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Full text of "The active Christian's companion : containing, Immanuel--Communion with God--Angelical life, by the Rev. S. Shaw ; also, Communion with Christ, by the Rev. J. Flavel"

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Memoirs of the Author iii 

Preface .15 

CHAP. I. The occasion of the words of the text ; the prin- 
cipal contents of it ; the origin of true religion ; all souls 
the oflFspring of God, and a more especial portraiture of 
him, but pious souls yet more especially : God the author of 
religion from without, in several respects ; God the author 
of it from within, enlightening the faculty ; religion some- 
thing of God in the soul ; a discovery of religious men 
by the affinity they have to God ; God alone to be ac- 
knowledged in all holy accomplishments ; the origin of 
sin from henCe discovered • . .55 

CHAP. II. True religion described, as to the nature of it, 
by water ; a metaphor usual in the scriptures — 1. By 
reason of the cleansing virtue of it ; the defiling nature 
of sin, and the beauty of holiness manifested — 2. By rea- 
son of the quenching virtue of it ; this briefly touched 
upon, and the more full handling of it referred to its pro- 
per place ; the nature of religion described by a well of 
water ; that it is a principle in the souls of men, proved 


by much scripture ; an examination of religion by this 
test, by which examination are excluded all things that 
are merely external reformations, and performances in- 
stanced in ; a godly man hath neither the whole of his 
business, nor his motives lying without him ; in the same 
examination many things internal found not to be reli- 
gion ; it is no sudden passion of the mind ; no, not though 
the same amount to an ecstacy ; nor anything begotten 
and maintained by fancy, and the mere power of imagin- 
ation 78 

CHAP. HI. Containing the first property mentioned of 
true religion : namely, the freeness and unconstrainedness 
of it ; this discovered in sevei'al outward acts of morality 
and worship ; as also in the more inward acts of the soul ; 
this freedom considered first as to its author ; in which is 
examined how far the command of God may be said to 
act upon a pious soul — Secondly, considered as to its ob- 
ject; two cautionary concessions — 1. That some things 
without the soul may be said to be naotives ; how far 
afflictions and temporal prosperity may be said to be so— 
2. That there is a constraint lying upon the pious soul, 
which yet takes not away its freedom ; an inquiry into 
forced devotion ; first into the causes of it, namely, men 
themselves, and that upon a threefold account, other men, 
or the providences of God : and next, into the properties 
of it, proving that it is for the most part dry and spirit- 
less, needy and penurious, uneven and not permanent . 102 

CHAP. IV. The active and vigorous nature of true religion 
proved by many scriptural phrases of the most powerful 
importance ; more particularly explained in three things — 

1. In the soul's continual care and study to be good^ 

2. In its care to do good — 3. In its powerful and incessant 
longings after the most full enjoyment of God . . • 126 


CHAP. V. An expostulation with Christians concerning 
their remiss and shiggish temper ; an attempt to convince 
them of it by some considerations, which are — 1. The 
activity of worldly men — 2. The restless appetites of the 
body — 3. The strong propensions of every creature to- 
wards its own centre ; an inquiry into the slothfulness 
and inactivity of christian souls ; the grace of faith vin- 
dicated from the slander of being merely passive ; a short 
attempt to awaken Christians unto greater vigour and 

activity 151 

CHAP. VI. That religion is a lasting and persevering 
principle in the souls of men ; the grounds of this per- 
severance assigned : first, negatively, it doth not arise 
from the absolute impossibility of losing of grace in the 
creature, nor from the sti'ength of man's free will: 
secondly, affirmatively, the grace of election cannot fail ; 
the grace of justification is neither suspended nor vio- 
lated ; the covenant of grace is everlasting ; the Mediator 
of this covenant lives for ever ; the promises of it immut- 
able ; the righteousness brought in by the Messiah ever- 
lasting ; an objection answered concerning a regenerate 
man's willing his own apostacy ; an objection answered, 
drawn from the falls of saints in scripture ; a discovery 
of counterfeit religion, and the shameful apostacy of false 
professors ; an encouragement to all holy diligence, from 
the consideration of this doctrine . . . . .168 
CHAP. VII. Religion considered in the consequence, of 
not thirsting ; divine grace gives a solid satisfaction to the 
soul ; this aphorism confirmed by some scriptures, and 
largely explained in six propositions : first, that there is 
a raging thirst in every soul of man after some ultimate 
and satisfactory good : second, that every natural man 
thirsteth principally after happiness in the creature; 


third, that no man can find that soul- filling satisfaction 

in any creature-enjoyment : fourth, that grace takes not 
away the soul's thirst after happiness : fifth, that the 
pious soul thirsteth no more after rest in any worldly 
thing, but in God alone ; how far a good man may be 
said to thirst after the creature : sixth, that in the enjoy- 
ment of God the soul is at rest ; and this in a double 
sense, namely, so as that it is perfectly matched with its 
object : secondly, so satisfied as to have joy and pleasure 
in him : the chapter concludes in a passionate lamentation 
over the levity and earthliness of christian minds . .196 
CHAP. VIII. The term or end of religion, eternal life, con- 
sidered in a double notion — first, as it signifies the essen- 
tial happiness of the soul : second, as it takes in many 
glorious appendixes ; the noble and genuine breathings 
of the pious soul after, and springing up into, the former : 
the argument drawn from the example of Christ ; Moses 
and Paul moderated ; it ends in a serious exhortation 
made to Christians, to live and love more spiritually, 
more suitably to the nature of souls, i-edeemed souls, 
resulting from the whole discourse 240 


Text — 1 John i. 3, "Our fellowship is with the Father, and 
with his Son Jesus Christ" 259 


Text — Matt. xxii. 30, " Are as the angels of God in 

heaven" 305 


Communion with Christ 349 


OR, A 





vol,. 11. 




The Rev. Samuel Shaw, A.M. was born of reli- 
gious parents at Repton, in Derbyshire, in 1695, 
and educated at the Free- School there, then the 
best in that part of England. He went at fourteen 
years of age to St. John's College, Cambridge, where 
he was chamber-fellow with Dr. Morton. When 
he had completed his studies, he went to Tamworth^ 
in Warwickshire, and was usher in the Free-School 
in 1656. When that reverend person Mr. Blake 
died, in 1657, Mr. Shaw spoke an eloquent oration 
at his funeral, after Mr. Anthony Burgess had 
preached a sermon. They were both printed, and 
such as have perused them must think a conjunc- 
tion of three such men, as the deceased and the two 
speakers, a singular happiness to that neighbour- 
hood. From Tamworth Mr. Shaw removed to 
Mosely, a small place in the borders of Worcester- 
shire, being invited by Col. Greavis, who showed 


him much kindness. On his coming hither, he was 
ordained by the classical presbytery at Wirks- 
worth ; and by the assistance of Mr. Gervas Pigot 
of Thrumpton, he obtained a presentation from the 
Protector to the rectory of Long-Whatton, which 
was in the gift of the crown. He had full posses- 
sion of this place in June, 1658, and continued in 
the peaceable enjoyment of it till 1660. Fearing 
some disturbance in the month of September that 
year, he got a fresh presentation* under the great seal 
of England, without much difficulty, as the former 
incumbent Mr. Henry Robinson was dead, and two 
more who enjoyed it after him. But though his 
title was thus corroborated. Sir John Pretty man, by 
making interest with the lord chancellor, found 
means to remove Mr. Shaw, about a year before 
the Act of Uniformity passed ; and introduced one 
Mr. Butler, who had no manner of title to the 
place. He was a man of such mean qualifications, 
and so little respected in the parish, that some of 
them told Sir John, that they heard Mr. Butler 
had given him a pair of coach-mares to get him the 
living, but they would give him two pair to get 
him out, and put Mr. Shaw in again. But he now 
quitted the church, as he could not satisfy himself 
to conform to the new terms. He was afterwards 
. • Copies of both these Presenta,tions may be seen in Calamy. 


offered this living without any other condition than 
re-ordination. But he used to say, He would not 
lie to God and man, in declaring his presbyterian 
ordination invalid. 

When he left Whatton he removed to Cotes, a 
small village near Loughborough. Here his family 
caught the plague of some relations, who came from 
London to avoid it, about harvest-time in 1665. 
He then preached in his own house, and afterwards 
published that excellent book, called The Welcome 
to the Plague, grounded on Amos iv. 12, -'Pre- 
pare to meet thy God, O Israel.'' He buried two 
children, two friends, and one servant of that dis- 
temper ; but he and his wife survived it ; and not 
being ill both at once, they looked after one another 
and the rest of the family : which was a great mercy, 
for none durst come to his assistance. He was in a 
manner shut up for three months, and was forced 
not only to attend his sick, but to bury his dead 
himself in his own garden.* 

Towards the latter end of the year 1666, he re- 
moved to Ashby-de-la-Zouch in the same county ; 
and was chosen to be the sole master of the free- 
school in 1668. The revenue was then but small, 

• The excellent temper of mind which he expressed under 
this severe dispensation, is discovered in the above-mentioned 
work, whick is reprinted in vol. i. 

