

Fourthly, Experience does greatly confirm, that persons 
seemingto have convictions and comforts following* one another 
in such a method and order, as is frequently observable in true 
converts, is no certain sign of grace.* I appeal to all those 
ministers in this land, who have had much occasion of 
dealing with souls in the late extraordinary season, whether 
there have not been many who do not prove well, that have 

* Mr. Stoddard, who had much experience of things of this nature, long 
ago observed, that converted and unconverted men cannot be certainly dis- 
tinguished by the account they give of their experience ; the same relation of 
expeiiences being common to both. And that many persons have given a 
fair account of a work of conversion, that have carried well in the eye of the 
world for several years, but have not proved well at laft. 

appeal to the Learned, p, 75, 76. 


given a fair account of their experiences, and have seemed to 
be converted according to rule, i. e. with convictions and affec- 
tions, succeeding distinctly and exactly, in that order and 
method, which has been ordinarily insisted on, as the order 
of the operations of the Spirit of God in conversion. 

And as a seeming to have this distinctness as to steps and 
method, is no certain sign that a person is converted ; so a be- 
ing Avithout it, is no evidence that a person is not converted. 
For though it might be made evident to a demonstration, on 
scripture principles, that a sinner cannot be brought heartily 
to receive Christ as his Saviour, who is not convinced of his 
sin and misery, and of his own emptiness and helplessness, 
and his just desert of eternal condemnation ; and that there- 
fore such convictions must be some way implied in what is 
wrought in his soul ; yet nothing proves it to be necessary, 
that all those things which are implied or presupposed in an 
act of faith in Christ, must be plainly and distinctly wrought 
in the soul, in so many successive and separate works of the 
Spirit, that shall be each one plain and manifest, in all who 
are truly converted. On the contrary (as Mr. Shepard ob- 
serves) sometimes the change made in a saint, at first work, 
is like a confused chaos ; so that the saints know not what to 
make of it. The manner of the Spirit's proceeding in them 
that are born of the Spirit, is very often exceeding mysterious 
and unsearchable : We, as it were, hear the sound of it, the 
effect of it is discernible ; but no man can tell whence it came, 
or whither it went. And it is oftentimes as difficult to know 
the way of the Spirit in the new birth, as in the first birth, 
Eccl. xi. 5. « Thou knowest not what is the way of the 
Spirit, or how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is 
with child ; even so thou knowest not the works of God, that 
worketh all." The ingenerating of a principle of grace in 
the soul, seems in scripture to be compared to the conceiving 
of Christ in the womb, Gal. iv. 19. And therefore the church 
is called Christ's mother, Cant. iii. 1 1. And so is every par- 
ticular believer, Mat. xii. 49, 50. And the conception of 
Christ in the womb of the blessed virgin, by the power of the 
Holy Ghost seems to be a designed resemblance of the con- 


ception cf Christ in the womb of the blessed virgin, by the 
power of the -Holy Ghost, seems to be a designed resem- 
blance of the conception of Christ in the soul of a believer, by 
the power of the same Holy Ghost. And we know not what 
is the way of the Spirit, nor how the bones dp grow, cither in 
the womb, or heart that conceives this holy child. The new 
creature may use that language in Psal. exxxix. 14, \5. « I 
am fearfully and wonderfully made ; marvellous are thy works, 
and that, my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not 
bid from thee, when I was made in secret." Concerning the 
generation of Christ, both in his person, and also in the hearts 
of his people, it may be said, as in Isa. liii. 8. k < Who can 
declare his generation ?" We know not the works of God, 
that workcth all. "• It is the glory of God to conceal a thing.' 1 
(Prov. xxv. 2.) and to have " his path as it were in the mighty 
•waters, that his footsteps may not be known ;" and es] 
in the works of his Spirit en the hearts of men, which are the 
highest and chief of his works. And therefore it is said, Isa. 
xl. 18. " Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being 
bis counsellor hath taught him V It is to be feared that some 
have gone too hxv towards directing the Spirit of the Lord, 
and marking out his footsteps for him, and limiting him to 
certain steps and methods. Experience plainly shews, that 
God's Spirit is unsearchable and untraceable, in some of the 
best of Christians, in the method of his operations, in their 
conversion, Nor docs the Spirit of God proceed discernibly 
in the steps of a particular established scheme, one half so 
often as is imagined. A scheme of what is necessary, and 
according to a rule already received and established by com- 
mon opinion, has a vast (though to ninny a very insensible) 
influence in forming persons' notions of the steps and method 
of their own experiences. I know \cvy well what their way 
is ; for I have had much opportunity to observe it. Very 
often, at first, their experiences appear like a confused chaos, 
as Mr. Shepard expresses it : But then those passages of 
their experience are picked out, that have most of the appear- 
ance of such particular steps that are insisted on ; and these 
arc dwelt upon in the thoughts, and these arc told of from 


time to time, in the relation they give : These parts grow 
brighter and brighter in their view ; and others, being neg- 
lected, grow more and more obscure : And what they have 
experienced is insensibly strained to bring all to an exact con- 
formity to the scheme that is established. And it becomes 
natural for ministers, who have to deal with them, and direct 
them that insist upon distinctness and clearness of method, to 
do so too. But yet there has been so much tc be seen of the 
operations of the Spirit of God, of late, that they who have 
had much to do with soul'-, and are not blinded with a seven 
fold vail of prejudice, must know that the Spirit is so exceed- 
ing various in the manner of his operating, that in many cases 
it is impossible to trace him, or find out his way. 

"What we have principally to do with, in our inquiries into 
our own state, or directions we give to others, is the nature of 
the effect that God has brought to pass in the soul. .As to 
the steps which the Spirit of God took to bring that effect to 
pass, we may leave them to him. We are often in scripture 
expressly directed to try ourselves by the nature of the fruits 
of the Spirit ; but no where by the Spirit's method of produc- 
ing them.* Many do greatly err in their notions of a clear 
work of conversion ; calling that a clear work, where the suc- 
cessive steps of influence, and method of experience are 
clear : Whereas that indeed is the clearest work, (not where 
the order of doing is clearest, but) where the spiritual and 

* Mr. Shepard, speaking of the soul's closing with Christ, says, " As a child 
cannot tell how his soul comes into it, nor it may be when ; but afterwards 
it sees and feels that life ; so that he were as bad as a beast, that should deny 
an immortal soul ; so here." Parable of the ten Virgins, Part. II. p. 171. 

" If the man do not know the time of his conversion, or first closing witb 
Christ; the minister may not draw any peremptory conclusion from thence, 
that he is not godly," Stoddard's Guide to Chris!, p. 83. 

" Do not think there is no compunction, or sense of sin, wrought in the 
soul, because you cannot so clearly discern and feel it ; nor the time of the 
•working, and first beginning of it. I ha e known many tint have come with 
their complaints, that they xvere never hn It so ; yet there it 

hath been, and many times they have seen it, by the other spectacles, and bless- 
ed God for it." Shepard's So;<:.^ Beliettr] |Mge 38. The late impression in 


divine nature of the work, done, and effect wrought, is mos* 

IX. It is no certain sign that the religious affections which 
persons have are such as have in them the nature of true re- 
ligion, or that they have not, that they dispose persons to 
spend much time in religion, and to be zealously engaged in 
the external duties of worship, 

This has, very unreasonably of late been looked upon as an 
&i gument against the religious affections which some have 
had, that they spend so much time in reading, praying, sing- 
ing, hearing sermons, and the like. It is plain from the 
scripture, that it is the tendency of true grace to cause persons 
to delight in such religious exercises. True grace had this 
Effect; on Anna the prophetess, Luke ii. 37. " She departed 
not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers 
night and day." And grace had this effect upon the prim- 
itive Christians in Jerusalem, Acts ii. 46, 47. " And they 
continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking 
bread from house to house, did ett their meat with gladness 
and singleness of heart, praising God." Grace made Daniel 
delight in the duty of prayer, and solemnly to attend it three 
times a day ; as it also did David, Psal. ly. 17. " Evening, 
morning, and at noon will. I pray." Grace makes the saints 
$e%bt in singing praises to God, Psal. exxxv. 3. " Sing 
praises uiito his name, for it is pleasant." And cxlvii. 1. 
" Praise ye the Lord ; for it is good to sing praises unto our 
God ; for it is pleasant, and praise is comely." It also causes 
them to delight to hear the word of God preached : It makes 
the gospel a joyful sound to them, Psal. ixxxix. 15, and makes 
the feet of those who publish these good tidings to be beauti- 
ful, Isa. lii. 7. " flow beautiful upon the mountains are the 
feet of him that bringcth good tidings !" kc. It makes them 
love God's public worship, Psal. xxvi. 8. ■< Lord, I have lov- 
ed the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honor 
dwclleth." And xxvii. 4. " One thing have I desired of the 
Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of 
the Lord all the days of my life, t# behold the beauty of the 
Lord, and to inquire in his temple," Psal. b:>:>:iv. 1, 2, &c 


r » llow amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts ! My 
soul Iongeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord.... 
Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest 
for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, 
O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are they 
that dwell in thy house : They will be still praising thee. 
Blessed is the man in whose heart are the ways of them, who, 
passing through the valley of Baca....go from strength to 
strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God." 
ver. 10. "A day in thy courts is better than a thousand." 

This is the nature of true grace. But yet, on the other 
hand, persons' being disposed to abound and to be zealously 
engaged in the external exercises of religion, and to spend 
much time in them, is no sure evidence of grace ; because 
such a disposition is found in many that have no grace. So 
it v/as with the Israelites of old, whose services were abomina- 
ble to God ; they attended the " new moons, and sabbaths, 
and calling of assemblies, and spread forth their hands, and 
made many prayers," Isa. 5. 12.... 15. So it was with the Phar- 
isees ; they " made long prayers, and fasted twice a week." 
False religion may cause persons to be loud and earnest in 
prayer, Isa. Iviii. 4. « Ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to 
cause your voice to be heard on high." That religion which 
is not spiritual and saving, may cause men to delight in relig- 
ious duties and ordinances, Isa. Iviii. 2. « Yet they seek me 
daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did right- 
eousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God : They 
ask of me the ordinances of justice : They take delight in 
approaching to God." It may cause them to take delight in 
hearing the word of God preached ; as it was with Ezekiel's 
hearers, Ezek. xxxiii. 31, 32, « And they come unto thee 
as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, 
and they hear thy words, but they will not do them : For 
with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth 
after their covetousness. And lo, thou art unto them as a 
very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can 
play well on an instrument : For they hear thy words, but 
Vol. IV, M 


they do them not." So it was with Hcvod ; he heard John 
the Baptist gladly, Mark vi. 20. So it was with others of his 
hearers, « for a season they rejoiced in his light," John v. 
35. So the stony ground hearers heard the word with joy. 

Experience shews, that persons, from false religion, may 
be inclined to be exceeding abundant in the external exercises 
of religion ; yea, to give themselves up to them, and devote 
almost their whole time to them. Formerly a sort of people 
were very numerous in the Romish church, called recluses, 
who forsook the world, and utterly abandoned the society of 
mankind, and shut themselves up close in a narrow cell, with 
a vow never to stir out of it, nor to see the face of any of man- 
kind any more (unless that they might be visited in case of 
sickness) to spend all their days in the exercises of devotion 
and converse with God. There were also in old time, great 
multitudes called Hermits and Anchorites, that left the world 
to spend all their days in lonesome deserts, to give them- 
selves up to religious contemplations and exercises of devo- 
tion ; some sorts of them having no dwellings, but the caves 
and vaults of the mountains, and no food, but the spontaneous 
productions of the earth. I once lived, ibr many months, 
next door to a Jew (the houses adjoining one to another) and 
had much opportunity daily to observe him ; who appeared 
to me the devoutest person that ever I saw in my life ; great 
part of his time being spent in acts of devotion, at his eastern 
window, which opened next to mine, seeming to be most ear- 
nestly engaged, not only in the day time, but sometimes 
whole nights. 

X. Nothing can be certainly known of the nature of relig- 
ious affections by this, that they much dispose persons with 
their mouths to praise and glorify God. This indeed is im- 
plied in what has been just now observed, of abounding and 
spending much time in the external exercises of religion, 
and was also hinted before ; but because many seem to look 
upon it as a bright evidence of gracious affection, when per- 
sons appear greatly disposed to praise and magnify God, to 
have their mouths full of his praises, and affectionately to be 


calling on others to praise and extol him, I thought it deserv- 
ed a more particular consideration. 

No Christian will make it an argument against a person, 
that he seems to have such a disposition. Nor can it reason- 
ably be looked upon as an evidence for a person, if those 
things that have been already observed and proved, be duly 
considered, viz. that persons, without grace, may have high 
affections towards God and Christ, and that their affections, 
being strong, may fill their mouths, and incline them to speak 
much, and very earnestly, about the things they are affected 
with, and that there may be counterfeits of all kinds of gra- 
cious affection. But it will appear more evidently and direct- 
ly, that this is no certain sign of grace, if we consider what 
instances the scripture gives us of it in those that were grace- 
less. We often have an account of this, in the multitude that 
were present when Christ preached and wrought miracles, 
Mark ii. 12. " And immediately he arose, took up his bed, 
and went forth before them all, insomuch that they were all 
amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this 
fashion." So Mat. ix. 8, and Luke v. 26. Also Mat. xv. 31. 
" Insomuch that the multitude wondered when they saw the 
dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, 
and the blind to see : And they glorified the God of Israel." 
So we ai'e told, that on occasion of Christ's raising the son of 
the widow of Nain, Luke vii. 16. " There came a fear on 
all : And they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is 
risen up among us ; and, That God hath visited his people." 
So we read of their glorifying Christ, or speaking exceeding 
highly of him, Luke iv. 15. " And he taught in their syna- 
gogues, being glorified of all." And how did they praise 
him, with loud voices, crying, « Hosanna to the Son of Da- 
vid ; Hosanna in the highest ; blessed is he that cometh in 
the name of the Lord," a little before he was crucified ! And 
after Christ's ascension, when the Apostles had healed the 
impotent man, we are told, that all men glorified God for that 
which was done, Acts iv. 21. When the Gentiles in Antioch 
of Pisidia, heard from Paul and Barnabas, that God would re- 
ject the Jews, and take the Gentiles to be his people in their 


room, they were affected with the goodness of God to the 
Gentiles, " and glorified the word of the Lord :" But all thai 
did so were not true believers ; but only a certain elect num- 
ber of them ; as is intimated in the account we have of it, 
Acts, xiii. 48. "And when the Gentiles heard this, they 
were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord : And as many 
as were ordained to eternal life, believed." So of old the 
children of Israel at the Red Sea, " sang God's praise ; but 
soon forgat his works." And the Jews in Ezekiel's time, 
" with their mouth shewed much love, while their heart went 
after their covetousness." And it is foretold of false profess- 
ors, and real enemies of religion, that they should shew a for- 
wardness to glorify God, Isa. lxvi. 5. " Hear the word of the 
Lord, ye that tremble at his word. Your brethren that hated 
you, that cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let the Lord 
be glorified." 

It is no certain sign that a person is graciously affected, if, 
in the midst of his hopes and comforts, he is greatly affected 
with God's unmerited mercy to him that is so unworthy, 
and seems greatly to extol and magnify free gi'ace. Those 
that yet remain with unmortified pride and enmity against 
God, may, when they imagine that thev have received extra- 
ordinary kindness from God, cry out of their un worthiness, 
and magnify God's undeserved goodness to them, from no 
other convictien of their ill deservings, and from no higher 
principle than Saul had, who, while he yet remained with un- 
subdued pride and enmity against David, was brought, though 
a king, to acknowledge his unworthiness, and cry out, " I 
have played the fool, I have erred exceedingly," and with 
great affection and admiration, to magnify and extol David's 
unmerited and unexampled kindness to him, 1 Sam. xxv. 
16.. ..19, and xxvi. 21, and from no higher principle than that 
from whence Nebuchadnezzar was affected with God's dis- 
pensations, that he saw and was the subject of, and praises, 
extols and honors the King of heaven ; and both he, and Da- 
rius, in their high affections, call upon all nations to praise 
God, Dan. ill. 28, 29, 30, and iv. 1, 2, 3, 34, 35, 37, and vi. 25, 


XI. It is no sign that affections are right, or that they are 
wrong, that they make persons that have them exceeding 
confident that what they experience is divine, and that they 
are in a good estate. 

It is an argument with some, against persons, that they arc 
deluded if they pretend to be assured of their good estate, 
and to be carried beyond all doubting of the favor of God ; 
supposing that there is no such thing to be expected in the 
church of God, as a full and absolute assurance of hope ; un- 
less it be in some very extraordinary circumstances; as in 
the case of martyrdom ; contrary to the doctrine of Protest- 
ants, which has been maintained by their most celebrated 
writers against the Papists ; and contrary to the plainest scrip- 
ture evidence. It is manifest, that it was a common thing 
for the saints that Ave have a history or particular account of 
in scripture, to be assured. God, in the plainest and most 
positive manner revealed and testified his special favor to 
Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Mc-.,es, Daniel, and others, 
job often speaks of his sincerity and uprightness with the 
greatest imaginable confidence and assurance, often calling 
God to witness to it ; and says plainly, " I know that my Re- 
deemer liveth, and that I shall see him for myself, and noi 
another," Job. xix. 25, See. David, throughput the book of 
Psalms, almost every where speaks without any hesitancy, 
and in the most positive manner, of God as his God : Glory- 
ing in him as his portion and heritage, his rock and confidence, 
his shield, salvation, and high tower, and the like. Hezekiah 
appeals to God, as one that knew that he had walked before 
him in truth, and with a perfect heart, 2 Kings xx. 3. Jesus 
Christ, in his dying discourse with his eleven disciples, in the 
14th, loth, and 16th chapters of John (which was as it were 
Christ's last will and testament to his disciples, and to his 
whole church) often declares his special and everlasting love 
to them in the plainest and most positive terms; and promises 
them a future participation with him in his glory, in the most 
absolute manner; and tells them at the same time that he does 
so, to the end that their joy might be full, John xv. 11." These 
things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in 


you, and that your joy might be full." Sec also at the con- 
clusion of his whole discourse, chap. xvi. 33. " These things 
have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. 
In the world ye shall have tribulation : But be of good cheer, 
I have overcome the world." Christ was not afraid of speak- 
ing too plainly and positively to them ; he did not desire to 
hold them in the least suspense. And he concluded that last 
discourse of his with a prayer in their presence, wherein he 
speaks positively to his Father of those eleven disciples, as 
having all of them savingly known him, and believed in him, 
and received and kept his word ; and that they were not of 
the world ; and that for their sakes he sanctified himself ; and 
that his will was, that they should be with him in his glory ; 
and tells his Father, that he spake those things in his prayer, 
to the end, that his joy might be fulfilled in them, vcr. 13. 
By these things it is evident, that it is agreeable to Christ's 
designs, and the contrived ordering and disposition Christ 
makes of things in his church, that there should be sufficient 
and abundant provision made, that his saints might have full 
assurance of their future glory. 

The Apostle Paul, through all his epistles speaks in an as- 
sured strain ; ever speaking positively of his special relation 
to Christ, his Lord, and Master, and Redeemer, and his in- 
terest in, and expectation of the future reward. It would be 
cndles-i to take notice of all places that might be enumerated : 
I shall mention but three or four, Gal. ii. 20. " Christ liv- 
cth in me ; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live 
by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave him- 
self for me," Phil. i. 21. " For me to live is Christ, and to 
die is gain," 2 Tim. i. 12. " I know whom I have believed, 
and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have 
committed unto him against that day," 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8. " I 
have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have 
kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown 
of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will 
giye rnc at that day. 

And the nature of the covenant of grace, and God's declar- 
ed ends in the appointment and constitution of things in that 


covenant, do plainly shew it to be God's design to make am- 
ple provision for the saints having an assured hope of eternal 
life, while living here upon earth. For so are all things order- 
ed and contrived in that covenant, that every thing might be 
made sure on God's part. " The covenant is ordered in all 
things and sure :" The promises are most full, and very of- 
ten repeated, and various ways exhibited ; and there are many 
witnesses, and many seals ; and God has confirmed his prom- 
ises with an oath. And God's declared design in all this, is, 
that the heirs of the promises might have an undoubting hope 
and full joy, in an assurance of their future glory. Heb. vi. 
17, 18. "Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew 
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 a 
strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on 
the hope set before us." But all this would be in vain, to any 
such purpose, as the saints' strong consolation, and hope of 
their obtaining future glory, if their interest in those sure 
promises in ordinary cases was not ascertainable. For God's 
promises and oaths, let them be as sure as they will, cannot 
give strong hope and comfort to any particular person, any 
further than he can know that those promises are made to 
him. And in vain is provision made in Jesus Christ, that be- 
lievers might be perfect as pertaining to the conscience, as is 
signified, Heb. ix. 9, if assurance of freedom from the guilt of 
sin is not attainable. 

It further appears that assurance is not only attainable in 
some very extraordinary cases, but that all Christians are di- 
rected to give all diligence to make their calling and election 

sure, and are told how they may do it, 2 Pet. i. 5 8. And 

it is spoken of as a thing very unbecoming Christians, and an 
argument of something very blameabie in them, not to know 
whether Christ be in them or no, 2 Cor. xiii. 5. " Know ye 
not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except 
ye be reprobates ?" And it is implied that it is an argument 
of a very blameabie negligence in Christians, if they practice 
Christianity after such a manner as to remain uncertain of 

us affections: 

the reward-, in that I Cor. ix. 26. " I therefore so run, as Htit 
uncertainly" And to add no more, it is manifest, that Christ- 
ian';' knowing theft interest in the saving benefits of Christi- 
anity is a thing ordinarily attainable, because the Apostles tell 
us by what means Christians (and not only apostles and mar- 
tyrs) were wont to know this, 1 Cor. ii. 12. « Now we have 
received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is 
of God ; that we might know the things that arc freely given 
to us of God." And 1 John ii. 3. " And hereby we do know 
that we know him, if we keep his commandments." And 
ver. 5. " Hereby know we that we are in him." Chap. iii. 
14. " We know that we have passed from death unto life, 
because we love the brethren," ver. 19. "Hereby we know 
that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before 
him." ver. 24. " Hereby we know that he abideth in us, by 
the Spirit which he hath given us." So Chap. iv. 13, and 
Chap. v. 2, and ver. 19. 

Therefore it must needs be very unreasonable to deter" 
mine, that persons are hypocrites, and their affections wrong, 
because they seem to be out of doubt of their own salvation, 
and the affections they are the subjects of seem to banish all 
fears of hell. 

On the other hand, it is no sufficient reason to determine 
that men are saints, and their affections gracious, because the 
affections they have are attended with an exceeding confidence 
that their state is good, and their affections divine.* Nothing 

* " O professor, look carefully to your foundation : " Be not high mind- 
ed, but fear." You have, it may be, done and suffered many things in and 
for religion ; you have excellent gilts and sweet comforts ; a warm zeal for 
Cod. and high confidence of your integrity : All this may be right, for ought 
that I, or (it may be) you know: But yet, it is possible it may be false. 
You have sometimes judged yourselves, and pronounced yourselves upright; 
but remember your final sentence is not yet pronounced by your Jud;;e. 
And what if Gou weigh you over again, in his more equal balance, and should 
s,iv, Mene Tekel, "Thou art weighed in the balance, and art found wanting ?" 
What a confounded man wilt thou be, under such a sentence ! Qtas splendent 
tn compatu hominis, sordent in conspttlu judicis ; things that are highly esteemed 
ol men, are an abomination in the sight of God : He sceth not as man seeth. 
Thy. heart maybe Lis,:, and thou not know it : Yea, it may be false, and 


can be certainly argued from their confidence, how great and 
Strong soever it seems to be. If we see a man that boldly 
calls God his Father, and commonly speaks in the most bold, 
familiar, and appropriating language in prayer, « My Father, 
my dear Redeemer, my sweet Saviour, my Beloved," and the 
like ; and it is a common thing for him to use the most confi- 
dent expressions before men, about the goodness of his state ; 
such as, M I know certainly that God is my Father ; I know 
so surely as there is a God in heaven, that he is my God ; I 
know I shall go to heaven, as well as if I were there ; I know 
that God is now manifesting himself to my soul, and is now 
smiling upon me ;" and seems to have done for ever with 
any inquiry or examination into his state, as a thing sufficient- 
ly known, and out of doubt, and to contemn all that so much 
as intimate or suggest that there is some reason to doubt or 
■fear whether all is right ; .such things are no signs at all that 
it is indeed so as he is confident it is.* Such an overbearing, 
high handed, and violent sort of confidence as this, so affect- 
inp; to declare itself with a most glaring show in the sight of 
men, which is to be seen in many, has not the countenance of 
a true Christian assurance : It savors more of the spirit of 
the Pharisees, who never doubted but that they were saints, 
and the most eminent of saints, and were bold to go to God, 
and come up near to him, and lift Up their eyes, and thank 
him for the great distinction he had made between them and 

thou strongly confident of its integrity." Havel's Touchstone of Sincerity, 
Chap. ii. Sect. 5. 

" Some hypocrites are a great deal more confident than many saints." Stod- 
dard's Discourse on the way to know sincerity and hypocrisy, p. 128. 

* " Doth the work of faith in some believers, bear upon its top branches, 
the full ripe fruits of a blessed assurance ? Lo, what strong confidence, and 
high built persuasions, of an interest in God, have sometimes been found in 
unsanctified ones ! Yea, so strong may this false assurance be, that they dare 
boldly venture to go to the judgment seat of God, and there defend it. Doth 
the Spirit of God fill the hejrt of the assured believer with joy unspeakable, 
and full of glory, giving him, through faith, a prelibation or foretaste of 
heaven itself, in those firtt fruits of it? How near to this comes what the 
Apostle supposes may be found in apostates !" Flavel's Husbandry spirityuf. 
ized, Chap. xii. 

Vol. IV. N 


other men ; and when Christ intimated that they were blind 
and graceless, despised the suggestion, John ix. 40. « And 
some of the Pharisees which were with him, heard these 
words, and said unto him, Are we blind also r" If they had 
more of the spirit of the publican, with their confidence, who, 
in a sense of his exceeding unworthiness, stood afar off, and 
durst not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven, but smote on 
his breast, and cried out of himself as a sinner, their confi- 
dence would have more of the aspect of the confidence of one 
that humbly trusts and hopes in Christ, and has no confidence 
in himself. 

If we do but consider what the hearts of natural men are, 
what principles they are under the dominion of, what blind- 
ness and deceit, what self flattery, self exaltation, and self con- 
fidence reign there, we need not at all wonder that their 
high opinion of themselves, and confidence of their happy cir- 
cumstances, be as high and strong as mountains, and as vio- 
lent as a tempest, when once conscience is blinded, and con- 
victions killed, with false high affections, and those foremen- 
tioned principles let loose, fed up and prompted by false 
joys and comforts, excited by some pleasing imaginations, 
impressed by Satan, transforming himself into an angel of 

When once a hypocrite is thus established in a false hope, 
he has not those things to cause him to ca.l his hope in ques- 
tion, that oftentimes are the occasion of the doubting of true 
saints ; as, first, he has not that cautious spirit, that great 
sense of the vast importance of a sure foundation, and that 
dread of being deceived. The comforts of the true saints in- 
crease awakening and caution, and a lively sense how great a 
thing it is to appear before an infinitely holy, just and omnis- 
cient Judge. But false comforts put an end to these things 
and dreadfully stupify the mind. Secondly, The hypocrite 
has not the knowledge of his own blindness, and the deceit- 
fulness of his own heart, and that mean opinion of his own 
understanding, that the true saint has. Those that are delud- 
ed with false discoveries and affections, are evermore highly 
conceited of their light and understanding. Thirdly, The 


devil does not assault the hope of the hypocrite, as he does 
the hope of a true saint. The devil is a great enemy to a 
true Christian hope, not only because it tends greatly to the 
comfort of him that hath it, but also because it is a thing of a 
holy, heavenly nature, greatly tending to promote and cherish 
grace in the heart, and a great incentive to strictness and dil- 
igence in the Christian life. But he is no enemy to the hope 
of a hypocrite, which above all things establishes his interest 
in him that has it. A hypocrite may retain his hope without 
opposition, as long as he lives, the devil never disturbing it, 
nor attempting to disturb it. But there is perhaps no true 
Christian but what has his hope assaulted by him. Satan as- 
saulted Christ himself upon this, whether he were the Son of 
God or no : And the servant is not above his Master, nor the 
disciple above his Lord ; it is enough for the disciple, that is 
most privileged in this world, to be as his Master. Fourthly, 
He who has a false hope, has not that sight of his own cor- 
ruptions, which the saint has. A true Christian has ten times 
so much to do with his heart and its corruptions, as an hypo- 
crite : And the sins of his heart and practice, appear to him 
in their blackness ; they look dreadful ; and it often appears 
a very mysterious thing, that any grace can be consistent 
with such corruption, or should be in such a heart. But a 
false hope hides corruption, covers it all over, and the hypo- 
crite looks clean and bright in his own eyes. 

There are two sorts of hypocrites : One that are deceived 
with their outward morality and external religion ; many of 
whom are professed Arminians, in the doctrine of justifica- 
tion : And the other, are those that are deceived with false 
discoveries and elevations ; who often cry down works, and 
men's own righteousness, and talk much of free grace ; but 
at the same time make a righteousness of their discoveries 
and of their humiliation, and exalt themselves to heaven with 
them. These two kinds of hypocrites, Mr. Shepard, in his 
exposition of the Parable of the ten virgins, distinguishes by 
the names of legal and evangelical hypocrites ; and often speaks 
of the latter as the worst. And it is evident that the latter 
are commonly by far the most confident in their hope, and 


■with the most difficulty brought off from it : I have scarcely 
known the instance of such an one, in my life, that has been 
undeceived. The chief grounds of the confidence of many of 
them, are the very same kind of impulses and supposed reve- 
lations (sometimes with texts of scripture, and sometimes 
■without) that so many of late have had concerning future 
events ; calling these impulses about their good estate, the 
witness of the Spirit ; entirely misunderstanding the nature 
of the witness of the Spirit, as I shall shew hereafter. Those 
that have had visions and impulses about other things, it has 
generally been to reveal such things as they are desirous and 
fond of: And no wonder that persons who give heed to such 
things, have the same sort of visions or impressions about 
their own eternal salvation, to reveal to them that their sins 
are forgiven them, that their names are written in the book 
of life, that they are in high favor with God, Sec. and espe- 
cially when they earnestly seek, expect, and wait for evidence 
of their election and salvation this way, as the surest and most 
glorious evidence of it. Neither is it any wonder, that when 
they have such a supposed revelation of their good estate, it 
raises in them the highest degree of confidence of it. It is 
found by abundant experience, thai those who are led away 
by impulses and imagined revelations, arc extremely confi- 
dent : They suppose that the great Jehovah has declared these 
and those things to them ; and having his immediate testimo- 
ny, a strong confidence is the highest virtue. Hence they are 
bold to say, I know this or that. ...I know certainly. ...I am as 
sure as that I have a being, and the like ; and they despise all 
argument and inquiry in the case. And above all things else, 
it is easy to be accounted for, that impressions and impulses 
about that which is so pleasing, so suiting their self love and 
pride, as their being the dear children of God, distinguished 
from most in the world in his favor, should make them strong- 
ly confident ; especially when with their impulses and revela- 
tions they have high affections, which they take to be the 
most eminent exercises of grace. I have known of several 
persons, that have had a fond desire of something of a tempo- 
ral nature, through a violent passion that has possessed them 


and they have been earnestly pursuing the thing they have de- 
sired should come to pass, and have met with great difficulty 
and many discouragements in it, but at last have had an im- 
pression, or supposed revelation, that they should obtain what 
they sought ; and they have looked upon it as a sure promise 
from the Most High, which has made them most ridiculously 
confident, against all manner of reason to convince them to 
the contrary, and all events working against them. And there 
is nothing hinders, but that persons who are seeking their sal- 
vation, may be deceived Dy the like delusive impressions, and 
be made confident of that, the same way. 

The confidence of many of this sort of hypocrites, that Mr. 
Shepard calls evangelical hy/wcrites, is like the confidence of 
some mad men, who think they are kings ; they will maintain 
it against all manner of reason and evidence. And in one 
sense, it is much more immoveable than a truly gracious as- 
surance ; a true assurance is not upheld, but by the soul's be- 
ing kept in a holy frame, and grace maintained in lively exer- 
cise. If the actings of grace do much decay in the Christian, 
and he falls into a lifeless frame, he loses his assurance : But 
this kind of confidence of hypocrites will not be shaken by 
sin ; they (at least some of them) will maintain their bold- 
ness in their hope, in the most corrupt frames and wicked 
ways ; which is a sure evidence of their delusion.* 

And here I cannot but observe, that there are certain doc- 
trines often preached to the people, which need to be deliver- 
ed with more caution and explanation than they frequently 

* Mr. Shepard speaks of it, a " presumptuous peace, that is not interrupt- 
ed and broke by evil works." And says, That " the spirit will sigh, and not 
sing in that bosom, whence corrupt dispositions and passions break out." 
And that "though men in such frames may seem to maintain the consolation 
of the spirit, and not suspect their hypocricy, under pretence of trusting the 
Lord's mercy ; yet they cannot avoid the condemnation of the world." Par- 
rablt of the ten vir-gins, Part I, p. 139. 

Dr. Ames speaks of it as a thing, by which the peace of a wicked man 
may be distinguished from the peace of a godly man, " that the peace of a 
v/icked man continues, whether he performs the duties of piety and right- 
eousness, or no ; provided those crimes are avoided that appear horrid to na- 
ture itself." Cases of conscience, lib. Ill, Chap. vii. 


are ; for, as they are by many understood, they tend greatly te 
establish this delusion and false confidence of hypocrites. The 
doctrines I speak of are those of " Christians living by faith, 
not by sight ; their giving glory to God, by trusting him in 
the dark ; living upon Christ, and not upon experiences ; not 
making their good frames the foundation of their faith ;" 
"Which are excellent and important doctrines indeed, rightly 
understood, but corrupt and destructive, as many understand 
them. The scripture speaks of living or walking by faith, 
and not by sight, in no other way than these, viz. a being gov- 
erned by arespect to eternal things, that are the objects of faith, 
and are not seen, and not by a respect to temporal things, 
which are seen ; and believing things revealed, that we never 
saw with bodily eyes ; and also living by faith in the promise 
of future things, without yet seeing or enjoying the things 
promised, or knowing the way how they can be fulfilled. 
This wil! be easily evident to any one who looks over the scrip- 
tures, which speak of faith in opposition to sight ; as 2 Cor. 
iv. 18, and v. 7. Heb. xi. 1, 8, 13, 17, 27, 29. Rom. viii. 24. 
John xx. 29. But this doctrine, as it is understood by many, 
is, that Christians ought firmly to believe and trust in Christ, 
without spiritual sight or light, and although they are in a 
dark dead frame, and, for the present, have no spiritual expe- 
riences or discoveries. And it is truly the duty of those who 
are thus in darkness, to come out of darkness into light and 
believe. But that they should confidently believe and trust, 
while they yet remain without spiritual light or sight, is an 
antiscriptural and absurd doctrine. The scripture is ignorant 
of any such faith in Christ of the operation of God, that is not 
founded in a spiritual sight of Christ. That believing on 
Christ, which accompanies a title to everlasting life, is a " see- 
ing the Son, and believing on him," John vi. 40. True faith 
in Christ is never exercised, any further than persons " be- 
hold as in a glass the glory of the Lord, and have the knowl- 
edge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ," 2 Cor. 
iii. 18, and iv. 6. They into whose minds " the light of the 
glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, does not 
shine, believe not," 2 Cor. iv. 4. That faith, which is with- 


out spiritual light, is not the faith of the children of the light, 
and of the day ; but the presumption of the children of dark- 
ness. And therefore to press and urge them to believe, with- 
out any spiritual light or sight, tends greatly to help forward 
the delusions of the prince of darkness. Men not only can- 
not exercise faith without some spiritual light, but they can 
exercise faith only just in such proportion as they have spirit- 
ual light. Men will trust in God no further than they know 
him ; and they cannot be in the exercise of faith in him one 
ace further than they have a sight of his fulness and faithful- 
ness in exercise. Nor can they have the exercise of trust in 
God, any further than they are in a gracious frame. They 
that are in a dead carnal frame, doubtless ought to trust in 
God ; because that would be the same thing as coming out of 
their bad frame, and turning to God ; but to exhort men con- 
fidently to trust in God, and so hold up their hope and peace, 
though they are not in a gracious frame, and continue still to 
be so, is the same thing in effect, as to exhort them confiden- 
tially to trust in God, but not with a gracious trust : And what 
is that but a wicked presumption ? It is just as impossible 
for men to have a strong or lively trust in God, when they 
have no lively exercises of grace, or sensible Christian experi- 
ences, as it is for them to be in the lively exercises of grace, 
without the exercises of grace. 

It is true, that it is the duty of God's people to trust in hira. 
when in darkness, and though they remain still in darkness, 
in that sense, that they ought to trust in God when the aspects 
of his providence are dark, and look as though God had for- 
saken them, and did not hear their prayers, and many clouds 
gather, and many enemies surround them, with a formidable 
aspect, threatening to swallow them up, and all events of prov- 
idence seem to be against them, all circumstances seem to 
render the promises of God difficult to be fulfilled, and God 
must be trusted out of sight, i. e. when we cannot see which 
way it is possible for him to fulfil his word, every thing but 
God's mere word, makes it look unlikely, so that if persons be- 
lieve, they must hope against hope. Thus the ancient Patri- 
archs, and Job, and the Psalmist, and Jeremiah, Daniel, Shad- 


rach, Mcshcch, and Abednego, and the Apostle Paul, gave gio- 
ry to God by trusting in God in darkness. And we have ma- 
ny instances of such a glorious victorious faith in the eleventh 
of the Hebrews. But how different a thing is this, from trust- 
ing in God, without spiritual sight, and being at the same time 
in a dead and carnal frame ! 

There is also such a thing as spiritual light's being let into 
the soui in one way, when it is not in another ; and so there 
is such a thing as the saints trusting in God, and also knowing 
their good estate, when they are destitute of some kinds of 
experience. As for instance, they may have clear views 
of God's sufficiency and faithfulness, and so confidently trust 
in him, and know that they are his children ; and at the same 
time, net have those clear and sweet ideas of his love, as at 
other times : For it was thus with Christ himself in his last 
passion. And they may have views of much of God's sover- 
eignty, holiness, and all sufficiency, enabling them quietly to 
submit to him, and exercise a sweet and most encouraging 
hope in God's fulness, when they are not satisfied of their own 
good estate. But how different things arc these, from confi- 
dently trusting in God, without spiritual light or experience ! 

Those that thus insist on persons living by faith, when they 
have no experience, and are in very bad frames, are also very 
absurd in their notions of faith. What they mean by faith is, 
believing that they are in a good estate. Hence they count it 
a dreadful sin for them to doubt of their state, whatever 
frames they are in, and whatever wicked things they do, be- 
cause it is the great and heinous sin of unbelief ; and he is 
the best man, and puts most honor upon God, that maintains 
his hope of his good estate the most confidently and immove- 
ably, when he has the least light or experience ; that is to say, 
when he is in the worst and most wicked frame and way ; be- 
cause, forsooth, that is a sign that he is strong in faith, giving 
glory to God, and against hope believes in hope. But what 
Bible do they learn this notion of faith out of, that it is a man's 
confidently believing that he is in a good estate ?* If this be 

* " Men do not know that they are godly by believing that they arc god- 
ly.- We know many things by faith Heb. xi. 3. " By faith we under- 


fWthj the Pharisees had faith in an eminent degree ; some of 
which, Christ teaches, committed the unpardonable sin against 
the Holy Ghost. The scripture represents faith, as that by 
which men are brought into a good estate ; and therefore it 
cannot be the same thing, as believing that they are already 
in a good estate. To suppose that faith consists in persons 
believing that they are in a good estate, is in effect the same 
thing, as to suppose that faith consists in a person's believing 
that he has faith, or believing that he believes. 

Indeed persons doubting of their good estate, may in sev- 
eral respects arise from unbelief. It may be from unbelief, 
or because they have so little faith that they have so little evi- 
dence of their good estate : If they had more experience of 
the actings of faith, and so more experience of the exercise 
of grace, they would have clearer evidence that their state 
was good ; and so their doubts would be removed. And then 
their doubting of their state may be from unbelief thus, when, 
though there be many things that are good evidences of a 
work of grace in them, yet they doubt very much whether 
they are really in a state of favor with God, because it is they, 
those that are so unworthy, and have done so much to pro- 
voke God to r!nger against them. Their doubts in such a 
case arise from unbelief, as they arise from want of a sufficient 
sense of, and reliance on, the infinite riches of God's grace, 
and the sufficiency of Christ for the chief of sinners. They 
may also be from unbelief, when they doubt of their state, be- 
cause of the mystery of God's dealings with them ; they are 
not able to reconcile such dispensations with God's favor to 
them ; or when they doubt whether they have any interest in 
the promises, because the promises from the aspect of provi- 

stand that the worlds were made by the word of God. Faith is the evidence 
of things not seen," Heb. xi. i. Thus men know the Trinity of persons of 
the Godhead ; that Jesus Christ is the Son of God ; that he that believes in 
him will have eternal life; the lesurrection of the dead. And if God should 
tell a saint that he hath grace, he might know it by believing the word of God. 
But it is not this way, that godly men do know that they have grace. It is 
not revealed in the word, and the Spirit of God doth not testify it to parties 
far persons." Stoddard's nature of saving inversion, n. 83, 84.. 

Vol. IV. O 


<lence appear so unlikely to be fulfilled ; the difficulties thai are 
in the way, are so many and great. Such doubting arises 
from want of dependence upon God's almighty power, and 
Ids knowledge and wisdom, as infinitely above theirs. But yet, 
in such persons, their unbelief, and their doubting of their 
state, are not the same thing ; though one arises from the 

Persons may be greatly to blame for doubting of their state, 
on such grounds as these last mentioned ; and they may be 
to blame, that they have no more grace, and no more of the 
present exercises and experiences of it, to be an evidence to 
them of the goodness of their state : Men are doubtless to 
blame for being in a dead, carnal frame ; but when they arc- 
in such a frame, and have no sensible experience of the exer- 
cises of grace, but on the contrary, are much under the prev- 
alence of their lusts and an unchristian spirit, they are not to 
blame for doubting of their state. It is as impossible, in the 
nature of things, that a holy and Christian hope should be 
kept aiive, in its clearness and strength, in such circumstan- 
ces, as it is to keep the light in the room, when the candle is 
put out ; or to maintain the bright sunshine in the air, when 
the sun is gone down. Distant experiences, when darkened 
by present prevailing lust and corruption, never keep alive a 
gracious confidence and assurance ; but that sickens and de- 
cays upon it, as necessarily as a little child by repeated blows 
on the head with a hammer. Nor is it at all to be lamented, 
that persons doubt of their state in such circumstances : But, 
on the contrary, it is desirable and every way best that they 
should. It is agreeable to that wise and merciful constitution 
of things, which God hath established, that it should be so. 
For so hath God contrived and constituted things, in his dis- 
pensations towards his own people, that when their love de- 
cays, and the exercises of it fail, or become weak, fear should 
arise ; for then they need it to restrain them from sin, and 
to excite them to care for the good of their souls, and so to 
stir them up to watchfulness and diligence in religion : But 
God hath so ordered, that when love vises, and is in vigorous 
exercise, then fear should vanish, and be driven away ; for 


then they need it not, having a higher and more excellent 
principle in exercise, to restrain them from sin, and stir them 
up to their duty. There are no other principles, which hu- 
man nature is under the influence of, that will ever make men 
conscientious, but one of these two, fear or love ; and there- 
fore, if one of these should not prevail as the other decays, 
God's people, when fallen into dead and carnal frames, when 
love is asleep, would be lamentably exposed indeed : And 
therefore God has wisely Grdained, that these two opposite 
principles of love and fear should rise and fall, like the two 
opposite scales of a balance ; when one rises the other sinks. 
As light and darkness necessarily and unavoidably succeed 
each other ; if light prevails, so much does darkness cease, 
and no more ; and if light decays, so much does darkness 
prevail ; so it is in the heart of a child of God : If divine love 
decays and falls asleep, and lust prevails, the light and joy of 
hope go out, and dark fear and doubting arises ; and if, on 
the contrary, divine love prevails and comes into lively exer- 
cise, this brings in the brightness of hope, and drives away 
black lust, and fear with it. Love is the spirit of adoption, or 
the childlike principle ; if that slumbers, men fall under fear, 
which is the spirit of bondage, or the servile principle; and 
so on the contrary. And if it be so, that love, or the spirit of 
adoption, be carried to a great height, it quite drives away all 
fear, and gives full assurance ; agreeable to that of the apostle, 
1 John iv. 18. " There is no fear in love, but perfect love 
casts out fear." These two opposite principles of lust and ho- 
ly love, bring hope and fear into the hearts of God's children, 
in proportion as they prevail ; that is, when left to their own 
natural influence, without something adventitious, or acciden- 
tal intervening ; as the distemper of melancholy, doctrinal 
ignorance, prejudices of education, wrong instruction, false 
principles, peculiar temptations, &c. 

Fear is cast out by the Spirit of God, no other way than by 
the prevailing of love ; nor is it ever maintained by his Spir- 
it but when love is asleep. At such a time, in vain is all the 
saint's selfexaminations, and poring on past experience, in 
order to establish his peace, and get assurance. For it is con- 


trary to the nature of things, as God hath constituted them, 
that he should have assurance at such a time. 

They therefore do directly thwart God's wi~e and gracious 
constitution of things, who exhort others to be confident in 
their hope, when in dead frames ; under a notion of " living 
by faith, and not by sight, and trusting God in the dark, and 
living upon Christ, and not upon experiences;" and warn 
them not to doubt of their good estate, lest they should be 
guilty of the dreadful sin of unbelief. And it has a direct ten- 
dency to establish the most presumptuous hypocrites, and to 
prevent their ever calling their state in question, how much 
■soever wickedness rages, and reigns in their hearts, and pre- 
vails in their lives ; under a notion of honoring God, by hop- 
ing against hope, and confidently trusting in God, when things 
look very dark. And doubtless vast has been the mischief 
that has been done this way. 

Persons cannot be said to forsake Christ, and live on then- 
experiences of the exercises of grace, merely because they 
take them and use them as evidences of grace ; for there are 
no other evidences that they can or ought to take. But then 
may persons be said to live upon their experiences, when they 
make a righteousness of them, and instead of keeping their 
eye on God's glory and Christ's excellency, they turn their 
eyes off these objects without them, on to themselves, to en- 
tertain their minds, by viewing their own attainments, and 
high experiences, and the great things they have met with, 
and are bright and beautiful in their own eyes, and arc rich 
and increased with goods in their own apprehensions, and 
think that God has as admiring an esteem of them, on the 
same account, as they have of themselves : This is living on 
experiences, and not on Christ ; and is more abominable in 
the sight of God, than the gross immoralities of those who 
make no pretences to religion. But this is a far different 
thing from a mere improving experiences as evidences of an 
interest in a glorious Redeemer. 

But to return from this digression, I would mention one 
aabre under the general head that I am upon. 


XII. Nothing can be certainly concluded concerning the 
nature of religious affections, that any are the subjects of, 
from this, that the outward manifestations of them, and the 
relation persons give of them, are very affecting and pleasing 
to the truly godly, and such as greatly gain their charity, and 
■win their hearts. 

The true saints have not such a spirit of discerning that 
they can certainly determine who are godly, and who arc not. 
For though they know experimentally what true religion is, 
in the internal exercises of it ; yet these are what they can 
neither feel, nor see, in the heart of another.* There is noth- 
ing in others, that comes within their view, but outward man- 
ifestations and appearances ; but the scripture plainly inti- 
mates, that this way of judging what is in men by outward 
appearances, is at best uncertain, and liable to deceit, 1 Sam. 
xvi. 7. " The Lord seeth not as man seeth ; for man look- 
eth on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the 
heart," Isa. xi. 3. " He shall not judge after the sight of his 
eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears.f They 
commonly are but poor judges, and dangerous counsellors in 
soul cases, who are quick and peremptory in determining 
persons' states, vaunting themselves in their extraordinary 
faculty of discerning and distinguishing, in these great affairs ; 

* Men may have the knowledge of their own conversion : The knowledge 
that other men have of it is uncertain, because no man can look into the heart 
of another and see the workings of grace there." Stoddard's Nature of Saving 
Conversion, chap. xv. at the beginning. 

+ " Mr. Stoddard observes, That " all visible signs are common to con- 
verted and unconverted men ; and a relation of experiences, among the rest." 
Appeal to the learned, p. 75. 

" O how hard it is for the eye of man to discern betwixt chaff and wheat ! 
And how many upright hearts are now censured, whom God will clear ? 
How many false hearts are now approved whom God will condemn ? Men 
ordinarily have no conviftive proofs, but only probable symptoms ; which 
at most beget but a conjectural knowledge of another's ftate. And they that 
shall peremptorily judge either way,may possibly wrong the generation of the 
upright, oron the other side, abfolve and justify the wicked. And truly, con- 
wdering what hath been said, it is no wonder that dangerous mistakes are so 
frequently made in this matter.'' Flavcl's husbandry spirtualizcd, chap, xii. 


as though all was open and clear to them. They betray one 
of these three things : Either that they bate had but little 
expeiience ; or are persons of a weak judgment ; or that they 
have a great degree of pride and selfconfidenee, and so igno- 
rance of themselves. Wise and experienced men will pro- 
ceed with great caution in such an affair. 

When there are many probable appearances of piety in oth- 
ers, it is the duty of the saints to receive them cordially into 
their charity, and to love them and rejoice in them, as their 
brethren in Christ Jesus. But yet the best of men may be 
deceived, when the appearances seem to them exceeding fair 
and bright, even so as entirely to gain their charity, and con- 
quer their hearts. It has been a common thing in the church 
of God, for such bright professors, that are received as emi- 
nent saints, among the saints, to fall away and come to noth- 
ing.* And this we need not wonder at, if we consider the 
things that have been already observed ; wliat things it has 
been shown, may appear in men who are altogether grace- 
less. Nothing hinders but that all these things may meet to- 
gether in men, and yet they be without a spark of grace in 
their hearts. They may have religious affections of many 
kinds together ; they may have a sort of affection towards 
God, that bears a great resemblance of dear love to him ; and 

* *' Be not offended, if you see great cedars fall, stars fall from heaven, 
^reat professors die and decay : Do not think, they be all such : Do not 
hink that the elect shall foil. Truly, some are such that when they fall, one 
v.-ould think a man truly sanctified might fall away, as the Arminians think ; 
i John ii. 19. They zctre not of us. I speak this, because ths Lord is ihak- 
tng ; and I look for great apostacies : For God is trying all his friends, through 
all the Christian world. In Germany what profession was there ! Who would 
have thought it ? The Lord, who delights to manifest that openly, which was 
hid secretly, sends a sword and they fall." Shepard's Parab. Part, I. p. 
118, 119 
*< The saints may :r>p rove thee and God condemn thee. Rev. iii. i. "Thots 
name that thou li . . rt dead." l.lcn may say, There is a true Na- 

thanael ; and God. may say, 'I here is a self cozening Pharisee. Reader, thou 
iust heard of Judas and Dcrnss, of Ananias and Sapphira, of Hymeneus and 
EJbiletiis, once renowned and famous professors, and thou hast heard how they 
proved at hit." flavd's Touchstone of Sincerity, Chap. ii. Sect. 5. 


so a kind of love to the brethren, and great appearances of 
admiration of God's perfections and works, and sorrow for sin, 
and reverence, submission, self abasement, gratitude, joy, re- 
ligious longings, and zeal for religion and the good of souls. 
And these affections may come after great awakenings and 
convictions of conscience ; and there may be great appear- 
ances of a work of humiliation : And counterfeit love and joy, 
and other affections may seem to follow these, and one anoth- 
er, just in the same order that is commonly observable in the 
holy affections of true converts. And these religious affec- 
tions may be carried to a great height, and may cause abun- 
dance of tears, yea, may overcome the nature of those who 
are the subjects of them, and may make them affectionate, 
and fervent, and fluent, in speaking of the things of God, and 
dispose them to be abundant in it ; and may be attended with 
many sweet texts of scripture, and precious promises, brought 
with great impression on their minds ; and may dispose them, 
with their mouths to praise and glorify God, in a very ardent 
manner, and fervently to call upon others to praise him, cry- 
ing out of their unworthiness, and extolling free grace. And 
may, moreover, dispose them to abound in the external duties 
of religion, such as prayer, hearing the word preached, sing- 
ing, and religions conference ; and these things attended with 
a great resemblance of a Christian assurance, in its greatest 
height, when the saints mount on eagles' wings, above all 
darkness and doubting. I think it has been made plain, that 
there may be all these things, and yet there be nothing more 
than the common influences of the Spirit of God, joined with 
the delusions of Satan, and the wicked and deceitful heart..., 
To which I may add, that all these things may be attended 
with a sweet natural temper, and a good doctrinal knowledge 
of religion, and a long acquaintance with the saint's way of 
talking, and of expressing their affections and experiences, 
and a natural ability and subtllty in accommodating their ex- 
pressions and manner of speaking to the dispositions and no- 
tions of the hearers, and a taking decency of expression and 
behavior, formed by a good education. How great therefore 
may the resemblance be, as to all outward expressions and 


appearances, between an hypocrite and a true saint ! Doubi= 
less it is the glorious prerogative of the omniscient God, as 
the great searcher of hearts, to be able well to separate be- 
tween sheep and goats. And what an indecent, self exalta- 
tion, and arrogance it is, in poor, fallible, dark mortals, to pre- 
tend that they can determine and know, who are really sin- 
cere and upright before God, and who are not ? 

Many seem to lay great weight on that, and to suppose it 
to be what may determine them with respect to other's real 
piety, when they not only tell a plausible story, but when, in 
giving an account of their experiences, they make such a rep- 
resentation, and speak after such a manner, that they feel 
their talk ; that is to say, when their talk seems to harmonize- 
■with their own experience, and their hearts are touched and 
affected and delighted, by what they hear them say, and 
drawn out by it, in dear love to them. But there is not that 
certainty in such things, and that full dependence to be had 
upon them, which many imagine. A true saint greatly de- 
lights in holiness ; it is a most beautiful thing in his eyes ; 
and God's work, in savingly renewing and making holy and 
happy, a poor, and before perishing soul, appears to him a 
most glorious work : No wonder, therefore, that his heart is 
touched, and greatly affected, when he hears another give a 
probable account of this work, wrought on his own heart, and 
when he sees in him probable appearances of holiness ; wheth- 
er those pleasing appearances have any thing real to answer 
them, or no. And if he uses the same words, which are com- 
monly made use of, to express the affections of true saints,' 
and tells of many things following one another in an order, 
agreeable to the method of the experience of him that hears 
him, and also speaks freely and boldly, and with an air of as- 
surance ; no wonder the other thinks his experiences har- 
monize with his own. And if, besides all this, in giving his 
relation, he speaks with much affection ; and, above all, if in 
speaking he seems to shew much affection to him to whom 
he speaks, such an affection as the Galatians did to the Apos- 
tle Paul ; these things will naturally have a powerful influ- 
ence, to affect and draw his hearer's heart, and open wide the 


doors of his charity towards him. David speaks as one who 
had felt Ahithophel's talk, and had once a sweet savor and 
relish of it. And therefore exceeding great was his sur- 
prise and disappointment, when he fell ; it was almost too 
much for him, Psal. lv. 12, 13, 14. '< It was not an enemy.... 
then I could have borne it ; but it was thou, a man, mine 
equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance : We took sweet 
counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in 

It is with professors of religion, especially such as become 
so in a time of outpouring of the Spirit of God, as it is with 
blossoms in the spring ;* there are vast numbers of them 
upon the trees, which all look fair and promising ; but yet 
many of them never come to any thing. And many of 
those, that in a little time wither up, and drop off, and rot un- 
der the trees ; yet for a while look as beautiful and gay as 
others ; and not only so, but smell sweet, and send forth a 
pleasant odor ; so that we cannot, by any of our senses, cer- 
tainly distinguish those blossoms which have in them that se- 
cret virtue, which will afterwards appear in the fruit, and 
that inward solidity and strength which shall enable them to 
bear, and cause them to be perfected by the hot summer sun-, 
that will dry up the others. It is the mature fruit which 
comes afterwards, and not the beautiful colors and smell of 
the blossoms, that we must judge by. So new converts., 
(professedly so) in their talk about things of religion, may 
appear fair, and be very savory, and the saints may think 
they talk feelingly. They may relish their talk, and imagine 
they perceive a divine savor in it, and yet all may come to 

It is strange how hardly men are brought to be contented 
with the rules and directions Christ has given them, but they 
must needs go by other rules of their own inventing, that 
seem to them wiser and better. I know of no directions or 

* A time of outpouring of the Spirit of God, reviving religion, and pro- 
ducing the pleasant appearances of it, in new converts, is in scripture com- 
pared to this very thing, viz. the spring season, when the benign influences 
of the heavens cause the blossoms to put forth. C?nt. ii. it, ia. 

Vol. IV. P 


counsels which Christ ever delivered more plainly, than the 
rules he has given us, to guide us in our judging of others' 
sincerity, viz. that we should judge of the tree chiefly by the 
fruit : But yet this will not do ; but other ways are found out, 
which are imagined to be more distinguishing and certain. 
And woful have been the mischievous consequences of this 
arrogant setting up men's wisdom above the wisdom of Christ. 
I believe many saints have gone much out of the way of 
Christ's word, in this respect : And some of them have been 
chastised with whips, and (I had almost said) scorpions, to 
bring them back again. But many tilings which have lately 
appeared, and do now appear, may convince, that ordinarily 
those who have gone farthest this way, that have been most 
highly conceited of their faculty of discerning, and have ap- 
peared most forward, peremptorily and suddenly to determine 
the state of men's souls, have been hypocrites, who have 
known nothing of true religion. 

In the parable of the wheat and tares, it is said, Mat. xiii. 
26. « When the blade was sprung up, and brought forth 
fruit, then appeared the tares also." As though the tares 
were not discerned, nor distinguishable from the wheat, until 
then, as Mr. Flavel observes,* who mentions it as an observa- 
tion of Jerome's, that " wheat and tares are so much alike, 
until the blade of the wheat comes to bring forth the ear, that 
it is next to impossible to distinguish them." And then, Mr. 
Flavel adds, " How difficult soever it be to discern the differ- 
ence between wheat and tares ; yet doubtless the eye of 
sense can much easier discriminate them, than the most 
quick and piercing eye of man can discern the difference be- 
tween special and common grace. For all saving graces in 
the saints, have their counterfeits in hypocrites ; there are 
similar works in those, which a spiritual and very judicious 
eye may easily mistake for the saving and genuine effects of 
a sanctifying spirit." 

As it is the ear or the fruit which distinguishes the wheat 
from the tares, so this is the true Shibboleth, that he who 

* Husbandry spiritualized, Chan. xii. 


stands as judge at the passages of Jordan, makes use of to 
distinguish those that shall pass over Jordan into the true Ca- 
naan, from those that should be slain at the passages. For 
the Hebrew Avord Shibboleth signifies an ear of corn. And 
perhaps the more full pronunciation of Jephthah's friends, 
Shibboleth, may represent a full ear with fruit in it, typifying 
the fruits of the friends of Christ, the antitype of Jephthah ; 
and the more lean pronunciation of the Ephrahnites, his ene- 
mies, may represent their empty cars, typifying the show of 
religion in hypocrites, without substance and fruit. This is 
agreeable to the doctrine we are abundantly taught in scrip- 
ture, viz. That he who is set to judge those that pass through 
death, whether they have a right to enter into the heavenly 
Canaan or no, or whether they should not be slain, will judge 
every man according to his works. 

We seem to be taught the same things, by the rules given 
for the priest's discerning the leprosy. In many cases it was 
impossible for the priest to determine whether a man had the 
leprosy, or whether he were clean, by the most narrow in- 
spection of the appearances that were upon him, until he 
had waited to see what the appearances would come to, and 
had shut up the person who shewed himself to him, one 
seven days after another ; and when he judged, he was to 
determine by the hair, which grew out of the spot that was 
shewed him, which was as it were the fruit that it brought 

And here, before I finish what I have to say under this 
head, I would say something to a strange notion some have 
of late been led away with, of certainly knowing the good es- 
tate that others are in, as though it were immediately revealed 
to them from heaven, by their love flowing out to them in an 
extraordinary manner. They argue thus, that their love be- 
ing very sensible and great, it may be certainly known by 
them who feel it, to be a true Christian love : And if it be a 
true Christian love, the Spirit of God must be the author of 
it : And inasmuch as the Spirit of God who knows certainly, 
whether others are the children of God or no, and is a spirit 
of truth, is pleased by an uncommon influence upon them, to 


cause their love to flow out, in an extraordinary manner, t«. 
wards such a person as a child of God ; it must needs be, that 
this infallible Spirit, who deceives none, knows that that per- 
son is a child of God. But such persons might he convinced 
of the falseness of their reasoning, if they would consider 
whether or no it be not their duty, and what God requires of 
them, to Jove those as the children of God who they think are 
the children of God, and whom they have no reason to think 
otherwise of, from all that they can see in them, though God, 
who searches the hearts, knows them not to be his children. 
If it be their duty, then it is good, and the want of it sin ; 
and therefore surely the Spirit of God may be the author of 
it : The Spirit of God, without being a spirit of falsehood, 
may in such a case assist a person to do his duty, and keep 
him from sin. But then they argue from the uncommon de- 
gree and special manner, in which their love flows out to the 
person, which they think the Spirit of God never would cause, 
if he did not know the object to be a child of God. But then 
-I would ask them, whether or no it is not their duty to love all 
such as they arc bound to think are the children of God, from 
all that they can see in them, to a very great degree, though 
God, from other things which he sees, that are out of sight to 
them, knows them not to be so. It is men's duty to love all 
whom they arc bound in charity to look upon as the children 
of God, with a vastly dearer affection than they commonly 
do. As we ought to love Christ to the utmost capacity of 
our nature, so it is our duty to love those who- we think are so 
near and dear to him as his members, with an exceeding dear 
affection, as Christ has loved us ; and therefore it is sin in us 
not to love them so. We ought to pray to God that he would 
by his Spirit keep us from sin, and enable us to do our duty : 
And may not his Spirit answer our prayers, and enable us to 
do our duty, in a particular instance, without lying ? If he 
cannot, then the Spirit of God is bound not to help his people 
to do their duty in some instances, because he cannot do it 
without being a spirit of falsehood. But surely God is so 
sovereign as that comes to, that he may enable us to do our 
duty when he pleases, and on what occasion he pleases. When 


persons think others are his children, God may have other- 
ends in causing their exceedingly endeared love to flow out 
to them, besides revealing to them whether their opinion of 
them be right or no : He may have that merciful end in it, 
to enable them to know their duty, and to keep them from 
that dreadful infinite evil, sin. And will they say God shall 
not shew them that mercy in such a case ? If I am at a dis- 
tance from home, and hear, that in my absence my house is 
burnt, but my family have, in some extraordinary manner, all 
escaped the flames ; and every thing in the circumstances of 
the story, as I hear it, makes it appear very credible, it would 
be sin in me, in such a case, not to feel a very great degree 
of gratitude to God, though the story indeed be not true. 
And is not God so sovereign, that he may, if he pleases, shew 
me that mercy on that occasion, and enable me to do my duty 
in a much further degree than I used to do it, and yet not 
incur the charge of deceitfulness in confirming a falsehood ? 
It is exceeding manifest, that error or mistake may be the 
occasion of a gracious exercise, and consequently a gracious 
influence of the Spirit of God, by Rom. xiv. 6. " He that eat- 
eth to the Lord he eateth, and giveth God thanks ; and he 
that eateth not to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God 
thanks !'' The apostle is speaking of those, who through er- 
roneous and needless scruples, avoided eating legally unclean 
meats By this it is very evident, that there may be true ex- 
ercises of grace, a true respect to the Lord, and particularly, 
a true thankfulness, which may be occasioned, both by an er- 
roneous judgment and practice. And consequently, an error 
may be the occasion of those true holy exercises that are from 
the infallible Spirit of God. And if so, it is certainly too 
much for us to determine, to how great a degree the Spirit of 
God may give this holy exercise, on such an occasion. 

This notion, of certainly discerning another's state, by love 
.flowing out, is not only not founded on reason or scripture, but 
it is antiscriptural, it is against the rules of scripture ; which 
say not a word of any such way of judging the state of others 
as this, but direct us to judge chiefly by the fruits that are- 
seen in them. And it is against the doctrines of scripture, 


which do plainly teach us, that the state of others' souls to* 
■wards God cannot be known by us, as in Rev. ii. 17. "To 
him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, 
and I will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new 
name written, which no man knoweth, saving he that receiv- 
eth it" And Rom. ii. 29. " He is a Jew, which is one in- 
wardly ; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, 
and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God.'* 
That by this last expression, " whose praise is not of men, 
but of God," the apostle has respect to the insufficiency of 
men to judge concerning him, whether he be inwardly a Jew 
or no (as they could easily see by outward marks, whether 
men were outwardly Jews) and would signify, that it belongs 
to God alone to give a determining voice in this matter, is 
confirmed by the same apostle's use of the phrase, in 1 Cor. 
iv. 5. " Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the 
Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of 
darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart :" 
And then shall every man have praise of God. The apostle, 
in the two foregoing verses, says, " But with me it is a very 
small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judg- 
ment : Yea, I jndge not mine own self. For I know noth- 
ing by myself, yet am I not hereby justified ; but he that 
judgeth me is the Lord." And again, it is further confirmed, 
because the apostle, in this second chapter to the Romans, 
directs his speech especially to those who had a high conceit 
of their own holiness, made their boast of God, and were con- 
fident of their own discerning, and that they knew God's will, 
and approved the things which were excellent, or tried the 
things that differ (as it is in the margin) ver. 19. « And were 
confident that they were guides of the blind, and a light to 
them which are in darkness, instructors of the foolish, teach- 
ers of babes; and so took upon them to judge others." See 
ver. 1, and 17, 18, 19, 20. 

And how arrogant must the notion be, that they have, who 
imagine they can certainly know others' godliness, when that 
great Apostle Peter pretends not to say any more concerning 
Bylvanus, than that he was a faithful brother, as he supposed ? 


1 Pet, v. 12. Though this Sylvanus appears to have been a 
very eminent minister of Christ, and an evangelist, and a fa- 
mous light in God's Church at that day, and an intimate com- 
panion of the apostles. See 2 Cor. i. 19. 1 Thess. i, 1, and 
2 Thess. i. 1. 


Shelving what are Distinguishing Sig?is of Truly 
Gracious and Holy Affections. 

I COME now to the second thing appertaining to the 
trial of religious affections, which was proposed, viz. To take 
notice of some things, wherein those affections that are spir- 
itual and gracious, do differ from those that are not so. 

But before I proceed directly to the distinguishing charac- 
ters, I would previously mention some things which I desire 
may be observed, concerning the marks I shall lay down. 

1. That I am far from undertaking to give such signs of 
gracious affections, as shall be sufficient to enable any certain- 
ly to distinguish true affection from false in others ; or to de- 
termine positively which of their neighbors are true profes- 
sors, and which are hypocrites. In so doing, I should be 
guilty of that arrogance which I have been condemning. 
Though it be plain that Christ has given rules to all Christ- 
ians, to enable them to judge of professors of religion, whom 
th ey are concerned with, so far as is necessary for their own 
safety, and to prevent their being led into a snare by false 
teachers, and false pretenders to religion ; and though it be 
also beyond doubt, that the scriptures do abound with rules, 
which may be very serviceable to ministers, in counselling 
and conducting souls committed to their care, in things ap- 
pertaining to their spiritual and eternal state ; yet it is also 
evident, that it was never God's design to give us any rules, 
by which we may certainly know, who of our fellow pvofes- 


stirs are his, and to make a full and clear separation between 
sheep and goats ; hut that, on the contrary, it -was God's de- 
sign to reserve this to himself, as his prerogative. And there- 
fore no such distinguishing signs as shall enable Christians or 
ministers to do this, are ever to be expected to the world's 
end : For no more is ever to be expected from any signs, 
that are to be found in the word of God, or gathered from it, 
than Christ designed them for. 

2. No such signs are to be expected, that shall be sufficient 
to enable those saints certainly to discern their own good es- 
tate, who are very low in grace, or are such as have much de- 
parted from God, and are fallen into a dead, carnal, and un- 
christian frame. It is not agreeable to God's design, (as has 
been already observed) that such should know their good es- 
tate : Nor is it desirable that they should ; but, on the con- 
trary every way best that they should not ; and we have 
reason to bless God, that he has made no provision that such 
should certainly know the stale that they are in, any other way 
than by first coming out of the ill frame and way they are in. 
Indeed it is not properly through the defect of the signs given 
in the word of God, that every saint living, whether strong or 
weak, and those who are in a bad frame, as well as others, can- 
not certainly know their good estate by them. For the rules 
in themselves are certain and infallible, and every saint has, 
or has had those things in himself, which are sure evidences 
of grace ; for every, even the least act of grace is so. But it is 
through his defect to whom the signs are given. There is a 
twofold defect in that saint Who is very low in grace, or in an 
ill frame, which makes it impossible for him to know certain- 
ly that he has true grace, by the best signs and rules which 
can be given him. First, a defect in the object, or the quali- 
fication to be viewed and examined. I do net mean an essen- 
tial defect ; because I suppose the person to be a real saint ; 
but a defect in degree : Grace being very small, cannot be 
clearly and certainly discerned and distinguished. 

Things that ave very small, we cannot clearly discern their 
form, or distinguish them one from another ; though, as they 
are in themselves, their form mav be very different. There 


is doubtless a great difference between the body of man, and 
the bodies of other animals, in the first conception in the 
womb: But yet if we should view the different embryos, it 
might not be possible for us to discern the difference, by rea- 
son of the imperfect state of the object ; but as it comes to 
greater perfection, the difference becomes very plain. The 
difference between creatures of very contrary qualities, is not 
so plainly to be seen while they are very young ; even after 
they are actually brought forth, as in their more perfect state. 
The difference between doves and ravens, or doves and vul- 
tures, when they first come out of the egg, is not so evident ; 
but as they grow to their perfection, it is exceeding great and 
manifest. Another defect attending the grace of those I am 
speaking of is its being mingled with so much corruption, which 
clouds and hides it, and makes it impossible for it certainly to 
be known. Though different things that are before Us, may 
have in themselves many marks thoroughly distinguishing 
them one from another ; yet if we see them only in a thick 
smoke, it may nevertheless be impossible to distinguish them. 
A fixed star is easily distinguishable from a comet, in a 
clear sky ; but if we view them through a cloud, it may be 
impossible to see the difference. When true Christians are 
in an ill frame, guilt lies on the conscience ; which will bring 
fear, and so prevent the peace and joy of an assured hope. 

Secondly. There is in such a case a defect in the eye. A?. 
the feebleness of grace and prevalence of corruption, obscures 
the object ; so it enfeebles the sight ; it darkens the sight 
as to all spiritual objects, of which grace is one. Sin is like 
some distempers of the eyes, that make things to appear of 
different colors from -these which properly belong to them, 
and like many other distempers, that put the mouth out of 
taste so as to disenable it from distinguishing good and whole- 
some food from bad, but every thing tastes bitter. 

Men in a corrupt and carnal frame, have their spiritual 
senses in but poor plight for judging and distinguishing spir- 
itual things. 

For these reasons no signs that can be given, will actually 
satisfy persons in such a case : Let the signs that are given. 
Vol. IV. Q 


be never so good and infallible, and clearly laid down, they 
will not serve them. It is like giving a man rules, how to 
distinguish visible objects in the dark ; the things themselves 
may be very different, and their difference may be very well 
and distinctly described to him ; yet all is insufficient to ena- 
ble him to distinguish them, because he is in the dark. And 
therefore many persons in such a case spend time in a fruit- 
less labor, in poring on past experiences, and examining 
themselves by signs they hear laid down from the pulpit, or 
that they read in books ; when there is other work for them 
to do, that is much more expected of them ; which, while 
they neglect, all their self examinations are like to be in vain 
if they should spend never so much time in them. The ac- 
cursed thing is to be destroyed from their camp, and Achan 
to be slain ; and until this be done they will be in trouble. 
It is not God's design that men should obtain assurance 
in any other way, than by mortifying corruption, and in- 
creasing in grace, and obtaining the lively exercises of it 

And although self examination be a duty of great use and 
importance, and by no means to be neglected ; yet it is not 
the principal means, by Avhich the saints do get satisfaction 
of their good estate. Assurance is not to be obtained so 
much by self examination, as by action. The Apostle Paul 
sought assurance chiefly this way, even by " forgetting the 
things that were behind, and reaching forth unto those things 
that were before, pressing towards the mark for the prize of 
the high calling of God in Christ Jesus ; if by any means he 
might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." And it was 
by this means chiefly that he obtained assurance, 1 Cor. ix. 
26. " I therefore so run, not as uncertainly." He obtained 
assurance of winning the prize, more by running, than by 
considering. The swiftness of his pace did more towards his 
assurance of a conquest, than the strictness of his examina- 
tion. Giving all diligence to grow in grace, by adding to 
faith, virtue, Sec. is the direction that the apostle Peter gives 
us, for " making our calling and election sure, and having an 
entrance ministered to us abundantly, into Christ's cverlast- 


ing kingdom ;" signifying to us, that without this, our eyes 
will be dim, and we shall be as men in the dark, that cannot 
plainly see things past or to come, either the forgiveness oi 
our sins past, or our heavenly inheritance that is future, and . 
far off, 2 Pet. i. 5.... 11.* 

Therefore, though good rules to distinguish true grace 
from counterfeit, may tend to convince hypocrites, and be of 
great use to the saints, in many respects ; and among other 
benefits may be very useful to them to remove many needless 
scruples, and establish their hope ; yet I am far from pre- 
tending to lay down any such rules, as shall be sufficient of 
themselves, without other means, to enable all true saints to 
see their good estate, or as supposing they should be the prin- 
cipal means of their satisfaction. 

3. Nor is there much encouragement, in the experience 
of present or past times, to lay down rules or marks to distin- 
guish between true and false affections, in hopes of convinc- 
ing any considerable number of that sort of hypocrites, who 
have been deceived with great false discoveries and affections, 
and are once settled in a false confidence, and high conceit of 
their own supposed great experiences and privileges. Such 
hypocrites are so conceited of their own wisdom, and so 
blinded and hardened with a very great self righteousness (but 
very subtle and secret, under the disguise of great humility) 
and so invincible a fondness of their pleasing conceit, of their 
great exaltation, that it usually signifies nothing at all to lay be- 
fore them the most convincing evidences of their hypocrisy. 
Their state is indeed deplorable, and next to those that have 
committed the unpardonable sin. Some of this sort of per- 
sons seem to be most out of the reach of means of conviction 

* The way to know your godliness, is to renew the visible exercises oF 
grace The more the visible exercises of grace are renewed, the more cer- 
tain you will be. The more frequently these actings are renewed, the more 
abiding and confirmed your assurance will be. 

The more men's grace is multiplied, the more their peace is multiplied ; 
2 Pet. i. 2. " Grace and peace be multiplied unto you, through the knowl- 
edge of God and Jesus Christ our Lord." Stoddard's Way to know sincerity 
and hypocrisy, p. 139 and 142. 


and repentance. But yet the laying clown good rules may be 
a means of preventing such hypocrites, and of convincing 
many of other kinds of hypocrites ; and God is able to con- 
vince even this kind, and his grace is not to be limited, nor 
means to be neglected. And besides such rules may be of 
use to the true saints, to detect false affections, which they 
may have mingled with true ; and be a means of their re- 
ligion's becoming more pure, and like gold tried in the fire. 

Having premised these things, I now proceed directly to 
take notice of those things in which true religious affections 
are distinguished from false. 

I. Affections that are truly spiritual and gracious, do arise 
from those influences and operations on the heart, which are 
spiritual, supernatural, and divine. 

I will explain what I mean by these terms, whence will ap- 
pear their use to distinguish between those affections which 
are spiritual, and those which are not so. 

We find that true saints, or those persons who are sanctifi- 
ed by the Spirit of God, are in the New Testament called 
spiritual persons. And their being spiritual is spoken of as 
their peculiar character, and that wherein they are distin- 
guished from those who are not sanctified. This is evident, 
because those who are spiritual are set in opposition to nat- 
ural men, and carnal men. Thus the spiritual man and 
the natural man are set in opposition one to another, 1 Cor. 
ii. 14, 15. " The natural man receiveth not the things of 
the Spirit of God ; for they are foolishness unto him ; nei- 
ther can he know them, because they are spiritually dis- 
cerned. But he that is spiritual judgcth all things." The 
scripture explains itself to mean an ungodly man, or one 
that has no grace, by a natural man : Thus the Apostle Jude, 
speaking of certain ungodly men, that had crept in unawares 
among the saints, ver. 4, of his epistle, says v. 19. "These 
are sensual, having not the Spirit." This the apostle gives 
us a reason why they behaved themselves in such a wicked 
manner as he had described. Here the word translated .ten- 
sua?, in the original is Psychikoi ; which is the very same, 
which yj those verses in 1 Cor. chap, ii.is translated natural, 


In the like manner, in the continuation of the same dis- 
course, in the next verse but one, spiritual men are opposed 
to carnal men ; which the connexion plainly shews mean 
the same, as spiritual men and natural men, in the foregoing 
verses ; « And I, brethren, could not speak unto you, as unto 
spiritual, but as unto carnal ;" i. e. as in a great measure 
unsanctified. That by carnal the apostle means corrupt and 
unsanctified, is abundantly evident, by Rom. vii. 25, and via. 
1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13. Gal. v. 16, to the end. Col. ii. 18. 
Now therefore, if by natural and carnal, in these texts, he in- 
tended unsanctified, then doubtless by spiritual, which is op- 
posed thereto, is meant sanctified and gracious. 

And as the saints are called spiritual in scripture, so we al- 
so find that there are certain properties, qualities, and princi- 
ples, that have the same epithet given them. So we read of 
a " spiritual mind," Rom. viii. -6, 7, and of " spiritual wisdom," 
Col. i. 9, and of" spiritual blessings," Eph. i. 3. 

Now it may be observed, that the epithet spiritual, in these 
and other parallel texts of the New Testament, is not used to 
signify any relation of persons or things to the spirit or soul 
of man, as the syjiritual part of man, in opposition to the body, 
which is the material part. Qualities are not said to be spir- 
itual, because they have their seat in the soul, and not in the 
body : For there are some properties that the scripture calls 
carnal or fleshly, which have their scat as much in the soul, 
as those properties that are called spiritual. Thus it is with 
pride and self righteousness, and a man's trusting to his own 
wisdom, which the apostle calls fleshly, Col. ii. 18. Nor are 
things called spiritual, because they are conversant about 
those things that are immaterial, and not corporeal. For so 
was the wisdom of the wise men, and princes of this world, 
conversant about spirits, and immaterial beings ; which yet 
the apostle speaks of as natural men, totally ignorant of those 
things that are spiritual, 1 Cor. chap. ii. But it is with rela- 
tion to the Holy Ghost, or Spirit of God, that persons or 
things are termed spiritual in the New Testament. Spirit, as 
the word is used to signify the third person in the Trinity, is 
the substantive, of which is formed the adjective spiritual, in 


the holy scriptures. Thus Christians are called spiritual per- 
sons, because they are born of the Spirit, and because of the 
indwelling and holy influences of the Spirit of God in them. 
And things are called spiritual as related to the Spirit of God, 
1 Cor. ii. 13, 14. " Which things also we speak, not in the 
•words which man?s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy 
Ghost teacheth ; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 
But the natural man recciveth not the things of the Spirit of 
God." Here the apostle himself expressly signifies, that by 
spiritual things, he means the things of the Spirit of God, 
and things which the Holy Ghost teacheth. The same is 
yet more abundantly apparent by viewing the whole context. 
Again, Rom. viii. 6. To be carnally minded, is death ; to be 
spiritually minded, is life and peace. The apostle explains 
what he means by being carnally and spiritually minded in 
what follows in the 9th verse, and shews that by being spirit- 
ually minded, he means a having the indwelling and holy in- 
fluences of the Spirit of God in the heart. " But ye are not in 
the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be the Spirit of God dwell in 
you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is 
none of his." The same is evident by all the context. But 
time would fail to produce ail the evidence there is of this, in 
the New Testament. 

And it must be here observed, that although it is with rela- 
tion to the Spirit of God and his influences, that persons and 
things are called spiritual ; yet not all those persons who are 
subject to any kind of influence of the Spirit of God, are or- 
dinarily called spiritual in the New Testament. They who 
have only the common influences of God's Spirit, are not so 
called, in the places cited above, but only those who have the 
special, gracious, and saving influences of God's Spirit ; as 
is evident, because it has been already proved, that by spirit- 
ual me?) is meant godly men, in opposition to natural, carnal, 
and unsanctified men. And it is most plain, that the apostle 
by spiritually minded, Rom. viii. 6, means graciously minded. 
And though the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, which nat- 
ural men might have, arc sometimes called spiiitual, because 
they are from the Spirit ; yet natural men, whatever gifts of 


the Spirit they had, were not in the usual language of the 
New Testament, called spiritual persons. For it was not by 
men's having the gifts of the Spirit, but by their having the 
virtues of the Spirit, that they were called spiritual ; as is ap- 
parent by Gal. vi. 1. "Brethren, if any man be overtaken 
in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the 
spirit of meekness." Meekness is one of those virtues which 
the apostle had just spoken of, in the verses next preceding, 
shewing what are the fruits of the Spirit. Those qualifica- 
tions are said to be spiritual in the language of the New Tes- 
tament, which are truly gracious and holy, and peculiar to 
the saints. 

Thus when we read of spiritual wisdom and understanding, 
(as in Col. i. 9, « We desire that ye may be filled with the 
knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual under- 
standing") hereby is intended that wisdom which is gracious, 
and from the sanctifying influences of the Spirit of God. 
For doubtless, by spiritual wisdom is meant that which is op- 
posite to what the scripture calls natural wisdom ; as the 
spiritual man is opposed to the natural man. And therefore- 
spiritual wisdom is doubtless the same with that wisdom 
which is from above, that the Apostle James speaks of, Jam. 
iii. 17. " The wisdom that is from above, is first pure, then 
peaceable, gentle, &c. for this the apostle opposes to natural 
wisdom, ver. 15. " This wisdom descendeth not from above, 
but is earthly, sensual". ...the last word in the original is the 
same that is translated natural, in 1 Cor. ii. 14. 

So that although natural men may be the subjects of many- 
influences of the Spirit of God, as is evident by many scrip- 
tures, as Numb. xxiv. 2, 1 Sam. x. 10, and xi. 6, and xvi. 14, 
1 Cor. xiii. 1, 2, 3. Heb. vi. 4, 5, 6, and many others ; yet 
they are not, in the sense of the scripture, spiritual persons ; 
neither are any of those effects, common gifts, qualities, or 
affections, that are from the influence of the Spirit of God up- 
on them, called spiritual things. The great difference lies in 
these two things. 

1. The Spirit of God is given to the true saints to dwell in 
them, as his proper lasting abode ; and to influence their 


hearts, as a principle of new nature, or as a divine supernat- 
ural spring of life and fiction. The scriptures represent the 
Holy Spirit not only as moving, and occasionally influencing 
the saints, but as dwelling in them as his temple, his proper 
abode, and everlasting dwelling place, 1 Cor. iii. 16. 2 Cor. 
vi. 16. John xiv. 16, 17. And he is represented as being there 
so united to the faculties of the soul, that he becomes there a 
principle or spring of new nature and life. 

So the saints are said to live by Christ living in them, Gal. 
ii. 20. Christ by his Spirit not only is in them, but lives in 
them ; and so that they live by his life ; so is his spirit unit- 
ed to them, as a principle of life in them ; they do not only- 
drink living water, but this « living water becomes a well or 
fountain of water," in the soul, " springing up into spiritual 
and everlasting life," John iv. 14, and thus becomes a princi- 
ple of life in them : This living water, this evangelist him- 
self explains to intend the Spirit of God, Chap. vii. 38, 39. 
The light of the Sun of righteousness dees net only chine up- 
on them, but is so communicated to them that they shine also, 
and become little images of that Sun which shines upon 
them ; the sap of the true vine is not only conveyed into 
them, as the sap of a tree may be conveyed into a vessel, but 
is conveyed as sap is from a tree into one of its living branch- 
es, where it becomes a principle of life. The spirit of God 
being thus communicated and united to the saints, they are 
from thence properly denominated from it, and are called 

On the other hand, though the Spirit of God may many 
ways influence natural men ; yet because it is not thus com- 
municated to them, as an indwelling principle, they do not 
derive any denomination or character from it ; for, there be- 
ing no union, it is not iheir own. The light may shine upon 
a body that is very dark or black ; and though that body be 
the subject of the light, yet, because the light becomes no 
principle of light in it, so as to cause the body to shine, hence 
that body docs not properly receive its denomination from it, 
so as to be called a lightsome body. So the Spirit of God 
acting upon the soul only, without communicating itself to be 


an active principle in it, cannot denominate it spiritual. A 
body that continues black, may be said not to have light, 
though the light shines upon it : So natural men are said 
« not to have the Spirit," Jude 19, sensual or natural (as the 
word is elsewhere rendered) having not the Spirit. 

2. Another reason why the saints and their virtues are 
called spiritual (which is the principal thing) is, that the 
Spirit of God, dwelling as a vital principle in their souls, 
there produces those effects wherein he exerts and commu- 
nicates himself in his own proper nature. Holiness is the 
nature of the Spirit of God, therefore he is called in scripture 
the Holy Ghost. Holiness, which is as it were the beauty 
and sweetness of the divine nature, is as much the proper na- 
ture of the Holy Spirit, as heat is the nature of fire, or sweet- 
ness was the nature of that holy anointing oil, which was the- 
principal type of the Holy Ghost in the Mosaic dispensation ; 
yea, I may rather say, that holiness is as much the proper 
nature of the Holy Ghost, as sweetness was the nature of th» 
sweet odour of that ointment. The Spirit of God so dwells in 
the hearts of the saints, that he there, as a seed or spring of 
life, exerts and communicates himself, in this his sweet and 
divine nature, making the soul a partaker of God's beauty 
and Christ's joy, so that the saint has truly fellowship with 
the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ, in thus having the 
communion or participation of the Holy Ghost. The grace 
which is in the hearts of the saints, is of the same nature with 
the divine holiness, as much as it is possible for that holiness 
to be, which is infinitely less in degree ; as the brightness 
that is in a diamond which the sun shines upon, is of the 
same nature with the brightness of the sun, but only that it is 
as nothing to it in degree. Therefore Christ says, John iii. 6, 
* That which is born of the Spirit, is spirit ;" i. e. the grace, 
that is begotten in the hearts of the saints, is something of the 
same nature with that Spirit, and so is properly called a spir- 
itual nature ; after the same manner as that which is born of 
the flesh is flesh, or that which is born of corrupt nature is 
corrupt nature. 

Vol. IV. R 


But the Spirit of God never influences the minds of natural 
men after this manner. Though he may influence them 
many ways, yet he never, in any of his influences, communi- 
cates himself to them in his own proper nature. Indeed lie 
never acts disagreeably to his nature, either on the minds of 
saints or sinners : But the Spirit of God may act upon men 
agreeably to his own nature, and not exert his proper nature 
in the acts and exercises of their minds : The Spirit of God 
may act so, that. his actions may be agreeable to his nature, 
and yet may not at all communicate himself in his proper na- 
ture, in the effect of that action. Thus, for instance, the Spirit 
of God moved upon the face of the waters, and there was 
nothing disagreeable to his nature in that action ; but yet he 
did not at all communicate himself in that action, there was 
nothing of the proper nature of the Holy Spirit in that motion 
of the waters. And so he may act upon the minds of men 
many ways, and not communicate himself any more than 
when he acts on inanimate things. 

Thus not only the manner of the relation of the Spirit, who 
is the operator, to the subject of his operations, is different ; 
as the Spirit operates in the saints, as dwelling in them, as an 
abiding principle of action, whereas he doth not so operate 
upon sinners ; but the influence and operation itself is differ- 
ent, and the effect wrought exceeding different. So that not 
only the persons are called spiritual, as having the Spirit of 
God dwelling in them ; but those qualifications, affections, 
and experiences, that are wrought in them by the Spirit, are 
also spiritual, and therein differ vastly in their nature and kind 
from all that a natural man is or can be the subject of, while 
he remains in a natural state ; and also from all that men or 
devils can be the authors of. It is a spiritual work in this 
high sense ; and therefore above all other works is peculiar 
to the Spirit of God. There is no work so high and excel- 
lent ; for there is no work wherein God doth so much com- 
municate himself, and wherein the mere creature hath, in so 
high a sense, a participation of God ; so that it is expressed 
in scripture by the saints, " beinp; made partakers of the di- 
vine nature," 2 Pet. i. 4, and « having God dwelling in them, 


and they in God," 1 John iv. 12, 15, 16, and chap. iii. 21, 
«' and having Christ in them," John xvii. 21, Rom. viii. 10, 
" being the temples of the living God," 2 Cor. vi. 16, " living 
by Christ's life," Gal. ii. 20, " being made partakers of God's 
holiness," Heb. xii. 10, " having Christ's love dwelling in 
them," John xvii. 26, " having his joy fulfilled in them," 
John xvii. 13, " seeing light in God's light, and being made 
to drink of the river of God's pleasures," Psal. xxxvi. 8, 9, 
" having fellowship with God, or communicating and partak- 
ing with him (as the word signifies) 1 John i. 3. Not that 
the saints are made partakers of the essence of God, and so 
are godded with God, and chrhted with Christ, according to 
the abominable and blasphemous language and notions of 
some heretics : But, to use the scripture phrase, they are 
made partakers of God's fulness, Eph. iii. 17, 18, 19, John i. 
16, that is, of God's spiritual beauty and happiness, according 
to the measure and capacity of a creature ; for so it is evident 
the word fulness signifies in scripture language. Grace in 
the hearts of the saints, being therefore the most glorious 
work of God, wherein he communicates of the goodness of 
his nature, it is doubtless his peculiar work, and in an emi- 
nent manner, above the power of all creatures. And the 
influences of the Spirit of God in this, being thus peculiar 
to God, and being those wherein God does, in so high a 
manner, communicate himself, and make the creature par- 
taker of the divine nature (the Spirit of God communicating 
itself in its own proper nature) this is what I mean by those 
influences that are divine, when I say that " truly gracious 
affections do arise from those influences that are spiritual and 

The true saints only have that which is spiritual ; others 
have nothing which is divine, in the sense that has been spok- 
en of. They not only have not these communications of the 
Spirit of God in so high a degree as the saints, but have noth- 
ing of that nature or kind. For the Apostle James tells us, 
that natural men have not the Spirit ; and Christ teaches the 
necessity of a new birth, or of being born of the Spirit, from 
this, that he that is born of the flesh, has only flesh, and no 


spirit, John iii. 6. They have not the Spirit of God dwelling 
in them in any degree ; for the apostle teaches, that all who 
have the Spirit of God dwelling in them, are some of his, 
Rom. viii. 9....1 1. And an having the Spirit of God is spok- 
en of as a certain sign that persons shall have the eternal in- 
heritance ; for it is spoken of as the earnest of it, 2 Cor. i. 22, 
and v. 5, Eph. i. 14, and an having any thing of the Spirit is 
mentioned as a sure sign of being in Christ, 1 John iv. 13. 
" Hereby know we that we dwell in him, because he hath giv- 
en us of his Spirit." Ungodly men not only have not so much 
of the divine nature as the saints, but they are not partakers 
of it ; which implies that they have nothing of it ; for a being 
partaker of the divine nature is spoken of as the peculiar 
privilege of the true saints, 2 Pet. i. 4. Ungodly men are not 
" partakers of God's holiness," Heb. xii. 10. A natural man 
has no experience of any of those things that are spiritual : 
The apostle teaches us, that he is so far from it, that he knows 
nothing about them, he is a perfect stranger to them, the talk 
about such things is all foolishness and nonsense to him, he 
knows not what it means, 1 Cor. ii. 14. « The natural man 
receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God ; for they are 
foolishness to him : Neither can he know them, because they 
are spiritually discerned." And to the like purpose Christ 
teaches us that the world is wholly unacquainted with the 
Spirit of God, John xiv. 17. « Even the Spirit of truth, whom 
the world cannot receive, because it sceth him not, neither 
knoweth him." And it is further evident, that natural men 
have nothing in them of the same nature with the true grace 
of the saints, because the apostle teaches us, that those of 
them who go farthest in religion have no charity, or true 
Christian love, 1 Cor. chap. xiii. So Christ elsewhere re- 
proves the Pharisees, those high pretenders to religion, that 
they " had not the love of God in them," John v. 42. Hence 
natural men have no communion or fellowship with Christ, or 
participation with him (as these words signify) for this is 
spoken of as the peculiar privilege of the saints, 1 John i. 3, 
together with ver. 6, 7, and 1 Cor. i. 8, 9. And the scripture 
speaks of the actual being of a gracious principle in the soulj 


though in its first beginning, as a seed there planted, as in- 
consistent with a man's being a sinner, 1 John iii. 9. And 
natural men are represented in scripture, as having no spirit- 
ual light, no spiritual life, and no spiritual being ; and there* 
fore conversion is often compared to opening the eyes of the 
blind, raising the dead, and a work of creation (wherein crea- 
tures are made entirely new) and becoming new born childr 

From these things it is evident, that those gracious influen- 
ces which the saints are subjects of, and the effects of God's 
Spirit which they experience, are entirely above nature, al- 
together of a different kind from any thing that men find 
within themselves by nature, or only in the exercise of natur- 
al principles ; and are things which no improvement of those 
qualifications, or principles that are natural, no advancing or 
exalting them to higher degrees, and no kind of composition 
of them, will ever bring men to ; because they not only diiTer 
from what is natural, and from every thing that natural men 
experience, in degree and circumstances, but also in kind ; 
and are of a nature vastly more excellent. And this is what 
I mean, by supernatural, when I say that gracious affections 
are from those influences that are supernatural. 

From hence it follows, that in those gracious exercises and 
affections which are wrought in the minds of the saints, 
through the saving influences of the Spirit of God, there is 
a new inward perception or sensation of their minds, entirely 
different in its nature and kind, from any thing that ever their 
minds were the subjects of before they were sanctified. For 
doubtless if God by his mighty power produces something 
that is new, not only in degree and circumstances, but in its 
whole nature, and that which could be produced by no exalt- 
ing, varying, or compounding of what was there before, or by 
adding any thing of the like kind ; 1 say, if God produces 
something thus new in a mind, that is a perceiving, thinking, 
conscious thing ; then doubtless something entirely new is 
felt, or perceived, or thought ; or, which is the same thing, 
there is some new sensation or perception of the mind, which 
k entirely of a new sort, and which could be produced by no 


exalting, varying, or compounding of that kind of perceptions 
©r sensations which the mind had before; or there is what 
some metaphysicians call a new simple idea. If grace be, in the 
sense above described, an entirely new kind of principle, then 
the exercises of it are also entirely a new kind of exercis- 
es. And if there be in the soul a new sort of exercises which 
it is conscious of, which the soul knew nothing of before, and 
which no improvement, composition, or management of what 
it was before conscious or sensible of, could produce, or any 
thing like it ; then it follows that the mind has an entirely 
new kind of perception or sensation ; and here is, as it were, 
a new spiritual sense that the mind has, or a principle of a new 
kind of perception or spiritual sensation, which is in its whole 
nature different from any former kinds of sensation of the 
mind, as tasting is diverse from any of the other senses ; and 
something is perceived by a true saint, in the exercise of this 
new sense of mind, in spiritual and divine things, as entirely 
diverse from any thing that is perceived in them, by natural 
men, as the sweet taste of honey is diverse from the ideas men 
have of honey by only looking on it, and feeling of it. So 
that the spiritual perceptions which a sanctified and spiritual 
person has, are not only diverse from all that natural men have 
after the manner that the ideas or perceptions of the same 
sense may differ cne from another, but rather as the ideas and 
sensations of different senses do differ. Hence the work of 
the Spirit of God in regeneration is often in scripture com- 
pared to the giving a new sense, giving eyes to see, and ears 
to hear, unstopping the ears of the deaf, and opening the 
eyes of them that were born blind, and turning from darkness 
unto light. And because this spiritual sense is immensely 
the most noble and excellent, and that without which all oth- 
er principles of perception, and all our faculties are useless 
and vain ; therefore the giving this new sense with the bles- 
sed fruits and effects of it in the soul, is compared to a raising 
the dead, and to a new creation. 

This new spiritual sense, and the new dispositions that at- 
tend it, are no new faculties, but are new principles of nature. 
I use the word principles for want of a word of a more 


determinate signification. By a principle of nature in this 
place, I mean that foundation which is laid in nature, eith- 
er old or new, for any particular manner or kind of exer- 
cise of the faculties of the soul ; or a natural habit or founda- 
tion for action, giving a person ability and disposition to exert 
the faculties in exercises of such a certain kind ; so that to 
exert the faculties in that kind of exercises may be said to be 
his nature. So this new spiritual sense is not a new faculty 
of understanding, but it is a new foundation laid in the nature 
of the soul, for a new kind of exercises of the same faculty of 
understanding. So that new holy disposition of heart that at- 
tends this new sense is not a new faculty of will, but a founda- 
tion laid in the nature of the soul, for a new kind of exercis- 
es of the same faculty of will. 

The Spirit of God, in all his operations upon the minds of 
natural men, only moves, impresses, assists, improves, or 
some way acts upon natural principles ; but gives no new 
spiritual principle. Thus when the Spirit of God gives a 
natural man visions, as he did Balaam, he only impresses a 
natural principle, viz. the sense of seeing, immediately ex- 
citing ideas of that sense ; but he gives no new sense ; nei- 
ther is there any thing supernatural, spiritual, or divine in it. 
So if the Spirit of God impresses on a man's imagination, 
either in a dream, or when he is awake, any outward ideas of 
any of the senses, either voices, or shapes and colors, it is on- 
ly exciting ideas of the same kind that he has by natural prin- 
ciples and senses. So if God reveals to any natural man any 
secret fact ; as, for instance, something that he shall hereaf- 
ter see or hear ; this is not infusing or exercising any new 
spiritual principle, or giving the ideas of any new spiritual 
sense ; it is only impressing in an extraordinary manner, the 

ideas that will hereafter be received by sight and hearing 

So in the more ordinary influences of the Spirit of God on the 
hearts of sinners, he only assists natural principles to do the 
same work to a greater degree, which they do of themselves 
by nature. Thus the Spirit of God by his common influen- 
ces may assist men's natural ingeniosity, as he assisted Beza- 
leel and Aholiab in the curious works of the tabernacle : S© 


he may assist men's natural abilities in political affairs, ar)<? 
improve their courage and other natural qualifications, as he ■ 
is said to have put his spirit on the seventy elders and on Saul, 
so as to give him another heart : So God may greatly assist 
natural men's reason, in their reasoning about secular things, 
or about the doctrines of religion, and may greatly advance 
the clearness of their apprehensions and notions of things of 
religion in many respects, without giving any spiritual sense. 
So in those awakenings and convictions that natural men may 
have, God only assists conscience, which is a natural principle 
to do that work in a further degree, which it naturally does. 
Conscience naturally gives men an apprehension of right and 
wrong, and suggests the relation there is between right and 
wrong, and a retribution : The Spirit of God assists men's 
consciences to do this in a greater degree, helps conscience 
against the stupifying influence of worldly objects and their 
lusts. And so many other ways might be mentioned wherein 
the Spirit acts upon, assists, and moves natural principles ; 
but after all, it is no more than nature moved, acted and im- 
proved ; here is nothing supernatural and divine. But the 
Spirit of God in his spiritual influences on the hearts of his 
saints, operates by infusing or exercising new, divine, and 
supernatural principles ; principles which are indeed a new 
and spiritual nature, and principles vastly more noble and ex- 
cellent than all that is in natural men. 

From what has been said it follows, that all spiritual and 
gracious affections are attended with, and do arise from some 
apprehension, idea, or sensation of mind) which is in its whole 
nature different, yea, exceeding different, from all that is, or 
can be in the mind of a natural man ; and which the natural 
man discerns nothing of, and has no manner of idea of (agree- 
able to 1 Cor. ii. 14.) and conceives of no more than a man 
without the sense of tasting can conceive of the sweet taste of 
honey, or a man without the sense of hearing can conceive 
of the melody of a tune, or a man born blind can have a no- 
tion of the beauty of the rainbow. 

But here two things must be observed, in order to thtf 
right understanding of this. 


1 . On the one hand it must be observed, that not every 
thing which in any respect appertains to spiritual affections, 
is new and entirely different from what natural men can con- 
ceive of, and do experience ; some things'are common to gra- 
cious affections with other affections; many circumstances, ap- 
pendages and effects are common. Thus a saint's love to God 
has a great many things appertaining toit, which are common 
with a man's natural love to a near relation ; love to God makes 
a man have desires of the honor of God, and a desire to 
please him ; so does a natural man's love to his friend make 
him desire his honor, and desire to please him ; love to God 
causes a man to delight in the thoughts of God, and to delight 
in the presence of God, and to desire conformity to God, and 
the enjoyment of God ; and so it is with a man's love to his 
friend ; and many other things might be mentioned which are 
common to both. But yet that idea which the saint has of the 
loveliness of God, and that sensation, and that kind of delight 
he has in that view, which is as it were the marrow and quin- 
tescence of his love, is peculiar, and entirely diverse from any 
thing that a natural man has, or can have any notion of. And 
even in those things that seem to be common, there is some 
thing peculiar ; both spiritual and natural, cause desires after 
the object beloved ; but they be not the same sort of desires : 
There is a sensation of soul in the spiritual desires of one 
that loves God, which is entirely different from all natural de- 
sires : Both spiritual love and natural love are attended with 
delight in the object beloved ; but the sensations of delight 
are not the same, but entirely and exceedingly diverse. Nat- 
Ural men may have conceptions of many things about spiritu- 
al affections ; but there is something in them which is as it 
were the nucleus, or kernel of them, that they have no more 
conception of, than one born blind, has of colors. 

It may be clearly illustrated by this : We will suppose two 
men ; one is born without the sense of tasting, the other has 
it ; the latter loves honey, and is greatly delighted in it, be- 
*ause he knows the sweet taste of it ; the other loves certain 
sounds and colors ; the love of each has many things that 
appertain to it, which is common j it causes both to desim 

Vol. IV. fr 

m religious affections: 

and delight in the object beloved, and causes grief when it is 
absent, &c. but yet that idea or sensation which he who 
knows the taste of honey has of its excellency and sweetness,, 
that is the foundation of his love, is entirely different from any 
thing the other has or can have ; and that delight which he 
has in honey, is wholly diverse from any thing that the other 
can conceive of, though they both delight in their beloved 
objects. So both these persons may in some respects love 
the same object : The one may love a delicious kind of fruit, 
which is beautiful to the eye, and of a delicious taste ; not 
only because he has seen its pleasant colors, but knows its 
sweet taste ; the other, perfectly ignorant of this, loves it 
only for its beautiful colors ; there are many things seen, in 
some respect, to be common to both ; both love, both desire, 
and both delight ; but the love and desire, and delight of the 
one, is altogether diverse from that of the other. The differ- 
ence between the love of a natural man and a spiritual man is 
like to this ; but only it must be observed, that in one respect 
it is vastly greater, viz. that the kinds of excellency which arc 
perceived in spiritual objects, by these different kinds of per- 
sons, are in themselves vastly more diverse than the different 
kinds of excellency perceived in delicious fruit, by a tasting 
and a tasteless man ; and in another respect it may not be so 
great, viz. as the spiritual man may have a spiritual sense or 
taste, to perceive that divine and most peculiar excellency 
but in small beginnings, and in a very imperfect degree. 

2. On the other hand, it must be observed, that a natural 
man may have those religious apprehensions and affections, 
which may be in many respects very new and surprising to 
him, and what before he did not conceive of ; and yet if what 
he experiences be nothing like the exercises of a principle of 
new nature, or the sensations of a new spiritual sense ; his 
affections may be very new, by extraordinarily moving natur- 
al principles in a very new degree, and with a great many 
new circumstances, and a new cooperation of natural affec- 
tions, and a new composition of ideas ; this may be from some 
extraordinary powerful influence of Satan, and some great 
delusion ; but there is nothing but nature extraovdir -ily 


acted. As if a poor man that had always dwelt in a cottage, 
and had never looked beyond the obscure village where he 
was born, should in a jest be taken to a magnificent city and 
prince's court, and there arrayed in princely robes, and set on 
the throne, with the crown royal on his head, peers and no- 
bles bowing before him, and should be made to believe that 
he was now a glorious monarch ; the ideas he would have, 
and the affections he would experience, would, in many re- 
spects be very new, and such as he had no imagination of be- 
fore ; but all this is no more than extraordinarily raising and 
-exciting natural principles, and newly exalting, varying, and 
compounding such sort of ideas, as he has by nature ; here 
is nothing like giving him a new sense. 

Upon the whole, I think it is clearly manifest, that all truly 
gracious affections do arise from special and peculiar influenc- 
es of the Spirit, working that sensible effect or sensation in 
the souls of the saints, which are entirely different from all 
that is possible a natural man should experience, not only dif- 
ferent in degree and circumstances, but different in its whole 
nature ; so that a natural man not only cannot experience 
that which is individually the same, but cannot experience 
any thing but what is exceeding diverse, and immensely be» 
low it, in its kind ; and that which the power of men or dev- 
ils is not sufficient to produce the like of, or any thing of the 
same nature. 

I have insisted largely on this matter, because it is of great 
importance and use, evidently to discover and demonstrate 
the delusions of Satan, in many kinds of false religious affec- 
tions, which multitudes are deluded by, and probably have 
been in all ages of the Christian church ; and to settle and 
determine many articles of doctrine, concerning the opera- 
tions of the Spirit of God, and the nature of true grace. 

Now, therefore, to apply these things to the purpose of 
this discourse. 

From hence it appears, that impressions which some have 
made on their imagination, or the imaginary ideas which they 
have of God, or Christ, or heaven, or any thing appertaining 
to religion, have nothing in them that is spiritual, or of the 


nature of true grace. Though such things may attend w.ia. 
is spiritual, and be mixed with it, yet in themselves they have 
nothing that is spiritual, nor are they any part of gracious ex- 

Here for the sake of common people, I will explain what 
is intended by impressions on the imagination and imaginary 
ideas. The imagination is that power of the mind whereby ii 
can have a conception, or idea of things of an external or out= 
ward nature (that is, of such sort of things as are the objects 
of the outward senses) when those things are not present, and 
be not perceived by the senses. It is called imagination 
from the word image ; because thereby a person can have ari 
image of some external thing in his mind, when that thing 
is not present in reality, nor any thing like it. All such 
things as we perceive by our five external senses, seeing, hear- 
ing, smelling, tasting, and feeling, are external things : And 
■when a person has an idea or image of any of these sorts of 
things in his mind, when they are not there, and when he 
does not really see, hear, smell, taste, nor feel them ; that is 
to have an imagination of them, and these ideas arc imagina- 
ry ideas : And when such kinds of ideas are strongly impress- 
ed upon the mind, and the image of them in the mind is very 
lively, almost as if one saw them, or heard them, 8cc. that is 
called an impression on the imagination. Thus colors and 
shapes, and a form of countenance, they are outward things ; 
because they are that sort of things which are the objects of 
the outward sense of seeing ; and therefore when any person 
has in his mind a lively idea of any shape, or color, or form of 
countenance ; that is to have an imagination of those things. 
So if he has an idea, of such sort of light or darkness, as he 
perceives by the sense of seeing ; that is to have an idea of 
outward light, and so is an imagination. So if he has an idea of 
any marks made on paper, suppose letters and words written 
in a book ; that is to have an external and imaginary idea of 
such kind of things as we sometimes perceive by our bodily 
eyes. And when we have the ideas ot that kind of things 
which we perceive by any of the other senses, as of any sounds 
or voices, or words spoken ; this is only to have ideas of out.- 


ward things, viz. of such kind of things as are perceived by 
the external sense of hearing, and so that also is imagination : 
And when these ideas are livelily impressed, almost as if they 
were really heard with the ears, this is to have an impression. 
on the imagination. And so I might go on, and instance in 
the ideas of things appertaining to the other three senses of 
smelling, tasting, and feeling. 

Many who have had such things have very ignorantly sup- 
posed them to be of the nature of spiritual discoveries. They 
have had lively ideas of some external shape, and beautiful 
form of countenance ; and this they call spiritually seeing 
Christ. Some have had impressed upon them ideas of a great 
outward light ; and this they call a spiritual discovery of God's 
or Christ's glory. Some have had ideas of Christ's hanging 
©n the cross, and his blood running from his wounds ; and 
this they call a spiritual sight of Christ crucified, and the way 
of salvation by his blood. Some have seen him with bis arms 
open ready to embrace them ; and this they call a discovery 
of the sufficiency of Christ's grace and love. Some have had 
lively ideas of heaven, and of Christ on his throne there, and 
shining ranks of saints and angels ; and this they call seeing 
heaven opened to them. Some from time to time have had 
a livelyid ea of a person of a beautiful countenance smiling 
upon them ; and this they call a spiritual discovery of the 
love of Christ to their souls, and tasting the love of Christ. 
And they look upon it a sufficient evidence that these things 
are spiritual discoveries, and that they see them spiritually, 
because they say they do not see these things with their bod- 
ily eyes, but in their hearts ; for they can see them when 
their eyes are' shut. And in like manner, the imaginations of 
some have been impressed with ideas of the sense of hear- 
ing ; they have had ideas of words, as if they were spoken to 
them, sometimes they are the words of scripture, and some- 
times other words : They have had ideas of Christ's speaking 
comfortable words to them. These things they have called 
jhaving the inward call of Christ, hearing the voice of Christ 
spiritually in their hearts, having the witness of the Spirit, and 
the inward testimony of the love of Christ, &c. 


The common and less considerate and understanding sort 
of people, are the more easily led into apprehensions that 
these things are spiritual things, because spiritual things be- 
ing invisible, and not things that can be pointed forth with the 
finger, we are forced to use figurative expressions in speak- 
ing of them, and to borrow names from external and sensible 
objects to signify them by. Thus we call a clear apprehen- 
sion of things spiritual by the name of light ; and an having 
such an apprehension of such or such things, by the name of 
seeing such things ; and the conviction of the judgment, and 
the persuasion of the will, by the word of Christ in the gospel, 
we signify by spiritually hearing the call of Christ : And the 
scripture itself abounds with such like figurative expressions. 
Persons hearing these often used, and having pressed upon 
them the necessity of having their eyes opened, and having a 
discovery of spiritual things, and seeing Christ in his glory, 
and having the inward call, and the like, they ignorantly look 
and wait for some such external discoveries, and imaginary 
views as have been spoken of ; and when they have them are 
confident, that now their eyes are opened, now Christ has dis- 
covered himself to them, and they are his children ; and 
hence are exceedingly affected and elevated with their deliv- 
erance and happiness, and many kinds of affections are at 
cnce set in a violent motion in them. 

But it is exceedingly apparent that such ideas have nothing 
in them which is spiritual and divine, in the sense wherein it 
has been demonstrated that all gracious experieices are spir- 
itual and divine. These external ideas are in no wise of such 
a sort, that they are entirely, and in their whole nature diverse 
from all that men have by nature,- perfectly different from, 
and vastly above any sensation which it is possible a man 
should have by any natural sense or principle, so that in order 
to have them, a man must have a new spiritual and divine 
sense given him, in order to have any sensations of that sort : 
So far from this, that they are ideas of the same sort which 
we have by the external senses, that are some of the inferior 
powers of the human nature ; they are merely ideas of ex- 
ternal objects, or ideas of that nature, of the same outward, 


sensitive kind ; the same sort of sensations of mind (differing 
not in degree, but only in circumstances) that we have by 
those natural principles which are common to us with the 
beasts, viz. the five external senses. This is a low, miserable 
notion of spiritual sense, to suppose that it is only a conceiv- 
ing or imagining that sort of ideas which we have by our ani- 
mal senses, which senses the beasts have in as great perfec- 
tion as we ; it is, as it were, a turning Christ, or the divine 
nature in the soul, into a mere animal. There is nothing 
wanting in the soul, as it is by nature, to render it capable of 
being the subject of all these external ideas, without any new 
principles. A natural man is capable of having an idea, and 
a lively idea of shapes, and colors, and sounds, when they are 
absent, and as capable as a regenerate man is : So there is 
nothing supernatural in them. And it is known by abundant 
experience, that it is not the advancing or perfecting human 
nature, which makes persons more capable of having such 
lively and strong imaginary ideas, but that on the contrary, 
the weakness of body and mind, and distempers of body, 
make persons abundantly more susceptive of such impres- 

As to a truly spiritual sensation, not only is the manner of 
its coming into the mind extraordinary, but the sensation it- 
self is totally diverse from all that men have, or can have, in 
a state of nature, as has been shewn. But as to these exter- 
nal ideas, though the way of their coming into the mind is 
sometimes unusual, yet the ideas in themselves are not the 
better for that ; they are still of no different sort from what 
men have by their senses ; they are of no higher kind, nor a 
whit better. For instance, the external idea a man has now 

* " Conceits and whimsies abound most in men of weak reason ; children, 
and such as are cracked in their understanding, have most of them ; strength 
of reason banishes them, as the sun does mists and vapors. But now the 
more rational any gracious person is, by so much more is he fixed and settled, 
and satisfied in the grounds of religion ; yea, there is the highest and purest 
reason in religion ; and when this change is wrought upon men, it is carried 
on in a rational way, Isa, i. 18, John xix. 5." flavfi's Preparation fur Suf. 
feringj, Chap. vi„ 


of Christ hanging on the cross, and shedding his blood, is r.# 
better in itself, than the external idea that the Jews his ene- 
mies had, who stood round his cross, and saw this with their 
bodily eyes. The imaginary idea which men have now of an 
external brightness and glory of God, is no better than the 
idea the wicked congregation in the wilderness had of the ex- 
ternal glory of the Lord at Mount Sinai, when they saw it 
with their bodily eyes ; or any better than that idea which 
millions of cursed reprobates will have of the external glory 
of Christ at the day of judgment, who shall see, and have a 
very lively idea of ten thousand times greater external glory 
of Christ, than ever yet was conceived in any man's imagina- 
tion :* Yea, the image of Christ, which men conceive in their 
imaginations, is not in its own nature, of any superior kind to 
the idea the Papists conceive of Christ, by the beautiful and 
affecting images of him which they see in their churches ; 
(though the way of their receiving the idea may riot be so 
bad) nor are the affections they have, if built primarily on 
such imaginations, any better than the affections raised in the 
ignorant people, by the sight of those images, which often- 
times are very great ; especially when these images, through' 
the craft of the priests, are made to move, and speak, and 
iveep, and the like.f Merely the way of persons receiving: 

* " If any man should see, and b;hold Christ really and immediately, 
this is not the saving knowledge of him. I know the saints do know Christ 
as if immediately present ; they are not strangers by their distance : If others 
hare seen him more immediately, I will not dispute it. But if ihey have 
seen the Lord Jesus as immediately as if hsre on earth, yet Capernaum saw him 
so; nay, some of them were disciples for a time, and followed him, Johnvi. 
And yet the Lord was hid from their eyes. Nay, all the world shall sec hira 
in his glory, which shall amaze them ; and yet this is far short of having the 
saving knowledge of him, which the Lo:d doth communicate to the elect. So 
that though you see the Lord so really, as that you become familiar with him. 
yet, Luke xiii. 26. " Lord, have we nivt eat and drank," &c....and so perish, 
Skcpard's Par. of the Ten Virgins, P. I. p. 197, 198. 

+ " Satan is transformed into an angel of light : And hence we have heard 
that some have heard voices ; some have seen the very blood of Christ drop- 
ping on them, and his wounds in his side : Some have seen a great light shin- 
ing in the chamber ; some have been wonderfully affected with their dreams j 

Religious affections. us 

these imaginary ideas, do not alter the nature of the ideas 
themselves that are received ; let them be received in what 
way they will, they are still but external ideas, or ideas of 
outward appearances, and so are not spiritual. Yea, if men 
should actually receive such external ideas by the immediate 
power of the most high God upon their minds, they would 
not be spiritual, they would be no more than a common work 
of the Spirit of God ; as is evident in fact, in the instance of 
Balaam, who had impressed on his mind, by God himself, a 
clear and lively outward representation or idea of Jesus Christ, 
as " the Star rising out of Jacob, when he heard the Avords of 
God, and knew the knowledge of the Most High, and saw the 
vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance," Numb. xxiv. 
16, 17, but yet had no manner of spiritual discovery of Christ ; 
that Day Star never spiritually rose in his heart, he being but 
a natural man. 

And as these external ideas have nothing divine or spiritu- 
al in their nature, and nothing but what natural men, Avithout 
any new principles, are capable of ; so there is nothing in 
their nature which requires that peculiar, inimitable and un- 
paralleled exercise of the glorious poAver of God, in order to 
their production, which it has been shewn there is in the pro- 
duction of true grace. There appears to be nothing in their 
nature above the power of the devil. It is certainly not above 
the power of Satan to suggest thoughts to men ; because oth- 
envise he could not tempt them to sin. And if he can sug- 
gest any thoughts or ideas at all, doubtless imaginary ones, or 
ideas of things external, are not above his power ;* for the 

3ome in great distress have had inward witness, " Thy sins are forgiven ;" 
and hence such liberty and joy, that they are ready to leap up and down the 
chamber. O adulterous generation ! this is natural and usual with men, they 
would fain see Jesus, and have him present to give them peace ; and hence 
Papists have bis images. Wo to them that have no other manifested Christ, 
but such an one." Shepard's Parable of the Ten Virgins, P. I. p. 198. 

* " Consider how difficult, yea and impossible it is to determine that such 
a voice, vision, or revelation is of God, and that Satan cannot feign or coun- 
terfeit it : Seeing he hath left no certain marks by which we may distinguish 
©ne spirit from another." Flavtl's causes and cures cf mental terrors, Cause 14.. 

Vol. IV T 


external ideas men have are the lowest sort of ideas. Thesa 
ideas may be raised only by impressions made on the body, 
by moving the animal spirits, and impressing the brain.... 
Abundant experience does certainly show, that alterations in 
the body will excite imaginary or external ideas in the mind ; 
as often, in the case of a high fever, melancholy, £cc. These 
external ideas are as much below the more intellectual exer- 
cises of the soul, as the body is a less noble part of man than 
the soul. 

And there is not only nothing in the nature of these exter- 
nal ideas or imaginations of outward appearances, from whence 
we can infer that they are above the power of the devil ; but 
it is certain also that the devil can excite, and often hath ex- 
cited such ideas. They were external ideas which he excit- 
ed in the dreams and visions of the false prophets of old, 
who were under the influence of lying spirits, that we often 
read of in scripture, as Deut. xiii. 1, 1 Kings xxii. 22. Isa. 
xxviii. 7. Ezek. xiii. 7. And they were external ideas that 
he often excited in the minds of the heathen priests, magi- 
cians and sorcerers, in their visions and ecstacies, and they 
were external ideas that he excited in the mind of the man 
Christ Jesus, when he shewed him all the kingdoms of the 
world, with the glory of them, when those kingdoms were 
not really in sight. 

And if Satan, or any created being, has power to impress 
the mind with outward representations, then no particular 
sort of outward representations can be any evidence of a di- 
vine power. Almighty power is no more requisite to repre- 
sent the shape of man to the imagination, than the shape of 
any thing else : There is no higher kind of power necessary 
to form in the brain one bodily shape or color than another : 
It needs a no more glorious power to represent the form of 
the body of a man, than the form of a chip or block ; though 
it be of a very beautiful human body, with a sweet smile in his 
countenance, or arms open, or blood running from the hands, 
feet and side : That sort of power which can represent black 
or darkness to the imagination, can also represent white and 
shining brightness : The power and skill which can well and 


exactly paint a straw, or a stick of wood, on a piece of paper 
or canvas ; the same in kind, only perhaps further improved, 
will be sufficient to paint the body of a man, with great beauty 
and in royal majesty, or a magnificent city, paved with gold, 
full of brightness, and a glorious throne, he. So it is no 
more than the same sort of power that is requisite to paint 
one as the other of these on the brain. The same sort of pow- 
er that can put ink upon paper, can put on leaf gold. So that 
5t is evident to a demonstration, if we suppose it to be in the 
devil's power to make any sort of external representation at 
all on the fancy (as without doubt it is, and never any one 
. questioned it who believed there was a devil, that had any 
agency with mankind ;) I say, if so, it is demonstrably evi- 
dent, that a created power may extend to all kinds of exter- 
nal appearances and ideas in the mind. From hence it again 
clearly appears, that no such things have any thing in them 
that is spiritual, supernatural, and divine, in the sense in 
which it has been proved that all truly gracious experiences 
have. And though external ideas, through man's make and 
frame, do ordinarily in some degree attend spiritual experi- 
ences, yet these ideas are no part of their' spiritual experi- 
ence, any more than the motion of the blood, and beating of 
the pulse, that attends experiences, are a part of spiritual ex- 
perience. And though undoubtedly, through men's infirmi- 
ty in the present state, and especially through the weak con- 
stitution of some persons, gracious affections which are very 
strong, do excite lively ideas in the imagination ; yet it is also 
undoubted, that when persons' affections are founded on im- 
aginations, which is often the case, those affections are mere- 
ly natural and common, because they are built on a founda- 
tion that is not spiritual ; and so are entirely different from 
gracious affections, which, as has been proved, do evermore 
arise from those operations that are spiritual and divine. 

These imaginations do oftentimes raise the carnal affec- 
tions of men to an exceeding great height :* And no won- 

* There is a remarkable passage of Mr. John Smith, in his discourse on 
the shortness of a Pharisaic righteousness, p. 370, 371, of his select discourses, 
describing that sort of religion which it built on such a foundation as I am 


der, when the subjects of them have an ignorant, but undouU- 
ing persuasion, that they are divine manifestations, which the 
great Jehovah immediately makes to their souls, therein, giv- 
ing them testimonies in an extraordinary manner, of his high 
and peculiar favor. 

here speaking of,. I cannot forbear transcribing the whole of it. Speaking 
of a sort of Christians, whose life is nothing but a strong energy of fancy, he 
says, " Lest their religion might too grossly discover itself to be nothing else 
but a piece of art, there may be sometimes such extraordinary motions stirred 
up within them, which may prevent all their own thoughts, that they may 
seem to be a true operation of the divine life ; when yet all this is nothing else 
but the energy of their own self love, touched with some fleshly apprehen- 
sions of divine things, and excited by them. There are such things in our 
Christian religion, when a carnal, unhallowed mind takes the chair and gets 
the expounding of them, may seem very delicious to the fleshly appetites of 
men ; some doctrines and notions of free grace and justification, the magnifi- 
cent titles of sons of Cod and heirs of heaven, ever flowing streams of joy and 
pleasure that blessed souls shall swim in to all eternity, a glorious paradise in 
the world to come, always springing up with well scented and fragrant beau- 
ties, a new Jerusalem paved with gold, and bespangled with stars, compre- 
hending in its vast circuit such numberless varieties, that a busy curiosity may 
spend itself about to all eternity. I doubt not but that sometimes the most 
fleshly and earthly men, that fly in their ambition to the pomp of this world, 
may be so ravished with the conceits of such things as these, that they may 
seem to be made partakers of the powers of the world to come. I doubt not 
but that they might be much exalted with them, as the souls of crazed or dis- 
tracted persons seem to be sometimes, when their fancies play with those 
quick and nimble spirits, which a distempered frame of body, and unnatural 
heat in their heads, beget within them. Thus may these blazing comets rise up 
above the moon, and climb higher than the sub ; which yet, because they have 
no solid consistence of their own, and are of a base and earthly alloy, will 
sopn vanish and fall down again, being only borne up by an external force. 
They may seem to themselves to have attained higher than those noble Christ- 
ians that are gently moved by the natural force of true goodness : They seem 
to be plcniorcs Deo (i. e. more full of God) than those that are really informed 
and actuated by the divine Spirit, and do move on steadily and constantly in 
the way towards heaven. As the seed that was sown in stony ground, grew 
up, and lengthened out its blade faster, than that which was sown in the good 
and fruitful soil. And as the motions of our sense, and fancy, and passions, 
while our souls are in this mortal condition, sunk down deeply into the 
body, are many times more vigorous, and make stronger impressions upon 
us, t'lan those of the higher powers of the soul, which arc more subtle, and re- 
mote from these mixed animal perceptions : That devotion which is there 


Again, it is evident from what has been observed and prov- 
ed of the manner in which gracious operations and effects in 
the heart are spiritual, supernatural and divine, that the im- 
immediate suggesting of the words of scripture to the mind 
has nothing in it which is spiritual. 

I have had occasion to say something of this already ; and 
what has been said may be sufficient to evince it ; but if the 
reader bears in mind what has been said concerning the na- 
ture of spiritual influences and effects, it will be more abund- 
antly manifest that this is no spiritual effect. For I suppose 
there is no person of common understanding, who will say or 
imagine that the bringing words (let them be what words 
they will) to the mind, is an effect of that nature which it is 
Impossible the mind of a natural man, while he remains in a 
state of nature, should be the subject of, or any thing like it ; 
or that it requires any new divine sense in the soul ; or that 
the bringing sounds or letters to the mind, is an effect of so 

seated, may seem to have moreeneigy and life in it, than that which gently, 
and with a more delicate kind of touch spreads itself upon the understanding, 
and from thence mildly derives itself through our wills and affections. But 
however the former may be more boisterous for a time, yet this is of a more 
consistent, spermatical and thriving nature. For that proceeding indeed from 
nothing but a sensual and fleshly apprehension of God and true happiness, 
is but of a flitting and fading nature ; and as the sensible powers and faculties 
grow more languid, or the sun of divine light shines more brightly upon us, 
these earthly devotions, like our culinary fires, will abate their heat and fervor. 
But a true celestial warmth will never be extinguished, because it is of an 
immortal nature ; and being once seated vitally in the souls of men, it -will 
regulate and order all the motions of it in a due manner, as the natural heat, 
radicated in the hearts of living creatures, hath the dominion and economy 
of the whole body under it. True religion is no piece of artifice ; it is no 
boiling up of our imaginative powers, nor the glowing heats of passion ; 
though these are too often mistaken for it, when in our jugglings in religion 
we casta mist before our own eyes : But it is a new nature, informing the 
souls of men ; it is a Godlike frame of spirit, discovering itself most of all 
in serene and clear minds, in deep humility, meekness, self denial, universal 
love to God and all true goodness, without partiality, and without hypocri- 
sy, whereby we are taught to know God, and knowing him to love him, and 
conform ourselves as much as may be to all that perfection which shines in 


high, holy, and excellent a nature, that it is impossible any 
created power should be the cause of it. 

As the Suggesting words of scripture to the mind, is only 
the exciting in the mind ideas of certain sounds or letters ; 
so it is only one way of exciting ideas in the imagination ; 
for sounds and letters are external things, that are the objects 
of the external senses of seeing and hearing. Ideas of cer- 
tain marks upon paper, such as any of the twenty four letters, 
in whatever order, or any sounds of the voice, are as much 
external ideas, as of any other shapes or sounds whatsoever ; 
and therefore, by what has been already said concerning these 
external ideas, it is evident they are nothing spiritual ; and if 
at any time the Spirit of God suggests these letters or sounds 
to the mind, this is a common, and not any special or gra- 
cious influence of that Spirit. And therefore it follows from 
what has been already proved, that those affections which 
have this effect for their foundation, are no spiritual or gra- 
cious affections. But let it be observed Avhat it is that I say, 
•viz. when this effect, even the immediate and extraordinary 
manner of words of scripture's coming to the mind, is that 
which excites the affections, and is properly the foundation 
of them, then these affections are not spiritual. It maybe 
so, that persons may have gracious affections going with 
scriptures which come to their minds, and the Spirit of God 
may make use of those scriptures to excite them ; when it is 
some spiritual sense, taste or relish they have of the divine 
and excellent things contained in those scriptures, that is tho 
tiling which excites their affections, and not the extraordina- 
ry and sudden manner of words being brought to their minds. 
They are affected with the instruction they receive from the 
words, and the view of the glorious things of God or Christ, 
and things appertaining to them, that they contain and teach ; 
and not because the words came suddenly, as though some 
person had spoken them to them, thence concluding that God 
did as it were immediately speak to them. Persons often- 
times are exceedingly affected on this foundation ; the words 
of some great and high promises of scripture came suddenly 
to their minds, and they look upon the words as directed im> 


.mediately by God to them, as though the words that moment 
proceeded out of the mouth of God as spoken to them : So 
that they take it as a voice from God, immediately revealing 
to them their happy circumstances, and promising such and 
.such great things to them : And this it is that effects and el- 
evates them. There is no new spiritual understanding of 
the divine things contained in the scripture, or new spiritual 
sense of the glorious things taught in that part of the Bible 
going before their affection, and being the foundation of it. 
All the new understanding they have, or think they have, to 
be the foundation of their affection, is this, that the words ar© 
spoken to them, because they come so suddenly and extraor- 
dinarily. And so this affection is built wholly on the sand 1 
Because it is built on a conclusion for which they have no 
foundation. For, as has been shown, the sudden coming of 
the words to their minds, is no evidence that the bringing 
them to their minds in that manner was from God. And if 
it was true that God brought the words to their minds, and 
they certainly knew it, that would not be spiritual knowledge ; 
it may be without any spiritual sense : Balaam might know 
that the words which God suggested to him, were indeed 
suggested to him by God, and yet have no spiritual knowl- 
edge. So that these affections which are built on that notion, 
that texts of scripture are sent immediately from God, are built 
on no spiritual foundation, and are vain and delusive. Per- 
sons who have their affections thus raised, if they should be 
inquired of, whether they have any new sense of the excel- 
lency of things contained in those scriptures, would proba- 
bly say, Fes, without hesitation : But it is true no otherwise 
than thus, that when they have taken up that notion, that the 
words are spoken immediately to them, that makes them 
seem sweet to them, and they own the things which these 
scriptures say to them, for excellent things and won- 
derful things. As for instance supposing these were the 
words which were suddenly brought to their minds, Fear not y 
it is your Father's good fileasare to give you the kingdom ; they 
having confidently taken up a notion that the words were as 
it were immediately spoken from heaven to them, as an iffi? 


mediate revelation that God was their Fathur, and had glvcri- 
the kingdom to them, they are greatly affected by it, and the 
"words seem sweet to them ; and oh, they say, " they are ex- 
cellent things that are contained in those words !" But the 
reason why the promise seems excellent to them, is only be- 
cause they think it is made to them immediately ; all the 
sense they have of any glory in them, is only from self love, 
and from their own imagined interest in the words ; not that 
they had any view or sense of the holy and glorious nature 
of the kingdom of heaven and the spiritual glory of that 
God who gives it, and of his excellent grace to sinful men, 
in offering and giving them this kingdom, of his own good 
pleasure preceding their imagined interest in these things, 
and their being affected by them, and being the foundation of 
their affection, and hope of an interest in them. On the con- 
trary, they first imagine they are interested, and then are 
highly affected with that, and then can own these things to 
be excellent. So that the sudden and extraordinary way of 
the scripture's coming to their mind is plainly the first founda- 
tion of the whole ; which is a clear evidence of the wretch- 
ed delusion they are under. 

The first comfort of many persons, and what they call their 
conversion, is after this manner : After awakening and terror, 
some comfortable sweet promise comes suddenly and won- 
derfully to their minds ; and the manner of its coming makes 
them conclude it comes from God to them ; and this is the 
very thing that is all the foundation of their faith, and hope, 
and comfort : From hence they take their first encourage- 
ment to trust in God and in Christ, because they think that 
God, by some scripture so brought, has now already reveal- 
ed to them that he loves them, and has already promised 
them eternal life, which is very absurd ; for every one of 
common knowledge of the principles of religion, knoAvs that 
it is God's manner to reveal his love to men, and their inter- 
est in the promises, after they have believed, and not before, 
because they must first believe before they have any interest 
in the promises to be revealed. The Spirit of God is a Spir- 
it of truth and not of lies: He does not bring scriptures to 


Biea's minds, to reveal to them that they have an interest in 
God's favor and promises, when they have none, having not 
yet believed : Which would be the case, if God's bringing 
iexts uf scripture to men's minds, to reveal to them that their 
sins were forgiven, or that it was God's pleasure to give them 
the kingdom, or any thing of that nature, went before, 
and was the foundation of their first faith. No promise of 
the covenant of grace belongs to any man, until he has first 
believed in Christ ; for it is by faith alone that we become in- 
terested in Christ, and the promises of the new covenant 
made in him : And therefore whatever spirit applies the 
promises of ^hat covenant to a person who has not first be- 
lieved, as being already his, must be a lying spirit, and that 
faith which is first built on such an application of prom- 
ises is built upon a lie. God's manner is not to bring com- 
fortable tests of scripture to give men assurance of his love, 
and that they shall be happy, before they have had a faith of 
dependence.* And if the scripture which comes^to a person's 

Mr. Steddard in his Guide to Christ, p. 8. says, that " sometimes men, after 
they have been in trouble a while, have some promises come to them, with a 
great deal of refreshing ; and they hope God has accepted them :" Ard says 
that, " In this case, the minister may tell them, that God never gives a faith of 
assurance, before he gives a faith of dependence ; for he never manifests his 
love, until men are in a state of favor and reconciliation, which is by faith 
of dependence. When men have comfortable scriptures come to them, they 
are apt to take them as tokens of God's love : But men must be brought im6 
Christ, by accepting the offer of ihe gospel, before they are fit for such mani- 
festations. God's* m«thod 'is, first to make the soul accept of the offers of. 
grace, and then to manifest his good estate uuto him." And p . 76, speaking 
of them " that seem to be brought to lie at God's foot, and give an accounc 
of their closing with Christ, and that God has rerealed Christ to them, and 
drawn their hearts to him, and they do accept of Christ," he says, " In this 
case, it is best to examine whether by that light that was given him, he saw 
Christ and salvation offered to him, or whether he saw that God loved him, 
or pardoned him : For the offer of grace and our acceptance goes before par. 
don, and therefore, much more before the knowledge of it. 

Mr. Shepard, in his Parable of the Ten Virgins, Part II. p. 15, says, that 
« ( Grace and the love of Christ (the fairest colors under the sunj may be pre- 
tended ; but if you shall receive, under this appearance, that God witnesseth 
his love, first by an absolute promise, takt haed there ; ft-r uadei this ap- 

Vol. IV. V 


mind, be not so properly a promise, as an invitation ; yet if he 
makes the sudden or unusual manner of the invitation's cem- 
ing to his mind, the ground on which he believes that he is 
invited, it is not true faith ; because it is built on that which is 
not the true ground of faith. True faith is built on no precari- 
ous foundation : But a determination that the words of such a 
particular text were, by the immediate power of God, suggest- 
ed to the mind, at such a time, as though then spoken and 
directed by God to him, because the words came after such a 
manner, is wholly an uncertain and precarious determination, 
as has been now shown; and therefore is a false and sandy 
foundation for faith ; and accordingly that faith which is built 
upon it is false. The only certain foundation which any per- 
son has to believe that he is invited to partake of the blessings 
of the gospel, is, that the word of God declares that persons 
so qualified as he is, are invited, and God who declares it, is 
true, and cannot lie. If a sinner be once convinced of the 
veracity of God, and that the scriptures are his word, he will 
need no more to convince and satisfy him that he is invited ; 
for the scriptures are full of invitations to sinners, to the chief 
of sinners, to come and partake of the benefits of the gos- 
pel ; he will not want any new speaking of God to him, what 
he hath spoken already will be enough with him. 

pearance vou may as well bring in immediate revelations, and from thence- 
come to forsake the scriptures " 

And in Pait I. p. 86, he says, " Is Christ yours ? Yes, I see it How ? 
By any word or promise ? No ; this is delusion " And p. 136, speaking of 
them that have no solid ground of peace, he reckons, " Those that content 
themselves with the reve'atioa of the Lord's love without the sight of any 
work, or not looking to it." And says presently after, " 1 he testimony of 
the Spirit does not make a man more a Christian, but only evidenGeth it ; as 

it is the nature of a witnrss not to make a thing to be true, but to clear and 
evidence it." And p. 140. Speaking of them that say they have the wit- 
ness of the Spirit, that makes a difference between them a. id hypocrites, he 
says, " the witness of the Spirit makes not the first difference : For first a 

man is a believer, an^ in Christ, and justified, called and sanctified, before 

the Spirit docs witness it ; else the Spirit should witness to an untruth and 



As the first comfort of many persons, and their affections 
at the time of their supposed conversion, are built on such 
grounds as these which have been mentioned ; so are their 
joys and hopes and other affections, from time to time after, 
wards. They have often particular words of scripture, sweet 
•declarations and promises suggested to them, which by rea- 
son of the manner of their coming, they think are immedi- 
ately sent from God to them, at that time, which they look 
upon as their warrant to take theni, and which they actually 
make the main ground of their appropriating them to them- 
selves, and of the comfort they take in them, and the confi- 
dence they receive from them. Thus they imagine a kind 
of conversation is carried on between God and them ; and 
that God, from time to time, docs, as it were, immediately 
speak to them, and satisfy their doubts, and testifies his love 
to them, and promises them supports and supplies, and his 
blessing in such r.nd such cases, and reveals to them clearly 
their interest in eternal blessings. And thus they are of- 
ten elevated, and have a course ©f a sudden and tumultuous 
kind of joys, mingled with a strong confidence, and high o- 
pinion of themselves ; when indeed the main ground of these 
joys, and this confidence, is not any thing contained in, or 
taught by these scriptures, as they lie in the Eible, but the 
manner of their coming to them ; which is a certain evidence 
of their delusion. There is no particular promise in the 
word of God that is the saint's, or is any otherwise made to 
him, or spoken to him, than all the promises of the covenant 
of grace are his, and are made to him and spoken to 
him ;* though it be true that some of these promises may 
be more peculiarly adapted to his case than others, and God 

* Mr. Shepard, in his Sound Believer, p. 159, of the late impression at Bos- 
ton, says, " Embrace in thy bosom, not only some few promises, but all." 
And then he asks the question, " When may a Christian take a promise 
without presumption, as spoken to him ?" He answers, " The rule is very 
sweet, but certain ; when he takes all the scripture, and embraces it as spok- 
en unto him, he may then take any particular promise boldly. My meaning 
is, when a Christian takes hold, and wrestles with God for the accomplish- 
ment of all the promises of the New Testament, when he sets all the com- 
mands before him, as a compass and guide to walk after, when he applies all 


by his Spirit, may enable him better to understand some thai} 
others, and to have a greater sense of the preciousness, and 
glow, and suitableness of the blessings contained in them. 

But here some may be ready to say, What, is there no such 
thing as any particular spiritual application of the promise* 
of scripture by the Spirit of God ? I answer, there is doubt- 
less such a thing as a spiritual and saving application of the 
invitations and promises of scripture to the souls of men ; 
but it is also certain, that the nature of it is wholly misunder- 
stood by many persons, to the great ensnaring of their own 
souls, and the giving Satan a vast advantage against them, and 
against the interest of religion, and the church ol God. The 
spiritual application of a scripture promise does not consist 
in its being immediately suggested to the thoughts by some 
extrinsic agent, and being borne into the mind with this 
strong apprehension, that it is particularly spoken and direct- 
ed to them at that time ; there is nothing of the evidence of 
the hand of God in this effect, as events have proved, in ma- 
ny notorious instances ; and it is a mean notion of a spiritual 
application of scripture ; there is nothing in the nature of it 
at all beyond the power of the devil, if he be not restrained by 
God ; for there is nothing in the nature of the effect that is 
spiritual, implying any vital communication of God. A truly 
spiritual application of the word of God is of a vastly higher 
nature ; as much above the devil's power, as it is, so to apply 
the word of God to a dead corpse, as to raise it to life ; or t® 
a stone, to turn it into an angel. A spiritual application of 
the word of God consists in applying it to the heart, in spir- 
itually enlightening, sanctifying influences. A spiritual ap- 
plication of an invitation or offer of the gospel consists, in giv- 
ing the soul a spiritual sense or relish of the holy and divine 
blessings offered, and also the sweet and wonderful grace of 
the offerer, in mahing so gracious an offer, and of his holy 
excellency and faithfulness to fulfil what he offers, and his 
glorious sufficiency for it ; so leading and drawing forth the 

the thrcatenings to drive him nearer unto Christ, the end of them. This no 
hypocrite can do ; this the saints shall do ; and by this they may knovy 
v;hen the Lord speaks in particular unto them." 


taavt to embrace the offer ; and thus giving the man evi- 
dence of his title to the thing offered. And so a spiritual appli- 
cation of the promises of scripture, for the comfort of the 
saints, consists in enlightening their minds to see the holy 
excellency and sweetness of the blessings promised, and also 
the holy excellency of the promiser, and his faithfulness and 
sufficiency ; thus drawing forth their hearts to embrace the 
promiser, and thing promised ; and by this means, giving the 
sensible actings of grace, enabling them to see their grace, 
and so their title to the promise. An application not consist- 
ing in this divine sense and enlightening of the mind, but con- 
sisting only in the word's being born into the thoughts, as if 
immediately then spoken, so making persons believe, on no 
other foundation, that the promise is theirs, is a blind ap- 
plication, and belongs to the spirit of darkness, and not of 

When persons have their affections raised after this man- 
ner, those affections are really not raised by the word of God ; 
the scripture is not the foundation of them ; it is not any 
thing contained in those scriptures which come to their minds, 
that raise their affections ; but truly that effect, viz. the strange 
manner of the word's being suggested to their minds, and a 
proposition from thence taken up by them, which indeed is 
not contained in that scripture, nor any other ; as that his sins 
are forgiven him, or that it is the Father's good pleasure to 
give him in particular the kingdom, or the like. There are 
propositions to be found in the Bible, declaring that persons 
of such and such qualifications are forgi-en and beloved of 
God : But there are no propositions to be found in the Bible, 
declaring that such and such particular persons, independent 
on any previous knowledge of any qualifications, are forgiven 
and beloved of God : And therefore, when any person is com- 
forted, and affected by any such proposition, it is by another 
word, a word newly coined, and not any word of God contain- 
ed in the Bible.* And thus many persons are vainly affected 
and deluded. 

* " Some Christians have rested with a work, without Christ, which is abom- 
inable : But after a man is in Christ, not to judge by the work, is first not to 


Again, it plainly appears from what has been demonstrat- 
ed, that no revelation of secret facts by immediate suggestion, 
is any thing spiritual and divine, in that sense wherein gra- 
cious effects and operations are so. 

By secret facts, I mean things that have been done, or arc 
come to pass, or shall hereafter come to pass, which are se- 
cret in that sense that they do not appear to the senses, nor 
are known by any argumentation, or any evidence to reason, 
nor any other way, but only by that revelation by immediate 
suggestion of the ideas of them to the mind. Thus for in- 
stance, if it should be revealed to me, that the next year this 
land would be invaded by a fleet from France, or that such 
and such persons would then be converted, or that I myself 
should then be converted ; not by enabling me to argue out 
these events from any thing which now appears in providence, 
but immediately suggesting and bearing in upon my mind, in 
an extraordinary manner, the apprehension or ideas of these 
facts, with a strong suggestion or impression on my mind, 
that I had no hand in myself, that these things would come 
to pass : Or if it should be revealed to me, that this day there 
is a battle fought between the armies of such and such pow- 
ers in Europe ; or that such a prince in Europe was this day 
converted, or is now in a converted state, having been con- 
verted formerly, or that one of my neighbors is converted, or 
that I myself am converted ; not by having any other evidence 
of any of these facts, from whence I argue them, but an im- 
mediate extraordinary suggestion or excitation of these ideas, 
and a strong impression of them upon my mind : This is a 

judge from a word. For though there is a word, which may give a man a 
dependence on Christ, without feeling any work, nay when he feels none, as 
absolute promises ; yet no word giving assurance, but that which is made to 
some work, he that believeth, or is poor in spirit, &c. until that work is seen, 
has no assurance from that promise." Shepard's Parable of the Ten Virgins t 
Part I. p. 86. 

"If Go J should tell a saint that he has grace, he might know it by believ- 
ing the word of God : But it is not in this way that godly men do know that 
they have, grace : It is not revealed in the word, and the Spirit of God doth 
not testify it to particular persons." Stoddard's Nature of Saving CtHveriien, 
p. 8-j, 85. 


revelation of secret facts by immediate suggestion, as much 
as if the facts were future ; for the facts being past, present, 
or future, alters not the case, as long as they are secret and 
hidden from my penses and reason, and not spoken of in scrip- 
ture, nor known by me any other way than by immediate sug- 
gestion. If I have it revealed to me, that such a revolution 
is come to pass this day in the Ottoman Empire, it is the very 
same sort of revelation, as if it were revealed to me that such 
a revolution would come to pass there this day come twelve- 
month ; because, though one is present and the other future, 
yet both are equally hidden from me, any other way than by 
immediate revelation. When Samuel told Saul that the asses 
which he went to seek were found, and that his father had 
left caring for the asses and sorrowed for him ; this was by 
the same kind of revelation, as that by which he told Saul, 
that in the plain of Tabor there should meet him three men 
going up to God to Bethel (1 Sam. x. 2, 3.) though one of 
these things was future, and the other was not. So when 
Elisha told the king of Israel the words that the. king of Syria 
spake in his bed chamber, it was by the same kind of revela- 
tion with that by which he foretold many things to come. 

It is evident that this revelation of secret facts by immedi- 
ate suggestions, has nothing of the nature of a spiritual and 
divine operation, in the sense fore mentioned ; there is noth- 
ing at all in the nature of the perceptions or ideas themselves, 
which are excited in the mind, that is divinely excellent, and 
so, far above all the ideas of natural men ; though the man- 
ner of exciting the ideas be extraordinary. In those things 
which are spiritual, as has been shown, not only the manner 
of producing the effect, but the effect wrought is divine, and 
so vastly above all that can be in an unsanctined mind. Now 
simply the having an idea of facts, setting aside the manner 
of producing those ideas, is nothing beyond what the minds 
of wicked men are susceptible of, without any goodness in 
them ; and they all, either have or will have, the knowledge 
of the truth of the greatest and most important facts, that 
have been, are, or shall be. 


And as to the extraordinary manner of producing the idea,' 
or perception of facts, even by immediate suggestion, there is 
nothing in it, but what the minds of natural men, while they 
are yet natural men, are capable of, as is manifest in Balaam, 
and others spoken of in the scripture. And therefore it ap- 
pears that there is nothing appertaining to this immediate 
suggestion of secret facts that is spiritual, in the sense in 
which it has been proved that gracious operations are so. If 
there be nothing in the ideas themselves, which is holy and 
divine, and so nothing but what may be in a mind not sancti- 
fied, then God can put them into the mind by immediate 
power, Without sanctifying it. As there is nothing in the idea 
of a rainbow itself, that is of a holy and divine nature ; so that 
nothing hinders but that an unsanctified mind may receive 
that idea ; so God, if he pleases, and when he pleases, imme- 
diately, and in an extraordinary manner, may excite that idea 
in an unsanctified mind. So also, as there is nothing in the 
idea or knowledge that such and such particular persons are 
forgiven and accepted of God, and i'ntitlecl to heaven, but what 
unsanctified minds may have and will have concerning many 
a't the day of judgment ; so God can, if he pleases, extraordi- 
narily and immediately, suggest this to, and impress it upon 
an unsanctified mind now : There is no principle wanting in 
an unsanctified mind, to make it capable of such a suggestion 
or impression, nor is there any thing in it to exclude, or nec- 
essarily to prevent such a suggestion. 

And if these suggestions of secret facts be attended with 
texts of scripture, immediately and extraordinarily brought to 
mind, about some other facts that seem in some respects sim- 
ilar, that does not make the operation to be of a spiritual and 
divine nature. For that suggestion of words of scripture is 
no more divine, than the suggestion of the facts themselves ; 
as has been just now demonstrated : And two effects togeth- 
er, which are neither of them spiritual, cannot make up one 
complex eject, that is spiritual. 

Hence it fellows, from what has been already shown, and 
often repeated, that those affection? which are properly found- 
ed on such immediate suggestions, or supposed suggestions; 


of secret facts, are not gracious affections. Not but that it is 
possible that such suggestions may be the occasion, or acci- 
dental cause of gracious affections ; for so may a mistake and 
delusion ; but it is never properly the foundation of gracious 
affections : For gracious affections, as has been shewn, are 
all the effects of an influence and operation which is spiritual^ 
supernatural, and divine. But there are many affections, and 
high affections, which some have, that have such kind of 
suggestions or revelations for their very foundation : They 
look upon these as spiritual discoveries, which is a gross de- 
lusion, and this delusion is truly the spring whence their af- 
fections flow. 

Here it may be proper to observe, that it is exceedingly 
manifest from what has been said, that what many persons 
call the witness of the Spirit, that they are the children of 
God, has nothing in it spiritual and divine ; and consequent- 
ly that the affections built upon it are vain and delusive. That 
■which many call the witness of the Spirit, is no other than an 
immediate suggestion and impression of that fact, otherwise 
secret, that they are converted, or made the children of God, 
and so that their sins are pardoned, and that God has given 
them a title to heaven. This kind of knowledge, viz. know- 
ing that a certain person is converted, and delivered from 
hell, and intitled to heaven, is no divine sort of knowledge in 
itself. This sort of fact, is not that which requires any high- 
er or more divine kind of suggestion, in order to impress it on 
the mind, than any other fact which Balaam had impressed 
on his mind. It requires no higher sort of idea or sensation, 
for a man to have the apprehension of his own conversion 
impressed upon him, than to have the apprehension of his 
neighbor's conversion, in like manner impressed : But God, 
if he pleased, might impress the knowledge of this fact, that 
he had forgiven his neighbor's sins, and given him a title to 
heaven, as well as any other fact, without any communication 
of his holiness : The excellency and importance of the fact, 
do not at all hinder a natural man's mind being susceptible of 
an immediate suggestion and impression of it. Balaam had 

Vol. IV. W 


as excellent, and important, and glorious facts as this, imme- 
diately impressed on his mind, without any gracious influ- 
ence ; as particularly, the coming of Christ, and his setting 
up his glorious kingdom, and the blessedness of the spiritual 
Israel in his peculiar favor, and their happiness living and 
dying. Yea, Abimelech, king of the Philistines, had God's 
special favor to a particular person, even Abraham, revealed 
to him, Gen. xx. 6, 7. So it seems that he revealed to Laban 
his special favor to Jacob, see Gen. xxxi. 24, and Psal. cv. 15. 
And if a truly good man should have an immediate revelation 
or suggestion from God, after the like manner, concerning his 
favor to his neighbor, or himself ; it would be no higher kind 
of influence ; it would be no more than a common sort of in- 
fluence of God's Spirit ; as the gift of prophecy, and all reve- 
lation by immediate suggestion is ; see 1 Cor. xiii. 2. And 
though it be true, that it is not possible that a natural man 
should have that individual suggestion from the Spirit of God, 
that he is converted, because it is not true ; yet that does not 
arise from the nature of the influence, or because that kind of 
influence which suggests such excellent facts, is too high for 
him to be the subject of ; but purely from the defect of a face 
to be revealed. The influence which immediately suggests 
this fact, when it is true, is of no different kind from that 
which immediately suggests other true facts : And so the 
kind and nature of the influence, is not above what is common 
to natural men, with good men. 

But this is a mean, ignoble notion of the witness of the 
Spirit of God given to his dear children, to suppose that there 
is nothing in the kind and nature of that influence of the Spir- 
it of God, in imparting this high and glorious benefit, but 
what is common to natural men, or which men are capable of, 
and be in the mean time altogether unsanctified and the child- 
Ten of hell; and that therefore the benefit or gift itself has 
nothing of the holy nature of the Spirit of God in it, nothing 
of a vital communication of that Spirit. This notion greallv 
debases that high and most exalted kind of influence and op- 
eration of the Spirit, which there is in the true witness of the 


Spirit.* That which is called the witness of the Spirit, Rom, 
viii. is elsewhere in the<New Testament called the seal of the 
Spirit, 2 Cor. i. 22, Eph. i. 13, and iv. 13, alluding to the seal 
of princes, annexed to the instrument, by which they advanc- 
ed any of their subjects to some high honor and dignity, or 
peculiar privilege in the kingdom, as a token of their special 
favor. Which is an evidence that the influence of the Spirit 
of the Prince of princes, in sealing his favorites, is far from 
being of a common kind ; and that there is no effect of God's 
Spirit whatsoever, which is in its nature more divine ; noth- 
ing more holy, peculiar, inimitable and distinguishing of di- 
vinity : As nothing is more royal than the royal seal ; noth- 
ing more sacred, that belongs to a prince, and more peculiar- 
ly denoting what belongs to him ; it being the very end and 
design of it, to be the most peculiar stamp and confirmation 
of the royal authority, and great note of distinction, whereby 
that which proceeds from the king, or belongs to him, may 
be known from every thing else. And therefore undoubtedly 
the seal of the great King of heaven and earth instamped on 
the heart, is something high and holy in its own nature, some 
excellent communication from the infinite fountain of divine 

* The late venerable Stoddard, in his younger time, falling in with the opin- 
ion of some others, received this notion of the witness of the Spirit, by way 
of immediate suggestion ; but, in the latter part of his life, when he had more 
thoroughly weighed things, and had more experience, he entirely rejected it ; 
as appears by his treatise of the nature of saving conversion, p. 84. " The 
Spirit of God doth not testify to particular persons, that they aie godly.... 
Some think that the Spirit of God doth testify it to some ; and they ground 
}t on Rom. viii. 16. M The Spirit itself beareth witness with our Spirit, that 
we are the children of God." They think the Spirit reveals it by giving an 
inward testimony to it ; and some godly men think, they have had experience 
of it : But they may easily mistake j when the Spirit of God doth eminently 
stir up a spirit of faith, and sheds abroad the love of God in the heart, it is 
easy to mistake it for a testimony. And that is not the meaning of Paul's 
words. The Spirit reveals things to us, by opening our eyes to see what is 
revealed in the word ; but the Spirit doth not reveal new truths, not revealed 
in the word. The Spirit discovers the grace of God in Christ, and thereby 
draws forth special actings of faith and love, which are evidential ; but it doth 
not work in way of testimony. If God do but help us to receive the reve. 
litions in the word, we shall have comfort enough without new revelations," 


beauty and glory ; and not merely a making known a secret 
fact by rcvel.ition or suggestion ; which is a sort of influence 
of the Spirit of God, that the children of the devil have often 
been the subjects of. The seal of the Spirit is a kind of effect 
of the Spirit of God on the heart, which natural men, while 
such, are so far from a capacity of being the subjects of, that 
they can have no manner of notion or idea of it ; agreeable to 
Rev. ii. i7. u To him that overcometh will I give to eat of 
the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and in 
the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth, saving 
he that receivcth it." There is all reason to suppose that 
what is here spoken of, is the same mark, evidence, or blessed 
token of special favor, which is elsewhere called the seal of 
the Spirit." 

What has misled many in their notion of that influence of 
the Spirit of God we are speaking of, is the word witness, its 
being called the witness of the Spirit. Hence they have tak- 
en it, not to be any effect or work ol the Spirit upon the heart, 
giving evidence, from whence men may argue that they are 
the children of God ; but an inward immediate suggestion, as 
though God inwardly spoke to the man, and testified to him, 
and told him that he was his child, by a kind of a secret voice, 
or impression : Not observingrthe manner in which the word, 
witness or testimony, is often used in the New Testament, 
where such terms often signify, not only a mere declaring and 
asserting a thing to be true, but holding forth evidence from 
whence a thing may be argued, and proved to be true. Thqs 
Heb. ii. 4. " God is said to bear witness, with signs and won- 
ders, and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost." 'Now 
these miracles, here spoken of, are called God's witness, not 
because they are of the nature of assertions, but evidences and 
proofs. So Acts xiv. 3. " Long time therefore abode they 
speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the 
word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done 
by their hands." And John v. 36. " But I have greater wit- 
ness than that of John : For the works which the Father hath 
given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of 
inc. that the Father hath sent me.'? Again, chap. x. 25. '.' The 


■works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of 
me." So the water and the blood are said to bear witness, 
I John v. 8, not that they spoke or asserted any thing, but 
they were proofs and evidences. So God's works of provi- 
dence, in the rain and fruitful seasons, are spoken of as wit- 
nesses of God's being and goodness, i. e. they are eviden- 
ces of these things. And when the scripture speaks of the 
seal of the Spirit, it is an expression which properly denotes, 
not an immediate voice or suggestion, but some work or ef- 
fect of the Spirit, that is left as a divine mark upon the soul to 
be an evidence, by which God's children might be known. 
The seals of princes were the distinguishing marks of prin- 
ces : And thus God's seal is spoken of as God's mark, Rev. 
vii. 3. '« Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, 
tillwe have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads ;" 
together with Ezek. ix. 4. « Set a mark upon the foreheads 
of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that 
are done in the midst thereof." When God sets his seal 
on a man's heart by his Spirit, there is some holy stamp, 
some image impressed and left upon the heart by the Spirit, 
as by the seal upon the wax. And this holy stamp, or im- 
pressed image, exhibiting clear evidence to the conscience, 
that the subject of it is the child of God, is the very thing 
which in scripture is called the seal of the Spirit, and the wit- 
ness, or evidence of the Spirit. And this image instamped 
by the Spirit on God's childrens' hearts, is his own image ; 
that is the evidence by which they are known to be God's 
children, that they have the image of their Father stamped 
nporl their hearts by the Spirit of adoption. Seals an- 
ciently had engraven on them two things, viz. the image and 
the name of the person whose seal it was. Therefore when 
Christ says to his spouse, Cant. viii. 6. " Set me as a seal 
upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm ;" it is as much 
as to say let my name and image remain impressed there. 
The seals of princes were wont to bear their image ; so 
that what they set their seal and royal mark upon, had 
their image left on it. It was the manner of princes of 
©Id to have their image engraven on their jewels and 


precious stones ; and the image of Augustus engraven 
on a precious stone, was used as the seal of the Roman 
emperors, in Christ's and the Apostle's times.* And the 
saints are the jewels of Jesus Christ, the great potentate, 
who has the possession of the empire of the universe ; and 
these jewels have his image instamped upon them, by his 
royal signet, which is the Holy Spirit. And this is undoubt- 
edly what the scripture means by the seal of the Spirit ; es- 
pecially when it is stamped in so fair and clear a manner, as 
to be plain to the eye of conscience ; which is what the 
scripture calls our spirit. This is truly an effect that is spir- 
itual, supernatural, and divine. This is in itself of a holy na- 
ture, being a communication of the divine nature and beauty. 
That kind of influence of the Spirit which gives and leaves 
this stamp upon the heart, is such that no natural mm can 
be the subject of any thing of the like nature with it. This 
is the highest sort of witness of the Spirit, which it is possible 
the soul should be the subject of : If there were any such 
thing as a witness of the Spirit by immediate suggestion or 
revelation, this would be vastly more noble and excellent, and 
as much above it as the heaven is above the earth. This the 
devil cannot imitate ; as to an inward suggestion of the Spir- 
it of God, by a kind of secret voice speaking, and immediate- 
ly asserting and revealing a fact, he can do that which is a 
thousand times so like to this, as he can to that holy and di- 
vine effect, or work of the Spirit of God, which has now been 
spoken of. 

Another thing which is a full proof that the seal of the Spir- 
it is no revelation of any fact by immediate suggestion, but is 
grace itself in the soul, is, that the seal of the Spirit is called 
in the scripture, the earnest of the Spirit. It is very plain 
that the seal of the Spirit, is the same thing with the ear- 
;/. sit bf the Spirit by 2 Cor. i. 22. « Who hath also sealed 

us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts" 

AndEph. i. 13, 14. "In whom, after that ye believed, ye 
were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the 
earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the pur- 

* Sec Chamber's Dictionary, under the word bngraving. 


chased possession unto the praise of his glory." Now the 
earnest is part of the money agreed for, given in hand, as a 
token of the whole, to be paid in due time ; a part of the 
promised inheritance granted now, in token of full possession 
of the whole hereafter. But surely that kind of communica- 
tion, of the Spirit of God, which is of the nature of eternal 
glory, is the highest and most excellent kind of communica- 
tion, something that is in its own nature spiritual, holy and 
divine, and far from any thing that is common : And there- 
fore high above any thing of the nature of inspiration, or rev- 
elation of hidden facts by suggestion of the Spirit of God, 
which many natural men have had.^ What is the earnest, and 
beginning of glory, but grace itself, especially in the more 
lively and clear exercises of it ? It is not prophecy, nor 
tongues, nor knowledge, but that more excellent divine thing, 
" charity that never faileth," which is a prelibation and be- 
ginning of the light, sweetness and blessedness of heaven, 
that world of love or charity. It is grace that is the seed of 
glory and dawning of glory in the heart, and therefore it is 
grace that is the earnest of the future inheritance. What is 
it that is the beginning or earnest of eternal life in the soul, 
but spiritual life ; and what is that but grace ? The inheri- 
tance that Christ has purchased for the elect, is the Spirit of 
God ; not in any extraordinary gifts, but in his vital indwell" 
Sng in the heart, exerting and communicating himself there, 
in his own proper, holy, or divine nature ; and this is the 
sum total of the inheritance that Christ purchased for the 
elect. For so are things constituted in the affair of our re- 
demption, that the Father provides the Saviour or purchaser, 
and the purchase is made of him ; and the Son is the pur- 
chaser and the price ; and the Holy Spirit is the great bless- 
ing or inheritance purchased, as is intimated, Gal.iii. 13, 14, 
and hence the Spirit often is spoken of as the sum of the bless- 
ings promised in the gospel, Luke xxiv. 49. Acts i. 4, and 
chap, ii 38,39. Gal.iii. 14. Eph.'i. 13. Thisinheritance was the 
grand legacy which Christ left his disciples and church, in 
his last will and testament, John chap. xiv. xv. xvi. This is 
the sum of the blessings of eternal life, which shall be given 


in heaven. (Compare John vii. 37, S8, 39, and John iv. 14, 
■with Rev. xxi. 6, and xxii. 1, 17.) It is through the vital 
communications and indwelling of the Spirit that the saints 
have all their light, life, holiness, beauty, and joy in heaven ; 
and it is through the vital communications and indwelling cf 
the same Spirit that the saints have all light, life, holiness,beau 
ty and comfort on earth ; but only communicated in less meas- 
ure. And this vital indwelling of the Spirit in the saints, in 
this less measure and small beginning, is, " the earnest of 
the Spirit, the earaest of the future inheritance, and the first 
fruits of the Spirit, 1 ' as the apostle calls it, Rom. viii. 22, 
where, by " the first fruits of the Spirit," the apostle un- 
doubtedly means the same vital, gracious principle that he 
speaks of in all the preceding part of the chapter, which he 

calls Spirit, and sets in opposition to flesh or corruption 

Therefore this earnest of the Spirit, and first fruits of the Spir- 
it, which has been shown to be the same with the seal of the 
Spirit, is the vital, gracious, sanctifying communication and 
influence of the Spirit, and not any immediate suggestion or 
revelation of facts by the Spirit.* 

And indeed the apostle, when in that, Rom. viii. 16, he 
speaks of the Spirit's bearing witness with our spirit that we 
are the children of God, does sufficiently explain himself, if 
his words were but attended to. What is here expressed is 
connected with the two preceding verses, as resulting from 
what the apostle had said there, as every reader may see. 
The three verses together are thus, "For as many as are 
led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God : For ye 
have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear ; but yc 

* fj After a man is in Christ, not to judge by the work, 're not to judge by 

the Spirit. For the apoit"e makes the earnest of the Spirit to be the seal 

Now earnest is part of the money bargained for ; the beginning of heaven, of 
the light and life of it. He thai sees not that the Lord is his by that, sees no 
God of his at all. Oh, therefore, do not look for a Spirit, without a word 
to re\eal, nor a word to reveal, without seeing and feeling of some work first. 
I thank the Lord, I do but pity those that think otherwise lfre sheep of 
f.luiit, Oh, wo:ici:f not,"' tytfiarA'i Fat. P. I. p. a6. 


have received the spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba 
Father: The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirits 
that we are the children of God." Here, what the apostle says, 
if we take it together, plainly shews that what he has respect 
to, when he speaks of the Spirit's giving us witness or evi- 
dence that we are God's children, is his dwelling in us, and 
leading vis, as a spirit of adoption, or spirit of a child, dispos- 
ing us to behave towards God as to a Father. This is the wit- 
ness or evidence which the apostle speaks of that we are child- 
ren, that we have the spirit of children, or spirit of adoption. 
And what is that but the spirit of love ? There are two kinds 
of spirits the apostle speaks of, the spirit of a slave, or the 
spirit of bondage, that is fear ; and the spirit of a child, or 
spirit of adoption, and that is love. The apostle says, we 
have not received the spirit of bondage, or of slaves, which is 
a spirit of fear ; but we have received the more ingenuous 
noble spirit of children, a spirit of love, which naturally dis- 
poses us to go to God as children to a father, and behave to- 
wards God as children. And this is the evidence or witness 
which the Spirit of God gives us that we are his children. This 
is the plain sense of the apostle ; and so undoubtedly he here 
is speaking of the very same way of casting out doubting and 
fear and the spirit of bondage, which the Apostle John speaks 
of, 1 John iv. 18, viz. by the prevailing of love, that is the 
spirit of a child- The spirit of bondage works by fear, the 
slave fears the rod : But love cries, Abba Father ; it dispos- 
es us to go to God, and behave ourselves towards God as child- 
ren ; and it gives us clear evidence of our union to God as 
his children, and so casts out fear. So that it appears that 
the witness of the Spirit the apostle speaks of, is far from be- 
ing any whisper, or immediate suggestion or revelation ; but 
that gracious holy effect of the Spirit of God in the hearts of 
the sain's, the disposition and temper of children, appearing 
in sweet childlike love to God, which casts out fear, or a spir- 
it of a slave. 

And the same thing is evident from all the context : It is 
plain the apostle speaks of the Spirit, over and over again, 
as dwelling in the hearts of the saints, as a gracious principle, 
Vol. IV. X 


set in opposition to the flesh or corruption : And so he doc's 
in the words that immediately introduce this passage we are 
upon, ver. 13. « For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die : 
But if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the flesh, 
ye shall live." 

Indeed it is past doubt with me, that the apostle has a more 
special respect to the spirit of grace, or the spirit of love, or 
spirit of a child, in its more lively actings ; for it is perfect 
love, or strong love only, which so witnesses or evidences 
that we are children, as to cast out fear, and wholly deliver 
from the spirit of bondage. The strong and lively exercises 
of a spirit of childlike, evangelical, humble love to God, give 
clear evidence of the soul's relation to God as his child ; 
which does very greatly and directly satisfy the soul. And 
though it be far from being true, that the soul m this case, 
judges only by an immediate witness, without any sign or 
evidence ; for it judges and is assured by the greatest sign 
and clearest evidence ; yet in this case the saint stands in no 
need of multiplied signs, or any long reasoning upon them. 
And though the sight of his relative union with God, and his 
being in his favor, is not without a medium, because he 
sees it by that medium, viz. his love ; yet his sight cf the 
union of his heart to God is immediate : Love, the bond of 
union, is seen intuitively : The saint sees and feels plainly 
the union between his soul and God ; it is so strong and live- 
ly, that he cannot doubt of it. And hence he is assured that 
he is a child. How can he doubt whether he stands in a 
childlike relation to God, when he plainly sees a childlike 
union bettveen God and his soul, and hence does boldly, and 
as it were naturally and necessarily cry, Abba, Father ? 

And whereas the apostle says, the Spirit bears witness with 
our spirits ; by our spirit here, is meant our conscience, 
which is called the spirit of man, Prov. xx. 27. " The spir- 
it of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward 
parts of the belly." We elsewhere read of the witness of 
this spirit of ours, 2 Cor. i. 12. « For our rejoicing is this, 
the testimony of our conscience." And 1 John hi. 19, 20, 
21. " And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and 


Shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart con- 
demn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all 
things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we 
confidence towards God." When the Apostle Paul speaks 
of the Spirit of God bearing witness with our spirit, he is not 
to be understood of two spirits that are two separate, collates 
al, independent witnesses ; but it is by one that we receive 
the witness of the other : The Spirit of God gives the evi- 
dence by infusing and shedding abroad the love of God, the 
spirit of a child, in the heart, and our spirit, or our con- 
science, receives and declares this evidence for our rejoic- 

Many have been the mischiefs that have arisen from that 
false and delusive notion of the witness of the Spirit, that it 
is a kind of inward voice, suggestion, or declaration from God 
to man, that he is beloved of him, and pardoned, elected, or 
the like, sometimes with, and sometimes without a text of 
scripture ; and many have been the false, and vain (though 
very high) affections that have arisen from hence. And it is 
to be feared that multitudes of souls hays been eternally un- 
done by it. I have therefore insisted the longer on this head. 
But I proceed now to a second characteristic of gracious 

II. The first objective ground of gracious affections, is the 
transcendently excellent and amiable nature of divine things 
as they are themselves ; and not any conceived relation they 
bear to self, or selfinterest. 

I say, that the supremely excellent nature of divine things, 
is the first, or primary and original objective foundation of 
the spiritual affections of true saints ; for I do not suppose 
that all relation which divine things bear to themselves, and 
their own particular interest, is wholly excluded from all 
influence in their gracious affections. For this may have, and 
indeed has, a secondary and consequential influence in those 
affections that are truly holy and spiritual, as I shall show 
how by and by. 

It was before observed, that the affection of love is, as it 
were the fountain of all affection ; and particularly that Christ- 


ian love is the fountain of all gracious affections : Now the 
divine excellency and glory of God and Jesus Christ, the 
word of God, the works of God, and the ways of God, Sec. 
is the primary reason why a true saint loves these things ; 
and not any supposed interest that he has in them, or any 
conceived henefit that he has received from them, or shall 
receive from them, or any such imagined relation which they 
bear to his interest, that selflove can properly be said to be 
the first foundation of his love to these things. 

Some say that all lbve arises from selflove ; and that it is 
impossible in the nature of things, for any man to have any 
love to God, or any other being, but that love to himself must 
be the foundation of it. But I humbly suppose it is for want 
of consideration that they say so. They argue, that whoever 
loves God. and so desires his glory or the enjoyment of him, 
he desires these things as his own happiness ; the glory of 
God, and the beholding and enjoying his perfections, arc 
considered as things agreeable to him, tending to make him 
happy ; he places his happiness in them, and desires them as 
things, which (if they were obtained) would be delightful to 
him, or would fill him with delight and joy, and so make him 
happy. And so, they say, it is from selflove, or a desire of 
his own happiness, that he desires God should be glorified, 
and desires to behold and enjoy his glorious perfections. But 
then they ought to consider a little further, and inquire how 
the mem came to place his happiness in God's being glori- 
fied, and in contemplating and enjoying God's perfections.... 
There is no doubt but that after God's glory, and the be- 
holding his perfections, are become so agreeable to him, that 
he places his highest happiness in these things, then he will 
desire them, as he desires his own happiness. But how came 
these things to be so agreeable to him, that he esteems it his 
highest happiness to glorify God, Sec. ? Is not this the fruit 
of love ? A man must first love God, or have his heart unit- 
ed to him, before he will esteem God's good his own, and be- 
fore he will desire the glorifying and enjoying of God as his 
happiness. It is not strong arguing, that because after a man 
has his heart united to God in love, as a fruit of this, 


he desires his glory and enjoyment, as his own happiness, 
that therefore a desire of this happiness of his own must needs 
be the cause and foundation of his love ; unless it be strong 
arguing, that because a father begat a son, therefore his son 
certainly begat him. Ifafteraman loves God, and has his 
heart so united to him, as to look upon God as his chief good, 
and on God's good as his own, it will be a consequence and 
fruit of this, that even selfiove, or love to his own happiness, 
•will cause him to desire the glorifying and enjoying of God ; 
it will not thence follow, that this very exercise of selfiove, 
went before his love to God, and that his love to God was a 
consequence and fruit of that. Something else, entirely dis- 
tinct from selfiove, might be the cause of this, viz. a change 
made in the views of his mind, and relish of his heart ; where- 
t>y he apprehends a beauty, glory, and supreme good, in God's 
nature, as it is in itself. This may be the thing that first 
draws his heart to him, and causes his heart to be united to 
him, prior to all considerations of his own interest or happi- 
ness, although after this, and as a fruit of this, he necessarily 
seeks his interest and happiness in God. 