6 mt:moirs of the authoii. 

the school-buildings quite out of repair, and the 
number of scholars few. But by his diligence he 
soon got the salary augmented, not only for himself, 
but his successors ; and by his interest with several 
gentlemen, he procured money for the building of a 
good school-house, and a gallery for the scholars in 
the church. But then he had another difficulty ; 
>vhich was, how to get a licence without subscrip- 
tion to such things as his conscience did not allow 
of. However, he got over it ; for by means of 
Lord Conway, he obtained from Archbishop Shel- 
don a licence (which Calamy gives at length), to 
teach school any where in his whole province ; and 
that without once waiting upon the Archbishop. As 
he needed a licence also from the bishop of the 
diocese, he got a friend to make his application to 
Dr. Fuller, then bishop of Lincoln, who put into 
his lordship's hands Mr. Shaw's late book occasioned 
by the plague. The bishop was so much pleased 
with the piety, peaceableness, humility, and learn- 
ing there discovered, that he gave him a licence 
Vipon such a subscription as his own good sense dic- 
tated, and said, that he was glad to have so worthy 
a man in his diocese upon any terms. He added, 
that he understood there was another book of his 
in print, called Immanuel, which he desired to see. 
Mr. Shaw's learning, piety, and good temper soon 


raised tlie reputation of his school, and the number 
of his scholars, above any in those parts ; having 
often one hundred and sixty boys or more under 
his care. His own house and others in the town, 
were continually full of boarders from I^ondon, and 
other distant parts of the kingdom. Several divines 
of the Church of England, (v. g. Mr. Sturgess of 
All-Saints in Derby, Mr. Walter Horton, after- 
wards one of the canons of Lichfield, &c.) and 
many gentlemen, physicians, lawyers, and others, 
owed their school-learning to his good instructions. 
He endeavoured to make the youth under his care, 
in Jove with piety ; to principle them in religion 
by his advice, and ' allure them to it by his good 
example. His temper was affable, his conversation 
pleasant and facetious, his method of teaching win- 
ning and easy. He had great skill in finding 
out, i.nd suiting himself to, the tempers of boys. 
He freely taught poor children, where he saw in 
them a disposition for learning, and afterwards pro- 
cured them assistance to perfect their studies at the 
university. He did indeed excellent service in the 
work of education ; and his school was a great ad- 
vantage to the trading part of the town. 

AViicn the liberty of the Dissenters was settled 
by act of parliament, he licensed his scliool-room 
for 3 place of worship. The first time he used it, 


he preached from Acts xix. 9, " Disputing daily in 
the school of one Tyrannus."" He so contrived his 
meetings, as not to interfere with the establishment, 
preaching at noon between the services at church, 
and constantly attending there both parts of the 
day, with all his scholars, his family, and all his 
hearers ; so that the pul]^ic assembly was hereby 
considerably augmented ; and the weekly lecture 
was chiefly attended by him and his scholars. He 
was upon the most friendly terms with the vicar of 
the place, and corresponded with Dr. Barlow, the 
bishop of Lincoln, to whom he presented his book 
of Meditations, which has been generally esteemed, 
and read with great profit. Upon which his lord- 
ship, who was a great reader, and a good judge of 
books, wrote him the following letter : — 

" My Rev. Brother, 

I have received yours, and this comes 
(with my love and respects) to bring you thanks for 
the rational and pious book you so kindly sent me. 
Though my businesses be many, and my infirmities 
more, being now past 74, yet I have read all your 
book, and some parts of it more than once, with 
great satisfaction and benefit. For in your medi- 
tations of the love of God and the world, I am 
neither afraid nor unwilling to confess it, and mak^ 


you my confessor,) you have instructed me in seve- 
ral things, which I knew not before, or at least con- 
sidered not so seriously, and so often as I might 
and ought. One great occasion or cause why we 
love our gracious God less, and the world more than 
we should, is want of knowledge, or consideration. 
God himself, Isa. i. 2, 3, complains of this, and calls 
heaven and earth to witness the justice of his com- 
plaint. " I have nourished and brought up children, 
and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth 
his owner, and the ass his master*'s crib, but Israel 
doth not know, my people doth not consider." It is 
strange, and yet most true, that the ox and ass, irra- 
tional and stupid creatures, should know their mas- 
ters, who feed and take care of them, and yet men, 
rational creatures, even Israel, God's only church 
and people, whom he had miraculously preserved and 
nourished, should neither know nor consider. This 
consideration is our duty, and the want of it our 
sin ; a sin of omission, and therefore it is no 
wonder if it be a moral cause and occasion of some 
consequent sin of commission ; so that the best men 
by reason of the old man, and the remains of cor- 
ruption in them may, and many times do sin, and 
come short of fulfilling the law and doing their 
duty, when they want this consideration, or such a 
degree and measure of it as is required to the moral 


goodness of an action. Suppose a man tempted to 
commit adultery, murder, perjury, or any such sin ; 
if such a man would seriously consider the nature 
of the sin he is going to commit, that it is a trans- 
gression of the law of God, to whom he owes all he 
has, both for life and livelihood, that it pollutes his 
soul, that it dishonours his gracious God and hea- 
venly Father, that it makes him obnoxious to eter- 
nal misery, both of body and soul : I say, he who 
considers this, as all should, would certainly be 
afraid to commit such impieties. Now of such con- 
siderations, you have given us many in your book, 
and those grounded on the clear light of nature, or 
on evident reason, or revelation ; and it is my prayer 
and hope that many may read, and to their great 
benefit remember, and practise them. I am well 
pleased with your discourse against usury ; which, 
as is commonly managed, I take to be one of the 

crying sins of our ungrateful nation 

Give me leave, faithfully and as a friend to add 
one thing more. In your second page, there is, I 
believe, a little mistake. For you seem to say, that 
James, who wrote the canonical epistle, was bro- 
ther to John the apostle. Now it is certain, that 
amongst the apostles there were two of that name. 
1. James the son of Zebedee, and brother of John. 
^. James the son of Alplieus, Matt. x. 2, 3, who 


was called James the less, Mark xv. 40, whose mo- 
ther was Mary, who was sister to the Virgin Mary ; 
and so our blessed Saviour and James the son of 
Alpheus were sisters' children, cousin-germans. 
Now that James the son of Zebedee, and brother 
of John, did not write that canonical epistle, will 
be certain, if we consider, 1. That James, brother 
of John, was slain by Herod Agrippa, Acts xii. 
2, which was Anno Christi 44* or 45. And 
2ndly, If it be considered, that the epistle of James 
was not written till the year of Christ 63 : for so 
Baronius, Simpson, and the best chronologers assure 
us. They say, that epistle of James was not writ 
till almost twenty years after James the brother of 
John was slain by Herod : and therefore it is cer- 
tain, he neither did nor could write it. I beg your 
pardon for this tedious, and I fear impertinent, 
scribble. My love and due respects remembered. I 
shall pray for a blessing upon you and your studies : 
and your prayers are heartily desired by and for 
Your affectionate friend and brother, 


Uuckdcn, March 16, 1681. 
For my Reverend Friend, IVIr. SAi\r. Sham', 
at his House at Ashby-de-la-Zouch. 

* Jac. Usserius, Annal. pag. 868, Ed. 1608 ; Baron. Annal. torn. \. 