There is such a thing as a kind of love or affection that a 
man may have towards persons or things, which does prop- 
erly arise from sefllove ; a preconceived relation to himself, 
or some respect already manifested by another to him, or 
some benefit already received or depended on, is truly the 
first foundation of his love, and what his affection does wholly 
arise from ; and is what precedes any relish of, or delight in 
the nature and qualities inherent in the being beloved, as 
beautiful and amiable. When the first thing that draws a 
man's benevolence to another, is the beholding those quali- 
fications and properties in him, which appear to him lovely 
in themselves ; and the subject of them, on this account, 
worthy of esteem and good will, love arises in a very differ- 
ent manner, than when it first arises from some gift bestowed 
by another or depended on from him, as a judge loves and 
favors a man that has bribed him ; or from the relation he 
supposes another has to him, as a man who loves another, 
because he looks upon him as his child. When love to an- 


other arises thus, it does truly and properly arise from self 

That kind of affection to God or Jesus Christ, which docs 
thus properly arise from selflove, cannot he a truly gracious 
and spiritual love, as appears from what has hecn said al- 
ready : For selflove is a principle entirely natural, and as 
much in the hearts of devils as angels ; and therefore surely 
nothing that is the mere result of it can be supernatural and 
divine, in the manner before described.* Christ plainly speaks 
of this kind of love, as what is nothing beyond the love of 
wicked men, Luke vi. 32. " If ye love them, that love you, 
what thank have ye ? For sinners also love those that love 
them." And the devil himself knew that that kind of res- 
pect to God which was so mercenary, as to be only for bene- 
fits received or depended on (which is all one) is worthless 
in the sight of God ; otherwise he never would have made 
use of such a slander before God, against Job, as in Job i. 9, 
10. " Doth Job serve God for nought ? Hast not thou made 
an hedge about him, and about his house," Sec. Nor would 
God ever have implicitly allowed the objection to have been 
good, in case the accusation had been true, by allowing that 
that matter should be tried, and that Job should be so dealt 
with, that it might appear in the event, whether Job's res- 
pect to God was thus mercenary or no, and by putting the 
proof of the sincerity and goodness of his respect upon that 

It is unreasonable to think otherwise, than that the first 
foundation of a true love to God, is that whereby he is in him- 
self lovely, or worthy to be loved, or the supreme loveliness 
of his nature. This is certainly what makes him chiefly ami- 
able. What chiefly makes a man, or any creature lovely, is 
his excellency ; and so what chiefly renders God lovely, and 
must undoubtedly be the chief ground of true love, is his ex- 
cellency. God's nature, or the divinity, is infinitely exccl- 

* •« There is a r.?tural love to Christ, as to one that doth thee good, and for 
th'meownends ; and spiritual, for himself, whereby the Lord only is exalted." 
tfcperd's Par. of the Ten Virgins, P. I, p. 85. 


lent ; yea it is infinite beauty, brightness, and glory itself. 
But how can that be true love of this excellent and lovely na- 
ture, which is not built on the foundation of its true loveli- 
ness ? How can that be true love of beauty and brightness, 
which is not for beauty and brightness' sake ? How can that 
be a true prizing of that which is in itself infinitely worthy 
and precious, which is not for the sake of its worthiness and 
preciousness ? This infinite excellency of the divine nature, 
as it is in itself, is the true ground of all that is good in God 
in any respect ; but how can a man truly and rightly love 
God, without loving him for that excellency in him, which is 
the foundation of all that is in any manner of respect good or 
desirable in him ? They whose affection to God is founded 
first on his profitableness to them, their affection begins at the 
wrong end ; they regard God only for the utmost limit of the 
stream of divine good, where it touches them, and reaches 
their interest ; and have no respect to that infinite glory of 
God's nature, which is the original good, and the true foun- 
tain of all good, the first fountain of all loveliness of every 
kind, and so the first foundation of all true love. 

A natural principle of selflove may be the foundation of 
great affections towards God and Christ, without seeing any 
thing of the beauty and glory of the divine nature. There is 
a certain gratitude that is a mere natural thing. Gratitude is 
one of the natural affections of the soul of man, as well as an- 
ger ; and there is a gratitude that arises from selflove, very 
much in the same manner that anger does. Anger in men is 
an affection excited against another, or in opposition to anoth- 
er, for something in him that crosses selflove : Gratitude is 
an affection one has towards another, for loving him, or grati- 
fying him, or for something in him that suits selflove. And 
there may be a kind of gratitude, without any true or proper 
love ; as there may be anger without any proper hatred, as in 
parents towards their children, that they may be angry with, 
and yet at the same time have a strong habitual love to them. 
This gratitude is the principle which is an exercise in wicked 
men, in that which Christ declares concerning them, in the 
6th of Luke, where he says, sinners love those that love them ; 


and which he declares concerning even the publicans, who' 
-were some of the most carnal and profligate sort of men, Mat. 
v. 46. This is the very principle that is wrought upon by- 
bribery, in unjust judges ; and it is a principle that even the 
brute beasts do exercise ; a dog will love his master that is 
kind to him. And we see in innumerable instances, that mere 
nature is sufficient to excite gratitude in men, or to affect their 
hearts with thankfulness to others for kindnesses received ; 
and sometimes towards them, whom at the same time they 
have an habitual enmity against. Thus Saul was once and 
again greatly affected, and even dissolved with gratitude to- 
wards David, for sparing his life, and yet remained an habit- 
ual enemy to him. And as men, from mere nature, may be 
thus affected towards men ; so they may towards God. There 
is nothing hinders, but that the same selflove may work after 
the same manner towards God as towards men. And we 
have manifest instances of it in scripture ; as indeed the child- 
ren of Israel, who sang God's praises at the Red Sea, but 
soon forgat God's works : And in Naaman the Syrian, who 
was greatly affected with the miraculous cure of his leprosy, 
so as to have his heart engaged thenceforward to worship the 
God that had healed him, and him only, excepting when it 
would expose him to be ruined in his temporal interest. So 
was Nebuchadnezzar greatly affected with God'3 goodness to 
him, in restoring him to his reason and kingdom, after his 
dwelling with the beasts. 

Gratitude being thus a natural principle, it renders ingrati- 
tude so much the more vile and heinous ; because it shews 
a dreadful prevalence of wickedness, when it even overbears 
and suppresses the belter principles of human nature : As it 
is mentioned as an evidence of the high decree of the wick- 
edness of many of the heathen, that they were without natural 
affection. Rom. ii. 31. But that the want of gratitude, or nat- 
ural affection, is evidence of an high degree of vice, is no 
argument that all gratitude and natural affection has the na- 
ture of virtue, or saving grace. 

Seiflove, through the exercise of mere natural gratitude, 
may be the foundation of a sort of love to God many ways. 


A kind of love may arise from a false notion of God, that men 
have been educated in, or have some way imbibed ; as though 
he were only goodness and mercy, and not revenging justice ; 
or as though the exercises of his goodness were necessary, 
and not free and sovereign ; or as though his goodness were 
dependent on what is in them, and as it were constrained by 
them. Men on such grounds as these, may love a God of 
their own forming in their imaginations, when they are far 
from loving such a God as reigns in heaven. 

Again, selflove may be the foundation of arr affection in 
men towards God, through a great insensibility of their state 
with regard to God, and for want of conviction of conscience 
to make them sensible how dreadfully they have provoked 
God to anger ; they have no sense of the heinousness of sin, 
as against God, and of the infinite and terrible opposition of 
the holy nature of God against it : And so, having formed in 
their minds such a God as suits them, and thinking God to be 
such an one as themselves, who favors and agrees with them, 
they may like him very well, and feel a sort of love to him, 
when they are far from loving the true God. And men's af- 
fections may be much moved towards God, from selflove, by 
some remarkable outward benefits received from God ; as it 
was with Naaman, Nebuchadnezzar, and the children of Israel 
at the Red Sea. 

Again, a very high affection towards God, may, and often 
does arise in men, from an opinion of the favor and love of 
God to them, as the first foundation of their love to him. 
After awakenings and distress, through fears of hell, they 
may suddenly get a notion, through some impression on their 
imagination, or immediate suggestion with or without texts of 
scripture, or by some other means, that God loves them, anJ 
has forgiven their sins, and made them his children ; and this 
is the first thing that causes their affections to flow towards 
God and Jesus Christ : And then after this, and upon this 
foundation, many things in God may appear lovely to them, 
and Christ may seem excellent. And if such persons are 
asked, whether God appears lovely and amiable in himself ? 
They would perhaps readilv answer, Yes ; when indeed, if 

Vol IV. Y 


the matter be strictly examined, this good opinion of God was 
purchased and paid for before ever they afforded it, in the 
distinguishing and infinite benefits they imagined they receiv- 
ed from God : And they allow God to be lovely in himself, 
no otherwise than that he has forgiven them, and accepted 
them, and loves them above most in the world, and has en- 
gaged to improve all his infinite power and wisdom in prefer- 
ing, dignifying, and exalting them, and will do for them just 
as they would have him. When once they are firm in this 
apprehension, it is easy to own God and Christ to be lovely 
and glorious, and to admire and extol them. It is easy for 
them to own Christ to be a lovely person, and the best in 
the world, when they are first firm in it, that he, though Lord of 
the universe, is captivated with love to them, and has his heart 
swallowed up in them, and prizes them far beyond most of 
their neighbors, and loved them from eternity, and died for 
them, and will make them reign in eternal glory with him in 
heaven. When this is the case with carnal men, their \ cry 
lusts will make him seem lovely : Pride itself will prejudice 
them in favor of that which they call Christ : Selfish, proud 
man naturally calls that lovely that greatly contributes to his 
interest, and gratifies his ambition. 

And as this sort of persons begin, so they go on. Their af- 
fections are raised from time to time, primarily on this foun- 
dation of selflove and a conceit of God's love to them. Many 
have a false notion of communion with God, as though it were 
carried on by impulses, and whispers, and external representa- 
tions, immediately made to their imagination. These things 
they often have ; which they take to be manifestations of 
God's great love to them, and evidences of their high exalta- 
tion above others of mankind ; and so their affections are often 
renewedly set agoing. ■ 

Whereas the exercises of true and holy love in the saints 
arise in another way. They do not first see that God loves 
them, and then see that he is lovely, but they first see that 
God is lovely, and that Christ is excellent and glorious, and 
their hearts are first captivated with this view, and the exer- 
cises of their love are wont from time to time to begin here, 


and to arise primarily from these views ; and then, conse- 
quentially, they see God's love, and great favor to them.* 
The saint's affections begin with God ; and selflove has a 
hand in these affections consequentially, and secondarily only. 
On the contrary, those false affections begin with sell, and 
an acknowledgment of an excellency in God, and an affect- 
edness with it, is only consequential and dependent. In the 
love of the true saint God is the lowest foundation ; the love 
of the excellency of his nature is the foundation of all the af- 
fections which come afterwards, wherein selflove is concern- 
ed as an handmaid : On the contrary, the hypocrite lays 
himself at the bottom of all, as the first foundation, and lays 
on God as the superstructure ; and even his acknowledgment 
of God's glory itself depends on his regard to his private in- 

Selflove may not only influence men, so as to cause them 
to be affected with God's kindness to them separately ; but 
also with God's kindness to them as parts of a community : 
As a natural principle of selflove, without .any other princi- 
ple, may be sufficient to make a man concerned for the inter- 
est of the nation to which he belongs : As for instance, in the 
present war, selflove may make natural men rejoice at the 
successes of our nation, and sorry for their disadvantages, 
they being concerned as members of the body. So the same 
natural principle may extend further, and even to the world 
of mankind, and might be affected with the benefits the in- 
habitants of the earth have, beyond those of the inhabitants of 
other planets, if we knew that such there were, and how it 
was with them. So this principle may cause men to be af- 
fected with the benefits that mankind have received beyond 
the fallen angels. And hence men, from this principle, may 
be much affected with the wonderful goodness of God to 
mankind, his great goodness in giving his Son to die for fall- 
en man, and the marvellous love of Christ in suffering such 

* " There is a seeing of Christ afier a man believes, which is Christ in his 
love, &c. But I speak of that first sight of him that precedes the second act 
of faith ; and it is an intuitive, or real sight of him as he is in his glory." 
Shepard's Par. of the T<nVirgins % Part I. p, 74, 


great things for us, and with the great glory they hear God 
has provided in heaven for us ; looking on themselves as per- 
sons concerned and interested, as being some of this species 
of creatures so highly favored : The same principle of nat- 
ural gratitude may influence men here, as in the case of per- 
sonal benefits. 

But these things that I have said do by no means imply, 
that all gratitude to God is a mere natural thing, and that 
there is no such thing as a spiritual gratitude, which is a holy 
and divine affection : They imply no more, than that there 
is a gratitude which is merely natural, and that when persons 
have affections towards God only or primarily for benefits 
received, their affection is only the exercise of a natural 
gratitude. There is doubtless such a thing as a gracious grat- 
itude, which does greatly differ from all that gratitude which 
natural men experience. It differs in the following respects : 

1 • True gratitude or thankfulness to God for his kindness 
to us, arises from a foundation laid before, of love to God for 
what he is in himself; whereas a natural gratitude has no 
such antecedent foundation. The gracious stirrings of grate- 
ful affection to God, for kindness received, always are from a 
stock of love already in the heart, established in the first place 
on other grounds, viz. God's own excellency ; and hence the 
affections are disposed to flow out on occasions of God's kind- 
ness. The saint, having seen the glory of God, and his heart 
being overcome by it, and captivated with love to him on 
that account, his heart hereby becomes tender, and easily af- 
fected with kindnesses received. If a man has no love to an- 
other, yet gratitude may be moved by some extraordinary 
kindness ; as in Saul towards David : But this is not the same 
kind of thing, as a man's gratitude to a dear friend, that his 
heart was before possessed with a high esteem of, and love to ; 
whose heart by this means became tender towards him, and 
more easily affected with gratitude, and affected in another 
manner. Seiflove is not excluded from a gracious gratitude ; 
the saints love God for his kindness to them, Psal. cxvi. 1. 
« I love the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my sup- 
plication." But something else is included ; and another love 


prepares the way, and lays the foundation for these grateful 

2. In a gracious gratitude men are affected with the attri- 
bute of God's goodness and free grace, not only as they are 
concerned in it, or as it affects their interest, but as a part of 
the glory and beauty of God's nature. That wonderful and 
unparalleled grace of God, which is manifested in the work 
of redemption, and shines forth in the face of Jesus Christ, is 
infinitely glorious in itself, and appears so to the angels ; it is 
a great part of the moral perfection and beauty of God's na- 
ture. This would be glorious, whether it were exercised to- 
wards us or no ; and the saint who exercises a gracious thank- 
fulness for it, sees it to be so, and delights in it as such : 
Though his concern in it serves the more to engage his mind 
and raise the attention and affection ; and selflove here assists 
as an handmaid, being subservient to higher principles, to 
lead forth the mind to the view and contemplation, and en- 
gage and fix the attention, and heighten the joy and love 

God's kindness to them is a glass that God sets before them, 
wherein to behold the beauty of the attribute of God's good- 
ness : The exercises and displays of this attribute, by this 
means, are brought near to them, and set right before them. 
So that in a holy thankfulness to God, the concern our inter- 
est has in God's goodness, is not the first foundation of our 
being affected with it ; that was laid in the heart before, in 
that stock of love which was to God, for his excellency in 
himself, that makes the heart tender and susceptive of such 
impressions from his goodness to us. Nor is our own in- 
terest, or the benefits we have received, the only, or the 
chief objective ground of the present exercises of the af- 
fection, but God's goodness, as part of the beauty of his na- 
ture ; although the manifestations of that lovely attribute, set 
immediately before our eyes, in the exercises of it for us, be 
the special occasion of the mind's attention to that beauty, at 
that time, and serves to fix the attention, and heighten the af- 

Some may perhaps be ready to object against the whole 
that has been said, that text, 1 John iv. 19. ' « We love him. 


because he first loved us," as though this implied that God'* 
love to the true saints were the first foundation of their love 
to him. 

In answer to this, I would observe, that the apostle's drift 
in these words, is to magnify the love of God to us from 
hence, that he loved us, while we had no love to him ; as will 
be manifest to any one who compares this verse and the two 
following with the 9th, 10th, and 1 lth verses. And that God 
loved us, when we had no love to him, the apostle proves by 
this argument, that God's love to the elect is the ground of 
their love to him. j\nd that it is three ways. ...1. The saints 
love to God is the fruit of God's love to them, as it is the gift 
of that love. God gave them a spirit of love to him, because 
he loved them from eternity. And in this respect God's love 
to his elect is the first foundation of their love to him, as it 
is the foundation of their regeneration, and the whole of their 
redemption. 2. The exercises and discoveries that God has 
made of his wonderful love to sinful men, by Jesus Christ, in 
the work of redemption, is one of the chief manifestations, 
which God has made of the glory of his moral perfection, to 
both angels and men ; and so is one main objective ground 
of the love of both to God ; in a good consistence with what 
was said before. 3. God's love to a particular elect person, 
discovered by his conversion, is a great manifestation of 
God's moral perfection and glory to him, and a proper occa- 
sion of the excitation of the love of holy gratitude, agree- 
able to what was before said. And that the saints do in these 
respects love Gcd, because he first loved them, fully answers 
the design of the apostle's argument in that place. So that 
no good argument can be drawn from hence, against a spiritual 
and gracious love in the saints, arising primarily from the ex- 
cellency of divine things, as they are in themselves, and not 
from any conceived relation they bear to their interest. 

And as it is with the love of the saints, so it is with their 
joy, and spiritual delight and pleasure : The first foundation 
of it is not any consideration or conception of their interest in 
divine things ; but it primarily consists in the sweet entertain- 
ment their minds have in the view or contemplation of the 


divine and holy beauty of these things, as they are in them- 
selves. And this is indeed the very main difference between 
the joy of the hypocrite, and the joy of the true saint. The 
former rejoices in himself ; self is the first foundation of his 
joy : The latter rejoices in God. The hypocrite has his 
mind pleased and delighted, in the first place, with his own 
privilege, and the happiness which he supposes he has attain- 
ed to, or shall attain to. True saints have their minds, in the 
first place, inexpressibly pleased and delighted with the sweet 
ideas of the glorious and amiable nature of the things of God. 
And this is the spring of all their delights, and the cream of 
all their pleasures : It is the joy of their joy. This sweet and 
ravishing entertainment, they have in the view of the beau- 
tiful and delightful nature of divine things, is the foundation 
of the joy that they have afterwards, in the consideration of 
their being theirs. But the dependence of the affections of 
hypocrites is in a contrary order : They first rejoice and are 
elevated with it, that they are made so much of by God ; 
and then on that ground he seems, in a sort, lovely to them. 
The first foundation of the delight a true saint has in God, 
is his own perfection ; and the first foundation of the delight, 
he has in Christ, is his own beauty ; he appears in himself 
the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely. The 
way of salvation by Christ is a delightful way to him, for the 
sweet and admirable manifestations of the divine perfections 
in it : The holy doctrines of the gospel by which God is ex- 
alted and man abased, holiness honored and promoted, and 
sin greatly disgraced and discouraged, and free and sovereign 
love manifested, are glorious doctrines in his eyes, and sweet 
to his taste, prior to any conception of his interest in these 
things. Indeed the saints rejoice in their interest in God, 
and that Christ is theirs ; and so they have great reason ; 
but this is not the first spring of their joy. They first re- 
joice in God as glorious and excellent in himself, and then 

secondarily rejoice in it, that so glorious a God is theirs 

They first have their hearts filled with sweetness, from thu 
view of Christ's excellency, and the excellency of his grace and 
the beauty of the way of salvation by him, and then they have it 


secondary joy in that so excellent a Saviour, and such excellent 
grace are theirs.* But that which is the true saints superstruct- 
ure is the hypocrites foundation. When they hear of the 
wonderful things of the gospel of God's great love in sending 
his Son, of Christ's dying love to sinners, and the great things 
Christ has purchased and promised to the saints, and hear 
these thing livelily and eloquently set forth ; they may hear 
with a great deal of pleasure, and be lifted up with what they 
hear ; hut if their joy be examined, it will be found to have 
no other foundation than this, that they look upon these 
things as theirs, all this exalts them, they love to hear of the 
great love of Christ, so vastly distinguishing some from others; 
for selflove, and even pride itself makes them affect great dis- 
tinction from others. No wonder, in this confident opinion 
of their own good estate, that they feel well under such doc- 
trine, and are pleased in the highest degree, in hearing how- 
much God and Christ makes of them. So that their joy is 
really a joy in themselves, and not in God, 

And because the joy of hypocrites is in themselves, hence 
it comes to pass that in their rejoicings and elevations, they are 
wont to keep their eye upon themselves : Having received 
what they call spiritual discoveries or experiences, their, 
minds arc taken up about them, admiring their own experi- 
ences ; and what they are principally taken and elevated with, 
is not the glory of God, or beauty of Christ, but the beauty of 
their experiences. They keep thinking- with themselves, 
What a good experience is this ! What a great discovery is 
this ! What wonderful things have I met with ! And so thev 
put their experiences in the place of Christ, and his beauty 

* Dr. Owen, on the Spirit, p. 199, speaking of a common work of the 
Spirit, says, " The eiFects of this woik on the mind, which is the first sub- 
ject affected with it, proceeds not so far as to give delight, complacency and 
satisfaction, in the lovely spiritual nature and excellency of the things reveal- 
ed unto it. The true nature of saving illumination consists in this, that it 
gives the mind such a direct intuitive insight and prospect into spiritual 
things, as that in their own spiritual nature they suit, please, and satisfy it ; 
so that it is transformed into them, cast into the mould of them, and rc:ts in 


and fulness ; and instead of rejoicing in Christ Jesus, they re- 
joice in their admirable experiences ; instead of feeding and 
feasting their souls in the view of what is without them, viz. 
the innate, sweet refreshing amiableness of the things exhib- 
ited in the gospel, their eyes are off from these things, or at 
least they view them only as it were sideways ; but the ob- 
ject that fixes their contemplation, is their experience ; and 
they are feeding their souls, and feasting a selfish principle, 
■with a view of their discoveries : They take more comfort 
in their discoveries than in Christ discovered, which is the 
the true notion of living upon experiences and frames, and 
not a using experiences as the signs on which they rely for 
evidence of their good estate, which some call living on ex- 
periences ; though it be very observable, that some of them 
who do so are most notorious for living upon experiences, ac- 
cording to the true notion of it. 

The affections of hypocrites are very often after this man- 
ner ; they are first much affected with some impression on 
their imagination, or some impulse which they take to be 
an immediate suggestion or- testimony from God of his love 
and their happiness, and high privileges in some respect, 
either with or without a text of scripture ; they are mightily 
taken with this as a great discovery, and hence arise high af- 
fections. And when their affections are raised, then they 
view those high affections, and call them great and wonder- 
ful experiences ; and they have a notion that God is greatly 
pleased with those affections ; and this affects them more ; 
and so they are affected with their affections. And thus their 
affections rise higher and higher, until they sometimes are 
perfectly swallowed up : And self conceit, and a fierce zeal 
rises withal ; and all is built like a castle in the air, on no oth- 
er foundation but imagination) selflove, and pride. 

And as the thoughts of this sort of persons are, so is their 
talk ; for out of the abundance of their heart their mouth 
speaketh. As in their high affections they keep their eye 
upon the beauty of their experiences, and greatness of theii? 
attainments ; so they are great talkers about themselves.... 
The true saint, when under great spiritual affections, from 

Vol. IV. Z 


the fulness of his heart, is ready to be speaking much of Gocl. 
and his glorious perfections and works, and of the beauty 1 and 
amiableness of Christ, and the glorious things of the gospel : 
But hypocrites, in their high affections, talk more of the dis- 
covery, than they do of the thing discovered ; they are full 
of talk about the great things they have met with, the wonder- 
ful discoveries they have had, how sure they are of the love 
of God to them, how safe their condition is, and how they 
know they shall go to heaven, Sec. 

A true saint, when in the enjoyment of true discoveries of 
the sweet glory of God and Christ, has his mind too much 
captivated and engaged by what he views without himself, tc 
stand at that time to view himself, and his own attainments : 
It would be a diversion and loss which he could not bear, to 
take his eye off from the ravishing object of his contempla- 
tion, to survey his own experience, and to spend time in think- 
ing with himself, what an high attainment this is, and what a 
good story I now have to tell others. Nor does the pleasure 
and sweetness of his mind at that lime chiefly arise from the 
consideration of the safety of his state, or any thing he has in 
view of his own qualifications, experiences, or circumstan- 
ces ; but from the divine and supreme beauty of what is the 
object of his direct view, without himself; which sweetly en- 
tertains, and strongly holds his mind. 

As the love and joy of hypocrites are, all from the source 
of selfiove ; so it is with their other affections, their sorrow 
for sin, their humiliation and submission, their religious de- 
sires and zeal : Every thing is, as it were, paid for before- 
hand, in God's highly gratifying their selfiove, and their lusts, 
by making so much of them, and exalting them so highly, 
as things are in their imagination. It is easy for nature, as 
corrupt as it is, under a notion of being already some of the 
highest favorites of heaven, and having a God who does so 
protect them and favor them in their sins, to love this imag- 
inary God that suits them so well, and to extol him, and sub- 
mit to him, and to be fierce and zealous for him. The high 
affections of many are all built on the supposition of their be- 
ing eminent saints. If that opinion which they have of them- 


selves were taken away, if they thought they were some of 
the lower form of saints (though they should yet suppose 
themselves to be real saints) their high affections would fall 
to the ground. If they only saw a little of the sinfulness and 
vileness of their own hearts, and their deformity, in the midst 
of their best duties and their best affections, it would knock 
their affections on the head ; because their affections are 
built upon self, therefore self knowledge would destroy them. 
But as to truly gracious affections, they are built elsewhere ; 
they have their foundation out of self in God and Jesus Christ; 
and therefore a discovery of themselves, of their own deform- 
ity, and the meanness of their experiences, though it will pu- 
rify their affections, yet it will not destroy thysm, but in some 
respects sweeten and heighten them. 

III. Those affections that are truly holy, are primarily 
founded on the loveliness of the moral excellency of divine 
things. Or (to express it otherwise) a love to divine things 
for the beauty and sweetness of their moral excellency, is the 
first beginning and spring of all holy affections. 

Here, for the sake of the more illiterate reader, I will 
explain what I mean by the moral excellency of divine things. 

And it may be observed, that the word moral is not to be 
understood here, according to the common and vulgar accep- 
tation of the word, when men speak of morality, and a moral 
behavior ; meaning an outward conformity to the duties of 
the moral law, and especially the duties of the second table ; 
or intending no more at farthest, than such seeming virtues, 
as proceed from natural principles, in opposition to those vir- 
tues that are more inward, spiritual, and divine ; as the hon- 
esty, justice, generosity, good nature, and public spirit of ma- 
ny of the heathen are called moral virtues, in distinction from 
the holy faith, love, humility, and heavenly mindedness of true 
Christians : I say, the word mora/ is not to be understood thus 
in this place. 

But in order to a right understanding what is meant, it 
must be observed, that divines commonly make a distinction 
between moral good and evil, and natural good and evil. By 
moral evil, they mean the evil of sin, or that evil which i* 


against duty, and contrary to what is right and ought to be. 
By natural evil, they do not mean that evil which is properly 
opposed to duty ; but that which is contrary to mere nature, 
without any respect to a rule of duty. So * he evil of suffer- 
ing is called natural evil, such as pain and torment, disgrace, 
and rhe like : These things are contrary to mere nature, 
contrary to the nature of both bad ami good, hateful to wick- 
ed men and devils, as well as good men and angels. So 
likewise natural defects are called natural evils, as if a child 
be monstrous, cr a natural fool ; these are natural evils, but 
arc not moral evils, because they have not properly the nature 
of the evil of sin. On the other hand, as by moral evil, di- 
vines mean the evil of sin, or that which is contrary to what 
; so by moral good, they mean that which is contra- 
ry to sin, or that good in beings who have will and choice, 
whereby, as voluntary agents, they are, and act, as it becomes 
them to be and to act, or so as is most fit, and suitable, and 
lovely. By natural good, they mean that good that is en- 
tirely of a different kind from holiness or virtue, viz. that 
which perfects or suits nature, considering nature abstractly 
from any holy or unholy qualifications, and without any rela- 
tion to any rule or measure of right and wrong. 

Thus pleasure is a natural good ; so is honor, so is strength ; 

so is speculative knowledge, human learning, and policy 

Thus there is a distinction to be made between the natural 
good that men are possessed of, and their moral good ; and 
also between the natural and moral good of the angels in heaven : 
The great capacity of their understandings, and their great 
strength, and the honorable circumstances they are in as the 
great ministers of God's kingdom, whence they are called 
thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, is the natural 
good which they arc possessed of ; but their perfect and glo- 
rious holiness and goodness, their pure and flaming love to 
God, and to the saints and to one another, is their moral good. 
So divines make a distinction between the natural and moral 
perfections of God : By the moral perfections of God, they 
mean those attributes which God exercises as a moral agent, 
or vdiercby the heart and will of God are good, right and in- 


finitely becoming, and lovely ; such as his righteousness, 
truth, faithfulness, and goodness ; or, in one word, his holi- 
ness. By God's natural attributes or perfections, they mean 
those attributes, wherein, according to our way of conceiving 
of God, consists, not the holiness or moral goodness of God, 
but his greatness ; such as his power, his knowledge, where- 
by he knows all things, and his being eternal, from everlasting 
to everlasting, his omnipresence, and his awful and terrible 

The moral excellency of an intelligent voluntary being is 
more immediately seated in the heart or will of moral agents. 
That intelligent being, whose will is truly right and lovely, is 
morally good or excellent. 

This moral excellency of an intelligent being, when it is 
true and real, and not only external, or merely seeming and 
counterfeit, is holiness. Therefore holiness comprehends all 
thejyie moral excellency of intelligent beings : There is no 
er true virtue, but real holiness. Holiness comprehends 
all the true virtue of a good man, his love to God, his gracious 
love to men, his justice, his charity, and bowels of mercies, 
his gracious meekness and gentleness, and all other true 
Christian virtues that he has, belong to his holiness. So the 
holiness of God in the more extensive sense of the word, and 
the sense in which the word is commonly, if not universally 
used concerning God in scripture, is the same with the moral 
excellency of the divine nature, or his purity and beauty as a 
moral agent, comprehending all his moral perfections, his 
righteousness, faithfulness, and goodness. As in holy men, 
their charity, Christian kindness and mercy, belong to their 
holiness ; so the kindness and mercy of God belong to his ho- 
liness. Holiness in man is but the image of God's holiness : 
There are not mere virtues belonging to the image than are. 
in the original : Derived holiness has not more in it than is 
in that underived holiness which is its fountain : There is no 
more than gi'ace for grace, or grace in the image, answerable 
to grace in the original. 

As there are two kinds of attributes in God, according to 
our way of conceiving of him, his moral attributes, which 


are summed up in his holiness, and his natural attributes of 
strength, knowledge, Sec. that constitute the greatness of God ; 
so there is a twofold image of God in man, his moral or spir» 
itual image, which is his holiness, that is the image of God's 
moral excellency (which image was lost by the fall) and God's 
natural image, consisting in man's reason and understanding, 
his natural ability, and dominion over the creatures, which is 
the image of God's natural attribute. 

From what has been said, it may easily be understood what 
3 intend, when I say that a love to divine things for the beauty 
of their moral excellency, is the beginning and spring of all 
holy affections. It has been already shewn, under the former 
head, that the first objective ground of all holy affections is 
the supreme excellency of divine things as they are in them- 
selves, or in their own nature : I now proceed further, and 
say more particularly, that that kind of excellency of the na- 
ture of divine things, which is the first objective ground of all 
holy affections, is their moral excellency, or their holiness. 
Holy persons, in the exercise of holy affections, do love di- 
vine things primarily for their holiness : They love God, in 
the first place, for the beauty of his holiness or moral perfec- 
tion, as being supremely amiable in itself. Not that the 
saints, in the exercise of gracious affections, do love God only 
for his holiness ; all his attributes are amiable and glorious in 
their eyes ; they delight in every divine perfection ; the con- 
templation of the infinite greatness, power, and knowledge, 
and terrible majesty of God, is pleasant to them. But their 
love to God for his holiness is what is most fundamental and 
essential in their love. Here it is that true love to God be- 
gins ; all other holy love to divine things flows from hence ; 
This is the most essential and distinguishing thing that be- 
longs to a holy love to God, with regard to the foundation of 
it. A love to God for the beauty of his moral attributes, leads 
to, and necessarily causes a delight in God for all his attri- 
butes ; for his moral attributes cannot be without his natural 
attributes : For infinite holiness supposes infinite wisdom, and 
an infinite capacity and greatness ; and all the attributes of 
God do as it were imply one another. 


The true beauty and loveliness of all intelligent beings does 
primarily and most essentially consist in their moral excel- 
lency or holiness. Herein consists the loveliness of the an- 
gels, without which, with all their natural perfections, their 
strength, and their knowledge, they would have no more love- 
liness than devils. It is a moral excellency alone, that is in 
itself, and on its own account, the excellency of intelligent 
beings : It is this that gives beauty to, or rather is the beauty 
of their natural perfections and qualifications. Moral excel- 
lency is the excellency of natural excellencies. Natural qual- 
ifications are either excellent or otherwise, according as they 
are joined with moral excellency or not. Strength and knowl- 
edge do not render any being lovely, without holiness, but 
more hateful ; though they render them more lovely, when, 
joined with holiness. Thus the elect angels are the more 
glorious for their strength and knowledge, because these nat- 
ural perfections of theirs are sanctified by their moral perfec- 
tion. But though the devils are very strong, and of great nat- 
ural understanding, they be not the more lovely : They are 
more terrible indeed, but not the more amiable ; but on the 
contrary, the more hateful. The holiness of an intelligent 
creature, is the beauty of all his natural perfections. And so 
it is in God, according to our way of conceiving of the divine 
Being : Holiness is in a peculiar manner the beauty of the 
divine nature. Hence we often read of the beauty of holi- 
ness, Psal. xxix. 2, Psal. xcvi. 9, and ex. 3. This renders all 
his other attributes glorious and lovely. It is the glory of 
God's wisdom, that it is a holy wisdom, and not a wicked 
subtilty and craftiness. This makes his majesty lovely ; and 
not merely dreadful and horrible, that it is a holy majesty. 
It is the glory of God's immutability, that it is a holy immu- 
tability, and not an inflexible obstinacy in wickedness. 

And therefore it must needs be, that a sight of God's loveli- 
ness must begin here. A true love to God must begin with 
a delight in his holiness, and not with a delight in any other 
attribute ; for no other attribute is truly lovely without this, 
and no otherwise than as (according to our way of conceiving 
of God) it derives its loveliness from this ; and therefore it is 


impossible that other attributes should appear lovely, in then- 
true loveliness, until this is seen ; and it is impossible that 
any perfection of the divine nature should be loved with true 
love until this is loved. If the true loveliness of all God's 
perfections arise from the loveliness of his holiness ; then 
the true love of all his perfections arises from the love of his 

. They that do not see the glory of God's holiness, 
cannot see any thing of the true glory of his mercy and grace : 
Thev see nothing of the glory of those attributes, as any ex- 
cellency of God's nature, as it is in itself; though they may 
be affected with them, and love them, as they concern their 
interest ; For these attributes arc no part of the excellency of 
God's nature, as that is excellent in itself, any otherwise than 
as they are included in his holiness, more largely taken ; ov 
as they are a part of his moral perfection. 

As the beauty of the divine nature does primarily consist 
in God's holiness, so does the beauty of all divine things. 
Herein consists the beauty of the saints, that they are saints, 
or holy ones ; it is the moral image of God in them, which is 
their beauty ; and that is their holiness. Herein consists the 
beauty and brightness of the angels of heaven, that they are 
holy angels, and so not devils, Dan. iv. 13, 17, 23, Mat. xxv. 
31, Mark viii. 38, Acts x. 22, Rev. xiv. 10. Herein consists 
the beauty of the Christian religion, above all other religions, 
that it is so holy a religion. Herein consists the excellency 
of the word of God, that it is so holy, Psal. cxix. 140. " Thy 
word is very pure, therefore thy servant loveth it, vcr. 128. 
I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right ; 
and I hate every false way, Ver. 138. Thy testimonies that 
thou hast cor.; ■ righteous, and very foithml. And 

172. JSiy tongue shall speak of thy word ; for all thy com- 

ents are ri . And Psal. xix. 7.... 10. The 

r, converting the soul ; the testimo- 
ny of the Lord is sure,, making wise the simple. The slat- 
\ joicing the heart : The com- 
mand n ' • iofd is pure, enlightening the eyes. The 
fear of the Lo , enduring forever : Tl 
of the Lord ard true'i and righteous altogether: More lo be 


•desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold ; sweet- 
er also than honey, and the honey comb." Herein does priw 
marily consist the amiableness and beauty of the Lord Jesus, 
whereby he is the chief among ten thousands, and altogether 
lovely, even in that he is the holy one of God, Acts, iii. 14, 
and God's holy child, Acts iv. 27, and he that is holy, and he 
'that is true, Rev. iii. 7. All the spiritual beauty of his hu- 
man nature, consisting in his meekness, lowliness, patience, 
heavenliness, love to God, love to men, condescension to the 
mean and vile, and compassion to the miserable, Sec. all is 
summed up in his holiness, And the beauty of his divine 
nature, of which the beauty of his human nature is the image 
and reflection, does also primarily consist in his holiness. 
Herein primarily consists the glory of the gospel, that it is a 
holy gospel, and so bright an emanation of the holy beauty of 
God and Jesus, Christ : Herein consists the spiritual beauty 
of its doctrines, that they are holy doctrines, or doctrines ac- 
cording to godliness. And herein does consist the spiritual 
beauty of the way of salvation by Jesus Christ, that it is so 
holy a way. And herein chiefly consists the glory of heav- 
en, that it is the holy city, the holy Jerusalem, the habita- 
tion of God's holiness, and so of his glory, Isa. Ixiii. 15. All 
the beauties of the new Jerusalem, as it is described in the 
two last chapters of Revelation, are but various representa- 
tions of this: See chap. xxi. 2, 10, 11, 18, 21, 27....chap. 
xxii. 1, 3. 

And therefore it is primarily on account of this kind of ex- 
cellency, that the saints do love all these things. Thus they 
love the word of God, because it is very pure. It is on this 
account they love the saints ; and on this account chiefly it 
is, that heaven is lovely to them, and those holy tabernacles 
of God amiable in their eyes : It is on this account that they 
love God ; and on this account primarily it is, that they love 
Christ, and that their hearts delight in the doctrines of the 
gospel, and sweetly acquiesce in the way of salvation therein 

* " To the right closing with Christ's person, this is also requ'ued, to taste 
the bitterness of sin, as the greatest evil ; Else a man will never close witW 

Vol. IV. 2 A 


Under the bead of the first distinguishing characteristic of 
gracious affection, I observed, that there is given to those that 
are regenerated, a new supernatural sense, that is as it were 
a certain divine spiritual taste, Avhich is, in its whole nature, 
diverse from any former kinds of sensation of the mind, as 
tasting is diverse from any of the other five senses, and that 
something is perceived by a true saint in the exercise of this 
new sense of mind, in spiritual and divine things, as entirely 
different from any thing that is perceived in tiiem by natural 
men, as the sweet taste of honey is diverse from the ideas men 
get of honey by looking on it or feeling it : Now this that 
I have been speaking, viz. the beauty of holiness is that thing 
in spiritual and divine things, which is perceived by this spir- 
itual sense, that is so diverse from all that natural men per- 
ceive in them ; this kind of beauty is the quality that is the 
immediate object of this spiritual sense ; this is the sweet- 
ness that is the proper object of this spiritual taste. The 
scripture often represents the beauty and sweetness of holi- 
ness as the grand object of a spiritual taste and spiritual appe- 
tite. This Avas the sweet food of the holy soul of Jesus 
Christ, John iv. 32, 34. " I have meat to eat that ye know 

not of My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and 

to finish his work." I know of no part of the holy scriptures, 
where the nature and evidences of true and sincere godliness 
are so much of set purpose and so fully and largely insisted 
on and delineated, as the 119th Psalm ; the Psalmist declares 
his design in the first verses of the Psalm, and he keeps his 
eye on this design all along, and pursues it to the end : But 
in this Psalm the excellency of holiness is represented as the 

Christ, for his holiness in him, and from him, as the greatest good. For we 
told you, thai that is the right closing with Christ for hi .self, when it is for 
feis holiness. For ask. a whorish heart, what beauty he sees in the person of 
Chritt ; he will, after he has looked over his kingdom, his righteousness, and 
all his works, see a beauty in them, because they do serve his turn, to comfort 
him only. Ask a virgin, he will see his happiness in all ; but that which 
makes the Lord amiable is his holiness, which is m him to make hiin holy 
too As in marriage, it is the personal beauty draws the heart. And henco 
1 have thought it reason, that he that loves the brethren for a little grace, wilt 
love Christ much more." Shtpard's Parable, Part I. p. 84. 


Immediate object of a spiritual taste, relish, appetite, and de- 
light of God's law, that grand expression and emanation of 
the holiness of God's nature, and prescription of holiness to 
the creature, is all along represented as the food and enter- 
tainment, and as the great object of the love, the appetite, the 
.complacence and rejoicing of the gracious nature, which 
prizes God's commandments above gold, yea, the finest gold, 
and to which they are sweeter than the honey and honey 
.comb ; and that upon account of their holiness, as I observed 
before. The same Psalmist declares, that this is the sweet- 
ness that a spiritual taste relishes in God's law, Psal. xix. 7, 
8, 9, 10. « The law of the Lord is perfect : The command- 
ment of the Lord is pure ; the fear of the Lord is clean ; the 
statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart ;....the judg- 
ments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether ; more 
to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold ; 
sweeter also than honey, and the honey comb." 

A holy love has a holy object : The holiness of love con- 
sists especially in this, that it is the love of that which is 
holy, as holy, or for its holiness ; so that it is the holiness of 
the object, which is the quality whereon it fixes and termi- 
nates. An holy nature must needs love that in holy things 
chiefly, which is most agreeable to itself ; but surely that in 
divine things, which above all others is agreeable to a holy na- 
ture, is holiness, because holiness must be above all other 
things agreeable to holiness ; for nothing can be more agree- 
able to any nature than itself ; holy nature must be above all 
things agreeable to holy nature : And so the holy nature of 
God and Christ, and the Avoid of God, and other divine things, 
must be above all other things agreeable to the holy nature 
that is in the saints. 

And again, an holy nature doubtless loves holy things, es- 
pecially on the account of that for which sinful nature has en- 
mity against them : But that for which chiefly sinful nature 
is at enmity against holy things, is their holiness ; it is for 
this, that the carnal mind is at enmity against God, and against 
the law of God, and the people of God. Now it is just argu- 
ing from contraries ; from contrary causes to contrary ef~ 


fects ; from opposite natures to opposite tendencies. Wa 
know that Holiness is of a directly contrary nature to wicked- 
ness ; as therefore it is the nature of wickedness chiefly to 
oppose and hate holiness ; so it must be the nature of holi- 
ness chiefly to tend to, and delight in holiness. 

The holy nature in the saints and angels in heaven (where 
the true tendency of it best appears) is principally engaged by 
the holiness of civine things. This is the divine beauty which 
chiefly engages the attention, admiration, and praise of the 
bright and burning Seraphim, Isa. vi. 3. " One cried unto 
another, and said, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts, the 
whole earth is full of his glory. And Rev. iv. 8. They rest 
not day and night, saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Al- 
mighty, which was, and is, and is to come. So the glorified 
saints, chap. xv. 4. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and 
glorify thy name ? For thou only art holy." 

And the scriptures represent the saints on earth as adoring 
God primarily on this account, and admiring and extolling all 
God's attributes, either as deriving loveliness, from his holi- 
ness, or as being a part of it. Thus when they praise God 
for his power, his holiness is the beauty that engages them, 
Psal. xcviii. 1 . « O sing unto the Lord a new song, for he 
hath done marvellous things : His right hand, and his holy 
arm hath gotten him the victory." So when they praise him 
for his justice and terrihle majesty, Psal. xcix. 2, 3. " The 
Lord is great in Zion, and he is high above all people. Let 
them praise thy great and terrible name ; for it is holy, ver. 5. 
Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at his footstool ; for 
he is holy, ver. 8, 9. Thou wast a God that forgavest them, 
though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions. Exalt ye 
the Lord our God, and worship at his holy hid : For the Lord 
our God is holy." So when they praise God for his mercy 
and faithfulness, Psal. xcvii. 1 1, 12. " Light is sown for the 
righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Rejoice in 
the Lord, ye righteous ; and give thanks at the remembrance 
of his holiness, 1 Sam. ii. 2. There is none holy as the Lord : 
For there is none besides thee ; neither is there any rock 
^ike our God." 


By this therefore all may try their affections, and particu- 
Jarly their love and joy. Various kinds of creatures shew 
the difference of their natures, very much in the different 
things they relish as their proper good, one delighting in that 
which another abhors. Such a difference is there between 
true saints, and natural men : Natural men have no sense of 
the goodness and excellency of holy things, at least for their 
holiness ; they have no taste for that kind of good ; and 
so may be said not to know that divine good, or not to see it ; 
it is wholly hid from them ; but the saints, by the mighty 
power of God, have it discovered to them ; they have that 
supernatural, most noble and divine sense given them, by 
which they perceive it ; and it is this that captivates their 
hearts, and delights them above all things ; it is the most 
amiable and sweet thing to the heart of a true saint, that is to 
be found in heaven or earth ; that which above all others at- 
tracts and engages his soul ; and that wherein, above all 
things, he places his happiness, and which he lots upon for 
solace and entertainment to his mind, in this world, and full 
satisfaction and blessedness in another. By this, you may 
examine your love to God, and to Jesus Christ, and to the 
word of God, and your joy in them, and also your love to the 
people of God, and your desires after heaven ; whether they 
be from a supreme delight in this sort of beauty, without be- 
ing primarily moved from your imagined interest in them, 
or expectations from them. There are many high affections, 
great seeming love and rapturous joys, which have nothing of 
this holy relish belonging to them. 

Particularly, by what has been said you may try your dis- 
coveries of the glory of God's grace and love, and your affec- 
tions arising from them. The grace of God may appear 
lovelv two ways ; either as bonum utile, a profitable good to 
me, that which greatly serves my interest, and so suits my 
selflove ; or as bonum formomm, a beautiful good in itself, and 
part of the moral and spiritual excellency of the divine na- 
ture. In this latter respect it is that the true saints have 
their hearts affected, and love captivated by the free grace of 
God in the first place. 


From the things that have been said, it appears, that If 
persons have a great sense of the natural perfections of God^ 
and are greatly affected with them, or have any other sight 
or sense of God than that which consists in, or implies a sense 
of the beauty of his moral perfections, it is no certain sign of 
grace ; as particularly men's having a great sense of the aw- 
ful greatness and terrible majesty of God ; for this is only- 
God's natural perfection, and what men may see, and yet be 
entirely blind to the beauty of his moral perfection, and have 
nothing of that spiritual taste which relishes this divine sweet- 

It has been shown already, in what was said upon the first 
distinguishing mark of gracious affections, that that which is 
spiritual, is entirely different in its nature, from all that it 
Is possible any graceless person should be the subject of, while 
he continues graceless. But it is possible that those who are 
wholly without grace should have a clear sight and very great 
and affecting sense of God's greatness, his mighty power, 
and awful majesty ; for this is what the devils have, though, 
they have lost the spiritual knowledge of Gad, consisting in 
a sense of the amiableness of his moral perfections; they 
are perfectly destitute of any sense or relish of that kind of 
beauty, yet they have a very great knowledge of the natural 
glory of God (if I may so speak) or his awful greatness and 
•majesty ; this they behold, and are affected with the appre-? 
hensionsof, and therefore tremble before him. This glory 
of God all shall behold at the day of judgment; God will 
make all rational beings to behold it to a great degree indeed, 
angels and devils, saints and sinners : Christ will manifest 
his infinite greatness, and awful majesty, to every one, in a 
most open, clear, and convincing manner, and in a light that 
none can resist, " when he shall come in the glory of his 
Father, and every eye shall see him ;" when they shall cry 
to |he mountains ta fall upon them, to hide them from the 
face of him that sils upon the throne, they are represented as 
seeing the glory of God's majesty, Isa. ii. 10, 19, 21. God 
will make all his enemies to behold this, and to live in a most 
plearand affecting view of it, in hell, to all eternity. Gc4 


Hatli often declared his immutable purpose to make all lug 
enemies to know him in this respect, in so often annexing 
these words to the threatening he denounces against them. 
f And they shall know that I am the Lord ;" yea, he hath 
.sworn that all men shall see his glory in this respect, Numb, 
xiv. 31. « As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with 
the glory of the Lord." And this kind of manifestation of 
God is very often spoken of in scripture, as made, or to be 
made, in the sight of God's enemies in this world, Exod. ix. 
16. and chap. xiv. 18, and xv. 16. Psal. Ixvi. 3, and xlvi. 1Q, 
and other places innumerable. This was a manifestation 
•which God made of himself in the sight of that wicked con- 
gregation at mount Sinai ; deeply affecting them with it ; so 
that all the people in the camp trembled. Wicked men and 
devils will see, and have a great sense of every thing that ap- 
pertains to the glory of God, but only the beauty of his mor- 
al perfection, they will see his infinite greatness and majesty, 
his infinite power, and will be fully convinced of his omnisci- 
ence, and his eternity and immutability ; and they will see 
and know every thing appertaining to his moral attributes 
themselves, but only the beauty and amiableness of them ; 
they will see and know that he is perfectly just, and right-' 
eous, and true, and that he is a holy God, of purer eyes than 
to behold evil, v. ho cr.nnot look on iniquity ; and they will see 
the wonderful manifestations of his infinite goodness and free 
grace to the saints ; and there is nothing will be hid front 
their eyes, but only the beauty of these moral attributes, and 
that beauty of the other attributes, which arises from it. And 
so natural men in this world are capable of having a very af- 
fecting sense of every thing else that appertains to God, but 
this only. Nebuchadnezzar had a great and very affecting 
sense of the infinite greatness and awful majesty of God, of 
his supreme and absolute dominion, and mighty and irresisti- 
ble power, and of his sovereignty, and that he, and all the in- 
habitants of the earth were nothing before him ; and also had 
a great conviction in his conscience of his justice, and an af- 
fecting sense of his great goodness, Dan. iv. 1,2,3,34,35, 
37. And the sense that Darius had of God's perfections, 


seems lo be very much like his, Dan. vi. 25, kc. But tug 
saints and angels do behold the glory of God consisting in the 
beauty of his holiness ; and it is this sight only that will melt 
and humble the hearts of men, and wean them from the 
■world, and draw them to God, and effectually change them. 
A sight of the awful greatness of God, may overpower men's 
strength, and be more than they can endure ; but if the mor- 
al beauty of God be hid, the enmity of the heart will remain 
in its full strength, no love will be enkindled, all will not be 
effectual to gain the will, but that will remain inflexible ; 
whereas the first glimpse of the moral and spiritual glory of 
God shining into the heart, produces all these effects as it 
were with omnipotent power, which nothing can withstand. 

The sense that natural men may have of the awful great- 
ness of God may affect them various ways ; it may not only 
terrify them, but it may elevate them, and raise their joy 
and praise, as their circumstances may be. This will be 
the natural effectof it, under the real or supposed receipt of 
some extraordinary mercy from God, by the influence of 
mere principles of nature. It has been shown already, that 
the receipt of kindness may, by the influence of natural prin- 
ciples, affect the heart with gratitude and praise to God ; but 
if a person, at the same time that he receives remarkable kind- 
ness from God, has a sense of his infinite greatness, and that 
he is but nothing in comparison of him, surely this will nat- 
urally raise his gratitude and praise the higher, for kindness 
to one so much inferior. A sense of God's greatness had this 
effect upon Nebuchadnezzar, under the receipt of that extra- 
ordinary favor of his restoration, after he had been driven 
from men, and had his dwelling with the beasts : A sense of 
God's exceeding greatness raises his gratitude very high ; so 
that he does, in the most lofty terms, extol and magnify God, 
and calls upon all the world to do it with him ; and much 
more if a natural man, at the same time that he is greatly af- 
fected with God's infinite greatness and majesty, entertains a 
strong conceit that this great God hab made him his child and 
special favorite, and promised him eternal glory in his highest 


love, will this have a tendency, according to the course of na- 
ture, to raise his joy and praise to a great height. 

Therefore, it is beyond doubt that too much weight has been 
laid, by many persons of late, on discoveries of God's 
greatness, awful majesty, and natural perfection, operating 
after this manner, without any real view of the holy majesty 
of Cod. And experience does abundantly witness to what 
reason and scripture declare as to this matter ; there having 
been very many persons, who have seemed to be overpower- 
ed with the greatness and majesty of God, and consequently 
elevated in the manner that has'been spoken of, who have been 
very far from having appearances of a Christian spirit and 
temper, in any manner of proportion, or fruits in practice in 
fcny wise agreeable ; but their discoveries have worked in a 
way contrary to the operation of truly spiritual discoveries. 

Not that a sense of God's greatness and natural attributes 
is not exceeding useful and necessary. For, as I observed 
before, this is implied in a manifestation of the beauty of 
God's holiness. Though that be something beyond it, it sup- 
poses it, as the greater supposes the less. And though nat- 
ural men may have a sense of the natural perfections of God ; 
yet undoubtedly this is more frequent and common with the 
saints than with natural men ; and grace tends to enable men 
to see these things in a better manner than natural men do ; 
and not only enables them to see God's natural attributes, but 
that beauty of those attributes, which (according to our way 
of conceiving of God) is derived from his holiness. 

IV. Gracious affections do arise from the mind's being 
enlightened, richly and spiritually to understand or apprehend 
divine things. 

Holy affections are not heat without light ; but evermore 
arise from the information of the understanding, some spirit- 
ual instruction that the mind receives, some light or actual 
knowledge. The child of God is graciously affected, because 
he sees and understands something more of divine things 
than he did before, more of God or Christ, and of the glori- 
ous things exhibited in the gospel ; he has some clearer and 
better view than he had before, when he was not affected : 
Vol IV. 9 B 


Either he receives some understanding of divine things 
that is new to him ; or has his former knowledge renewed 
after the view was decayed, 1 John iv. 7. « Every one that 
Ioveth, knoweth God. Phil. i. 9. I pray that your love may- 
abound more and more in knowledge, and in all judgment. 
Rom. x. 2. They have a zeal of God, but not according to 
knowledge. Col. iii. 10. The new man, which is renewed in 
knowledge. Psalm, xliii. 3, 4. O send out thy light and thy 
truth ; let them lead me, let them bring me unto thy holy 
hill. John vi. 45. It is written in the prophets, and they 
shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath 
heard, and learned of the Father, cometh unto me." Knowl- 
edge is the key that first opens the hard heart, and enlarges 
the affections, and so opens the way for men into the king* 
dom of heaven, Luke xi. 52. « Ye have taken away the key 
of knowledge." 

Now there are many affections which do not arise from any 
light in the understanding. And when it is thus, it is a sure 
evidence that these affections are not spiritual, let them be 
ever so high.* Indeed they have some new apprehensions 
which they had not before. Such is the nature of man, that 
it is impossible his mind should be affected, unless it be by 
something that he apprehends, or that his mind conceives of. 
But in many persons those apprehensions or conceptions that 
they have, wherewith they are affected, have nothing of the 
nature of knowledge or instruction in them. As for instance, 
when a person is affected with a lively idea, suddenly excited 
in his mind, of some shape or very beautiful pleasant form 
of countenance, or some shining light, or other glorious out- 
ward appearance : Here is something apprehended or con- 
ceived by the mind ; but there is nothing of the nature of in- 
struction in it ; persons become never the wiser by such 

* " Many that have had mighty strong affections at first conversion, after- 
wards become dry, and wither, and consume, and pine, and die away : And 
now their hypocrisy is manifest ; if not to all the world by open profane- 
ness, yet to the discerning eye of living Christians, by a formal, barren, un- 
savory, unfruitful heart and course ; because they never had light to con- 
viction enough as yet. 


things, or more knowing about God, or a Mediator between 
God and man, or the way of salvation by Christ, or any thing 
contained in any of the doctrines of the gospel. Persons by 
these external ideas have no further acquaintance with God, 
as to any of the attributes or perfections of his nature ; nor 
have they any further understanding of his word, or any of 
his ways or works. Truly spiritual and gracious affections 
are not raised after this manner ; these arise from the en- 
lightening of the understanding to understand the things 
that are taught of God and Christ, in a new manner, the 
coming to a new understanding of the excellent nature of 
God, and his wonderful perfections, some new view of Christ 
in his spiritual excellencies and fulness, or things opened to 
him in a new manner, that appertain to the way of salvation 
by Christ, whereby he now sees how it is, and understand* 
those divine and spiritual doctrines which once were foolish- 
ness to him. Such enlightenings of the understanding as 
these, are things entirely different in their nature from strong 
ideas of shapes and colors, and outward brightness and glo- 
ry, or sounds and voices. That all gracious affections do 
arise from some instruction or enlightening of the under- 
standing, is therefore a further proof, that affections which 
arise from such impression on the imagination, are not gra- 
cious affections, besides the things observed before, which 
make this evident. 

Hence also it appears, that affections arising from texts of 
scripture coming to the mind are vain, when no instruction 
received in the understanding from those texts, or any thing 
taught in those texts, is the ground of the affection, but the 
manner of their coming to the mind. When Christ makes 
the scripture a means of the heart's burning with gracious 
affection, it is " by opening the scriptures to their under- 
standings, Luke xxiv. 32. Did not our heart burn within us, 
while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to 
us the scriptures ?" It appears also that the affection which 
is occasioned by the coming of a text of scripture must be 
vain, when the affection is founded on something that is sup- 
posed to be taught by it, which really is not contained in ii, 


nor in an other scripture ; because such supposed instruction 
is not real instruction, but a mistake and misapprehension oi 
the mind. As for instance, when persons suppose that they 
are expressly taught by some scripture coming to their minds, 
that they in particular are beloved of God, or that their sins 
are forgiven, that God is their Father, and the like, this is a 
mistake or misapprehension ; for the scripture no where re- 
veals the individual persons who are beloved, expressly ; but 
pnly by consequence, by revealing the qualifications of per- 
sons that are beloved of God : And therefore this matter is 
not to be learned from scripture any other way than by conse- 
quence, and from these qualifications ; for things are not to 
be learned from the scripture any other way than they are 
taught in the scripture. 

Affections really arise from ignorance, rather than instruc- 
tion, in these instances which have been mentioned ; as like- 
wise in some others that might be mentioned. As some, 
when they find themselves free of speech in prayer, they 
call it God's beins with them ; and this affects them more ; 
and so their affections arc set a going and increased ; when 
they look not into the cause of this freedom of speech, which 
may arise many other ways besides God's spiritual presence. 
So some are much affected with some apt thoughts that come 
into their minds about the scripture, and call it the Spirit of 
God teaching them. So they ascribe many of the workings 
of their own minds, which they have a high opinion of, and 
arc pleased and taken with, to the special immediate influen- 
ces of God's Spirit ; and so are mightily affected with their 
privilege. And there are some instances of persons, in 
whom it seems manifest, that the first ground of their affec- 
tion is some bodily sensation. The animal spirits, by some 
cause (and probably sometimes by the devil) are suddenly 
and unaccountably put into a very agreeable motion, causing 
persons to feci pleasantly in their bodies ; the animal spirits 
arc put into such a motion as is wont to be connected with 
the exhilaration of the mind ; and the soul, by the laws of the 
union of soul and body, hence feels pleasure. The motion of 
J.he animal spirits does not first arise from any affection or 


apprehension of the mind whatsoever ; but the very first 
thing that is felt, is an exhilaration of the animal spirits, and a 
pleasant external sensation it may be in their breasts. Hence 
through ignorance, the person being surprised, begins to 
think, surely this is the Holy Ghost coming into him. And 
then the mind begins to be affected and raised : There is first 
great joy ; and then many other affections, in a very tumult- 
uous manner, putting all nature, both body and mind, into a 
mighty ruffle. For though, as I observed before, it is the soul 
only that is the seat of the affections ; yet this hinders not but 
that bodily sensations may, in this manner, be an occasion of 
affections in the mind. 

And if men's religious affections do truly arise from some 
instruction or light in the understanding ; yet the affection is 
not gracious, unless the light which is the ground of it be 
spiritual. Affections may be excited by that understanding 
of things, which they obtain merely by human teaching, with 
the common improvement of the faculties of the mind. Men 
may be much affected by knowledge of things of religion that 
Ihey obtain this way ; as some philosophers have been might- 
ily affected, and almost carried beyond themselves, by the dis-. 
coveries they have made in mathematics and natural philoso- 
phy. So men may be much affected from common illumina- 
tions of the Spirit of God, in which God assists men's facul- 
ties to a greater degree of that kind of understanding of relig- 
ious matters, which they have in some degree, by only the 
ordinary exercise and improvement of their own faculties. 
Such illuminations may much affect the mind ; as in many 
whom we read of in scripture, that were once enlightened ; 
but these affections are not spiritual. 

There is such a thing, if the scriptures are of any use to 
teach us any thing, as a spiritual, supernatural understanding 
of divine things, that is peculiar to the saints, and which those 
wh© are not saints have nothing of. It is certainly a kind of 
understanding, apprehending or discerning of divine things, 
that natural men have nothing of, which the apostle speaks of, 
1 Cor. ii. 14. " But the natural man receiveth not the things 
of the Spirit of God ; for they are foolishness unto him ; net- 


ther can he know them, because they are spiritually discern? 
ed." It is certainly a kind of seeing or discerning spiritual 
things peculiar to the saints, which is spoken of, 1 John iii. 6. 
« Whosoever sinneth, hath not seen him, neither known him. 
3 John 11. He that doth evil, hath not seen God. And 
John vi. 40. This is the will of him that sent me, that every 
one that seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have ever- 
lasting life. Chap. xiv. 19. The world seeth me no more ; 
but ye see me. Chap. xvii. 3. This is eternal life, that they 
might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom 
thou hast sent. Mat. 11.27. No man knoweth the Son, but 
the Father ; neither knoweth any man the Father, but the Son, 
and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. John xii. 45. 
He that seeth me, seeth him that sent me. Psal. ix. 10. They 
that know thy name, will put their trust in thee. Phil. iii. 8. 
I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowl- 
edge of Christ Jesus my Lord : ver. 10. That I may know 

him." And innumerable other places there are, all over the 
Bible, which shew the same. And that there is such a thing 
as an understanding of divine things, which in its nature and 
kind is wholly different from all knowledge that natural men 
have, is evident from this, that there is an understanding of 
divine things, which the scripture calls spiritual understand- 
ing, Col. i. 9. « We do not cease to pray for you, and to de- 
sire that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will, in 
all wisdom and spiritual understanding." It has been already 
shown, that that which is spiritual, in the ordinary use of the 
word in the New Testament, is entirely different in nature 
and kind, from all which natural men are, or can be the sub- 
jects of. 

From hence it may be surely inferred wherein spiritual 
understanding consists. For if there be in the saints a kind 
of apprehension or perception, which is in its nature perfect- 
ly diverse from all that natural men have, or that it is possible 
they should have, until they have a new nature ; it must con- 
sist in their having a certain kind of ideas or sensations of 
mind, which arc simply diverse from all that is or can be in 
the minds of natural men. And that is the same thing as to 


My, that it consists in the sensations of a new spiritual sense, 
which the souls of natural men have not ; as is evident by 
what has been before, once and again observed. But I have 
already shown what that new spiritual sense is which ths 
saints have given them in regeneration, and what is the ob- 
ject of it. I have shown that the immediate object of it is 
the supreme beauty and excellency of the nature of divine 
things, as they are in themselves. And this is agreeable to 
the scripture ; the apostle very plainly teaches, that the great 
thing discovered by spiritual light, and understood by spirit- 
ual knowledge, is the glory of divine things, 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4. 
" But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost ; in' 
whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them' 
that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, 
who is the image of God, should shine unto them ; together 
with ver. 6. For God, who commanded the light to shine out 
of darkness, hath shined into our hearts, to give the light of 
the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ. 
And chap. Hi. IS, preceding. But we all with open face, be- 
holding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into 
the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of 
the Lord." And it must needs be so, for, as has been before 
observed, the scripture often teaches, that all true religion 
summarily consists in the love of divine things. And there- 
fore that kind of understanding or knowledge, which is the 
proper foundation of true religion, must be the knowledge of 
the loveliness of divine things. For doubtless, that knowl- 
edge which is the proper foundation of love, is the knowl- 
edge of loveliness. What that beauty of divine things is, 
which is the proper and immediate object of a spiritual sense 
of mind, was shewed under the last head insisted On, viz. that 
it is the beauty of their moral perfection. Therefore it is in' 
the view or sense of this, that spiritual understanding does 
more immediately and primarily consist. And indeed it is 
plain it can be nothing else ; for (as has been shown) there is 
nothing pertaining to divine things, besides the beauty of their 
moral excellency, and those properties and qualities of divine 
things which this beauty is the foundation of, but what natural 


men and devils can see and know, and will know fully and 
clearly to all eternity. 

From what has been said, therefere, we come necessarily 
to this conclusion, concerning- that wherein spiritual under- 
standing consists, viz. that it consists in " a sense of the heart, 
of the supreme beauty and sweetness of the holiness or moral 
perfection of divine things, together with all that discerning 
and knowledge pf things of religion, that depends upon, and. 
flows from such a sense." 

Spiritual understanding consists primarily in a sense of 
heart of that spiritual beauty. I say, a sense of heart ; for it 
is not speculation merely that is concerned in this kind of un- 
derstanding ; nor can there be a clear distinction made be- 
tween the two faculties of understanding and will, as acting 
distinctly and separately, in this matter. When the mind is 
scni-.ihle of the sweet beauty and amiableness of a thing, that 
implies a sensiblcness of sweetness and dcligh t in the pres- 
ence of the idea of it : And this sensibleness of the amiable- 
ness or delightfulness of beauty, carries in the very nature of 
it the sense of the heart ; or an effect and impression the soul 
is the subject of, as a substance possessed of tasts ? inclination 
and will. 

There is a distinction to be made between a mere notional 
understanding, wherein the mind only beholds things in -the 
exercise of a speculative faculty ; and the sense of the heart, 
wherein the mind does not only speculate and behold, but rel- 
ishes and feels. That sort of knowledge, by which a man 
has a sensible perception of amiableness and loathsomeness, 
or of sweetness and nauseousness, is not just the same sort of 
knowledge with that by which he knows what a triangle is, 
and what a square is. The one is mere speculative knowl- 
edge, the other sensible knowledge, in which more than the 
mere intellect is concerned ; the heart is the proper subject 
of it, or the soul as a being Chat not only beholds, but has in- 
clination, and is pleased or displeased. And yet there is the 
nature of instruction in it ; as he that has perceived the sweet: 
taste of honey, knows much more about it, than he who has 
only looked upon, and felt of it. 


The apostle seems to make a distinction between mere 
speculative knowledge of the things of religion, and spiritual 
knowledge, in calling that " the form of knowledge, and of the" 
truth in the law, Rom. ii. 20. Which hath the form of knowl- 
edge, and of the truth in the law." The latter is often represent- 
ed by relishing, smelling, or tasting, 2 Cor. ii. 14. " Now thank* 
be to God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ Je- 
Sus, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge in every- 
place. Mat. xvi. 23. Thou savorest not the things that be of 
God, but those things that be of men. I Pet. ii. 3, 3. As new 
born babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may 
grow thereby ; if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gra- 
cious. Cant. i. 3. Because of the savor of thy good ointments, 
thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the vir- 
gins love thee ; compared with 1 John ii. 20. But ye have 
an unction from the holy one, and ye know all things." 

Spiritual understanding primarily consists in this sense, or 
taste of the moral beauty of divine things ; so that no knowl- 
edge can be called spiritual, any further than it arises from 
this, and has this in it. But secondarily it includes all that 
discerning and knowledge of things of religion, which de= 
pend upon and flow from such a sense. 

When the true beauty and amiableness of the holiness or 
true moral good that is in divirte things is discovered to thei 
soul, it as it were opens a new world to its views. This shews 
the glory of all the perfections of God, and of every thing ap- 
pertaining to the divine Being. Fcr, as was observed before, 
the beauty of all arises from God's moral perfection. This 
shews the glory of all God's works, both of creation and prov- 
idence. For it is the special glory of them, that God's holi- 
ness, righteousness, faithfulness, and goodness, are so mani- 
fested in them ; and without these moral perfections, there 
would be no glory in that power and skilf with which they are 
wrought. The glorifying of God's moral perfections, is the 
special end of all the works of God's hands. By this sense 
of the moral beauty of divine things, is understood the suffi- 
ciency of Christ as a mediator ; for it is only by the discov- 
*ry of the beauty of the moral perfection of Christ, that th« 

Vol. IV. 3 C 


believer is let into the knowledge of the excellency of Ms 
person, so as to know any thing more of it than the devils do ; 
and it is only by the knowledge of the excellency of Christ's 
person, that any know his sufficiency as a mediator ; for the 
latter depends upon, and arises from the former. It is by 
seeing the excellency of Christ's person, that the saints arc 
made sensible of the preciousness of his blood, and its suffi- 
ciency to atone for sin ; for therein consists the preciousness 
of Christ's blood, that it is the blood of so excellent and amia- 
ble a person. And on this depends the meritoriousness of his 
obedience, and sufficiency and prevalence of his intercession. 
By this sight of the moral beauty of divine things, is seen 
the beauty of the way of salvation by Christ ; for that consists 
in the beauty of the moral perfections of God, which wonder- 
fully shines forth in every step of this method of salvation, 
from beginning to end. By this is seen the fitness and suita- 
bleness of this way ; for this wholly consists in its tendency 
to deliver us from sin and hell, and to bring us to the happi« 
ness which consists in the possession and enjoyment of moral 
good, in a way sweetly agreeing with God's moral perfections. 
And in the way's being contrived so as to attain these ends, 
consists the excellent wisdom of that way. By this is seen 
the excellency of the word of God. Take away all the moral 
beauty and sweetness in the word, and the Bible is left wholly 
a dead letter, a dry, lifeless, tasteless thing. By this is seen 
the true foundation of our duty, the worthiness of God to be 
so esteemed, honored, loved, submitted to, and served, as he 
requires of us, and the amiableness of the duties themselves 
that are required of us. And by this is seen the true evil of 
sin ; for he who sees the beauty of holiness, must necessarily 
3ec the hatefulness of sin, its contrary. By this men under- 
stand the true glory of heaven, which consists in the beauty 
and happiness that is in holiness. By this is seen the amia- 
bleness and happiness of both saints and angels. He that sees 
the beauty of holiness, or true moral good, sees the greatest 
and most important thing in the world, which is the fulness 
of all things, without which all the world is empty, no better 
than nothing, yea, worse than nothing. Unless this is seen, 


•siothing is seen that is worth the seeing ; for there is no other 
true excellency or beauty. Unless this be understood, noth- 
ing is understood that is worthy of the exercise of the noble 
faculty of understanding. This is the beauty of the God- 
head, and the divinity of divinity (if I may so speak) the good 
of the infinite fountain of good ; without which, God himself 
(if that were possible to be) would be an infinite evil ; with- 
out which, we ourselves had better never have been ; and 
without which there had better have beep no being. He 
therefore in effect knows nothing, that knows not this ; his 
knowledge is but the shadow of knowledge, or the form of 
knowledge, as the apostle calls it. Well therefore may the 
scriptures represent those who are destitute of that spiritual 
sense, by which is perceived the beauty of holiness, as totally 
blind, deaf, and senseless, yea, dead. And well may regener- 
ation, in which this divine sense is given to the soul by its 
Creator, be represented as opening the blind eyes, and raising 
the dead, and bringing a person into a new world. For if 
what has been said be considered, it will be manifest, that 
when a person has this sense and knowledge given him, he 
will view nothing as he did before ; though before he knew 
all things " after the flesh, yet henceforth he will know them 
so no more ; and he is become a new creature ; old things are 
passed away, behold, all things are become new ;" agreeable 
to 2 Cor. v. 16, 17. 

And besides the things that have been already mentioned, 
there arises from this sense ot spiritual beauty, all true ex- 
perimental knowledge of religion, which is ef itseifas it were 
a new world of knowledge. He that sees not the beauty of 
holiness, knows not what one of the graces of God's Spirit is, 
he is destitute of any idea or conception of all gracious exer- 
cises of soul, and all holy comforts and delights, and all effects 
of the saving influences of the Spirit of God on the heart ; 
and so is ignorant of the greatest works of God, the most im- 
portant and glorious effects of his power upon the creature ; 
and also is wholly ignorant of the saints as saints, he knows 
not what they are ; and in effect is ignorant of the whole spir? 
ituaj world. 


Things being thus, it plainly appears, that God's implant- 
ing that spiritual supernatural sense which has been spoken 
of, makes a great change in a man. And were it not for the 
very imperfect degree, in which this sense is commonly giv- 
en at first, or the small degree of this glorious light, that first 
dawns upon the soul ; the change made by this spiritual open- 
ing of the eyes in conversion, would be much greater, and 
jnore remarkable every way, than if a man, who had been 
born blind, and with only the other four senses, should con- 
tinue so long a time, and then at once should jjave the sense 
of seeing imparted to him, in the midst of the clear light o£ 
the sun, discovering a world of visible objects. For though 
sight be more noble than any of the other external senses, yet 
this spiritual sense which has been spoken of, is infinitely 
more noble than that, or any other principle of discerning that 
a man naturally has, and the object of this sense infinitely 
greater and more important. 

This sort of understanding or knowledge, is that knowledge 
of divine things from whence all truly gracious affections do 
proceed ; by which therefore all affections are to be tried. 
Those affections that arise wholly from any other kind of 
knowledge, or do result from any other kind of apprehensions 
of mind, are vain. 

From what has been said, may be learned wherein the most 
essential difference lies between that light or understanding 
which is given by the common influences of the Spirit of 
God, on the hearts of natural men, and that saving instruc- 
tion which is given to the saints. The latter primarily and 
most essentially lies in beholding the holy beauty that is in 
divine things ; which is the only true moral good, and which 
the soul of fallpn man is by nature totally blind to. The for- 
mer consists only in a further understanding, through the as- 
sistance of natural principles, of those things which men may 
know, in some measure, by the alone ordinary exercise of 
their faculties. And this knowledge consists only in the 
knowledge of those things pertaining to religion, which are 
natural. Thus for instance, in those awakenings and convic- 
*:ons of conscience, that natural men are often subject tc, the 


Spirit of God gives no knowledge of the true moral beauty 
which is in divine things ; but only assists the mind to a 
clearer idea of the guilt of sin, or its relation to punishment, 
and connexion with the evil of suffering (without any sight 
of its moral evil, or odiousness as sin) and a clearer idea 
of the natural perfections of God, wherein consists, not 
his holy beauty and glory, but his awful and terrible great- 
ness. It is a clear sight of this, that will fully awaken the 
consciences of wicked men at the day of judgment, with- 
out any spiritual light, And it is a less degree of the same 
that awakens the consciences of natural men, without spirit- 
ual light in this world. The same discoveries are in some 
measure given in the conscience of an awakened sinner in 
this world, which will be given more fully, in the conscienc- 
es of sinners at the day of judgment. The same kind of 
sight or apprehension of God, in a less degree, makes awak- 
ened sinners in this world sensible of the dreadful guilt of sin, 
against so great and terrible a God, and sensible of its amaz- 
ing punishment, and fills them with fearful apprehensions of 
divine wrath, that will thoroughly convince all wicked men, of 
the infinitely dreadful nature and guilt of sin, and astonish 
them with apprehensions of wrath, when Christ shall come 
in the glory of his power and majesty, and every eye shall see 
him, and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of 
him. And in those common illuminations which are some- 
times given to natural men, exciting in them some kind of 
religious desire, love, and joy, the mind is only assisted to a 
clearer apprehension of the natural good that is in divine 
things. Thus sometimes, under common illuminations, men 
are raised with the ideas of the natural good that is in heaven ; 
as its outward glory, its ease, its honor and advancement, a 
being there the object of the high favor of God, and the great. 
respect of men, and angels, Sec. So there are many things 
exhibited in the gospel concerning God and Christ, and the 
way of salvation, that have a natural good in them, which suits 
the natural principle of selflove. Thus in that great goodnes? 
of God to sinners, and the wonderful dying love of Chris!;, 
there is a natural good which all men love, as they love them • 


selves ; as well as a spiritual and holy beauty, which is seen 
only by the regenerate. Therefore there are many things 
appertaining to the word of God's grace delivered in the gos- 
pel, which may cause natural men, when they hear it, anon 
with joy to receive it. All that love which natural men have 
to God and Christ, and Christian virtues, and good men, is 
not from any sight of the amiableness of the holiness, or true 
moral excellency of these things ; but only for the sake of 
the natural good there is in them. All natural men's hatred 
of sin, is as much from principles of nature, as men's haired 
of a tyger for his rapaciousness, or their aversion to a serpent 
for his poison and hurtfulness ; and all their love of Christ- 
ian virtue, is from no higher principle, than their love of a 
man's good nature, which appears amiable to natural men ; 
but no otherwise than silver and gold appears amiabic in the 
eyes of a merchant, or than the blackness of the soil is beau- 
tiful in the eyes of the farmer. 

From what has been said of the nature of spiritual under- 
standing, it appears that spiritual understanding docs not con- 
sist in any new doctrinal knowledge, or in having suggested 
to the mind any new proposition, not before read or heard of ; 
for it is plain that this suggesting of new propositions, is a 
thing entirely diverse from giving the mind a new taste or 
relish of beauty and sweetness. 3 * It is also evident, that spir- 
itual knowledge does not consist in any new doctrinal explan- 
ation of any part of the scripture ; for still, this is but doc- 
trinal knowledge, or the knowledge of propositions ; the doc- 
trinal explaining of any part of scripture, is only giving us to 
understand what arc the propositions contained or taught in 
that part of scripture. 

* Calvin, in his Institutions, Book I. Chap. ix. ^ 1, says, " It is not the 
office of the Spirit that is promised us, to make new and before unheard of 
revelations, or to coin some new kind of doctrine, which tends to draw us 
away from the received doctrine of the gospel ; but to seal and confirm to us 
that very doctrine which is by the gospel," And in the same place he speaks 
of some, that in those chiys maintained the contrary notion, t: pretending to 
he immediately led by the Spirit, as persons that were governed by a most 
haughty self Conceit : And not so properly to be looked Upon as only labor- 
ing under a mistake, cs driven by a son of raving madness, 


Hence it appears, that the spiritual understanding of the 
scripture, does not consist in opening to the mind the mysti- 
cal meaning of the scripture, in its parables, types, and allego- 
ries ; for this is only a doctrinal explication of the scripture 
He that explains what is meant by the stony ground, and the 
seed's springing up suddenly, and quickly withering away, 
only explains what propositions or doctrines are taught in it. 
So he that explains what is typified by Jacob's ladder, and the 
angels of God ascending and descending on it, or what was 
typified by Joshua's leading Israel through Jordan, only shews 
what propositions are hid in these passages. And many men 
can explain these types, who have no spiritual knowledge. 
It is possible that a man might know how to interpret all the 
types, parables, enigmas, and allegories in the Bible, and not 
have one beam of spiritual light in his mind ; because he may 
not have the least degree of that spiritual sense of the holy 
beauty of divine things which has been spoken of, and may 
see nothing of this kind of glory in any thing contained in 
any of these mysteries, or any other part of the scripture. It 
is plain, by what the apostle says, that a man might under- 
stand all such mysteries, and have no saving grace, 1 Cor. 
xiii. 2. " And though I have the gift of prophecy, and un- 
derstand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and have not char- 
ity, it profiteth me nothing." They therefore are very fool- 
ish, who are exalted in an opinion of their own spiritual at- 
tainments, from notions that come into their minds, of the 
mystical meaning of these and those passages of scripture, 
as though it was a spiritual understanding of these passages, 
immediately given them by the Spirit of God, and hence 
have their affections highly raised ; and what has been said, 
shews the vanity of such affections. 

From what has been said, it is also evident, that it is not 
spiritual knowledge for persons to be informed of their duty, 
by having it immediately suggested to their minds, that such 
and such outward actions or deeds are the will of God. If we 
suppose that it is truly God's manner thus to fignify his will 
to his people,- by immediate inward suggestions, such sugges- 
tions have nothing of the nature of spiritual light. Such, 


kind of knowledge ■would only be one kind of dcctii;.:,: 
knowledge ; a proposition concerning the will of God, is 
as properly a doctrine of religion, as a proposition concern- 
ing the nature of God, or a work of God ; and an having eith- 
er of these kinds of propositions, or any other proposition, 
declared to a man, either by speech, or inward suggestion, 
differs vastly from an having the holy beauty of divine 
things manifested to the soul, wherein spiritual knowledge 
does most essentially consist. Thus there was no spiritual 
light in Balaam ; though he had the will of God immediate- 
ly suggested to him by the Spirit of God from time to time, 
concerning the way that he should go, and what he should do 
and say. 

It is manifest therefore, that a being led and directed in. 
this manner, is not that holy and spiritual leading of the Spir-' 
it of God, which is peculiar to the saints, and a distinguishing 
mark of the sons of God, spoken of, Rom. viii. 14. « For as 
many as are led by the Spirit of God, are the sons of God, 
Gal. v. 18. " But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under 
the law.' 5 

And if persons have the w ; ill of Gcd concerning their ac- 
tions, suggested to them by some text of scripture, suddenly 
and extraordinarily brought to their minds, which text, as the 
words lay in the Bible before they came to their minds, relat- 
ed to the action and behavior of some other person, but they 
suppose, as God sent the words to therii', he intended some- 
thing further by them, and meant such a particular action of 
theirs ; I say, if persons should have the will of God thus 
suggested to them with texts of scripture, it alters not the 
case. The suggestion being accompanied with an apt text of 
scripture, does not make the suggestion to be of the nature of 
spiritual instruction. As for instance, if a person in Neweng- 
land, on some occasion, were at a loss whether it was his duty 
to go into some popish or heathenish land, where he was like 
to be exposed to many difficulties and dangers, and should 
pray to God that he would show him the way of his duty ; 
and after earnest prayer, should have those words which God 
spake to Jacob, Gen. xlvi. suddenly and extraordinarily 


'/(ought to his mind, as if they were spoken to him ; " Fear 
not to go down into Egypt ; for I will go with thee ; and I will 
also surely bring thee up again " In which words, though as 
they lay in the Bible before they came to his mind, they re- 
lated only to Jacob, and his behavior ; yet he supposes that 
God has a further meaning, as they were brought and applied 
to him ; that thus they are to be understood in a new sense, 
that by Egypt is to be understood this particular country he 
has in his mind, and that the action intended is his going 
thither, and that the meaning of the promise is, that God 
would bring him back into Newengland again. There is 
nothing of the nature of a spiritual or gracious leading of the 
Spirit in this ; for there is nothing of the nature of spiritual 
understanding in it. Thus to understand texts of scripture, 
is not to have a spiritual understanding of them. Spiritually 
to understand the scripture, is rightly to understand what is in 
the scripture, and what was in it before it was understood : It 
is to understand rightly, what used to be contained in the 
meaning of it, and not the making of a new meaning. When 
the mind is enlightened spiritually and rightly to understand 
the scripture, it is enabled to see that in the scripture, which. 
before was not seen by reason of blindness. But if it was by 
reason of blindness, that is an evidence that the same mean- 
ing was in it before, otherwise it would have been no blind- 
ness not to see it ; it is no blindness not to see a meaning 
which is not there. Spiritually enlightening the eyes to un- 
derstand the scripture, is to open the eyes, Psal. cxix. 18. 
" Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wonderous things 
out of thy law ;" which argues that the reason why the same 
was not seen in the scripture before, was that the eyes were 
shut ; which would not be the case, if the meaning that is 
now understood was not there before, but is now newly added 
to the scripture, by the manner of the scripture's coming to 
my mind. This making a new meaning to the scripture, is 
the same thing as making a new scripture ; it is properly 
adding to the word, which is threatened with so dreadful a 
curse. Spiritually to understand the scripture, is to have the 
eyes of the mind opened, to behold the wonderful spiritual 
Vol, IV. 2 D 


excellency of the glorious things contained in the true mean* 
ing of it, and that always were contained in it, ever since it 
■was written ; to behold the amiable and bright manifestations 
of the divine perfections, and of the excellency and sufficien- 
cy of Christ, and the excellency and suitableness of the way 
of salvation by Christ, and the spiritual glory of the precepts 
and promises of the scripture, Sec. which things are, and al- 
ways were in the Bible, and would have been seen before, if it 
had cot been for blindness, without having any new sense ad- 
ded, by the words being sent by God to a particular person, 
and spoken anew to him, with a new meaning. 