If such a correspondence as this between the 
bishops of the church of England and the ministers 
among the Dissenters, had been generally main- 
tained, it might have produced much better effects 
than the great distance that has been kept up on 
both sides. — Mr. Shaw was a man of a peaceable 
disposition. He was frequently employed, and 
very successful in his endeavours to reconcile dif- 
ferences. He had a public and generous spirit, and 
was ever ready to encourage any good designs. He 
was given to hospitality, and was very moderate in 
his principles. For the space of almost thirty years 
he spent himself in endeavours to make the world 
better, though with no great gains to himself. It 
was his chief aim to live usefully ; and he thought 
that, a considerable reward to itself He was of a 
middle stature, and his countenance not very pene- 
trating : like another Melancthon, that could not fill 
a chair with a big look and portly presence ; but 
his eye was sparkling, and his conversation witty, 
savoury, affable, and pertinent. He was ready at re- 
partees and innocent jests, with a mixture of poetry, 
history, and other polite learning. But his great- 
est excellency was in religious discourse, in praying 
and preaching. One that knew him well, writes as 
follows : — 


" I liave known him spend part of many days 
and nights too in religious exercise, when the times 
were so dangerous that it would hazard an imprison- 
ment to be worshipping God with five or six people 
like minded with himself. I have sometimes been 
in his company for a whole night together, when 
we have been fain to steal to the place in the dark, 
to stop out the light and stop in the voice, by 
clothing and fast closing the windows, till the first 
day-break down a chimney has given us notice to 
be gone. I bless God for such seasons. If some 
say it was needless to do so much : I reply, the care 
of our souls and eternity, which only was minded 
there, requires more. I say, I bless God for the 
remembrance of them, and for Mr. Shaw at them, 
whose melting words in prayer, I can never forget. 
He had a most excellent faculty in speaking to God 
with reverence, humility, and a holy awe of his pre- 
sence, " filling his mouth with arguments : by his 
strength he had power with God ; he wept and 
made supplication ; he found him in Bethel (such 
were our assemblies,) and there he spake with us.'"* 
I have heard him for two or three hours together 
pour out prayer to God, without tautology or vain 
repetition, with tliat vigour and fervour, and those 
holy words that imported faith and humble bold- 

VOL. IE c 


ness, as have dissolved the whole company into 
tears," &c. In short, a mixture of so much learn- 
ing and humility, wit and judgment, piety and 
pleasantness, are rarely found together, as met in 
him. He died Jan. 22, 1696, in the iifty-ninth 
year of his age. His funeral sermon was preached 
by Mr. William Crosse, his brother-in-law, from 
Luke xxiii. 28. 


Amongst the many stupendous spectacles that are 
wont to surprize and amuse inquisitive minds, there 
seems to be nothing in the world of a sadder and 
more astonishing description, than the small pro- 
gress and propagation of the Christian religion. 
This I call a sad observation, because religion is a 
matter of the most weighty and necessary import- 
ance, without which it is not possible for an immor- 
tal soul to be perfected and made happy : I call it 
astonishing, because the Christian religion hath in 
itself such advantages of recommending itself to the 
minds of men, and contains in it such mighty en- 
gines to work them into a hearty compliance with 
it, and to captivate their reason unto itself, as no 
other religion in the world can with any face pre- 
tend to. I do earnestly, and I suppose rationally 
and scripturally, hope that this Veritas magna, 
those sacred oracles will yet more prevail, and that 
the Founder of this most excellent religion, who was 
lifted up upon the cross, and is now exalted to his 
throne, will yet draw more men unto himself: and 
this, perhaps, is all the millennium that we can war- 
rantably look for. But, in the mean time, it is 


too, too evident, that the kingdom of Satan doth 
more obtain in the world, than the gospel of Christ, 
either in the letter or power of it. As to the 
former, if we will receive the probable conjecture of 
learned inquirers, we shall not find above one-sixth 
part of the known world yet christianized, or giving 
so much as an external adoration to the crucified 
Jesus. As to the latter, I will not be so bold to make 
any arithmetical conjectures, but judge it more ne- 
cessary, and more becoming a charitable and chris- 
tian spirit, to sit down in secret, and weep over that 
sad but true account given in the gospel, "Few are 
chosen,"' Matt. xx. 16; and again, "Few there be 
that find it," Matt. vii. 14; being grieved, after the 
example of my compassionate Redeemer, "for the 
hardness of their hearts,'' and praying with Joab, in 
another case, " The Lord make his people an hun- 
dred times so many more as they be ! " 1 Chron. 
xxi. 3. It is besides my present purpose to inquire 
into the immediate causes of the non-propagation 
of the gospel in the former sense ; only it is easy 
and obvious to guess, that few will enter in by "the 
way of the tree of life," when the same is guarded 
with a "flaming sword !" And it were reasonable 
to hope, that if the minds of Christians were more 
purged from a selfish bitterness, fierce animosity, 
and arbitrary sourness, and possessed with a more 
free, generous, benign, compassionate, condescend- 
ing, candid, charitable, and Christ-like spirit, which 
would be indulgent towards such as are, for the pre- 


sent, under a less perfect dispensation, as our Sa- 
viour's was, Luke ix. 49, 50, 54, 55, would not 
impose anything harsh or unnecessary upon the 
sacred and inviolable consciences of men, but would 
allow and maintain that liberty to men, which is 
just and natural to them in matters of religion, and 
no way forfeited by them ; then, I say, it might be 
reasonable to hope, that the innate power and virtue 
of the gospel would prove most victorious; Judaism, 
Mahometism, and Paganism, would melt away 
under its powerful influences, and Satan himself 
*'fall down as lightning" before it, as naturally as 
the eye-lids of the morning do chase away the black- 
ness of the night, when once they are lifted up upon 
the earth. But my design is chiefly to examine the 
true and proper cause of the non-progress of the 
gospel, as to the power of it, and its inefficaciousness 
upon the hearts and consciences of those that do 
profess it. And now, in finding out the cause 
hereof, I shall content myself to be wise on this 
side heaven, leaving that daring course of search- 
ing the decrees of God, and rifling into the hidden 
rolls of eternity, to them who can digest the uncom- 
fortable notion of a self-willed, arbitrary, and im- 
perious Deity ; which, I doubt, is the most vulgar ap- 
prehension of God, men measuring him most grossly 
and unhappily by a self-standard. And as I dare 
not soar so high, so neither will I adventure to 
stoop so low, as to rake into particulars; which are 
differently assigned, according to the different hu- 

c 3 


mours and interests of them that do assign them ; 
each party in the world being so exceedingly favour- 
able to itself, as to be ready to say with David, 
" The earth, and all the inhabitants of it, are dis- 
solved ; I bear up the pillars of it," Psal. Ixxv. 3 ; 
ready to think that the very interest of religion in 
the world is involved in them and their persuasions 
and dogmas, and that the whole church is undone, 
if but a hair fall from their heads, if they be in the 
least injured or abridged ; which is a piece of very 
great fondness, and indeed the more unpardonable, 
inasmuch as it destroys the design of the gospel, in 
confining and limiting the Holy One of Israel, and 
making God as topical, as he was when he dwelt no 
where upon earth but at the temple in Jerusalem. 

Waving these extremes therefore, I conceive the 
true cause in general of the so little prevailing of 
true religion in the hearts and lives of men, is the 
false notion that men have of it, placing it there where 
indeed it is not, nor doth consist. That this must 
needs be a cause of the not prevailing of the gos- 
pel wherever it is found, I suppose every body will 
grant; and that it is almost every where to be 
found, will, I doubt, too evidently appear by that 
description of the true Christian religion, which the 
most sacred author of it, the Lord Jesus Christ, 
made to the poor Samaritaness ; which I have en- 
deavoured briefly to explain, according to the tenor 
of the gospel, in this small Treatise ; which I first 
framed for private use, in a season when it was most 


important for me to understand the utmost secrets 
of my own soul, and do the utmost service I was 
able towards the salvation of those that were under 
my roof; expecting every day to render up my 
own or their souls into the arms of our most merci- 
ful Redeemer, and to be swallowed up in that eter- 
nal life, into which true religion daily springs up, 
and will, at length, infallibly conduct the christian 
soul. This work, thus undertaken, and in a great 
measure then carried on, I have since perfected, 
and do here present to the perusal of my dear coun- 
try, having made it public for no private end ; but, 
if it might be, to serve the interest of God's glory 
in the world ; which I do verily reckon that I shall do, 
if, by his blessing, I may be instrumental to unde- 
ceive any soul mistaken in so high an affair and of 
such importance as religion is, or any way to awaken 
and quicken any religious soul not sufficiently im- 
pressed with the unspeakable glory, nor cheerfully 
enough springing up into the full fruition of eter- 
nal life. 

What a certain and undefeatable tendency true 
religion hath towards the eternal happiness and sal- 
vation of men"'s souls, will, 1 hope, evidently ap- 
pear out of the body of this small Treatise ; but that 
is not all (though indeed that were enough to com- 
mend it to any rational soul, that is any whit free 
and ingenuous, and is not so perfectly debauched 
as to apostatize utterly from right reason ;) for it is 
also the sincerest policy imaginable, and the most 


unerring expedient in the world, for the uniting 
and establishing of a divided and tottering kingdom 
or commonwealth : to demons tate which was the 
very design of this Preface. It is well known, (O 
that it were but as well and effectually believed !) 
that " godliness is profitable to all things,"" and that 
it hath the promises and blessings of the " life that 
now is, and of that which is to come,""^ 1 Tim. iv. 8; 
that the right seeking of the kingdom of God and 
his righteousness, hath no less than all things an- 
nexed to it, Matt. vi. 33. How unmeasurable is 
the body and bulk of that blessedness, to which all 
the comforts of this life are to be as an appendix to 
a volume ! But men are apt to shuffle off general 
things ; therefore I will descend to instances, and 
show in a few particulars, what a mighty influence 
religion in the power of it, would certainly have for 
the political happiness and flourishing state of a 
nation. Wherein I doubt not but to make appear, 
that not religion, as some slanderously report, but 
indeed the want of it, is the immediate troubler of 
every nation, and individual society ; yea, and soul 
too : according to that just saying of the holy apo- 
stle, " From whence come wars and fightings ? come 
they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your 
members?" James iv. 1. Here let me desire one 
thing of the reader, and that is, to bear in his 
mind all along, where he finds the word religion, 
that I have principally a respect to the description 
given of it in the text, and that I mean thereby. 


" a divine principle implanted in the soul, spring- 
ing up into everlasting life."' 

And now I should briefly touch those faults, both 
in governors towards their subjects, subjects to- 
wards their governors, and towards each other, 
which do destroy the peaceful state, and the sound 
and happy constitution of a body politic : and in- 
deed I fear it will run me upon some inconvenience, 
if not confusion, to wave this method. But out of 
a pure desire to avoid whatever may be interpret- 
able to ill-will, curiosity, presumption, or any other 
bad disposition, and that it may appear to any 
ingenuous eye, that I am more desirous to bind up 
than to rake into sores, I will expressly show how 
religion would heal the distempers of any nation, 
without taking any more than an implicit notice of 
the distempers themselves. 

First then. It is vmdoubtedly true that religion, 
deeply radicated in the nature of princes and 
governors, would most effectually qualify them for 
the most happy way of reigning. Every body 
knows well enough what an excellent euchrasy,* 
and lovely constitution the Jewish polity was in, 
under the influence of holy David, wise Solomon, 
devout Hezekiah, zealous Josiah, and others of the 
same spirit ; so that I need not spend myself in 
that inquiry, and so consequently not upon that 
argument. Now, there are many ways by which it 

• A Greek word, implying a good temperature and condition, 
or state of the bod v. 


is easy to conceive that religion would rectify and 
well-temper the spirits of princes. 

This principle will verily constitute the most 
noble, heroical, and royal soul, inasmuch as it will 
not suffer men to find any unhallowed satisfaction 
in a divine authority, but will be springing up into 
a God-like nature, as their greatest and most per- 
fect glory. It will certainly correct and limit the 
over-eager affectation of unwieldy greatness and 
unbounded dominion, by teaching them that the 
most honourable victory in the world is self-con- 
quest, and that the propagation of the image and 
kingdom of God in their own souls is infinitely pre- 
ferable to the advancement or enlargement of any 
temporal jurisdiction. 

The same holy principle, being the most genuine 
offspring of divine love and benignity, will also 
polish their rough and over-severe natures, instruct 
them in the most sweet and obliging methods of 
government by assimilating them to the nature of 
God, who is infinitely abhorrent from all appear- 
ance of oppression, and hath most admirably pro- 
vided that his servants should not be slaves, by 
making his service perfect freedom. 

The pure and impartial nature of God cannot 
endure superstitious flatterers, or hypocritical pro- 
fessors ; and the princes of the earth, that are re- 
generated into his image, will also estimate men ac- 
cording to God ; I mean, according to his example 
who loves nothing but the communications of him- 


self, and according to their participation of his 
image, which alone is amiable and worthy of ad- 
vancement. What God rejected in his fire-offer- 
ings, religion will teach princes to dislike in the devo- 
tions, as they call them, of their courtiers ; I mean, 
not only the leaven of superstitious pride and 
dogged morosity, but also the honey of mercenary 
prostrations and fawning adulations. 

In a word, this religious principle which makes 
God its pattern and end springs from him, and is 
always springing up into him, would sovereignly 
heal the distempers of men ruled by humour, self- 
interest, and arbitrariness, and teach them to seek 
the good of the public before self-gratifications. 
For so God rules the world ; who, however some 
men slander him, I dare say, hath made nothing 
the duty of his creature but what is really for its 
good ; neither doth he give his people laws on pur- 
pose that he might show his sovereignty in making 
them, or his justice in punishing the breach of 
them ; much less doth he give them any such 
statutes, as which himself would as willingly they 
broke as kept, so he might but exact the penalty. 

What I have briefly said concerning political 
governors, the judicious reader may view over 
again, and apply to the ecclesiastical. For I do 
verily reckon that if the hearts of these men were in 
that right religious temper and holy order which I 
have been speaking of, it would plentifully con- 
tribute towards the happy and blissful state of any 


kingdom, I will spc*ik freely, let it light where it will, 
that principle which springs up into popular applause, 
secular greatness, worldly pomp and ostentation, 
flesh-pleasing, or any kind of self-exaltation, which 
is various, is really contradistinct from that divine 
principle, that religious nature which springs up into 
everlasting life. And certainly, notwithstanding 
all the recriminations and self-justifications which 
are, on all hands, used to shuffle off the guilt, these 
governors must lay aside their sullen pride, as well 
as the people their proud sullenness, before the 
church of God be healed in its breaches, purged of 
Antichristianism, or can probably arrive at any 
sound constitution or perfect stature. 

But I suppose religion will not have its full and 
desirable effect upon a nation, by healing the sickly 
heads of it, except it be like the holy oil poured 
upon the sacrificer's head, which ran down also 
upon the skirts of his garments, Psal. cxxxiii. 2. 

Secondly, It is indispensably requisite for the 
thorough healing and right constituting of any po- 
litical body, that the subjects therein be thus di- 
vinely principled. This will not fail to dispose 
them rightly towards their governors, and towards 
one another. 

1. Towards their governors. There are many 
evil and perverse dispositions in subjects towards 
their rulers ; all which religion is the most excellent 
expedient to rectify. 


The first and fundamental distemper here seems 
to be a want of due reverence toward these vice- 
gerents of God upon earth ; which easily grows up 
into something positive, and becomes a secret wish- 
ing of evil to them. This fault, as light as some 
esteem it, was severely punished in Queen Michal, 
who despised her lord, king David, in her heart, 
and her barren womb went down to its sister the 
grave under the great reproach of living and dying 
childless. And if an ordinary hatred be so foully 
interpreted by the holy apostle, " Whosoever hateth 
his brother is a murderer," 1 John iii. 15 ; surely 
disloyal and malignant dispositions towards gover- 
nors must needs have a fouler face ; and we may 
say, by a parity of reason, " Whosoever hateth his 
prince is a rebel and a regicide." Now this distem- 
per, as fundamental and epidemical as it is, the 
spirit of true religion will heal, and I think I may 
say that only : for I know nothing in the world that 
hath, nay, I know that nothing in the world hath 
that sovereignty and dominion over the dispositions 
and affections of the soul, as this principle thoroughly 
ingi'afted in the soul, doth challenge to itself. This 
alone can frame tlie heart of man into that beauti- 
ful temper and complexion of love and loyalty, that 
he will not curse the king, no, not in his secret 
thoughts ; no, not though he were well assured that 
there were no winged messenger to tell the matter, 
Eccles. X. 20. 

Another distemper in subjects, respective to 



their governors, is impatience of bearing a yoke ; 
which is an evil so natural to the proud and im- 
perious spirit of man, that I believe it were safe to 
affirm, that every irreligious subject could be well 
content to be a prince ; however there may be many 
who, utterly despairing of such an event, may with 
the fox in the fable profess they care not for it. 
From this principle of pride and impatience of sub- 
jection, I suspect it is that the millennarians do so 
scornfully declaim against, and so loudly decry the 
carnal ordinances of magistracy and ministry : not 
that they do verily seek the advancement of Christ's 
kingdom (which indeed every disorderly, tumultu- 
ous, proud, impatient soul doth, ip^'o facto, deny 
and destroy) but of themselves. To whom one 
might justly apply the censure which Pharaoh in- 
juriously passes upon the children of Israel, with a 
little alteration, " Ye are proud, therefore ye say, 
Let us go, and do sacrifice to the Lord,'" Exod. v. 
17. This distemper the power of religion would 
excellently heal, by mortifying ambitious inclina- 
tions, and quieting the impatient turbulences of the 
fretful and envious soul, by fashioning the heart to 
a right humble frame and cheerful submission to 
everv ordination of God. You will see in this 
treatise that a right religious soul, powerfully spring- 
ing up into everlasting life, hath no list nor leisure 
to attend to such poor attainments and sorry acqui- 
sitions, as the lording it over other men ; being feel- 
ingly acquainted with a life far more excellent than 


the most princely, and being overpowered with a 
supreme and sovereign good, which charms all its 
inordinate ragings, and laying hold upon all its fa- 
culties, draws them forth by a pleasing violence, 
unto a most zealous pursuit of itself, A principle 
of humility makes men good subjects; and they 
that are indeed probationers for another world, may 
very well behave themselves with a noble disdain 
towards all the glories and preferments of this. 