And as to a gracious leading of the Spirit, it consists in two 
things : Partly in instructing a person in his duty by the 
Spirit, and partly in powerfully inducing him to comply with 
that instruction. But so far as the gracious leading of the 
Spirit lies in instruction, it consists in a person's being guided 
by a spiritual and distinguishing taste of that which has in it 
true moral beauty. I have shewn that spiritual knowledge 
primarily consists in a taste or relish of the amiableness and 
beauty of that which is truly good and holy : This holy relish 
is a thing that discerns and distinguishes between good and 
evil, between holy and unholy, without being at the trouble of 
a train of reasoning. As he who has a true relish of exter- 
nal beauty, knows what is beautiful by looking upon it ; he 
stands in no need of a train of reasoning about the proportion 
of the features, in order to determine whether that which he 
sees be a beautiful countenance or no ; he needs nothing, but 
only the glance of his eye. He who has a rectified musical 
ear, knows whether the sound he hears be true harmony ; he 
does' not need first to be at the trouble of the reasonings of a 
mathematician about the proportion of the notes. He that 
has a rectified palate knows what is good food, as soon as he 
tastes it, whithout the reasoning of a physician about it. 
There is a holy beauty and sweetness in words and actions, as 
well as a natural beauty in countenances and sounds, and 
sweetness in food, Job xii. 11. " Doth not the ear try words, 
and the mouth taste hi' meat ?" When a holy and amiable 
action is suggested to the thoughts of a holy soul, that soul, 


if in the lively exercise of its spiritual taste, at once sees a 
beauty in it, and so inclines to it, and closes with it. On the 
contrary, if an unworthy, unholy action be suggested to it, its 
sanctified eye sees no beauty in it, and is not pleased with it ; 
its sanctified taste relishes no sweetness in it, but on the con- 
trary, it is nauseous to it. Yea, its holy taste and appetite 
leads it to think of that which is truly lovely, and naturally 
suggests it ; as a healthy taste and appetite naturally sug- 
gests the idea of its proper object. Thus a holy person is led 
by the Spirit, as he is instructed and led by his holy taste and 
disposition of heart ; whereby, in the lively exercise of grace, 
he easily distinguishes good and evil, and knows at once what 
is a suitable amiable behavior towards God, and towards man, 
in this case and the other, and judges what is right, as it were 
spontaneously, and of himself, without a particular deduction, 
by any other arguments than the beauty that is seen, and good- 
ness that is tasted. Thus Christ blames the Pharisees, that 
they " did not, even of their own selves, judge what was 
right," without needing miracles to prove it, Luke xii. 57. 
The apostle seems plainly to have respect to this way of judg- 
ing of spiritual beauty, in Rom. xii. 2. '' Be ye transformed by 
the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that 
good, and perfect, and acceptable will of God.'' 

There is such a thing as good taste of natural beauty 
(which learned men often speak of) that is exercised about 
temporal things, in judging of them ; as about the justness of 
a speech, the goodness of style, the beauty of a poem, the 
gracefulness of deportment, &x. A late great philosopher of 
our nation, writes thus upon it ;* " To have a taste, is to give 
things their real value, to be touched with the good, to be 
shocked with the ill ; not to be dazzled with false lustres, but 
in spight of all colors, and every thing that might deceive or 
amuse, to judge soundly. Taste and judgment, then, should 
be the same thing ; and yet it is easy to discern a difference. 
The judgment forms its opinions from reflection : The rea- 
son on this occasion fetches a kind of circuit, to arrive at its 

* Chambers' Dictionary, under the word tasti, 


end ; it supposes principles, it draws consequences, and if 
judges ; but not without a thorough knowledge of the case ; 
so that after it has pronounced, it is ready to render a reason 
of its decrees. Good taste observes none of these formalities ; 
ere it has time to consult, it has taken its side ; as soon as ev- 
er the object is presented, the impression is made, the senti- 
ment formed, ask no more of it. As the ear is wounded with 
a harsh sound, as the smell is soothed with an agreeable odor, 
before ever the reason have meddled with those objects to 
judge of them, so the taste opens itself at once, and prevents 
all reflection. They may come afterwards to confirm it, and 
discover the secret reasons of its conduct ; but it was not in its 
power to wait for them. Frequently it happens not to know 
them at all and what pains soever it uses, cannot discover 
what it was determined it to think as it did. This conduct is 
very different from what the judgment observes in its deci- 
sions : Unless we choose to say. that good taste is, as it were, 
a first motion, or a kind of instinct of right reason, which hur- 
ries ( n i i'li rapidity, and conducts mere securely, than all the 
reasonings she could make; it is a first glance of the eye, 
wl it discovers to us the nature and relations of things in a 
mor, ent 

Now as there is such a kind of taste of the mind as this, 
whicl 1 philosophers speak of, whereby persons are guided in 
their judgment, of the natural beauty, E gracefulness, propriety, 
nobleness, and sublimity of speeches and action, whereby 
they judge as it were by the glance of the eye, or by inward 
ion, and the first impicssion of the object , so there is 
likewise such a thing as a divine taste, given and maintained 
by the S] irit of Gud, in the hearts of the saints, whereby they 
are in like manner led and guided in discerning and distin- 
guishing the true spiritual and holy beauty of actions ; and 
that more easily, readily, and accurately, as they have more 
or less of the Spirit of God dwelling in them. And thus « the 
sons of God are led by the Spirit of God, in their behavior in 
the world." 

A holy disposition and spiritual taste, where grace is strong 
arid lively, will enable a soul to determine what actions are 


2'ight and becoming Christians, not only more speedily, but 
far more exactly, than the greatest abilities without it. This 
may be illustrated by the manner in which some habits of 
mind, and dispositions of heart, of a nature inferior to true 
grace, will teach and guide a man in his actions. As for in- 
stance, if a man be a very good natured man, his good nature 
will teach him better how to act benevolently amongst man- 
kind, and will direct him, on every occasion, to those speeches 
and actions, which are agreeable to rules of goodness, than 
the strongest reason will a man of a morose temper. So if a 
man's heart be under the influence of an entire friendship, and 
most endeared affection to another ; though he be a man of 
an indifferent capacity, yet this habit of his mind will direct 
him, far more readily and exactly, to a speech and deportment, 
or manner of behavior, which shall in all respects be sweet 
and kind, and agreeable to a benevolent disposition of heart, 
than the greatest capacity without it. He has as it were a 
spirit within him, that guides him ; the habit of his mind is 
attended with a taste, by which he immediately relishes that 
air and mien which is benevolent, and disrelishes the contrary, 
and causes him to distinguish between one and the other in a 
moment, more precisely, than the most accurate reasonings 
can find out in many hours. As the nature and inward ten- 
dency of a stone, or other heavy body, that is iet fall from 
aloft, shews the Avay to the centre of the earth, more exactlv 
in an instant, than the ablest mathematician; without it, could 
determine, by his most accurate observations, in a whole day. 
Thus it is that a spiritual disposition and taste teaches and 
guides a man in his behavior in the world. So an eminently 
humble, or meek, or charitable disposition, will direct a per- 
son of mean capacity to such a behavior, as is agreeable to 
Christian rules of humility, meekness and charity, far more 
readily and precisely than the most diligent study, and elabo- 
rate reasonings, of a man of the strongest faculties, who has 
not a Christian spirit within him. So also will a Spirit of 
love to God, and hcly fear and reverence towards God, and 
filial confidence in God, and an heavenly disposition, teach and 
p;uide a man in his behavior. 


It is an exceedingly difficult thing for a wicked man, desti- 
tute of Christian principles in his heart to guide him, to 
know bow to demean himself like a Christian, with the life 
and beauty* and heavenly sweetness of a truly holy, humble, 
Cbristlike behavior. He knows not how to put on these 
garments ; neither do they fit him, Eccl. x. 2, 3. « A wise 
man's heart is at his right hand ; but a fool's heart is at his left. 
Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wis- 
dom failcth him, and he saith to every one that he is a fool ; 
with ver. 15. The labor of the foolish wearieth every one 
of them, because he knoweth not how to goto the city, Prov. 
x. 32. The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, 
Chap. xv. 2. The tongue of the wise useth knowledge 
aright ; but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness. And 
Chap. xvi. 23. The heart of the righteous teacheth his 
mouth, and addeth learning to his lips. 

The saints in thus judging of actions by a spiritual taste, 
have not a particular recourse to express rules of God's word, 
with respect to every word and action that is before them, the 
good or evil of which they thus judge : But yet their taste 
itself, in general, is subject to the rule of God's word, and 
must be tried by that, and a right reasoning upon it. As a 
man of a rectified palate judges of particular morsels by his 
taste ; but yet his palate itself must be judged of, whether it 
be right or no, by certain rules and reasons. But a spiritual 
taste of soul mightily helps the soul in its reasonings on the 
word of God, and in judging of the true meaning of its rules : 
As it removes the prejudices of a depraved appetite, and nat- 
urally leads the thoughts in the right channel, casts a light on 
the word of God, and causes the true meaning, most natural- 
ly to come to mind, through the harm©ny there is between 
the disposition and relish of a sanctified soul, and the true 
meaning of the rules of God's word. Yea, this harmony tends 
to bring the texts themselves to mind, on proper occasions ; 
as the particular slate of the stomach and palate tends to bring 
such particular meats and drinks to mind, as arc agreeable to 
that state. " Thus the children of God are led by the Spirit 
«i" C iod" in judging of actions themselves, and in their medi- 


Nations upon, and judging of, and applying the rules of God's 
holy word : And so God " teaches them his statutes, and 
causes them to understand the way of his precepts j" which 
the Psalmist so often prays for. 

But this leading of the Spirit is a thing exceedingly di- 
verse from that which some call so ; which consists not in 
teaching them God's statutes and precepts, that he has al- 
ready given ; but in giving them new precepts, by immedi- 
ate inward speech or suggestion ; and has in it no tasting the 
true excellency «f things, or judging or discerning the nature 
of things at all. They do not determine what is the will of 
God by any taste or relish, or any manner of judging of the 
nature of things, but by an immediate dictate concerning the 
thing to be done ; there is no such thing as any judgment or 
wisdom in the case. Whereas in that leading of the Spirit 
which is peculiar to God's children, is imparted that true wis- 
dom, and holy discretion, so often spoken of in the word of 
God ; which is high above the other way, as the stars are 
higher than a glow worm ; and that which Balaam and Saul 
(who sometimes were led by the Spirit in that other way) 
never had, and no natural man can have, without a change of 

What has been said of the nature of spiritual understand™ 
ing, as consisting most essentially in a divine supernatural 
sense and relish of the heart, not only shews that there is 
nothing of it in this falsely supposed leading of the Spirit, 
which has been now spoken of ; but also shows the difference 
between spiritual understanding, and all kinds and forms of 
enthusiasm, all imaginary sights of God, and Christ, and heav- 
en, all supposed witnessing of the Spirit, and testimonies of 
the love of God by immediate inward suggestion ; and alt 
impressions, of future events, and immediate revelations of any 
secret facts whatsoever ; all enthusiastical impressions and 
applications of words of scripture, as though they were words 
now immediately spoken by God to a particular person, in a 
new meaning, and carrying something more in them, than 
the words contain as they lie in the Bible ; and all interpreta- 
tions of the mystical meaning of the scripture, by supposed 


immediate revelation. None of these things consists in a di- 
vine sense and relish of the heart, of the holy beauty and ex- 
cellency of divine things ; nor have they any thing to do -with 
such a sense ; but all consist in impressions in the head ; all 
are to be referred to the head of impressions on the imagina- 
tion, and consist in the exciting external ideas in the mind, 
cither in ideas of outward shapes and colors, or words spoken, 
or letters written, or ideas of things external and sensible, be- 
longing to actions done, or events accomplished or to be ac- 
complished. An enthusiasiical supposed manifestation of the 
love of God, is made by the exciting an idea of a smiling 
countenance, or some other pleasant outward appearance, or 
by the idea of pleasant words spoken, or written, excited in 
the imagination, or some pleasant bodily sensation. So when 
persons have an imaginary revelation of some secret fact, it is 
by exciting external ideas ; either of some words, implying a 
declaration of that fact, or some visible or sensible circum- 
stances of such a fact. So the supposed leading of the Spirit, 
to do the will of God, in outward behavior, is either by excit- 
ing the idea of words (which are outward things) in their 
minds, either the words of scripture, or other words, which 
they look upon as an immediate command of God ; or else by 
exciting and impressing strongly the ideas of the outward ac- 
tions themselves. So when an interpretation of a scripture 
type or allegory, is immediately, in an extraordinary way, 
strongly suggested, it is by suggesting words, as though one 
secretly whispered and told the meaning, or by exciting other 
ideas in the imagination. 

Such sort of experiences and discoveries as these, common- 
ly raise the affections of such as are deluded by them, to a 
great height, and make a mighty uproar in both soul and body. 
And a very great part of the false religion that has been in 
the world, from one age to another, consists in such discove- 
ries as these, and in the; affections that flow from them. In 
such things consisted the experiences of the ancient Pythago- 
reans among the heathen, and many others among them, who 
had strange ecstacies and raptures, and pretended to a divine 
afflatus, and immediate revelations from heaven. In such 


^ings as these seem to have consisted the experiences of the 
Essenes, an ancient sect among the Jews, at and after the 
times of the apostles. In such things as these consisted the 
experiences of many of the ancient Gnostics, and the Mon= 
tanists, and many other sects of ancient heretics, in the prim- 
itive ages of the Christian church. And in such things as 
these consisted the pretended immediate converse with God 
and Christ, and saints and angels of heaven, of the Monks, 
Anchorites, and Recluses, that formerly abounded in the 
Church of Rome. In such things consisted the pretended 
high experiences, and great spirituality of many sects of en- 
thusiasts, that swarmed in the world after the Reformation ; 
such as the Anabaptists, Antinomians, and Familists, the fol- 
lowers of N. Stork, Th. Muncer, Jo. Becold, Henry Pfeiser, 
David George, Casper Swenckfield, Henry Nicolas, Johannes 
Agricola Eislebius ; and the many wild enthusiasts that were 
in England in the days of Oliver Cromwell ; and the follow-* 
ers of Mrs. Hutchison in Newengland ; as appears by the 
particular and large accounts given of all these sects by that 
eminently holy man, Mr. Samuel Rutherford, in his " Display 
of the spiritual Antichrist." And in such things as these 
consisted the experiences of the late French prophets, and 
their followers. And in these things seems to lie the relig- 
ion of the many kinds of enthusiasts of the present day. It is 
by such sort of religion as this, chiefly that Satan transforms 
himself into an angel of light : And it is that Avhich he has 
ever most successfully made use of to confound hopeful and 
happy revivals of religion, from the beginning of the Christ- 
ian church to this day. When the Spirit of God is poured 
out, to begin a glorious work, then the old serpent, as fast as 
possible, and by all means, introduces this bastard religion, 
and mingles it with the true ; which has from time to time 
soon brought all things into confusion. The pernicious con- 
sequence of it is not easily imagined or conceived of, until we 
see and are amazed with the awful effects of it, and the dismal 
desolation it has made. If the revival of true religion be very 
great in its beginning, yet if this bastard comes in, there is 
danger of its doing as Gideon's bastard Abimelech did, wh* 
Vol. IV. 2 E 


never left until he had slain all his threescore and ten true- 
born sons, excepting one, that was forced to fly. Great and 
strict therefore should be the watch and guard that ministers 
maintain against such things, especially at a time of great 
awakening : For men, especially the common people, are 
easily bewitched with such things ; they having such a glar- 
ing and glistering shew of high religion ; and the devil hiding 
his own shape, and appearing as an angel of light, that men 
may not be afraid of him, but may adore him. 

The imagination or phantasy seems to be that wherein are 
formed all those delusions of Satan, which those are carried 
away with, who are under the influence of false religion, and 
counterfeit graces and affections. Here is the devil's grand 
lurking place, the very nest of foul and delusive spirits. It is 
icry much to be doubted, whether the devil can come at the 
soul of man at all to affect it, or to excite any thought or mo- 
tion, or produce any effect whatsoever in it, any other way, 
than by the phantasy ; which is that power of the soul, by 
which it receives, andis the subject of the species, or ideas of 
outward arid sensible things. As to the laws and means which 
the Creator has established, for the intercourse and commu- 
nication of unbodied spirits, we know nothing about them ; 
we do not know by what medium they manifest their thoughts 
to each other, or excite thoughts in each other. But as to 
spirits that are united to bodies, those bodies God has united 
them to, are their medium of communication. They have 
no other medium of acting on other creatures, or being acted 
on by them, than the body. Therefore it is not to be sup- 
posed that Satan can excite any thought, or produce any ef- 
fect in the soul of man, any otherwise, than by some motion 
of the animal spirits, or by causing some motion or altera- 
tion in something which appertains to the body. There is 
this reason to think that the devil cannot produce thoughts in 
the soul immediately, or any other way than by the medium 
of the body, viz. that he cannot immediately see or know the 
thoughts of the soul : It is abundantly declared in the scrip- 
ture, to be peculiar to the omniscient God to do that. But it 
\s not likely that the devil can immediately produce an effect, 


which is out of the reach of his immediate view. It seems 
•unreasonable to suppose, that his immediate agency should be 
out of his own sight, or that it should be impossible for him 
to see what he himself immediately does. Is it not unrea- 
sonable to suppose, that any spirit or intelligent agent, should 
by the act of his will, produce effects according to his under- 
standing, or agreeable to his own thoughts, and that immedi- 
ately, and yet the effects produced be beyond the reach of his 
understanding, or where he can have no immediate percep- 
tion or discerning at all ? But if this be so, that the devil can- 
not produce thoughts in the soul immediately, or any other 
way than by the animal spirits, or by the body, then it follows, 
that he never brings to pass any thing in the soul, but by the 
imagination or phantasy, or by exciting external ideas. For 
we know that alterations in the body do immediately excite 
no other sort of ideas in the mind, but external ideas, or ideas 
of the outward senses, or ideas which are of the same out- 
ward nature. As to reflection, abstraction, reasoning, See. and 
those thoughts and inward motions which are the fruits of 
these acts of the mind, they are not the next effects of impres- 
sions on the body. So that it must be only by the imagina- 
tion, that Satan has access to the soul, to tempt and delude it^ 
or suggest any thing to it.* And this seems to be the reason 

* " The imagination is that room of the soul wherein the devil doth often 
■appear. Indeed (to speak exactly) the devil hath no efficient power over the 
rational part of a man ; he cannot change the will, he cannot alter the heart of 
a man. So that the utmost he can do, in tempting a man to sin, is by suasion 
and suggestion only. But how doth the devil do this ? Even by working 
upon the imagination. He observeth the temper, and bodily constitution of 
a man ; and thereupon suggests to his fancy, and injects his fiery darts there- 
into, by which the mind will come to be wrought upon. The devil then, 
though he hath no imperious efficacy over thy will, yet because he can thus 
stir and move thy imagination, and thou being naturally destitute of grace, 
<:anst not withstand these suggestions : Hence it is that any sin in thy imagina- 
tion, though but in the outward works of the soul, yet doth quickly lay hold 
on all. And indeed, by this means, do arise those hortible delusions, that 
are in many erroneous ways of religion ; all is because their imaginations are 
corrupted. Yea, how often are these diabolical delusions of the imagination 
itiken for the gracious operation of God's Spirit ? It is from hence that many 


why persons that are under the disease of melancholy, ar* 
commonly so visibly and remarkably subject to the suggest? 
ions and temptations of Satan ; that being a disease which per 
culiarly affects the animal spirits, and is attended with weakr 
ness of that part of the body which is the fountain of the ani- 
mal spirits, even the brain, which is, as it were, the seat of 
the phantasy. It is by impressions made on * the brain, that 
any ideas are excited in the mind, by the motion of the ani- 
mal spirits, or any changes made in the body. The brain be- 
ingthus weakened and diseased, it is less under the command 
of the higher faculties of the soul, and yields the more easily 
to extrinsic impressions, and is overpowered by the disorder- 
ed motions of the animal spirits ; and so the devil has greater 
advantage to affect the mind, by working on the imagination. 
And thus Satan, when he casts in those horrid suggestions 
into the minds of many melancholy persons, in which they 
have no hand themselves, he does it by exciting imaginary 
ideas, either of some dreadful words or sentences, or other 
horrid outward ideas. And when he tempts other persons 
who are not melancholy, he does it by presenting to the im- 
agination, in a lively and alluring manner, the objects of their 
lusts, or by exciting ideas of words, and so by them exciting 
thoughts ; or by promoting an imagination of outward actions, 
events, circumstances, &c. Innumerable are the ways by 
which the mind might be led on to all kind of evil thoughts, 
by exciting external ideas in the imagination. 

have pretended to enthusiasms : They leave the scriptures, and wholly attend 
to what they perceive and feel within them." Burgess on Original Sin, p. 369. 
The great Turretine, speaking on that question, What is th« power of angels ? 
says, " As to bodies there is no doubt but that they can do a great deal upon 
all sorts of elementary and sublunary bodies, to move them locally and vari- 
ously to agitate them. It is also certain, that they can act upon the external 
and internal senses, to excite them or to bind them. But as to the rational 
soul itself, they can do nothing immediately upon that ; for to God alone, 
•who knows and searches the hearts, and who has them in his hands, does it 
also appertain to bow and move them whithersoever he will. But angels can 
act upon the rational scul, only mediately, by imaginations." Thtolog. Elenck- 
]Loe. VII. Quest. 7. 


If persons keep no guard at these avenues of Satan, by 
which he has access to the soul, to tempt and delude it, they 
will be likely to have enough of him. And especially, if in« 
stead of guarding against him, they lay themselves open to 
him, and seek and invite him, because he appears as an angel 
of light, and counterfeits the illuminations and graces of the 
Spirit of God, by inward whispers, and immediate sugges- 
tions of facts and events, pleasant voices, beautiful images, 
and other impressions on the imagination. There are many 
who are deluded by such things, and are lifted up with them, 
and seek after them, that have a continued course of them, 
and can have them almost when they will ; and especially 
when their pride and vain glory has most occasion for them, 
to make a shew of them before company. It is with them, 
something as it is with those who are professors of the art of 
telling where lost things are to be found, by impressions 
made on their imaginations ; they laying themselves open to 
the devil, he is always at hand to give them the desired im- 

Before I finish what I would say on this head of imagina- 
tions, counterfeiting spiritual light, and affections arising 
from them, I would renewedly (to prevent misunderstanding 
of what has been said) desire it may be observed, that I am 
far from determining, that no affections arc spiritual which 
are attended with imaginary ideas. Such is the nature of 
man, that he can scarcely think of any thing intensely, with- 
out some kind of outward ideas. They arise and interpose 
themselves unavoidably, in the course of a man's thoughts ; 
though oftentimes they are very confused, and are not what 
the mind regai'ds. When the mind is much engaged, and 
the thoughts intense, oftentimes the imagination is more 
strong, and the outward idea more lively, especially in per- 
sons of some constitutions of body. But there is a great dif- 
ference between these two things, viz. lively imaginations 
arising from strong affections, and strong affections arising 
from lively imaginations. The former may be, and doubt- 
less often is, in case of truly gracious affections. The affec- 
tions do not arise from the imagination, nor have any depend- 


ence upon it ; but, on the contrary, the imagination is only 
the accidental effect, or consequent of the affection, through 
the infirmity of human nature. But when the latter is the 
case, as it often is, that the affection arises from the imagina- 
tion, and is built upon it, as its foundation, instead of a spiritu- 
al illumination or discovery, then is the affection, however el- 
evated, worthless and vain. And this is the drift of what has 
been now said, of impressions on the imagination. Having 
observed this, I proceed to another mark of gracious affec- 

V. Truly gracious affections are attended with a reasonable 
♦ond spiritual conviction of the judgment, of the reality and 
certainty of divine things. 

This seems to be implied in the text that was laid as the 
foundation of this discourse. " Whom having not seen, ye 
love ; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye 
rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory." 

All those who are truly gracious persons have a solid, full, 
thorough and effectual conviction of the truth of the great 
things of the gospel ; I mean, that they no longer halt be- 
tween two opinions ; the great doctrines of the gospel cease to 
beany longer doubtful things, or matters of opinion, which, 
though probable, are yet disputable ; but with them, they are 
points settled and determined, as undoubted and indisputa- 
ble ; so that they are not afraid to venture their all upon their 
truth. Their conviction is an effectual conviction ; so that 
the great, spiritual, mysterious, and invisible things of the 
gospel, have the influence of real and certain things upon 
them ; they have the weight and power of real things ' in 
their hearts ; and accordingly rule in their affections, and 
govern them through the course of their lives. With res- 
pect to Christ's being the Son of God, and Saviour of the 
world, and the great things he has revealed concerning him- 
self, and his Father, and another world, they have not only a 
predominating opinion that these things are true, and so yield 
their assent, as they do in many other matters of doubtful 
speculation ; but they see that it is really so ; their eyes are 
«pened, so that they see that really Jesus is the Christ, the 


Son of the living God. And as to the things which Chrisi 
has revealed, of God's eternal purposes and designs, concern- 
ing fallen man, and the glorious and everlasting things pre- 
pared for the saints in another world, they see that they are 
so indeed ; and therefore these things are of great weight 
with them, and have a mighty power upon their hearts, and 
influence over their practice, in some measure answerable to 
their infinite importance. 

That all true Christians have such a kind of conviction of 
the truth of the things of the gospel, is abundantly manifest 
from the holy scriptures. I will mention a few places of 
many, Matth. tfvi. 15, 16, 17. " But whom say ye that I am ? 
Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art Christ, the Son of 
the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, 
Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona :....My Father which is in 
heaven hath revealed it unto thee. John vi. 68, 69. Thou 
hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure 
that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. John 
■jtvii. 6, 7, 8. I have manifested thy name unto the men 
which thou gavest me out of the world. Now they have 
known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me, are of 
thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gav- 
est me ; and they have received them, and have known sure- 
ly that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou 
didst send me. Acts viii. 37. If thou believest with all thy 
heart, thou mayst. 2. Cor. iv. 11,12, 13, 1 4. We which live, 
are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake.. ..Death vvork- 
eth in us.. ..We having the spirit of faith, according as it is 
written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken ; we also 
believe, and therefore speak ; knowing, that he which raised 
Up the Lord Jesus, shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall 
present us with you. Together with ver. 16. For which cause 
we faint not. And ver. 18. While we look not at the things 
which are seen, Sec. And chap. v.l. For we know, that if our 
earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a 
building of God. And ver. 6, 7, 8. Therefore we are always 
confident, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, wo 
are absent from the Lord 


We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent frorft 
the body, and present with the Lord. 2. Tim. i. 12. For th* 
which cause I also suffer these things ; nevertheless I am not 
ashamed ; for I know whom I have believed, and I am per- 
suaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed 
unto him against that day. Heb. iii. 6. Whose house are 
we, if we hold fast the confidence, and the rejoicing of the 
hope firm unto the end. Heb. xi. 1. Now faith is the sub 
stance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen ; 
together with that whole chapter. 1. John iv. 13, 14, 15, 16. 
Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because 
he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen, and do 
testify, that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the 
world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of 
God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have 
known and believed the love that God hath to us. Chap. v. 
4, 5. For whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the world ; 
and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our 
faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that be- 
lieveth that Jesus is the Son of God ?" 

Therefore truly gracious affections are attended with such 
a kind of conviction and persuasion of the truth of the thing* 
of the gospel, and sight of their evidence and reality, as these 
and other scriptures speak of. 

There are many religious affections, which are not attend- 
ed with such a conviction of the judgment. There are many- 
apprehensions and ideas which some have, that they call di~ 
vine discoveries, which are affecting, but not convincing. 
Though for a little while they may seem to be more persuad- 
ed of the truth of the things of religion than they used to be,' 
and may yield a forward assent, like many of Christ's hear- 
ers, who believed for a while ; yet they have no thorough and 
effectual conviction ; nor is there any great abiding change 
in them, in this respect, that whereas formerly they did not 
realize the great things of the gospel, now these things, with 
regard to reality and certainty, appear new to them, and they 
behold them, quite in another view than they used to do. 
There are many persons who have been exceedingly raised 


with religious affections, and think they have been converted, 
■ hey do not go about the v/orld any more convinced of 
the truth of the gospel, than they used to be ; or at least, 
there is no remarkable alteration : They are not men who 
live under the influence and power of a realizing conviction 
of the infinite and eternal things which the gospel reveals ; 
if thev -were, it would be impossible for them to live as they 
do. Because their affections are not attended with a thor- 
ough conviction of the mind, they are not at all to be depend- 
ed on ; however great a show and noise they make, it is like 
the blaze of tow, or crackling of thorns, or like the forward 
flourishing blade on stony ground, that has no root, nor deep- 
ness of earth to maintain its life. 

Sonic persons, under high affections, and a confident per- 
suasion of their good estate, have that, which they very igno- 
rantly call a seeing the truth of the word of God, and which is 
very far from it, after this manner ; they have some text of 
scripture coming to their minds in a sudden and extraordina- 
ry manner, immediately declaring unto them (as they sup- 
pose) that their sins are forgiven, or that God loves them, 
and will save them ; and it may be, have a chain of scriptures 
coming one after another, to the same purpose ; and they are 
convinced that it is truth ; i. e. they are confident that it is 
certainly so, that their sins are forgiven, and God does love 
them. ?:c....they say they know it is so ; and when the words 
of scripture are suggested to them, and as they suppose im- 
mediately spoken to them by God, in this meaning, they are 
ready to cry out, Truth, truth ! It is certainly so ! The word 
of God is true ! And this they call a seeing the truth of the 
word of God. Whereas the whole of their faith amounts to 
no more, than only a strong confidence of their own good es- 
tate, and so a Confidence that these words are true, which 
they suppose tell them they are in a good estate : When in- 
deed (as was shown before) there is no scripture which declares 
that any person is in a good estate directly, or any other way 
than by consequence. So that this, instead of being a real 
r,ight of the truth of the word of God, is a sight of nothing but 
a phantom, and is wholly a delusion. Truly to see the truth 

Vot.. IV. 2 F 


of ihc void of God, is to see the truth of the gospel ; which 
is the glorious doctrine the word of God contains, concern- 
ing God, and Jesus Christ, and the way of salvation by him, 
and the -world of glory that he is entered into, and purchased 
for all them who believe ; and not a revelation that such and 
such particular persons are true Christians, and shall go to 
heaven. Therefore those affections which arise from no 
other persuasion of the truth of the word of God than this> 
arise from delusion, and not true conviction ; and consequent- 
ly are themselves delusive and vain. 

But if the religious affections that persons have, do indeed 
arise from a strong persuasion of the truth of the Christian 
religion, their affections are not the better, unless their per- 
suasion be a reasonable persuasion or conviction. By a rea- 
sonable conviction, I mean a conviction founded on real evi- 
dence, or upon that which is a good reason, or just ground of 
conviction. Men may have a strong persuasion that the 
Christian religion is true, when their persuasion is not at all 
built on evidence, but altogether on education, and the opin- 
ion of others; as many Mahometans arc strongly persuaded 
of the truth of the Mahometan religion, because their fathers, 
and neighbors, and nation believe it. That belief of the truth 
of the Christian religion, which is built on the very same 
grounds with a Mahometan's belief of the Mahometan relig- 
ion, is the same sort of belief. And though the thing believed 
happens to be belter, yet that does not make the belief itself 
to be of a better sort ; for though the thing believed happens 
to be true, yet the belief of it is not owing to this truth, but 
to education. So that as the conviction is no better than the 
Mahometan's conviction ; so the affections that How from it, 
are no better in themselves, than the religious affections of 

But if that belief of Christian doctrines, which persons' af- 
fections arise from, be not merely from education, but indeed 
from reasons and arguments which arc offered, it will not 
from thence necessarily follow, that their affections arc truly 
gracious: For in order to that, it is lequisite, not only that 
the belief which their affections arise from, should be a iea- 


tenable, but also a spiritual belief or conviction. I suppose, 
none will doubt but that some natural men do yield a kind of 
assent of their judgments to the truth of the Christian relig- 
ion, from the rational proofs or arguments that are offered to 
evince it. Judas, without doubt, thought Jesus to be the Mes- 
siah, from the things which he saw and heard ; but yet all 
along was a devil. So in John ii. 23, 24, 25, we read of many 
that believed in Christ's name, when they saw the miracles 
that he did ; whom yet Christ knew had not that within 
them, which was to be depended on. So Simon the sorcerer 
believed, when he beheld the miracles and signs which were 
done ; but yet remained in the gall of bitterness, and bond of 
iniquity, Acts viii. 13, 23. And if there is such a belief or 
assent of the judgment in some natural men, none can doubt 
but that religious affections may arise from that assent or be- 
lief ; as we read of some who believed for a while, that were 
greatly affected, and anon with joy received the word. 

It is evident that there is such a thing as a spiritual belief 
or conviction of the truth of the things of the gospel, or a be- 
lief that is peculiar to those who are spiritual, or who are re- 
generated, and have the Spirit of God, in his holy communi- 
cations, and dwelling in them as a vital principle. So that 
the conviction they have, does not only differ from that which 
natural men have, in its concomitants, in that it is accompa- 
nied with good works ; but the belief itself is diverse, the as- 
sent and conviction of the judgment is of a kind peculiar to 
those who are spiritual, and that which natural men are 
wholly destitute of. This is evident by the scripture, if any 
thing at all is so, John xvii. 8. ." They have believed that 
thou didst send me. Tit. i. 1. According to the faith of 
God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is af- 
ter godliness. John xvi. 27. The Father himself loveth 
you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came 
out from God. 1 John iv. 15. Whosoever shall confess 
that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in 
God. Chap. v. 1. Whosoever bcheveth that Jesus is the 
Christ, is born of God. Ver. 10. He that believeih on thf 
Son ©f God, hath the witness in himself," 


What a spiritual conviction of the judgment is, ve arc nat- 
urally led to determine from what has been said already, un- 
der the former head of a spiritual understanding. The con* 
viction of the judgment arises from the illumination of the 
understanding ; the passing of a right judgment on things, 
depends on having a right apprehension or idea of things. 
And therefore it follows, that a spiritual conviction of the truth 
of the great things of the gospel, is such a conviction, as ari- 
ses from having a spiritual view or apprehension of those 
things in the mind. And this is also evident from the scrip- 
ture, which often represents, that a saving belief of the reality 
and divinity of the things proposed and exhibited to us in the 
gospel, is from the Spirit of God's enlightening the mind, to 
have right apprehensions of the nature of those things, and so 
as it were unveiling things, or revealing them, and enabling 
the mind to view them and see them as they are. Luke x. 
21, 22. " I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, 
that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and 
hast revealed them unto babes : Even so, Father, for so it 
seemed good in thy sight. All things arc delivered unto me 
of my Father : And no man knoweth who the Son is, but the 
Father ; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom 
the Son will reveal him. John vi. 40. And this is the will 
of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and 
believeth on him, may have everlasting life. 5 * Where it is 
plain, that true faith arises from a spiritual sight of Christ. 
And John xvii. 6, 7, 8. "I have manifested thy name unto 
the men which thou gavest me out of the world. Now they 
have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me, 
are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which 
thou gavest me ; and they have received them, and have 
known surely that I came out from thee, and they have be- 
lieved that thou didst send me." Where Christ's manifest- 
ing God's name to the disciples, or giving them a true appre- 
hension and view ot divine things, was that whereby they 
knew that Christ's doctrine was of God, and that Christ him- 
self was of him, and was sent by him, Matth. xvi. 16, 17. 
<< Simon Peter said ; thou art Christ, the Son of the living 


God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art 
thou, Simon Barjona : For flesh and blood hath not revealed it 
unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven, i John v. 10. 
He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in him- 
self, Gal. i. 14, 15, 16. Being more exceedingly zealous of 
the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who 
separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by 
his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him 
among the heathen ; immediately I conferred not with iiesh 
and blood.' 5 

If it be so, that that is a spiritual conviction of the divinity 
and reality of the things exhibited in the gospel, which arises 
from a spiritual understanding of those things ; I have shown 
already what that is, viz. a sense and taste of the divine, su- 
preme, and holy excellency and beauty of those things. So 
that then is the mind spiritually convinced of the divinity and 
truth of the great things of the gospel, when that conviction 
arises,, either directly or remotely, from such a sense or view 
of their divine excellency and glory as is there exhibited. 
This clearly follows, from things that have been already said : 
And for this the scripture is very plain and express, 2 Cor. iv. 
O....G. « But if our gospel be hid, it is hiji to them that are 
lost ; in whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds 
of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel 
of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 
For Ave preach not ourselves, but Ghrfet Jesus the Lord ; and 
ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who com- 
manded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our 
hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, 
in the face of Jesus Christ." Together with the last verse of 
the foregoing chapter, which introduces this, " but we all, 
with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, 
are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even 
as by the Spirit of the Lord." Nothing can be more evident, 
than that a saving belief of the gospel is here spoken of, by 
the apostle, as arising from the mind's being enlightened tft 
behold the divine glory of the things it exhibits. 


This view or sense of the divine glory, and unparalleled 
beauty of the things exhibited to us in the gospel, has a ten- 
dency to convince the mind of their divinity, two ways ; di- 
rectly, and more indirectly, and remotely. 1. A view of 
this divine glory directly convinces the mind of the divinity 
of these things, as this glory is in itself a direct, clear, and 
allconquering evidence of it ; especially when clearly dis- 
covered, or when this supernatural sense is given in a good 

He that has his judgment thus directly convinced and as- 
sured of the divinity of the things of the gospel, by a clear 
view of their divine glory, has a reasonable conviction ; his be- 
lief and assurance is altogether agreeable to reason ; because 
the divine glory and beauty of divine tilings is in itself, real 
evidence of their divinity, and the most direct and strong evi- 
dence. He that truly sees the divine, transcendent, supreme 
glory of those things which arc divine, does as it were know 
their divinity intuitively : He not only argues that they are 
divine, but he sees that they are divine ; he sees that in them 
wherein divinity chiefly consists, for in this glory, which is so 
vastly and inexpressibly distinguished from the glory of arti- 
ficial things, and all other glory, does mainly consist the true 
notion of divinity. God is God, and distinguished from all 
other beings, and exalted above them, chiefly by his divine 
beauty, which is infinitely diverse from all other beauty.... 
They therefore that see the stamp of this glory in divine 
things, they see divinity in them, they see God in them, and 
so see them to be divine ; because they see that in them 
wherein the truest idea of divinity does consist. Thus a soul 
may have a kind of intuitive knowledge of the divinity of the 
things exhibited in the gospel ; not that he judges the doc- 
trines of the gospel to be from God, without any argument or 
deduction at all; but it is without any long chain of argu- 
ments ; the argument is but one, and the evidence direct ; the 
mind ascends to the truth of the gospel but by one step, and 
thai is its divine glory. 

It would be very strange, if any professing Christian should 
deny it to be possible, that there should be an excellency in 


divine things, which is so transcendent, and exceedingly dif- 
ferent from what is in other things, that if it were seen, would 
evidently distinguish them. We cannot rationally douht, but 
that things that are divine, that appertain to the Supi erne 
Being, arc vastly different from things that are human : That 
there is a Godlike, high, and glorious excellency in them, 
that does so distinguish them from the things which are of 
men, that the difference is ineffable ; and therefore such, as, 
if seen, will have a most convincing, satisfying influence upon 
any one, that they are what they are, viz divine. Doubtless 
there is that glory and excellency in the divine Being, by 
which he is so infinitely distinguished from all other beings, 
that if it were seen, he might be known by it. It would there- 
fore be very unreasonable to deny, that it is possible for God 
to give manifestations of this distinguishing excellency, in 
things by which he is pleased to make himself known ; and 
that this distinguishing excellency may be clearly seen in 
them. There are natural excellencies, that are very evident- 
ly distinguishing of the subjects or authors, to any one who 
beholds them. How vastly is the speech of an understanding 
man different from that of a little child ! And how greatly dis- 
tinguished is the speech of some men of great genius, as Ho- 
mer, Cicero, Milton, Locke, Addison, and others, from that 
of many other understanding men I There are no limits to 
be set to the degrees of manifestation of mental excellency, 
that there may be in speech. But the appearances of the nat- 
ural perfections of God, in the manifestations he makes of 
himself, may doubtless be unspeakably more evidently dis- 
tinguishing, than the appearances of those excellencies of 
worms of the dust, in which they differ one from another. 
He that is well acquainted with mankind, and their works, by 
viewing the sun, may know it is no human work. And it is 
reasonable to suppose, that when Christ comes at the end of 
the world, in the glory of his Father, it will be with such inef- 
fable appearances of divinity, as will leave no doubt to the in- 
habitants of the world, even the most obstinate infidels, that he 
who appears is a divine person. But above all, do the mani- 
festations of the moral and spiritual glory of the divine Being 


(which is the proper beauty of the divinity) bring their owi> 
evidence, and tend to assure the heart. Thus the disciple9 
were assured that Jesus was the Son of God, « for they beheld 
his glory, as the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full 
of grace and truth, John i. 14." When Christ appeared in 
the glory of his transfiguration to his disciples, with that out- 
ward glory to their bodiiy eyes, whicfi was a sweet and admir- 
able symbol and semblance of his spiritual glory, together 
with his spiritual glory itself, manifested to their minds ; the 
manifestation of glory was such, as did perfectly, and with 
good reason, assure them of his divinity ; as appears by what 
one of them, viz. the Apostle Peter, says concerning it, 2 Pet. 
i. 16, 17, 18. " For we have not followed cunningly devised 
fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming 
of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye witnesses of his maj- 
esty. For he received from God the Father, honor and glory, 
■when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, 
This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And 
this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were 
with him in the holy mount." The apostle calls that mount, 
the hoiy mount, because the manifestations of Christ which 
were there made to their minds, and which their minds were 
especially impressed and ravished with, were the glory of his 
holiness, or the beauty of his moral excellency ; or, as another 
of these disciples, who saw it, expresses it, " his glory, as full 
of grace and truth." 

Now this distinguishing glory of the divine P>eing has it* 
brightest appearance and manifestation, in the things propos- 
ed and exhibited to us in the gospel, the doctrines there taught, 
the Word there spoken, and the divine counsels, acts and works 
there revealed. These things have the clearest, most admira- 
ble, and distinguishing representations and exhibitions ol the 
glory of God's moral perfections, that ever were made to the 
world. And if there be such a distinguishing, evidential man- 
ifestation of divine glory in the gospel, it is reasonable to sup- 
pose that there may he such a thing as seeing it : What 
should hinder but that it may br seen ? It is no argument that 
it cannot be seen, that some do not see it ; though thev may 


be discerning men in temporal matters. If there be such in- 
effable, distinguishing, evidential excellencies in the gospel, 
it is reasonable to suppose, that they are such as are not to be 
discerned, but by the special influence and enlightenings of 
the Spirit of God. There is need of uncommon force of mind 
to discern the distinguishing excellencies of the works of au- 
thors of great genius : Those things in Milton, which, to mean 
judges, appear tasteless and imperfections, are his inimitable 
excellencies in the eyes of those, who are of greater discern- 
ing and better taste. And if there be a book, which God is 
the author of, it is most reasonable to suppose, that the distin- 
guishing glories of his word are of such a kind, as that the 
corruption of men's hearts, which above all things alienates 
men from the Deity, and makes the heart dull and stupid to 
any sense or taste of those things wherein the moral glory of 
the divine perfections consists : I say, it is but reasonable to 
suppose, that this would blind men from discerning the beau- 
ties of such a book ; and that therefore they will not see them, 
but as God is pleased to enlighten them, and restore an holy 
taste, to discern and relish divine beauties. 

This sense of the spiritual excellency and beauty of divine 
things, does also tend directly to convince the mind of the 
truth of the gospel, as there are very many of the most im- 
portant things declared in the gospel, that are hid from the 
eyes of natural men, the truth of which does in effect consist 
in this excellency, or does so immediately depend upon it, and 
result from it, that in this excellency's being seen, the truth 
of those things is seen. As soon as ever the eyes are opened 
to behold the holy beauty and amiableness that is in divine 
things, a multitude of most important doctrines of the gospel 
that depend upon it (which all appear strange and dark to nat- 
ural men) are at once seen to be true. As for instance, here- 
by appears the truth of what the word of God declares con- 
cerning the exceeding evil of sin ; for the same eye that dis- 
cerns the transcendent beauty of holiness, necessarily therein 
sees the exceeding odiousness of sin : The same taste which 
relishes the sweetness of true moral good, tastes the bitter- 
ness of moral evil. And by this means a man sees his ov- n 

Vol. IV. 2 G 


sinfulness and loathsomeness ; for he has now a sense to dis- 
cern objects of this nature ; and so sees the truth of what the 
word of God declares concerning the exceeding sinfulness of 
mankind, which before he did not see. He now sees the 
dreadful pollution of his heart, and the desperate depravity of 
his nature, in a new manner ; for his soul has now a sense 
given it to feel the pain of such a disease ; and this shows him 
the truth of what the scripture reveals concerning the corrup- 
tion of man's nature, his original sin, and the ruinous, undone 
condition man is in, and his need of a Saviour, his need of the 
mighty power of God to renew his heart and change his na- 
ture. Men, by seeing the true excellency of holiness, do see 
the glory of all those things, which both reason and scripture 
shew to be in the divine Being ; for it has been shown, that 
the glory of them depends on this : And hereby they see the 
truth of all that the scripture declares concerning God's glo- 
rious excellency and majesty, his being the fountain of all 
good, the only happiness of the creature, 8cc. And this again 
shews the mind the truth of what the scripture teaches con- 
cerning the evil of sin against so glorious a God ; and also the 
truth of what it teaches concerning sin's just desert of that 
dreadful punishment which it reveals ; and also concerning 
the impossibility of our offering any satisfaction, or sufficient 
atonement for that which is so infinitely evil and heinous. 
And this again shews the truth of what the scripture reveals 
concerning the necessity of a Saviour, to offer an atonement 
of infinite value for sin. And this sense of spiritual beauty 
that has been spoken of, enables the soul to see the glory of 
those things which the gospel reveals concerning the person 
of Christ ; and so enables to see the exceeding beauty and 
dignity of his person, appearing in what the gospel exhibits 
of his word, works, acts, and life : And this apprehension of 
the superlative dignity of his person, shews the truth of what 
the gospel declares concerning the value of his blood and 
righteousness, and so the infinite excellency of that offering 
he has made to God for us, and so its sufficiency to atone for 
our sins, and recommend us to God. And thus the Spirit of 
God discovers the way of salvation by Christ ; thus the soul 


sees the fitness and suitableness of this way of salvation, the 
admirable wisdom of the contrivance, and the perfect answer- 
ableness of the provision that the gospel exhibits (as made for 
us) to our necessities. A sense of true divine beauty being 
given to the soul, the soul discerns the beauty of every part of 
the gospel scheme. This also shews the soul the truth of 
what the word of God declares concerning man's chief hap- 
piness, as consisting in holy exercises and enjoyments. This 
shews the truth, of what the gospel declares concerning the 
unspeakable glory of the heavenly state. And what the 
prophecies of the Old Testament, and the writings of the 
apostles declare concerning the glory of the Messiah's king- 
dom, is now all plain ; and ako what the scripture teaches 
concerning the reasons and grounds of our duty. The truth 
of all these things revealed in the scripture, and many more 
that might be mentioned, appears to the soul, only by impart- 
ing that spiritual taste of divine beauty, which has been spok- 
en of ; they being hidden things to the soul before. 

And besides all this, the truth of all those things which 
the scripture says about experimental religion, is hereby 
known ; for they are now experienced. And this convinces 
the soul, that one who knew the heart of man, better than we 
know our own hearts, and perfectly knew the nature of vir- 
tue and holiness, was the author of the scriptures. And the 
opening to view, with such clearness, such a world of won- 
derful and glorious truth in the gospel, that before was un- 
known, being quite above the view of a natural eye, but now 
appearing so clear and bright, has a powerful and invincible 
influence on the soul, to persuade of the divinity of the gos- 

Unless men may come to a reasonable, solid persuasion and 
conviction of the truth of the gospel, by the internal evidenc- 
es of it, in the way that has been spoken, viz. by a sight of 
its glory ; it is impossible that those who are illiterate, and 
unacquainted with history, should have any thorough and ef- 
fectual conviction of it at all. They may without this, see a 
great deal of probability of it ; it may be reasonable for them 
to give much credit to what learned men and historians tell 


them ; and they may tell them so much, that it may look 
very probable and rational to them, that the Christian religion 
is true ; and so much that they would be very unreasonable 
not to entertain this opinion. But to have a conviction, so 
clear, and evident, and assuring, as to be sufficient to induce 
them, with boldness to sell all, confidently ?jid fearlessly to 
run the venture of the loss of all things, and of enduring the 
most exquisite and long continued torments, and to trample 
the world under foot, and count all things but dung for Christ ; 
the evidence they can have from history, cannot be sufficient. 
It is impossible that men, who have not something of a gen= 
eral view of the historical world, or the series of history from 
age to age, should come at the force of arguments for the 
truth of Christianity, drawn from history, to that degree, as 
effectually to induce them to venture their all upon it. After 
all that learned men have said to them, there will remain in- 
numerable doubts on their minds ; they will be ready, -when 
pinched with some great trial of their faith, to say, " How do 
I know this, or that ? How do I know when these histo- 
ries were written ? Learned men tell me these histories 
were so and so attested in the day of them ; but how do I 
know that there were such attestations then ? They tell me 
there is equal reason to believe these facts, as any whatsoever 
that are related at such a distance ; but how do I know that 
other facts which are related of those ages, ever were ?" 
Those who have not something of a general view of the series 
of historical events, and of the state of mankind from age to 
age, cannot see the clear evidence from history, of the truth 
of facts, in distant ages ; but there will endless doubts and 
scruples remain. 

But the gospel was not given only for learned men. There 
are at least nineteen in twenty, if not ninetynine in an hun- 
dred, of these for whom the scriptures were written, that are 
not capable of any certain or effectual conviction of the di- 
vine authority of the scriptures, by such arguments as learn- 
ed men make use of. If men who have been brought up in 
Heathenism, must wait for a clear and certain conviction of 
the truth of Christianity, until they have learning and ac- 


quaintance with the histories of politer nations, enough to 
see clearly the force of such kind of arguments ; it will make 
the evidence of the gospel to them immensely cumbersome, 
and will render the propagation of the gospel among them i»- 
finitely difficult. Miserable is the condition of the Houssa- 
tunnuck Indians, and others, who have lately manifested a 
desire to be instructed in Christianity, if they can come at no 
evidence of the truth of Christianity, sufficient to induce them 
to sell all for Christ, in any other way but this. 

It is unreasonable to suppose, that God has provided for 
his people no more than probable evidences of the truth of 
the gospel. He has with great care, abundantly provided, 
and given thern, the most convincing, assuring, satisfying and 
manifold evidence of his faithfulness in the covenant of grace ; 
and as David says, " made a covenant, ordered in all things 
and sure." Therefore it is rational to suppose, that at the 
same time, he would not fail of ordering the matter so, that 
there should not be wanting, as great, and clear evidence, 
that this is his covenant, and that these promises are his 
promises ; or, which is the same thing, that the Christian 
religion is true, and that the gospel is his word. Otherwise 
in vain are those great assurances he has given of his faith- 
fulness in his covenant, by confirming it with his oath, and 
so variously establishing it by seals and pledges. For the 
evidence that it is his covenant, is properly the foundation on 
which all the force and effect of those other assurances do 
stand. We may therefore undoubtedly suppose and con- 
clude, that there is some sort of evidence which God has giv- 
en, that this covenant, and these promises are his, beyond all 
mere probability ; that there are some grounds of assurance 
of it held forth, which, if we were not blind to them, tend to 
give an higher persuasion, than any arguing from history, hu- 
man tradition, Sec. which the illiterate :;nd unacquainted with 
history are capable of ; yea, that which is good ground of the 
highest and most perfect assurance, that mankind have in any 
case whatsoever, agreeable to those high expressions which 
the apostle uses, Heb. x. 22. "Let us draw near in full as- 
surance of faith. And Col. ii. 2. That their hearts might 


be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches 
of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgr 
ment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of 
Christ." It is reasonable to suppose, that God would give 
the greatest evidence of those things which are greatest, and 
the truth of which is of greatest importance to us : And that 
we therefore, if we are wise, and act rationally, shall have the 
greatest desire of having full, undoubting, and perfect assur- 
ance of. But it is certain, that such an assurance is not to be 
attained by the greater part of them who live under the gos- 
pel, by arguments fetched from ancient traditions, histories, 
and monuments. 

And if we come to fact and experience, there is not the 
least reason to suppose, that one in an hundred of those who 
have been sincere Christians, and have had a heart to sell all 
for Christ, have come by their conviction of the truth of the 
gospel this way. If we read over the histories of the many 
thousands that died martyrs for Christ, since the beginning of 
the reformation, and have cheerfully undergone extreme tor- 
tures in a confidence of the truth of the gospel, and consider 
their circumstances and advantages ; how few of them were 
there, that we can reasonably suppose, ever came by their as- 
sured persuasion this way ; or indeed for whom it was pos- 
sible, reasonably to receive so full and strong an assurance, 
from such arguments ! Many of them were weak women and 
children, and the greater part of them illiterate persons, 
many of whom had been brought up in popish ignorance and 
darkness, and were but newly come out of it, and lived and 
died in times wherein those arguments for the truth of 
Christianity, from antiquity and history, had been but very 
imperfectly handled. And indeed, it is but very lately that 
these arguments have been set in a clear and convincing 
light, even by learned men themselves : And since it has been 
done, there never were fewer thorough believers among those 
who have been educated in the true religion ; infidelity nev- 
er prevailed so much, in any age, as in this, wherein these ar- 
guments are handled to the greatest advantage. 


The true martyrs of Jesus Christ, are not those who have 
only been strong in opinion that the gospel of Christ is true, 
but those that have seen the truth of it ; as the very name of 
martyrs or witnesses (by which they are called in scripture) 
implies. Those are very improperly called witnesses of the 
truth of any thing, who only declare they are very much of 
opinion that such a thing is true. Those only are proper 
witnesses, who can, and do testify, that they have seen the 
truth of the thing they assert, John iii. 11. " We speak that 
we do know, and testify that we have seen. John i. 34. 
And I saw, and bare record, that this is the Son of God. 
1 John iv. 14. And we have seen and do testify, that the 
Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Acts xxii. 
14, 15. The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou 
shouldst know his will, and see that just one, and shouldst 
hear the voice of his mouth ; for thou shalt be his witness 
unto all men, of what thou hast seen and heard." But the 
true martyrs of Jesus Christ are called his witnesses ; and all 
the saints, who by their holy practice under great trials, de- 
clare that faith, which is the substance of things hoped for, 
and the evidence of things not seen, are called witnesses, 
Heb. xi. 1, and xii. 1, because by their profession and prac- 
tice, they declare their assurance of the truth and divinity of 
the gospel, having had the eyes of their minds enlightened 
to see divinity in the gospel, or to behold that unparalleled, 
ineffably excellent, and truly divine glory shining in it, which 
is altogether distinguishing, evidential, and convincing : So 
that they may truly be said to have seen God in it, and to 
have seen that it is indeed divine ; and so can speak in the 
style of witnesses ; and not only say, that they think the gos- 
pel is divine, but say, that it is divine, giving it in as their tes- 
timony, because they have seen it to be so. Doubtless Pe- 
ter, James and John, after they had seen that excellent glory 
of Christ in the mount, would have been ready, when they 
came down to speak in the language of witnesses, and to say 
positively that Jesus is the Son of God; as Peter says, they 
were eye witnesses, 2 Pet. i. 16. And so all nations will be 
ready positively to say this, when they shall behold his glory 


at the day of judgment ; though what will he universail/ 
seen, will be only his natural glory, and not his moral and 
spiritual glory, which is much more distinguishing. But 
yet it must be noted, that among those who have a spiritual 
sight of the divine glory of the gospel, there is a great varie- 
ty of degrees of strength of faith, as there is a vast variety of 
the degrees of clearness of views of this glory : But there is 
no true and saving faith, or spiritual conviction of the judg- 
ment, of the truth of the gospel, that has nothing in it, of this 
manifestation of its internal evidence in some degree. The 
gospel of the blessed God does not go abroad a begging for 
its evidence, so much as some think ; it has its highest and 
most proper evidence in itself. Though great use may be 
made of external arguments, they are not to be neglected, 
but highly prized and valued ; for they may be greatly ser- 
viceable to awaken unbelievers, and bring them to serious 
consideration, and to confirm the faith of true saints ; yea, 
they may be in some respects subservient tonhe begetting of 
a saving faith in men. Though what was said before re- 
mains true, that there is no spiritual conviction of the judg- 
ment, but what arises from an apprehension of the spiritual 
beauty and glory of divine things : For, as has been observed, 
this apprehension or view has a tendency to convince the 
mind of the truth of the gospel, two ways, either directly 
or indirectly. Having therefore already observed how it does 
this directly, I proceed now, 

2. To observe how a view of this divine glory does convince 
the mind of the truth of Christianity, more indirectly. 

First, It doth so, as the prejudices of the heart against the 
truth of divine things are hereby removed, so that the mind 
thereby lies open to the force of the reasons which arc offer- 
ed. The mind of man is naturally full of enmity against the 
doctrines of the gospel ; which is a disadvantage to those ar- 
guments that prove their truth, and causes them to lose their 
force upon the mind ; but when a person has discovered to 
him the divine excellency of Christian doctrines, this destroys 
that enmity, and removes the prejudices, and sanctifies the 
reason, and causes ii lo be open and free. Hence is a vast 


difference, as to the force that arguments have to convince 
the mind. Hence was the very different effect, which Christ's 
miracles had to convince the disciples, from what they had 
to convince the Scribes and Pharisees : Not that they had a 
stronger reason, or had their reason more improved ; but 
their reason was sanctified, and those blinding prejudices, 
which the Scribes and Pharisees were. under, were removed 
by the sense they had of the excellency of Christ and his 

-Vi/, It not only removes the hitiderances of reason, but 
positively helps reason. It makes even the speculative no- 
tions more lively. It assists and engages the attention of the 
mind to that kind of objects which causes it to have a clearer 
view of them, and more clearly to see their mutual relations. 
The ideas themselves, which otherwise are dim and obscure, 
by this means have a light cast upon them, and are impress- 
ed with greater strength, so that the mind can better judge 
of them ; as he that beholds the objects on the face of 
the earth, when the light of the sun is cast upon them, is 
under greater advantage to discern them, in their true 
forms, and mutual relations, and to see the evidences of di- 
vine wisdom and skill in their contrivance, than he that sees 
them in a dim star light, or twilight. 

What has been said, may serve in some measure to shew 
the nature of a spiritual conviction of the judgment of the 
truth and reality of divine things ; and so to distinguish truly 
gracious affections from others ; for gracious affections are 
evermore attended with such a conviction of the judgment. 

But before I dismiss this head, it will be needful to observe 
the ways whereby seme are deceived, with respect to this 
matter, ; and take notice of several things, that are sometimes 
taken for a spiritual and saving belief of the truth of the 
things of religion, which are indeed very diverse from it. 

1. There is a degree of conviction of the truth of the great 
things of religion, that arises from the common cniightenings 
of the Spirit of God. That more lively and sensible appre- 
hension of the things of religion, with respect to what is nat- 
ural in them, such as natural men have who are under awak- 
Vol. IV. 2 H 


enings and common illuminations, will give some degree oi" 
conviction of the truth of divine things, beyond what they had 
before they were Thus enlightened. For hereby they see the 
manifestations there are, in the revelation made in the holy 
scriptures, and things exhibited in that revelation, of the nat- 
ural perfections of God ; such as his greatness, power, and 
awful majesty ; which tends to convince the mind, that this h 
the word of a great and terrible God. From the tokens there 
are of God's greatness ard majesty in his word and works, 
which they have a great sense of, from the common influence 
of the Spirit of God, they may have a much greater convic- 
tion that these are indeed the words and works of a very great 
invisible Being. And the lively apprehension of the great- 
ness of God, which natural men may have, tends to make 
them sensible of the great guilt, which sin against such a 
God brings, and the dreadfulness of his wrath for sin. And 
this tends to cause them more easily and fully to beiieve the 
revelation the scripture makes of another world, and of the 
extreme misery it threatens, there to be inflicted on sinners. 
And so from that sense of the great natural good there is in 
the things of religion, which is sometimes given in common 
Illuminations men may be the more induced to believe the 
truth of religion. These things persons may have, and yet 
have no sense of the beauty and amiableness of the moral and 
holy excellency that is in the things of religion ; and there- 
fore no spiritual conviction of their truth. But yet such con- 
victions arc sometimes mistaken for saving convictions, and 
the affections flowing from them, for saving affections. 

2. The extraordinary impressions which arc made on the 
imaginations of some persons, in the visions and immediate 
strong impulses and suggestions' that" they have, as though 
they saw sights, and had words spoken to them, may, and of- 
ten do beget a strong persuasion of the truth of invisible 
things. Though the general tendency of such things, in their 
final issue, is to draw men off from the word of God, and to 
cause them to reject the gospel, and to establish unbelief and 
Atheism ; yet for the present, they may, and often do beget a 
confident persuasion of the truth of some things that arc re- 


vealed in the scriptures ; however their confidence is found- 
ed in delusion, and so nothing worth. As for instance, if a 
person has by some invisible agent, immediately and strong- 
ly impressed on his imagination, the appearance of a bright 
light, and glorious form of a person seated on a throne, with 
great external majesty and beauty, uttering some remarkable 
words, with great force and energy ; the person who is the 
subject of such an operation, may be from hence confident, 
that there are invisible agents, spiritual beings, from what he 
has experienced, knowing that he had no hand himself in this 
extraordinary effect, which he has experienced : And he may 
also be confident, that this is Christ whom he saw and heard 
speaking : And this may make him confident that there is a 
Christ, and that Christ reigns on a throne in heaven, as he 
saw him ; and may be confident that the words which he 
heard him speak are true, Sec. ...In the same manner, as the 
lying miracles of the Papists, may for the present, beget in 
the minds of the ignorant deluded people, a strong persuasion 
of the truth of many things declared in the New Testament. 
Thus when the images of Christ, in Popish churches, are on 
some extraordinary occasions, made by priestcraft to appear 
to the people as if they wept, and shed fresh blood, and mov- 
ed, and uttered such and such words ; the people may be ver- 
ily persuaded that it is a miracle wrought by Christ himself ; 
and from thence may be confident there is a Christ, and that 
what tfeey are told of his death and sufferings, and resurrec- 
tion, and ascension, and present government of the world is 
true ; for they may look upon this miracle, as a certain evi- 
dence of all these things, and a kind of ocular demonstration 
of them. This may be the influence of these lying wonders 
for the present ; though the general tendency of them is not 
to convince that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, but finally 
to promote Atheism. Even the intercourse which Satan has 
with witches, and their often experiencing his immediate 
power, has a tendency to convince them of the truth of some 
of the doctrines of religion ; as particularly the reality of an 
invisible world, or world of spirits, contrary to the doctrine of 
the Sadducees. The general tendency of Satan's influence is 


delusion: But yet he may mix some truth with his lies, thai 
his lies may not be so easily discovered. 

There are multitudes that are deluded 'With a counterfeit 
faith, from impressions on their imagination, in the manner 
which has been now spoken of. They say they know that 
there is a God, for they have seen him ; they know that 
Christ is the Son of God, for they have seen him in his glo- 
ry ; they know that Christ died for sinners, for they have seen 
h'ijh hanging on the cross, and his blood running from his 
■wounds ; they know there is a heaven and a hell, for they 
have seen the misery of the damned souls in hell, and the 
glory of saints and angels in heaven (meaning some external 
representations, strongly impressed on their imagination ;) 
they know that the scriptures are the word of God, and that 
such and such promises in particular are his word, for they 
have heard him speak them to them, they came to their 
minds suddenly and immediately from God, without their 
having any hand in it. 

3. Persons may seem to have their belief of the truth of 
the thines of religion greatly increased, when the foundation 
of it is only a persuasion they have received of their interest 
in them. They first by some means or other, take up a con- 
fidence, that if there be a Christ and heaven, they are theirs j 
and this prejudices them mere in favor of the truth of them. 
"When they hear of the great and glorious things of religion, 
it is with this notion, that all these things belong to them ; 
and hence easily become confident that they are true ; they 
look upon it to be greatly for their interest that they should 
be true. It is very obvious what a strong influence mens' in- 
terest and inclinations have on their judgments. While a 
natural man thinks, that if there be a heaven and hell, the 
latter, and not the former, belongs to him ; then he will be 
hardly persuaded that there is a heaven or hell : But when he 
comes to be persuaded, that hell belongs only to other folks, 
and not to him, then he can easily allow the reality of hell, 
and cry out of others' senselessness and sottishness in neg- 
lecting means of escape from it : And being confident that he 
is a child of God, and that God has promised heaven to him } 


he may seem strong in the faith of its reality, and may hav® 
a great zeal against that infidelity which denies it. 

But I proceed to another distinguishing sign of gracious af- 

VI. Gracious affections are attended with evangelical hu- 

Evangelical humiliation is a sense that a Christian has of 
his own utter insufficiency, despicableness, and odiousness, 
with an answerable frame of heart. 

There is a distinction to be made between a legal and evan- 
gelical humiliation. The former is what men may be the 
subjects of, while they are yet in a state of nature, and have 
no gracious affection ; the latter is peculiar to true saints : 
The former is from the common influence of the Spirit of 
God, assisting natural principles, and especially natural con- 
science ; the latter is from the special influences of the Spirit 
of God, implanting and exercising supernatural and divine 
principles : The former is from the mind's being assisted to 
a greater sense of the things of religion, as to their natural 
properties and qualities, and particularly of the natural per- 
fections of God, such as his greatness, terrible majesty, Sec. 
which were manifested to the congregation of Israel, in giv- 
ing the law at mount Sinai ; the latter is from a sense of the 
transcendent beauty of divine things in their moral qualities : 
In the former, a sense of the awful greatness, and natural per- 
fections of God, and of the strictness of his law, convinces 
men that they are exceeding sinful, and guilty, and exposed 
to the wrath of God, as it will wicked men and devils at the 
day of judgment ; but they do not see their own odiousness 
on the account ot sin ; they do not see the hateful nature of 
sin ; a sense of this is given in evangelical humiliation, by a 
discovery of the beauty of God's holiness and moral perfec- 
tion. In a legal humiliation, men are made sensible that they 
are little and nothing before the great and terrible God, and 
that they are undone, and wholly insufficient to help them- 
selves ; as wicked men will be at the clay of judgment : But 
they have not an answerable frame of heart, consisting in a 
disposition to abase themselves, and exalt God alone ; this dis- 


position is given only in evangelical humiliation, by oven 
ing the heart, and changing its inclination, by a discovery of 
God's holy beauty : In a legal humiliation, the conscience is 
convinced ; as the consciences of all will be most perfectly at 
the day of judgment ; but because there is no spiritual un- 
derstanding, the will is not bowed, nor the inclination altered ; 
this is done only in evangelical humiliation. In legal humil- 
iation, men are brought to despair of helping themselves ; ia 
evangelical, they are brought voluntarily to deny and re- 
nounce themselves : In the former, they are subdued and 
forced to the ground ; in the latter, they are brought sweetly 
to yield, and freely and with delight to prostrate themselves 
at the feet of God. 

Legal humiliation has in it no spiritual good, nothing of the 
nature of true virtue ; whereas evangelical humiliation is that 
wherein the excellent beauty of Christian grace does very 
much consist. Legal humiliation is useful, as a means in or- 
der to evangelical ; as a common knowledge of the things of 
religion is a means requisite in order to spiritual knowledge. 
Men may be Legally humbled and have no humility : As the 
wicked at the day of judgment will be thoroughly convinced 
that they have no righteousness, but are altogether sinful, and 
exceedingly guilty, and justly exposed to eternal damnation, 
and be fully sensible of their own helplessness, without the 
least mortification of the pride of their hearts :"" But the es- 
sence of evangelical humiliation consists in such humility, as 
becomes a creature, in itself exceeding sinful, under a dispen- 
sation of grace ; consisting in a mean esteem of himself, as ia 
himself nothing, and altogether contemptible and odious ; at- 
tended with a mortification of a disposition to exalt himself, 
and a free renunciation of his own glory. 

This is a great and most essential thing in true religion. 
The whole frame of the gospel, and every thing appertaining 
to the new covenant, and all God's dispensations towards fallen 
man, are calculated to bring to pass this effect in the hearts of 
men. They that are destitute of this, have no true religion, 
whatever profession they may make, and how high soever 
religious affections may be, Hab. ii. 4. " Behold, his 


soul which is lifted up, is not upright in him ; but the just 
shall live by his faith ;" i. e. he shall live by his faith on God's 
righteousness and grace, and not his own goodness and excel- 
lency. God has abundantly manifested in his word, that this 
is what he has a peculiar respect to in his saints, and that 
nothing is acceptable to him without it. Psalm xxxiv. 18. 
K The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and 
saveth such as be of a contrite spMt. Psalm li. 1 7. The sac- 
rifices of God are a broken spirit : A broken and a contrite 
heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Psalm cxxxviii. 6. 
Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly. 
Prov. iii. 34. He giveth grace unto the lowly, Isa. Ivii. 15. 
Thus saith the " high and lofty one who 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. Isa. lxvi. 1,2. Thus saith the Lord, the heaven is my 
throne, and the earth is my footstool : But to this man will I 
look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and 
trembleth at my word. IViicah vi. 8. He hath shewed thee, 
O man, what is good ; and what doth the Lord thy God re- 
quire of thee ; but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk 
humbly with thy God ? Mat. v. 3. Blessed are the poor in 
spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of God. Mat. xviii. 3, 4. 
Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become es 
little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, 
the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Mark x. 15, 
Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the king- 
dom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein." The 
Centurion, that we have an account of, Luke vii. acknowledged 
that he was not worthy that Christ should enter under his roof, 
and that he was not worthy to come to him. See the manner 
of the woman's coming to Christ, that was a sinner, Luke vii. 
37, Sec. " And behold, a woman in the city, which was a sin- 
ner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's 
house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his 
feet behind him weeping, and began to wash Ids feet with 


tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head." She 
did not think the hair of her head, which is the natural crown 
and i/Iory of a woman, (1 Cor. xi. 15) too good to -wipe the 
feet of Christ withal. Jesus most graciously accepted her, 
and says to her, " thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace." 
The woman of Canaan submitted to Christ, in his saying, « it 
is not meet to take the children's bread and to cast it to dogs," 
and did as it were own that she was worthy to be called a dog ; 
whereupon Christ says unto her, " O woman, great is thy 
faith ; be it unto thee, even as thou wilt. Mat. xv. 26, 27, 
28. The prodigal son said, I will arise and go to my father, 
and I will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven 
and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son ; 
make me as one of thy hired servants. Luke xv. 18, Sec. See 
also Luke xviii. 9, Sec. And he spake this parable unto cer- 
tain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and 
despised others, Sec. The publican standing afar o:F, would 
not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven, but smote upon his 
breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, 
this man went down to his house justified rather than the oth- 
er : For every one that exalteth himself, shall be ahased ; and 
he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted. Mat. xxviii. 9. 
And they came, and held him by the feet, and worshipped 
him. Col. iii. 12. Put ye on, as the elect of God, humble- 
ness of mind. Ezek. xx. 41, 43. I will accept you with your 
sweet savor, when I bring you out from the people, Sec. And 
there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, 
Wherein ye have been defiled, and ye shall loath yourselves in 
your own sight, for all your evils that ye have committed. 
Chap, xxxvi. 26, 27, 31. A new heart also will I give unto 
you.. ..and I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to 
walk in ray statutes, Sec. Then shall ye remember your own 
evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loath 
yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities, and for your 
abominations. "Chap. xvi. ( : 3. That thou mayst remember 
and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more be- 
cause of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all 
that thou hast done, saith the Lord. Job xlii. I abhor my- 
self, and repent in dust and ashes." 


As we would therefore make the holy scriptures our rule, 
in judging of the nature of true religion, and judging of our 
own religious qualifications and state ; it concerns us greatly 
to look at this humiliation, as one of the most essential things 
pertaining to true Christianity.* This is the principal part of 
the great Christian duty of selfdenial. That duty consists 
in two things, viz. first. In a man's denying his worldly inclina- 
tions, and in forsaking and renouncing all worldly objects and 
•enjoyments ; and, secondly, In denying his natural selfexalta- 
tion, and renouncing his own dignity and glory, and in being 
emptied of himself ; so that he does freely and from his very 
heart, as it were renounce himself, and annihilate himself. 
Thus the Christian doth in evangelical humiliation. And 
this latter is the greatest and most difficult part of selfdenial : 
Although they always go together, and one never truly is, 
where the other is not ; yet natural men can come much 
nearer to the former than the latter. Many Anchorites and 
Recluses have abandoned (though without any true mortifica- 
tion) the wealth, and pleasures, and common enjoyments of 
the world, who were far from renouncing their own dignity 
and righteousness ; they never denied themselves for Christ, 
but only sold one lust to feed another, sold a beastly lust to 
pamper a devilish one ; and so were hevef the better, but 
their latter end was worse than their beginning ; they turned 
out one black devil, to let in seven white ones, that were 
worse than the first, though of a fairer countenance. It is in« 
expressible, and almost inconceivable, how strong a selfright- 
eous, selfexalting disposition is naturally in man ; and what 
he will not do and suffer to feed and gratify it ; and what 
lengths have been gone in a seeming selfdenial in other res- 

* Calvin, in his Institutions, Book II. chap. 2. \ 11, says, " I was always 
exceedingly pleased with that saying of Ch'ysostom, " The foundation of 
our philosophy is humility ;" and yet more pleased with that of Augustine. 
*' As, says he, the rhttorician being asked, what was the first thing in the rules 
of eloquence, he answered, pronunciation; what was the second, pronuncia- 
tion ; what was the third, still he answered, pronunciation. So if you shall 
ask me concerning the precepts of the Christian religion, I would answer, 
firstly, secondly, and thirdly, and forever, humility." 

Vol. IV. 3 I 


pects, by Essenes and Pharisees among the Jews, ami bj 
Papists, many sects of heretics, and enthusiasts, among pro- 
fessing Christians ; and by many Mahometans ; and by Py- 
;orean philosophers, and others among the Heathen ; and 
ajl to cio sacrifice to this Moloch of spiritual pride or self- 
righteousness ; and that they may have something wherein 
to exalt themselves before God, and above their fellow crea- 

That humiliation which has been spoken of, is what all the 
most glorious hypocrites, who make the most splendid shew 
of mortification to the world, and high religious affection, do 
grossly fail in. Were it not that this is so much insisted on 
in scripture, as a most essential thing in true grace, one 
would be tempted to think that many of the heathen philoso- 
phers were truly gracious, in whom was so bright an appear- 
ance of many virtues, and also great illuminations, and inward 
fervors and elevations of mind, as though they were truly the 
subjects of divine illapses and heavenly communications.* It 

* " Albeit the Pythagoreans were thus famous for Judaic mysterious wis- 
dom, and many moral, as well as natural accomplishments, yet were they 
not exempted from boasting and pride ; which was indeed a vice most epi- 
demic, and as it were congenial, among all the philosophers ; but in a mere 
particular manner, among the Pythagoreans. So Hornius Hist. Philosoph. L. 
3. chap xi. The manners of the Pythagoreans weie not free from boasting. 
They were all such as abounded in the sense and commendation of their own 
excellencies, and boasting even almost to the degree of immodesty and impu- 
dence, as great Heinsius, ad Horat. has rightly observed. Thus indeed does 
proud nature delight to walk in the sparks of its own fire. And although 
many of these old philosophers could, by the strength of their own lights and 
beats, together with some common elevations and raisures of spirit, (peradven- 
ture from a more than ordinary, though not special and saving assistance of 
the Spiiit) abandon many grosser vices ; yet they were all deeply immersed in 
that miserable cursed abyss of spiritual pride : So that all their natural, and 
moral, and philosophic attainments, didf eed, nourish, stiengthen and render 
most inveterate, this hell bred pest of their hearts. Yea, those of them thaC 
seemed most modest, as the Academics, who professed they knew nothing, 
and the Cynics, who greatly decried, both in words and habits, the pride of 
ethers, yet even they abounded in the most notorious and visible pride. So 
connatural and morally essential to corrupt nature, is this envenomed root, 
fountain, and plague of spiritual pride ; especially where there is any natural, 


Is true, that many hypocrites make gi'eat pretences to humil- 
ity, as well as other graces ; and very often there is nothing 
whatsoever which they make a higher profession of. They 
endeavor to make a great shew of humility in speech and be- 
havior ; but they commonly make bungling work of it, though 
glorious work in their own eyes. They cannot find out what 
a humble speech and behavior is, or how to speak and act so 
that there may indeed be a savor of Christian humility in 
what they say and do : That sweet humble air and mien is 
beyond their art, being not led by the Spirit, or naturally 
guided to a behavior becoming holy humility, by the vigor of 
a lowly spirit within them. And therefore they have no oth- 
er way, many of them, but only to be much in declaring that 
they be humble, and telling how they were humbled to the 
dust at such and such times, and abounding in very bad ex- 
pressions which they use about themselves ; such as, " I am 
the least of all saints, I am a poor vile creature, I am not wor- 
thy of the least mercy, or that God should look upon me I 
Oh, I have a dreadful wicked heart ! My heart is worse than 
the devil ! Oh, this cursed heart of mine," &c. Such ex- 
pressions are very often used, not with a heart that is broken, 
not with spiritual mourning, not with the tears of her that 
washed Jesus's feet, not as " remembering and being con- 
founded, and never opening their mouth more because of 
their shame, when God is pacified," as the expression is, Ezek. 
xvi. 63, but with a light air, with smiles in the countenance, 
or with a pharisaical affectation : And we must believe that 
they are thus humble, and see themselves so vile, upon the 
credit of their say so ; for there is nothing appears in them 
of any savor of humility, in the manner of their deportment 
and deeds that they do. There are many that are full of ex- 
pressions of their own vileness, who yet expect to be looked 
upon as eminent and bright saints by others, as their due ; 
and it is dangerous for any, so much as to hint the contrary, 

moral, or philosophic excellence to feed the same. Whence, Austin righily 
judged all these philosophic virtues to be but splendid sins. Gale's Court ofih: 
Gentiles, Part II. B. ii, chap. x. ^ 17, 


or to carry it towards them any othevwise, than as if we look-> 
ed upon them as some of the chief of Christians. There arc 
many that are much in crying out of their wicked hearts, and 
their great short comings, and unprofitableness, and speaking 
as though they looked on themselves as the meanest of the 
saints ; who yet, if a minister should seriously tell them the 
same things in private, and should signify, that he feared they 
were very low and weak Christians, and thought they had 
reason solemnly to consider of their great barrenness and un- 
profitableness, and falling so much short of many others, it 
would be more than they could digest ; they would think 
themselves highly injured ; and there would be a danger of a 
rooted prejudice in them against such a minister. 

There are some that are abundant in talking against legal- 
doctrines, legal preaching, and a legal spirit, who do but little 
understand the thing they talk against. A legal spirit is a 
more subtle thing than they imagine ; it is too subtle for them. 
It lurks, and operates, and prevails in their hearts, and they 
are most notoriously guilty of it, at the same time, when they 
are inveighing against it. So far as a man is not emptied of 
himself, and of his own righteousness and goodness, in what- 
ever form or shape, so far he is of a legal spirit. A spirit of 
pride of man's own righteousness, morality, holiness, affec- 
tion, experience, faith, humiliation, or any goodness whatso- 
ever, is a legal spirit. It was no pride in Adam before the 
fall, to be of a legal spirit ; because of his circumstances, he 
might seek acceptance by his own righteousness. But a le- 
gal spirit in a fallen, sinful creature, can be nothing else but 
spiritual pride ; and reciprocally, a spiritually proud spirit is 
a legal spirit. There is no man living that is lifted up with a 
conceit of his own experiences and discoveries, and upon the 
account of them glisters in his own eyes, but what trusts in 
Lis experiences, and makes a righteousness of them ; howev- 
er he may use humble terms, and speak of his experiences as 
of the great things God has done for him, and it may be calls 
upon others to glorify God for them ; yet he that is proud of 
his experiences, arrogates something to himself, as though his 
experiences were some dignity of his. And if he looks on them 


as his own dignity, he necessarily thinks that God looks on 
them so too ; for he necessarily thinks his own opinion of 
them to be true ; and consequently judges that God looks on 
them as he does ; and so unavoidably imagines that God looks 
on his experiences as a dignity in him, as he looks on them 
himself ; and that he glisters as much in God's eyes, as he 
does in his own. And thus he trusts in what is inherent in 
him, to make him shine in God's sight, and recommend him 
to God : And with this encouragement he goes before God in 
prayer ; and this makes him expect much from God ; and 
this makes him think that Christ loves him, and that he is 
willing to clothe him with his righteousness ; because he sup- 
poses that he is taken with his experiences and graces. And 
this is a high degree of living on his own righteousness ; 
and such persons are in the high road to hell. Poor deluded 
wretches, who think they look so glistering in God's eyes, 
when they are a smoke in his nose, and are many of them 
more odious to him, than the most impure beast in Sodom, 
that makes no pretence to religion ! To do as these do, is to 
live upon experiences, according to the true notion of it ; and 
not to do as those, who only make use of spiritual experien- 
ces, as evidences of a state of grace, and in that way receive 
hope and comfort from them. 

There is a sort of men, who indeed abundantly cry down 
works, and cry up faith in opposition to works, and set up 
themselves very much as evangelical persons, in opposition to 
those that are of a legal spirit, and make a fair show of ad- 
vancing Christ and the gospel, and the way of free grace ; 
who are indeed some of the greatest enemies to the gospel 
way of free grace, and the most dangerous opposers of pure 
humble Christianity. 

There is a pretended great humiliation, and being dead to 
the law, and emptied of self, which is one of the biggest and 
most elated things in the world. Some there are, who have 
made great profession of experience of a thorough work of 
the law on their hearts, and of being brought fully off from 
works ; whose conversation has savored most of a selfright- 
cous spirit of any that ever I had opportunity to observe. 


And some who think themselves quite emptied of them- 
selves, and are confident that they are abased in the dust, are 
full as they can hold wilh the glory of their own humility, and 
lifted up to heaven with an high opinion of their abasement. 
Their humility is a swelling, selfconceited, confident, showy, 
ncisy, assuming humility. It seems to be the nature of spir- 
itual pride to make men conceited and ostentatious of their 
humility. This appears in that first born of pride among the 
children of men, that would be called his holiness, even 
the man of sin, that exalts himself above all that is called 
Cod or is worshipped ; he styles himself Servant of ser- 
vants ; and to make a shew of humility, washes the feet of a 
number of poor men at his inauguration. ' 

For persons to be truly emptied of themselves, and to be 
poor in spirit, and broken in heart, is quite another thing, and 
has other effects, than many imagine. It is astonishing how 
greatly many are deceived about themselves as to this matter, 
imagining themselves most humble, when they are most 
proud, and their behavior is really the most haughty. The 
deceitfulness of the heart of man appears in no one thing so 
much as this of spiritual pride and selfrighteousness. The 
sublilty of Satan appears in its height, in his managing of per- 
sons with respect to this sin. And perhaps one reason may 
be, that here he has most experience ; he knows the way of 
its coming in ; he is acquainted with the secret springs of it : 
It was his own sin. ...Experience gives vast advantage in lead- 
ing souls, either in good or evil. 

But though spiritual pride be so subtle and secret an iniqui- 
ty, and commonly appears under a pretext of great humility ; 
yet there arc two things by which it may (perhaps universal- 
ly and surely) be discovered and distinguished. 

The first thing is this ; he that is under the prevalence of 
this distemper, is apt to think highly of his attainments in re- 
ligion, us comparing himself with others. It is natural for 
him to fall into that thought of himself, that he is an eminent 
saint, that he is very high amongst the saints, and has distin- 
guishingly good and great experiences. That is the secret 
language of his heart, Luke xviii. 11. " Cod, I thank thee 


that I am not as other men." And Isa. lxv. 5. " I am holier 
than thou." Hence such are apt to put themselves forward 
among God's people, and as it were to take a high seat among 
them, as if there was no doubt of it but it belonged to them. 
They, as it were, naturally do that which Christ condemns, 
Luke xiv. 7, &c. take the highest room. This they do, by 
being forward to take upon them the place and business of 
the chief ; to guide, teach, direct, and manage ; " they are 
confident that they are guides to the blind, a light of them 
which are in darkness, instructors of the foolish, teachers of 
babes, Rom. ii, 19, 20." It is natural for them to take it for 
granted, that it belongs to them to do the part of dictators 
and masters in matters of religion ; and so they implicitly 
affect to be called of men Rabbi, which is by interpretation 
Master, as the Pharisees did, Matth. xxiii. 6, 7. i. e. they are 
yet apt to expect that others should regard them, and yield to 
them, as masters in matters of religion.* 

But he whose heart is under the power of Christian hu- 
mility, is of a contrary disposition. If the scriptures are at 
all to be relied on, such an one is apt to think his attainments 
in religion to be comparatively mean, and to esteem himself 
low among the saints, and one of the least of saints. Humili- 
ty, or true lowliness of mind, disposes persons to think others 
better than themselves, Phil. ii. 3. « In lowliness of mind, let 
each esteem others better than themselves." Hence they are 
apt to think the lowest room belongs to them, and their in- 
ward disposition naturally leads them to obey that precept of 
our Saviour, Luke xiv. 10. It is not natural to them to take 
it upon them to do the part of teachers ; but on the contrary, 
they are disposed to think that they are not the persons, that 
others are fitter for it than they ; as it was with Moses and 
Jeremiah (Exod. iii. 11. Jer. i. 6.) though they were such 
eminent saints, and of great knowledge. It is not natural to 

* " There be two things wherein it appears that a man lias only common 
gifts, and no inward principle ; 1. These gifts ever puff up, and make a man 
something in his own eyes, as the Corinthian knowledge did, and many a 
private man thinks himself fit to be a minister." Sheparet's Parable, Pjr; L 
P. 181,18a. 


them to think that it belongs to them to teach, but to be 
taught : They are much more eager to hear, and to receive 
instruction from others, than to dictate to others, Jam. i. 19. 
« Be ye swift to hear, slow to speak." And when they do 
speak, it is not natural to them to speak with a bold, masterly 
air ; but humility disposes them rather to speak, trembling. 
Hos. xiii. 1. " When Ephraim spake, trembling, he exalted 
himself in Israel ; but when he offended in Baal, he died." 
They are not apt to assume authority, and to take upon them 
to be chief managers and masters ; but rather to be subject 
to others ; Jam. iii. 1, 2. « Be not many masters." 1 Pet. v. 
5. " All of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with 
humility. Eph. v. 21. Submitting yourselves one to another 
in the fear of God." 