The last distemper that I shall name in subjects 
towards their governors is discontents about con- 
ceited mis -government and mal - administration : 
which commonly spring from an evil and sinister 
interpretation of the ruler's actions, and are attend- 
ed with'an evil and tumultuous zeal for relaxation. 
]Now this distemper, as great as it is and destruc- 
tive to the well-being of a body politic, true reli- 
gion would heal both root and branch. Were that 
noble part and branch of the Christian religion, 
universal charity, rightly seated in the soul, it would 
not suffer the son of the bond-woman to inherit 
with it ; it would cast out those ireful jealousies, 
sour suspicions, harsh surmises, and imbittered 
thoughts which lodge in unhallowed minds, and dis- 
play itself in a most amicable sweetness and gentle- 
ness of disposition, in fair glosses upon doubtful 
actions, friendly censures or none at all, kind ex- 
tenuations of greater faults and covering of lesser ; 
for this is the proper genius of this divine principle, 
to be very unbelieving of evil or easily entertaining 


of good reports, gladly interpreting all things to a 
good meaning that will possibly admit of such a 
construction ; or if you will, in the apostle's phrase, 
" Charity is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil," 
1 Cor. xiii. 5. 

And as charity doth cut up this root of discon- 
tents, so will faith allay and destroy these discon- 
tents themselves, which are about mis-government 
and ill-administration. This noble principle ad- 
ministers ease and satisfaction to the soul, if she 
happen to be provoked : for it will not suffer her 
long to stand gazing upon second causes, but carries 
her up in a seasonable contemplation to the su- 
preme cause, without whom no disorder could ever 
befall the world ; and there commands her to re- 
pose herself, in the bosom of infinite wisdom and 
grace, waiting for a comfortable issue. He may 
well be vexed indeed, that has so much reason as to 
observe the many monstrous disorders which are 
in the world, and not so much faith as to eye the 
inscrutable providence of a benign and all-wise God, 
who permitteth the same with respect to the most 
beautiful end and blessed order imaginable. Though 
faith abhors the blasphemy of laying blame upon 
God, yet it so fixes the soul upon him, and causes 
her so to eye his hand and end in all mal-adminis- 
trations of men, that she hath no leisure to fall out 
with men, or quarrel with instruments. 

These discontents, I said, were frequently at- 
tended with an evil and seditious zeal for relaxa- 


tion, discovering itself in secret treacherous con- 
spiracies, and many times in boisterous and daring 
attempts. These are at the first sight so directly- 
contrary to the character given of religious men, 
namely, " the quiet of the land,'' Psal. xxxv. 20, 
and the genius of religion, which is wholly made 
up of " love, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, good- 
ness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance, mercy, 
kindness, humbleness of mind, forbearance, forgive- 
ness, charity, thankfulness, wisdom," Gal. v. 22, 23. 
Col. iii. 12 — 16; that it is easy to conceive that 
religion, in the power of it, would certainly heal 
this evil disease also. There are many pretenders 
to religion, whose complaint is still concerning op- 
pression and persecution, their cry is all for liberty 
and deliverance ; but to make it the more passable 
and plausible, they style it the advancement of the 
kingdom of Christ. This pretence is so fair, but 
withal so deceitful, that I count it worth my time 
to speak a little more liberally to it. And here I 
do from the very bottom of my soul protest, that I 
account the advancement of the glory of God and 
the kingdom of Christ, to be the most desirable 
thing in the world ; and that it is highly becoming 
the greatest spirits upon earth to employ their very 
utmost zeal and diligence to assist the accomplish- 
ment thereof: yea, so utterly do I abhor irreligion 
and atheism, that, as the apostle speaks, Phil. i. 18, 
in somewhat a like case, I do verily rejoice that 
Christ is professed, though it be but pretended, and 




that truth is owned, though it be not owned in 
truth. I will further add, that the oppressing and 
obstructing of the external progress and propagation 
of the gospel is hated of Christ, and to be lamented 
of all true Christians. Yea, I will further allow 
men a due sensibleness of their personal oppressions 
and injuries, and a natural warrantable desire to be 
redeemed from them. And now having thus purged 
myself, I entreat the christian reader patiently and 
without prejudice to suffer me to speak somewhat 
closely to this matter : yea, I do verily assure my- 
self that I shall be accepted, or at least indulged 
by all free and ingenuous spirits, who are rightly 
acquainted with the genius of the christian reli- 
gion, and do prefer truth before interest. 

And, first, for the complaint that is mostly con- 
cerning oppression and persecution ; certainly reli- 
gion, if it did rightly prevail in our hearts, would 
very much heal this distemper, if not by a perfect 
silencing of these complaints, yet surely by putting 
them into another tune. I reckon that religion 
quite silences these complaints, when it engages 
the soul so entirely in serving the end of God in * 
afflictions, and in a right improvement of them for 
religious purposes, that she cannot spend herself 
in fruitless murmurings and unchristian indigna- 
tion. As fire seizeth upon every thing that is 
combustible, and makes it fuel for itself, and a pre- 
dominant humour in the body converts into its own 
gubstance whatever is convertible, and makes it 


nourishment to itself; so doubtless this spirit of 
burning, this divine principle, if it were rightly 
predominant in the soul, would nourish itself by 
all things that lie in its way, though they seem 
ever so heterogeneous and hard to be digested; and 
rather than want meat it would, with Samson, fetch 
it out of the very eater himself But if religion 
should not utterly silence these complainings, by ren- 
dering the soul thus forgetful of the body, and re- 
gardless of its smart, in comparison of the happy 
advantage that may be made of it ; yet, methinks, 
it should draw the main stream of these tears into 
another channel, and put these complaints into ano- 
ther tune. It is very natural to the religious soul 
to make God ail things unto itself, to lay to heart 
the interest of truth and holiness more than an^ 
particular interest of its own ; and to bewail the 
disservice done to God more than any self-incom- 
modation. Must not he needs be a good subject to 
his prince, who can more heartily mourn that God''s 
laws are not kept, than that he himself is kept un- 
der ? that can be more grieved that men are cruel, 
than that they kill him ? that can be more troubled 
because there are oppressions in the world, than be- 
cause he himself is oppressed ? such subjects reli- 
gion alone can make. 

As for the cry that is made for liberty and deli- 
verance, I confess I do not easily apprehend what 
is more, or more naturally desirable than true 
liberty : yea, I believe there are many devout and 


religious souls that, from a right noble and gene- 
rous principle, and out of a sincere respect to the 
Author and end of their creation, are almost intem- 
perately studious of it, do prefer it above all pre- 
ferments, or anything that may be properly called 
sensual, and would purchase it with anything that 
they can possibly part with. But yet that I may a 
little moderate, if not quite stifle this cry, I must 
freely profess that I do apprehend too much of sel- 
fishness generally in it ; because this liberty is com- 
monly abstracted from the proper end of it, and 
desired merely as a naturally convenient good, and 
not under a right religious conversation. Self-love 
is the very heart and centre of the animal life ; and 
doubtless this natural principle is as truly covetous 
of self-preservation, and freedom from all inconveni- 
ences, grievances, and confinements, as any religious 
principle can be. And therefore I may well allude 
to our Saviour's words, and say, " If you love and 
desire deliverance,"*' only under the notion of a na- 
tural good, " what do you more than others ? Do 
not even the publicans the same?" Matt. v. 47. 
But were this divine principle rightly exercising its 
sovereignty in the soul, it would value all things, 
and all estates and conditions, only as they have a 
tendency to the advancement and nourishment of 
itself. With what an ordinary, not to say disdain- 
ful eye, would the religious soul look upon the 
fairest self-accommodations in the world; and be 
ready to say within itself, What is a mere abstract 

' PllEFACE. 33 

deliverance from afflictions worth ? wherein is a 
naked freedom from afflictions to be accounted of? 
will this make me a blessed man ? was not profane 
and impudent Ham delivered from the deluge of 
water, as well as his brethren ? were not the iilthy, 
shameless daughters of Lot delivered from the de- 
luge of fire, as well as their father ? And yet we 
are so far from rising up and calling these people 
blessed, that the heart of every chaste and modest 
Christian is ready to rise against the very mention 
of their names, when he remembers how both the 
one and the other, though in a different sense, dis- 
covered their father's nakedness. If we did really 
value ourselves by our souls, and our souls them- 
selves by what they possess of the image of God, if 
we did rightly prefer the advancement of the divine 
life before the gratification of the animal, it is easy 
to conceive how we should prefer patience before 
prosperity, faith in God before the favour of men, 
spiritual purity before temporal pleasures or prefer- 
ments, humility before honour, the denial of our- 
selves before the approbation of others, the advance- 
ment of God's image before the advancement of our 
own names, an opportunity of exercising gracious 
dispositions before the exercising of any temporal 
power or secular authority ; and in a word, the dis- 
playing of the beauty, glory, and perfections of 
God, before health, wealth, liberty, livelihood, and 
life itself We should certainly be more indiffer- 
ently affected towards any condition, whether pros- 


perity or adversity, and not be so fond of the one, 
nor weary of the other, if we did verily vakie them 
only by the tendency that they had to further reli- 
gion, and advance the life of Christ in our souls. 
This would certainly make men more sincerely 
studious to read God's end in afflicting them, and 
less longing to see the end of their afflictions. 

And as for treacheries, plottings, invasions, 
usurpations, rebellions, and that tumultuous zeal 
for relaxation, which this impatience of oppression, 
and fondness of deliverance do so often grow up 
into, I dare say there is nothing like religion, in 
the power of it, for the effectual healing of them. 
The true spirit of religion is not so weary of op- 
pression, though it be by sinful men, as it is abhor- 
rent from deliverance, if it be by sinful means. 
May I not be allowed to allude to the Apostle, and 
say, whereas there is amongst you this zeal, con- 
tention, and faction, "Are ye not carnal, and walk 
as men .?" 1 Cor. iii. 3. Is not this the same which 
a mere natural man would do, strive and struggle, 
by right and by wrong, to redeem himself from 
whatsoever is grievous and galling to the interest 
of the flesh ? Might it not be reasonably supposed, 
that if religion did but display itself aright in the 
powerful actings of faith, hope, and humility, it 
would quench this scalding zeal, and calm these 
tempestuous motions of the soul, and make men 
rather content to be delivered up to the adversary, 
though the flesh should by him be destroyed, so the 


spirit might be saved, and the divine life advanced 
in the way of the Lord. O how dear and precious 
are the possession and practice of faith, patience, 
humihty, and self-denial to a pious soul, in com- 
parison of all the joys and toys, treasures, pleasures, 
ease and honour of the world, the safety and liberty 
of the flesh ! How m.uch more then, when these 
must be accomplished by wicked means, and pur- 
chased at the rate of God's displeasure ? And be- 
cause the kingdom of Christ is so often alleged to 
defend and patronize these strange fervours and 
frenzies, let me here briefly record to all that shall 
read these lines, the way and method of Christ 
himself in propagating his own kingdom. It will 
not be denied but that Christ was infinitely studious 
to promote his own kingdom in the best and most 
proper sense : but I no where read that he ever at- 
tempted it by force or fraud, by violent opposition 
or crafty insinuation. Nay, he reckoned that his 
kingdom was truly promoted, when these tumul- 
tuous, impatient, imperious, proud lusts of men 
were mortified. Nothing had been more easy with 
him, considering his miraculous power, infallible 
wisdom, and the mighty interest and party which 
he could by these have made for himself in the 
world, than to have raised his own kingdom upon 
the ruins of the Roman, and to have quite shuffled 
Caesar out of the world : but indeed nothing- more 
impossible, considering the perfect innocency and 
infinite sacredncss of his temper, nor anything more 

3b PllEFACE. 

contradictious, considering the proper notion of his 
kingdom ; which he professes not to be secular, and 
so not to be maintained by fighting : but if you 
would know in what sense he was a King, he him- 
self seems to intimate it in his answer to Pilate, 
" Thou sayest that I am a king ; to this end was I 
born, that I should bear witness unto the truth,'' 
John xviii. 37. So then it seems wherever there 
are truth and holiness predominant, there is Christ 
really enthroned, and actually triumphant. Where 
religion doth vitally inform, animate, and actuate 
men's souls, it doth make them rightly to under- 
stand that the kingdom of Christ is not the thriving 
of parties, the strengthening of factions, the ad- 
vancement of any particular interest, though it 
seem to be of ever so evangelical a complexion ; no, 
nor yet the proselyting of the world to the profes- 
sion of Christianity, or of the Christian world to 
the purer and more reformed profession of it, though 
these latter would be a great external honour to the 
person of Christ : but that it is most properly and 
happily propagated in the spirits of men ; and that 
wherever there are faith, patience, humility, self- 
denial, contempt of this world, and pregnant hopes 
of a better, pure obedience to God, and sincere 
benignity to men, here and there is the kingdom of 
God, Christ regnant, and the gospel in the power 
and triumph of it. And may not these things be, 
and be most conspicuously, in a persecuted condi- 
tion of the church ? That certainly was a high 

PilEFACE. 37 

instance of the mighty power of the divine life in 
our blessed Saviour, which the apostle Peter records 
of him, who "when he was reviled, reviled not 
again ; when he suffered, he threatened not ; but 
committed himself to him that judgeth righteously," 
1 Pet. ii. 23. The same divine principle dwelling 
plentifully in our soul, would conduct us to the 
same behaviour, according to the precept given by 
the same Apostle, " Not rendering evil for evil, or 
railing for railing ; but contrariwise blessing," &c. 
1 Pet. iii. 9. How vainly do men dream that they 
serve the interest and advance the kingdom of Christ 
by fierce and raging endeavours to cast off every 
yoke that galls them, and kicking against every 
thorn that pricks them, when indeed they serve the 
interest of the flesh, and do, under a fine cloak, 
gratify the mere animal life, and sacrifice to scif- 
love, which is as covetous of freedom from all re- 
trenchments and confinements as religion itself can 
be. It is said indeed that when the churches had 
rest they were "edified and multiplied," Acts ix. 
31 ; but when they suffer "according to the will of 
God," they are then glorified : for " the Spirit of glory 
and of God resteth upon them," 1 Pet. iv. 14, as 
the apostle Paul professes of himself in that most 
noble and heroical passage of his to the Corinthians; 
" Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my 
infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon 
me," 2 Cor. xii. 9- 

Secondly, Religion will not fail rightly to dis- 


38 niEFACE, 

pose the hearts of subjects towards one another ; 
and that whether they be of the same way and 
judgment with themselves, or different. I dare not 
assert that it would make them all of the same way 
and mind ; neither do I believe it would : yet I am 
confident it would do more towards this catholic 
union, than all the laws and severities in the world 
can. Mutual forbearance and forgiveness, christian 
kindness and discreet condescension, are the most 
warrantable and most effectual method for introduc- 
ing uniformity, and unanimity too, which is much 
better, into the church of Christ. But, however, 
religion would certainly give a right disposition, 
and teach men a right behaviour in reference to 
each other, whether Friends or Dissenters. 

This principle would teach men to love their 
friends and accomplices only in the Lord, as his 
members, not as their own partizans. Are not they 
strangely devoted to interest that will vindicate any- 
thing in a partizan, which they will declaim against 
in a Dissenter ? And yet how is the sacred name 
of christian friendship reproached every where by 
reason of this partiality ! How much better did 
true religion instruct the great Apostle, " to know 
no man after the flesh,'' 2 Cor. v. 16, no, not Christ 

The same principle would not fail to cure the 
distempers of men relative to those that are of a 
different way and judgment from themselves ; whe- 
ther of Protestants towards Protestants, or Protest- 

* I'REFACK. 39 

ants and Papists towards one another. It would heal 
the distempered affections and behaviours of Pro- 
testants towards Protestants. Were men thoroughly- 
baptized into the spirit of love and wisdom, which 
are so lively pourtrayed by the apostles St. Paul 
and St. James, that one might be well enamoured of 
the very description : how certainly would all op- 
pressions, law-suits, disputations about unprofitable 
and indeterminable points, either be suppressed or 
sanctified, either not be, or not be vexatious ? Not 
to speak of the oppressions done by overreaching, 
stealing, lying, false witness-bearing, slanderous de- 
tractions, envious suggestions, and malignant dis- 
semination of doubtful suspicions, by which com- 
monly poor men oppress the rich ; all which true 
religion abhors. There is a great oppression that 
goes uncontrouled in the world, which is, by the 
cruel engrossings and covetous insatiable tradings 
of richer men. What these are intentionally I will 
not say, but that they are really and eventually as 
great oppressions as those inhuman depopulations, 
and squeezing exactions, which are so much in- 
veighed against, I doubt not. But, be they what 
they will, or be they excused how they will, I am 
confident that this divine principle that powerfully 
springs up into everlasting life, would mightily re- 
lieve the world in this respect; in that it would 
moderate men"'s desires of corruptible riches, forbid 
them to seek the things of this world any more or 
any otherwise than in consistency with, and sub- 

40 niEFACE, 

serviency to, their primary and most diligent seeking 
of the kingdom of God ; it would make men seek 
the wealth of others even as their own, and make 
private advantages stoop to the public good. / do 
verily believe^ that if there ivere none but good me7i 
in England, there would be no poor men there. 
Civil laws may provide for the maintenance of the 
poor ; but the law of divine love, a principle of reli- 
gion, if it were universally obeyed, would make 
men so nobly regardless of earthly accommodations, 
that there would soon be room enough for all men 
to thrive into a sufficient stature ; and then, being 
so grown, they would covet no more. 