There are some persons' experiences that naturally work 
that way, to make them think highly of them ; and they do 
often themselves speak of their experiences as very great and 
extraordinary ; they freely speak of the great things they 
have met with. This may be spoken and meant in a good 
Sense. In one sense, every degree of saving mercy is a 
great thing : It is indeed a thing great, yea, infinitely great, 
for God to bestow the least cvumb of children's bread on such 
dogs as we are in ourselves ; and the more humble a person 
is that hopes that God has bestowed such mercy on him, the 
more apt will he be to call it a great thing that he has met 
with in this sense. But if by great things which they have 
experienced, they mean comparatively great spiritual experi- 
ences, or great compared with others' experiences, or beyond 
what is ordinary, which is evidently oftentimes the case ; 
then for a person to say, I have met with great things, is the 
very same thing as to say, I am an eminent saint, and have 
more grace than ordinary : For to have great experiences, if 
the experiences be true and worth the telling of, is the same 
thing as to have great grace : There is no true experience, 
but the exercise of grace ; and exactly according to the de- 
gree of true experience, is the degree of grace and holiness. 
The persons that talk thus about their experiences, when they 
give an account of them, expect that others should admire 


them. Indeed they do not call it boasting to talk after this 
manner about their experiences, nor do they look upon it as 
any sign of pride ; because they say, « they know that it was 
aiot they that did it, it was free grace, they are things that 
God has done for them, they would acknowledge the great 
mercy God has shown them, and not make light of it." But 
so it was with the Pharisee that Christ tells us of, Luke xviii. 
He in wocds gave God the glory of making him to differ from 
other men ; God, I thank thee, says he, that I am not as oth- 
er men.* Their verbally ascribing it to the grace of God, 
that they are holier than other saints, does not hinder their 
forwardness to think so highly of their holiness, being a sure 
evidence of the pride and vanity of their minds. If they were 
under the influence of an humble spirit, their attainments in 
religion would not be so apt to shine in their own eyes, nor 
would they be so much in admiring their own beauty. The 
Christians that are really the most eminent saints, and there- 
fore have the most excellent experiences, and are the greatest 
in the kingdom of heaven, humble themselves as a little child, 
Matth. viti. 4, because they look on themselves as but little 
children in grace, and their attainments to be but the attain- 
ments of babes in Christ, and are astonished at, and ashamed 
of the low degrees of their love, and their thankfulness, and 
their little knowledge of God. Moses, when he had been 
conversing with God in the mount, and his face shone so 
bright in the eyes of others as to dazzle their eyes, wist noS 
that his face shone. There are some persons that go by the 
name of high professors, and some will own themselves to be 
high professors ; but eminently humble saints, that will shine 
brightest in heaven, are not at all apt to profess high. I do 
not believe there is an eminent saint in the world that is a high 
professor. Such will be much more likely to profess them- 

* Calvin, in his Institutions, B. III. chap. xii. § 7, speaking of this Phari- 
see, observes, «« That in his outward confession, he acknowledges that the 
righteousness that he has, is the gift of God : But (says he) because he trusts 
that he is righteous, he goes away out of the pre^fnae of Godj unacceptable 
dad odious." r 

Vol. IV. 2 K 


selves to be least of all saints, and to think that every saint's 
attainments and experiences arc higher than his.* 

Such is the nature of grace, and of true spiritual light, that 
they naturally dispose the scints in the present state, to look 
upon their grace and goodness little, and their deformity 
great. And they that have the most grace and spiritual light, 
of any in this world, have most of this disposition. As will 
appear most clear and evident to any one that soberly and 
thoroughly weighs the nature and reason of things,and consid- 
ers the things following. 

That grace and holiness is worthy to he called little, that 
is, little in comparison of what it ought to be. And so it 
seems to one that is truly gracious : For such an one has his 
eye upon the rule of his duty ; a conformity to that is what he 
aims at ; it is -what his soul struggles and reaches after ; and 
it is by that that he estimates and judges of what he does, and 
what he has. To a gracious soul, and especially to one emi- 
nently gracious, that holiness appears little, which is little of 
what it should be ; little of what he sees infinite reason for, 
and obligation to. If his holiness appears to him to be at a 
vast distance from this, it naturally appears despicable in his 
eyes, and not worthy to be mentioned as any beauty or amia- 
bleness in him. For the like reason as a hungry man natur-- 

* Luther, as his words are cited by Rutherford, in his Display of the spir- 
itual Antichrist, p 143, 144, says thus, " So is the life of a Christian, that he 
that has begun, seems to himself to have nothing ; but strives and presses for- 
ward, that he may apprehend : Whence Paul says, I count not myself to 
have apprehended. For indeed nothing is more pernicious to a believer, than 
that presumption, that he has already apprch^aded, and has no further need of 
seeking Hence also many fall back, and pine away in spiritual security and 
s!othfulness So Bernard says, " To stand still in God's way, is to go back." 
Wherefore this remains to him that he has begun to be a Christian, to think 
that he is not yet a Christian, bat to seek that he may be a Christian, that he 
may glory with Paul, ' ; I am not, but I desire to be ;" a Christian not yet 
finished, but enly in his beginnings. Therelore he is not a Christian, that is 
a Christian, that is. he that thinks himself a finished Christian, and is not sensi- 
ble how he falls short. Wc reach after heaven, but are not in heaven. Woe 
to him that is wholly renewed, that is, that thinks himself to be so. That 
inan, without doubt, has never so much as begun to be renewed, nor did he 
ever taste what it is to be a Christian." 


ally accounts that which is set before him, but a little food, a 
small matter, not worth mentioning, that is nothing in com- 
parison of his appetite. Or as the child of a great prince, 
that is jealous for the honor of his father, and beholds the res- 
pect which men shew him, naturally looks on that honor and 
respect very little, and not worthy to be regarded, which is 
nothing in comparison of that which the dignity of his father 

But that is the nature of true grace and spiritual light, 
that it opens to a person's view the infinite reason there is that 
he should be holy in a high degree. And the more grace he 
has, the more this is opened to view, the greater sense he has 
of the infinite excellency and glory of the divine Being, and 
of the infinite dignity of the person of Christ, and the bound- 
less length and breadth, and depth and height, of the love of 
Christ to sinners. And as grace increases, the field opens 
more and more to a distant view, until the soul is swallowed 
up with the vastness of the object, and the person is astonish- 
ed to think how much it becomes him to love this God, and 
this glorious Redeemer, that has so loved man, and how little 
he does love. And so the more he apprehends, the more the 
smallness of his grace and love appears strange and wonder- 
ful : And therefore is more ready to think that others are be- 
yond him. For wondering at the littleness of his own grace, 
he can scarcely believe that so strange a thing happens to oili- 
er saints : It is amazing to him, that one that is really a child 
of God, and that has actually received the saving benefits of 
that unspeakable love of Christ, should love no more : And 
he is apt to look upon it as a thing peculiar to himself, a 
strange and exempt instance ; for he sees only the outside of 
other Christians, but he sees his own inside. 

Here the reader may possibly object, that love to God is re- 
ally increased in proportion as the knowledge of God is in- 
creased ; and therefore how should an increase of knowledge 
in a saint make his love appear less, in comparison of what is 
known ? To which I answer, that although grace and the 
love of God in the saints, be answerable to the degree of 
knowledge or sight of God ; yet it is not in proportion to the 


Object seen and known. The soul of a saint, by having some- 
thing of God opened to sight, is convinced of much more than 
is seen. There is something that is seen, that is wonderful ; 
and that sight brings with it a strong conviction of something 
vastly beyond, that is not immediately seen. So that the soul, 
at the same time, is astonished at its ignorance, and that it 
knows so little, as well as that it loves so little. And as the 
soul, in a spiritual view, is convinced of infinitely more in the 
object, yet beyond sight ; so it is convinced of the capacity of 
the soul, of knowing vastly more, if the clouds and darkness 
were but removed. Which causes the soul, in the enjoyment 
of a spiritual view, to complain greatly of spiritual ignorance, 
and want of love, and to long and reach after more knowledge 
and more love. 

Grace and the love of God in the most eminent saints in 
this world, is truly very little in comparison of what it ought 
to be. Because the highest love that ever any attain to in 
this life, is poor, cold, exceeding low, and not worthy to be 
named in comparison of what our obligations appear to be, 
from the joint consideration of these two things, viz. 1. The 
reason God has given us to love him, in the manifestations he 
has made of his infinite glory, in his word, and in his works ; 
and particularly in the gospel of his Son, and what he has 
done for sinful man by him. And, 2. The capacity there is 
in the soul of man, by those intellectual faculties which God 
has given it, of seeing and understanding these reasons, 
■which God has given us to love him. How small indeed is 
the love of the most eminent saint on earth, in comparison of 
v/hat these things, jointly considered, do require I And this 
grace tends to convince men of this, and especially eminent 
grace ; for grace is of the nature of light, and brings truth to 
view. And therefore he that has much grace, apprehends 
much more than other's that great height to which his love 
ought to ascend ; and he sees better than others, how little a 
way he has risen towards that height. And therefore esti- 
mating his love by the whole height of his duty, hence it ap« 
pears astonishingly little and low in his eyes. 


And the eminent saint, having such a conviction of the 
fcigh degree in which he ought to love God, this shews him, 
not only the littleness of his grace, but the greatness of his 
^remaining corruption. In order to judge how much corrup- 
tion or sin we have remaining in us, we must take our meas- 
ure from that height to which the rule of our duty extends : 
The whole of the distance we are at from that height, is sin : 
Tor failing of duty is sin ; otherwise our duty is not our duty, 
sand by how much the more we fall short of our duty, so 
much the more sin have we, Sin is no other than disagreea- 
tleness, in a moral agent, to the law or rule of his duty. And 
therefore the degree of sin is to be judged of by the rule ; 
So much disagreeableness to the rule, so much sin, whether 
it be in defect or excess. Therefore if men, in their love to 
God, do not come up halfway to that height which duty re- 
quires, then they have more corruption in their hearts than 
grace ; because there is moi'e goodness wanting, than is there : 
And all that is wanting is sin : It is an abominable defect ; 
and appears so to the saints ; especially those that are emi- 
nent ; it appears exceeding abominable to them, that Christ 
should be loved so little, and thanked so little fur his dying 
love : It is in their eyes hateful ingratitude. 

And then the increase of grace has a tendency another way, 
to cause the saints to think their deformity vastly rrfore than 
their goodness : It not only tends to convince them that their 
corruption is much greater than their goodness, which is in- 
deed the case ; but it also tends to cause the deformity that 
there is in the least sin, or the least degree of corruption, to 
appear so great as vastly to outweigh all the beauty there is 
in their greatest holiness ; for this also is indeed the case. 
For the least sin against an infinite God, has an infinite hate- 
fulness or deformity in it ; but the highest degree of holiness 
in a creature, has not an infinite loveliness in it : And there- 
fore the loveliness of it is as nothing, in comparison of the de- 
formity ol the least sin. That every sin has infinite deform- 
ity and hatefulness in it, is most demonstrably evident ; be- 
cause what the evil, or iniquity, or hatefulness of sin consists 
in, is the violating of an obligation, or the being or doing con- 


trary to what we should he or do, or are obliged to. And 
therefore by how much the greater the obligation is that is 
violated, so much the greater is the iniquity and hatefulness 
of the violation. But certainly our obligation to love and hon- 
or any being is in some proportion to his loveliness and hon- 
orabJencss, or to his worthiness to be loved and honored by 
us ; which is the same thing. We are surely under greater 
obligation to love a more lovely being, than a less lovely ; 
and if a Being be infinitely lovely or wo; thy to be loved by us, 
then our obligations to love him are infinitely great ; and 
therefore, whatever is contrary to this love, has in it infinite 
iniquity, deformity, and unworthiness. But on the other 
hand, with respect to our holiness or love to God, there is not 
an infinite worthiness in that. The sin of the creature against 
God, is ill deserving and hateful in proportion to the distance 
there is between God and the creature : The greatness of the 
object, and the meanness and inferiority of the subject, ag- 
gravates it. But it is the reverse with regard to the worthi* 
ness of the respect of the creature to God; it is worthless, 
and not worthy, in proportion to the meanness of the subject. 
So much the greater the distance between God and the crea- 
ture, so much the less is the creature's respect worthy of 
God's notice or regard. The great degree of superiority in- 
creases the obligation on the inferior to regard the superior ; 
and so makes the want of regard more hateful : But the great 
degree of inferiority diminishes the worth of the regard of 
the inferior ; because the more he is inferior, the less he is 
worthy of notice ; the less he is, the less is what he can offer 
worth ; for he can offer no more than himself, in offering his 
best respect ; and therefore as he is little, and little worth, so 
is his respect little worth. And the more a person has of 
true grace and spiritual light, the more will it appear thus to 
him ; the mote will he appear to himself infinitely deformed 
by reason of sin, and the less will the goodness that is in his 
grace, or good experience, appear in proportion to it. For 
indeed it is nothing to it ; it is less than a drop to the ocean ; 
for finite bears no proportion at all to that which is infinite, 
i.ut the more a person has of spiritual light, the more do 


things appear to him, in this respect, as they are indeed.... 
Hence it most demonstrably appears, that true grace is of that 
nature, that the move a person has of it, with remaining cor- 
ruption, the less does his goodness and holiness appear, in 
proportion to his deformity ; and not only to his past deform- 
ity, hut to his present deformity, in the sin that now appears 
In his heart, and the abominable defects of his highest and 
best affections, and brightest experiences. 

The nature of many high and religious affections, and great 
discoveries (as they are called) in many persons that I have 
been acquainted with, is to hide and cover over the corrup- 
tion of their hearts, and to make it seem to them as if all their 
sin was gone, and to leave them without complaints of any 
hateful evil left in them ; (though it may be they cry out 
much of their past unworthiness) a sure and certain evidence 
that their discoveries (as they call them) are darkness and 
not light. It is darkness that hides men's pollution and de- 
formity ; but light let into the heart discovers it, searches it 
out in its secret corners, and makes it plainly to appear ; es- 
pecially that penetrating, all searching light of God's holi- 
ness and glory. It is true, that saving discoveries may for 
the present hide corruption in one sense ; they restrain the 
positive exercises of it, such as malice, envy, covetousness, 
lasciviousness, murmuring, &C. but they bring corruption to 
light, in that which is privative, viz. that there is no more 
love, no more humility, no more thankfulness. Which de- 
fects appear most hateful in the eyes of those who have the 
most eminent exercises of grace ; and are very burdensome, 
and cause the saints to cry out of their leanness, and odious 
pride and ingratitude. And whatever positive exercises of 
corruption at any time arise, and mingle themselves with 
eminent actings of grace, grace will exceedingly magnify the 
view of them, and render their appearance far more heinous 
and horrible. 

The more eminent saints are, and the more they have of 
the light of heaven in their souls, the more do they appear to 
themselves, as the most eminent saints in this world do, to 
the saints and angels in heaven. How can we rationally sup- 


pose the most eminent saints on earth appear to them, if be- 
held any otherwise, than covered over with the righteousness 
of Christ, and their deformities swallowed up and hid in the 
coruscation of. the beams of his abundant glory and love ? 
How can we suppose our most ardent love and praises appear 
to them, that do behold the beauty and glory of God without 
a vail ? How does our highest thankfulness for the dying love 
of Christ appear to them, who see Christ as he is, who know 
as they are known, and see the glory of the person of him that 
died, and the wonders of his dying lore, without any cloud of 
darkness ? And how do they look on the deepest reverence 
and humility, with which Worms of the dust on earth ap- 
proach that infinite Majesty which they behold ? Do they ap- 
pear great to them, or so much as worthy of the name of 
leverence and humility, in those that they see to be at such 
an infinite distance from that great and holy God, in whose 
glorious presence they are ? The reason why the highest at- 
tainments of the saints on earth appear so mean to them, is> 
because they dwell in the light of God's glory, and see God 
as he is. And it is in this respect with the saints on earth, as 
it is with the saints in heaven, in proportion as they are more 
eminent in grace. 

I would not be understood, that the saints on earth have ia 
all respects the worst opinion of themselves, when they have 
jnost of the exercise of grace. In many respects it is other* 
wise. With respect to the positive exercises of corruption, 
they may appear to themselves freest and best when grace 
is most in exercise, and worst when the actings of grace are 
lowest. And when they compare themselves with them- 
selves at different times, they may know, when grace is in 
lively exercise, that it is better with them than it was before 
(though before, in the time of it, they did not see so much 
badness as they see now) and when afterwards they sink 
again in the frame of their minds, they may know that they 
sink, and have a new argument of their great remaining cor- 
ruption, and a rational conviction of a greater vileness than 
they saw before ; and many have more of a sense of guilt, 
and a kind of legal sense of their sinfulness by far, than when 


in the lively exercise of grace. But yet it is true, and de» 
rnonstrable from the forementioned considerations, that the 
children of God never have so much of a sensible and spir- 
itual conviction of their deformity, and so great, and quick, 
and abasing a sense of their present vileness and odiousness, 
as when they are highest in the exercise of true and pure 
grace ; and never are they so much disposed to set them- 
selves low among Christians as then. And thus he that is 
greatest in the kingdom, or most eminent in the church 
of Christ, is the same that humbles himself, as the least in- 
fant among them ; agreeable to that great saying of Christ, 
Mat. xviii. 4. 

A true saint may know that he has some true grace : And 
the more grace there is, the more easily is it known ; as was 
observed and proved before. But yet it does not follow, that 
an eminent saint is easily sensible that he is an eminent saint, 
when compared with others. I will not deny that it is possi- 
ble, that he that has much grace, and is an eminent saint, 
may know it. But he will not be apt to know it ; it will not 
be a thing obvious to him : That he is better than others, and 
has higher experiences and attainments, is not a foremost 
thought ; nor is it that which, from time to time readily of- 
fers itself; it is a thing that is not in his way, but lies far out 
of sight ; he must take pains to convince himself of it ; there 
will be need of a great command of reason, and a high degree 
of strictness and care in arguing, to convince himself. And 
if he be rationally convinced by a very strict consideration of 
his own experiences, compared with the great appearances 
of low degrees of grace in some other saints, it will hardly 
seem real to him, that he has more grace than they ; and he 
will be apt to lose the conviction that he lias by pains obtain- 
ed : Nor will it seem at all natural to him to act upon that 
supposition. And this maybe laid down as an infallible thing, 
" That the person who is apt to think that he, as compared 
with others, is a very eminent saint, much distinguished in 
Christian experience, in whom this is a first thought, that 
rises of itself, and naturally offers itself ; he is certainly mis- 
taken ; he is no eminent saint, but under the great prevail- 

Vol. IV, 2 L 


ings of a proud and selfrighteous spirit." And if this be ha» 
bitual with the man, and is steadily the prevailing temper of 
his mind, he is no saint at all ; he has not the least degree of 
any true Christian experience ; so surely as the word of God 
is true. 

And that sort of experiences that appears to be of that ten- 
dency, and is found from time to time to have that effect, to 
elevate the subject of them with a great conceit of those ex- 
periences, is certainly vain and delusive. Those supposed dis- 
coveries that naturally blow up the person with an admiration 
of the eminency of his discoveries, and fill him with conceit 
that now he has seen, and knows more than most other Christ- 
ians, have nothing of the nature of true spiritual light in them. 
All true spiritual knowledge is of that nature, that the more a 
person has of it, the more is he sensible of his own ignorance ; 
as is evident by 1 Cor. viii. 2. " He that thinketh he know- 
eth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know." 
Agur, when he had a great discovery of God, and sense of 
the wonderful height of his glory, and of his marvellous 
works, and cries out of his greatness and incomprehensible- 
ness ; at the same time, had the deepest sense of his brutish 
ignorance, and looked upon himself the most ignorant of all 
the saints, Prov. xxx. 2, 3, 4. " Surely I am more brutish 
than any man, and have not the understanding of a man. I 
neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy. 
Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended ? Who 
hath gathered the wind in his fists ? Who hath bound the wa- 
ters in a garment ? Who hath established all the ends of the 
earth ? What is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou 
canst tell ?" 

For a man to be highly conceited of his spiritual and di- 
vine knowledge, is for him to be wise in his own eyes, if any 
thing is. And therefore it comes under those prohibitions, 
Prov. hi. 7. " Be not wise in thine own eyes." Rom. xii. 
16. "Be not wise in your own conceits ;" and brings men 
under that woe, Isa. v. 21. " Woe unto them that are wise 
in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight." Those 
that are thus wise in their own eyes, are some of the least 


likely to get good of any in the world. Experience shews 
the truth of that, Prov. xxvi. 12....Seest thou a man wise 
in his own conceit ? There is more hope of a fool than of 

To this some may object, that the Psalmist, when we must 
suppose that he was in a holy frame, speaks of his knowledge 
as eminently great, and far greater than that of other saints, 
Psal. cxix. 99, 100. « I have more understanding than all 
my teachers : For thy testimonies are my meditation : I 
understand more than the ancients : Because I keep thy 

To this I answer two things : 

(1.) There is no restraint to be laid upon the Spirit of 
God, as to what he shall reveal to a prophet, for the benefit of 
his church, who is speaking or writing under immediate in- 
spiration. The Spirit of God may reveal to such an one, and 
dictate to him, to declare to.others secret things, that other- 
wise would be hard, yea impossible for him to find out. As 
he may reveal to him mysteries, that otherwise would be 
above the reach of his reason ; or things in a distant place, 
that he cannot see ; or future events, that it would be impos- 
sible for him to know and declare, if they were not extraor- 
dinarily revealed to him ; so the Spirit of God might reveal 
to David this distinguishing benefit he had received, by con- 
versing much with God's testimonies ; and use him as his 
instrument to record it for the benefit of others, to excite 
them to the like duty, and to use the same means to gain 
knowledge. Nothing can be gathered concerning the natur- 
al tendency of the ordinary gracious influences of the Spirit 
of God, from that, that David declares of his distinguishing 
knowledge under the extraordinary influences of God's Spirit^ 
immediately dictating to him the divine mind by inspiration, 
and using David as his instrument to write what he pleased 
for the benefit of his church ; any more than we can reason- 
ably argue, that it is the natural tendency of grace to incline 
men to curse others, and wish the most dreadful misery to 
them that can be thought of, because David, under inspira- 


lion, often curses others, and prays that such misery may 
come upon them. 

(2.) It is not certain that the knowledge David here speaks 
of, is spiritual knowledge, wherein holiness does fundamental- 
ly consist. But it may be that greater revelation which God 
made to him of the Messiah, and the things of his future king- 
dom, and the far more clear and extensive knowledge that he 
had of the mysteries and doctrines of the gospel, than others ; 
as a reward for his keeping God's testimonies. In this, it is 
apparent by the book of Psalms, that David far exceeded all 
that had gone before him. 

Secondly, Another thing that is an infallible sign of spiritual 
pride, is persons being apt to think highly of their humility. 
False experiences are commonly attended with a counterfeit 
humility. And it is the very nature of a counterfeit humili- 
ty, to be highly conceited of itself. False religious affections 
have generally that tendency, especially when raised to a 
great height, to make persons think that their humility is 
great, and accordingly to take much notice of their great at- 
tainments in this respect, and admire them. But eminently 
gracious affections (I scruple not to say it) arc evermore of a 
contrary tendency, and have universally a contrary effect in 
those that have them. They indeed make them very sensi- 
ble what reason there is that they should be deeply humbled, 
and cause them earnestly to thirst and long after it ; but they 
make their present humility, or that which they have already 
attained to, to appear small ; and their remaining pride great, 
and exceedingly abominable. 

The reason why a proud person should be apt to think 
his humility great, and why a very humble person should 
think his humility small, may be easily seen, if it be con- 
sidered, that it is natural for persons, in judging of the degree 
of their own humiliation, to take their measure from that 
-which they esteem their proper height, or the dignity where- 
in they properly stand. That may be great humiliation in 
one, that is no humiliation at all in another ; because the de- 
gree of honorablencss, or considerableness wherein each docs 
properly stand, is very different. For some great man, to stoop 


eo loose the latchet of the shoes of another great man, his equal, 
or to wash his feet, would be taken notice of as an act of 
abasement in him ; and he, being sensible of his own digni- 
ty, would look upon it so himself. But if a poor slave is seen 
stooping to unloose the shoes of a great prince, nobody will 
take any notice of this, as any act of humiliation in him, or 
token of any great degree of humility : Nor would the slave 
himself, unless he be horribly proud and ridiculously conceited 
of himself: And if after he had done it, he should, in his 
talk and behavior, shew that he thought his abasement great 
in it, and had his mind much upon it, as an evidence of his be- 
ing very humble ; would not every body cry out upon him, 
" Whom do you think yourself to be, that you should think 
this that you have done such a deep humiliation ?" This 
Avould make it plain to a demonstration, that this slave was 
swollen with a high degree of pride and vanity of mind, as 
much as if he declared in plain terms, " I think myself to be 
some great one." And the matter is no less plain and cer- 
tain, when worthless, vile, and loathsome worms of the dust, 
are apt to put such a construction on their acts of abasement 
before God ; and to think it a token of great humility in them 
that they, under their affections, can find themselves so wil- 
ling to acknowledge themselves to be so mean and unworthy, 
and to behave themselves as those that are so inferior. The 
■very reason why such outward acts, and such inward exercises, 
look like great abasement in such an one, is because he has 
a high conceit of himself. Whereas if he thought of himself 
3nore justly, these things would appear nothing to him, and 
Lis humility in them worthy of no regard ; but would rather 
be astonished at his pride, that one so infinitely despicable 

and vile is brought no lower before God When he says in 

his heart, " This is a great act of humiliation ; it is certainly 
a sign of great humility in me, that I should feel thus and do 
so ;" his meaning is, " This is great humility for me, for 
such a one as I, that am so considerable and worthy." He 
considers how low he is now brought, and compares this with 
the height of dignity on which he in his heart thinks he prop- 
erly stands, and the distance appears very great, and he calls 


it all mere humility, and as such admires it. Whereas, 5b» 
him that is truly humble, and really see3 his own vileness and 
loathsomeness before God, the distance appears the other way. 
When he is brought lowest of all, it does not appear to him, 
that he is brought below his proper station, but that he is not 
come to it ; he appears to himself yet vastly above it, he 
longs to get lower, that he may tome to it, but appears at a 
great distance from it. And this distance he calls pride. 
And therefore his pride appears great to him, and not his hu- 
mility. For although he is brought much lower than he used 
to be, yet it does not appear to him worthy of the name of 
humiliation, for him that is so infinitely mean and detestable, 
to come down to a place, which, though it be lower than whac 
he used to assume, is yet vastly higher than what is proper 
for him. As men would hardly count it worthy of the name 
of humility, in a contemptible slave, that formerly affected to 
be a prince, to have his spirit so far brought down, as to take 
the place of a nobleman ; when this is still so far above his 
proper station. 

All men in the world, in judging of the degree of their own 
and others* humility, as appearing in any act of theirs, consid- 
er two things, viz. the leal degree of dignity they stand in ; 
and the degree of abasement, and the relation it bears to that 
real dignity. Thus the complying with the same low place, 
or low act, may be an evidence of great humility in one, that 
evidences but little or no humility in another. But truly 
humble Christians have so mean an opinion of their own real 
dignity, that all their selfabasement, when considered with 
relation to that, and compared to that, appears very small to 
them. It does not seem to them to be any great humility, 
or any abasement to be mad- much of, for such poor, vile, ab- 
ject creatures as they, to he at the foot of God. 

The degree of humility is to be judged of by the degree of 
abasement, and the degree of the cause for abasement : But 
he that is truly and eminently humble, never thinks his hu- 
mility great, considering the cause. The cause why he 
sjjtottld be abused appears so great, and the absement of the 


frame of his heart so greatly short of it, that he takes -much 
more notice of his pride than his humility. 

Every one that has heen conversant with souls under con= 
mictions of sin, knows that those who are greatly convinced 
of sin, are not apt to think themselves greatly convinced. 
And the reason is this : Men judge of the degree of their 
own convictions of sin by two things jointly considered, viz, 
the degree of sense which they have of guilt and pollution, 
and the degree of cause they have for such a sense, in the de- 
gree of their real sinfulness. It is really no argument of any 
great conviction of sin, for some men to think themselves to 
be very sinful, beyond most others in the world ; because 
they are so indeed, very plainly and notoriously. And there- 
fore a far less conviction of sin may incline such an one to 
think so than another ; he must be very blind indeed not t& 
be sensible of it. But he that is truly under great convic- 
tions of sin, naturally thinks this to be his case. It appears 
to him, that the cause he has to be sensible of guilt and pol- 
lution, is greater than others have ; and therefore he ascribes 
his sensibleness of this to the greatness cf his sin, and not to 
the greatness of his sensibility. It is natural for one under 
great convictions, to think himself one of the greatest of sin- 
ners in reality, and also that it is so very plainly and evident- 
ly ; for the greater his convictions are, the more plain and 
evident it seems to be to him. And therefore it necessarily 
seems to him so plain and so easy to him to see it, that it may 
be seen without much conviction. That man is under great 
convictions, whose conviction is great in proportion to his sin, 
But no man that is truly under great convictions, thinks his 
conviction great in proportion to his sin. For if he does, it is 
a certain sign that he inwardly thinks his sins small. And if 
that be the ease, that is a certain evidence that his conviction 
is small. And this, by the way, is the main reason that per- 
sons, when under a work of humiliation, are not sensible of it 
In the time of it. 

And as it is with conviction of sin, just so it is, by parity of 
yeason, with respect to persons' conviction or sensibleness of 
Sheir own meanness and vileness, their own blindness, their 


own impotence, and all that low sense that a Christian has oi r 
himself, in the exercise of evangelical humiliation. So that 
in a high degree of this, the saints are never disposed to think 
their sensibleness of their own meanness, filthincss, impo- 
tence, Sec. to be great ; because it never appears great to them 
considering the cause. 

An eminent saint is not apt to think himself eminent in any 
thing ; all his graces and experiences are ready to appear to 
him to be comparatively small ; but especially his humility. 
There is nothing that appertains to Christian experience, and 
true piety, that is so much out of his sight as his humility. 
He is a thousand times more quicksighted to discern his pride 
than his humility : That he easily discerns, and is apt to take 
much notice of, but hardly discerns his humility. On the 
contrary, the deluded hypocrite, that is under the power of 
spiritual pride, is so blind to nothing as his pride ; and so 
quicksighted to nothing, as the shews of humility that are in 

The humble Christian is more apt to find fault with his 
own pride than with other men's. He is apt to put the best 
construction on others words and behavior, and to think that 
none are so proud as himself. But the proud hypocrite is 
quick to disern the mote in his brother's eye, in this respect ; 
while he sees nothing, of the beam in his own. He is very 
often much in crying out of others' pride, finding fault with 
others' apparel, and way of living ; and is affected ten times 
as much with his neighbor's ring or ribband, as with all the 
filthiness of his own heart. 

From the disposition there is in hypocrites to think highly 
of their humility, it comes to pass that counterfeit humility is 
forward to put itself forth to view. Those that have it, are 
apt to be much in speaking of their humiliations, and to set 
them forth in high terms, and to make a great outward shev/ 
of humility, in affected looks, gestures, or manner of speech, 
or meanness of apparel, or some affected singularity. So it 
■was of old with the false prophets, Zech. xiii. 4 ; so it was 
■with the hypocritical Jews, Isa. lvii. 5, and so Christ tells us 
it was with the Pharisees, Ivlatth. vi. 16. But it is contrary 


i^ise with true humility ; they that have it, are not apt to dis- 
play their eloquence in setting of it forth, or to speak of the 
degree of their abasement in strong terms.* It does not affect 
to shew itself in any singular outward meanness of apparel, or 
way of living ; agreeable to what is implied in Matth. vi. 17. 
" But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash 
thy face. Col. ii 23. Which things have indeed a shew of 
wisdom, in will worship and humility, and neglecting of the 
body." Nor is true humility a noisy thing ; it is not loud and 
boisterous. The scripture represents it as of a contrary na- 
ture. Ahab, when he had a visible humility, a resemblance 
of true humility, went softly, 1 Kings xxi. 27. A penitent, 
in the exercise of true humiliation, is represented as still and 
silent, Lam. iii. 28. " He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, 
because he hath borne it upon him." And silence is men- 
tioned as what attends humility, Prov. xxx. 32. « If thou 
hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought 
evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth." 

Thus I have particularly and largely shewn the nature of 
that true humility that attends holy affections, as it appears in 
its tendency to cause persons to think meanly of their attain- 
ments in religion, as compared with the attainments of oth- 
ers, and particularly of their attainments in humility : And 
have shewn the contrary tendency of spiritual pride, to dis- 
pose persons to think their attainments in these respects to be 
great. I have insisted the longer on this, because I look upon 
it as a matter of great importance, as it affords a certain dis- 
tinction between true and counterfeit humility ; and also as 
this disposition of hypocrites to look on themselves better 
than others, is what God has declared to be very hateful to 

* It is an observation of Mr. Jones, in his excellent treatise of the canon 
of the New Testament, that the evangelist Mark, who was the companion of 
St. Peter, and is supposed to have written his gospel under the direction of that 
apostle, when he mentions Peter's repentance after his denying his Master, 
does not use such strong terms to set it forth as the other evangelists, he only 
uses these words, "When he thought thereon, he wept," Mark xiv. 72, 
whereas the other evangelists say thus, " he vent out and wept bitterly," 
Matth. xxvi. 75. Luke xxii. 6a. 

V01. IV, 3 M 


him, " a smoke in his nose, and a fire that burnetii all the 
day, Isa. lxv. 5." It is mentioned as an instance of the pride 
of the inhabitants of that holy city (as it was called) Jerusa- 
lem, that they esteemed themselves far better than the peo- 
ple of Sodom, and so looked upon them worthy to be over- 
looked and disregarded by them, Ezek. xvi. 56. " For thy 
sister Sodom was not mentioned by thy mouth in the day of 
thy pride." 

Let not the reader lightly pass over these things in appli- 
cation to himself. If you once have taken it in, that it is a 
bad sign for a person to be apt to think himself a better saint 
than others, there will arise a blinding prejudice in your own 
favor ; and there will probably be need of a great strictness 
of selfexamination, in order to determine whether it be so 
with you. If on the proposal of the question, you answer, 
" No, it seems to me, none are so bad as I," do not let the 
matter pass off so ; but examine again, whether or no you do 
not think yourself better than others on this very account, be- 
cause you imagine you think so meanly of yourself. Have not 
you an high opinion of this humility ? And if you answer again, 
" No ; I have not an high opinion of my humility ; it seems 
to me I am as proud as the devil ;" yet examine again, wheth- 
er selfconceit do not rise up under this cover ; whether on 
this very account, that you think yourself as proud as the dev- 
il, you do not think yourself to be very humble. 

From this opposition that there is between the nature of a 
true, and of a counterfeit humility, as to the esteem that the 
subjects of them have *f themselves, arises a manifold contra- 
riety of temper and behavior. 

A truly humble person, having such a mean opinion of his 
righteousness and holiness, is poor in spirit. For a person 
to be poor in spirit, is to be in his own sense and apprehen- 
sion poor, as to what is in him, and to be of an answerable 
disposition. Therefore a truly humble person, especially one 
eminently humble, naturally behaves himself in many re- 
spects as a poor man. " The poor useth intreaties, but the 
rich answereth roughly." A poor man is not disposed to 
quick and high resentment when he is among the rich : He 


vs apt to yield to others, for he knows others are above him ; 
he.is not stiff and selfvvilled ; he is patient with hard fare ; 
he expects no other than to be despised, and takes it patiently ; 
he does not take it heinously that he is overlooked and but 
little regarded ; he is prepared to be in a low place ; he readi- 
ly honors his superiors ; he takes reproofs quietly ; he readi- 
ly honors others as above him ; he easily yields to be taught, 
and does not claim much to his understanding and judgment ; 
he is not over nice orhumorsome, and has his spirit subdued 
to hard things ; he is not assuming, nor apt to take much up- 
on him, but it is natural for him to be subject to others. 
Thus it is with the humble Christian. Humility is (as the 
great Mastricht expresses it) a kind of holy pusillanimity. 

A man that is very poor is a beggar ; so is he that is poor 
in spirit. This is a great difference between those affections 
that are gracious, and those that are false : Under the for- 
mer, the person continues still a poor beggar at God's gates, 
exceeding empty and needy ; but the latter make men appear 
to themselves rich, and increased with goods, and not very- 
necessitous ; they have a great stock in their own imagina- 
tion for their subsistence.* 

• " This spirit ever keeps a man poor and vile in his own eyes, and emp- 
ty. — When the man hath got some knowledge, and can discourse pretty well, 
and hath some taste of the heavenly gift, some sweet illapses of grace, and 
so his conscience is pretty well quieted : And if he hath got some answer to 
his prayers, and hath sweet affections, he grows full : And having ease to his 
conscience, casts off sense, and daily groaning under sin. And hence the spir- 
it of prayer dies : He loses his esteem of God's ordinances, feels not such need 
of them ; or gets no good, feels no life or power by them. — This is the woeful 
condition of some ; but yet they know it not. But now he that is filled 
■with the Spirit the Lord empties him; and the more, the longer he lives. 
So that though others think be needs not much grace, yet he accounts him- 
self the poorest." Shepard's Parable of the Ten Virgins, Part II. p. 132. 

" After all filings, be ever empty, hungry, and feeling need, and praying 
for more." Ibid. p. 151. 

" Truly, brethren when I see the curse of God upon many Christians, 
that are now grown full of their parts, gifts, peace, comforts, abilities, duties, 
I stand adoring the riches of the Lord's mercy, to a little handful of poor 
believers, not only in making them empty, but in keeping them so all thek 
days." Shepard's Sound Believer, the late edition in Boston, p. 158, 150. 


A poor man is modest in his speech and behavior ; so ; 
and much more, and more certainly and universally, is one 
that is poor in spirit ; he is humble and modest in bis behav- 
ior amongst men. It is in vain for any to pretend that they 
are humble, and as little children before God, when they are 
haughty, assuming, and impudent in their behavior amongst 
men. The apostle informs us, that the design of the gospel 
is to cut oif all glorying, not only before God, but also before 
men, Rom. iv. 1, 2. Some pretend to great humiliation, that 
are very haughty, audacious, and assuming in their external 
appearance and behavior : But they ought to consider those 
scriptures, Psal. exxxi. 1. " Lord, my heart is not haughty, 
nor mine eyes lofty ; neither do I exercise myself in great 
matters, or in things too high for me. Prov. vi. 16, 17. 
a These six things doth the Lord hate ; yea seven are an 
abomination unto him : A proud look, £cc."....Chap. xxi. 4. 
"An high look, and a proud heart are sin." Psal. xviii. 27. 
" Thou wilt biing down high looks." And Psal. ci. 5. 
" Him that hath an high look, and a proud heart, I will not 
suffer." 1 Cor. xiii. 4. " Charity vaunteth not itself, doth 
not behave itself unseemly." There is a certain amiable 
modesty and fear that belongs to a Christian behavior among 
men, arising from humility, that the scripture often speaks 
of, 1 Pet. iii. 15. " Be ready to give an answer to every man 

that asketh you with meekness and fear." Romans xiii. 7. 

" Fear to whom fear." 2 Cor. vii. 15. « Whilst he remem- 
bereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling 
you received him." Eph. vi. 5. "Servants, be obedient to 
them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear 
and trembling." 1 Pet. ii. 18. " Servants be subject to your 
■masters with all fear." 1 Pet. iii. 2. " While they behold 
your chaste conversation coupled with fear." 1 Tim. ii. 9. 
" That women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with 
shamefacedness and sobriety." In this respect a Christian is 
like a little child ; a little child is modest before men, and 
his heart is apt to be possessed with fear and awe amongst 


The same' spirit will dispose a Christian to honor all men, 
I Pet. ii. 17. "Honor all men." A humble Christian is 
not only disposed to honor the saints in his behavior ; but 
others also, in all those ways that do not imply a visible ap- 
probation of their sins. Thus Abraham, the great pattern of 
believers, honored the children of Heth, Gen. xxiii. 7. 
« Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people 
of the land." This was a remarkable instance of a humble 
behavior towards them that were out of Christ, and that 
Abraham knew to be accursed : And therefore would by no 
means suffer his servant to take a wife to his son, from 
among them ; and Esau's wives, being of these children of 
Heth, were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah. So Paul 
honored Festus, Acts xxvi. 25. " I am not mad, most no- 
ble Festus." Not only will Christian humility dispose per- 
sons to honor those wicked men that are out of the visible 
church, but also false brethren and persecutors: As Jacob, 
when he was in an excellent frame, having just been wrest- 
ling all night with God, and received the blessing, honored 
Esau, his false and persecuting brother. Gen. xxxiii. S. 
" Jacob bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he 
came near to his brother Esau." So he called him lord ; 
and commanded all his family to honor him in like manner. 

Thus I have endeavored to describe the heart and behav- 
ior of one that is governed by a truly gracious humility, as 
exactly agreeable to the scriptures as I am able. 

Now, it is out of such a heart as this, that all truly holy af- 
fections do flow. Christian affections are like Mary's pre- 
cious ointment that she poured on Christ's head, that filled 
the whole house with a sweet odor. That was poured out of 
an alabaster box ; so gracious affections flow out to Christ 
out of a pure heart. That was poured out of a broken box ; 
until the box' was broken, the ointment could not flow, nor 
diffuse its odor ; so gracious affections flow out of a broken 
heart. Gracious affections are also like those of Mary Mag- 
dalene (Luke vii. at the latter end) who also pours precious 
ointment on Christ, out of an alabaster broken box, anointing 
therewith the feet of Jesus, when she had washed them with 


lier tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head. All 
gracious affections, tha^ are a sweet odor to Christ, and that 
fill the soul of a Christian with an heavenly sweetness and 
fragrancy, are broken hearted affections. A truly Christian 
love, either to God or men, is a humble broken hearted love. 
The desires of the saints, however earnest, are humble de- 
sires : Their hope is an humble hope ; and their joy, even 
when it is unspeakable, and full of glory, is a humble broken 
hearted joy, and leaves the Christian more poor in spirit, and 
more like a little child, and more disposed to an universal 
lowliness of behavior. 

VII. Another thing, wherein gracious affections are distin- 
guished from others, is, that they are attended with a change 
of nature. 

All gracious affections do arise from a spiritual under- 
standing, in which the soul has the excellency and glory of 
divine things discovered to it, as was shewn before. But all 
spiritual discoveries are transforming ; and not only make an 
alteration of the present exercise, sensation, and frame of the 
soul ; but such power and efficacy have they, that they make 
an alteration in the very nature of the soul. 2 Cor. iii. 18. 
c But we all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory 
of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to 
glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." Such power as 
this is properly divine power, and is peculiar to the Spirit of 
the Lord : Other power may make a great alteration in men's 
present frames and feelings : But it is the power of a Creator 
only that can change the nature, or give a new nature. And 
no discoveries or illuminations, but those that are divine and 
supernatural, will have this supernatural effect. But this ef- 
fect all those discoveries have, that are truly divine. The soul 
is deeply affected by these discoveries, and so affected as to 
he transformed. 

Thus it is with those affections that the soul is the subject 
of in its conversion. The scripture representations of con- 
version do strongly imply and signify a change of nature : 
Such as " being born again ; becoming new creatures ; rising 


from the dead ; being renewed in the spirit of the mind ; dy- 
ing to sin, and living to righteousness ; putting off the old 
man, and putting on the new man ; a being ingrafted into a 
new stock ; a having a divine seed implanted in the heart ; a 
being made partakers of the divine nature, Sec. 

Therefore if there be no great and remarkable abiding 
change in persons, that think they have experienced a work 
of conversion, vain are all their imaginations and pretences, 
however they have been affected.* Conversion is a great 
and universal change of the man, turning him from sin to 
God. A man may be restrained from sin, before he is con- 
verted ; but when he is converted, he is not only restrained 
from sin, his very heart and nature is turned from it unto 
holiness : So that thenceforward he becomes a holy person, 
and an enemy to sin. If therefore, after a person's high af- 
fections, at his supposed first conversion, it comes to that in 
a little time, that there is no very sensible, or remarkable al- 
teration in him, as to those bad qualities, and evil habits, which 
before were visible in him, and he is ordinarily under the 
prevalence of the same kind of dispositions that he used to 
be, and the same things seem to belong to his character ; he 
appears as selfish, carnal, as stupid, and perverse, as unchrist- 
ian and unsavory as ever ; it is greater evidence against him, 
than the brightest story of experiences that ever was told, is 
for him. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision, nor un- 
circumcision, neither high profession, nor low profession, 
neither a fair story, nor a broken one, avails any thing ; but 
a new creature. 

If there be a very great alteration visible in a person for a 
while ; if it be not abiding, but he afterwards returns, in a 
stated manner, to be much as he used to be ; it appears to be 
no change of nature ; for nature is an abiding thing. A swine 
that is of a filthy nature may be washed, but the swinish na- 

*"I would not judge of the whole soul's coming to Christ, so much by- 
sudden pangs as by inward bent. For the whole soul, in affectionate expres- 
sions and actions, may be carried to Chiist ; but being without this bent, and 
thange of affections, is unsound." Shepari't Peratk, Part I, p. 203, 


ture remains ; and a dove that is of a cleanly nature may be 
defiled, but its cleanly nature remains.! 

Indeed allowances must be made for the natural temper ; 
conversion does not entirely root out the natural temper ; 
those sins which a man by his natural constitution was most 
inclined to before his conversion, he may be most apt to fall 
into still. But yet conversion will make a great alteration 
even with respect to these sins. Though grace, while im- 
perfect, does not root out an evil natural temper, yet it is of 
great power and efficacy with respect to it, to correct it. The 
change that is wrought in conversion, is an universal change ; 
grace changes a man with respect to whatever is sinful in 
him ; the old man is put of!', and the new man put on ; he is 
sanctified throughout ; and the man becomes a new crea- 
ture, old things are passed away, and all things are become 
new ; all sin is mortified, constitution sins, as well as oth- 
ers. If a man before his conversion, was by his natural con- 
stitution especially inclined to lasciviousness, or drunken- 
ness, or maliciousness ; converting grace will make a great 
alteration in him, with respect to these evil dispositions ; so 
that however he may be still most in danger of these sins, 
yet they shall no longer have dominion over him ; nor -will 
they any more be properly his character. Yea, true repent- 
ance dees in some respects, especially turn a man against 
Ids own iniquity, that wherein he has been most guilty, and 
liar, chiefly dishonored God. He that forsakes other sins, 
but saves his leading sin, the iniquity he is chiefly inclined 
to, is like Saul, when sent against God's enemies the Amal- 
ekites, with a strict charge to save none of them alive, but 
utterly to destroy them, small and great ; who utterly de- 
stroyed inferior people, but saved the king, the chief of them 

t •' It 13 with the soul, as with water ; all the cold may be gone, but die 
native principle of cold remains still, You may remove the burning of lusts, 
not the blackness of nature. Where the power of :.in lies, change of conscience 

• .curity to terror, change of life from profaneness to civility, and fash- 
ions of the world, to «crpe the pollutions thereof, change of lusts, may quench 
for a time: But the nature is never changed in the best hypocrite (fat 
ever was. Shift Part I. p, 194, 


Some foolishly make it an argument in favov of their dis- 
coveries and affections, that when they are gone, they are 
left wholly without any life or sense, or any thing beyond 
what they bad before. They think it an evidence that what 
they experienced was wholly of God, and not of themselves, 
because (say they) when God is departed, all is gone ; they 
can see and' feel nothing, and are no better than they used 
to be. 

It is very true, that all grace and goodness in the hearts of 
ihe saints is entirely from God ; and they are universally and 
immediately dependent on him for it. But yet these persons 
are mistaken, as to the manner of God's communicating him- 
self and his holy Spirit, in imparting saving grace to the soul. 
He gives his Spirit to be united to the faculties of the soul, 
and to dwell there after the manner of a principle of nature ; 
so that the soul, in being endued with grace, is endued with a 
new nature : But nature is an abiding thing. All the exer- 
cises of grace are entirely from Christ : But those exercises 
are not from Christ, as something that is alive, moves and 
stirs, something that is without life, and remains without life ; 
but as having life communicated to it ; so as, through Christ's 
power, to have inherent in itself a vital nature. In the soul 
where Christ savingly is, there he lives. He does not only 
live without it, so as violently to actuate it, but he lives in it, 
so that that also is alive. Grace in the soul is as much from 
Christ, as the light in a glass, held but in the sunbeams, is 
from the sun. But this represents the manner of the com- 
munication of grace to the soul, but in part ; because the 
glass remains as it was, the nature of it not being at all chang- 
ed, it is as much without any lightsomeness in its nature as 
ever. But the soul of a saint receives light from the Sun of 
righteousness, in such a manner, that its nature is changed, 
and it becomes properly a luminous thing ; not only does the 
sun shine in the saints, but they also become little suns, par- 
taking of the nature of the fountain of their light. In this 
respect, the manner of their derivation of light, is like that of 
the lamps in the tabernacle, rather than that of a reflecting 
glass ; which, though they were lit up by fire from heaven, 

Vol. IV. 2 N ' 


yet thereby became themselves burning shining things. The 
saints do not only drink of the water of life, that flows from 
the original fountain ; but this water becomes a fountain of 
water in them, springing up there, and flowing out of them, 
John iv. 14, and chap. vii. 38, 39. Grace is compared to a 
seed implanted, that not only is in the ground, but has hold 
of it, has root there, and grows there, and is an abiding prin- 
ciple of life and nature there. 

As it is with spiritual discoveries and affections given at 
first conversion, so it is in all illuminations and affections of 
that kind, that persons are the subjects of afterwards ; they 
are all transforming. There is a like divine power and en- 
ergy in them, as in the first discoveries ; and they still reach 
the bottom of the heart, and affect and alter the very nature of 
the soul, in proportion to the degree in which they are given. 
And a transformation of nature is continued and carried on 
by them, to the end of life, until it is brought to perfection in 
glory. Kence the progress of the work of grace in the hearts 
of the saints, is represented in scripture, as a continued con- 
version and renovation of nature. So the apostle exhorts 
those that were at Rome, " beloved of God, called to be 
saints," and that were subjects of God's redeeming mer- 
cies, " to be transformed by the renewing of their mind, 
Rom. xii. 1, 2. I beseech you therefore, by the mercies of 
God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice ; and be 
not conformed to this world ; but be ye transformed by the 
renewing of your mind." Compared with chap. i. 7. So 
the apostle, writing to the " saints and faithful in Christ Jesus, 
that were at Ephesus (Eph. i. 1.) and- those who were once 
dead in trespasses and sins, but were now quickened and 
raised up, and made to sit together in heavenly places in 
Christ, and created in Christ Jesus unto gcod works, that were 
once far off, but were now made nigh by the blood of Christ, 
and that were no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow 
citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, and that 
were built together for an habitation of God through the 
Spirit ; I say, the apostle writing to these, tells them, " that 
he ceased not to pray for them, that God would give them 


the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of 
Christ ; the eyes of their understanding being enlightened, 
that they might know, or experience, what was the exceed- 
ing greatness of God's power towards them that believe, ac- 
cording to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought 
in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at 
his own right hand in the heavenly places," Eph. i. 16, to the 
end. In this the apostle has respect to the glorious power 
and work of God in converting and renewing the soul ; as is 
most plain by the sequel. So the apostle exhorts the same 
persons " to put off the old man, which is corrupt accord- 
ing to the deceitful lusts ; and be renewed in the spirit of 
their minds ; and to put on the new man, which after God 
is created in righteousness and true holiness," Eph. iv. 22, 
23, 24." 

There is a sort of high affections that some have from 
time to time, that leave them without any manner of appear- 
ance of an abiding effect. They go off suddenly ; so that 
from the very height of their emotion, and seeming rapture, 
they pass at once to be quite dead, and void of all sense and 
activity. It surely is not wont to be thus with high gracious 
affections ;* they leave a sweet savor and relish of divine 
things on the heart, and a stronger bent of soul towards God 
and holiness. As Moses' face not only shone while he was 
in the mount, extraordinarily conversing with God, but it 
continued to shine after he came down from the mount.... 
When men have been conversing with Christ in an extra- 
ordinary manner, there is a sensible effect of it remaining up- 
on them ; there is something remarkable in their disposition 
and frame, which if we take knowledge of, and trace to its 
cause, we shall find it is because they have been with Jesus, 
Acts iv. 13. 

VIII. Truly gracious affections differ from those affec- 
tions that are false and delusive in that they tend to, and are 

* " Do you think the Holy Ghost comes on a man as on Balaam, by 
immediate acting, and then leaves him, and then ha has nothing ?" Shepard'f 
Parable, Part I. p. 136. 


attended with the lamb like, dove like spirit and temper of 
Jesus Christ ; or in other words, they naturally beget and 
promote such a spirit of love, meekness, quietness, forgive- 
ness and mercy, as appeared in Christ. 

The evidence of this in the scripture is very abundant. If 
Ave judge of the nature of Christianity, and the proper spirit 
of the gospel, by the word of God, this spirit is what may, 
by way of cminency, be called the Christian spirit ; and may 
be looked upon as the true, and distinguishing disposition 
of the hearts of Christians, as Christians. When some of 
the disciples of Christ said something, through inconsidera- 
tion and infirmity, that was not agreeable to such a spirit, 
Christ told them, that they knew not what manner of spirit 
they were of; Luke ix. 55, implying that this spirit that I 
am speaking of, is the proper spirit of his religion and king- 
dom. All that are truly godly, and real disciples of Christ, 
have this spirit in them ; and not only so, but they are of this 
spirit ; it is the spirit by which they are so possessed and gov- 
erned, that it is their true and proper character. This is ev- 
ident by what the wise man says, Prov. xvii. 27, (having 
respect plainly to such a spirit as this.) " A man of under- 
standing is of an excellent spirit :" And by the particular 
description Christ gives of the qualities and temper of such 
as are truly blessed, that shall obtain mercy, and are God's 
children and heirs, Mat. v. " Blessed are the meek : For 
they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the merciful : For 
they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the peacemakers : For 
they shall be called the children of God." And that this 
spirit is the special character of the elect of God, is mani- 
fested by Col. iii. 12, 13. « Put on therefore as the elect 
of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, 
humbleness of mind, meekness, long suffering ; forbearing 
one another, and forgiving one another." And the apostle, 
speaking of that temper and disposition, which he speaks of 
as the most excellent and essential thing in Christianity, and 
that without which none are tire Christians, and the most 
glorious profession and gifts are nothing (calling this spirit 
hy the name of chanty, he describes it thus) 1 Cor. xiii. 


4, 5. « Charity suffereth long, and is kind ; charity en- 
vieth not ; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth 
not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily 
provoked, thinketh no evil." And the same apostle, Gal. v. 
designedly declaring the distinguishing marks and fruits of 
true Christian grace, chiefly insists on the things that apper- 
tain to such a temper and spirit as I am speaking of, ver. 22, 
23. « The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffer- 
ing, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." 
And so does the Apostle James, in describing true grace, or 
that wisdom that is from above, with that declared design, 
that others who are of a contrary spirit may not deceive them- 
selves, and lie against the truth, in professing to be Christ- 
ians, when they are not, James iii. 14 17. " If ye have bit- 
ter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not ; and lie not 
against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from abovaf 
but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and 
strife is, there is confusion, and every evil work. But the 
wisdom that is from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gen- 
tle and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits." 

Every thing that appertains to holiness of heart, does in- 
deed belong to the nature of true Christianity, and the charac- 
ter of Christians; but a spirit of holiness as appearing in some 
particular graces, may more especially be called the Christ- 
ian spirit or temper. There are some amiable qualities and 
virtues, that do more especially agree with the nature of the 
gospel constitution, and Christian profession ; because there 
is a special agreeableness in them, with those divine attri- 
butes which God has more remarkably manifested and glori- 
fied in the work of redemption by Jesus Christ, that is the 
grand subject of the Christian revelation ; and also a special 
agreeableness with those virtues that were so wonderfully ex- 
ercised by Jesus Christ towards us in that affair, and the bless- 
ed example he hath therein set us ; and likewise because 
they are peculiarly agreeable to the special diiftand design of 
the work of redemption, and the benefits we thereby receive, 
and the relation that it brings us into, to God and one anoth- 
er. And these virtues are such as humility, meekness, 


love, forgiveness, and mercy. These things therefore espe- 
cially belong to the character of Christians, as such. 

These things are spoken of as what are especially the char- 
acter of Jesus Christ himself, the great head of the Christian 
church. They arc so spoken of in the prophecies of the Old 
Testament ; as in that cited, Matth. xxi. 5. " Tell ye the 
daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, 
and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass." So 
Christ himself speaks of them, Matth, xi. 29. " Learn of 
me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." The same appears 
by the name by which Christ is so often called in scripture, 
viz. the Lamb. And as these things arc especially the char- 
acter of Christ, so they are also especially the character 
of Christians. Christians are Christlike ; none deserve the 
name of Christians, that arc not so in their prevailing char- 
acter. « The new man is renewed, after the image of him 
that creates him, Col. iii. 10. All true Christians behold as 
in a glass the glory of the Lord, and are changed into the 
same imnre, by his Spirit, 2 Cor. iii. 18. The elect are all 
predestinated to be conformed to the image of the Son of God, 
that he might be the first born among many brethren, Rom. 
viii. 29. As we have borne the image of the first man, that 
is earthly, so we must also bear the image of the heaven- 
ly ; for as is the earthly, such are they also that are earth- 
ly ; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heav- 
enly, 1 Cor. xv. 47, 4S, 49.".. ..Christ is full of grace ; and 
Christians all receive of his fulness, and grace for grace ; i. e. 
there is grace in Christians answering to grace in Christ, 
such an answerableness as there is between the wax and the 
seal ; there is character for character : Such kind of graces, 
Such a spirit and temper, the same things that belong to 
Christ's character, belong to theirs. That disposition, where- 
in Christ's character does in a special manner consist, there- 
in does his image in a special manner consist. Christians 
that shine by reflecting the light of the Sun of righteousness, 
do shine with the same sort of brightness, the same mild, 
sweet, and pleasant beams. These lamps of the spiritual tem- 
ple, that arc enkindled by fire from heaven, burn with th« 


same sort of flame. The branch is of the same nature with 
the stock and root, has the same sap, and bears the samo 
sort of fruit. The members have the same kind of life with 
the head. It would be strange if Christians should not be of 
the same temper and spirit that Christ is of ; when they are 
his flesh and his bone, yea, are one spirit, 1 Cor. vi. 17 ; and 
live so, that it is not they that live, but Christ that lives in 
them. A Christian spirit is Christ's mark that he sets upon 
the souls of his people ; his seal in their foreheads, bearing 
his image and superscription.,. ..Christians are the followers 
of Christ ; and they are so, as they are obedient to that call of 
Christ, Matth. xi. 28, 29. « Come to me and learn of me, for 
I am meek and lowly of heart." They follow him as the 

Lamb, Rev. xiv. 4 « These arc they which follow the Lamb 

whithersoever he goeth." True Christians are as it were 
clothed with the meek, quiet, and loving temper of Christ ; 
for as many as are in Christ, have put on Christ. And in this 
respect the church is clothed with the sun, not only by being 
clothed with his imputed righteousness, but also by being 
adorned with his graces, Rom. xiii. 14. Christ the great 
Shepherd, is himself a Lamb, and believers are also lambs ; 
all the flock are lambs, John xxi. 15. "Feed my lambs.'* 
Luke x. 3. " I send you forth as lambs in the midst of wolves." 
The redemption of the church by Christ from the power of 
the devil, was typified of old, by David's delivering the lamb- 
out of the mouth of the lion and the bear. 

That such manner of virtue as has been spoken of, is the 
very nature of the Christian spirit, or the spirit that worketh. 
in Christ, and in his members, and in the distinguishing na- 
ture of it, is evident by this, that the dove is -the very sym- 
bol or emblem, chosen of God, to represent it. Those things 
are fittest emblems of other things, which do best represent 
that which is most distinguishing in their nature. The Spir- 
it that descended on Christ, when he was anointed of the 
Father, descended on him like a dove. The dove is a noted 
emblem of meekness, harmlessness, peace and love. But the 
same Spirit that descended on the head of the church, de- 
scends to the members. « God hath sent forth the Spirit of 


his Son into their hearts," Gal. iv. 6. And " if any man have 
not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Rom. viii. 9. 
There is but one Spirit to the whole mystical body, head and 
members, 1 Cor. vi. 17. Eph. iv. 4. Christ breathes his own 
Spirit on his disciples, John xx. 22. As Christ was anointed 
with the Holy Ghost, descending on him like a dove, so 
Christians also " have an anointing from the Holy One," 1 
John ii. 20, 27. And they are anointed with the same oil ; 
it is the same « precious ointment on the head, that goes 
down to the skirts of the garments.'' And on both, it is a 
spirit of peace and love. Psalm cxxxiii. 1, 2. " Behold, how 
good and how pleasant it is, for brethren to dwell together in 
unity ! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that 
van down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, that went down 
to the skirts of his garments." The oil on Aaron's garments 
had the same sweet and inimitable odor with that on his 
head ; the smell of the same sweet spices, Christian affec- 
tions, and a Christian behavior, is but the flowing out of the 
savor of Christ's sweet ointments. Because the church has 
a dovelike temper and disposition, therefore it is said of her 
that she has doves' eyes, Cant. i. 15. " Behold, thou art fair, 
my love, behold thou art fair, thou hast doves' eyes." And 
Chap. iv. 1 . " Behold, thou art fair, my love, behold, thou 
art fair, thou hast doves' eyes within thy locks." The same 
that is said of Christ, Chap. vi. 12. " His eyes are as the 
eyes of doves." And the church is frequently compared to 
a dove in scripture, Cant. ii. 14. « O, my dove, that art in the 
clefts of the rock.". ...Chap. v. 2. « Open to me, my love, 
my clove." And Chap. vi. 9. " My dove, my undefined is 
but one." Psal. lxviii. 13. " Ye shall be as the wings of a 
dove, covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold." 
And lxxiv. 19. « O deliver not the soul of thy turtle dove 
unto the multitude of the wicked." The dove that Noah sent 
out of the ark, that could find no rest for the sole of her foot, 
until she returned, was a type of a true saint. 

Meekness is so much the character of the saints, that the 
meek and the godly, are used as synonimous terms in scrip- 
ture : So Psalm xxxvii. 10, 11 ; the wicked and the meek 


are set in opposition one to another, as wicked and godly, 
li Yet a little while and the wicked shall not be : But the 
meek shall inherit the earth." So Psal. cxlvii. 6. " The Lord 
Jifteth up the meek : He casteth the wicked down to the 

It is doubtless very much on this account, that Christ rep- 
resents all his disciples, all the heirs of heaven, as little child- 
ren, Matth. xix. 14. " Suffer little children to come unto 
me, and forbid them not ; for of such is the kingdom of heav- 
en." Matth. x. 42. " Whosoever shall give to drink unto 
one of these little ones, a cup of cold water, in the name of a 
disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his 
re ward." Matth. xviii. 6. " Whoso shall offend one of 
these little ones, See." ver. 10. " Take heed that ye des- 
pise not one of these little ones," ver. 14. " It is not the 
will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these lit- 
' tie ones should perish." John xiii. 33. " Little children, yet 
a little while I am with you." Little children are innocent 
and harmless ; they do not do r„ great deal of mischief in the 
world ; men need not be afraid of them ; they are no danger- 
bus sort of persons ; their anger does not last long, they do 
not lay up injuries in high resentment, entertaining deep and 
rooted malice. So Christians, in malice, are children, 1 Cor. 
xiv. £0. Little children are not guileful and deceitful, but 
plain and simple ; they are not versed in the arts of fiction 
and deceit ; and are strangers to artful disguises. They are 
yieldable and flexible, and not wilful and obstinate ; do not 
trust to their own understanding, but rely on the instructions 
of parents, and others of superior understanding. Here is 
therefore a fit and lively emblem of the followers of the Lamb. 
Persons being thus like little children, is not only a thing 
highly commendable, and what Christians approve and aim 
at, and which some of extraordinary proficiency do attain to ; 
but it is their universal character, and absolutely necessary 
in order to entering into the kingdom of heaven ; Matth. 
xviii. 3. " Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, 
and become as little children; ye shall not enter into the king- 
dom of heaven." Mark x. 15. Verily I say unto you, Who- 

Vol. IV. 2 


soever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little chiM, 
he shall not enter therein." 

But here some may be ready to say, is there no such thing 
as Christian fortitude, and boldness for Christ, being good 
soldiers in the Christian warfare, and coming out boldly 
against the enemies of Christ and his people ? 

To which I answer, There doubtless is such a thing. The 
whole Christian life is compared to a warfare, and fitly so. 
And the most eminent Christians are the best soldiers, endu- 
ed with the greatest degrees of Christian fortitude. And it 
is the duty of God's people to be stedfast and vigorous in their 
opposition to the designs and ways of such as are endeavor- 
ing to overthrow the kingdom of Christ, and the interest of 
religion. But yet many persons seem to be quite mistaken 
concerning the nature of Christian fortitude. It is an ex- 
ceeding diverse thing from a brutal fierceness, or the bold- 
ness of the beasts of prey. True Christian fortitude consists 
in strength of mind, through grace, exerted in two things ; 
in ruling and suppressing the evil and unruly passions and af- 
fections of the mind ; and in steadfastly and freely exerting, 
and following good affections and dispositions, without being 
hindered by sinful fear, or the opposition of enemies. But 
the passions that are restrained and kept under, in the exer- 
cise of this Christian strength and fortitude, are those very 
passions that are vigorously and violently exerted in a false 
boldness for Christ. And those affections that are vigorous- 
ly exerted in true fortitude, are those Christian, holy affec- 
tions, that are directly contrary to them. Though Christ- 
ian fortitude appears, in withstanding and counteracting the 
enemies that are without us ; yet it much more appears, in 
resisting and suppressing the enemies that are within us ; 
because they are our worst and strongest enemies, and have 
greatest advantage against us. The strength of the good sol- 
dier of Jesus Christ appears in nothing more, than in stedfast- 
ly maintaining the holy calm, meekness, sweetness, and be- 
nevolence of his mind, amidst all the storms, injuries, strange 
behavior, and surprising acts and events of this evil and un- 
reasonable world. The scripture seems to intimate that true- 


fortitude consists chiefly in this, Prov. xvi. 32. " He that is 
slow to anger, is better than the mighty ; and he that ruleth 
his spirit, than he that taketh a city." 

The directest and surest way in the woi'ld, to make a right 
judgment what a holy fortitude is, in fighting with God's en- 
emies, is to look to the Captain of all God's hosts, and our 
greater leader and example, and see wherein his fortitude 
and valour appeared, in his chief conflict, and in the time of 
the greatest battle that ever was, or ever will be fought with 
these enemies, when he fought with them alone, and of the 
people there was none with him, and exercised his fortitude 
in the highest degree that ever he did, and got that glorious 
victory that will be celebrated in the praises and triumphs of 
all the hosts of heaven, throughout all eternity ; even to Jesus 
Christ in the time of his last sufferings, when his enemies in 
earth and hell made their most violent attack upon him, com- 
passing him round on every side, like renting and roaring 
lions. Doubtless here we shall see the fortitude of a holy 
warrior and champion in the cause of God, in its highest 
perfection and greatest lustre, and an example fit for the sol- 
diers to follow that fight under this Captain. But how did 
he show his holy boldness and valour at that time ? Not in 
the exercise of any fiery passions ; not in fierce and violent 
speeches, and vehemently declaiming against and crying out 
of the intolerable wickedness of opposers, giving them their 
own in plain terms : But in not opening his mouth when af- 
flicted and oppressed, in going as a lamb to the slaughter, 
and as a sheep before his shearers is dumb, not opening his 
mouth ; praying that the Father would fcrgive his cruel en- 
emies because they knew not what they did ; not shedding 
others' blood, but Avith all conquering patience and love, shed- 
ding his own. Indeed one of his disciples, that made a 
forward pretence to boldness for Christ, and confidently de- 
clared he would sooner die with Christ than deny him, 
began to lay about him with a sword : But Christ meek- 
ly rebukes him, and heals the wound he gives. And never 
was the patience, meekness, love, and forgiveness of Christ 
in so glorious a manifestation} as at that time. Never did he 


appear so much a lamb, and never did he shew so much qi 
the clovelike spirit, as at that time. If therefore we see any 
of the followers of Christ, in the midst of the most violent, 
unreasonable, and wicked opposition of God's and his oAvn en- 
ergies, maintaining under all this temptation, the humility, 
quietness, and gentleness of a lamb, and the harmlessness, and 
love, and sweetness of a dove, we may well judge that here is 
a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 

When persons are fierce and violent, and exert their sharp 
and bitter passions, it shows weakness, instead of strength and 
fortitude. 1 Cor. iii. at the beginning, " And 1, brethren, 
could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, 
even as unto babes in Christ. For ye are yet carnal : For 
whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, 
arc ye not carnal, and walk as men ?" 

There is a pretended boldness for Christ that arises from 
no better principle than pride. A man may be forward to ex- 
pose himself to the dislike of the world, and even to provoke 
their displeasure out of pride. For it is the nature of spirit- 
ual pride to cause men to seek distinction and singularity j and 
so oftentimes to set themselves at war with those that they call 
carnal, that they may be more highly exalted among their par- 
ty. True boldness for Christ is universal, and overcomes all, 
and carries men above the displeasure of friends and foes ; so 
that they will forsake all rather than Christ ; and will rather 
offend all parties, and be thought meanly of by all, than offend 
Christ. And that duty which tries whether a man is willing 
to be despised by them that are of his own party, and thought 
the least worthy to be regarded by them, is a much more prop- 
er trial of his boldness for Christ, than his being forward to 
expose himself to the reproach of opposers. The apostle 
sought not glory, not only of Heathens and Jews, but of Christ- 
ians ; as he declares, 1 Thess. ii. 26. * He is bold for Christ, 
that has Christian fortitude enough, to confess his fault open- 

* Mr. Shepaicl, ^peeking of hypocrites affecting applause, says, "Hence men 
forsake their fiiends, and trample under foot the scorns of the world : They 
have credit elsewhere. To maintain their interest in the love of godly men, 
they will suffer much." Parable of the Ten Virgins, Part I. p. 180. 


ly, when he has committed one that requires it, and as it were 
to come down upon his knees before opposers. Such things 
as these are of vastly greater evidence of holy boldness, than 
resolutely and fiercely confronting opposers. 

As some are much mistaken concerning the nature of true 
boldness for Christ, so they are concerning Christian zeal. 
It is indeed a flame, but a sweet one ; or rather it is the heat 
and fervor of a sweet flame. For the flame of which it is the 
heat, is no other than that of divine love, or Christian charity ; 
which is the sweetest and most benevolent thing that is, or can 
be, in the heart of man or angel. Zeal is the fervor of this 
flame, as it ardently and vigorously goes out towards the good 
that is its object, in desires of it, and pursuit after it ; and so 
consequentially, in opposition to the evil that is contrary to it, 
and impedes it. There is indeed opposition, and vigorous op- 
position, that is a part of it, or rather is an attendant of it ; but 
it is against things, and not persons. Bitterness against the 
persons of men is no part of it, but is very contrary to it ; in- 
somuch that so much the warmer true zeal is, and the higher 
it is raised, so much the farther are persons from such bit- 
terness, and so much fuller of love, both to the evil and to the 
good. As appears from what has been just now observed, 
that it is no other, in its very nature and essence, than the fer- 
vor of a spirit of Christian love. And as to what opposition 
there is in it to things, it is firstly and chiefly against the evil 
things in the person himself, who has this zeal * against the 
enemies of God and holiness, that are in his own heart ; (as 
these are most in his view, and what he has most to do with) 
and but secondarily against the sins of others. And therefore 
there is nothing in a true Christian zeal, that is contrary to 
that spirit of meekness, gentleness, and love, that spirit of 
a little child, a lamb and dove, that has been spoken of; but it 
is entirely agreeable to it, and tends to promote it. 

But to say something particularly concerning this Christ- 
ian spirit I have been speaking of, as exercised in these three 
things, forgiveness, love, and mercy ; I would observe that 
ihe scripture is very clear and express concerning the abso- 


lute necessity of each of these, as belonging to the tempet' 
and character of every Christian. 

It is so as to a forgiving spirit, or a disposition to overlook 
and forgive injuries. Christ gives it to us both as a negative 
and positive evidence ; and is express in teaching us, that if 
we are of such a spirit, it is a sign that we are in a state of for- 
given. -'S and favor ourselves : And that if we are not of such a 
spirit, we are not forgiven ofGod ; and seems to take special care 
that we should take good notice of it, and always bear it on our 
minds, Matlh. vi. 12, 14, 15. " Forgive us our debts as we for- 
give our debtors. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your 
heavenly father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not 
men their trespasses, neither will your father forgive your 
trespasses." Christ expresses the same again at another 
time, Mark xi. 25, 26, and again in Matth. xviii. 22, to the end, 
in the parable of the servant that owed his lord ten thousand 
talents, that would not forgive his fellow servant an hundred 
pence ; and therefore was delivered to the tormentors. In 
the application of the parable Christ says, ver. 35. fl So like- 
wise shall my heavenly father do, if ye from your hearts for- 
give not every one his brother their trespasses. 

And that all true saints are of a loving, benevolent, and be- 
neficent temper, the scripture is very plain and abundant. 
Without it the apostle tells us,though we should speak with the 
tongues of men and angels, we are as a sounding brass, or a 
tinkling cyn»bal ; And that though we have the gift of proph- 
ecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, yet 
without this spirit we are nothing. And there is no one virtue 
or disposition of the mind, that is so often, and so expressly in- 
sisted on, in the marks that are laid down in the New Testa- 
ment, whereby to know true Christians. It is often given as a 
sign that is peculiarly distinguishing, by which all may know 
Christ's disciples, and by which they may know themselves ; 
and is often laid down, both as a negative and positive evi- 
dence. Christ calls the law of love, by way of eminency, his 
commandment, John xiii. 34. " A new commandment give I 
unto you, that ye love one another ; as I have loved you, 
that ye also love one another." And chap. xv. 12. "This 


is my commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved 
you." And ver. 17. " These things I command you, that ye 
love one another." And says, chap. xiii. 35. " By this shall 
all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to 
another " And chap. xiv. 21 , (still with a special reference to 
this which he calls his commandment) " He that hath my 
commandments, and keepelh them, he it is that loveth me." 
The beloved disciple who had so much of this sweet temper 
himself, abundantly insists on it, in his epistles. There is 
none of the apostles so much in laying down express signs of 
grace, for professors to try themselves by, as he ; and in his 
signs, he insists scarcely en any thing else, but a spirit of 
Christian love, and an agreeable practice, i John ii. 9, 10. " He 
that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in dark- 
ness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in 
the light and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. 
Chap. iii. 14. We know that we are passed from death unto 
life, because we love the brethren : He that loveth not his 
brother abideth in death, ver. 18. 19. My little children, let 
us not love in word and in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 
And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure 
our hearts before him, ver. 23, 24. This is his command- 
ment, that we should love one another. And he that keepeth 
his commandments dwelled) in him, and he in him ; and here- 
by we know that he abideth in us, by the spirit which he hath 
given us. Chap. iv. 7, 8. Beloved, let us love one another : 
For love is of God ; and every one that lo\eth, is born of God, 
and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God : 
For God is love, ver 12, 13. No man hath seen God at any 
time. If we love one another, God dwellelh in us, and his 
love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, 
because he hath given us of his Spirit, ver. 16. God is love ; 
and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in 
him, ver. 20. If a man say I love God, and hateth his broth- 
er, he is a liar : For he that loveth not his brother, whom he 
hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen V 

And the scripture is as plain as it is possible it should be, 
that none are true saints, but those whose true character it is. 


that they are of a disposition to pity and- relieve their felio" 
creatures, that are poor, indigent, and afflicted, Psal. xxxvii. 
21. " The righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth, ver. 26. He 
is ever merciful, and lendeth, Psal. cxii. 5. A good man shew- 
eth favor, and lendeth, ver. 9. He hath dispersed abroad, and 
given to the poor, Prov. xiv. 31. He that honoreth God, hath 
mercy on the poor, Prov. xxi. 26. The righteous giveth, and 
spareth not, Jer. xxii. 16. He judgest the cause of the poor 
and needy, then it was well with him : Was not this to know 
me ? Saith the Lord, Jam. i. 27. Pure religion and vtndefiled 
before God and the Father, is this, To visit the fatherless and 
widows in their affliction, Sec. Hos. vi. 6. For I have desired 
mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God, more 
than burnt offerings, Mat. v. 7. Blessed are the merciful ; 
for they shall obtain mercy. 2 Cor. viii. 8. I speak not by 
commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, 
and to prove the sincerity of your love. Jam. ii. 13.... 16. For 
he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no 
mercy. What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say 
he hath faith, and have not works ? Can faith save him ? If a 
brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food ; and 
one cf you say unto them, depart in peace, be you warmed 
and filled ; notwithstanding ye give them not those things 
which are needful to the body, what doth it profit ? 1 John in. 
17. Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother 
have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from 
him, how dwelleth the love of God in him ?" Christ in that 
description he gives us of the day of judgment, Mat. xxv. 
(which is the most particular that we have in all the Bible) 
represents that judgment will be passed at that day, according 
us men have been found to have been of a merciful spirit and 
practice, or otherwise. Christ's design in giving such a de- 
scription of the process of that day, is plainly to possess all 
his followers with that apprehension, that unless this was 
their spirit and practice, there was no hope of their being ac- 
cepted and owned by him at that day. Therefore this is an 
apprehension that we ought to be possessed with. We find 
in scripture, that a righteous man, and a merciful man are 


Synonymous expressions, Isa. Ivii. 1. " The righteous per- 
isheth, and no man layeth it to heart ; and merciful men are 
taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away 
from the evil to come." 

Thus we see how full, clear, and abundant, the evidence 
from scripture is, that those who are truly gracious, are under 
the government of that lamblike, dovelike Spirit of Jesus 
Christ, and that this is essentially and eminently the nature 
of the saving grace of the gospel, and the proper spirit of true 
Christianity. We may therefore undoubtedly determine, 
that all truly Christian affections are attended with such a 
spirit, and that this is the natural tendency of the fear and 
hope, the sorrow and the joy, the confidence and the zeal of 
true Christians. 

None will understand me, that true Christians have no re- 
mains of a contrary spirit, and can never, in any instances, be 
guilty of a behavior disagreeable to such a spirit. But this I 
affirm, and shall affirm, until I deny the Bible to be any thing 
worth, that every thing in Christians that belongs to true 
Christianity, is of this tendency, and works this way ; and that 
there is no true Christian upon earth, but is so under the pre- 
vailing power of such a spirit, that he is properly denominat- 
ed from it, and it is truly and justly his character : And that 
therefore ministers, and others, have no warrant from Christ 
to encourage persons that are of a contrary character and be- 
havior, to think they are converted, because they tell a fair 
story of illuminations and discoveries. In so doing, they 
would set up their own wisdom against Christ's, and judge 
without, and against that rule by which Christ has declared 
all men should know his disciples. Some persons place re- 
ligion so much in certain transient illuminations and impres- 
sions (especially if they are in such a particular method and 
order) and so little in the spirit and temper persons are of, 
that they greatly deform religion, and form notions of Christ- 
ianity quite different from what it is, as delineated in the scrip- 
tures. The scripture knows of no such true Christians, as are 
of a sordid, selfish, cross and contentious spirit. Nothing can 
he invented that is a greater absurdity, than a morose, hard*, 
Vol. IV. 2 P 


close, high spirited, spiteful, true Christian. We must leant 
the way of bringing men to rules, and not rules to men, and 
so strain and stretch the rules of God's word, to take in our- 
selves, and some of our neighbors, until we make them whol- 
ly of none effect. 

It is true, that allowances must be made for men's natural 
temper, with regard to these things, as well as others ; but 
not such allowances, as to allow men, that once were wolves 
and serpents, to be now converted, without any remarkable 
change in the spirit of their mind. The change made by true 
conversion is wont to be most remarkable and sensible, with 
respect to that which before was the wickedness the person- 
Was most notoriously guilty of. Grace has as great a ten- 
dency to restrain and mortify such sins, as are contrary to the 
spirit that has been spoken of, as it is to mortify drunkenness 
or lasciviousness. Yea, the scripture represents the change 
wrought by gospel grace, as especially appearing in an altera- 
tion of the former sort, Isa. xi. 6. ...9. " The wolf shall dwell 
with the lamb, and the leopard shaH lie down with the kid : 
And the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together, and 
a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall 
feed, their young ones shall lie down together : And the lion 
shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play 
on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand 
on the cockatrice den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all 
my holy mountain : For the earth shall be full of the knowl- 
edge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." And to the 
same purpose is Isa. lxv. 25. Accordingly we find, that in 
the primitive times of the Christian church, converts were 
remarkably changed in this respect : Tit. iii. 3, &c. " For 
ive ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceiv- 
ed, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and 
envy, hateful and hating one another. But after that the kind- 
ness and love of God our Saviour towards man appeared ; he 
saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the 
Holy Ghost. And Col. iii. 7, 8. « In the which ye also walk- 
ed some time, when ye lived in them. But now you also put 


off all theses Anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy com- 
munications out of your mouth." 

IX. Gracious affections soften the heart, and are attended 
and followed with a Christian tenderness of spirit. 

False affections, however persons may seem to be melted 
by them while they are new, yet have a tendency in the end 
to harden the heart. A disposition to some kind of passions 
may be established ; such as imply selfseeking, selfexaltation } 
and opposition to others. But false affections, with the delu- 
sion that attends them, finally tend to stupify the mind, and 
shut it up ae-ainst those affections wherein tenderness of heart 
consists : And the effect of them at last is, that persons in the 
settled frame of their minds, become less affected with their 
present and past sins, and less conscientious with respect to 
future sins, less moved with the warnings and cautions of God's 
word, or God's chastisements in his providence, more care- 
less of the frame of their hearts, and the manner and tenden- 
cy of their behavior, less quicksighted to discern what is sin- 
ful, less afraid of the appearance of evil, than they were while 
they were under legal awakenings and fears of hell. Now 
they have been the subjects of such and such impressions and 
affections, and have a high opinion of themselves, and look on 
their state to be safe ; they can be much more easy thaa be- 
fore, in living in the neglect of duties that are troublesome 
and inconvenient ; and are much more slow and partial in 
complying with difficult commands ; are in no measure so 
alarmed at the appearance of their own defects and transgress- 
ions ; are emboldened to favor themselves more, with res- 
pect to the labor, and painful care and exactness in their walk, 
and more easily yield to temptations, and the solicitations of 
their lusts ; and have far less care of their behavior, when 
they come into the holy presence of God, in the time of pub- 
lic or private worship. Formerly it may be, under legal con- 
victions, they took much pains in religion, and denied them- 
selves in many things : But now they think themselves out of 
danger of hell, they very much put off the burden of the cross, 
and save themselves the trouble of difficult duties, and alloy/ 


themselves more in the enjoyment of their ease and thou 

Such persons as these, instead of embracing Christ as 
their Saviour from sin, trust in him as the saviour of their 
sins ; instead of flying to him as their refuge from their spir- 
itual enemies, they make use of him as the defence of their 
spiritual enemies, from God, and to strengthen them against 
him. They make Christ the minister of sin, and great officer 
and vicegerent of the devil, to strengthen his interest, and 
make him above all things in the world strong against Jeho- 
vah ; so that they may sin against him with good courage, 
ai;ci without any fear, being effectually secured from restraints, 
by his most solemn warnings and most awful threatenings. 
They trust in Christ to preserve to them the quiet enjoyment 
oT their sins, and to be their shield to defend them from God's 
asure ; while they come close to him, even to his bo- 
he place of his children, to fight against him, with their 
I weapons, hid under their skirts.* However, some of 
' the same time, make a great profession of love to 
i I assurance of his favor, and great joy in tasting the 
ness of his love. 
A fter this manner they trusted in Christ, that the Apostle 
Jude speaks of, who crept in among the saints unknown ; but 
were really ungodly men, turning the grace of God into las- 
Civiousness, Jude 4. These are they that trust in their being 
righteous ; and because God has promised that the righteous 
shall surely live, or certainly be saved, are therefore embold- 
ened to commit iniquity, whom God threatens in Ezek. 
xxxiii. 13. " When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall 
surely live ; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit 

•"These ve hypocrites that believe, but fail in regard of the use of the 
gospel, and of die Lord Jesus. And these we read of, Jude 3, viz. of some 
men that uicl turn grace into wantonness. For therein appears the exceeding 
evil of a man's heart, that not only the law, but also the glorious gospel of the 
Lord Jesus, works in him all manner of unrighteousness. And it is too com- 
mon for men ai the first work of conversion, Oh then to cry for grace and 
Christ, and afterwards grow licentious, live and lie in the breach of the law, 
and take their warrant for their course from the gospel !" Shcpard's ParebU, 
Part J. p. j eb. 


■Iniquity ; all his righteousness shall not be remembered, but 
for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it." 

Gracious affections are of a quite contrary tendency ; they 
turn a heart of stone more and more into a heart of flesh. 
An holy love and hope are principles that are vastly more ef- 
ficacious upon the heart, to make it tender, and to fill it with 
a dread of sin, or whatever might displease and offend God, 
and to engage it to watchfulness, and care, and strictness, 
than a slavish fear of hell. Gracious affections, as was observ- 
ed before, flow out of a contrite heart, or (as the word signi- 
fies) a bruised heart, bruised and broken with godly sorrow ; 
which makes the heart tender, as bruised flesh is tender, and 
easily hurt. Godly sorrow has much greater influence to 
make the heart tender, than mere legal sorrow from selfish 

The tenderness of the heart of a true Christian, is elegant- 
ly signified by our Saviour, in his comparing such a one to a 
little child. The flesh of a little child is very tender ; so is 
the heart of one that is new born. This is represented in 
what we are told of Naaman's cure of his leprosy, by his 
washing in Jordan ; which was undoubtedly a type of the re- 
newing of the soul, by washing in the laver of regeneration. 
We are told, 2 Kings v. 14, " that he went down, and dipped 
himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the 
man of God ; and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of 
a little child." Not only is the flesh of a little child tender, 
but his mind is tender. A little child has his heart easily 
moved, wrought upon and bowed : So is a Christian in spirit- 
ual things. A little child is apt to be affected with sympa- 
thy, to weep with them that weep, and cannot well bear to 
see others in distress : So it is with a Christian, John xi. 35. 
Rom. xii. 15. 1 Cor. xii. 26. A little child is easily won by 
kindness : So is a Christian. A little child is easily affected 
with grief at temporal evils, and has his heart melted, and 
falls a weeping : Thus tender is the heart of a Christian, with 
regard to the evil of sin. A little child is easily affrighted at 
the appearance of outward evils, or any thing that threatens 
its hurt : So is a Christian apt to be atarmed at the appear- 


ance of moral evil, and any thing that threatens the hurt of 
the soul. A little child, when it meets enemies, or fierce 
beasts, is not apt to trust its own strength, but flies to its par- 
ents for refuge : So a saint is not selfconfident in engaging 
spiritual enemies, but flies to Christ. A little child is apt to 
be suspicious of evil in places of danger, afraid in the dark, 
afraid when left alone, or far from home : So is a saint apt 
to be sensible of his spiritual dangers, jealous of himself, full 
of fear when he cannot see his way plain before him, afraid 
to be left alone, and to be at a distance from God, Prov. xxviii. 
14. « Happy is the man that feareth alway : But he that 
hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief." A little child 
is apt to be afraid of superiors, and to dread their anger, and 
tremble at their frowns and threatenings : So is a true saint 
-with respect to God, Psal. cxix. 120. » My flesh trembleth 
for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy judgments, Isa. lxvi. 2. 
To this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and tremb- 
leth at my word, ver. 5. Hear ye the word of the Lord, ye 
that tremble at his word. Ezra ix. 4. Then were assem- 
bled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the 
Ged of Israel. Chap. x. 3. According to the counsel of my 
Lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our 
God." A little child approaches superiors with awe : So do 
the saints approach God with holy awe and reverence, Job 
xiii. 2. " Shall not his excellency make you afraid ? And his 
dread fall upon you ?" Holy fear is so much the nature of 
true godliness, that it is called in scripture by no other name 
more frequently, than the fear of God. 

Hence gracious affections do not tend to make men bold, 
forward, noisy, and boisterous ; but rather to speak trembling, 
Kos. xiii. 1. " When Ephraim spake, trembling, he exalted 
himself in Israel ; but when he offended in Baal, he died j** 
and to clothe with a kind of holy fear in all their behavior to- 
wards God and man ; agreeably to Psal. ii. 11. 1 Pet. iii. 15. 

C ',r. vii. 15. Eph. vi. 5. 1 Pet. iii. 2. Rom. xi. 20. 

But here some may object and say, is there no such thing 
?s a holy boldness in prayer, and the duties of divine worship? 
I answer, there is doubtless such a thing ; and it is chiefly t? 


be found in eminent saints, persons of great degrees of faitk 
and love. But this holy boldness is not in the least opposite 
to reverence ; though it be to disunion and servility. It abol- 
ishes or lessens that disposition which arises from moral dis- 
tance or alienation ; and also distance of relation, as that of a 
slave ; but not at all, that which becomes the natural distance, 
whereby we are infinitely inferior. No boldness in poor sin- 
ful worms of the dust, that have a right sight of God and 
themselves, will prompt them to approach to God with less 
fear and reverence, than spotless and glorious angels in heav- 
en, who cover their faces before his throne, Isa. vi. at the be- 
ginning. Rebecca (who in her marriage with Isaac, in al- 
most all its circumstances, was manifestly a great type of the 
church, the spouse of Christ) when she meets Isaac, lights 
off from her camel, and takes a vail and covers herself ; al- 
though she was brought to him as his bride, to be with him 
in the nearest relation, and most intimate union, that man- 
kind are ever united one to another ir. * Elijah, that great 
prophet, who had so much holy familiarity with God, at a 
time of special nearness to God, even when he conversed with 
him in the mount, wrapped his face in h'13 mantle. Which 
was not because he was terrified with any servile fear, by tho 
terrible wind, and earthquake, and fire ; but after these were 
all over, and God spake to him as a friend, in a still smali 
voice, 1 Kings xix. 12, 13. " And after the fire, a still small 
Toice ; and it was so, when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his 
face in his mantle." And Moses, with whom God spake 
face to face, as a man speaks with his friend, and was distin- 
guished from all the prophets, in the familiarity with God 
that he was admitted to ; at a time when he was brought 
nearest of all, when God shewed him his glory in that same 
mount where he afterwards spake to Elijah, " He made 
haste, and bowed his head towards the earth, and worshipped," 
Exod. xxxiv. 8. There is in some persons a most unsuita- 
ble and unsufferable boldness, in their addresses to the great 

* Dr. Ames, in his Cases of Conscience, Book III. chap. iv. speaks of m 
holy modesty in the worship of God, as one sign of true humility. 


Jehovah, in an affectation of an holy boldness, and ostentation 
of eminent nearness and familiarity ; the very thoughts of 
which would make them shrink into nothing, with horror and 
confusion, if they saw the distance that is between God and 
them. They are like the Pharisee, that boldly came up near, 
in a confidence of his own eminency in holiness. Whereas, 
if they saw their vileness, they would be more like the publi- 
can, that " stood afar off, and durst not so much as lift up 
his eyes to heaven ; but smote upon his breast, saying, God 
be merciful to me a sinner." It becomes such sinful creatures 
as Ave, to approach a holy God (although with faith, and with- 
out terror, yet) with contrition, and penitent shame and confu- 
sion of face. It is foretold that this should be the disposition 
of the church, in the time of her highest privileges on earth 
in her latter day of glory, when God should remarkably com- 
fort her, by revealing his covenant mercy to her, Ezek. xvi. 
€0, to the end. " I will establish unto thee an everlasting 
covenant. Then thou shalt remember thy ways and be asham- 
ed And I will establish my covenant with thee, and thou 

shalt know that I am the Lord ; that thou mayst remember 
and be confounded and never open thy mouth any more be- 
cause of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all 
that thou hast done, saith the.Lord God." The woman that 
we Head of in the 7th chapter of Luke, that was an eminent 
saint, and had much of that true love which casts out fear, by 
Christ's own testimony, ver. 47", she approached Christ in 
an amiable and acceptable manner, when she came with that 
humble modesty, reverence and shame, when she stood at his 
feet, weeping behind him, as not being fit to appear before his 
face, and washed his feet with her tears. 

One reason why gracious affections are attended with this 
tenderness of spirit which has been spoken of, is, that true 
grace tends to promote convictions of conscience. Persons 
are wont to have convictions of conscience before they have 
any grace : And if afterwards they are truly converted, and 
have true repentance, and joy, and peace in believing ; this 
has a tendency to put an end to terrors, but has no tendency 
to put an end to convictions of sin but to increase them. It 


tlces hot stupify a man's conscience ; but makes it more 
sensible, more easily and thoroughly discerning the sinful- 
ness of that which is sinful, and receiving a greater convic- 
tion of the heinous and dreadful nature of sin, susceptive of a 
quicker and deeper sense of it, and more convinced of his own 
sinfulness, and wickedness of his heart ; and consequently it 
has a tendency to make him more jealous of his heart. Grace 
tends to give the soul a further and better conviction of the 
same things concerning sin, that it was convinced of, under a 
legal work of the Spirit of God ; viz. its great contrariety to 
the will, and law, and honor of God, the greatness of God's 
hatred of it, and displeasure against it, and the dreadful pun- 
ishment it exposes to and deserves. And not only so, but it 
convinces the soul of something further concerning sin, that 
it saw nothing of, while only under legal convictions ; and 
that is the infinitely hateful nature of sin, and its dreadfulness 
upon that account. And this makes the heart tender with re- 
spect to sin ; like David's heart, that smote him when he had 
cut off Saul's skirt. The heart of a true penitent is like a 
burnt child that dreads the fire. Whereas, on the contrary, 
he that has had a counterfeit repentance, and false comforts, 
and joys, is like iron that has been suddenly heat and quench- 
ed $ it beconles much harder than before. A false conver- 
sion puts an end to convictions of conscience ; and so either 
takes away, or much diminishes that conscientiousness, which 
was manifested under a work of the law. 

All gracious affections have a tendency to promote this 
Christian tenderness of heart, that has been spoken of ; not 
only a godly sorrow, but also a gracious joy, Psal. ii. 11. "Serve 
the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling." As also a 
gracious hope, Psal. xxxiii. 18. " Behold the eye of the Lord 
is upon them that fear him ; upon them that hope in his mer- 
cy." And Psal. cxlvii. 11. "The Lord taketh pleasure in 
them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy." Yea, 
the most confident and assured hope, that is truly gracious, 
has this tendency. The higher an holy hope is raised, the 
more there is of this Christian tenderness. The banishing of 
a servile fear, by a holy assurance, is attended with a propoi - - 
Vot. IV. 2 Q 


tionable increase of a reverential fear. The diminishing of 
the fear of the fruits of God's di-spleasure in future punish- 
ment, is attended with a proportionable increase of fear of his 
displeasure itself; the diminishing of the fear of hell, with 
an increase of the fear of sin. The vanishing of jealousies of 
the person's state, is attended with a proportional increase of 
jealousy of his heart, in a distrust of its strength, wisdom, sta- 
bility, faithfulness, he. The less apt he is to be afraid of nat- 
ural evil, having his heart fixed, trusting in God, and so not 
afraid of evil tidings ; the more apt he is to be alarmed with 
the appearance of moral evil, or the evil of sin. As he has 
more holy boldness, so he has less of selfconfidence, and a for- 
ward assuming boldness, and more modesty. As he is more 
sure than others of deliverance from hell, so he has more of 
a sense of the desert of it. He is less apt than others to be 
shaken in faith ; but more apt than others to be moved with 
solemn warnings, and with God's frowns, and with the calam- 
ities of others. He has the firmest comfort, but the softest 
heart : Richer than others, but poorest of all in spirit : The 
tallest and strongest saint, but the least and tenderest child 
among them. 

X. Another thing wherein those affections that are truly 
gracious and holy, differ from those that are false, is beauti- 
ful symmetry and proportion. 

Not that the symmetry of the virtues, and gracious affections 
of the saints, in this life is perfect : It oftentimes is in many- 
things defective, through the imperfection of grace, for want 
of proper instructions, through errors in judgment, or some 
particular unhappiness of natural temper, or defects in educa- 
tion, and many other disadvantages that might be mentioned. 
But yet there is, in no wise, that monstrous disproportion in- 
gracious affections, and the various parts of true religion in 
the saints, that is very commonly to be observed, in the false 
religion, and counterfeit graces, of hypocrites. 

In the truly holy affections of the saints is found that pro- 
portion, which is the natural consequence of the universality 
of their sanctification. They have the whole image of Christ 
upon them : They have put off the old man, and have put on 


the new man entire in all its parts and members. It hath 
pleased the Father that in Christ all fullness should dwell : 
There is in him every grace ; he is full of grace and truth : 
And they that are Christ's, do, « of his fullness receive grace 
for grace ; (John i. 14. 16.) i. e. there is every grace in them 
which is in Christ ; grace for grace ; that is, grace answera- 
ble to grace : There is no grace in Christ, but there is its 
image in believers to answer it : The image is a true image ; 
and there is something of the same beautiful proportion in 
the image, which is in the original ; there is feature for fea- 
ture, and member for member. There is symmetry and 
beauty in God's workmanship. The natural body, which 
God hath made, consists of many members ; and all are in a 
beautiful proportion : So it is in the new man, consisting of 
various graces and affections. The body of one that was born 
a perfect child, may fail of exact proportion through distem- 
per, and the weakness and wounds of some of its members ; 
yet the disproportion is in no measure like that of those that 
are born monsters. 

It is with hypocrites, as it was with Ephraim of old, at a 
time when God greatly complains of their hypocrisy, Hos. vii. 
*' Ephraim is a cake not turned," half roasted and half raw : 
There is commonly no manner of uniformity in their affec- 

There is in many of them a great partiality with regard to 
the several kinds of religious affections ; great affections in 
some things, and no manner of proportion in others. An ho- 
ly hope and holy fear go together in the saints, as has been 
observed from Psal. xxxiii. 18, and cxlvii. 11. But in some 
of these is the most confident hope, while they are void of 
reverence, selfjealousy and caution, to a great degree cast off 
fear. In the saints, joy and holy fear go together, though the 
joy be never so great : As it was with the disciples, in that 
joyful morning of Christ's resurrection, Matth. xxviii. 8. 
" And they departed quickly from the sepulchre, with fear 
and great joy."* But many of these rejoice without tremb- 

* " Renewed care and diligence follows the sealings of the Spirit. Now 
is the soul at the foot of Christ, as Mary was at the sepulchre, with fear and 


ling : Their joy is of that sort, that it is truly opposite to god- 
ly fear. 

But particularly, one great difference between saints and 
hypocrites is this, that the joy and comfort of the former is 
attended with godly sorrow and mourning for sin. They have 
r.ot only sorrow to prepare them for their first comfort, but 
after they are comforted, and their joy established. As it is 
foretold of the church of God, that they should mourn and 
loath themselves for their sins, after they were returned from 
the captivity, and were settled in the land of Canaan, the land 
of rest, and the land that flows with milk and honey, Ezek. 
xx. 42, 43. " And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I 
shall bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for the 
-which I lifted up mine hand to give it to your fathers. And 
there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, 
wherein ye have been defiled, and ye shall loath yourselves in 
your own sight, for all your evils that ye have committed." 
As also in Ezek. xvi. 61, 62, 63. A true saint is like a little 
child in this respect ; he never had any godly sorrow before 
he was born again ; but since has it often in exercise : As a 
little child, before it is born, and while it remains in darkness, 
never cries ; but as soon as it sees the light, it begins to cry ; 
and thenceforward is often crying. Although Christ hath 
borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows, so that we are freed 
•from the sorrow of punishment, and may now sweetly feed 
upon the comforts Christ hath purchased for us ; yet that 
hinders not but that our feeding on these comforts should be 
attended with the sorrow of repentance. As of old, the chil- 
ven of Israel were commanded, evermore to feed upon the 
paschal lamb, with bitter herbs. True saints are spoken of 
in scripture, not only as those that have mourned for sin, but 
as those that do mourn, whose manner it is still to mourn, 
Matth. v. 4. « Blessed are they that mourn ; for they shall be 

Not only is there often in hypocrites an essential deficien- 
cy as to the various kinds of religious affections, but also u 

rvealjoy. He that travels the road with a rich treasure about him, is afraid 
o< a th..l in every bush." Fiavcl's Sacramental Meditations, Med. 4. 


strange partiality and disproportion, in the same affections, 
with regard to different objects. 

Thus, as to the affection of love, some make high pretences, 
and a great shew of love to God and Christ, and it may be, 
have been greatly affected with what they have heard or 
thought concerning them : But they have not a spirit of love 
and benevolence towards men, but are disposed to contention, 
envy, revenge, and evil speaking ; and will, it may be, suffer 
an old grudge to rest in their bosoms towards a neighbor, for 
seven years together, if not twice seven years ; living in real 
111 will and bitterness of spirit towards him : And it may be in 
their dealings with their neighbors, are not very strict and 
conscientious in observing the rule of " doing to others as 
they would that they should do to them." And, on the other 
hand, there are others that appear as if they had a great deal 
of benevolence to men, are very good natured and generous 
in their way, but have no love to God. 

And as to love to men, there are some that have flowing 
affections to some ; but their love is far from being of so ex- 
tensive and universal a nature, as a truly Christian love is. 
They are full of dear affections to some, and full of bitterness 
towards others. They are knit to their own party, them that 
approve of them, love them and admire them ; but are fierce 
against those that oppose and dislike them. Mat. v. 45, 46. 
" Be like your father, which is in heaven ; for he maketh his 
sun to rise on the evil, and on the good. For if ye love them 
■which love you, what reward have ye ? Do not even the pub- 
licans the same ?" Some shew a great affection to their neigh- 
bors, and pretend to be ravished with the company of the 
children of God abroad ; and at the same time are uncomfort- 
able and churlish towards their wives and other near relations 
at home, and are very negligent of relative duties. And as to 
the great love to sinners and epposers of religion, and the 
great concern for their souls, that there is an appearance of in 
some, even to extreme distress and agony, singling out a par- 
ticular person, from among a multitude, for its object, there 
being at the same time no general compassion to sinners, 
ffcat are in equally miserable circumstances, but what is in a 


-monstrous disproportion ; this seems not to be of the nature 
of gracious affection. Not that I suppose it to be at all 
strange, that pity to the perishing souls of sinners should be 
to a degree of agony, if other things are answerable : Or that 
a truly gracious compassion to souls should be exercised much 
more to some persons than others that are equally miserable, 
especially on some particular occasions : There may many 
things happen to fix the mind, and affect the heart, with res- 
pect to a particular person, at such a juncture ; and without 
doubt some saints have been in great distress for the souls of 
particular persons, so as to be as it were in travail for them ; 
but when persons appear, at particular times, in racking ago- 
nies for the soul of some single person, far beyond what has 
been usually heard or read of in eminent saints, but appear to 
be persons that have a spirit of meek and fervent love, char- 
ity, and compassion to mankind in general, in a far less de- 
gree than they : I say, such agonies are greatly to be suspect- 
ed, for reasons already given; viz. that the Spirit of God is 
wont to give graces and gracious affections in a beautiful 
symmetry and proportion. 

And as there is a monstrous disproportion in the love of 
some, in its exercises towards different persons, so there is in 
their seeming exercises of love towards the same persons.... 
Some men shew a love to others as to their outward man, 
they are liberal of their worldiy substance, and often give to 
the poor ; but have no love to, or concern for the souls of 
men. Others pretend a great love to men's souls, that are 
not compassionate and charitable towards their bodies. The 
making a great shew of love, pity and distress for souls, costs 
them nothing ; but in order to shew mercy to men's bodies, 
they must part with money out of their pockets. But a true 
Christian love to our brethren extends both to their souls and 
bodies ; and herein is like the love and compassion of Jesus 
Christ. He shewed mercy to men's souls, by laboring for 
them in preaching the gospel to them ; and shewed mercy to 
their bodies, in going about doing good, healing all manner of 
sickness and diseases among the people. We have a remark- 
able instance of Chrisl's having compassion at once both to 


men's souls and bodies, and shewing compassion by feeding 
both, in Mark vi. 34, &c. " And Jesus when he came out, saw 
much people, and was moved with compassion towards them, 
because they were as sheep not having a shepherd ; and he 
began to teach them many things." Here was his compas- 
sion to their souls. And in the sequel we have an account of 
his compassion to their bodies, because they had been a long 
while having nothing to eat ; he fed five thousand of them 
with five loaves and two fishes. And if the compassion of 
professing Christians towards others does not work in the 
same ways, it is a sign that it is no true Christian compas- 

And furthermore, it is a sign that affections are not of the 
right sort, if persons seem to be much affected with the bad 
qualities of their fellow Christians, as the coldness and lifeless- 
ness of other saints, but are in no proportion affected with 
their own defects and corruptions. A true Christian may be 
affected with the coldness and unsavoriness of other saints, 
and may mourn much over it : But at the same time, he is 
not so apt to be affected with the badness of any body's heart, 
as his own ; this is most in his view ; this he is most quick* 
sighted to discern ; this he sees most of the aggravations of, 
and is most ready to lament. And a less degree of virtue 
will bring him to pity himself, and be concerned at hrs own 
calamities, than rightly to be affected with others' calamities, 
And if men have not attained to the less, we may determine* 
they never attained to the greater. 

And here by the way, I would observe, that it may be laid 
down as a general rule, that if persons pretend that they come 
to high attainments in religion, but have never yet arrived to- 
the less attainments, it is a sign of a vain pretence. As if 
persons pretend, that they have got beyond mere morality, to 
live a spiritual and divine life ; but really have not come to 
be so much as moral persons : Or pretend to be greatly af- 
fected with the wickedness of their hearts, and are not affect- 
ed with the palpable violations of God's commands in their 
practice, which is a less attainment : Or if they pretend to be 
brought to be even willing to be damned for the glory of God, 


but have no forwardness to suffer a little in their estates anc 
names, and worldly convenience, for the sake of their duty ; 
or pretend that they are not afraid to venture their souls upon 
Christ, and commit their all to God, trusting to his bare word, 
and the faithfulness of his promises, for their eternal welfare ; 
but at the same time, have not confidence enough in God, to- 
dare to trust him with a liitlc of their estates, bestowed to 
pious and charitable uses ; I say, when it is thus with persons, 
their pretences are manifestly vain- Fie that is in a journey, 
and imagines he has got far beyond such a place in his 
road, and never yet came to it, must be mistaken ; and he is 
not yet arrived to the top of the hill, that never yet got half 
way thither. But this by the way. 

The same that has been observed of the affection of love, is 
also to be observed of other religious affections. Those that 
are true, extend in some proportion to the various things that 
are their due and proper objects ; but when they are false, 
they are commonly strangely disproportionate. So it is with 
religious desires and longings : These in the saints, are to 
those things that are spiritual and excellent in general, and 
that in some proportion to their excellency, importance or 
necessity, or their near concern in them ; but in false long- 
ings it is often far otherwise. They will strangely run, with 
an impatient vehemence, after something of less importance,- 
when other things of greater importance are neglected....- 
Thus for instance, some persons, from time to time, are at- 
tended with a vehement inclination, and unaccountably violent 
pressure, to declare to others what they experience, and to 
exhort others ; when there is, at the same time, no inclina- 
tion, in any measure equal to it, to other things, that true 
Christianity has as great, yea, a greater tendency to ; as the 
pouring out the soul before God in secret, earnest prayer and 
praise to him, and more conformity to him, and living more 
to his glory, Sec. We read in scripture of " groanings that 
cannot be uttered, and soul»breakings for the longing it hath, 
and longings, thirstings, and pantings," much more frequently 
to these latter things, than the former. 


And so as to hatred and zeal ; when these are from right 
principles, they are against sin in general, in some proportion 
to the degree of sinfulness, PsaL cxix< 104. " I hate every 
false way." So ver. 128. But a false hatred and zeal against 
sin, is against some particular sin only. Thus some seem to 
be very zealous against profaneness, and pride in apparel, 
who themselves are notorious for covetousness, closeness, and 
it may be backbiting, envy towards superiors, turbulcncy of 
spirit towards rulers, and rooted ill will to them that have in- 
jured them. False zeal is against the sins of others, while 
men have no zeal against their own sins. But he that has 
true zeal, exercises it chiefly against his own sins ; though he 
shews also a proper zeal against prevailing and dangerous in- 
iquity in others. And some pretend to have a great abhor- 
rence of their own sins of heart, and cry out much of their in- 
ward corruption ; and yet make light of sins in practice, and 
seem to commit them without much restraint or remorse ; 
though these imply sin both in heart and life. 

As there is a much greater disproportion in the exercises 
of false affections than of true, as to different objects, so there 
is also, as to different times. For although true Christians 
are not always alike ; yea, there is very great difference, at 
different times, and the best have reason to be greatly asham- 
ed of their unsteadiness ; yet there is in no wise that instabil- 
ity and inconstancy in the hearts of those who are true vir- 
gins, " that follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth," which 
is in false hearted professors. The righteous man is truly 
said to be one whose heart is fixed, trusting in God, Psal. 
cxii. 7, and to have his heart established with grace, Heb. 
xiii. 9, and to hold on his way, Job. xvii. 9. « The righteous 
shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall wax 
stronger and stronger." It is spoken of as a note of the hy- 
pocrisy of the Jewish church, that they were as a swift drom- 
edary, traversing her ways. 

If therefore persons are religious only by fits and starts ; 
if they now and then seem to be raised up to the clouds in 
their affections, and then suddenly fall down again, lose alh 
Vol. IV, 2 R 


and become quite careless and carnal, and this is their man- 
ner of carrying on religion; if they appear greatly moved, 
and mightily engaged in religion, only in extraordinary sea- 
sons, in the time of a remarkable outpouring of the Spirit, or 
other uncommon dispensation of providence, or upon the real 
or supposed receipt of some great mercy, when they have re- 
ceived some extraordinary temporal mercy, or suppose that 
they are newly converted, or have lately had what they call a 
great discovery ; but quickly return to such a frame, that 
their hearts are chiefly upon other things, and the prevailing 
bent of their hearts and stream of their affections, is ordina- 
rily towards the things of this world ; when they are like the 
children of Israel in the wilderness, who had their affections 
highly raised by what God had done for them at the Red Sea, 
and sang his praise, and soon fell a lusting after the fieshpots 
of Egypt ; but then again when they came to mount Sinai, 
and saw the great manifestations God made of himself there, 
seemed to be greatly engaged again, and mightily forward to 
enter into covenant with God, saying, " All that the Lord hath 
spoken will we do, and be obedient," but then quickly made 
them a golden calf ; I say, when it is thus with persons, it 
is a sign of the unsoundness of their affections.* They are 

* Dr. Owen (on the Spirit, Book III. Chap. ii. Sect. 18.) speaking of a 
common work of the Spirit, says, " This work operates greatly on the affec- 
tions : We have given instances, in fear, sorrow, joy and delight, about spir- 
itual things, that are stirred up and acted thereby : But yet it comes short in 
two things, of a thorough work upon the affections themselves. For ist. It 
doth not fix them. And 2dly. It doth not fill them." 

" There is (says Dr. Preston) a certain love, by fits, which God accepts 
not ; when men come and offer to God great promises, like the waves of the 
sea, as big as mountains : Oh, they think they will do much for God ! But 
their minds change; aud they become as those high waves, which at last fall 
level with the other waters." 

Mr. Flavel, speaking of these changeable professors, says, " These profes- 
sors have more of the moon than of the sun : Little light, less heat, and many 
changes. They deceive many, yea, they deceive themselves, but cannot de- 
ceive God. They want that ballast and establishment in themselves, that 
would bavc kept them tight and steady." Touclutonc cj Sincerity, Chap. II. 

&<CL 2. 


Sike the waters in the time of a shower of rain, which, during 
the shower, and a little after, run like a brook, and flow abun- 
dantly ; but are presently quite dry ; and when another show- 
er comes, then they will flow again. Whereas a true saint is 
]ike a stream from a living spring ; which, though it may be 
greatly increased by a shower of rain, and diminished in time 
of drought, yet constantly runs, John iv. 14. " The water 
that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water spring- 
ing up," Sec. or like a tree planted by such a stream, that has 
a constant supply at the root, and is always green, even in 
time of the greatest drought, Jer. xvii. 7, 8. " 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 yield- 
ing fruit." Many hypocrites are like comets that appear for 
a while with a mighty blaze ; but are very unsteady and ir- 
regular in their motion (and are therefore called wandering 
stars, Jude 13) and their blaze soon disappears, and they ap- 
pear but once in a great while. But the true saints are like 
the fixed stars, which, though they rise and set, and are often 
clouded, yet are stedfast in their orb, and may truly be said to 
shine Avith a constant light. Hypocritical affections are like 
a violent motion ; like that of the air that is moved with winds, 
(Jude 12) but gracious affections are more a natural motion ; 
like the stream of a river, which, though it has many turns 
hither and thither, and may meet with obstacles, and runs, 
more freely and swiftly in some places than others ; yet in 
the general, with a steady and constant course, tends the same 
way, until it gets to the ocean. 

And as there is a strange unevenness and disproportion in 
false affections, at different limes ; so there often is in differ- 
ent places. Some are greatly affected from time to time, 
when in company ; but have nothing that bears any manner 
of proportion to it in secret, in close meditation, secret prayer, 
and conversing with God, when alone, and separated from all 


the world.* A true Christian doubtless delights in religious 
fellowship, and Christian conversation, and finds much to afr 
feet his heart in it ; but he also delights at times to retire 
from all mankind, to converse with God in solitary places. 
And this also has its peculiar advantages for fixing his heart, 
and engaging its affections. True religion disposes persons 
to be much alone in solitary places, for holy meditation and 
prayer. So it wrought in Isaac, Gen. xxiv. 63. And which 
is much more, so it wrought in Jesus Christ. How often do 
we read of his retiring into mountains and solitary places, for 
holy converse with his Father ? It is difficult to conceal great 
affections, but yet gracious affections are of a much more si- 
lent and secret nature, than those that are counterfeit. So it 
is with the gracious sorrow of the saints. So it is with their 
sorrow for their own sins. Thus the future gracious mourn- 
ing of true penitents, at the beginning of the latter day glory, 
is represented as being so secret, as to be hidden from the 
companions of their bosom, Zech. xii. 12, 13, 14. " And the 
land shall mourn, every family apart, the family of the house 
of David apart, and their wives apart : The family of the 
house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart : The family of 
the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart : The family of 
Shimei apart, and their wives apart : All the families that re- 
main, every family apart, and their wives apart." So it is 

* " The Lord is neglected secretly, yet honored openly ; because there is 
no wind in their chambers to blow their sails ; and therefore there th«y stand 
still. Hence many men keep their profession, when they lose their affection. 
They have by the one a name to live (and that is enough) though their hearts be 
dead. And hence so long as you love and commend them, so long they love 
you ; but if not, they will forsake you. They were warm only by another's 
fiie, and hence, having no principle of life within, soon grow dead. This if 
the water that turns a Pharisee's mill." Shepard's Parable, Part I. p. :8o. 

<l The hypocrite (says Mr. Flavel) is not for the closet, but the synagogue, 
Mat. vi. 5, 6. It is not his meat and drink to retire from the clamor of the 
world, to enjoy God in secret." Touchstone of Sincerity, Chap. vii. Sect. 2. 

Dr. Ames, in his Cases of Conscience, Lib. 111. Chap. v. speaks of it as a 
thing by which sincerity may be known, " That persons be obedient in the 
absence, as well as in the presence of lookers on ; in secret, as well, yea more, 
than in public ;"' alledging Phil. ii. 12, and Mat. vi. 6. 


with their sorrow for the sins of others. The saints' pains 
and travailing for the souls of sinners are chiefly in secret plac- 
es, Jer. xiii. 17. " If ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep 
in secret places for your pride, and mine eye shall weep sore, 
and run down with tears, because the Lord's flock is carried 
away captive." So it is with gracious joys : They are hidden 
manna, in this respect, as well as others, Rev. ii. If. 

The Psalmist seems to speak of his sweetest comforts, as 
those that were to be had in secret, Psal. lxiii. 5, 6. « My 
soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness ; and my 
mouth shall praise thee with joyful Jips : When I remember 
thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watch- 
es." Christ calls forth his spouse, away from the world, in- 
to retired places, that he may give her his sweetest love, 
Cant. vii. 11, 12. " Come, my beloved, let us go forth into 
the field ; let us lodge in the villages : There I will give thee 
my loves." The most eminent divine favors that the saints 
obtained, that we read of in scripture, were in their retire- 
ment. The principal manifestations that God made of him- 
self, and his covenant mercy to Abraham, were when he was 
alone, apart from his numerous family ; as any one will judge 
that carefully reads his history. Isaac received that special 
gift of God to him, Rebekah, who was so great a comfort to 
him, and by whom he obtained the promised seed, walking 
alone, meditating in the field. Jacob was retired for secret 
prayer, when Christ came to him, and he wrestled with him, 
and obtained the blessing. God revealed himself to Moses 
in the bush, when he was in a solitary place in the desert, in 
Mount Horeb, Exod. Hi. at the beginning. And afterwards, 
when God shewed him his glory, and he was admitted to the 
highest degree of communion with God that ever he enjoyed ; 
he was alone, in the same mountain, and continued there for- 
ty days and forty nights, and then came down with his face 
shining. God came to those great prophets, Elijah and Eli- 
sha, and conversed freely with them, chiefly in their retire- 
ment. Elijah conversed alone with God at mount Sinai, as 
Moses did. And when Jesus Christ had his greatest preliba- 
tion of his future glory, when he was transfigured ; it was not 


•when he was with the multitude, or with the twelve disci- 
ples, hut retired int > a >iilary place in a mountain, with only- 
three select disciples, harging them that they should tell no 
man, until he was risen from the dead. When the angel 
Gabriel came to the blessed virgin, and when the Holy Ghost 
came upon her, and the power of the highest overshadowed 
her, she seems to have been alone, and to be in this matter 
hid from the world ; her nearest and dearest earthly friend 
Joseph, that had betrothed her (though a just man) knew 
nothing of the matter. And she that first partook of the joy 
of Christ's resurrection, was alone with Christ at the sepul- 
chre, John xx. And when the beloved disciple was favored 
with those wonderful visions of Christ and his future dispen- 
sations towards the church and the world, he was alone in the 
isle of Patmos. Not but that we have also instances of 
great privileges that the saints have received when with 
others ; or that there is not much in Christian conversation, 
and social and public worship, tending greatly to refresh and 
rejoice the hearts of the saints. But this is all that I aim at 
by what has been said, to shew that it is the nature of true 
grace, that however it loves Christian society in its place, yet 
it in a peculiar manner delights in retirement, and secret con- 
verse with God. So that if persons appear greatly engaged 
in social religion, and but little in the religion of the closet, 
and are often highly affected when with others, and but little 
moved when they have none but God and Christ to converse 
with, it looks very darkly upon their religion. 

XI. Another great and very distinguishing difference be- 
tween gracious affections and others is, that gracious affec- 
tions, the higher they are raised, the more is a spiritual ap- 
petite and longing of soul after spiritual attainments increas- 
ed. On the contrary, false affections rest satisfied in them- 

The more a true saint loves God with a gracious love, the 
more he desires to love him, and the more uneasy is he at his 

* •' Truly there is no work of Christ that is right (says Mr. Shepherd) 
but it carries the soul to long for rnore of it. 1 ' Parable of the Ten Virgins^ 
Part I. p. 13b. 


want of love to him ; the more he hates sin, the more he de* 
sires to hate it, and laments that he has so much remaining 
love to it ; the more he mourns for sin, the more he longs to 
mourn for sin ; the more his heart is broke, the more he de- 
sires it should be broke : The more he thirsts and longs af- 
ter God and holiness, the more he longs to long, and breathe 
out his very soul in longings after God : The kindling and 
raising of gracious affections is like kindling a flame ; the 
higher it is raised, the more ardent it is ; and the more it 
burns, the more vehemently does it tend and seek to burn. 
So that the spiritual appetite after holiness, and an increase 
of holy affections, is much more lively and keen in those that 
are eminent in holiness, than others ; and more when grace 
and holy affections are in their most lively exercise, than at 
other times. It is as much the nature of one that is spiritual- 
ly new born, to thirst after growth in. holiness, as it is the na- 
ture of a new born babe to thirst after the mother's breast ; 
\vho has the sharpest appetite, when best in health, 1 Pet. ii. 
2,3. « As new born babes desire the sincere milk of the 
word, that ye may grow thereby : If so be ye have tast- 
ed that the Lord is gracious." The most that the saints have 
In this world, is but a taste, a prelibation of that future glory 
which is their proper fulness ; it is only an earnest of their 
future inheritance in their hearts, 2 Cor. i. 22, and v. 5, and 
Eph. i. 14. The most eminent saints in this state are but 
children, compared with their future, which is their proper 
state of maturity and perfection ; as the apostle observes, 
1 Cor. xiii. 10, 11. The greatest eminency that the saints ar- 
rive to in this world, has no tendency to satiety, or to abate 
their desires after more ; but, on the contrary, makes them 
more eager to press forwards ; as is evident by the apostle's 
words, Phil. iii. 13, 14, 15. « Forgetting those things which 
are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are be- 
fore, I press towards the mark Let us therefore, as many 

as be perfect, be thus minded." 

The reasons of it are, that the more persons have of holy 
affections, the more they have of that spiritual taste which I 
have spoken of elsewhere ; whereby they perceive the ex- 


cellency, and relish the divine sweetness of holiness. And 
the more grace they have, while in this state of imperfection, 
the more they see their imperfection and emptiness, and dis- 
tance from what ought to be : And so the more do they see 
their need of grace ; as I shewed at large before, when speak- 
ing of the nature of evangelical humiliation. And besides, 
grace, as long as it is imperfect, is of a growing nature, and 
in a growing state. And we see it to be so with all living 
things, that while they are in a state of imperfection, and in 
their growing state, their nature seeks after growth ; and so 
much the more, as they are more healthy and prosperous. 
Therefore the cry of every true grace, is like that cry of true 
faith, Mark ix. 24. " Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief." 
And the greater spiritual discoveries and affections the true 
Christian has, the more does he become an earnest beggar 
for grace, and spiritual food, that he may grow ; and the more 
earnestly does he pursue after it, in the use of proper means 
and endeavors ; for true and gracious longings after holiness 
are no idle ineffectual desires. 

But here some may object and say, How is this consistent 
with what all allow, that spiritual enjoyments are of a soul sat- 
isfying nature ? 

I answer, its being so, will appear to be not at all inconsist- 
ent with what has been said, if it be considered in what man- 
ner spiritual enjoyments are said to be of a soul satisfying na- 
ture. Certainly they arc not so in that sense, that they are of 
so cloying a nature, that he who has any thing of them, though 
but in a very imperfect degree, desires no more. But spirit- 
ual enjoyments are of a.soul satisfying nature in the follow- 
ing respects. 1. They in their kind and nature, are fully 
adapted to the nature, capacity, and need of the soul of man. 
So that those who find them, desire no other kind of enjoy- 
ments ; they sit down fully contented with that kind of hap- 
piness which they have, desiring no change, nor inclining to 
wander about any more, saying, " Who will shew us any 
good ?" The soul is never cloyed, never weary ; but perpet- 
ually giving up itself, with all its powers, to this happiness. 
But not that those who have something of this happiness, de- 


sire no more of the same. 2. They are satisfying also in this 
tespect, that they answer the expectation of the appetite. 
When the appetite is high to any thing, the expectation is 
consequently so. Appetite to a particular object, implies ex- 
pectation in its nature. This expectation is not satisfied by 
worldly enjoyments ; the man expected to have a great acces- 
sion of happiness, but he is disappointed. But it is not so with 
spiritual enjoyments ; they fully answer and satisfy the ex- 
pectation. 3. The gratification and pleasure of spiritual en- 
joyments is permanent. It is not so with worldly enjoyments. 
They in a sense satisfy particular appetites : But the appe- 
tite, in being satisfied, is glutted, and then the pleasure is 
over : And as soon as that is over, the general appetite of hu- 
man nature after happiness returns ; but is empty, and with- 
out any thing to satisfy it. So that the glutting of a particu- 
lar appetite, does but take away from, and leave empty, the 
general thirst of nature. 4. Spiritual good is satisfying, as 
there is enough in it to satisfy the soul, as to degree, if obsta- 
cles were but removed, and the enjoying faculty duly applied. 
There is room enough here for the soul to extend itself; 
here is an infinite ocean of it. If men be not satisfied here, 
in degree of happiness, the cause iswith themselves ; it is be- 
cause they do not open their mouths wide enough. 

But these things do not argue that a soul has no appetite 
excited after more of the same, that has tasted a little ; or that 
his appetite will not increase, the more he tastes, until he 
comes to fulness of enjoyment : As bodies that are attracted 
to the globe of the earth, tend to it more strongly, the nearer 
they come to the attracting body, and are not at rest out of the 
center. Spiritual good is of a satisfying nature ; and for that 
very reason, the soul that tastes, and knows its nature, will 
thirst after it, and a fulness of it, that it may be satisfied. And 
the more he experiences, and the more he knows this exceb 
lent, unparalleled, exquisite, and satisfying sweetness, the 
more earnestly will he hunger and thirst for more, until he 
comes to perfection. And therefore this is the nature of spir- 
itual affections that the greater they be, the greater the appe- 
tite and longing is, after grace and holiness. 
Vot. IV. 2 S 


But with those joys, end other religious affections, that ar* 
false- and counterfeit, it is otherwise. If before, there was a 
great desire, of sonic sort, after grace ; as these affections rise, 
that desire ceases, or is abated. It may be before, while the 
under legal convictions, and much afraid of hell, he 
earnestly longed that he might obtain spiritual light in his un- 
ilng, and faith in Christ, and love to God : But now, 
■when these false affections are risen, that deceive him, and 
pake biro. con£de»r that lie is converted, and his state good, 
there are no snore earnetft longings after light and grace ; for 
his end is answered ; he is Confident that his sins are forgiven 
him, and that he shall go to heaven ; and so he is satisfied. 
And especially when false affections are raised very high, 
ut an end to longings after grace and holiness. The 
man now is £ar from appearing to himself a poor empty crea- 
ture; on the contrary, he is rich, and increased with goods, 
and hardly conceives of any thing more excellent than what 
he has already atta 

Hence an! to xaany persons' earnestness in seek- 

ing, after the-- talnedthat which they call their 

conversion ; •: ■ after they have had those high affec- 

tions, that make confident of it Before, while 

they 5c- . Hes ps in a state of nature, they were 

engaged an .seeking after God and Christ, and cried earnestly 
I he «se of means : But now they act 
as though flaey thought their work was done ; they live upon 
their £: some high experiences that are past ; and 

there k . heir crying, and striving after God and 

grace. Whereas ' ocipks that actuate a true saint, 

hare a ; influence to stir him up to earnest- 

ness in seeking God and holiness, than servile fear. Hence 
oe ol the distinguishing charac- 
that seek God is one of the 
names by which the godly are called in scripture, PsaL xxiv. 
6. " T' them that seek him, that seek 

Psal. brix. €. Let not those that seek 
d for my sake, ver. 32. The humble shall 
b 5 glad : Jo.vA your heart shall live that seek God, 


And hex. 4. Let a!i those that seek thee, rejoice, and he glad 
in thee : And let such as love thy salvation say continually, 
« The Lord be magnified." And the scriptures e-rsry where 
represent the seeking, striving, and labor of a Christian, as 
being chiefly after his conversion, and his conversion as be- 
ing but the beginning of his work. And almost all that is said 
in the New Testament, of men's watching, giving earnest 
heed to themselves, running the race that is set before them, 
striving, and agonizing, wrestling not with flesh and blood, 
but principalities and powers, fighting, putting on the whole 
armor of God, and standing, having done all to stand, press- 
ing forward, reaching forth, continuing instant in prayer, cry- 
ing to God day and night ; I say, almost all that is said in the 
New Testament of these things, is spoken of, and directed to 
the saints. Where these things are applied to sinners' seek- 
ing conversion once, they are spoken of the saints, prosecution 
of the great business of their high calling ten times. But 
many in these days have got into a strange antiscriptural wav, 
of having all their striving and wrestling over before they are 
converted ; and so having an easy time of it afterwards, to sit 
down and enjoy their sloth and indolence ; as those that now 
have a supply of their wants, and are become rich and full. 
But when the Lord « fills the hungry with good things, these 
rich are like to be sent away empty." Luke i. 53. 

But doubtless there are some hypocrites, that have only 
false affections, who will think they are able to stand this tri- 
al ; and will readily say, that they desire not to rest satisfied 
with past attainments, but to be pressing forward, they do de- 
sire more, they long- after God and Christ, and desire more 
holiness, and do seek it. But the truth is, their desires are 
not properly the desires of appetite after holiness, for its own 
sake, or for the moral excellency and holy sweetness that is 
in it ; but only for by ends. They long after clearer discove- 
ries, that they may be better satisfied about the state of their 
souls ; or because in great discoveries self is gratified, in be- 
ing made so much of by God, and so exalted above others ; 
they long to taste the love of God (as they call it) more than 
to have more love to God. Or, it may be, they have a kind 


of forced, fancied, or made longings ; because they think they 
must long for more grace, otherwise it will be a dark sign up- 
on them. But such things as these are far different from the 
natural, and as it were necessary appetite and thirsting of the 
new man, after God and holiness. There is an inward burn- 
ing desire that a saint has after holiness, as natural to the new 
creature, as vital heat is to the body. There is a holy breath- 
ing and panting after the Spirit of God, to increase holiness, 
as natural to a holy nature as breathing is to a living body. 
And holiness or sanctification is more directly the object of it, 
than any manifestation of God's love and favor. This is the 
meat and drink that is the object of the spiritual appetite, 
John iv. 34. « My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, 
and to finish his work." Where we read in scripture of the 
desires, longings, and thirstings of the saints, righteousness 
and God's laws are much more frequently mentioned, as the 
object of them, than any thing else. The saints desire the 
sincere milk of the word, not so much to testify God's love to 
them, as that they may grow thereby in holiness. I have 
shewn before, that holiness is that good which is the immedi- 
ate object of a spiritual taste. But undoubtedly the same 
sweetness that is the chief object of a spiritual taste, is also 
the chief object of a spiritual appetite. Grace is the godly 
man's treasure, Isa, xxxiii. 6. " The fear of the Lord is his 
treasure." Godliness is the gain that he is covetous and 
greedy of. 1 Tim. vi. 6. Hypocrites long for discoveries, 
more for the present comfort of the discovery, and the high 
manifestation of God's love in it, than for any sanctifying in- 
fluence of it. But neither a longing after great discoveries, 
or after great tastes of the love of God, nor longing to be in 
heaven, nor longing to die, are in any measure so distinguish- 
ing marks of true saints, as longing after a more holy heart, 
and living a more holy life. 

But I am come now to the last distinguishing mark of holy 
affections that I shall mention. 

XII. Gracious and holy affections have their exercise and 

fruit in Christian practice I mean, they have that influence 

and power upon him who is the subject of them, that they 


cause thai a practice, which is universally conformed to, and 
directed by Christian rules, should be the practice and busi- 
ness of his life. 

This implies three things ; 1. That his behavior or prac- 
tice in the world, be universally conformed to, and directed 
by Christian rules. 2. That he makes a business of such a 
holy practice above all things ; that it be a business which he 
is chiefly engaged in, and devoted to, and pursues with high- 
est earnestness and diligence : So that he may be said to make 
this practice of religion eminently his work and business. And 
3. That he persists in it to the end of life : So that it may be 
said, not only to be his business at certain seasons, the busi- 
ness of Sabbath days, or certain extraordinary times, or the 
business of a month, or a year, or of seven years, of his busi- 
ness under certain circumstances ; but the business of his 
life ; it being that business which he perseveres in through 
all changes, and under all trials, as long as he lives. 

The necessity of each of these, ,in all true Christians, is 
most clearly and fully taught in the word of God. 

1. It is necessary that men should be universally obedient, 
1 John iii. 3, &c. " Every man that hath this hope in him puri- 

fieth himself, even as he is pure And ye know that he was 

manifested to take away our sins ; and in him is no sin. Who- 
soever abideth in him sinneth not ; whosoever sinneth, hath 
not seen him, neither known him. He that doth righteous- 
ness, is righteous even as he is righteous : He that committeth 
sin is of the devil, chap. v. 18. We know that whosoever is 
born of God sinneth not, but he that is begotten of God keep- 
eth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. John xv. 
14. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 

If one member only be corrupt, and v/e do not cut it off, it 
will carry the whole body to hell, Matth. v. 29, 30. Saul was 
commanded to slay all God's enemies, the Amalekites ; and 
he slew all but Agag, and the saving frith alive proved his ruin. 
Caleb and Joshua entered into God's promised rest, because 
they wholly followed the Lord, Numb. xiv. 24, and xxxii. 1 1, 
12. Deut. 1. 36. Josh. xiv. 6, 8, 9, 14. Naaman's hypocrisy 
appeared in that, however, he seemed to be greatly affected 


with gratitude to God for healing his leprosy, and engaged ttr 
serve him, yet in one thing he desired to he excused. And 
Herod, though he feared John, and observed him, and heard 
him gladly, and did many things ; yet was condemned, in 
that in one thing he would not hearken to l.im, even in part- 
ing with his beloved Hcrodias. So that it is necessary that 
men should part with their dearest iniquities, which are as 
their right hand and right eyes, sins ihut most easily beset 
them,. and which they arc most exposed to by their natural in- 
clinations, evil customs, or particular circumstances, as well 
as others. As Joseph would not make known himself to 
his brethren who had sold him, untjl Benjamin the beloved 
child of the family, that was most hardly parted with, was de- 
livered up ; no more will Christ reveal his love to us, until 
we part with our dearest lusts, and until we are brought to 
comply with the most difficult duties, and those that we have 
the greatest aversion to. 

And it is of importance that it should be observed, thst in 
order to a man's being truly said to be universally obedient, 
his obedience must not only consist in negatives, or in univer- 
sally avoiding wicked practices, consisting in sins of commission, 
but he must also be universal in the positives of religion. Sins 
of omission are. as much breaches of God's commands, as sins 
of commission. Christ, in Matth. xxv. represents those on 
the left hand as being condemned and cursed to everlasting 
fire for sins of omission. " I was an hungered, and ye gave me 
no meat," &c. A man, therefore, cannot be said to be uni- 
versally obedient, and of a Christian conversation, only be- 
cause he is no thief, nor oppressor, nor fraudulent person, nor 
drunkard, nor tavern haunter, nor whoremaster, nor rioter, 
nor night walker, nor unclean, nor profane in his language, 
nor slanderer, nor liar, nor furious, nor malicious, nor reviler. 
He is falsely said to be of a conversation that becomes the 
gospel, who goes thus far and no farther ; but in order to 
this, it is necessary that he should also be of a serious, reli- 
gious, devout, humble, meek, forgiving, peaceful, respectful, 
condescending, benevolent, merciful, charitable and beneficent 
Walk and conversation. Without such things as these, he 


«ocs not obey the laws of Christ, and laws that he and his a- 
postles did abundantly insist on, as of the greatest importance 
rind necessity. 

2. In order to men's being- true Christians, it is necessary that 
they prosecute the business of religion, and the service of God 
with great earnestness and diligence, as the work which they 
devote themselves to, and make the main business of their lives. 
All Christ's peculiar people not only do good works, but are 
zealous of good works, Tit. ii. 14. No man can do the ser- 
vice of two masters at once. They that are God's true ser- 
vants do give up. themselves to his service, and make it as it 
were their whole work, therein employing their whole hearts, 
and the chief of their strength, Phil. iii. 13. « This one thing 
I do." Christians in their effectual calling, are not called to 
idleness, but to hbor in God's vineyard, and spend their clay 
in doing a great and laborious service. All true Christians 
comply with this call, (as is implied in its being an effectual 
call) and do the work of Christians ; which is every where in 
the New Testament compared to those exercises wherein 
men are -wont to exert their strength with the greatest earn- 
estness, as running, wrestling, fighting. All true Christians 
are good ?.nd faithful soldiers of Jesus Christ, and " fight the 
good fight of fahh ;" for none but those who do so, do " ever 
lay hold on eternal life." Those who " fight as those that 
beat the air," never win the crown of victory. ■" They that 
run in a race, run all, but one wins the prizes" and they that 
are slack and negligent in their course, do not " so run, as 
that they may obtain." The kingdom of heaven is not to be 
taken but by violence. Without earnestness there is no get- 
ting along, in that narrow way that leads to life ; and so no 
arriving at that state of glorious life and happiness which it 
leads to. Without earnest labor there is no ascending the sleep 
i>nd high hill of Z:on,and so no arriving at the heavenly city on 
the top of it. Without, a constant laboriousness there is no stem- 
ming the swift stream in which we swim, so as ever to come 
to that fountain of water of life that is at the head of it. There 
is need that we should " watch and pray always, in order to 
«u;* escaping those dreadful things that are coming on the 


ungodly, and onr being counted worthy to stand before the 
Son of man." There is need of our " putting on the whole 
armor of God, and doing all, to stand," in order to our avoid- 
ing a total overthrow, and being utterly destroyed by the fiery 
" darts of the devil." There is need that we should "forget 
the things that are behind, and be reaching forth to the things 
that are before, and pressing towards the mark, for the prize of 
the high calling of God in Christ Jesus our Lord," in order 
to our obtaining that prize. Slothfulness in the service of God 
in his professed servants, is as damning as open rebellion ; for 
the slothful servant is a wicked servant, and shall be cast into 
outer darkness, among God's open enemies, Matth. xxv. 26, 
SO. They that are slothful are not " followers of them who 
through faith and patience inherit the promises, Heb. vi. 1 1, 
12. And we desire that every one of you do shew the same 
diligence, to the full assurance of hope unto the end ; that 
ye be not slothful, but followers of them, who through faith 
and patience inherit the pi orrises." And all they who follow 
that cloud of witnesses that are gone before to heaven, "do 
lay aside every weight, and the sin that easily besets them, 
and do run with patience the race that is set before them," 
Heb. xii. 1. That true faiih, by which persons rely on the 
righteousness of Christ, and the work that he hath done for 
them, and do truly feed and live upon him, is evermore ac- 
companied with such a spirit of earnestness in the Christian 
work and course. Which w ; as typified of old, by the man- 
ner of the children of Israel's feeding on the paschal lamb ; 
who were directed to cat it, as those that were in haste, 
with their loins girded, their shoes on their feet, and their staff 
in their hand, Exod. xii- 1 1. 

3. Every true Christian perseveres in this way of univer- 
sal obedience, and diligent and earnest service of God, through 
all the various kinds of trials that he meets with, to the end of 
life. That all true saints, all those that do obtain eternal life, do 
thus persevere in the practice of religion, and the service of 
God, is a doctrine so abundantly taught in the scripture, that 
particularly to rehearse all the texts which imply it would be 


endless, I shall content myself with referring to some in the 

But that in perseverance in obedience, which is chiefly in- 
sisted on in the scripture, as a special note of the truth of 
grace, is the continuance of professors in the practice of their 
duty, and being stedfast in an holy walk, through the various 
trials that they meet with. 

By trials here, I mean those things that occur, and that a 
professor meets with in his course, that do especially render 
his continuance in his duty, and faithfulness to God, difficult 
to nature. These things are from time to time called in 
scripture by the name of trials, or temptations, (which are 
words of the same signification.) These are of various kinds : 
There are many things that render persons' continuance in 
the way of their duty difficult, by their tendency to cherish 
and foment, or to stir up and provoke their lusts and corrupt- 
ions. Many things make it hard to continue in the way of 
their duty, by their being of an alluring nature, and hav- 
ing a tendency to entice persons to sin, or by their ten- 
dency to take off restraints, and embolden them in iniquity. 
Other things are trials of the soundness and stedfastness of 
professors, by their tendency to make their duty appear ter- 
rible to them, and so to affright and drive them from it ; such 
as the sufferings which their duty will expose them to ; pain, 
ill will, contempt, and reproach, or loss of outward possessions 
and comforts. If persons, after they have made a profession 
of religion, live any considerable time in this world, which is 
so full of changes, and so full of evil, it cannot be otherwise, 
than that they should meet with many trials of their sincerity 
and stedfastness. And besides, it is God's manner, in his 

* Deut. v. 29. Deut. xxxii. 18, 19, 20. 1 Chron. xxviii. 9. Fsal. lxxviii, 
7, 8, 10, ii, 35, 36, 37, 41, 42, 5b, &c. Psal. cvi. 3, 12 — 15. Psal. exxv. 
4, 5. Prov. xxvi. 11. Isa, lxiv. 5. Jer. xvii. 13. Ezek. iii. 20, and xviii. 24, 
and xxxiii. 12,13. Matth. x. 22, and xiii. 4 — 8, with verses 19 — 23, and 
xxv. 8, and xxiv.ia, 13 Luke ix. 62, and xii. 35, &c. and xxii. s8,and xvii. 
32. John via. 30, 31, and xv. 6, 7, 8, 10, 16. Rom. ii. 7, and xi. 22, Col* 
i. 22, 23. Heb. iii. 6, 12, 14, and vi. 11, 12, and x. 35, &c. James i, 25. 
Rev. ii. 13, 26, and ii. 10. 1 Tim. ii. 15. 2 Tim. iv. 4—8. 
. Vol. IV. 2 T 


providence, to bring trials on his professing friends and ser- 
vants designedly, that he may manifest them, and may exhib- 
it sufficient matter of conviction of the state -which they are in, 
to their own consciences, and oftentimes to the world ; as 
appears by innumerable scripture3. 

True saints may be guilty of some kinds and degrees of 
backsliding, and may be foiled by particular temptations, and 
may fall into sin, yea great sins ; but they can never fall away 
so as to grow weary of religion, and the service of God, and 
habitually to dislike it and neglect it, either on its own ac- 
count, or on account of the difficulties that attend it ; as is ev- 
ident by Gal. vi. 9. Rom. ii. 7. Heb. x. 36. Isa. xliii. 22. 
Mai. i. 13. They can never backslide, so as to continue no 
longer in a way of universal obedience ; or so, that it shall 
cease to be their manner to observe all the rules of Christiani- 
ty, and do all duties required, even in the most difficult cir- 
cumstances. This is abundantly manifest by the things that 
have been observed already. Nor can they ever fall away so 
as habitually to be more engaged in other things than in the 
business of religion ; or so that it should become their way 
and manner to serve something else more than God ; or so as 
statedly to cease to serve God, with such earnestness and dili- 
gence, as still to be habitually devoted and given up to the bu- 
siness of religion ; unless those words of Christ can fall to 
the ground, " Ye cannot serve two masters," and those 
of the apostle, " He that will be a friend of the world, is the 
enemy of God ;" and unless a saint can change his God, and 
yet be a true saint. Nor can a true saint ever fall away so, 
that it shall come to this, that ordinarily there shall be no re- 
markable difference in his walk and behavior since his con- 
version, from what was before. They that are truly convert- 
ed are new men, new creatures ; new, not only within, but 
without ; they are sanctified throughout, in spirit, soul, and 
body ; old things are passed away, all things are become 
new ; they have new hearts, and new eyes, new ears, new 
tongues, new hands, new feet ; i. e. a new conversation and 
practice ; and they walk in newness of life, and continue to 
do so to the end of life. And they that fall away, and cease 
visibly to do so, it is a sign they never were risen with Christ. 


And especially when men's opinion of their being converted, 
and so in a safe estate, is the very cause of their coming to 
this, it is a most evident sign of their hypocrisy. And that, 
whether their falling away be into their former sins, or into 
some new kind of wickedness, having the corruption of na- 
ture only turned into a new channel, instead of its being 
mortified. As when persons that think themselves convert- 
ed, though they do not return to former profaneness and 
lewdness ; yet from the high opinion they have of their ex- 
periences, graces, and privileges, gradually settle more and 
more in a selfrighteous and spiritually proud temper of mind, 
and in such a manner of behavior as naturally arises there- 
from. When it is thus with men, however far they may 
seem to be from their former evil practices, this alone is c- 
nough to condemn them, and may render their last state far 
worse than the first. For this seems to be the very case of 
the Jews of that generation that Christ speaks of, Matth. xii. 
43, 44, 45, who being awakened by John the Baptist's preach- 
ing, and brought to a reformation of their former licentious 
courses, whereby the unclean spirit was as it were turned out, 
and the house swept and garnished ; yet, being empty of God 
and of grace, became full of themselves, and were exalted in 
an exceeding high opinion of their own righteousness and 
eminent holiness, and became habituated to an answerably 
self exalting behavior ; so changing the sins of publicans and 
harlots, for those of the Pharisees ; and in issue, had seven 
devils, worse than the first. 

Thus I have explained what exercise and fruit I mean, 
when I say, that gracious affections have their exercise and 
fruit in Christian practice. 

The reason why gracious affections have such a tendency 
and effect, appears from many things that have already been 
observed, in the preceding parts of this discourse. 

The reason of it appears from this, that gracious affec- 
tions do arise from those operations and influences which are 
spiritual, and that the inward principle from whence they 
flow, is something divine, a communication of God, a partici- 
pation of the divine nature, Christ living in the heart, tho 


Holy Spirit duelling there, in union with the faculties of the 
soul, as an internal vital principle, exerting his own proper 
nature, in the exercise of those faculties. This is sufficient 
to shew us why true grace should have such activity, power, 
and efficacy. No wonder that which is divine, is powerful 
and effectual ; for it has omnipotence on its side. If God 
dwells in the heart, and be vitally united to it, he will shew 
that he is a God, by the efficacy of his operation. Christ is 
not in the heart of a saint, as in a sepulchre, or as a dead sav- 
iour, that does nothing ; but as in his temple, and as one 
that is alive from the dead. For in the heart where Christ 
savingly is. there he lives, and exerts himself after the pow- 
er of that endless life that he received at his resurrection. 
Thus every saint that is a subject of the benefit of Christ's 
sufferings, is made to know and experience the power of his 
resurrection. The Spirit of Christ,- which is the immediate 
spring of grace in the heart, is all life, all power, all act, 2 Cor. 
ii. 4. " In demonstration of the Spirit, and of power." 1 
Thess. i. 5. " Our gospel came not unto you in word onlyj 
but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost." 1 Cor. iv. 20. 
« The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power." Hence 
saving affections, though "oftentimes they do not make so 
great a noise and show as others, yet have in them a secret 
solidity, life, and strength, whereby they take hold of, and 
carry away the heart, leading it into a kind of captivity, 2 
Cor. x. 5, gaining a full arid stedfast determination of the will 
for God and holiness, Psal. ex. 3. « Thy people shall be 
willing in the day of thy power." And thus it is that holy af- 
fections have a governing power in the course of a man's life. 
A statue may look very much like a real man, and a beautiful 
man ; yea, it may have, in its appearance to the eye, the 
resemblance of a very lively, strong, and active man; but 
yet an inward principle of life and strength is wanting ; and 
therefore it does nothing, it brings nothing to pass, there 
is no action or operation to answer the shew. False dis- 
coveries and affections do not go deep enough to reach and 
govern the spring of men's actions and practice. The 
.:ecd in stony ground had not deepness of earth, and the root 


did not go deep enough to bring forth fruit. But gracious af- 
fections go to the very bottom of the heart, and take hold of 
the very inmost springs of life and activity. 

Herein chiefly appears the power of true godliness, viz. in 
its being effectual in practice. And the efficacy of godliness 
in this respect, is what the apostle has respect to, when he 
speaks of the power of godliness, 2 Tirn. iii. 5, as is very 
plain ; for he there is particularly declaring, how some pro- 
fessors of religion would notoriously fail in the practice of it, 
and then in the 5th verse observes, that in being thus of an 
unholy practice, they deny the power of godliness, though 
they have the form of it. Indeed the power of godliness is 
exerted in the first place within the soul, in the sensible, live- 
ly exercise of gracious affections there. Yet the principal 
evidence of this power of godliness, is in those exercises of 
holy affections that are practical, and in their being practical ; 
in conquering the will, and conquering the lusts and corrup- 
tions of men, and carrying men on in the way of holiness, 
through all temptation, difficulty, and opposition. 

Again, the reason why gracious affections have their exer- 
cise and effect in Christian practice, appears from this (which 
has also been before observed) that « the first objective ground 
of gracious affections, is the transcendently excellent and ami- 
able nature of divine things, as they are in themselves, and 
not any conceived relation they bear to self, or selfinterest." 
This shews why holy affecticns will cause men to be holy in 
their practice universally. What makes men partial in re- 
ligion is, that they seek themselves, and not God, in their 
religion ; and close with religion, not for its own excellent na- 
ture, but only to serve a turn. He that closes with religion 
only to serve a turn, will close with no more of it than he im- 
agines serves that turn ; but he that closes with religion for 
its own excellent and lovely nature, closes with all that has 
that nature : He that embraces religion for its own sake, em- 
braces the whole of religion. This also shews why gracious 
affections will cause men to practise religion perseveringly, 
and at all times. Religion may alter greatly in process of 
time, as to its consistence with men's private interest, in ma- 


ny respects ; and therefore he that complies with it only for 
selfish views, is liable, in change of times, to forsake it ; but 
the excellent nature of religion, as it is in itself, is invariable ; 
it is always the same, at all times, and through all changes ; 
it never alters in any respect. 

The reason why gracious affections issue in holy practice* 
also further appears from the kind of excellency of divine 
things, that it has been observed is the foundation of all holy- 
affections, viz. « their moral excellency, or the beauty of their 
holiness." No wonder that a love to holiness, for holiness, 
sake, inclines persons to practise holiness, and to practise eve- 
ry thing that is holy. Seeing holiness is the main thing that 
excites, draws, and governs all gracious affections, no wonder 
that all such affections tend to holiness. That which men 
love, they desire to have and to be united to, and possessed of. 
That beauty which men delight in, they desire to be adorned 
with. Those acts which men delight in, they necessarily in- 
cline to do. 

And what has been observed of that divine teaching and 
leading of the Spirit of God, which there is in gracious affec- 
tions, shews the reason of this tendency of such affections to 
an universally holy practice. Fur, as has been observed, the 
Spirit of God in this his divine teaching and leading, gives the 
soul a natural relish of the sweetness of that which is holy, 
and of every thing that is holy? so far as it comes in view and 
excites a disrelish and disgust of every thing tnat is unholy. 

The same also appears from what has been observed of the 
nature of that spiritual knowledge, which is the foundation 
of all holy affection, as consisting in a sense and view of that 
excellency in divine things, which is supreme and transcen- 
dent. For hereby these things appear above all others, worthy 
to be chosen and adhered to. By the sight of the transcendent 
glory of Christ, true Christians see him worthy to be follow- 
ed ; and so are powerfully drawn after him ; they see him 
worthy that they should forsake all for him : By the sight of 
that superlative amiableness, they are thoroughly disposed to 
be subject to him, and engaged to labor with earnestness and 
activity in his service, and made willing to go through all dif* 


faculties for his sake. And it is the discovery of this divine 
excellency of Christ, that makes them constant to him : For 
it makes a deep impression upon their minds, that they can- 
not forget him ; and they will follow him whithersoever ho 
goes, and it is in vain for any to endeavor to draw them away 
from him. 

The reason of this practical tendency and issue of gracious 
affections, further appears from what has been observed of 
such affections being « attended with a thorough conviction 
of the judgment of the reality and certainty of divine things." 
No wonder that they who' were never thoroughly convinced 
that there is any reality in the things of religion, will never 
be at the labor and trouble of such an earnest, universal, and 
persevering practice of religion, through all difficulties, self- 
denials, and sufferings, in a dependence on that, which they 
are not convinced of. But on the other hand, they who are 
thoroughly convinced of the certain truth of those things, 
must needs be governed by them in their practice ; for the 
things revealed in the word of God are so great, and so infi- 
nitely more important than all other things, that it is incon- 
sistent with the human nature, that a man should fully believe 
the truth of them, and not be influenced by them above all 
things in his practice. 

Again, the reason of this expression and effect of holy af- 
fections in the practice, appears from what has been observ- 
ed of " a change of nature, accompanying such affections." ' 
Without a change of nature, men's practice will not be thor- 
oughly changed. Until the tree be made good, the fruit will 
not be good. Men do net gather grapes of thorns, nor figs of 
thistles. The swine may be washed, and appear clean for a 
little while, but yet, without a change of nature he will still 
wallow in the mire. Nature is a more powerful principle of 
action, than any thing that opposes it : Though it may be vio- 
lently restrained for a while, it will finally overcome that 
which restrains it : It is like the stream of a river, it may be 
stopped a while with a dam, but if nothing be done to dry the 
fountain, it will not be stopped always ; it will have a course, 
either in its old channel, or a new one. Nature is a thing 


more constant and permanent, than any of those things that 
are the foundation of carnal unci's reformation and righteous- 
ness. When a natural man denies his lust, and lives a strict, 
religious life, and seems humble, painful, and earnest in re- 
ligion, it is net natural ; it is all a force against nature : as 
when a stone is violently thrown upwards ; but that force 
will be gradually spent ; yet nature will remain in its full 
strength, and so prevails again, and the stone returns down- 
wards. As long as corrupt nature is not mortified, but the 
principle left whole in a man, it is a vain thing to expect that 
it should" not govern. But if the old nature be indeed morti- 
fied, and a new and heavenly nature infused, then may it well 
be expected, that men will walk in newness of life, and con- 
tinue to do so to the end of their days. 

The reason of this practical exercise and effect of holy af- 
fections, may also.be partly seen, from what has been said of 
that spirit of humility which attends them. Humility is that 
wherein a spirit of obedience does much consist. A proud 
spirit is a rebellious spirit, but a humble spirit is a yieldable, 
subject, obediential spirit. We see among men, that the ser- 
vant who is of a haughty spirit, is not apt in every thing to 
be submissive and obedient to the will of his master ; but it is 
otherwise with that servant who is of a lowly spirit. 

And that lamblike, dovelike spirit, that has been spoken of, 
which accompanies all gracious affections, fulfils (as the apos- 
tle observes, Rom. xiii. 8, 9, 10, and Gal. v. 14.) all the du- 
ties of the second table of the law ; w T herein Christian practice 
does very much consist, and wherein the external practice of 
Christianity chiefly consists. 

And the reason why gracious affections are attended with 
that strict, universal and constant obedience which has been 
spoken of, further appears, from what has been observed of 
that tenderness of spirit, which accompanies the affections of 
true saints, causing in them so quick and lively a sense of pain 
through the presence of moral evil, and such a dread of the 
appearance of evil. 

And one great reason why the Christian practice which 
flows from gracious affections, is universal, and constant, and 


|iefsev£rifig, appears from what has been observed of those 
affections themselves, from whence this practice flows, being 
universal and constant, in all kinds ol holy exercises, and to- 
wards all objects, and in all circumstances, and at all seasons 
in a beautiful symmetry and proportion. 

And much of the reason why holy affections are expressed 
and manifested in such an earnestness, activity, and engaged- 
ness and perseverance in holy practice, as has been spoken of, 
appears from what has been observed, of the spiritual appe- 
tite and longing after further attainments in religion, which 
evermore attends true affection, and does not decay, but in- 
creases as those affections increase. 

Thus we see how the tendency of holy affections to such a 
Christian practice as has been explained, appears from each 
of those characteristics of holy affection that have been before 
spoken of. 

And this point may be further illustrated and confirmed, 
if it be considered, that the holy scriptures do abundantly 
place sincerity and soundness in religion, in making a full 
choice of God as our only Lord and portion, forsaking all for 
him, and in a full determination of the will for God and Christ, 
on counting the cost ; in our heart's closing and complying 
with the religion of Jesus Christ, with all that belongs to it, 
embracing it with all its difficulties, as it were hating our 
dearest earthly enjoyments, and even our own lives, for 
Christ ; giving up ourselves, with all that we have, wholly and 
for ever, unto Christ, without keeping back any thing, or 
making any reserve ; or, in one word, in the great duty of 
selfdenial for Christ ; or in denying, i. e. as it were, disown-* 
ing and renouncing ourselves for him, making ourselves 
nothing that he may be all. See the texts to this purpose re- 
ferred to in the margin.* Now surely having an heart to 

* Matth. v. 29, 30. Chap. vi. 24. Chap. viii. 19 — 22. Chap. iv. 18, to 
82. Chap. x. 37, 38, 39. Chap. xiii. 44, 45, 46. Chap. xvi. 24, 25, 2C. 
Chap, xviii. 8, 9. Chap. xix. 21, 27, 28, 29. Luke v. 27, 28. Chap. x. 42. 
Chap. xii. 33, 34. Chap. xiv. 16.— 20, 25. — 33. Chap. xvi. 13. Acts iv. 
34) 35» with Chap. v. 1. — 11. Rom. vi. 3, — 8. Gal, ii. 20. Chap, v' : , 
14. Philip, iii. 7. 

Vol. IV. 2 U 


forsake all for Christ, tends to actually forsaking all for him, 
so far as there is occasion, and we have the trial. An having 
an heart to deny ourselves for Christ, tends to a denying our- 
selves indeed, when Christ and selfinterest stand in competi- 
tion. A giving up of ourselves, with all that we have, in our 
hearts, without making any reserve there, tends to our behav- 
ing ourselves universally as his, as subject to his will, and de- 
voted to his ends. Our heart's entirely closing with the religion 
of Jesus, with all that belongs to it, and as attended with all its 
difficulties, upon a deliberate counting the cost, tends to an 
universal closing with the same in act and deed, and actually 
going through all the difficulties that we meet with in the 
way of religion, and so holding out with patience and perse- 

The tendency of grace in the heart to holy practice, is very 
direct, and the connexion most natural, close, and necessary. 
True grace is not an unactive thing ; there is nothing in heav- 
en or earth of a more active nature ; for it is life itself, and- 
the most active kind of life, even spiritual and divine life. It 
is no barren thing ; there is nothing in the universe that in 
its nature has a greater tendency to fruit. Godliness in the 
heart has as direct a relation to practice, as a fountain has to 
a stream, or as the luminous nature of the sun has to beams 
sent forth, or as life has to breathing, or the beating of the 
pulse, or any other vital act ; or as a habit or principle of ac- 
tion has to action ; for it is the very nature and notion of 
grace, that it is a principle of holy action or practice. Re- 
generation, which is that work of God in which grace is in- 
fused, has a direct relation to practice ; for it is the very end 
of it, with a view to which the whole work is wrought ; all 
is calculated and framed, in this mighty and manifold change 
wrought in the soul, so as directly to tend to this end. Eph. 
ii. 10. « Fcr we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus 
unto good works." Yea it is the very end of the redemption 
of Christ, Tit. ii. 14. « Who gave himself for ub, that he 
might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a 
peculiar people, zealous of good works." Eph. i. « Accord- 
ing as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the 


s?orld, that we should be holy, and without blame before hira 
in love." Chap. ii. 10. « Created unto good works, Avhich 
God hath foreordained that we should walk in them." Holy- 
practice is as much the end of all that God does about his 
saints, as fruit is the end of all the husbandman does about the 
growth of his field or vineyard ; as the matter is often repre- 
sented in scripture, Mat. iii. 10, chapter xiii. 8, 23, 30, 3S, 
chapter xxi. 19, 33, 34. Luke xiii. 6. John xv. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8. 

1 Cor. iii. 9. Heb. vi. 7, 8. Isa. v. 1 8. Cant. viii. 11, 12. 

Isa. xxvii. 2, 3.* And therefore every thing in a true Christ- 
ian is calculated to reach this end. This fruit of holy prac- 
tice is what every grace, and every discovery, and every indi- 
vidual thing which belongs to Christian experience, has a di- 
ject tendency to. 

The constant and indissoluble connexion that there is be- 
tween a Christian principle and profession in the true saints, 
and the fruit of holy practice in their lives, was typified of 
old in the frame of the golden candlestick in the temple. It 
is beyond doubt that that golden candlestick, with its seven 
branches and seven lamps, was a type of the church of Christ, 
The Holy Ghost himself has been pleased to put that matter 
out of doubt, by representing his church by such a golden 
candlestick, with seven lamps, in the fourth chapter of Zecha- 
riah, and representing the seven churches of Asia by seven 
golden candlesticks, in the first chapter of the Revelation. 
That golden candlestick in the temple was every where, 
thoughout its whole frame, made with knops and flowers, 
Exod. xxv. 31, to the end, and chapter xxxvii. 17 24. The 

* " To profess to know much is easy; but to bring your affections into 
subjection, to wrestle with lusts, to cross your wills and yourselves, upon 
every occasion, this is hard. The Lord looketh that in our lives we should 
be serviceable to him, and useful to men. That which is within, the Lord 
and our brethren are never the better for it : But the outward obedience, flow- 
ing thence, glorifieth God, and does good to men. The Lord will have this 
done. What else is the end of our planting and watering, but that the trees 
may be rilled with sap ? And what is the end of that sap, but that the trees 
may bring forth fruit? What careth the husbandman for leaves and ba: rem 
trees ?•• Dr. Preston of the Ckurchis Carriage. 


word translated knop, in the original, signifies apple or pome- 
granate. There was a knop and a flower, a knop and a flow- 
er : Wherever there was a flower, there was an apple or pom- 
egranate with it : The flower and the fruit were constantly- 
connected, without fail. The flower contained the principle 
of the fruit, and a beautiful promising appearance of it ; and 
it never was a deceitful appearance ; the principle or shew of 
fruit, had evermore real fruit attending it, or succeeding it. 
So it is in the church of Christ : There is the principle of 
fruit in grace in the heart ; and there is an amiable profession, 
signified by the open flowers of the candlestick ; and there 
is answerable fruit, in holy practice, constantly attending this 
principle and profession. Every branch of the golden can- 
dlestick, thus composed of golden apples and flowers, was 
crowned with a burning, shining lamp on the top of it. For 
it is by this means that the saints shine as lights in the world, 
by making a fair and good profession of religion, and having 
their profession evermore joined with answerable fruit in prac- 
tice : Agreeable to that of our Saviour, Matth. v .15, 16. 
" Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, 
but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in 
the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they 
may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in 
heaven." A fair and beautiful profession, and golden fruits 
accompanying one another, are the amiable ornaments of the 
true church of Christ. Therefore we find that apples and 
flowers were not only the ornaments of the candlestick in the 
temple, but of the temple itself, which is a type of the 
church ; which the apostle tells us " is the temple of the liv- 
ing God." See 1 Kings vi. 18. « And the cedar of the house 
within was carved with knops, and open flowers." The orna- 
ments and crown of the pillars, at the entrance of the temple, 
were of the same sort : They were lilies and pomegranates, 
or flowers and fruits mixed together, 1 Kings vii. 18, 19. So 
it is with all those that are " as pillars in the temple of God, 
who shall go no more out," or never be ejected as intruders ; 
as it is with all true saints, Rev. iii. 12. « Flim that over- 


cometh, will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he 
shall go no more out." 

Much the same thing seems to be signified by the orna- 
ments on the skirt of the ephod, the garment of Aaron, the 
high priest ; which were golden bells and pomegranates. — 
That these skirts of Aaron's garment represent the church, 
or the saints (that are a3 it were the garment of Christ) is 
manifest ; for they are evidently so spoken of, Psal. cxxxiii. 
1,2. "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for breth- 
ren to dwell together in unity 1 It is like the precious oint- 
ment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even 
Aaron's beard, that went down to the skirts of his garments.'* 
That ephod of Aaron signified the same with the seamless 
coat of Christ our great High Priest. As Christ's coat had 
no seam, but was woven from the top throughout, so it was 
with the ephod, Exod. xxix. 22. As God took care in his 
providence, that Christ's coat should not be rent ; so 
God took special care that the ephod should not be rent ; 
Exod. xxviii. 32, and chap, xxxix. 23. The golden bells on 
this ephod, by their precious matter and pleasant sound, do 
well represent the good profession that the saints make ; and 
the pomegranates, the fruit they bring forth. And as in the 
hem of the ephod, bells and pomegranates were constantly 
connected, as is once and again observed, there was a golden 
bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, 
Exod. xxviii. 34, and chap, xxxix. 26, so it is in the true 
saints ; their good profession and their good fruit, do con- 
stantly accompany one another : The fruit they bring forth 
in life, evermore answers the pleasant sound of their pro- 

Again, the very same* thing is represented by Christ, in 
his description of his spouse, Cant. vii. 2. » Thy belly is 
like an heap of wheat, f.et about with lilies." Here again 
are beautiful flowers, and good fruit, accompanying one an- 
other. The lilies were fair and beautiful flowers, and the 
wheat was good fruit. 

As this fruit of Christian practice is evermore found in 
true saints, according as they have opportunity and trial, so 


it is found in them only ; none but true Christians do liv* 
such an obedient life, so universally devoted to their duty, 
and given up to the business of a Christian, as has been ex- 
plained. Ali unsanctificd men are workers of iniquity : 
They are of their father the devil, and the lusts of their father 
they will do. There is no hypocrite that will go through 
with the business of religion, and ioth begin and finish the 
tour : They will not endure the trials God is wont to bring- 
on the professors of religion, but will turn aside to theii' 
crooked ways : They will not be thoroughly faithful to 
Christ in their practice, and follow him whithersoever he goes. 
Whatever lengths they may go in religion in some instan- 
ces, and though they may appear exceeding strict, and 
mightily engaged in the service of God for a season; yet 
they are servants to sin ; the chains of their old taskmas- 
ters are not broken : Their lusts have yet a reigning power 
in their hearts ; and therefore to these masters they will 
bow down again.* Daniel xii. 10. « Many shall be pu- 
rified and made white, and tried : But the wicked will do 
wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand, Isa. xxvi. 
10. Let favor be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not 
learn righteousness ; in the land of uprightness will he deal 
unjustly, Isa. xxxv. 8. And an highway shall be there, and 
a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness ; the un= 
clean shall not pass over it, Hos. xiv. 9. The ways of the 
Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them : But the 
transgressors shall fall therein. Job xxvii. 8, 9, 10. What 
is the hope of the hypocrite ? Will he delight himself in 
the Almighty ? Will he always call upon God I" An un- 
sanctificd man may hide his sin, and may in many things, 
and for a season refrain from sin ; but he will not be brought 
finally to renounce his sin, and give it a bill of divorce ; sin 

* " No unrcgenerate man, though he go never so far, let him do never so 
much, but he lives in some one sin or other, secret or open, little or great. 
Judas went far, but he was covetous ; Herod went far, but he loved his Hero- 
dias. Every dog hath his kennel ; every swine hath his fwill ; and every 
wicked man his hid." Shepard's Sincere Convert, i ft edition, p. -96. 


h too dear to him, for him to be willing for that : " Wick- 
edness is sweet in his mouth ; and therefore he hides it un- 
der his tongue ; he spares it, and forsakes it not ; but keeps 
it still within his mouth," Job xx. 12, 13. Herein chiefly" 
consists the strailness of the gate, and the narrowness of the 
way that leads to life ; upon the account of which, carnal 
men will not go in thereat, viz. that it is a way of utterly 
denying and finally renouncing all ungodliness, and so a way 
of selfdenial or selfrenunciation. 

Many natural men, under the means that are used with 
them, and God's strivings with them to bring them to forsake 
their sins, do by their sins as Pharaoh did by his pride and 
covetousness, which he gratified by keeping the children of 
Israel in bondage, when God strove with him, to bring him 
to let the people go. When God's hand pressed Pharaoh 
sore, and he was exercised with fears of God's future wrath, he 
entertained some thoughts of letting the people go, and prom- 
ised he would do it ; but from time to time he broke his 
promises, when he saw there was respite. When God 
filled Egypt with thunder and lightning, and the fire ran along 
the ground, then Pharaoh is brought to confess his sin with 
seeming humility, and to have a great resolution to let the 
people go, Exod. ix. 27, 28. " And Pharaoh sent, and called 
for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this 
tfme : The Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wick- 
ed : Intreat the Lord (for it is enough) that there be no move 
mighty thundcrings and hail ; and I will let you go, and ye 
shall stay no longer." So sinners are sometimes by thunders 
and lightnings, and great terrors of the law, brought to a 
seeming work of humiliation, and to appearance to part with 
their sins ; but are no more thoroughly brought to a disposi- 
tion to dismiss them, than Pharaoh was to let the people go. 
Pharaoh in the struggle that was between his conscience and 
his lusts, was for contriving that God might be served, and 
he enjoy his lusts that were gratified by the slavery of the 
people. Moses insisted that Israel's God should be served 
and sacrificed to : Pharaoh was willing to consent to that ; 
but would have it done without his parting with the people ; 


« Go sacrifice to your God in the land," says he,Exod. viii.2-5. 
So, many sinners are for contriving to serve God, and enjoy 
their lusts too. Moses objected against complying with Pha- 
raoh's proposal, that serving God, and yet continuing in Egypt 
under their taskmasters, did not agree together, and were in- 
consistent one with another ; (there is no serving God, and 
continuing slaves to such enemies of God at the same time.) 
After this Pharaoh consented to let the people go, provided 
they would not go far away : He was not willing to part 
with them finally, and therefore would have them within 

reach. So do many hypocrites with respect to their sins 

Afterwards Pharaoh consented to let the men go, if they 
would leave the women and children, Exod. x. 8, 9, 10. 
And then after that, when God's hand was yet harder upon 
him, he consented that they should go, even women and 
children, as well as men, provided they would leave their 
cattle behind ? But he was not willing to let them go, and 
all that they had, Exod. x. 24. So it oftentimes is with sin- 
ners ; they are willing to part with some of their sins, but 
not all ; they are brought to part with the more gross acts 
of sin, but not to part with their lusts, in lesser indigencies 
of them. Whereas we must part with all our sins, little and 
great ; and all that belongs to them, men, women, children, 
and cattle ; they must be let go, with « their young, and 
with their old, with their sons, and with their daughters, 
with their flocks, and with their herds, there must not be 
an hoof left behind ;" as Moses told Pharaoh, with respect 
to the children of Israel. At last, when it came to extremity, 
Pharaoh consented to let the people all go, and all that they 
had ; but he was not stedfastly of that mind, he soon repented 
and pursued after them again, and the reason was. that those 
lusts of pride and covetousness, that were gratified byPharaoh's 
dominion over the people, and the gains of their service, were 
never really mortified in him, but only violently restrained. 
And thus, being guilty of backsliding, after his seeming 
compliance with God's commands, he was destroyed without 
remedy- Thus there may be a forced parting with ways of 
disobedience to the commands of God, that may seem to be 


universal, as to what appears for a little season ; but because 
it is a mere force, without the mortification of the inward 
principle of sin, they will not persevere in it ; but will return 
as the dog to his vomit ; and so bring on themselves dreadful 
and remediless destruction. There were- many false dis- 
ciples in Christ's time, that .followed him for a while ; but 
none of them followed h'im to the end ; but some on one 
occasion, and some on another, went back and walked no more 
with him.* 

From what has been said, it is manifest, that Christian 
practice, or a holy life, is a great and distinguishing sign of 
true and saving grace. But I may go farther, and assert, that 
it is the chief of all the signs of grace, both as an evidence of 
the sincerity of professors unto others, and also to their own 

But then it is necessary that this be rightly taken, and 
that it be well understood and observed, in what sense 
and manner Christian practice is the greatest sign of grace. 
Therefore to set this matter in a clear light, I will endeavor 
particularly and distinctly to prove, that Christian practice 
is the principal sign by which Christians are to judge, both 
of their own and others, sincerity of godliness ; withal observ- 
ing some things that are needful to be particularly noted, in 
order to a right understanding of this matter. 