In law-suits, if there were any, men would seek 
the advancement of truth, and not of their own 
cause and interest distinct from it. 

And O how excellently would it still the noise 
of axes and hammers about the temple of God ! 
It would take men off from vain speculations and 
much eagerness about unnecessary opinions, by 
employing them in more substantial and important 
studies. The very being of religion in the soul 
would indeed decide a world of controversies, which 
the schools have long laboured in vain to deter- 
mine. For I reckon that these scholastic wars fitly 
called polemics, like those civil dissentions spoken 
of by the apostle James, chap. iv. 1, do, for the 
most part, spring from men's lusts that war in their 
members, such as pride, curiosity, wantonness of 
wit, disobedience, and unsubduedness of under- 


standino; and the like. I have observed widi frreat 
grief, how tiie spirits of many men, I had ahnost 
said sects of men, run out wholly into disputes 
about ceremonies, pro and con^ about church go- 
vernment, about what is orthodox and what is heter- 
odox, about the true and the false church, (which 
commonly they judge by something external, and 
indeed separable from the essence of a true church;) 
and hereabout are their zeal, their conference, and 
their very prayers themselves mostly bestowed. 
Who can doubt but that religion, in the power of 
it, would find men something else to do ? yea, and if 
it could not perfectly determine these niceties, yet 
it would much heal our dissentions about them, and 
bring tears to quench the strange and unnatural 
heats that are amongst us, and cause such dreadful 
inflammations in our breasts. 

But it may seem that there is such a fatal enmity 
and irreconcileable feud betwixt Papists and Pro- 
testants, that nothing, no, not religion itself, can 
heal it. And truly if we suppose that it is religion 
that engages both parties in this enmity, I think 
it will prove incurable ; but God forbid that this 
pure offspring of heaven should be so blasphemed ! 
It is not religion, but indeed the want of it, that 
begets this implacable animosity, whatever is pre- 
tended. Cruel religion, bloody religion, selfish re- 
ligion, envious and revengeful religion ! Who can 
choose but cry out of tlie blasphemy of this con- 
tradiction at the very firit hera-ing ? Nay, I dare 


affirm it without hesitation, that the more rehgious 
any Protestant or Papist is, the more abhorrent he 
is from brutish savageness, wicked revenge, and 
deviUsh hatred. The church of Rome judges the 
reformed heretics are not fit to live ; and why ? 
not because they Hve not well, but because they can- 
not think and believe as they do. And is this the 
genuine product of true religion ? nothing less. 
For a desire of ruling over men's consciences, and 
of subjecting the faith of others to themselves, is 
certainly compatible to a mere natural man, nay, 
to the devil himself, who is as lordly, cruel, and 
imperious as any other. The reformed churches, 
on the other hand are, I doubt, generally more of- 
fended at the Papists for their persecutions of them, 
than for their real persecuting and crucifying Christ 
afresh by their sins ; and so, consequently, do ra- 
ther write and fight against them, than either pity 
or pray for them. I hope there are as many well- 
spirited Christians in England, at least proportion- 
ably, as in any church upon earth ; and yet I fear 
there are far more that could wish the Papists out 
of this world, than that earnestly desire that they 
might be fitted for, and so counted worthy of a bet- 
ter. And doth this spring from a religious prin- 
ciple, think ye, or a selfish ? Doth it not agree 
well to the animal life, and natural self, to be ten- 
der of its own interests and concernments, to wish 
well to its own safety, to defend itself from violence ? 
May I not allude to our Saviour's words and say. 


PllEFACE. 4i 

" If ye hate them that hate you, liow can tliat be 
accounted religious ? Do not even the publicans 
the same?'"* Matt. v. 46. I doubt we know not 
sufficiently what spirit we should be of. The power 
of religion, rightly prevailing in the soul, would 
mould us into another kind of temper; it would 
teach us as well to love, and pity, and pray for 
Papists, as to hate Popery. I know the prophecy 
indeed, that the beast and the false prophet shall be 
cast alive into the lake burning with brimstone, 
and the remnant shall be slain with the sword of 
him that sat upon the horse. Rev. xix. 20, but, in- 
asmuch as that sword is said to proceed " out of his 
mou.th," Rev, xix. 21 ; I would gladly interpret it 
of "the word of God," Eph. vi. 17, which kills 
men unto salvation. However, let the interpreta- 
tion of that text, and others of the like importance, 
be what it will, I reckon it very unsafe to turn all the 
prophecies and threatenings of God into prayers, 
lest perhaps we should be found to contribute to the 
damning of men's souls. Yea, when all is said con- 
cerning the sovereign decrees of God, and his 
essential and inflexible punitive justice, and all those 
texts that seem to speak of God's revenging him- 
self with delight, are interpreted to the utmost 
harshness of meaning that the cruel wit of man can 
invent ; yet it remains a sealed, and to me a sweet 
truth, " I have no pleasure in the death of him that 
dieth, saith the Lord God,'' Ezek. xviii. 32 ; and 
again, "As I live, saith the Lord God. I have no 


pleasure in the deatli of the wicked," Ezek. xxxiii. 
11. Wherefore, to wave all those dreadful glosses 
(that do rather describe the bitter and revengeful 
temper of man that makes them, than interpret the 
pure and perfect nature of God upon whom they 
are made,) let us attend to that beautiful character 
that is every where given of religion, which is our 
highest concern, in the person of Moses, of Paul, 
and of Christ Jesus himself, the author and ex- 
emplar of it; who by his incarnation, life, and death, 
abundantly demonstrated the infinite benignity and 
compassionate ardors of his soul towards us, when 
we were worse than Papists, as being out of a possi- 
bility of salvation without him ; and "let that mind 
be in us, which v/as in him also," Phil. ii. 5. Though 
it be not directly our Saviour's meaning in my text, 
yet I believe it is reductively, that this pure and 
divine principle, religion, springs up into everlast- 
ing life, not only our own, but other inen''s also. 
But, however religion is described, sure I am it is 
most unnatural to the religious soul that is regene- 
rated into the pure spirit of piety, pity, and univer- 
sal charity, to be of a cruel, fierce, revengeful, con- 
demning disposition. And therefore whatever are 
the ranting and wrathful strains of some men''s de- 
votions, I beseech the reader to endeavour with 
me, that charity towards men's souls may go along 
in conjunction with zeal and piety towards God, 
when we present ourselves before the throne of his 
grace ; and fio, I am ccnfidcnt, it v.ill if v/e pray 

rilEFACE. 45 

sincerely to this purpose, namely, " That God 
would cause the wickedness of the wicked to come 
to an end, that he would consume the Antichrist, 
but convert the Papist, and make the wonderers 
after the beast to become followers of the Lamb !" 
I doubt there are many that think they can never 
be too liberal in wishing ill of the Papists, nay, 
they count it a notable argument of a good Protes- 
tant, 1 had almost said an evidence of grace, to be 
very furious and vehement against them. Alas ! how 
miserably do we bewray ourselves in so doing, to be 
nothing less than what we pretend to by doing it. 
For are not we ourselves herein antichristian, whilst 
we complain of their cruelties, our own souls, in the 
very act, boiling over with revengeful and scalding 
affections? If we do indeed abhor their cruelty, 
because it is contrary to the holy precepts of the 
gospel, and the true kingdom of Christ, we ought 
to be as jealous at the same time lest anything like 
unto it should be found in ourselves ; otherwise are 
we not carnal ? For mere nature, as 1 have often 
said, will abhor anything that is contrary to itself, 
and will not willingly suffer its delicate interest to 
be touched. The apostle tells us, that no man 
speaking by the " Spirit of Christ, calleth Christ 
accursed," 1 Cor. xii. 3 ; but I doubt it is common 
to curse Antichrist, and yet by a spirit that is anti- 
christian, I mean carnal, selfish, cruel, and unchari- 
table. For there is a spiritual Antichrist, or, if you 
will, in the Apostle's phrase, a " spirit of Anti- 