1. I shall consider Christian practice and an holy life, as 

* " The counterfeit and common grace of foolish virgins, after some time 
sf glorious profession, will certainly go oat and be quite spent. It consumes 
in the Using, and shining, and burning. — Men that have been most forward, de- 
cay : Their gifts decay, life decays. It is so, after some time of profession : 
For at first, it rather grows than decays and withers ; but afterwards they 
have enough of it, it withers and dies. The Spirit of God comes upon many 
hypocrites, in abundant and plentiful measure of awakening grace : It comes 
upon them, as it did upon Balaam, and as it is in overflowing waters, which 
spread far, and grow very deep, and fill many empty places. Though it 
doth corne upon them so yet it doth never reft within, so as to dwell there, to 

take up an eternal mansion for himself. Hence it doth decay by little and 

little, until at last it is quite gone. As ponds filled with rain water, which 
comes upon them ; not spring water, that riseth up within them ; it dries up 
by little and little, until quite dry." Shepard's Parable, Part II, p. 58, 59. 

Vol. IV. 2 W 


a manifestation and sign of the sincerity of a professing Christ- 
ian, to the eye of his neighbors and brethren. 

And that this is the chief sign of grace in this respect, is 
very evident from the word of God. Christ, who knew best 
how to give us rules to judge of others, has repeated it and 
inculcated it, that we should know them by their fruits, 
Matth. vii. 16. « Ye shall know them by their fruits." And 
then, after arguing the point, and giving clear reasons why 
it must needs be, that men's fruits must be the chief evidence 
of what sort they are, in the following verses, he closes by 
repeating the assertion, verse 20. " Wherefore by their fruits 
ye shall know them." Again, chap. xii. 33. « Either make 
the tree good, and his fruit good ; or else make the tree cor- 
rupt, and his fruit corrupt." As much as to say, it is a very 
absurd thing, for any to suppose that the tree is good and 
yet the fruit bad, that the tree is of one sort, and the fruit of 
another ; for the proper evidence of the nature of the tree 
is its fruit. Nothing else can be intended by that last clause 
in the verse, " For the tree is known by its fruit," than 
that the tree is chiefly known by its fruit, that this is 
the main and most proper diagnostic by which one tree is 
distinguished from another. So Luke vi. 44. " Every tree 
is known by his own fruit." Christ no where says, Ye shall 
know the tree by its leaves or flowers, or ye shall know men 
by their talk, or ye shall know them by the good story they 
tell of their experiences, or ye shall know them by the 
manner and air of their speaking, and emphasis and pathos 
of expression, or by their speaking feelingly, or by making 
a very great show by abundance of talk, or by many tears and 
affectionate expressions, or by the affections ye feel in your 
hearts towards them ; but by their fruits shall ye know 
them ; the tree is known by its fruit ; every tree is known 
by its own fruit. And as this is the evidence that Christ 
has directed us mainly to look at in others, in judging of 
them, so it is the evidence that Christ has mainly directed 
us to give to others, whereby they may judge of us, Matth. 
v. 16. " Let your light so shine before men, that others see- 
ing your good works, may glorify your Father which is in 


heaven." Here Christ directs us to manifest our godliness 
to others. Godliness is as it were a light that shines in the 
soul. Christ directs that this light not only shine within, 
but that it should shine out before men, that they may see it. 
But which way shall this be ? It is by our good works. 
Christ doth not say, that others hearing your good works, 
your good story, or your pathetical expressions ; but " that 
others, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father 
which is in heaven." Doubtless, when Christ gives us a rule 
how to make our light shine, that others may have evidence 
of it, his rule is the best that is to be found. And the apostles 
do mention Christian practice as the principal ground of 
their esteem of persons as true Christians. As the Apostle 
Paul, in the 6th chapter of Hebrews. There the apostle, in 
the beginning of the chapter, speaks of them that have 
great common illuminations, that have " been enlightened, 
and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partak- » 
erS of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of 
God, and the powers of the world to come, -that afterwards 
fall away, and are like barren ground, that is nigh unto 
cursing, whose end is to be burned ;" and then immediately 
adds in the 9th verse (expressing his charity for the Christ- 
ian Hebrews, as having that saving grace, which is better than 
all these common illuminations) " but beloved, we are per- 
suaded better things of you, and things that accompany sal- 
vation, though we thus speak." And then, in the next 
verse, he tells them what was the reason he had such good 
thoughts of them : He does not say, that it was because they 
had given him a good account of a work of God upon their 
souls, and talked very experimentally ; but it was their 
work and labor of love ; " for God is not unrighteous, to 
forget your work and labor of love, which ye have shewed 
towards his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, 
and do minister." And the same apostle speaks of a faithful 
serving of God in practice, as the proper proof to others of 
men's loviag Christ above all, and preferring his honor to 
their private interest, Phil. ii. 21, 22. "For all seek their 
own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's ; but ye know 


the proof of him, that as a son with the Father, he hath 
served with me in the gospel." So the Apostle John expres- 
ses the same, as the ground of his good opinion of Gaius, 3 
John 3 — 6. Ci For I rejoiced greatly when the brethren came 
and testified of the truth that is in thee." But how did the 
brethren tesiify of the truth that was in Gaius ? And how 
did the apostle judge of the truth that was in him ? It -was 
not because they testified that he had given them a good 
account of the steps of his experiences, and talked like one 
that felt what he said, and had the very language of a Christ- 
ian : But they testified, « that he walked in the truth ; 'as it 
follows, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater 
joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth. Belov- 
ed, thou dost faithfully whatsoever thou dost to the brethren 
and to strangers ; which have borne witness of thy chari- 
ty before the church." Thus the apostle explains what the 
brethren had borne witness of, when they came and testified 
of his -walking in the truth. And the apostle seems in this 
same place, to ; give it as a rule to Gaius how he should judge 
of others ; in verse 10, he mentions one Diotrephes, that did 
not carry himself well, and led away others after him ; and 
then in the 1 1th verse, he directs Gaius to beware of such, 
and not to follow them ; and gives him a rule whereby he 
may know them, exactly agreeable to that rule Christ had 
given before, " by their fruits ye shall know them ;" says 
the apostle, " beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that 
which is good. He that doth good, is of God; but he that 
doth evil, hath not J seen God." And I would further ob- 
serve, that the Apostle James, expressly comparing that way 
of shevving others ouris^aith and Christianity by our practice 
or works, with other ways of shewing our faith without 
works, or not by works, does plainly and abundantly prefer 
the former, James ii. 18. « Yea, a m^i may say, thou hast 
faith, and I have works ; shew me thy faith without thy 
works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works." A 
manifestation of our faith without works, or in a way diverse 
from works, is a manifestation of it in words, whereby a man 
professes faith. As the apostle says, verse 14, " Whut 
doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath 


faith ?" Therefore here are two ways of manifesting to our 
neighbor what is in cur hearts ; one by what we say, and 
the other by what we do. But the apostle abundantly pre- 
fers the latter as the best evidence. Now certainly all ac- 
counts we give of ourselves in words, our saying that we 
have faith, and that we are converted, and telling the man- 
ner how we came to have faith, and the steps by which it 
was wrought, and the discoveries and experiences that ac- 
company it, are still but manifesting our faith by what we 
say ; it is but shewing our faith by our words ; which the 
apostle speaks of as falling vastly short of manifesting of it 
by what we do, and shewing our faith by our works. 

And as the scripture plainly teaches, that practice is the 
best evidence of the sincerity of professing Christians ; so 
reason teaches the same thing. Reason shews, that men's 
deeds are better and more faithful interpreters of their minds, 
than their words. The common sense of all mankind, through 
all ages and nations, teach es them to judge of men's hearts 
chiefly by their practice, in other matters ; As, whether a 
man be a loyal subject, a true lover, a dutiful child, or a faith- 
ful servant. If a man profess a great deal of love and friend- 
ship to another, reason teaches all men, that such a profession 
is not so great an evidence of his being a real and hearty 
friend, as his appearing a friend in deeds ; being faithful and 
constant to his friend in prosperity and adversity, ready to lay 
out himself, and deny himself, and suffer in his personal inter- 
est, to do him a kindness. A wise man will trust to such ev- 
idences of the sincerity of friendship, further than a thousand 
earnest professions and solemn declarations, and most affec- 
tionate expressions of friendship in words. And there is equal 
reason, why practice should also be looked upon as the best 
evidence of friendship towards Christ. Reason says the same 
that Christ said, in John xiv. 21. "He that hath my com- 
mandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me." 
Thus if we see a man, who in the course of his life seems to 
follow and imitate Christ, and greatly to exert and deny him- 
self for the honor of Christ, and to promote his kingdom and 
interest in the world ; reason teaches, that this is an evidence. 


of love to Christ, more to be depended on, than if a man only 
says he lias love to Christ, and tells of the inward experiences 
he has had of love to him, what strong love he felt, and how 
his heart was drawn out in love at such and such a time, when 
it may be there appears but little imitation of Christ in his 
behavior, and he seems backward to do any great matter for 
him, or to put himself out of his way for the promoting of his 
kingdom, but seems to be apt to excuse himsc!f, whenever he 
is called to deny himself fur Christ. So if a man, in declaring 
his experiences, tells how he found his heart w r eaned from the 
world, and saw the vanity of it, so that all' looked as nothing 
to him, at such and such times, and professes that he gives 
up all to God, and calls heaven and earth to witness to it ; but 
yet in his practice is violent in pursuing the world, and what 
he gets he keeps close, is exceeding loth to part v/ith much 
of it to charitable and pious uses* it comes from him almost 
like hie heart's blood. But there is another professing Christ- 
ian, that says not a great deal, yet in his behavior appears 
ready at all times to forsake the world, whenever it stands in 
the way of his duty, and is free to part with it at any time, ta 
promote religion and the good of his fellow creatures. Rea- 
son teaches, that the latter gives far the most credible mani- 
festation of an heart weaned from the world. And if a man 
appears to walk humbly before God and men, and to be of a 
conversation that savors of a broken heart, appearing patient 
and resigned to God under afiliction, and meek in his behav- 
ior amongst men ; this is a better evidence of humiliation, 
than if a person only tells how great a sense he had of his 
own nnworthiness, how he was brought to lie in the dust, and 
was quite emptied of himself, and see himself nothing and 
all over filthy and abominable, Sec. Sec. but yet acts as if he 
looked upon himself one of the first and best of saints, and by 
just right the head of all the Christians in the town, and is 
assuming, selfwilled, and impatient of the least contradiction 
or opposition ; we may be assured in such a case, that a man's 
practice comes from a lower place in his heart than his pro- 
fession. So (to mention no more instances) if a professor of 
CfftisUafcity manifests in his behavior a pitiful tender spirit 


towards others in calamity, ready to bear their burdens with 
them, willing to spend his substance for them, and to suffer 
many inconveniences in his worldly interest to promote the 
good of others' souls and bodies ; is not this a more credible 
manifestation of a spirit of love to men, than only a man's tell- 
ing what love he felt to others at certain times, how he pitied 
their souls, how his soul was in travail for them, and how he 
felt a hearty love and pity to his enemies ; when in his be- 
havior he seems to be of a very selfish spirit, close and nig- 
gardly, all for himself, and none for his neighbors, and per- 
haps envious and contentious ? Persons in a pang of affection 
may think they have a willingness of heart for great things, 
to do much and to suffer much, and so may profess it very ear- 
nestly and confidently, when really their hearts are far from 
it. Thus, many in their affectionate pangs, have thought 
themselves willing to be damned eternally for the glory of 
God. Passing affections easily produce words ; and words 
are cheap ; and godliness is more easily feigned in words 
than in actions. Christian practice is a costly, laborious thing. 
The selfdenial that is required of Christians, and the narrow- 
ness of the way that leads to life, does not consist in words, 
but in practice. Hypocrites may much more easily be brought 
to talk like saints, than to act like saints. 

Thus it is plain, that Christian practice is the best sign or 
manifestation of the true godliness of a professing Christian, 
to the eye of his neighbors. 

But then the following thing should be well observed, that 
this matter may be rightly understood. 

First, it must be observed, that when the scripture speaks 
of Christian practice, as the best evidence to others, of sincer- 
ity and truth of grace, a profession of Christianity is not ex- 
cluded, but supposed. The rules mentioned, were rules given 
to the followers of Christ, to guide them in their thoughts of 
professing Christians, and those that offered themselves as 
some of their society, whereby they might judge of the truth 
of their pretences, and the sincerity of the profession they 
made ; and not for the trial of Heathens, cr those that made 
no pretence, to Christianity, and that Christians had nothing 

:oo religious affections; 

to do with. This is as plain as is possible in that great rule* 
which Christ gives in the 7th of Ma ; thew. " By their fruits ye 
shall know them." He there gives a rule how to judge of 
those that professed 'to be Christians, yea that made a very 
high profession, false prophets, " who come in sheep's cloth- 
ing, as ver. 15." So it is also with that of the Apostle James, 
chapter ii. 18. " Shew me thy faith without thy works, and 
I will shew thee my faith by my Works." It is evident, that 
both these sorts of personc, offering to give these diverse ev- 
idences of their faith, are professors of faith : This is implied 
in their offering each of them to give evidences of the faith 
they professed. And it is evident by the preceding verses, 
that the apostle is speaking of professors of faith in Jesus 
Christ. So it is very plain, that the Apostle John, in those 
passages that have been observed in his third epistle, is speak-' 
ing of professing Christians. Though in these rules, the 
Christian practice of professors be spoken of as the greatest 
and most distinguishing sign of their sincerity in their pro- 
fession, much more evidential than their profession itself ; 
yet a profession of Christianity is plainly presupposed : It is 
net the main thing in the evidence, nor any thing distinguish- 
ing in it ; yet it is a thing requisite and necessary in it. As 
the having an animal body, is net any thing distinguishing of 
a man, from other creatures, and is not the main thing in the 
evidence of human nature, yet it is a thing requisite and nec- 
essary in the e\idence. • So that if any man should say plain- 
ly that he was not a Christian, and did not believe that Jesus 
was the Son of God, or a person sent of God ; these rules of 
Christ and his apostles do not at all oblige us to look upon 
him as a sincere Christian, let his visible practice and virtues 
be what they will. And not only do these rules take no place 
with respect to a man that explicitly denies Christianity, and 
is a professed Deist, Jew, Heathen, or open Infidel ; but also 
with respect to a man that only forbears td make a profession 
of Christianity ; because these rules were given us to judge 
of professing Christians only : Fruits must be joined with 
open flowers ; bells and pomegranates go together. 


But here will naturally arise this inquiry, viz. when may a 
man be said to profess Christianity, or what profession may 
properly be called a profession of Christianity ? 

I answer in two things, 

1. In order to a man's being properly said to make a pro- 
fession of Christianity, there must undoubtedly be a profes- 
sion of all that is necessary to his being a Christian, or of so 
much as belongs to the essence of Christianity. Whatsoever 
is essential in Christianity itself, the profession of that is 
essential in the profession of Christianity. The profession 
must be of the thing professed. For a man to profess Christ- 
ianity, is for him to declare that he has it. And therefore so 
much as belongs to a thing, so as to be necessary in order to 
its being truly denominated that thing ; so much is essential 
to the declaration of that thing, in order to its being truly de- 
nominated a declaration of that thing. If we take only a part 
of Christianity, and leave out a part that is essential to it, what 
we take is not Christianity ; because something that is of the 
essence of it is wanting. So if we profess only a part, and 
leave out a part that is essential, that which we profess is not 
Christianity. Thus, in order to a profession of Christiani- 
ty, we must profess that we believe that Jesus is the Messiah ; 
for this reason, because such a belief is essential to Christian- 
ity. And so we must profess, either expressly or implicitly, 
that Jesus satisfied for our sins, and other essential doctrines 
of the gospel, because a belief of these things also is essen- 
tial to Christianity. But there are other things as essential to 
religion, as an orthodox belief ; which it is therefore as nec- 
essary that we should profess, in order to our being- truly said 
to profess Christianity. Thus it is essential to Christianity 
that we repent of our sins, that we be convinced of our own 
sinfulness, and that we are sensible we have justly exposed 
ourselves to God's wrath, and that our hearts do renounce aH 
sin, and that we do with our whole hearts embrace Christ as 
our only Saviour ; and that we love him above all, and are will- 
ing for his sake to forsake all, and that we do give up our- 
selves to be entirely and for ever his, &c. Such things as 
these do as much belong to the essence of Christianity, as fcbc 
Vol. IV. 2X 


belief of any of the doctrines of the gospel : And therefore 
the profession of them does as much belong to a Christian 
profession. Not that in order to a being professing Christ- 
ians, it is necessary that there should be an explicit profession 
of every individual thing that belongs to Christian grace or 
virtue : But certainly, there must be a profession, either ex- 
press or implicit, of what is of the essence of religion. And 
as to those things that Christians should express in their pro- 
fession, we ought to be guided by the precepts of God's word, 
or by scripture examples of public professions of religion, 
God's people have made from time to time. Thus they 
ought to profess their repentance of sin : As of old, when per- 
sons were initiated as professors, they came confessing their 
sins, manifesting their humiliation for sin, Matth. iii. 6. And 
the baptism they were baptized with, was called the baptism 
of repentance, Mark i. 3. And John, when he had baptized 
them, exhorted them to bring forth fruits meet for repentance, 
Matth. iii. 8. i. e. agreeable to that repentance which they 
had professed ; encouraging them, that if they did so, they 
should escape the wrath to come, and be gathered as wheat 
into God's garner, Matth. iii. 7, 8, 9, 10, 12. So the Apos- 
tle Peter says to the Jews, Acts ii. 38. " Repent, and be bap- 
tized :" Which shews, that repentance is a qualification that 
must be visible in order to baptism ; and therefore ought to 
be publicly professed. So when the Jews that returned from 
captivity, entered publicly into covenant, it was with confes- 
sion, or public confession of repentance of their sins, Neh. ix. 
2. This profession of repentance should include or imply a 
profession of conviction, that God would be just in our dam- 
nation : See Neh. ix. 33, together with ver. 35, and the be- 
ginning of the next chapter. They should profess their faith 
in Jesus Christ, and that they embrace Christ, and rely upon 
him as their Saviour, with their whole hearts, and that they do 
joyfully entertain the gospel of Christ. Thus Philip, in order 
to baptizing the eunuch, required that he should profess that 
he believed with all his heart : And they that were received 
as visible Christians, at that great outpouring of the Spirit, 
which began at the day of Pentecost, appeared gladly to re- 
ceive the gospel, Actsii. 41. " Then they that gladly receiv- 


ed the word, were baptized ; and the same day there were 
added unto them about three thousand souls." They should 
profess that they rely on Christ's righteousness only, and 
strength ; and that they are devoted to him, as their only 
Lord and Saviour, and that they rejoice in him as their only 
righteousness and portion. It is foretold, that all nations shall 
be brought publicly to make this profession, Isa. xlv. 22, to 
the end : " Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the 
earth ; for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn 
by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteous- 
ness, and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, 
every tongue shall swear. Surely, shall one say, In the 
Lord have I righteousness and strength ; even to him shall men 
come, and all that are incensed against him shall be asham- 
ed. In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel he justified, and 
shall glory." They should profess to give up themselves en- 
tirely to Christ, and to God through him ; as the children of 
Israel, when they publicly recognized their covenant with 
God, Deut. xxvi. 17. " Thou hast avouched the Lord this 
day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his 
statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to 
hearken unto his voice." They ought to profess a willingness 
of heart to embrace religion with all its difficulties, and to 
walk in a way of obedience to God universally and persever- 
ingly, Exod. xix. 8, and xxiv. 3, 7. Deut. xxvi. 16, 17, 18. 
2 Kings xxiii. 3. Neh. x. 28, 29. Psal. cxix. 57, 106. They 
ought to profess, that all their hearts and soijls are in these 
engagements to be the Lord's and for ever to serve him, 
2 Chron. xv. 12, 13, 14. God's people swearing to God, and 
swearing by his name, or to his name, as it might be rendered 
(by which seems to be signified their solemnly giving up 
themselves to him in covenant, and vowing to receive him as 
their God, and to be entirely his, to obey and serve him) is 
spoken of as a duty to be performed by all God's visible Israel, 
Deut. vi. 13, and x. 20. Psal. lxiii. 11. Isa. xix. 18. Chap. 
xlv. 23, 24, compared with Rom. xiv. 1 1, and Phil. ii. 10, 1 1. 
Isa. xlviii. 1, 2, and lxv. 15, 16. ■ Jer. iv. 2, and v. 7, and xii. 
16. Hos. iv. 15, and x. 4. Therefore, in order to persons 


being entitled to full esteem and charity, with their neighbors, 
as being sincere professors of Christianity ; by those foremen- 
tioned rules of Christ and his apostles, there must be a visibly 
holy life, with a profession, either expressing, or plainly im- 
plying such things as those which have been now mentioned. 
We are to know them by their fruits, that is, we are by their 
fruits to know whether they be what they profess to be ; not 
that we are to know by their fruits, that they have something 
in them, they do not so much as pretend to. 

And moreover, 

2. That profession of these things, which is properly rail- 
ed a Christian profession, and which must be joined with 
Christian practice, in order to persons being entitled to the 
benefit of those rules, must be made (as to what appears) un- 
derstandingly : That is, they must be persons that appear to 
have been so far instructed in the principles of religion, as to 
be in an ordinary capacity to understand the proper import of 
what is expressed in their profession. For sounds are no sig- 
nifi cations or declarations of any thing, any further than men 
understand the meaning of their own sounds. 

But in order to persons making a proper profession of 
Christianity, such as the scripture directs to and such as the 
followers of Christ should require, in order to the acceptance 
of the professors with full charity, as of their society; it is 
not necessary they should give an account of the particular 
steps and method, by which the Holy Spirit, sensibly to them, 
wrought and brought about those great essential things of 
Christianity in their hearts. There is no footstep in the 
scripture of any such way of the apostles, or primitive min- 
isters and Christians, requiring any such relation, in order to 
their receiving and treating others as their Christian breth- 
ren, to all intents and purposes, or of their first examining 
them, concerning the particular method and order of their 
experiences. They required of them a profession of the 
things wrought ; but no account of the manner of working 
was required of them. Nor is there the least shadow in the 
scripture of any such custom in the church of God, from Ad- 
am to the death of the Apostle John. 


I am far from saying, that it is not requisite that pers ons 
should give any sort of account of their experiences totheir 
brethren. For persons to profess those things wherein the 
essence of Christianity lies, is the same thing as to profess 
that they experience those things. Thus for persons solemnly 
to profess, that, in a full conviction of their own utter sinful- 
ness, mise ry, and impotence, and totally undone state as in 
themselves, and their just desert of God's utter rejection and 
eternal wrath, and the utter insufficiency of their own right- 
eousness, or any thing in them, to satisfy divine justice, or 
recommend them to God's favor, they do entirely depend on 
the Lord Jesus Christ, and his satisfaction and righteousness ; 
that they do with all their hearts believe the truth of the gos- 
pel of Christ ; and that in a full conviction of his sufficiency 
and perfect excellency as a Saviour, as exhibited in the gospel, 
they do with their whole souls cleave to him, and acquiesce 
in him, as the refuge and rest of their souls, and fountain of 
their comfort ; that they repent of their sins, and utterly re- 
nounce all sin, and give up themselves wholly to Christ, wil- 
lingly subjecting themselves to him as their King ; that they 
give him their hearts and their whole man ; and are willing 
and resolved to have God for their whole and everlasting por- 
tion ; and in a dependence on his promises of a future eter- 
nal enjoyment of him in heaven, to renounce all the enjoy- 
ments of this vain world, selling all for this great treasure and 
future inheritance, and to comply with every command of 
God, even the most difficult and self denying, and devote 
their whole lives to God's service ; and that In forgiveness 
of those that have injured them, and a general benevolence 
to mankind, their hearts are united to the people of Jesus 
Christ as their people, to cleave to them and love them as 
their brethren, and worship and serve God, and follow Christ 
in union and fellowship with them, being willing and resolv- 
ed to perform all those duties that belong to them, as mem- 
bers of the same family of God and mystical body of Christ : 
I say, for persons solemnly to profess such things as these, as 
in the presence of God, is the same thing as to profess that 


they are conscious to, or do experience such things in then* 

Nor is it what I suppose, that persons giving an account 
of their experience of particular exercises of grace, with the 
times and circumstances, gives no advantage to others in 
forming a judgment of their state ; or that persons may not 
fitly be inquired of concerning these in some cases, especial- 
ly cases of great importance, where all possible satisfaction 
concerning persons' piety is especially to be desired and 
sought after, as in the case of ordination or approbation of a 
minister. It may give advantage in forming a judgment, in 
several respects ; and among others, in this, that hereby we 
may be better satisfied, that the professor speaks honestly and 
Tunderstandingly, in what he professes ; and that he does not 
make the profession in mere formality. 

In order to a profession of Christianity being accepted to 
any purpose, there ought to be good reason, from the circum- 
stances of the profession, to think, that the professor does not 
make such a profession out of a mere customary compliance 
with a prescribed form, using \vords without any distinct 
meaning, or in a very lax and ambiguous manner, as confes- 
sions of faith are often subscribed ; but that the professor un- 
derstanding^' and honestly signifies what he is conscious of in 
his own heart ; otherwise his profession can be of no signifi- 
cance, and no more to be regarded than the sound of things 
without life. But indeed (whatever advantage an account 
of particular exercises may give in judging of this) it must 
be owned, that the professor having been previously thor- 
oughly instructed by his teachers, and given good proof of 
his sufficient knowledge, together with a practice agreeable 
to his profession, is the best evidence of this. 

Nor do I suppose, but that, if a person that is inquired of 
about particular passages, times, and circumstances of his 
Christian experience, among other things, seems to be able 
to give a distinct account of the manner of his first conver- 
sion, in such a method as has been frequently observable in 
true conversion, so that things seem sensibly and distinctly 
to follow one another, in the order of time, according to the 


order of nature ; it is an illustrating circumstance, that among 
other things adds lustre to the evidence he gives his brethren 
of the truth of his experiences. 

But the thing that I speak of as unscriptural, is the insist- 
ing on a particular account of the distinct method and steps, 
wherein the Spirit of God did sensibly proceed, in first bring- 
ing the soul into a state of salvation, as a thing requisite in 
order to receiving a professor into full charity as a real Christ- 
ian ; or so, as for the want of such relation, to disregard 
other things in the evidence persons give to their neighbors 
of their Christianity, that are vastly more important and 

Secondly, That we may rightly understand how Christian 
practice is the greatest evidence that others can have of the 
sincerity of a professing Christian, it is needful that what was 
said before, shewing what Christian practice is, should be 
borne in mind ; and that it should be considered how far this 
may be visible to others. Merely that a professor of Christ- 
ianity is what is commonly called an honest man, and a moral 
man, (i. e. we have no special transgression or iniquity to 
charge him with, that might bring a blot on his character) 
is no great evidence of the sincerity of his profession. This 
is not making his light shine before men. This is not that 
work and labor of love shewed towards Christ's name, 
which gave the apostle such persuasion of the sincerity of the 
professing Hebrews, Heb. vi. 9, 10. It may be so, that we 
may see nothing in a man, but that he may be a good man, 
there may appear nothing in his life and conversation incon- 
sistent with his being godly, and yet neither may there be 
any great positive evidence that he is so. But there may be 
great positive appearance of holiness in men's visible behavior. 
Their life may appear to be a life cf the service of God : They 
may appear to follow the example of Jesus Christ, and 
come up in a great measure to those excellent rules in the 
5th, 6th, and 7th chapters of Matthew, and 12th of Romans, 
and many other parts of the New Testament : There may be 
a great appearance of their being universal in their obedience 
to Christ's commands and the rules of the gospel. They 


may appear to be universal in the performance of the duties 
of the first table, manifesting the fear and love of God ; and 
also universal in fulfilling rules of love to men, love to saints, 
and love to enemies : Rules of meekness and forgiveness, 
rules of mercy and charity, and looking not only at our own 
things but also at the things of others ; rules of doing good to 
men's souls and bodies, to particular persons and to the public ; 
rules of temperance and mortification, and of an humble con- 
versation ; rules of bridling the tongue, and improving it to 
glorify God and bless men, shewing that in their tongues is 
the law of kindness. They may appear to walk as Christians, 
in all places, and at all seasons, in the house of God, and in 
their families, and among their neighbors, on Sabbath clays 
and every clay, in business and in conversation, towards friends 
and enemies, towards superiors, inferiors, and equals. Persons 
in their visible walk may appear to be very earnestly engaged 
in the service of God and mankind, much to labor and lay 
out themselves in this work of a Christian, and to be very 
constant and stedfast in it, under all circumstances and 
temptations. There may be great manifestations of a spirit 
to deny themselves, and suffer for God and Christ, and the 
interest of religion, and the benefit of their brethren. There 
may be great appearances in a man's walk, of a disposition to 
forsake any thing, rather than to forsake Christ, and to make 
every thing give place to his honor. There may be great 
manifestations in a man's behavior of such religion as this, 
being his element, and of his placing the delight and happi- 
ness of his life in it ; and his conversation may be such, that 
he may carry with him a sweet odor of Christian graces and 
heavenly dispositions, wherever he goes. And when it is thus 
in the professors of Christianity, here is an evidence to others 
of their sincerity in their profession, to which all other mani- 
festations arc not worthy to be compared. 

There is doubtless a great variety in the degrees of evi- 
dence that professors do exhibit of their sincerity, in their life 
and practice ; as there is a variety in the fairness and clear- 
ness of accounts persons give of the manner and method of 
<heir experiences : But undoubtedly such a manifestation as 


Kas been described, of a Christian spirit in practice, is vastly 
beyond the fairest and brightest story of particular steps and 
passages of experience that ever was told. And in general, a 
manifestation of the sincerity of a Christian profession in prac- 
tice, is far better than a relation of experiences. But yet, 

Thirdly, It must be noted, agreeable to what was former- 
ly observed, that no external manifestations and outward ap- 
pearances whatsoever, that are visible to the world, are infalli- 
ble evidences of grace. These manifestations that have been 
mentioned, are the best that mankind can have ; and they 
are such as do oblige Christians entirely to embrace professors 
as saints, and love them and rejoice in them as the children 
of God, and are sufficient to give them as great satisfaction 
concerning them, as ever is needful to guide them in their 
conduct, or for any purpose that needs to be answered in 
this world. But nothing that appears to them in their 
neighbor, can be sufficient to beget an absolute certainty con- 
cerning the state of his soul : For they see not his heart, 
nor can they see all his external behavior ; for much of it 
is in secret, and hid from the eye of the world ; and it is 
impossible certainly to determine how far a man may go in 
many external appearances and imitations of grace, from, 
other principles. Though undoubtedly, if others could see 
so much of what belongs to men's practice, as their own con- 
sciences may see of it, it might be an infallible evidence of 
their state, as will appear from what follows. 

Having thus considered Christian practice as the best 
evidence of the sincerity of professors to others, I now pro- 

2. To observe, that the scripture also speaks of Christian 
practice as a distinguishing and sure evidence of grace to 
persons' own consciences. This is very plain in 1 John ii. 3. 
" Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his 
commandments." And the testimony of our consciences, 
with respect to our good deeds, is spoken of as that which 
may give us assurance of our own godliness, 1 John iii. 18, 
19. " My little children, let us not love in word, neither in 
tongue, but in deed, and in truth. And hereby we know 

Vol. IV. 2 Y 


that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before 
him." And the Apostle Paul, in Heb. vi. speaks of the work 
and labor of love, of the Christian Hebrews, as that which 
both gave him a persuasion that they had something above 
the highest common illuminations, and also as that evidence 
which tended to give them the highest assurance of hope 
concerning themselves, verse 9, &c. " But, beloved, we are 
persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany 
salvation, though we thus speak. For God is not unright- 
eous, to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have 
Shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to his 
saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of 
you do shew the same diligence, to the full assurance of hope 
unto the end." So the apostle directs the Galatians to ex- 
amine their behavior or practice, that they might have re- 
joicing in themselves in their own happy state, Gal. vi. 4. 
M Let every man prove his own work, so shall he have re- 
joicing in himself, and not in another." And the psalmist 
says, Psal. cxix. 6, « Then shall I not be ashamed, when I 
have respect unto all thy commandments ;" i. e. then I shall 
be bold, and assured, and stedfast in my hope. And in that 
of our Saviour, Matth. vii. 19, 20. " Every tree that bring- 
eth not forth good fruit, is hewn down and cast into the 
fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.'* 
Though Christ gives this, firstly, as a rule by which we 
should judge of others, yet in the words that next follow he 
plainly shews, that he intends it also as a rule by which we 
should judge ourselves ; " Not every one that saith unto me, 
Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven ; but he 
that doth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Many 

will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, &c And then 

will I profess unto them, I never knew you : Depart from 
me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore, whosoever heareth 
these sayings of mine, and doth them, I will liken him unto 

a wise man which built his house upon a rock.— And 

every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doth them 
not, shall be likened unto a foolish man which built his house 


*ipon the sand." I shall have occasion to mention other texts 
that shew the same thing, hereafter. 

But for the greater clearness in this matter, I would, first, 
shew how Christian practice, doing good works, or keeping 
Christ's commandments, is to be taken, when the scripture 
represents it as a sure sign to our own consciences, that we 
are real Christians. And, secondly, will prove, that this is 
the chief of all evidences that men can have of their own 
sincere godliness. 

First, I would shew how Christian practice, or keeping 
Christ's commandments, is to be taken, when the scripture 
represents it as a sure evidence to our own consciences, that 
we are sincere Christians. 

And here I would observe, that we cannot reasonably 
suppose, that when the scripture in this case speaks of good 
works, good fruit, and keeping Christ's commandments, it 
has respect merely to what is external, or the motion and 
action of the body without including any thing else, having 
no respect to any aim or intention of the agent, or any act 
of his understanding or will. For consider men's actions so, 
and they are no more good works or acts of obedience, than 
the regular motions of a clock ; nor are they considered as 
the actions of the man, nor any human actions at all.. The 
actions of the body, taken thus, are neither acts of obedience 
nor disobedience, any more than the motions of the body 
in a convulsion. But the obedience and fruit that is spoken 
of, is the obedience and fruit of the man ; and therefore not 
only the acts of the body, but the obedience of the soul, con- 
sisting in the acts and practice of the soul. Not that I sup- 
pose, that when the scripture speaks, in this case, of gracious 
works, and fruit and practice, that in these expressions are in- 
cluded all inward piety and holiness of heart, both principle 
and exercise, both spirit and practice : Because then, in these 
things being given as signs of a gracious principle in the 
heart, the same thing would be given as a sign of itself, and 
there would be no distinction between root and fruit. But 
only the gracious exercise, and holy act of the soul is meant, 
and given as the sign of the holy principle and good estate. 


Neither is every kind of inward exercise of grace meant j 
but the practical exercise, that exercise of the soul, and ex; 
prtion of inward holiness, which there is in an obediential 
act ; or that exertion of the mind, and act of grace, which 
issues and terminates in what they call the imperate acts of 
the will ; in which something is directed and commanded by 
the soul to be done, and brought to pass in practice. 

Here, for a clearer understanding, I would observe, that 
there are two kinds of exercises of grace. 1. There are those 
that some call immanent acts ; that is, those exercises of 
grace that remain within the soul, that begin and are ter- 
minated there, without any immediate relation to any thing 
to be done outwardly, or to be brought to pass in practice. 
Such are the exercises of grace, which the saints often have 
in contemplation ; when the exercise that is in the heart, 
does no': directly proceed to, or terminate in any thing be- 
y ad the thoughts of the mind ; however they may tend to 
practice (as all exercises of grace do) more remotely. 2. 
There is another kind of acts of grace, that are more strictly 
called practical, or effective exercises, because they immedi- 
ately respect something to be done. They are the exertions 
of grace in the commanding acts of the will, directing the 
outward actions. As when a saint gives a cup of cold 
water to a disciple, in and from the exercise of the 
grace of charity ; or voluntarily endures persecution 
in the way of his duty ; immediately from the ex- 
ercise of a supreme love to Christ. Here is the exertion 
of grace producing its effect in outward actions. These ex- 
ercises of grace are practical and productive of good works, 
not only in this sense, that they are of a productive nature, 
(for so are all exercises of true grace) but they are the produc- 
ing acts. This is properly the exercise of grace in the act of 
the will ; and this is properly the practice of the soul. And the 
soul is the immediate actor of no other practice but this ; the 
motions of the body follow from the laws of union between 
the soul and body, which God, and not the soul, has fixed 
and docs maintain. The act of the soul and the exercise of 
gracej that is exerted in the performance of a c;ood work, is 


the good work itself, so far as the soul is concerned in it, or 
so far as it is the soul's good work. The determinations of 
the will are indeed our very actions, so far as they are prop- 
erly ours, as Dr. Doddridge observes.* In this practice of 
the soul is included the aim and intention of the soul, which 
is the agent. For not only should we not look on the mo- 
tions of a statue, doing justice or distributing alms by clock- 
work, as any acts of obedience to Christ in that statue ; but 
neither would any body call the voluntary actions of a man, 
externally and materially agreeable to a command of Chiist, 
by the name of obedience to Christ, if he had never heard of 
Christ, or any of his commands, or had no thought of his 
commands in what he did. If the acts of obedience and 
good fruit spoken of, be looked upon, not as mere motions 
of the body, but as acts of the soul; the whole exercise of 
the spirit of the mind, in the action must be taken in, with 
the end acted for, and the respect the soul then has to God, 
Sec. otherwise they are no acts of denial of % ourselves, or obe- 
dience to God, or service done to him, but something else. 
Such effective exercises of grace as these that I have now 
described, many of the Martyrs have experienced in a high 
degree. And all true saints live a life of such acts of grace 
as these ; as they all live a life of gracious works, of which 
these operative exertions of grace are the life and soul. And 
this is the obedience and fruit that God mainly looks at, as 
he looks at the soul, more than the body ; as much as the 
soul, in the constitution of the human nature, is the superior 
part. As God looks at the obedience and practice of the 
man, he looks at the practice of the soul ; for the soul is the 
man in God's sight, " for the Lord 3eeth not as man seeth, 
for he looketh on the heart." 

And thus it is, that obedience, good works, good fruits, are 
to be taken, when given in scripture as a sure evidence to our 
own consciences of a true principle of grace : Even as includ- 
ing the obedience and practice of the soul, as preceding and 
governing the actions of the body. When practice is given 

* Scripture Doctrine of Salvation, Sermon I, p, u. 


in scripture as the main evidence toothers of our true Christ* 
ianity, then is meant that in our practice which is visible to 
them, even our outward actions : But when practice is given 
as a sure evidence of our rca! Christianity to our own conscien- 
ces, then is meant that in our practice which is visible to our 
own consciences ; which is not only the motion of our bodies, 
but the e>:erticn of the soul, which directs and commands 
that motion ; which is more directly and immediately under 
the view of our own consciences, than the act of the body. 
And that this is the intent of the scripture, not only does the 
nature and reason of the thing shew, but it is plain by the 
scripture itself. Tims it is evident, that when Christ, at the 
conclusion of his sermon on the mount, speaks of doing or 
practising those sayings of his, as the grand sign of professors 
being true disciples, without which he likens them to a man 
that built his house upon the sand, and with which, to a man 
that buiit his house upon a rock ; he has a respect, not only to 
the outward behayior, but to the inward exercise of the mind 
in that behavior : As is evident by observing what those pre- 
ceding sayings cf his are that he refers to, when he speaks of 
our doing or practising them ; and we shall find they are such 
as these : " Blessed are the poor in spirit ; blessed are they 
that mourn ; blessed are the meek ; blessed are they that do 
hunger and thirst after righteousness ; blessed are the merci- 
ful ; blessed are the pure in heart ; whosoever is angry with 
his brother without a cause, Sec. whosoever looketh on a wo- 
man to lust after her, Scclove your enemies ; take no thought 
for your life," and others of the like nature, which imply in- 
ward exercises : And when Christ says, John xiv. 2. " He that 
hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that lov- 
eth me ;" he has evidently a special respect to that command 
several times repeated in the same discourse (which he calls 
by way of eminence, his commandment) that they should 
love one another, as he had loved them (see chap. xiii. 34, 35, 
and chap. xv. 10, 12, 13, 14.) But this command respects 
chiefly an exercise of the mind or heart, though exerted in 
practice. So when the Apostle John says, 1 John ii. 3. 
• k Hereby we do know that we know him ; if we keep his com- 


mandments ;" he has plainly a principal respect to the same 
command, as appears by what follows, ver. 7..... 1 1, and 2d 
Epist. ver. 5, 6, and when we are told in scripture that men 
shall at the last day be judged according to their works, and 
all shall receive according to the things done in the body ; it 
is not to be understood only of outward acts ; for if so> why is 
God so often spoken of as searching the hearts and trying the 
reins, " that he may render to every one according to his 
works ? As Rev. ii. 23. And all the churches shall know 
that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts ; and I 
will give unto every one according to his works, Jer. xvii. 9, 
10. " I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to 
give every man acccording to his ways, and according to the 
fruit of his doings." But if by his ways, and the fruit of his 
doings, is meant only the actions of his body, what need of 
searching the heart and reins in order to know them ? Heze- 
kiah in his sickness pleads his practice as an evidence of his 
title to God's favor, as including not only his outward actions, 
but what was in his heart, Isa. xxxviii. 3. « Remember now* 
O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in 
truth, and with a perfect heart." 

Though in this great evidence of sincerity that the scrip- 
ture gives us, what is inward is of greatest importance ; yet 
what is outward is included and intended, as connected with 
the practical exertion of grace in the will, directing and com- 
manding the actions of the body. And hereby are effectual- 
ly cut off all pretensions that any man can have to evidences 
of godliness, who externally lives wickedly ; because the 
great evidence lies in that inward exercise and practice of the 
soul, which consists in the acts of the will, commanding out- 
ward acts. But it is known, that these commanding acts of 
the will are not one way, and the actions of the bodily organs 
another : For the unalterable law of nature is, that they should 
be united, as long as soul and body are united, and the organs 
are not so destroyed as to be incapable of those motions that 
the soul commands. Thus it would be ridiculous for a man 
to plead, that the commanding act of his will was to go to the 
public worship, while his feet carry him to a tavern or brothel- 


house ; or that the commanding act of his will was to gi\'6 
such a piece of money he had in his hand to a poor beggar, 
while his hand at the same instant kept it back, and held it 

Secondly, I proceed to shew, that Christian practice, taken 
in the sense that has been explained, is the chief of all the 
evidences of a saving sincerity in religion, to the consciences 
of the professors of it ; much to be preferred to the method 
of the first convictions, enlightenings, and comforts in con- 
version, or any ^immanent discoveries or exercises of grace 
■whatsoever, that begin and end in contemplation.* The evi- 
dence of this appears by the following arguments. 

Argument I Reason plainly shews, that those things 

which put it to the proof what men will actually cleave to and 
prefer in their practice, when left to follow their own choice 
and inclinations, are the proper trial what they do really pre- 
fer in their hearts. Sincerity in religion, as has been observ- 
ed already, consists in setting God highest in the heart, in 
choosing him before other things, in having a heart to sell all 
for Christ, Sec. But a man's actions are the proper trial what 
a man's heart prefers. As for instance, when it is so that God 
and other things come to stand in competition, God is as it 
were set before a man on one hand, and his worldly interest 
or pleasure on the other (as it often is so in the course of a 
man's life) his behavior in such case, in actually cleaving to 
the one and forsaking the other, is the proper trial which he 
prefers. Sincerity consists in forsaking all for Christ in 
heart ; but to forsake all for Christ in heart, is the very same 
thing as to have an heart to forsake ail for Christ ; but cer- 
tainly the proper trial whether a man has an heart to forsake 
all for Christ, is his being actually put to it, the having Christ 

* " Look upon John, Christ's beloved disciple and bosom companion ! 
He had received the anointing to know him that is true, and he knew that he 
knew him, i John ii. 3. But how did he know that ? He might be deceiv- 
ed ; (as it is strange to see what a melancholy fancy will do, and the effects 
©fit; as hontst men are reputed to have weak brains, and never saw the 
depths of the secrets of God) what is his last proof ? •« Because we keep his 
commandments." Sheiiari's Parable, Part I. p. iji. 


and other things coming in competition, that he must actually 
or practically cleave to one and forsake the other. To for- 
sake all for Christ in heart, is the same thing as to have a 
heart to forsake all for Christ when called to it : But the high- 
est proof to ourselves and others, that we have an heart to for- 
sake all for Christ when called to it, is actually doing it when 
called to it, or so far as called to it. To follow Christ in heart 
is to have an heart to follow him. To deny ourselves in heart for 
Christ, is the same thing as to have an heart to deny ourselves 
for him in fact. The main and most proper proof of a man's 
having an heart to any thing, concerning which he is at liber- 
ty to follow his own inclinations, and either to do or not to do 
as he pleases, is his doing of it. When a man is at liberty 
whether to speak or keep silence, the most proper evidence 
of his having an heart to speak, is his speaking. When a 
man is at liberty whether to walk or sit still, the proper proof 
of his having an heart to walk, is his walking. Godliness con- 
sists not in an heart, to intend to do the will of God, but in 
an heart to do it. The children of Israel in the wilderness 
had the former, of whom we read, Deut. v. 27, 28, 29. " Go 
thou near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say ; and 
speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto 
thee, and we will hear it, and do it. And the Lord heard the 
voice of your words, when ye spake unto me ; and the Lord 
said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this peo- 
ple, which they have spoken unto thee ; they have well said 
all that they have spoken. O that there were such an heart 
in them, that they would fear me and keep all my command- 
ments always, that it might be well with them, and with their 
children for ever !" The people manifested that they had a 
heart to intend to keep God's commandments, and to be very 
forward in those intentions ; but God manifests, that this was 
far from being the thing that he desired, wherein true godli- 
ness consists, even an heart actually to keep them" 

It is therefore exceedingly absurd, and even ridiculousjjbv 
any to pretend that they have a good heart, while they live 
a wicked life, or do not bring forth the fruit of universal holi- 
ness in their practice. For it is proved in fact, that such men 
Vol. IV, 2Z 


do not love God above all. It is foolish to dispute against 
plain fact and experience. Men that live in ways of sin, and 
yet flatter themselves that they shall go to heaven, or expect 
to be received hereafter as holy persons, without a holy prac- 
tice, act us though they expected to make a fool of their Judge. 
Which is implied in what the apostle says (speaking of men's 
doing good works and living an holy life, thereby exhibiting 
evidence of their title to everlasting life) Gal. vi. 7. "Be 
not deceived ; God is not mocked ; for whatsoever a man 
soweth, that shall he also reap." As much as to say, « Do not 
deceive yourselves with an expectation of reaping life ever- 
lasting hereafter, if you do not sow to the spirit here ; it is in 
vain to think that God will be made a fool of by you, that he 
will be shammed and baffled with shadows instead of substance, 
and with vain pretences, instead of that good fruit which he 
expects, when the contrary to what you pretend appears plain- 
ly in your life, before his face." In this manner the word 
mock is sometimes used in scripture. Thus Delilah says to 
Sampson, " behold thou hast mocked me, and told me lies." 
Judges xvi. 10, 13, i. e. " Thou hast baffled me, as though 
you would have made a fool of me, as if I might be easily 
turned off with any vain pretence, instead of the truth." So 
it is said that Lot, when he told his sons in law that God would 
destroy that place, " he seemed as one that mocked, to his 
sons in law." Gen. xix. 14. i. e. he seemed as one that 
would make a game of them, as though they we're such cred- 
ulous fools as to regard such bugbears. But the great Judge, 
whose eyes are as a flame of fire, will not be mocked or baffled 
with any pretences, without a holy life. If in his name men 
have prophesied and wrought miracles, and have had faith, so 
that they could remove mountains, and cast out devils, and 
however high their religious affections have been, however 
great resemblances they have had of grace, and though their 
hiding place has been so dark and deep, that no human skill 
nor search could find them out ; yet if they are workers or 
practisers of iniquity, they cannot hide their hypocrisy from 
their Judge : Job. xxxiv. 22. " There is no darkness, nor 
shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide 


themselves." Would a wise prince suffer himself to ho fool- 
ed and baffled by a subject, who should pretend that he was 
a loyal subject, and should tell his prince that he had an en- 
tire affection to him, and that at such and such a time he had 
experience of it, and felt his affections strongly working to- 
wards him, and' should come expecting to be accepted and re- 
warded by his prince, as one of his best friends on that ac- 
count, though he lived in rebellion against him, following 
some pretender to his crown, and from time to time stirring 
up sedition against him ? Or would a master suffer himself to 
be shammed and gulled by a servant, that should pretend to • 
great experiences of love and honor towards him in his heart, 
and a great sense of his worthiness and kindness to him, when 
at the same time he refused to obey him, and he could get 
no service done by him ? 

Argument II As reason shews, that those things which 

occur in the course of life, that put it to the proof whether 
men will prefer God to other things in practice, are the prop- 
er trial of the uprightness and sincerity of their hearts ; so the 
same are represented as the proper trial of the sincerity of 
professors in the scripture. There we find that such things 
are called by that very name, trials or temptations (which I 
before observed are both words of the same signification.) 
The things that put it to the proof, whether men will prefer 
God to other things in practice, are the difficulties of religion, 
or those things which occur that make the practice of duty 
difficult and cross to other principles beside the love of God ; 
because in them, God and other things are both set before 
men together, for their actual and practical choice ; and it 
comes to this, that we cannot hold to both, but one or the 
other must be forsaken. And these things are all over the 
scripture called by the name of trials or proofs.* And they 
are called by this name, because hereby professors are tried 

* 2 Cor. viii. a. Heb. xi. 36. 1 Pet. i. 7. Chap. iv. 12. Gen. xxii. 1. 

Deut. viii. 2, 16. Chap. xiii. 3. Exod. xv. 25. Chap. xvi. 4. Judges 

ii. 22. Chap. iii. 1, 4. Psal, lxvi. io, 11. Dan. xii. 10. Rev. iii. 10. 

Job. xxiii. 10. Zech. xiii. 9. James L 12. Rev. ii. 10. Luke viii. 13. 
Acts xx. 19. James i. a, 3. 1 Pet. i. 6. 


and proved of what sort they be, whether they be really what 
they profess and appear to be ; and because in them, the re- 
ality of a supreme love to God is brought to the test of exper- 
iment and fact ; they are the proper proofs in which it is tru- 
ly determined by experience, whether men have a thorough 
disposition of heart to cleave to God or no, Deut. viii. 2. 
" And thou shah remember all the way which the Lord thy 
God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble 
thee, and to prove thee, whether thou wouldest keep his com- 
mandments or no, Judges ii. 21, 22. I also will not hence- 
forth drive out any from before them, of the nations which 
Joshua left when de died ; that through them I may prove 
Israel, whether they will keep the way of the Lord. So chap, 
iii. 1, 4, ar.d Exod. xvi. 4. 

The scripture:, when it calls these difficulties of religion 
by the name of temptations or trials, explains itself to mean 
thereby the trial or experiment of their faith, James i. 2, 3. 
"My brethren,count it all joy Avhen ye fail into divers tempta- 
tions ; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh pa- 
tience. 1 Pet. L 6, 7. Now, for a season ye are in heaviness, 
through manifold temptations ; that the trial of your faith be- 
ing much more precious than of gold," &c. So the Apostle 
Paul speaks of that expensive duty of parting with our sub- 
stance to the poor, as the proof of the sincerity of the love of 
Christians, 2 Cor. viii. 8. And the difficulties of religion are 
often represented in scripture, as being the trial of professors, 
in the same manner that the furnace is the proper trial of gold 
and silver. Psal. Ixvi. 10, 11. "Thou, O God, hast proved 
us : Thou hast tried us as silver is tried : Thou broughtest 
us into the net, thou laidest affliction upon our loins. Zech. 
xiii. 9. And I will bring the third part of them through the 
fire ; and I will refine them as silver is refined ; and I will 
try them as gold is tried." That which has the color and 
appearance of gold, is put into the furnace to try whether it 
be what it seems to be, real gold or no. So the difficulties of 
religion are culled trials, because they try those that have the 
profession and appearance of saintSi whether they are what 
they appear to be, real saints. 


If we put true gold into the furnace, we shall find its great 
value and preciousness : So the truth and inestimable value 
of the virtues of a irue Christian appear when under these 
trials, 1 Pet. i. 7. « That the trial of your faith, being 
much more precious than of gold that perisheth, might be 
found unto praise, and honor, and glory." True -and pure 
gold will come out of the furnace in full weight : So true 
saints, when tried, come forth as gold, Job xxiii. 10. Christ 
distinguishes true grace from counterfeit by this, that it is gold 
tried in the fire, Rev. iii. 17, 18. So that it is evident, that 
these things are called trials in scripture, principally as 
they try or prove the sincerity of professors. And, from 
what has now been observed, it is evident that they are the 
most proper trial or proof of their sincerity ; inasmuch as 
the very meaning of the word trial, as it is ordinarily used 
in scripture, is the difficulty occurring in the way of a profes- 
sor's duty, as the trial or experiment of his sincerity. If tri- 
al of sincerity be the proper name of these difficulties of relig- 
ion, then, doubtless, these difficulties of religion are prop- 
erly and eminently the trial of sincerity ; for they are 
doubtless eminently what they are called by the Holy Ghost : 
God gives things their name from that which is eminent- 
ly their nature. And, if it be so, that these things are the 
proper and eminent trial, proof, or experiment of the sin- 
cerity of professors, then certainly the result of the trial or 
experiment (that is, persons' behavior or practice under such 
trials) is the proper and eminent evidence of their sincerity ; 
for they are called trials or proofs, only with regard to the re- 
sult, and because the effect is eminently the proof or evidence. 
And this is the most proper proof and evidence to the con- 
science of those that are the subjects of these trials. For, 
when God is said by these things to try men, and prove them, 
to see what is in their hearts, and whether they will keep his 
commandments or no ; we are not to understand, that it is for 
his own information, or that he may obtain evidence himself 
if their sincerity ; (for he needs no trials Tor his information) 


but chiefly for their conviction, and to exhibit evidence to their 

Thus, when Gcd is said to prove Israel by the difficulties 
they met with in the wilderness, and by the difficulties they 
met with from their enemies in Canaan, to know what 
was in their hearts, whether ihey would keep his command- 
ments or no ; it must be understood, that it was to discover 
them to themselves, that they might know what was in their 
own hearts. So when God tempted or tried Abraham with 
that difficult command of offering up his son, it was not for 
his satisfaction, whether he feared God or no, but for Abra- 
ham's own greater satisfaction and comfort, and the more 
clear manifestation of the favor of God to hirn. When Abra- 
ham had proved faithful under this trial, God says to him, 
" Now I know that thou fearcst God, seeing thou hast not 
withheld thy con, thine only son, from me." Which plainly 
implies, that in this practical exercise of Abraham's grace 
under this trial, was a clearer evidence of the truth of his 
grace, than ever was before ; and the greatest evidence to 
Abraham's conscience ; because God himself gives it to 
Abraham as such, for his comfort and rejoicing ; and speaks 
of it to him as what might be the greatest evidence to his 
conscience of his being upright in the sight of his Judge. 
Which proves what I say, that holy practice, under trials, is 
the highest evidence of the sincerity of professors to their 
own consciences. And we find that Christ, from time to 
time, took the same method to convince the consciences of 
those that pretended friendship to him, and to shew them 
what they were. This was the method he took with the 
rich young man, Matth. xix. 16, Sec. He seemed to shew a 
great respect to Christ ; he came kneeling to him, and called 
him good Master, and made a great profession of obedience 

• " I am persuaded, as Calvin is, that all the several trials of men are to 
bhew thern to themselves, and to the world, that they be but counterfeits ; and 
to make saints known to themselves the better. Rom. v. 5. Tribulation works 
trial, and that hope. Prov, xvii. 3. If you will know whether it will hold 
weight, the trial will tell you." Shepjrd's Parable, Part I, p. 191. 


to the commandments ; but Christ tried him, by bidding 
him go and sell all that he had, and give to the poor, and 
come and take up his cross and follow him ; telling him, 
that then he should have treasure in heaven. So he tried 
another that we read of, Matth. viii. 20. He made a great 
profession of respect to Christ : Says he, Lord, I will follow 
thee whithersoever thou goest. Christ immediately puts his 
friendship to the proof, by telling him, that the foxes had 
holes, and the birds of the air had nests, but that the Son of 
Man had not where to lay his head. And thus Christ is 
wont still to try professed disciples in general, in his provi- 
dence. So the seed sown, in every kind of ground, stony 
ground, thorny ground, and good ground, which, in all ap- 
pears alike, when it first springs up ; yet is tried, and the 
difference made to appear, by the burning heat of the sun. 

Seeing therefore, that these are the things that God makes 
use of to try us, it is undoubtedly the surest way for us to 
pass a right judgment on ourselves, to try ourselves by the 
same things. These trials of his are not for his information, 
but for ours ; therefore we ought to receive our information 
from thence. The surest way to know our gold, is to look 
upon it and examine it in God's furnace, where he tries it 
for that end, that we may see what it is. If we have a mind 
to know whether a building, stands strong or no, we must 
look upon it when the wind blows. If we would know 
whether that which appears in the form of wheat, has the 
real substance of wheat, or be only chaff, we must observe it 
when it is winnowed. If we would know whether a staff 
be strong, or a rotten broken reed, we must observe it when 
it is leaned on, and weight is borne upon it. If we would 
weigh ourselves justly, we must weigh ourselves in God's 
scales, that he makes use of to weigh us.* These trials, in 

* Dr. Sibbs, in his Bruised Reed, says, "When Christ's will cometh in 
competition with any wordly loss or gain, yet, if then, in that particular case, 
the heart will stoop to Christ, it is a true sign. For the truest trial of the 
power of grace, is in such particular cases as touch us the nearest • for ther* 
our corruption maketh the greatest head. When Christ came horns to the 
young man in the gospel, he lost a disciple of him." 


the course of our practice, are as it -were the balances in 
Which our hearts are weighed, or in which Christ and the 
wo: Id, or Christ and his competitors, as to the esteem and re- 
gard they have in our hearts are weighed, or are put into op- 
posite scales, by which there is opportunity to see which pre- 
ponderates. When a man is brought to the dividing of paths, 
the one of which leads to Christ, and the other to the object of 
his lusts, to see which way he will go, or is brought, and as it 
were set between Christ and the world, Christ on the right 
hand, and the world on the left, so that, if he goes to one, he 
must leave the other, to see which his heart inclines most to, 
or which preponderates in his heart ; this is just the same 
thing as laying Christ and the world in two opposite scales ; 
and his going to the one, and leaving the other, is j.ust the 
same thing as the sinking of one scale, and rising of the oth- 
er. A man's practice, therefore, under the trials of God's 
providence, is as much the proper evidence of the superior in- 
clination of his heart, as the motion of the balance, with dif- 
ferent weights, in opposite scales, is the proper experiment 
of the superior weight. 

Argument III. Another argument, that holy practice, in 
the sense which has been explained, is the highest kind of 
evidence of the truth of grace to the consciences of Christ- 
ians, is, that in practice, grace, in scripture style, is said to 
be made perfect, or to be finished. So the Apostle James 
says, James ii. 22. " Seest thou how faith wrought" 
with his works, and by works was faith made perfect, or 
finished ?" (as the word in the original properly signifies.) 
So the love of God is said to be made perfect, or finished, 
in keeping his commandments. 1 John ii. 4, 5. "He that 
saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is 
a liar, and the truth is not in him : But, whoso keepeth his 
word, in him verily is the love of God perfected." The 
commandment of Christ, which the apostle has especial res- 
pect to, when he here speaks of our keeping his command- 
ments, is (as I observed before) that great commandment of 
his, which respects deeds of love to our brethren, as appears 
by the following verses. Again, the love of Gbd is said to 


be perfected in the same sense, chap. iv. 12. " If we love 
one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in 
us." Here, doubtless, the apostle has still respect to loving 
one another, in the same manner that he had explained in 
the preceding chapter, speaking of loving one another, as a 
sign of the love of God, verse 17, 18. k < Whoso hath this 
world's goods, and shutteth up his bowels, Sec. how dwelleth 
the love of God in him ? My little children, let us not love 
in word, neither in tongue, but in deed (or in work) and in 
truth. By thus loving in work, the apostle says, the love of 
God is perfected in us." Grace is said to be perfected or sin- 
ished in holy practice, as therein it is brought to its proper 
effect, and to that exercise which is the end of the principle ; 
the tendency and design of grace herein is reached, and its 
operation completed and crowned. As the tree is made 
perfect in the fruit ; it is not perfected in the seed's being 
planted in the ground ; it is not perfected in the first quick- 
ening of the seed, and in its putting forth root and sprout ; 
nor is it perfected when it comes up out of the ground ; nor 
is it perfected in bringing forth leaves ; nor yet in putting 
forth blossoms : But, when it has brought forth good ripe 
fruit, then it is perfected* therein it reaches its end, the de- 
sign of the tree is finished : All that belongs to the tree is 
completed and brought to its proper effect in the fruit. So is 
grace in its practical exercises. Grace is said to be made 
perfect or finished in its work or fruit, in the same manner 
as it is said of sin, James i. 15. " When lust hath conceived, 
it bringeth forth sin ; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth 
forth death." Here are three steps ; first, sin in its principle 
or habit, in the being of lust in the heart ; and nextly, here 
is its conceiving, consisting in the immanent exercises of it 
in the mind ; and lastly, here is the fruit that was conceived 
actually, brought forth in the wicked work and practice. 
And this the apostle calls the finishing or perfecting of sin : 
for the word, in the original, is the same that is translated 
perfected in those ferementioned places. 

Now, certainly if it be so, if grace be in this manner 
made perfect in its fruit, if these practical exercises of grace 

Voi. IV. 3 A 


are those exercises wherein grace is brought to its proper ef- 
fect and end, and the exercises Wherein whatsoever belongs 
to its design, tendency and operation, is completed and 
crowned ; then these exercises must be the highest evidences 
of grace, above all other exercises. Certainly the proper 
nature and tendency of every principle must appear best and 
most fully in its most perfect exercises, or in those exercises 
•wherein its nature is most completely exerted, and in its 
tendency most fully answered and crowned, in its proper ef- 
fect and end. If we would see the proper nature of any 
thing whatsoever, and see it in its full distinction from other 
things ; let us look upon it in the finishing of it. The Apos- 
tle James says, by works is faith made perfect ; and intro- 
duces this as an argument to prove, that works are the chief 
evidence of faith, whereby the sincerity of the professors of 
faith is justified, James ii. And the Apostle John, after he 
had once and again told us that love was made perfect in 
keeping Christ's commandments, observes, 1 John iv. 18. 
That perfect love casteth out fear ; meaning (at least in part) 
love made perfect in this sense ; agreeable to what he had 
said in the foregoing chapter, " That, by loving in deed, 
or work, we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure 
our hearts, verse 18, 19. 

Argument IV. ...Another thing which makes it evident, 
that holy practice is the principal evidence that we ought to 
make use of in judging both of our own and others' sincerity, 
is, that this evidence is above all others insisted on in scrip- 
ture. A common acquaintance with the scripture, together 
with a little attention and observation, will be sufficient to 
shew to any one that this is ten times more insisted on as a 
note of true piety* throughout the scripture, from the begin- 
ning of Genesis to the end of Revelations, than any thing 
else. And, in the Nc w Testament, where Christ and his 
apostles do expressly, and of declared purpose, lay down 
signs of true godliness, this is almost wholly insisted on. It 
may be observed, that Christ, and his apostles, do not only 
often say those things, in their discoursing on the great doc- 
trines of religion, which do shew what the nature of true 


godliness must be, or from whence the nature and signs of it 
may be inferred by just consequence, and often occasionally 
mention many things which do appertain to godliness ; but 
they do also often, of set purpose, give signs and marks for 
the trial of professors, putting them upon trying themselves 
by the signs they give, introducing what they say, with such 
like expressions as these : " By this you shall know, that 
you know God : By this are manifest the children of God, 
and the children of the devil : He that hath this, builds on 
a good foundation ; he that hath it not, builds on the sand : 
Hereby we shall assure our hearts : He is the man that lov- 
eth Christ," &c. But I can find no place, where cither Christ 
or his apostles do, in this manner, give signs of godliness, 
(though the places are many) but where Christian practice 
is almost the only thing insisted on. Indeed, in many of 
these places, love to the brethren is spoken of as a sign of 
godliness ; and, as I have observed before, there is no one 
virtuous affection, or disposition, so often expressly spoken 
of as a sign of true grace, as our having love one to another : 
But then the scriptures explain themselves to intend chiefly 
this love as exercised and expressed in practice, or in deeds 
of love. So does the Apostle John, who, above all others, in- 
sists on love to the brethren as a sign of godliness, most ex- 
pressly explain himself, in that 1 John iii. 14, &c. " We 
know that we have passed from death unto life, because we 
love the brethren : He that loveth not his brother, abideth 
in death. Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his 
brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion 
from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him ? My little 
children, let us love, not in word, neither in tongue, but in 
deed (i. e. in deeds of love) and in truth. And hereby we 
know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts be- 
fore him." So that when the scripture so much insists on our 
loving one another, as a great sign of godliness, we are not 
thereby to understand the immanent workings of affection 
which men feel one to another, so much as the soul's prac- 
tising all the duties of the second table of the law ; all which 
the New Testament tells us again and again, a true love one 


to another comprehends, Rom. xiii. 8, and 10, Gal. v. it, 
Matth. xxii. 39, 40. So that, really there is no place in the 
New Testament where the declared design is to give signs 
of godliness, but that holy practice, and keeping Christ's 
commandments, is the mark chosen out from all othersto be 
insisted on. Which is an invincible argument, that it is the 
chief of all the evidences of godliness : Unless we suppose 
that when Christ and his apostles, on design set themselves 
about" this business of giving signs, by Avhich professing 
Christians, in all ages, might determine their state ; they 
did not know how to choose signs so well as we could have 
chosen for them. But, if we make the word of Christ our 
rule, then undoubtedly those marks which Christ and his 
apostles did chiefly lay down, and give to us, that we might 
try ourselves by them, those same marks we ought especially 
to receive, and chiefly to make use of, in the trial of our- 
selves.* And surely those things, which Christ and his 
apostles chiefly insisted en, in the rules they gave, ministers 
ought chiefly to insist on in the rules they give. To insist 
much on those things that the scripture insists little on, and 
to insist very little on those things on which the scripture 
insists much, is a dangerous thing ; because it is going cut of 
God's way, and is to judge ourselves, and guide others, in 
an unscriptural manner. God knew which way of leading 
and guiding souls was safest and best for them : He insisted 
so much on somethings, because he knew it to be needful 
that they should be insisted on ; and let other things more 
alone as a wise God, because he knew it was not best for us, 
so much to lay the weight of the trial there. As the Sab- 
bath was made for man, so the scriptures were made for 
wan ; and they are, by infinite wisdom, fitted for our use 
and benefit. We should, therefore, make them our guide in 
all things, in our thoughts of religion, and of ourselves. And 
for us to make that great which the scripture makes little, 

*" It is a sure rule, says Dr. Preston, that, what the scriptures bestow 
much words on, we should have much thoughts on : And what the Holy 
Ghost urgeth most, we should prize moil." Church's Carriage. 


and that little which the scripture makes great, tends to 
give us a monstrous idea of religion ; and (at least indirectly 
and gradually) to lead us wholly away from the right rule, 
and from a right opinion of ourselves, and to establish delu- 
sion and hypocrisy. 

Argument V Christian practice is plainly spoken of in 

the word of God, as the main evidence of the truth of grace, 
not only to others, but to men's own consciences. It is not 
only more spoken of and insisted on than other signs, but in 
many places where it is spoken of, it is represented as the 
chief of all evidences. This is plain in the manner of ex- 
pression from time to time. If God were now to speak 
from heaven to resolve our doubts concerning signs of godli- 
ness, and should give some particular sign, that by it all 
might know whether they were sincerely godly or not, with 
such emphatical expressions as these, the man that has such a 
qualification or mark, " that is the man that is a true saint, 
that is the very man, by this you may know, this is the thing 
by which it is manifest who are saints and who are sinners, 
such men as these are saints indeed ;" should not we look 
upon it as a thing beyond doubt, that this was given as a spe- 
cial, and eminently distinguishing note of true godliness ? But 
this is the very case with respect to the sign of grace I am 
speaking of; God has again and again uttered himself in his 
word in this very manner, concerning Christian practice, as 
Jojin xiv. " he that hath my commandments, and keepeth 
them, he it is thai loveth me." Thus Christ in this place 
gives to the disciples, not so much to guide them in judging 
of others, as to apply to themselves for their own comfort af- 
ter his departure, as appears by every word of the context 
And by the way I would observe, that not only the emphasis 
with which Christ utters himself is remarkable, but also his 
so much insisting on, and repeating the matter, as he does in 
the context ; verse 15. » If ye love me, keep my command- 
ments. Verse 23. If a man love me, he will keep my words. 
And verse 24. He that loveth me not, keepeth not my say- 
ings. And in the next chapter over and over ; verse 2. Ev- 
ery branch in mc that beareth not fruit, he taketh away ; and 


every branch that bearcth fruit, he purget.h it. Verse 8, 
Herein is iny Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit, so 
shall ye he my disciples. Verse 14. Ye arc my friends, if 
ye do whatsoever I command you. We have this mark hid 
down with the same emphasis again, John viii. 31. If ye con- 
tinue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed. And 
again, 1 John ii. 3, hereby do wc know that we know him, if 
we keep his commandments. And verse 5. Whoso keep- 
cth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected} 
hereby know we, that wc are in him. And chapter iii. 18, 19, 
let us love in deed, and, in truth ; hereby we know that we 
are of the truth." What is translated hereby would have 
been a little more emphatical, if it had been rendered more 
literally from the oripinal, by this we do know And how ev- 
idently is holy practice spoken as the grand note of distinc- 
tion between the children of God and the children of the devil, 
in verse 10, of the same chapter ? « In this the children of 
God are manifest, and the children of the devil." Speaking 
of a holy, and a wicked practice, as may be seen in all the con- 
text ; as verse 3. « Every man that hath this hope in him, 
purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Verse 6 10. " Who- 
soever abidcth in him, sinneth not ; whosoever sinneth, hath 
not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no 
man deceive you ; he that doth righteousness, is righteous, 
even as he is righteous : Fie that committeth sin is of the 

devil Whosoever is born of God, sinneth not Whosoever 

doth not righteousness, is not of God. So we have the like 
emphasis, 2 John, 6. This is love, that we walk after his 
commandments ; that is as (as wc must understand it) tins is 
the proper evidence of love. So 1 John v. iii. This is the 
love of God, that we keep his commandments." So the 
Apostle James, speaking of the proper evidences of true 
and pure religion, says, James i. 27. « Pure religion and un- 
defined he fore God and the Father, is this, to visit the father- 
less and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself un- 
spotted from the world." We have the like emphatical ex- 
pressions used about the same thing in the Old Testament, 
Job xxviii. 2S. « And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of 


the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is under- 
standing. Jer. xxii. 15, 16. Did not thy father eat and drink, 
and do judgment and justice? He judged the cause of the 
poor and needy : Was not this to know me ? Saith the Lord. 
Psal. xxxiv. 1 1, Sec. Come, ye children, unto me, and I will 

teach you the fear of the Lord Keep thy tongue from evil, 

and thy lips from speaking guile ; depart from evil, and do 
good ; seek peace and pursue it." Psal. xv, at the beginning, 
"Who shall abide in thy tabernacle ? Who shall dwell in 
thy holy hill ? He that walketh uprightly, &c. Psal. xxiv. 
3, 4. Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord ? And who 
shall stand in his holy place ? He that hath clean hands, and 
a pure heart, Etc. Psal. cxix. 1. Blessed are the undefiled 
in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Verse vL 
Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect to all thy 
commandments. Prov. viii. 13. The fear of the Lord is to 
hate evil." 

So the scripture never uses such emphatica! expressions 
concerning any other signs of hypocrisy, and unsoundness of 
heart, as concerning art unholy practice. So Gal. vi. 7. " Be 
not deceived ; God is not mocked ; for whatsoever a man 
soweth, that shall he also reap. 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. Be net de- 
ceived ; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, Sec. shall inherit 
the kingdom of God. Eph. v. 5, 6. For this ye know, that 
no whoremonger nor unclean person, Sec. hath any inheritance 
in the kingdom of Christ, and of God. Let no man deceive 
you with vain words. 1 John iii. 7, 8. Little children, let no 
man deceive you ; he that doth righteousness is righteous, 
even as he is righteous ; he that committeth sin, is of the dev- 
il. Chap. ii. 4. He that saith, 1 know him, and keepeth not 
his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. And 
chap. i. 6. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and 
walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. James i. 26. 
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not 
his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is 
vain. Chap. iii. 14, 15. If ye have bitter envying and strife 
in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This 
wisdom decendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, dev- 


llsh. Psal. cxxv. 5. As for such as turn aside unto their 
crooked ways, the Lord shall lead them forth with the work- 
ers of iniquity. Isa. xxxv. 8. An high way shall be there, 
and it shall be called the way of holiness ; the unclean shall 
not pass over it. Rev. xxi. 27. And there shall in no wise 
enter into it, whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a 
lie.'* And in many places, " Depart from me, I know you 
not, ye that work iniquity." 

Argument VI Another thing which makes it evident, 

that holy practice is the chief of all the signs of the sincerity 
of professors, not only to the world, but to their own conscien- 
ces is, that this is the grand evidence which will hereafter be 
made use of, before the judgment seat of God ; according to 
which his judgment will be regulated, and the state of every 
professor of religion unalterably determined. In the future 
judgment, there will be an open trial of professors and evi- 
dences will be made use of in the judgment. For God's fu- 
ture judging of men, in order to their eternal retribution, will 
not be his trying, and finding out, and passing a judgment up- 
on the. state of men's hearts, in his own mind ; but it will be, 
a declarative judgment; and the end of it will be, not God's 
forming a judgment within himself, but the manifestation of 
his judgment, and the righteousness of it, to men's own con- 
sciences, and to the world. And therefore the day of judg- 
ment is called the day of the revelation of the righteous judg- 
ment of God, Rem. ii. 5. And the end of God's future trial 
and judgment of men, as to the part that each one in particu- 
lar is to have in the judgment, will be especially the clear 
manifestation of God's righteous judgment, with respect to 
him, to his conscience ; as is manifest by Matth. xviii. 31, to 
the end. Chap. xx. 8. ...15. Chap. xxii. 11,12,13. Chap, 
xxv. 19... .30, and verse 35, to the end. Luke xix. 15....23. 
And therefore though God needs no medium, whereby to 
make the truth evident to himself, yet evidences will be made 
use of in his future judging of men. And doubtless the evi- 
dences that -will be made use of in their trial, will be such as 
will be best fitted to serve the ends of the judgment ; viz. the 
manifestation of the righteous judgment of God, not only te 


the world, but to men's own consciences. But the scriptures 
do abundantly teach us, that the grand evidences which the 
Judge will make use of in the trial, for these ends, according 
to which the judgment of every one shall be regulated, and 
the irreversible sentence passed, will be men's works, or prac- 
tice, here in this world, Rev. xx. 12. « And I saw the dead, 
small and great, stand before God ; and the books were open- 
ed ;....and the dead were judged out of those things which 
were written in the books, according to their works. So 
verse 13. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it ; 
and death and hell gave up the dead which were in them ; and 
they were judged every man according to their works. 2 Cor. 
v. 10. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of 
Christ ; that every one may receive the things done in his 
body, whether it be good or bud." So men's practice is the 
only evidence that Christ represents the future judgment as 
regulated by, in that most particular description of the day 
of judgment, which we have in the Holy Bible, Matth. xxv. 
at the latter end. See also Rom. ii. 6, 13. Jer. xvii. 10. 
Job. xxxiv. 11. Prov. xxiv. 12. Jer. xxxii. 19. Rev. xxii. 
12. Matth. xvi. 27. Rev. ii. 23. Ezek. xxxiii. 20. 1 Pet. 
i. 17. The Judge at the day of judgment, will not (for the 
conviction of men's own consciences, and to manifest them to 
the world) go about to examine men, as to the method of their 
experiences, or set every man to tell his story of the manner 
of his conversion ; but his works will be brought forth, as evi- 
dences of what he is, what he has done in darkness and in 
light, Eccl. xii. 14. " For God will bring every work into 
judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or 
whether it be evil." In the trial that professors shall be the 
subjects of, in the future judgment, God will make use of the 
same evidences, to manifest them to themselves and to the 
world, which he makes use of to manifest them, in the tempt- 
ations or trials of his providence here, viz. their practice, in 
cases wherein Christ and other things come into actual and 
immediate competition. At the day of Judgment, God, for 
the manifestation of his righteous judgment, will weigh pro- 
fessors in a balance that is visible. And thebalap.ee will be 
Vol. IV. 5 B 


the same that he weighs men in now, which has been already 

Hence we may undoubtedly infer, that men's works (taken 
in the sense that has been explained) are the highest eviden- 
ces by which they ought to try themselves. Certainly that 
which our supreme Judge will chiefly make use of to judge 
us by, when we come to stand before him, we should chiefly 
make use of, to judge ourselves by.* If it had not been re- 
vealed in what manner, and by what evidence the Judge 
would proceed with us hereafter, how natural would it be for 
one to say, " O that I knew what token God will chiefly look 
for and insist upon in the last and decisive judgment, and 
which he expects that all should be able to produce, who 
would then be accepted of him, and according to which sen- 
tence shall be passed ; that I might know what token or ev- 
idence especially to look at and seek after now, as I would 
be sure not to fail then." And seeing God has so plainly 
and abundantly revealed what this token or evidence is, sure- 
ly if we act wisely, we shall regard it as of the greatest im- 

Now from all that has been said, I think it to be abundant- 
ly manifest, that Christian practice is the most proper evi- 
dence of the gracious sincerity of professors, to themselves 
and others ; and the chief of all the marks of grace, the sign 
of signs, and evidence of evidences, that which seals and 

crowns all other signs- 1 had rather have the testimony 

of my conscience, that I have such a saying of my Supreme 
Judge on my side, as that, John xiv. 21. " He that hath my 
commandments, and kcepeth them, he it is that loveth me ;" 
than \he judgment and fullest approbation of all the wise, 
sound, and experienced divines, that have lived this thousand 
years, on the most exact and critical examination of my tx- 

• " That which God maketh a rule of his own judgment, 'as that by which 
he judgcth of every man, that is a sure rule for every man to judge himself 
by. That which we shall be judged by at the last day, is a sure rule to apply 
to ourselves for the present. Now by our obedience and works he judgeth 
us. " He will give to every man according to his works." Dr. Preston's 
Church's Carriage. 


periences, as to the manner of my conversion. Not that there 
are no other good evidences of a state of grace but this. There 
may be other exercises of grace, besides these efficient exer- 
cises, which the saints may have in contemplation, that may 
be very satisfying to them, but yet this is the chief and most 
proper evidence. There may be several good evidences that 
a tree is a figtree ; but the highest and most proper evidence 
of it is, that it actually bears figs. It is possible, that a man 
may have a good assurance of a state of grace, at his first con- 
version, before he has had opportunity to gain assurance, by 
this great evidence I am speaking of... .If a man hears that a 
great treasure is offered him, in a distant place, on condition 
that he will prize it so much, as to be willing to leave what he 
possesses at home, and go a journey for it, over the rocks and 
mountains that are in the way, to the place where it is ; it is 
possible the man may be well assured, that he values the 
treasure to the degree spoken of, as soon as the offer is made 
him : He may feel within him, a willingness to go for the 
treasure, beyond all doubt ; but yet, this does not hinder but 
that his actual going for it, is the highest and most proper evi- 
dence of his being willing, not only to others, but to himself. 
But then as an evidence to himself, his outward actions, and 
the motions of his body in his journey, are not considered 
alone, exclusive of the action of his mind, and a consciousness 
within himself, of the thing that moves him, and the end he 
goes for ; otherwise his bodily motion is no evidence to him 
of his prizing the treasure. In such a manner is Christian 
practice the most proper evidence of a saving value of the 
pearl of great price, and treasure hid in the field. 

Christian practice is the sign of signs, in this sense, that it 
is the great evidence, which confirms and crowns all other 
signs of godliness. There is no one grace of the Spirit of 
God, but that Christian practice is the most proper evidence 
of the truth of it. As it is with the members of our bodies, 
and all our utensils, the proper proof of the soundness and 
goodness of them, is in the use of them : So it is with our gra- 
ces (which are given to be used in practice, as much as our 
hands and feet, or the tools with which we work, or the arms 


with which we fight) the proper trial and proof of them is in 
Iheir exercise in practice. Most of the things we use are 
serviceable to us, and so have their serviceableness proved, in 
some pressure, straining, agitation, or collision. So it is with 
a bow, a sword, an axe, a saw, a cord, a chain, a staff, a foot, a 
tooth, &c. And they that are so weak, as not to bear the 
strain or pressure we need to nut them to, are good for noth- 
ing. So it is with all the virtues of the mind. The proper 
trial and proof of them, is in being exercised under those 
temptations and trials that God brings us under, in the course 
of his providence, and in being put to such service as strains 
hard upon the principles of nature. 

Practice is the proper proof of the true and saving knowl- 
edge of God ; as appears by that of the apo«tle already men- 
tioned, " hereby do we know that we know him, that we keep 
his commandments." It is in vain for us to profess that we 
know God, if in works we deny him. Tit. i. 16. "And if 
we know God, but glorify him not as God ; our knowledge 
will only condemn us, and not save us, Rom. i. 2 1 . The great 
note of that knowledge which saves and makes happy, is, that 
it is practical, John xiii. 17. "If ye know these things, hap- 
py are ye if ye do them. Job xxviii. 28. To depart from 
evil is understanding." 

Holy practice is the proper evidence of repentance. "When 
the Jews professed repentance, when they came confessing 
their sins, to John, preaching the baptism of repentance for 
the remission of sins ; he directed them to the right way of 
getting and exhibiting proper evidences of the truth of their 
repentance, when he said to them, " Bring forth fruits meet 
for repentance.'"' Matth. iii. 8. Which was agreeable to the 
practice of the Apostle Paul ; see Acts xxvi. 20. Pardon and 
mercy are from time to time promised to him who has this 
evidence of true repentance, that he forsakes his sin, Prov. 
xxviii. 13, and Isa. lv. 7, and many other places. 

Holy practice is the proper evidence of a saving faith. It 
is evident that the Apostle James speaks of works, as what 
do eminently justify faith, ov (which is the same thing) jus- 
tify the professors of faith, and vindicate and manifest the 


sincerity of their profession, not only to the work], but to 
their own consciences ; as is evident by the instance he gives 
of Abraham, James ii. 21. ...24. And in verse 20, and 26, 
he speaks of the practical and working nature of faith, as the 
very life and soul of it ; in the same manner that the active 
nature and substance, which is in the body of a man, is the 
life and soul of that. And if so, doubtless practice is the 
proper evidence of the life and soul of true faith, by which 
it is distinguished from a dead faith. For doubtless, practice 
. is the most proper evidence of a practical nature, and opera- 
tion the most proper evidence of an operative nature. 

Practice is the best evidence of a saving belief of the truth. 
That is spoken of as the proper evidence of the truth's being 
in a professing Christian, that he walks in the truth, 3 John 
3. " I rejoiced greatly when the brethren came and testified 
of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the 

Practice is the most proper evidence of a true coming to 
Christ, and accepting of, and closing with him. A true and 
saving coming to Christ, is (as Christ often teaches) a com- 
ing so as to forsake all for him. And, as was observed before, 
to forsake all for Christ in heart, is the same thing as to 
have a heart actually to forsake all ; but the proper evi- 
dence of having a heart actually to forsake all, is, indeed, 
actually to forsake all so far as called to it. If a prince make 
suit to a woman in a far country, that she would forsake her 
own people, and father's house, and come to him to be his 
bride ; the proper evidence of the compliance of her 
heart with the king's suit, is her actually forsaking her 
own people and father's house, and coming to him.... 
By this her compliance with the king's suit is made 
perfect, in the same sense that the Apostle J?.mes says, 
By works is faith made perfect.* Christ promises us eter- 

* " Our real taking of Christ appears in our actions and works, Isa. i. 19. 
If ye consent and obey, ye shall eat the good things of the land. That is, it 
ye will consent to take JEHOVAH for your Lord and King : If yc give con- 
sent, there is the first thing ; but that is not enough, but if yc also obey. The 
consent that staudeth in the inward act of the naiiid, the truth, of it will be 


nal life, on condition of our coming to him : But it is such s 
coming as he directed the young man to, who came to in- 
quire what he should do that he might have eternal life ; 
Christ bade him go and seli all that he had, and come to him, 
and follow him. If he had consented in his heart to the 
proposal, and had therein come to Christ in his heart, the 
proper evidence of it would have been his doing of it; and 
therein his coming to Christ would have been made perfect. 
When Christ called Levi the publican, when sitting at the re- 
ceipt of custom, and in the midst of his worldly gains ; the 
closing of Levi's heart with this invitation of his Saviour to 
come to him, was manifested, and made perfect by his actually 
rising up, leaving all, and following him, Luks v.27,2S. Christ, 
and other things, are set before us together, for us practical- 
ly to cleave to one, and forsake the other : In such a case, a 
practical cleaving to Christ is a practical acceptance of Christ ; 
as much as a beggar's. reaching out his hand and taking a gift 
that is offered, is his practical acceptance of the gift. Yea, 
that act of the soul that is in cleaving to Christ in practice 
is itself the most perfect coming of the soul to Christ. 

Practice is the most proper evidence of trusting in Christ 
for salvation. The proper signification of the word trust, 
according to the more ordinary use of it, both in common 
speech and in the holy scriptures, is the emboldening and 
encouragement of a person's mind, to run some venture in 
practice, or in something that he does on the credit of an- 
other's sufficiency and faithfulness. And, therefore, the proper 
evidence of his trusting, is the venture he runs in what he 
does. lie is not properly said to run any venture, in a«dc- 
pendence on any thing, that does nothing on that depen- 
dence, or whose practice is no otherwise than if he had no 
dependence. For a man to run a venture on a dependence 
on another, is for him to do something from that dependence 
by which he seems to expose himself, and which he would 

seen in your obedience, in the acts of your lives. If ye consent and obey, 
ye shall eat the good things of the land ; that is, you shall take of all that he 
hath that is convenient for you ; for then you are married to him in truth, 
aad have an interest in all his goods." Dr, freston's Church's Carriage. 


not do, -were it not for that dependence. And, therefore, it 
is in complying with the difficulties, and seeming dangers of 
Christian practice, in a dependence on Christ's sufficiency 
and faithfulness to bestow eternal life, that persons are said 
to venture themselves upon Christ, and trust in him for hap- 
piness and life. They depend on such promises, as that, iVIatth. 
x. 39. " He that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it." 
And so they part with all, and venture their all, in a depen- 
dence on Christ's sufficiency and truth. And this is the scrip- 
ture notion of trusting in Christ, in the exercise of a saving 
faith in him. Thus Abraham, the father of believers, trust- 
ed in Christ, and by faith forsook his own country, in a reli- 
ance on the covenant of grace God established with him, 
Heb. xi. 8, 9. Thus, also " Moses, by faith refused to be 
called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suf- 
fer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleas- 
ures of sin for a season," Heb. xi. 23, 8cc. So by faith, eth- 
ers exposed themselves to be stoned and sawn asunder, or 
slain witfe the sword ; " endured the trial of cruel mockings 
and scourgings, bonds and imprisonments, and wandered 
about in sheep skins, and goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, 
tormented." And in this sense the Apostle Paul, by faith 
trusted in Christ, and committed himself to him, venturing 
himself, and his whole interest, in a dependence on the abil- 
ity and faithfulness of his Redeemer, under great persecu- 
tions, and in suffering the loss of all things, 2 Tim. i. 12, 
« for the which cause I also suffer these things ; ncvtertfeeJefis 
I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and 
I am persuaded, that he is able to keep that which I have 
committed unto him against that day." 

If a man should have word brought him from the king of 
a distant island, that he intended to make him his heir, if, upon 
receiving the tidings, he immediately leaves his native land 
and friends, and all that he has in the world, to go to that 
country, in a dependence on what he hear?, then he may be 
said to venture himself, and all that he has in the world up- 
on it. Cut, if he only sits still, and hopes for the promised 
benefit, inwardly pleasing himself with the thoughts of it ; 


he cannot properly be said to venture himself upon it ; he. 
runs no venture in the case ; he does nothing, otherwise than 
he would do, if he had received no such tidings, by which he 
would be exposed to any suffering in case all should fail. So 
he that, on the credit of what he hears of a future world, 
and, in a dependence on the report of the gospel, concern- 
ing life and immortality, forsakes all, or does so at least, 
so far as there is occasion, making every thing entirely give 
place to his eternal interest ; he, and he only, may properly 
be said to venture himself on the report of the gospel. And 
this is the proper evidence of a true trust in Christ for salva- 

Practice is the proper evidence of a gracious love, both to 
God and men. The texts that plainly teach this, have been 
so often mentioned already, that it is needless to repeat them. 

Practice is the proper evidence of humility. That ex- 
pression, and manifestation of humility of heart, which God 
speaks of, as the great expression of it, that he insists on ; 
that we should look upon as the proper expression and mani- 
festation of it : But this is walking humbly. Micah vi. S. 
« He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good, and what 
doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, to love mer- 
cy, and to walk humbly with thy God." 

This is also the proper evidence of the true fear of God, 
Prcv. viii. 13. " The fear of the Lord is to ha:e evil, Psal. 
xxxiv. 1 1, £'.c. Come, ye children, hearken unto me, and I 
will teach you the fear of the Lord. Keep thy tongue 
from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile : Depart from 
evil, and do good ; seek peace and pursue it. Prov. iii. 7. 
Fear the Lord, and depart from evil, Piov. xvi. 6. By the 
fear of the Lord, men depart from evil. Job i. 8. Hast thou 
considered my servant Job....a perfect and an upright man, 
one that feareth God, r.nd escheweth evil ? Chap. ii. 3. Hast 
thou considered my servant Job. ...a perfect and an upright 
man, one that fcareih God, and escheweth evil ? And still he 
holdali fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against 
him. Psal. xxxvi. 1. The transgression of the wicked saiih 
within mv heart, There is no fear of God before his eyes." 


So practice, in rendering again according to benefits re- 
ceived, is the proper evidence of true thankfulness. Psal. 
cxvi. 12. " What shall I render to the Lord for all his bene- 
fits towards me ? 2 Chron. xxxii. 25. But Hezekiah ren^ 
dered not again according to the benefit done unto him/' 
Paying c*ir vows unto God, and ordering our conversation 
aright, seem to be spoken of as the proper expression and 
evidence of true thankfulness, in the 50th Psalm, verse 14. 
" Offer unto God thanksgiving, and pay thy vows unto the 
Most High. Verse 23. Whoso offereth praise, glorifieth me : 
And to him that ordereth his conversation aright j will I shew 
the salvation of God." 

So the proper evidence of gracious desires and longings, 
and that which distinguishes them from those that are false 
and vain, is, that they are not idle wishes and wouldings like 
Balaam's ; but effectual id practice, to stir up persons earnest- 
ly and thoroughly to seek the things they long for. Psalm 
xxvii. 4. « One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will 
I seek after." Psal. lxiii. 1, 2. « O God, thou art my God, 
early will 1 seek thee : My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh 
longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is, 
to see thy power and thy glory. Verse 8. My soul follow- 
eth hard after thee. Cant. i. 4. Draw me, we will run after 

Practice is the proper evidence of a gracious hope. 1 John 
iii. 3. Every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth 
himself even as he is pure." Patient continuance in well 
doing, through the difficulties and trials of the Christian 
course* is often mentioned as the proper expression and fruit 
of a Christian hope, 1 Thess. i. 3. "Remembering without 
ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience 
of hope. 1 Pet. 1,13,14. Wherefore, gird up the loins of 
your mind, be sober, and hope to the end, for the grace that 
is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 
as obedient children, &c. Psal. cxix. 166. Lord, I have 
hoped in thy salvation, and done thy commandments. Psal. 
lxxviii. 7. That they might set their hope in God, and no': 
forget the works's f the Lord, but keep his commandments. ''• 

Vol. IV, 3 C 


A cheerful practice of our duty, and doing the will or* 
God, is the proper evidence of a truly holy joy. Isa. lxiv. 5. 
" Thou mectest him that rejoiceth, and worketh righteous- 
ness. Psal. cxix. Ill, 112. Thy testimonies have I taken 
for my heritage for ever ; for they are the rejoicing of my 
heart. I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes 
alway, even to the end. Verse 14. I have rejoiced in the way 
of thy testimonies as much as in all riches. 1 Cor. xiii. 6. 
Chanty rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth. 
2 Cor. viii. 2. The abundance of their joy abounded tmto 
the riches of their liberality." 

Practice also is the proper evidence of Christian fortitude. 
The trial of a good soldier is not in his chimney corner, but 
in the field of battle, 1 Cor. ix. 25, 26. 2 Tim. ii. 3, 4, 5. 

And, as the fruit of holy practice is the chief evidence of 
the truth of grace, so the degree in which experiences have 
influence on a person's practice, is the surest evidence of the 
degree of that which is spiritual and divine in his experiences. 
Whatever pretences persons may make to great discoveries, 
great love and joys, they are no further to be regarded than 
they have' influence on their practice. Not but that allow- 
ances must be made for the natural temper. But that does 
not hinder, but that the degree of grace is justly measured, 
by the degree of the effect in practice. For the effect of 
grace is as great, and the alteration as remarkable, in a very 
ill natural temper, as another. Although a person of such 
a temper will not behave himself so well, with the same de- 
gree cf grace as another, the diversity from what was before 
conversion, may be as great ; because a person of a good 
natural temper did not behave himself so ill before conver- 

Thus I have endeavored to represent the evidence there 
is, that Christian practice is the chief of all the signs of sav- 
ing grace. And, before 1 conclude tins discourse, I would 
say something briefly in answer to two objections that may 
possibly be made by some against what has been said upon 
this head. 


Objection I....Somo may be ready to say, this seems to 
be contrary to that cpinion, so much received among good 
people; that professors should judge of their state, chiefly 
by their inward experience, and that spiritual experiences ars 
the main evidences of true grace. 

I answer, it is doubtless a true opinion, and justly much 
received among good people, that professors should chiefly 
judge of their state by their experience. But it is a great 
mistake, that what has been said is at all contrary to that 
opinion. The chief sign of grace to the consciences of 
Christians, being Christian practice, in the sense that has 
been explained, and according to what has been shewn to 
be the true notion of Christian practice, is not at all incon- 
sistent with Christian experience being the chief evidence of 
grace. Christian or holy practice is spiritual practice ; and 
that is not the motion of a body that knows not how, nor 
when, nor wherefore it moves : But spiritual practice in 
man is the practice of a spirit and body jointly, or the prac- 
tice of a spirit animating, commanding, and actuating a 
body to which it is united, and over which it has power 
given it by the Creator, And, therefore, the main thing, 
in this holy practice, is the holy action of the mind, directing 
and governing the motions of the body. And the motions 
of the body are to be looked upon as belonging to Christian 
practice, only secondarily, and as they are dependent and 
consequent on the acts of the soul. The exercises of grace 
that Christians find, or are conscious to within themselves, 
are what they experience within themselves ; and herein 
therefore lies Christian experience : And this Christian ex- 
perience consists as much in those operative exercises of 
grace in the will, that are immediately concerned in the 
management of the behavior of the body, as in other exer- 
cises. These inward exercises are not the less a part of 
Christian experience, because they have outward behavior 
immediately connected with them. A strong act of love to 
God, is not the less a part of spiritual experience, because 
it is the act that immediately prodxices and effects some self- 


denying and expensive outward action, which is much to the 
honor and glory of God. 

To speak of Christian experience and practice, as if they 
were two things, properly and entirely distinct, is to make a 
distinction without consideration or reason. Indeed, all Christ- 
ian experience is not properly called practice, but all Christ- 
ian practice is properly experience. And the distinction 
that is made between them, is not only an unreasonable, 
bu an unscriptural distinction. Holy practice is one kind or 
part of Christian experience ; and both reason and scripture 
represent it as the chief, and most important and most distin- 
guishing part of it. So ir. is represented in Jer. xxii. 15, 
16. "Did not thy father eat and' drink, and do justice and 
judgment ? He judged the cause of the poor and needy :.... 
Was not this to know me, saith the Lord ?" Our inward ac- 
quaintance with God surely belongs to the head of experi- 
mental religion : But this, God represents as consisting chief- 
ly in that experience which there is in holy practice. So the 
exercises of those graces of the love of God, and the fear of 
God, are a part of experimental religion : But these the 
scripture represents as consisting chiefly in practice, in those 
forementioned texts, 1 John v. 3. " This is the love of God, 
that we keep his commandments. 2 John 6. This is love, 
that Ave walk after his commandments. Psal. xxxiv. 1 1, &c. 
Come, ye children, and I will teach you the fear of the Lord : 
Depart from evil, and do good." Such experiences as these 
Hezekiah took comfort in, chiefly on his sick bed, when he 
said, " Remember, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walk- 
ed before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart." And such 
experiences as these, the Psalmist chiefly insists upon, in the 
1 19th Psalm, and elsewhere. 

Such experiences as these the Apostle Paul mainly insists 
upon, when he speaks of his experiences in his epistles ; as, 
Rom. i. 9. " God is my witness, whom I serve with my 
spirit in the gospel of his Son. 2 Cor. i. 12. For our re- 
joicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that. ...by the 
grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world. 
Chap. it. 13. We, having the same spirit of faith, according 


as it is written, I have believed, and therefore have I spoken ; 
we also believe, and therefore speak. Chap. v. 7. We walk 
by faith, not by sight. Ver. 14. The love of Christ con- 
straineth us. Chap. vi. 4. ...7. In all things approving our- 
selves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, 
in necessities, in distresses, in labors, in watchings, in fastings. 
By pureness, by knowledge, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, 
by love unfeigned ; by the power of God. Gal. ii. 20. lam 
crucified with Christ : Nevertheless I live ; yet not I, but 
Christ liveth in me : And the life, which I now live in the 
flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God. Phil. iii. 7, 8. 
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for 
Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for 
the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, and 
do count them but dung that I may win Christ, Col. i. 29.... 
Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, 
which worketh in me mightily. 1 Thess. ii. 2. We were 
bold in our God, to speak unto you the gospel of God with 
much contention. Ver. 8, 9, 10. Being affectionately de- 
sirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not 
the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye 
were dear unto us. For ye remember, brethren, our labor 
and travel, laboring night and day. Ye are witnesses, and 
God also, how holily, and justly, and unblameably, we behav- 
ed ourselves among you." And such experiences as these 
they were, that this blessed apostle chiefly comforted himself 
in the consideration of, when he was going to martyrdom, 
2 Tim. iv. 6, 7. " For I am now ready to be offered, and the 
time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight 
I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." 

And not only does the most important and distinguishing 
part of Christian experience lie in spiritual practice ; but such 
is the nature of that sort of exercises of grace, wherein spirit- 
ual practice consists, that nothing is so properly called by the 
name of experimental religion. For, that experience, which 
is in these exercises of grace, that are found and prove ef- 
fectual at the very point of trial, wherein God proves, which 
we will actually cleave to, whether Christ or our lusts, is as 


has been shown already, the proper experiment of the truth 
and pov, cr of our godliness ; v> herein its victorious power and 
efficacy, in producing its proper effect, and reaching its end, 
is found by expei ience. This is properly Christian expe- 
rience, wherein the saints have opportunity to see, by actual 
experience and trial, whether they have a heart to do the will 
of Geo, and to forsake other things for Christ, or nc. As that 
is called expeiimenlal philosophy which brings opinions and 
notions to the test of fact, so is that properly culled experi- 
mental religion, which brings religious affections and inten- 
tions to the like test. 

There is a sort of external religious practice, wherein is no 
inward experience, which no account is made of in the sight 
of God, but it is esteemed good for nothing. And there is what 
is called experience, that is without practice, being neither 
accompanied nor followed with a Christian behavior ; and 
this is worse than nothing. Many persons seem to have very 
wrong notions of Christian experience and spiritual light and 
discoveries. Whenever a person finds within him an heart to 
treat God as God, at the time that he has the trial, and finds 
his disposition effectual in the experiment, that is the most 
proper, and most distinguishing experience. And to have, 
at such a time, that sense of divine things, that apprehension 
of the truth, importance and excellency of the things of relig- 
ion, which then sways and prevails, and governs his heart and 
hands ; this is the most excellent spiritual light, and these are 
the most distinguishing discoveries. Religion consists much 
in holy affection ; but those exercises of affection which are 
liahing of true religion, are these practical exer- 
cises- friendship between earthly friends consists much in 
. : t. those strong exercises of affection, that ae- 
■ ny them ».h rough tire and water for each other, aro 
the highest evidenced of '-.hip. 

There is nothln ; ias been said, contrary to what 

is asserted by some sound divines ; when they say, that there 
are no sure evidences oS grace, but the acts of grace. For 
that doth not hindet, but in rt these operative, productive acts, 
those exercises of grace that are effectual in practice, may be 


the highest evidences above all other kinds of acts of grace. 
Nor does it hinder, but that, when there are many of these 
acts and exercises, following one another in a course, under 
various trials of every kind, the evidence is still heightened ; 
as one act confirms another. A man, once by seeing hi* 
neighbor, may have good evidence of his presence ; but by 
seeing him from day to day, and conversing with him, in a 
course in various circumstances, the evidence is established. 
The disciples, when they first saw Christ, after his resurrec- 
tion, had good evidence that lie was alive ; but, by conversing 
with him for forty days, and his shewing himself to them 
alive by many infallible proofs, they had yet higher evidence.* 
The witness or seal of the Spirit that we read of, doubtless 
Consists in the effect of the Spirit of God in the heart, in the 
implantation and exercises of grace there, and so consists in 
experience. And it is also beyond doubt, that this seal of 
the Spirit, is the highest kind of evidence of the saints' adop- 
tion, that ever they obtain. But in these exercises of grace 
in practice, that have been spoken of, God gives witness, and 
sets to his seal, in the most conspicuous, eminent, and evident 
manner. It has been abundantly found to be true in fact, by the 
experience of the Christian church, that Christ commonly 
gives, by his Spirit, the greatest and most joyful evidences to 
his saints of their sonship, in those effectual exercises of grace 

* "The more these visible exercises of grace arc- renewed, the more cer- 
tain you will be. The more frequently these actings are renewed, the more 
abiding and confirmed your assurance will be. A man that has been assured 
of such visible exercises of grace, may quickly alter be in doubt whether he 
was not mistaken. But when such actings are renewed again and cjan, he 
grows more settled and established about his good estate. If a man see a thing 
once, that makes him sure ; but, if afterwards, he fear he was deceived, when 
he comes to see it again, he is more sure he was not mistaken. If a man 
read such passages in a book, he is sure it is so. Some months after, some 
may bear him down, that he was mistaken, so as to make him question it 
himself; but, when he looks, and reads it again, he is abundantly cbnfTrrned, 
The more men's grace is multiplied, the more their peace is multiplied ;" 
2 Pet. i. 2. " Grace and peace be multiplied unto you. through the knowl- 
edge of God, and Jesus our Lord." Stoddard's Wa.fto.tswinmcs$i^vrsti ■ 


under trials, which have been spoken of ; as is manifest ifj 
the full assurance, and unspeakable joys of many of the mar- 
tyrs. Agreeable to that, 1 Pet. iv. 14. " If ye are reproached 
for the name of Christ, happy are ye ; for the Spirit of glory, 
and of God resteth upon you." And that in Rom. v. 2, 3, 
" We rejoice in hope of the glory of God, and glory in tribula- 
tions." And agreeable to what the Apostle Paul often de- 
clares of what he experienced in his trials. And when the 
Apostle Peter, in my text, speaks of the joy unspeakable, and 
full of glory, which the Christians to whom he wrote, experi- 
enced ; he has respect to what they found under persecution, 
as appears by the context. Christ's thus manifesting himself, 
as the friend and saviour of his saints, cleaving to him under 
trials, seems to have been represented of old, by his coming 
and manifesting himself, to Shadrach, Meshach and Abedne- 
go, in the furnace. And when the apostle speaks of the wit- 
ness of the Spirit, in Rom. viii. 15, 16, 17, he has a more im- 
mediate respect to what the Christians experienced, in their 
exercises of love to God, in suffering persecution ; as is plain 
by the context. He is, in the foregoing vei'ses, encouraging 
the Christian Romans under their sufferings, that though their 
bodies be dead, because of sin, yet they should be raised to 
life again. But it is more especially plain by the verse im- 
mediately following, verse 18. " For I reckon, that the suf- 
ferings of this present time, are not worthy to be compared 
with the glory that shall be revealed in us." So the apostle 
has evidently respect to their persecutions, in all that he says 
to the end of the chapter. So when the apostle speaks of the 
earnest of the Spirit, which God had given to him, in 2 Cor. v. 
5, the context shews plainly that he has respect to what was 
given him in his great trials and sufferings. And in that prom- 
ise of the white stone, and new name, to him that overcomes, 
Rev. ii. 17, it is evident Christ has a special respect to a ben- 
efit that Christians should obtain, by overcoming, in the trial 
they had, in that day of persecution. This appears by verse 
13, and many other passages in this epistle to the seven 
churches of Asia. 


Objection II.. ..Some also may be ready to object against 
what has been said of Christian practice being the chief evi- 
dence of the truth of grace, that this is a legal doctrine ; and 
that this making practice a thing of such great importance in 
religion, magnifies works, and tends to lead men to make too 
much of their own doings, to the diminution of the glory of 
free grace, and does not seem well to consist with great gos- 
pel doctrine of justification by faith alone. 

But this objection is altogether without reason. Which 
way is it inconsistent with the freeness of God's grace, that 
holy practice should be a sign of God's grace : It is our works 
being the price of God's favor, and not their being the sign 
of it, that is the thing which is inconsistent with the freeness 
of that favor. Surely the beggar's looking on the money he 
has in his hands, as a sign of the kindness of him who gave it 
to him, is in no respect inconsistent with the freeness of that 
kindness. It is his having money in his hands as the price of 
a benefit, that is the thing which is inconsistent with the free 
kindness of the giver. The notion of the freeness of the grace 
of God to sinners, as that is revealed and taught in the gospel, 
is not that no holy and amiable qualifications or actions in us 
shall be a fruit, and so a sign of that grace ; but that it is not 
the worthiness or loveliness of any Qualification or action of 
ours which recommends us to that grace ; that kindness is 
shown to the unworthy and unlovely ; that there is great ex- 
cellency in the benefit bestowed, and no excellency in the sub- 
ject as the price of it ; that goodness goes forth and flows out, 
from the fulness of God's nature, the fulness of the fountain 
of good, without any amiableness in the object to draw it. 
And this is the notion of justification without works (as this 
doctrine is taught in the scripture) that it is not the worthi- 
ness or loveliness of our works, or any thing in us, which is 
in any wise accepted with God, as a balance for the guiit of 
sin, or a recommendation of sinners to his acceptance as 
heirs of life. Thus we are justified only by the righteous- 
ness of Christ, and not by our righteousness. And when 
works are opposed to faith in this affair* and it is said that we 
are justified by faith and not by works ; thereby is meant, that 

Vo*. IV. 3 D 


it is not the worthiness or amiableness of our works, or any 
thing in us, which recommends us to an interest in Christ 
and his benefits ; but that we have this interest only by faith, 
or by our souls receiving Christ, or adhering to and closing 
with him. But that the worthiness or amiableness of noth- 
ing in us recommends and brings us to an interest in Christ, 
is no argument that nothing in us is a sign of an interest in 

If the doctrines of free grace, and justification by faith 
alone, be inconsistent with the importance of holy practice as 
a sign of grace ; then they are equally inconsistent with the 
importance of any thing whatsoever in us as a sign of grace, 
any holiness, or any grace that is in us, or any of our experi- 
ences or religion ; for it is as contrary to the doctrines of 
free grace and justification by faith alone, that any of these 
should be the righteousness which we are justified by, as that 
holy practice should be so. It is with holy works, as it is 
with holy qualifications ; it is inconsistent with the freeness 
of gospel grace, that a title to salvation should be given to 
men for the loveliness of any of their holy qualifications, as 
much as that it should be given for the holiness of their 
works. It is inconsistent with the gospel doctrine of free 
grace, that an interest in Christ and his benefits should be 
given for the loveliness of a man's true holiness, for the amia- 
bleness of his renewed, sanctified, heavenly heart, his love to 
God, and being like God, or his experience of joy in the Ho- 
ly Ghost, self emptiness, a spirit to exalt Christ above all, and 
to give all glory to him, and a heart devoted unto him ; I say 
it is inconsistent with the gospel doctrine of free grace, that 
a title to Christ's benefits should be given out of regard to the 
loveliness of any of these, or that any of these should be cur 
righteousness in the affair of justification. And yet this does 
not hinder the importance of these things as evidences of an 
interest in Christ. Just so it is with respect to holy actions 
and works. To make light of works, because we be not justi- 
fied by works, is the same thing in effect, as to make light of 
all religion, all grace and holiness, yea, true evangelical holi- 
ness, and all gracious experience ; for all is included, when 


the scripture says, we are not justified by works ; for by 
works in this case, is meant all our own righteousness, relig- 
ion, or holiness, and every thing that is in us, all the good we 
do, and all the good which we are conscious of, all external 
acts, and all internal acts and exercises of grace, and all expe- 
riences, and all those holy and heavenly things wherein the 
life and power, and the very essence of religion do consist, all 
those great things which Christ and his apostles mainly in- 
sisted on in their preaching, and endeavored to promote, as 
of the greatest consequence in the hearts and lives of men; 
and all good dispositions, exercises and qualifications of every 
kind whatsoever ; and even faith itself, considered as a part 
of our holiness. For we are justified by none of these things ; 
and if we were, we should, in a scripture sense, be justified 
by works. And therefore if it be not legal, and contrary to 
the evangelical doctrine of justification without works, to in- 
sist on any of these, as of great importance, as evidences of 
an interest in Christ ; then no more is it, thus to insist, on the 
importance of holy practice. It would be legal to suppose, 
that holy practice justifies by bringing us to a title to Christ's 
benefits, as the price of it, or as recommending to it by its 
preciousness or excellence ; but it is not legal to suppose, 
that holy practice justifies the sincerity of a believer, as the 
proper evidence of it. The Apostle James did not think it 
legal to say, that Abraham our father was justified by works, 
in this sense. The Spirit that indited the scripture, did not 
think the great importance and absolute necessity of holy 
practice, in this respect, to be inconsistent with the freeness 
of grace ; for it commonly teaches them both together ; as in 
Rev. xxi. 6, 7, God says, " I will give unto him that is athirst, 
of the fountain of the water of life freely ;" and then adds, in 
the very next words, " he that overcometh shall inherit all 
things." As though behaving well in the Christian race and 
warfare, were the condition of the promise. So in the next- 
chapter, in the 14th and 15th verses, Christ says, "Blessed 
are they that do his commandments, that they may have a 
right to the tree of life, and enter in through the gates into 
the city;" and then declares in the 15th verse, « how they 


that are of a wicked practice" shall be excluded ; and yet in the 
two verses next following, does with very great solemnity- 
give forth an invitation to all to come and take of the water of 
life freely ; " I am the root and the offspring of David, the 
bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, 
come. And let him that heareth, say, come. And let him 
that is athirst, come ; and whosoever will, let him come and 
take of the water of life freely. 5 ' So chapter iii. 20, 21. 
« Behold I stand at the door and knock ; if any man hear my 
voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with 
him, and he with me." But then it is added in the next 
words, « To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me 
in my throne." And in that great invitation of Christ, Matth. 
xi. latter end, " Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy 
laden, and I will give you rest ;" Christ adds in the next 
words, " Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am 
meek and lowly in heart ; and ye shall find rest onto your 
souls ; for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light : As 
though taking the burden of Christ's service, and imitating 
his example, were necessary in order to the promised rest. 
So in that great invitation to sinners to accept of free grace, 
Isa. lv. " Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the wa- 
ters, and he that hath no money ; come ye, buy and eat, yea, 
come, buy wine and milk without money and without price ;" 
even there, in the continuation of the same invitation, the sin- 
ner's forsaking his wncked practice is spoken of as necessary 
to the obtaining mercy, verse 7. « Let the wicked forsake 
his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts ; and let him 
return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and 
to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." So the riches of 
divine grace, in the justification of sinners, is set forth with 
the necessity of holy practice, Isa. i. 16, &c. " Wash ye, 
make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from be- 
fore mine eyes, cease to do evil, learn to do well, seek judg- 
ment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for 
the widow. Come now, 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 

And in that most solemn invitation of wisdom, Prov. ix. af- 
ter it is represented what great provision is made, and how that 
all things were ready, the house built, the beasts killed, the 
wine mingled, and the table furnished, and the messengers 
sent forth to invite the guests ; then we have the free invita- 
tion, verse 4, 5, 6. « Whoso is simple, let him tut n in hither ; 
as for him that wanteth understanding (i. e. has no righteous- 
ness) she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the 
wine which I have mingled." But then in the next breath it 
follows, " Forsake the foolish, and live ; and go in the way 
of understanding ;" as though forsaking sin, and going 
in the way of holiness, were necessary in order to life. So 
that the freeness of grace, and the necessity of holy prac- 
tice, which are thus from time to time joined together 
in scripture, are not inconsistent one with another. Nor 
does it at all diminish the honor and importance of faith, 
that the exercises and effects of faith in practice, should be 
esteemed the chief signs of it ; any more than it lessens the 
importance of life, that action and motion are esteemed the 
chief signs of that. 

So that in what has been said of the importance of holy 
practice as the main sign of sincerity ; there is nothing le- 
gal, nothing derogatory to the freedom and sovereignty of 
gospel grace, nothing in the least clashing with the gospel 
doctrine of justification by faith alone, without the works of 
the law, nothing in the least tending to lessen the glory of 
the Mediator, and our dependence on his righteousness, noth- 
ing infringing on the special prerogatives of faith in the af- 
fair of our salvation, nothing in any wise detracting from 
the glory of God and his mercy, or exalting man, or di- 
minishing his dependence and obligation. So that if any 
are against such an importance of holy practice as has been 
spoken of, it must be only from a senseless aversion to the 
letters and sound of the word w or ks, when there is no rea- 
son in the world to be given for it, but what may be given 
with equal force, why they should have an aversion to the 


words holiness, godliness, freer, religion, experiences and even 
faith itself; for to make a righteousness of any of these, is 
as legal, and as inconsistent with the way of the new cove* 
nant, as to make a righteousness of holy practice. 

It is greatly to the hurt of religion, for persons to make 
light cf, and insist little on, those things which the scripture 
insists most upon, as of most importance in the evidence of 
our interest in Christ, under a notion that to lay weight on 
these things is legal, and an old covenant way ; and so, to 
neglect the exercises, and effectual operations of grace in 
practice, and insist almost wholly on discoveries, and the 
method and manner* of the immanent exercises of conscience 
and grace in contemplation ; depending on an ability to 
make nice distinctions in these matters, and a faculty of ac- 
curate discerning in them, from philosophy or experience. 
It is in vain to seek for any better, or any further signs than 
those that the scriptures have most expressly mentioned, and 
most frequently insisted on, as signs of godliness. They 
Who pretend to a greater accuracy in giving signs, or by 
their extraordinary experience or insight into the nature of 
things, to give more distinguishing marks, which shall 
more thoroughly search out and detect the hypocrite, are 
but subtil to darken their own minds, and the minds of 
others ; their refrnings, and nice discerning, are in God's 
sight, but refined foolishness and a sagacious delusion. Here 
are applicable those words of Agur, Prov. xxx- 5, 6. " Ev- 
ery word of God is pure ; he is a shield to them that put 
their trust in him : Add thou not unto his words, lest he 
reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." Our discerning, with 
regard to the hearts of men, is not much to be trusted. We can 
see but a little way into the nature of the soul, and the depths 
of man's heart. The ways are so many whereby persons' affec- 
tions may be moved without any supernatural influence, the 
natural springs of the affections are so various and so secret, 
so many things have oftentimes a joint influence on the affec- 
tions, the imagination, and that in ways innumerable and un- 
searchable, natural temper, education, the common influences 
of the Spirit of God, a surprising concourse of affecting cir- 


tmmstances, an extraordinary coincidence of things in the 
course of men's thoughts, together with the subtil manage- 
ment of invisible malicious spirits, that no philosophy or ex- 
perience will ever be sufficient to guide us safely through this 
labyrinth and maze, without our closely following the clue 
which God has given us in his word. God knows his own rea- 
sons why he insists on some things, and plainly sets them forth 
as the things that we should try ourselves by rather than oth- 
ers. It may be it is because he knows that these things are 
attended with less perplexity, and that we are less liable to 
be deceived by them than others. He best knows our na- 
ture ; and he knows the nature and manner of his own opera- 
tions ; and he best knows the way of our safety ; he knows 
what allowances to make for different states of his church, 
and different tempers of particular persons, and varieties in 
the manner of his own operations, how far nature may resem- 
ble grace, and how far nature may be mixed with grace, what 
affections may rise from imagination, and how far imagina- 
tion may be mixed with spiritual illumination. And there- 
fore it is our wisdom, not to take his work out of his hands, 
but to follow him, and lay the stress of the judgment of our- 
selves there, where he has directed us. If we do otherwise, no 
wonder if we are bewildered, confounded, and fatally delud- 
ed. But if we had got into the way of looking chiefly at 
those things, which Christ and his apostles and prophets chief- 
ly insisted on, and so in judging of ourselves and others, 
chiefly regarding practical exercises and effects of grace, not 
neglecting other things ; it would be of manifold happy 
consequence ; it would above all things tend to the convic- 
tion of deluded hypocrites, and to prevent the delusion of 
those whose hearts were never brought to a thorough com- 
pliance with the strait and narrow way which leads to life ; 
it would tend to deliver us from innumerable perplexities, 
arising from the various inconsistent schemes there are about 
methods and steps of experience ; it would greatly tend to 
prevent professors neglecting strictness of life, and tend to 
promote their engagedness and earnestness in their Christian 
w T alk ; and it would become fashionable for men to shew 


their Christianity, more by an amiable distinguished behavior* 
than by an abundant and excessive declaring their experien- 
ces ; and we should get into the way of appearing lively in re- 
ligion, more by being lively in the service of God and our gen- 
eration, than by the liveliness and forwardness of our tongues, 
and making a business of proclaiming on the house tops, with 
our mouths,the holy and eminent acts and exercises of our own 
hearts ; and Christians that arc intimate friends, would talk 
together of their experiences and comforts, in a manner bet- 
ter becoming Christian humility and modesty, and more to 
each other's profit ; their tongues not running before, but 
rather going behind their hands and feet, after the prudent 
example of the blessed apostle, 2 Cor. xii. 6, and many oc- 
casions of spiritual pride would be cut off ; and so a great 
door shut against the devil ; and a great many of the main 
stumbling blocks against experimental and powerful religion 
would be removed ; and religion would be declared and 
manifested in such a way that, instead of hardening spec- 
tators, and exceedingly promoting infidelity and atheism, 
would, above all things, tend to convince men that there is 
a reality in religion, and greatly awaken them, and win them* 
by convincing their consciences of the importance and excel- 
lency of religion. Thus the light of professors would so shine 
before men, that others, seeing their good works, would glori- 
fy their Father which is in heaven. 



Vol. TV. 


§ 1. I 1 AITH is a belief of a testimony ; 2 Thess. i. 10. 
" When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be 
admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among 
you Avas believed) in that day." It is an assent to truth, as 
appears by the 1 lth of Hebrews ; and it is saving faith that is 
there spoken of, as appears by the last verses of the foregoing 
chapter : " And these all, having obtained a good report 
through faith, received not the promise : God having provid- 
ed some better thing for us, that they, without us, should not 
be made perfect." Mark i. 15. " Saying, The time is ful- 
filled, and the kingdom of God is at hand : Repent ye, and 
believe the gospel." John xx. 31. " But these are written, 
that ye might believe that Jesus Is the Christ, the Son of 
God, and that, believing, ye might have life through his 
name." 2 Thess. ii. 13. " But we are bound to give thanks 
always to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because 
God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through 
sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth." 

§ 2. It is the proper act of the soul towards God as faith- 
ful. Rom. iii. 3, 4. " For what if some did not believe ? 
Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect ? 
God forbid : Yea, let God be true, bin every man a bar ; as 
it is written, That thou migktest be u:;.ified in thy sayings, 
and mightest overcome when thou art judged." 

§ 3. It is a belief of truth from a sense of glory and excel- 
lency, or at least with such a sense. John xx. 29. " Jesus 
saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me,;, thou 
hast believed : Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet 


have believed." Matth. ix. 21. " She said within herself, li 
I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole." 1 Ccr. xii. 3. 
" Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man, speaking 
by the Spirit of God, callet.h Jesus accursed ; and that no man 
can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." 

§ 4. It is a belief of the truth, from a spiritual taste and 
relish of what is excellent and divine. Luke xii. 57. « Yea, 
and why, even of yourselves, judge ye not what is right V 
Believers receive the truth in the love of it, and speak the 
truth in love. Eph. iv. 15. « But speaking the truth in love, 
may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even 

§ 5. The object of faith is the gospel, as well as Jesus 
Christ. Marki. 15. "And saying, The time is fulfilled, 
and the kingdom of God is at hand : Repent ye, and believe 
the gospel." John xvii. 8. " For I have given unto them the 
words which thou gavest me ; and they received them, and 
have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have 
believed that thou didst send me." Rom. x. 16, 17. " But 
they have not obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, 
who hath believed our report ?....So then, faith cometh by 
hearing, and hearing by the word of God." 

§ 6. Faith includes a knowledge of God and Christ. 2 Pet. 
i. 2, 3. " Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through 
the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord ; according as 
his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain 
unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that 
hath called us to glory and virtue." John xvii. 3. « And 
this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true 
God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." 

§ 7. A belief of promises is faith, or a great part of faith. 
Heb. xi. " Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, 
the evidence of things not seen," See. 2 Chron. xx. 20. 
" And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the 
wilderness of Tekoa ; and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat 
stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jeru- 
salem ; Believe in the Lord your Cod, so shall ye be estab- 
lished ; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper." A dc= 


pending on promises is an act of faith. Gal. v. 5. " For we 
through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by 

§ 8. Faith is a receiving of Christ. John i. 12. " But as 
many as received him, to them gave he power to become the 
sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." 

§ 9. It is leceiving Christ into the heart. Rom. x. 6, 7, 
8, 9, 10. " But the righteousness which is of faith, speaketh 
on this wise, Say not in thy heart, Who shall ascend into 
heaven ? (That is, to bring Christ down from above ;) or, who 
shall descend into the deep ? (That is, to bring up Christ 
from the dead.) But what saith it*; The word is nigh thee, 
even in thy mouth, and in thy heart, (that is, the word of 
faith, which we preach) That if thou shalt confess with thy 
mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that 
God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For 
with the heart man believeth unto righteousness ; and with 
the mouth confession is made unto salvation." 

§ 10. A true faith includes more than a mere belief; it is 
accepting the gospel, and includes all acceptation. 1 Tim. i. 
14, 15. " And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abund- 
ant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a 
faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesqs 
came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." 
2 Cor. xi. 4. " For if he that corneth preacheth another Je- 
sus, whom we have not preached ; or if you receive another 
Spirit, which ye have not received ; or another gospel, which 
ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him." 

§ 11. It is something more than merely the assent of the 
understanding, because it is called an obeying the gospel. 
Rom. x. 16. " But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For 
Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report ?" 1 Pet. 
iv. 17. " For the time is come that judgment must begin 
at the house of God : And if it first begin at us, what shall the 
end be of them that obey not the gospel of God ? 

It is obeying the doctrine from the heart ; Rom. vi. 17, 18. 
" But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin ; but 
yp have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which 


v. as delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye be- 
came the servants of righteousness," he. 

§ 12. This expression of obeying the gospel, seems to de- 
note the heart's yielding to the gospel in what it proposes to 
us in its calls : It is something more than merely what may be 
called a believing the truth of the gospel. John xii. 42. « Nev- 
ertheless, among the chief ruler? also, m?.ny believed on him ; 
but, because of the Pharisees, they did not confess him, lest 
they should be put out of the synagogue." And Philip 
asked the eunuch, whether he believed with all his heart ?.... 
It is :\ fully believing, or a being fully persuaded : This pas- 
sage evidences thelitis so much at least. 

§ 13. There are different sorts of faith that are not true 
and saving, as is evident by what the Apostle James says, 
" Shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee 
my faith by my works." Where it is supposed that there 
may be a faith without works, which is not the right faith : 
When he says, " I will shew thee my faith by my works," 
nothing else can be meant, than that I will shew thee that my 
faith is right. 

§ 14. It is a trusting in Christ. Psal. ii. 12. " Kiss the 
Son, lest he bo angry, and ye perish from the way, when his 
wrath is kindled but a little : Blessed are all they that put 
Ihcir trust in him/' Eph. i. 12, 13. " That we should he 
to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ : In 
whom ye also trusted, after that yc heard the word of truth, 
the gospel of your salvation ; in whom also, after that ye be- 
lieved, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise." 
2 Tim. i. 12. " Tor the which cause I also suffer these 
things : Nevertheless I am not ashamed ; for I know whom 
I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep 
that which I base committed unto him against that day." 

places i-i the Old Testament speak of trusting in 
God as the condition of his favor and salvation ; especially 
Psal. Ixxviii. 21, 22. "Therefore the Lord heard this, and 
.roth: So a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger 
a>sc came up against Israel ; because they believed not in 
God, and trusted not in his salvation." It implies submission ; 


Rom. xv. 12. "And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a 
root of Jesse ; and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, 
in him shall the Gentiles trust." I Tim. iv. 10. " For there- 
fore we both labor and suffer reproach, because ve trust in 
the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of 
those that believe." 2 Tim. i. 12. « For which cause I also 
suffer these things ; nevertheless I am not ashamed ; for I 
know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able 
to keep that which I have committed unto him against that 
day." Matth. viii. 26. " Why are ye fearful, O ye of little 
faith ?" Matth. xvi. 8. " Which Jesus, when he perceived, 
he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among 
yourselves, because ye have brought no bread ?" 1 John v. 
13, 14. " These things have I written unto you that believe 
on the name of the Son of God ; that ye may know that ye 
have eternal life ; and that ye may believe on the name of 
the Son of God. And this is the confidence that we have in 
him, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth 
us." Believing in Christ in one verse, is called confidence in 
the next. 

§ 15. It is a committing ourselves to Christ ; 2 Tim. i. 12. 
" For the which cause I also suffer these things : Neverthe- 
less I am not ashamed ; for I know whom I have believed, 
and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have 
committed unto him against that day." This is a Scripture 
sense of the word believe, as is evident by John ii. 24. « Jesus 
did not commit himself to them." In the original it is om 

fJHTiVsv ikvIov uv\o\<;, 

§16. It is a gladly receiving the gospel; Acts ii. 41. 
" Then they that gladly received his word, were baptized ; 
and the same day there were added unto them about three 
thousand souls." It is approving the gospel ; Luke vii. SO, 35. 
" But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God 
against themselves, being not baptized of him. But wisdom 
is justified of all her children." It is obeying the doctrine ; 
Rom. vi. 17. « But God be thanked, that ye were the ser- 
vants of sin ; but ye have obeyed from the heart, that form of 
doctrine which was delivered you." It is what may be well 


understood by those expressions of coming to Christ, of lock- 
ing to him, of opening the door to let him in. This is very 
evident by scripture. It is a coming and taking the waters 
of life, eating and drinking Christ's flesh and blood, hearing 
Christ's voice, and following him. John x. 26, 27. " But ye 
believe not ; because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto 
you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they 
follow me." John viii. 12. " Then spake Jesus again unto 
them, saying, I am the light of the world ; he that followeth 
roc, shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of 
life." Isaiah xlv. 22. " Look unto me, and be ye saved, all 
the ends of the earth : For I am God, and there is none else." 

§ 17. Faith consists in two things, viz. in being persuaded 
of, and in embracing the promises : Heb. xi. 13. "These 
all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having 
seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embrac- 
ed them, and confessed that they were Strangers and pilgrims 
on the earth." 1 Cor. xiii. 7. " Charity believeth all things, 
hopeth all things." If that faith, hope and charity, spoken of 
in tins verse, be the same with those that are compared to- 
gether in the last verse, then faith arises from a charitable 
disposition of heart, or from a principle of divine love. John 
v. 42. " But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in 
you," with the context. Dent. xiii. 3. " Thou shalt not 
hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of 
dreams : For the Lord your God proveth you, to know wheth- 
er you love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with 
all your soul." 1 John v. 1, " Whosoever believeth that 
Jesus is the Christ, is born of God : And every one that lov- 
eth him that begat, lovcth him also that is begotten of him." 

<j 18. It is a being reconciled unto God, revealing himself 
by Christ in the gospel, or our minds being reconciled. 2 Cor. 
v. 18, 19, 20, 21. « And all things are of God, who hath re- 
conciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us 
the ministry of reconciliation ; to wit, that God was in Christ, 
reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their tres- 
passes unto them ; and hath committed unto us the word of 
reconciliation. Now then we arc ambassadors for Christ ; as 


though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's 
stead be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be 
sin for us who knew no sin ; that we might be made the right- 
eousness of God in him." Col. i. 21. « And you that were 
sometimes alienated, and enemies in ycur mind by wicked 
works, yet now hath he reconciled." It is the according of 
the whole soul, and not merely of the understanding. Matth. 
xi. 6. " Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me." 

§ 19. There is contained in the nature of faith a sense of 
our own unworthiness. Matth. xv. 27, 28. " Truth, Lord, 
yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's 
table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, 
great is thy faith." See concerning the centurion, Luke vii. 
6. ...9 ; this woman which was a sinner, ib. v. 37, 53, ?nd espe- 
cially 50 ; the prodigal son, Luke xv. the penitent thief, 
Luke xxiii. 41. Consult also Hab. ii. 4. « Behold his soul 
which is lifted up, is not upright in him ; but the just shall 
live by his faith. Prov. xxviii. 25,; Psal. xl. 4, and Psal. 

§ 20. It is a being drawn to Christ. None can come un- 
to Christ, but whom the Father draws. The freeness of the 
"covenantor grace is represented thus, that the condition of 
finding is only seeking ; and the condition of receiving, ask- 
ing ; and the condition of having the door opened, is knock- 
ing. From whence I infer, that faith is a hearty applying un- 
to God by Christ for salvation, or the heart's seeking it of 
God through him. See also John iv. 10. "If thou knew- 
est the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give 
me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would 
have given thee living water." And Luke xxiii. 42 ; it is call- 
ing on Christ ; it is the opposite unto disallowing and reject- 
ing Christ Jesus. John xii. 46, 47, 48. " I am come a light 
into the world, that whosoever believeth on me shouldnot abide 
in darkness. And if any man hear my words, ar.d believe 
not, I judge him not ; for I came not to judge the world, but 
to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receivcth not 
my words, hath one that judgeth him ; the word that I have 
spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." 1 Pet. ii. 

Vol. IV 3 F 


7. " Unto you therefore which believe, he is precious ; but 
unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders 
disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner." 

§ 21. Love either is what faith arises from, or is included 
in faith, by John iii. 18, 1§. " He that believeth not, is con- 
demned already ; and this is their condemnation, that men 
loved darkness rather than light." 2 Thess. ii. 10, 12. « And 
with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that per- 
ish ; because they received not the love of the truth, that 
they might be saved. That they all might be damned who 
believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." 

§ 22. The being athirst for the v/aters of life is faith, Rev. 
xxi. 6. It is a true cordial seeking of salvation by Christ. 
Believing in Christ is heartily joining ourselves to Christ and 
to his party, as is said of the followers of Theudas, Acts v. 36. 
And we are justified freely through faith, i. e. we are saved 
by Christ only on joining ourselves to him. It is a being per- 
suaded to join ourselves to him, and to be of his party. John 
viii. 12. " Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am 
the light of the world: He that followeth me, shall not walk 
in darkness, but shall have the light of life." To believe in 
Christ, is to hearken to him as a prophet ; to yield ourselves 
subjects to him as a king ; and to depend upon him as a 
priest. Desiring Christ, is an act of faith in Christ, because 
he is called the desire of all nations ; Hagg. ii. 7, that is, he 
that is to be the desire of all nations, when all nations shall 
believe in him and subject themselves to him, according to 
the frequent promises and prophecies of God's word ; though 
there are other things included in the sense, yet this seems 
to be principally intended. There belongs to faith a sense of 
the ability and sufficiency of Christ to save, and of his fitness 
for the work of salvation : Matth. ix. 2, and 28, 29, and 21. 
Rom. iv. 21. " A.nd being fully persuaded, that what he had 
promised, he is able to perform." Of his fidelity, Matth. xiv. 
30, 31. " But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was 
afraid : And beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save 
me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and 
caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, where- 


fore didst thou doubt ?" Of his readiness to save, Matth. xv. 
22, &c 2 Tim. i. 5, 12. « Now the end of the command- 
ment is charity, out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, 
and of faith unfeigned : And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, 
who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, put- 
ting me into the ministry." Of his ability, Matth. viii. 2. 
" And behold, there came a leper, and worshipped him, say- 
ing, Lord if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." Matth. viii. 
26. " The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not wor- 
thy that thou shouldst come under my roof: But speak the 
word only, and my servant shall be healed. 

§ 23. It is submitting to the righteousness of God. Rom. 
x. 8. " For they, being ignorant of God's righteousness, and 
going about to establish their own righteousness, have not sub- 
mitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." It is 
what may be well represented by flying for refuge, by the 
type of flying to the city of refuge. Heb. vi. 18. " That by 
two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to 
lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for ref- 
uge, to lay hold upon the hope set before us." It is a sense 
of the sufficiency and the reality of Christ's righteousness, 
and of his power and grace to save. John xvi. 8. « He shall 
convince the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment." 
It is a receiving the truth with a love to it. It is receiving 
the love of the truth. 2 Thess. ii. 10, 12. " And with all de- 
ceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish ; because 
they received not the love of the truth, that they might be sav- 
ed. That they all might be damned who believed not the 
truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." The heart must 
close with the new covenant by dependence upon it, and by 
love and desire. 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. " Although my house be 
not so with God, yet he hath made with me an everlasting 
covenant, ordered in all things, and sure. This is all my 
Salvation and all my desire, although he make it not to grow." 
§ 24. Upon the whole, the best and clearest, and most 
perfect definition of justifying faith, and most according to the 
scripture, that I can think of, is this, faith is the soul's entirely 
embracing the revelation of Jesus Christ as our Saviour. The 


word embrace is a metaphorical expression ; but I think it 
much clearer than any proper expression whatsoever : It is 
called believing ; because believing is the first act of the soul 
in embracing a narration or revelation ; and embracing, when 
conversant about a revelation or thing declared, is more prop- 
erly called believing, than loving or choosing. If it were con- 
versant about a person only, it would be more properly called 
loving. If it were only conversant about a gift, an inheritance 
or reward, it would more properly be called receiving or ac- 
cepting, Sec. 

The definition might have been expressed in these words, 
faith is the soul's entirely adhering and acquiescing in the 
revelation of Jesus Christ as our Saviour.. ..Or thus, faith is 
the soul's embracing that truth of God, that reveals Jesus 
Christ as our Saviour.. ..Or thus, faith is the soul's entirely 
acquiescing in, and depending upon the truth of God, reveal- 
ing Christ as our Saviour. 

It is the whole soul according and assenting to the truth, 
and embracing of it. There is an entire yielding of the mind 
and heart to the revelation, and a closing with it, and adher- 
ing to it, with the belief, and with the inclination and affection. 
It is admitting and receiving it with entire credit and respect. 
The soul receives it as true, as worthy and excellent. It may 
be more perfectly described than defined by a short definition, 
by reason of the penury of words ; a great many words ex- 
press it better than one or two. I here use the same meta- 
phorical expressions ; but it is because they are much clearer, 
than any proper expressions that I know of. 

It is the soui'ri entirely acquiescing in this revelation, from 
3 sense of the sufficiency, dignity, glory and excellency of the 
author Of the revelation. 

Faith is the whole soul's active agreeing, according and 
symphonizing with this truth ; all opposition in judgment 
and inclination, so far as he believes, being taken away. It is 
called believing, because fully believing this revelation, is the 
first and principal exercise and manifestation of this accord- 
ance and agreement of soul. » 


§ 25. The adhering to the truth, and acquiescing in it with 
the judgment, is from a sense of the glory of the revealer, and 
the sufficiency and excellency of the performer of the facts. 
The adhering to it, and acquiescing in it with the inclination 
and affection, is from the goodness and excellency of the thing- 
revealed, and of the performer. If a person be pursued by an 
enemy, and commit himself to a king or a captain, to defend 
him, it implies his quitting other endeavors, and applying to 
him fcr defence, and putting himself under him, and hoping 
that he will defend him. If we consider it as a mere act of 
the mind, a transaction between spiritual beings, considered, 
as abstracted from any external action, then it is the mind's 
quitting all other endeavors, and seeking and applying itself to 
the Saviour for salvation, fully choosing salvation by him, and 
delivering itself to him, or a being willing to be his, with a 
hope that he will save him. Therefore, for a person to com- 
mit himself to Christ as a Saviour, is quitting all other en- 
deavors and hopes, and heartily applying himself to Christ 
for salvation, fully choosing salvation by him, and acquiescing 
in his way of salvation, and a hearty consent of the soul to be 
his entirely, hoping in his sufficiency and willingness to 

§26. The-first act cannot be hoping in a promise, that is, as be- 
longing to the essence of the act. For there must be the essence 
of the act performed, before any promise belongs to the subject. 
But the essence of the act, as it is exercised in justifying faith, 
is a quitting other hopes, and applying to him for salvation, 
choosing, and with the inclination closing Avith salvation by 
him in his way, with a sense of his absolute, glorious suffi- 
ciency and mercy. Hope in the promises may immediately 
follow in a moment ; but it is impossible that there be a 
foundation for it, before the essence of faith be performed ; 
though it is the same disposition that leads the soul to lay hold 
on the promise afterwards. It is impossible that a man 
should be encouraged by a conditional promise, to trust in 
Christ, if you mean by trusting in Christ, a depending upon his 
promises to the person trusting ; for that is to suppose a de- 
pendence upon the promise antecedent to the first depend- 


ence upon it ; and that the first time a man depends upon 
the promise, he is encouraged to do it by a dependence upon 
the promise. The conditional promise is this, thai if you will 
trust in Christ, you shall be saved : And you suppose the es- 
sence of this trust is depending upon this promise ; and yet 
that the soul is encouraged to trust in Christ by a dependence 
thereupon ; which is to say, that the first time the soul de- 
pends upon Christ's promises, it is encouraged to do it by a 
dependence on his promises. 

§ 27. Faith is the soul ; s entirely adhering to, and acqui- 
escing in the revelation of Jesus Christ as our Saviour, from 
a sense of the excellent dignity and sufficiency of the revealer 
of the doctrine, and of the Saviour. God is the revealer, and 
Christ is also the revealer. Christ's excellency and suffi- 
ciency include the excellency of his person, and the excel- 
lency of the salvation he has revealed, and his adequateness 
to the performance, Sec. ...and the excellency of his manner of 
salvation, Sec. From the excellency and sufficiency of the re- 
vealer and performer, we believe what is said is true, fully be- 
lieve it ; and from the glorious excellency of the Saviour and 
his salvation, all our inclination closes with the revelation. 
To depend upon the word of another person, imports two 
things : First, to be sensible how greatly it concerns us, and 
how much our interest and happiness really depend upon the 
truth of it ; and, secondly, to depend upon the word of an- 
other, is so to believe it, as to dare to act upon it, as if it 
were really true. I do not say, that I think these words are 
the only true definition of faith. I have used words that 
most naturally expressed it, ef any I could think of. There 
might have been other words used, that are much of the 
same sense. 

§ 28. Though hope does not enter into the essential na- 
ture of faith, yet it is so essential to it, that it is the natural 
and necessary, and next immediate fruit of true faith. In the 
first act of Faith, the soul is enlightened with a sense of the 
merciful nature of God and of Christ, and believes the declar- 
ations that are made in God's word of it ; and it humbly 
and heartily applies and seeks to Christ ; and it sees such a 


cbngruity between the declared mercy of God, and the dispo- 
sition he then feels towards him, that he cannot but hope, 
that that declared mercy will be exercised towards him. Yea, 
he sees that it would be incongruous, for God to give him such 
inclination and motions of heart towards Christ as a Saviour, if 
he were not to be saved by him. 

§ 29. Any thing that may be called a receiving the reve- 
lation of the gospel is not faith, but such a sort of receiving 
it, as is suitable to the nature of the gospel, and the respect it 
has to us. The act of reception suitable to truth, is believ- 
ing it. The suitable reception of that which is excellent, is 
choosing it and loving it. The proper act of reception of a reve- 
lation of deliverance from evil, and the conferring of happiness, 
is, acquiescing in it and depending upon it. The proper recep- 
tion of a Saviour, is, committing ourselves to him and trusting in 
him. The proper act of reception of the favor of God, is, believ- 
ing and esteeming it, and rejoicing in it. He that suitably re- 
ceives forgiveness of his fault, does with a humble sense of 
his fault rejoice in the pardon. 

Thus, for instance, he that reads a truth that no way con- 
cerns his interest, if he believes it, it is proper to say he re- 
ceives it. But if there be a declaration of some glorious and 
excellent truth, that does nearly concern him, he that only 
believes it, cannot be said to receive it. And if a captain of- 
fers to deliver a distressed people, they that only believe 
what he says, without committing themselves to him, and 
putting themselves under him, cannot be said to receive him. 
So, if a prinee offers one his favor, he that does not esteem 
his favor, cannot be said heartily to accept thereof. Again, 
if one offended offers pardon to another, he cannot be said to 
receive it, if he be not sensible of his fault, and does not 
care for the displeasure of the offended. 

The whole act of reception suitable to the nature of the 
gospel, and its relation to us, and our circumstances with res- 
pect to it, is best expressed, (if it be expressed in one word 
by the word s-»r«s or Jitfes. 

He that offers any of these things mentioned, and offers 
them only for these proper acts of reception, may be said to 
offer them freely, nay, perfectly so. 


§ 30. For a man to trust in his own righteousness, is to 
hope that God's anger will be appeased or abated, or that he 
■will be inclined to accept him into favor, upon the sight of 
some excellency that belongs to him ; or to have such a 
view of things, that it should appear no other than a suitable 
and right thing for God's anger to be abated, and for him to 
be inclined to take him into favor, upon the sight of, or out of 
respect to some excellency belonging to him. 

§ 31. The word irw, faith, seems to be the most proper 
•word to express the corditl reception of Christ and of the 
truth, for these reasons. First, this revelation is of things 
spiritual, unseen, strange, and wonderful, exceedingly remote 
from all the objects of sense, and those things which we com* 
monly converse with in this world, and also exceedingly alien 
from our fallen nature ; so that it is the first and principal 
manifestation of the symphony between the soul and these 
divine things, that it believes them, and acquiesces in them 
as true. And, secondly, the Lord Jesus Chris', in the gospel, 
appears principally under the character of a Saviour, and not 
so much of a person absolutely excellent ; and therefore, the 
proper act of reception of him, consists principally in the ex- 
ercise of a sense of our need of him, and of his sufficiency, 
his ability, his mercy and love, his faithfulness, the sufficien- 
cy of his method of salvation, the sufficiency and complete- 
ness of the salvation itself, of the deliverance and of the hap- 
piness, and an answerable application of the soul to him for 
salvation ; which can be expressed so well by no other word 
but faith, or affiance, or confidence, or trust, and others of the 
same signification ; of which, ww or faith, is much the best, 
the most significant ; because the rest, in their common sig- 
nifications imply something, that is not of the absolute essence 
of faith. Thirdly, we have these things exhibited to us, to be 
received by us, only by a divine testimony. We have noth- 
ing else to hold them forth to us. 

§ 32. Justifying faith is the soul's sense and conviction 
of the reality and sufficiency of Jesus Christ as a Saviour, im- 
plying a cordial inclination of soul to him as a Saviour. It is 
the soul's conviction and acknowledgment of God's power in 


i\\e difficult things, of his mercy in the wonderful things, of 
his truth in the mysterious and unseen things, of the excel- 
lency of other holy things, of the salvation of Christ Jesus. 
Faith prepares the way for the removal of guilt of conscience. 
Guilt of conscience is the sense of the connexion between the 
sin of the subject and punishment ; 1st, by God's law ; and 
2d, by God's nature and the propriety of the thing. The 
mind is under the weight of guilt, as long as it has a sense of 
its being bound to punishment, according to the reason and 
nature of things, and the requirements of the divine gov- 

Faith prepares the way for the removal of this. There- 
fore there must be in faith, 1. A belief that the law is answer- 
ed and satisfied by Jesus Christ ; and 2. Such a sense of the 
way of salvation by Christ, that it shall appear proper, and 
be dutiful, and according to the reason of things, that sin 
should not be punished in us, but that we nevertheless should 
be accepted through Christ. When the mind sees a way 
that this can be done, and there is nothing in the law, nor in 
the divine nature, nor nature of things to hinder it; that of 
itself lightens the burden, and creates hope. It causes the 
mind to see that it is not for ever bound by the reason of 
things to suffer ; though the mind does not know that it has 
performed the condition of pardon. This is to have a sense 
of the sufficiency of this way of salvation. When a man 
commits sin and is sensible of it, his soul has a natural sense 
of the propriety of punishment in such a case, a sense that 
punishment, according to the reason of things, belongs to 
him ; for the same reasons as all nations have a sense of the 
propriety of punishing men for crimes. 

The blood of bulls, and goats, and calves, could never' 
make them that offered them perfect as to the conscience, 
because the mind never could have a sense of the propriety 
and beauty, antf fitness in reason, of being delivered from 
punishment upon their account. This kind of sense of the 
sufficiency of Christ's mediation, depends upon a sense of the 
gloriousness and excellency of gospel things in general ; as, 
the greatness of God's mercy ; the greatness of Christ's excel- 
Vol. IV. 3 G 


lency and dignity, and dearness to the Father ; the greatness of 
Christ's love to sinners, Sec. That easiness of mind which per* 
sons often have, before they have comfort from a sense of their 
being converted, arises from a sense they have of God's sover- 
eignty. They see nothing either in the nature of God, or of 
things, that will necessarily bind them to punishment ; but that 
God may damn them, if he pleases ; and may save them, if he 
pleases. When persons are brought to that, then they are 
fit to be comforted ; then their comfort is like to have a true 
and immoveable foundation, when their dependence is no way 
upon themselves, but wholly upon God. In order to such a 
sense of the sufficiency of this way of salvation, it must be 
seen, that God has no disposition, and no need to punish us. 
The sinner, when he considers how he has affronted and 
provoked God, looks upon it, that the case is such, and the af- 
front is such, that there is need, in order that the majesty, and 
honor and authority of God may be vindicated, that he 
should be punished , and that God's nature is such, that he 
must be disposed to punish him. 

Coroll. Hence we learn, that our experience of the 
sufficiency of the doctrine of the gospel, to give peace of con- 
science, is a rational inward witness to the truth of the gos- 
pel. When the mind sees such a fitness in this way of sal- 
vation, that it takes off the burthen, that arises from the sense 
of i'»s being necessarily bound to punishment, through proper 
desert, and from the demands of reason and nature : it is a 
strong argument, that it is not a thing of mere human imagi- 
nation. When we experience its fitness to answer its end, 
this is the third of the three that bear witness on earth. The 
Spirit bears witness, by discovering the divine glory, and those 
stamps of divinity that are in the gospel. The water bears 
witness ; that is, the experience of the power o£ the gospel 
to purify and sanctify the heart, witnesses the truth of it ; and 
the blood bears witness by delivering the conscience from 
guilt. Any other sort of faith than this sense of the sufficien- 
cy of Christ's salvation, does not give such immediate glory 
and honor to Christ, and docs not so necessarily and immedi- 
ately infer the necessity of Christ's being known. Nothing be- 
sides makes all Christianity so to hang upon an actual respect 


to Christ, and centre in him. Surely, the more the sinner 
has an inward, an immediate and sole and explicit depend- 
ence upon Christ, the more Christ has the glory of his salva- 
tion from him. 

In order to this sort of sense of the congruity of our sins 
being- forgiven, and of punishment's being removed, by the 
satisfaction of Christ, there must of necessity be a sense of 
our guiltiness. For it is impossible any congruiiy should be 
seen, without comparison of the satisfaction with the guilt. 
And they cannot be compared, except there be a sense of 
them both. There must not only be such a sense of God's 
being very angry, and his anger being very dreadful, without 
any sense of the reasonableness of that anger ; but there must 
be a proper sense of the desert of wrath, such as there is in 
repentance. Indeed it is possible there may be such a sense 
of the glory of the Saviour and his salvation, that if we had 
more of a sense of guilt than we have, we should see a con- 

§ 33. Sinners, under conviction of their guilt, are gener- 
ally afraid that God is so angry with them, that he never will 
give them faith in Christ. They think the majesty and jeal- 
ousy of God will not allow of it. Therefore, there goes with 
a sense of the sufficiency of Christ, a sens*e of God's sover- 
eignty with respect to mercy and judgment, that he will and 
may have mercy in Christ, on whom he will have mercy, 
and leave to hardness whom he will. This eases of that 

§ 34. For a man to trust in his own righteousness, is to 
conceive hopes of some favor of God, or some freedom from 
his displeasure, from a false notion of his own goodness or 
excellency, and the proportion it bears to that favor ; and of 
his own badness, and the relation it bears to his displeasure. 
It is to conceive hopes of some favor of God, from a false no- 
tion of the relation which our own goodness or excellency 
bears to that favor ; whether this mistaken relation be sup- 
posed to imply an obligation in natural justice, or propriety 
and decency, or an obligation in point of wisdom and honor j 
gr if he thinks that, without it, God will not do excellently or 


according to some one at least of his declared attributes, op 
whether it be any obligation by virtue of his promise ; wheth- 
er this favorable respect be the pardon of sin, or the bestow- 
ment of heaven, or the abating of punishment, or answering of 
prayers, or mitigation of punishment, or converting grace, or 
God's delighting in us, prizing of us, or the bestowing of any 
temporal or spiritual blessing. This excellency we speak of, 
is either real or supposed ; either negative, in not being so 
bad as others, and the like, or positive. Whether it be natur- 
al or moral excellency, is immaterial : Also, whether the 
sinner himself looks upon it as an excellency, or • supposes 
God looks upon it as such. For men to trust in their own 
righteousness, is to entertain hope of escaping any displeas- 
ure, or obtaining any positive favor from God, from too high 
a notion of our own moral excellency, or too light a notion 
of our badness, as compared with or related to that favor or 

§ 35. This is to be observed concerning the scriptures 
that I have cited respecting faith, that they sometimes affix 
salvation to the natural and immediate effects of faith, as well 
as to faith itself. Such as, asking, knocking, Sec. Rom. x. 12, 
13, 14. In the 14th verse, faith is distinguished from calling 
upon him. 

§ 36. All trusting to our own righteousness indeed, is 
expecting justification for our own excellency. But they that 
expect that God will convert them for their excellency, or 
do any thing else towards their salvation upon that account, 
do trust in their own righteousness. Because, the supposing 
that God will be the more inclined to convert a man, or enable 
him to come to Christ for his excellency, is to suppose, that 
he is justified already, at least in part. It supposes, that 
God's anger for sin is at least partly appeased, and that God 
is more favorahly inclined to him for his excellency's sake, 
in that be is disposed to give him converting grace, or do 
something else towards his conversion upon that account. 

§ 37. The difficulty in giving a definition of faith is, that 
we have no word that clearly and adequately expresses the 
whole act of acceptance, or closing of the soul or heart with, 


Christ- Inclination expresses it but partially ; conviction 
expresses it also but in part ; the sense of the soul does not 
do it fully. And if we use metaphorical expressions, such as 
embrace, and love, Sec they are obscure, and will not carry 
the same idea with them to the minds of all. All words that 
are used to express such acts of the mind, are of a very inde- 
terminate signification. It is a difficult thing to find words 
to exhibit our own ideas. Another difficulty is to find a word, 
that shall clearly express the whole goodness or righteous- 
ness of the Saviour and of the gospel. To be true, is one 
part of the goodness of the gospel. For the Saviour to be suf- 
ficient, is one part of his goodness. To be suitable, is anoth- 
er part. To be bountiful and glorious, is another part. To 
be necessary, is another part. The idea of a real good or 
lovely object, that is conceived to be real, possesses the heart 
after another manner, than a very lovely idea that is only im- 
aginary. So that there is need of both a sense of goodness 
and reality, to unite the heart to the Saviour. 

Faith is the soul's embracing and acquiescing in the reve- 
lation which the word of God gives us of Jesus Christ as our 
Saviour, in a sense and conviction of his goodness and reality 
as such. I do not consider the sense of the goodness and 
reality of Christ as a Saviour, as a distinct thing from the em- 
bracing of him, but only explain th^ nature of the embracing 
by it. But it is implied in it ; it is the first and principal 
thing in it. And all that belongs to embracing the revelation, 
an approbation of it, a love to it, adherence to it, acquiescence 
in it, is in a manner implied in a sense of Christ's goodness 
and reality and relation to us, or our concern in him. I say, 
as our Saviour ; for there is implied in believing in Christ, 
r.ot only and merely that exercise of mind, which arises from 
a sense of his excellency and reality as a Saviour ; but also 
that which arises from the consideration of his relation to us, 
and of our concern in him, his being a Saviour for such as 
we are ; for sinful men ; and a Saviour that is offered with 
his benefits to us. The angels have a sense of the reality and 
goodness of Christ as a Saviour, and may be said with joy to 
embrace the discovery of it. They cannot be said to believe 


in Christ. The spirit that they receive, the notice that they 
have of Christ the Saviour is the same ; but there is a differ- 
ence in the act, by reason of the different relation that Christ, 
as a Saviour, stands in to us, from what he doth to them. 

§ 38. Objection 1. It may be be objected, that this seems 
to make the revelation more the object of the essential act of 
faith than Christ. I answer, no ; for the revelation is no oth- 
erwise the object by this definition, than as it brings and ex- 
hibits Christ to us. It is embracing the revelation in a sense 
and conviction of the goodness and reality of the Saviour it ex- 
hibits. We do not embrace Christ by faith any otherwise, than 
as brought to us in a revelation : When we come to embrace 
him as exhibited otherwise, that will not be faith. A man is 
saved by that faith, which is a reception of Christ in all his 
offices ; but he is justified by his receiving Christ in his priest- 
ly office. 

§ 39. To believe, is to have a sent.e and a realizing belief 
of what the gospel reveals of the mediation of Christ, and par- 
ticularly as it concerns ourselves. There is in faith a convic- 
tion, that redemption by that mediation of Christ which the 
gospel reveals, exists, and a sense how it does so, and how it 
may with respect to us in particular. There is a trusting tp 
Christ that belongs to the essence of true faith. That quiet 
and ease of mind that arises from a sense of the sufficiency of 
Christ, may well be called a trusting in that sufficiency. It 
gives a quietness to the mind, to see that there is a way where- 
in it may be saved, to see a good and sufficient way, wherein 
its salvation is very possible, and the attributes of God cannot be 
opposite to it. This gives ease, though it be not yet certain 
that he shall be saved. But to believe Christ's sufficiency, so 
as to be thus far easy, may be called a trusting in Christ, 
though it cannot be trusting in him that he will save us. To 
be easy in any degree, on a belief or persuasion of the suffi- 
ciency of any thing for our good, is a degree of trusting. 
There is in faith not only a belief of what the gospel declares, 
that Christ has satisfied for our sins, and merited eternal life ; 
but there is also a sense of it ; a sense that Christ's sufferings 
do satisfy, and that he did merit, or was worthy that we should 


be accepted for his sake. There is a difference between be- 
ing convinced that it is so, and having a sense that it is so. 
There is in the essence of justifying faith, included a receiv- 
ing of Christ as a Saviour from sin. For we embrace him as 
the author of life, as well as Saviour from misery. But the 
sum of that eternal life which Christ purchased is holiness ; 
it is a holy happiness. And there is in faith a liking of the 
happiness that Christ has procured and offers. The Jews 
despising the pleasant land, is mentioned as part of their un- 
belief. It must be as the gospel reveals Christ, or in the gos- 
pel notion of him, the soul must close with Christ. For who- 
soever is offended in Christ, in the view that the gospel gives 
us of him, cannot be said to believe in him ; for he is one that 
is excluded from blessedness, by that saying of Christ, Matth. 
xi. 6. " B!cssed is he whosoever is not offended in me." 

§ 40. There is implied in faith, not only a believing of 
Christ to be a real, sufficient, and excellent Saviour for me, 
and having a complacency in him as such ; but in a complete 
act of faith, there is an act of the soul in this view of him, 
and disposition towards him, seeking to him, that he would 
be my Saviour ; as is evident, because otherwise prayer 
would not be the expression of faith. But prayer is only the 
voice of faith to God through Christ : And this is further evi- 
dent, as faith is expressed by a coming to Christ, and a look- 
ing to him to be saved. 

§ 41. There is hope implied in the essence of justifying 
faith. Thus there is hope, that I may obtain justification by 
Christ, though there is not contained in its essence a hope 
that I have obtained it. And so there is a trust in Christ con- 
tained in the essence of faith. There is a trust implied in 
seeking to Christ to be my Saviour, in an apprehension that 
he is a sufficient Saviour ; though not a trust in him, as one 
that has promised to save me, as having already performed 
the condition of the promise. If a city was besieged and dis- 
tressed by a potent enemy, and should hear of some great 
champion at a distance, and should be induced by what they 
hear of his valor and goodness, to seek and send to him for 
relief, believing what they have heard of his sufficiency, and 


thence conceiving hope that they may be delivered ; the peo- 
ple, in sending, may be said to trust in such a champion ; as 
of old the children of Israel, when they sent into Egypt for 
help, were said to trust in Egypt. It has by many been said, 
that the soul's immediately applying Christ to itself as its. 
Saviour, was essential to faith ; and so that one should believe 
him to be his Saviour. Doubtless, an immediate application 
is necessary. But that which is essential, is not the soul's 
immediately applying Christ to itself so properly, as its apply- 
ing itself to Christ. 

§ 42. Good works are in some sort implied in the very na- 
ture of faith, as is implied in 1 Tim. v. 8, where the apostle, 
speaking of thern that do not provide for their parents, says, 
" If any provide not for his own, and especially for those of 
his own house, he hath denied the faith." 

§ 43. Faith is that inward sense and act, of which prayer 
is the expression ; as is evident, i. Because in the same man- 
ner as the freedom of grace, according to the gospel covenant, 
is often set forth by this, that he that believes, receives ; so it 
also oftentimes is by this, that be that asks, or prays, or calls 
upon God, receives ; Malth. vii. 7, 8, 9, 10 ; Luke xi. 9. 
"Ask and it shall be given yt.u ; seek and ye shall find ; knock 
and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh, 
receiveth ; and he that seekcth, findeth ; and to him that 
knocketh, it shall be opened. And all things whatsoever ye 
shall auk in j trayer, bcUi-vi,:?;, ye shall receive." Mark xi. 23, 
24. To tha same purpose with that last mentioned place in 
Matthew. John xv. 7. " If ye abide in me, .sri my words 
abide in you, ye shall ask what you will, and it Shall be done 
unto you." Psalm cxlv. IS. "The Lord is nigh unto all 
that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth." Joel 
ii. 32. The prophet, speaking there of gospel times, says, 
" And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the 
name of the Lord shall be delivered ; for in mount Zion and 
in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said and 
in the remnant whom the Lord shall call." Rom. x. 12, i3. 
" For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek : 
Tor the same Lord over all, is rich unto all that call upon 


Jam. For whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall 
be saved 5" quoting the forementioned place in Joel. 

2. The same expressions that are used in scripture for 
faith, may be well used for prayer also ; such as coming to 
God or Christ, and looking to him. Eph. iii. 12. « In whom 
ve have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of 

3. Prayer is often plainly spoken of as the expression of 
faith. As it very certainly is in Rom. x. 1 1, 12, 13, 14. « For 
the scripture saith, whosoever believeth on him, shall not be 
ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and 
the Greek : For the same Lord over all, is rich unto all that 
tall upon him ; for whosoever shall call oh the name of the 
Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call ort him ia 
whom they have not believed ?" Christian prayer is called 
the prayer of faith, James v. 15. And believing is often men- 
tioned as the life and soul of true prayer, as in the foremen- 
tioned place. Matth. xxi. 21, 22. 1 Tim. ii. 8. " I will that 
men every where lift up holy hands, without wrath and doubt- 
ing." And Heb. x. 19, 22. « Draw near in full assurance 
of faith." James i. 5, 6. "IfanyofyoU lack wisdom, let 
him ask it of God, that giveth to all men liberally and up- 
braideth not ; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in 
faith, nothing wavering." 

Faith in God, is expressed in praying to God. Faith in 
the Lord Jesus Christ, is expressed in praying to Christ, and 
praying in the name of Christ ; John xiv. 13, 14. And the 
promises are made to asking in Christ's name, in the same 
manner as they are to believing in Christ. John xiv. 13, 14. 
« And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, 
that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask 
any thing in my name, I will do it." Chap. xvi. 23, 24. 
« Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father 
in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto you have asked 
nothing in my name : Ask, and receive, that your joy may 
be full." 

§ 44. Trusting in Christ, is implied in the nature of faith ; 
as is evident by Rom. ix. £3. « As it is written, Behold, I 

Voj,. IV 3 H 


lay in Sion a stumbling stone, and rock of offence ; and who- 
soever believeth on him, shall not be ashamed." The apostle 
there in the context is speaking of justifying faith ; and it is 
evident, that trusting in Christ is implied in the import of the 
word brlieveth. For being ashamed, as the -word is used in 
Scripture, is the passion that arises upon the frustration of 
truth or confidence. There is implied in justifying faith, a 
trusting to Christ's truth and faithfulness, or a believing what 
he declares and promises ; as is evident, in that it is called 
not only believing in Christ, and believing en Christ, but be- 
lieving Christ ; John iii. 36. « He that believeth not the Son, 
shall not see life." Trusting in Christ is often implied in 
faith, according to the representations of Scripture ; Isa. xxvii. 
5. " Or let him take hold of my strength that he may make 
peace with me, and he shall make peace with me." 

§45. Why is this reception or unition of the soul proper- 
ly expressed by faith ? Answer-, Not so much, merely from 
the nature of the act, more abstractedly considered, which is 
uniticn, reception, or closing ; but from the nature of 
the act, conjunctly with the state of the agent and the 
object of the act, which qualifies and specifies"? the act, and 
adds certain qualifications to the abstract idea of unition, 
closing, or reception. Consider the siate of the receiver ; 
guilty, miserable, undone, impotent, helpless, unworthy ; and 
the nature and worth of the received, he being a divine, invis- 
ible Saviour: The end for which he is received, the benefits 
invisible : The ground on which he is received or closed with, 
the word of God, and his invitations and promises : The cir- 
cumstances of those things that are received, supernatural, 
incomprehensible, wonderful, difficult, unsearchable : The 
proper act of unition or reception in such a case, is most apt- 
ly expressed by the word faith. Fearfulness is opposite to 
faith, Mark iv. 40. " Why are ye so fearful ? How is it that 
ye have no faith ?" And Rev. xxi. 8. " But the fearful and 
the unbelieving." Justifying faith is sometimes called hope in 

§ 46. The condition both of the first and second covenant, 
is a receiving, compliance with, or yielding to, a signification 
or declaration from Cod ; or to a revelation made from God. 


A receiving or yielding to a signification of the will of God, 
as our sovereign Lord and lawgiver, is most properly called 
obedience. The receiving and yielding to a strange mysteri- 
ous revelation and offer which God makes of mercy to sin- 
ners, being a revelation of things spiritual, supernatural, in- 
visible, and mysterious, through an infinite power, wisdom 
and grace of God, is properly called faith. There is indeed 
obedience in the condition of both covenants, and there is faith 
or believing God in both. But the different name arises from 
the remarkably different nature of the revelation or manifes- 
tations made. The one is a law ; the other a testimony and 
offer. The one is a signification of what God expects that 
we should do towards him, and what he expects to receive 
from us ; the other a revelation of what he has done for us, 
and an offer of what we may receive from him. The one is 
an expression of God's great authority over us, in order to a 
yielding to the authority ; the other is a revelation of God's 
mysterious and wonderful mercy, and wisdom, and power for 
us, in order to a reception answerable to such a revelation. 

The reason why this was not so fully insisted upon under 
the Old Testament, under the denomination of faith, was, that 
the revelation itself of this great salvation, was not thus ex- 
plicitly and fully made. 

It must most naturally be called faith, 1. Because the word 
that is the object of it, is a revelation, which most nearly con- 
cerns our interest and good ; and that a revelation not of 
a work to be done by us, but an offer made to us only to be 
received by us. 

If it were a manifestation otherwise than by testimony, a 
receiving of it, and yielding to it, would not so naturally be 
called faith; and if a mere manifestation of something not 
nearly concerning us, it would not naturally be called faith. 
For idle stories, that do not concern us, are not the object of 
trust or dependence. If it were a manifestation in order to 
something expected from us ; some work to be done by us ; 
a yielding to it would not so properly be called faith. For 
yielding, then, would imply something more than just receiv? 
ing the testimony. 


2. Because the person that is the object of it, is revealed 
in the character of a wonderful Saviour. A receiving of a per* 
son in the character of a Saviour, is a proper act of trust and 
affiance. And a receiving a divine invisible Saviour, that of- 
fers to save us by infinite power, wisdom, and mercy, and by 
very mysterious supernatural works, is properly faith. 

3. The benefits that are revealed, which are the objects 
of faith, are things spiritual, invisible, wonderful and future ; 
and therefore, embracing and depending on these, is proper* 
\y faith. 

§ 47. Faith implies a cleaving to Christ, so as to be dispos- 
ed to sell and suffer all for him. See John xii. 42, 43. 
" Nevertheless, among the chief rulers also, many believed on 
him ; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, 
lest they should be put out of the synagogue ; for they loved 
the praise of men more than the praise of God." John v. 44. 
" How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, 
and i;eek not the honor that cometh from God only ?" 

§ 48. Faith is not all kind of assent to the word of God as 
true and divine. For so the Jews in Christ's time assented 
to the books of Moses, and therefore Christ tells them, that 
they trusted in Moses ; John v. 45. "• There is one that ac> 
cuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust." Yet the very- 
thing that Moses accuses them for, was not believing in him, 
i. e. believing so as to yield to his sayings, and comply with 
him, or obey him, as the phrase in the New Testament is 
concerning Christ. And therefore Christ says in the next 
verse, " For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed 
me ; for he wrote of me." There may be a strong btlief of 
divine things in the understanding, and yet no saving faith ; 
as is manifest by 1 Cor. xiii. 2. " Though I have all faith, so 
that I could remove mountains, and have no charity, I am 
nothing." Not only trusting in Christ, as one that has un- 
dertaken to save us, and as believing that he is our Saviour, is 
faith ; but applying to him, or seeking to him, that he would 
become our Saviour, with a sense of his reality and goodness 
as a Saviour, is faith ; as is evident by Rom. xv. 12. " In him 
shall the Gentiles trust." Compared with the place whence 


,it is cited, Heb. xi. 10. « To it shall the Gentiles seek ; v 
together with Psalm ix. 10. " And they that know thy name, 
■will put their trust in thee : For thou, Lord, hast not forsaken 
them that seek thee." Which agrees well with faith's being 
called a looking to Christ, or coming to him for life, a flying 
for refvicje to him, or flying to him for safety. And this is 
the first act of saving faith. And prayer's being the expres- 
sion of faith, confirms this. This is further confirmed by 
Isaiah xxxi. 2. <» Wo to them that go down to Egypt for help, 
and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are 
many ; and in horsemen, because they are very strong : But 
they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the 
Lord." When it is said, " Psalm lxix. 6. " Let not them 
that wait on thee, O Lord, be ashamed for my sake : Let not 
those that seek thee be confounded for my sake." It is equiv- 
alent to that scripture, " He that believcth shall never be con- 
founded." And v/hen it is said, verse 32. « And your heart 
shall live that seek the Lord ;" it is equivalent to that scrip- 
ture, " The just shall live by faith." So Psalm xxii. 26. and 
Psalm lxx. 4. And so Amos v. 4. « For thus saith the Lord 
unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live." And 
verse 6. " Seek the Lord, and ye shall live." And verse 8. 
11 Seek him that made the seven stars and Orion, and turneth 
the shadow of death into the morning." Cant. iv. 8. " Look 
from the top of Amana." Isaiah xvii. 7, 8. "At that day shall 
a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to 
the Holy One of Israel, and he shall not look to the altars, the 
work of his hands ; neither shall respect that which his fing- 
ers have made, either the groves or the images." Isaiah Ixv. 
22. " Look unto me,and be ye saved,all the ends of the earth." 
Jonah ii. 4. " I will look again towards thine holy temple." 
Micah vii. 7. " Therefore I will look unto the Lord ; I will 
•wait for the God of my salvation : My God will hear me." 
Psalm xxxiv. 5. « They looked unto him, and were lighten- 
ed ; their faces were not ashamed." 

§ 49. Faith is a taking hold of God's strength ; Isaiah 
xxvii. 5. « O let him take hold of my strength, that he 
may make peace with me, and he shall make peace with me." 


Faith is expressed by stretching out the hand to Christ ; Psah 
Ixviii. 31. "Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands to 
God." So Christ said to the man that had the withered 
Land, " Stretch forth thine hand." Promises of mercy 
and help are often in Scripture made to rolling our burden, 
and rolling ourselves, or rolling our way on the Lord. Prov. 
xvi. 3. " Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts 
shall be established." Psal. xxii. 3, and xxxvii. 5. « He 
trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him : Let him de- 
liver him, seeing he delighted in him...." Commit thy way 
unto the Lord ; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to 

§ 50. That there are different sorts of faith, and that all 
believing that Christ is the Son of God, and Saviour of the 
world, Sec. is not true and saving faith, or that faith which 
most commonly has the name of faith appropriated to it in 
the New Testament, is exceedingly evident by John vi. 64. 
" But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus 
knew from the beginning, who they were that believed not, 
and who should betray him." Here all false disciples, that 
had but a temporary faith, that thought him to be the Mes- 
siah, but would fall away, as Judas and others, are said to be 
those that believed not, making an essential difference be- 
tween their belief, and that grace that has the term faith, or 
believing, appropriated to it. Faith is a receiving of Christ in- 
to the heart, in such a sense as to believe that he is what he 
declares himself to be, and to have such an high esteem of 
him as an excellent Lord and Saviour, and so to prize him, 
and so to depend upon him, as not to be ashamed nor afraid 
to profess him, and openly and constantly to appear on his 
side. See Rom. x. 8....13. 

§51. Trusting in liches, as Christ uses the expression 
concerning the rich young man, and as the expression is used 
elsewhere, is an extensive expression, compreh