christ,'"' 1 John iv. 3, as well as a political Anti- 
christ ; and I doubt the former prevails most in the 
world, though it be the least discerned and banned. 
Men do by Antichrist as they do by the devil, defy 
him in words, but entertain him in their hearts, 
run away from the appearance of him, and, in the 
mean time, can be well content to be all that in 
the very deed which the devil and Antichrist is. 
All this evidently appears to be for want of the true 
power and spirit of religion which I commend for so 
great a healer, even the to iravatdg of our distempers. 
Perhaps no papist will find in his heart to read 
this epistle written by a heretic ; yet possibly too, 
some one or other may : therefore I will adventure 
briefly to prescribe this same medicinal divinity to 
them also; though perhaps I might be excused 
upon other accounts, all that I have hitherto said to 
distempered Protestants being rightly enough, 7nu- 
tatis mutandis, applicable to them. But more- 
over, whereas they value their church, and the 
truth and rightness of it, by its universality and 
prosperity ; the power of religion would make men 
to value themselves and their adherents, only by 
the divine impressions of piety and purity, and to 
account such only worthy of the glorious title of 
apostolical, and children of God, who are sincere 
followers of the apostles wherein they were followers 
of Christ, namely, in true holiness and righteous- 
ness. Are they industrious and zealous for the 
proselyting of the world, and spreading of their in- 

rilEFACE. 47 

terest fiir and near? And are not all wicked men. 

yea, and the devil himself so too ? The fairest and 
most flourishing state of a church is nothing to 
God, and so consequently not to a pious soul, in 
comparison of those excellent divine beauties where- 
with religion adorneth the world. But whereas the 
greatest complaint, and the most dreadful charge 
which the Protestants bring against the Papists, is 
their inhumanity and most unchristian cruelty, ex- 
ercised against all whom they can but make shift to 
esteem heretics ; and they, on the other hand, allege, 
that the interest of religion, and the catholic faith 
doth require it, and that they do not so properly 
murder men, as sacrifice them to the honour of 
God : it will be proper to spend a little time, at 
least, to clear religion of this blame ; that as wis- 
dom is at all times justified of, and in her childr^i, 
so she may be sometimes justified by them, espe- 
cially when the aspersions are so monstrously foul. 
And indeed she has sufficiently instructed us how 
to justify her from all such imputations ; having so 
fairly pourtrayed herself by the pen of the apostle 
James, both negatively and affirmatively. She is 
void of " strife, envyings, bitterness, and every evil 
work ;" but she is " pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to 
be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without 
partiality, and without hypocrisy,'"' James iii. 14 — 
17. This is the proper description of heavenly 
wisdom, or pure religion : and O that all Christians 
would estimate themselves to be wise according to 


their consonancy and conformity tliereunto ! then I 
would easily believe, that none would be papists in 
practice, whatever they might be in opinion. What, 
sirs, is the God of the Christians become like a 
devil, that he should delight in cruelty, and drink 
the blood of men ? Is the butchering of reason- 
able creatures that reasonable service which he re- 
quires ? Rom. xii. 1. Is the living sacrifice of 
your own bodies turned into the dead sacrifice of 
other men's ? It was wont to be said, " AVhat com- 
munion hath Christ with Behal .?" 2 Cor. vi. 15. 
And is the Prince of peace now become very Satan, 
the author of enmity, malignity, confusion, and 
every evil work ? Did he shed his blood for his 
enemies, to teach us that goodly lesson of shedding 
the blood of ours ? Did he come " to seek and to 
save that which was lost,"*' Luke xix. 10, to set us 
an example that we might seek to destroy, and that 
only to repair our own losses ? Be it so ; that the 
Protestant churches have apostatized from you : 
this, I hope, is not a greater crime than the apostacy 
of mankind from God, which yet he expiated, not 
with the blood of the apostates, but with his own. 
Religion was formerly a principle springing up into 
eternal life. How is the world changed, that it 
should now be a principle springing up into massa- 
cres, and temporal death ? or is religion now be- 
come a principle springing up into secular power, 
worldly dominion, temporal greatness, and all man- 
ner of fleshly accommodations ? This was of old the 


description of sensuality, and a heathen genius, "for 
after all these things do the Gentiles seek,'' Matt, 
vi. 32. Are there so many mighty engines in the 
gospel to engage the hearts of men to believe, pro- 
fess, and obey it, and must they all now give place 
to fire and sword ? Are these the only gospel me- 
thods of winning men to the catholic faith ? What ! 
are we wiser for Christ, or more zealous than he 
himself was .-^ Did he forbid fire from heaven, 
and will you fetch it even from hell to consume Dis- 
senters ? Did he sheath his sword that was drawn 
in his own defence, and set a dreadful seal upon it 
too, "All they that take the sword shall perish with 
the sword ;*" and will you adventure to draw it in a 
way of revenge and persecution, and count it meri- 
torious too, as if you should therefore never perish 
because you take it? Is it not written in your 
Bibles, as well as ours, that "no murderer shall enter 
into the kingdom of God?'"* And do you think by 
murders to propagate this kingdom upon earth, and 
have a more abundant entrance into it yourselves 
hereafter? Can hell dwell with heaven? Shall 
bloody cruelty ever come to lodge in the bosom, or 
lie down in the sacred arms of eternal love ? Be 
not deceived, sirs, with a false heaven ; but take 
this for an indubitable and self-evidencing aphorism 
of truth. No soul of man hath any more of heaven, 
no, nor ever shall have, than he hath of God, and 
of his pure, placable, patient, benign, and gracious 
nature. And this is that everlasting life which a 

VOL. II. 1- 


religious principle is always springing up into; so 
that it hereby appears plainly, that religion, in the 
power of it, would heal these feverish distempers 
also, and so restore a most excellent constitution, 
both personal and political. 

It may possibly seem that I have toiled too much 
in these discoveries ; and perhaps my pains may 
prove ungrateful to many : but may it please Al- 
mighty God that they may prove a vindication of 
religion, restorative of the sickly and lapsed ecclesi- 
astical or political state, yea, or medicinal and pro- 
fitable to any single soul of man, I shall venture to 
estimate it against an age of pains. And if it 
should prove that by all this toil I have caught 
nothing, as the weary disciples complained of old, 
nevertheless being well assured that I have a word 
of God for my encouragement, I will let down the 
net once again, and so finish these epistolary pains 
with an earnest hortatory address to all that shall 
peruse them. 

Let nothing satisfy your souls. Christians, let 
nothing administer rest or settlement to your hearts, 
that is common to the natural man, or compatible 
to the mere animal life. There are a great many 
high strains of zeal and seeming devotion, by which 
many men judge themselves to be some great ones, 
and concerning which they are ready to say. These 
things are the great power of God ; which, if they 
be well looked into, will be found to grow upon no 
better root than natural self, and to spring from no 


higher principle than this animal life. It is im- 
possible for me to give an exact catalogue of all 
these ; many of them I have occasionally recorded 
in the latter end of the ensuing treatise ; to which 
yet many more might be added, if I had a fair op- 
portunity. But at present let me in general com- 
mend to you this description given by our Saviour 
of true religion, as the rule whereby I do earnestly 
intreat you faithfully to examine yourselves, your 
actions, affections, zeal, confidence, professions, per- 
formances. Let me speak freely ; all pomp of wor- 
ship, all speculative knowledge, though ever so or- 
thodox, is as agreeable to the animal life as the di- 
vine: and all external models of devotion, humble con- 
fessions, devout hymns, pathetical prayers, raptures 
of joy, much zeal to reform indecencies in worship 
or superstitions, a fierce raging against the political 
Antichrist, do as well suit a natural man as a 
spiritual, and may be as fairly acted over apparently, 
by a mere selfish carnal principle, as by that which 
is truly divine. When Diogenes trampled upon 
Plato's stately bed, saying calco Platonis fastum, 
it was answered him very sharply, sed majore fastti, 
he was prouder in treading upon it, than Plato was 
in lying upon it. I doubt it may be applied too 
truly to a great deal of that cynical and scornful 
zeal, that is in the world at this day ; men declaim 
against the pride, and pomp, and grandeur of anti- 
christian prelates, with a pride no whit inferior to 
theirs whom they thus decry. However it is plain. 

9^ i'llEFACE. 

that those things which are imitable by a sensual 
heart, and indeed performable by the mere magic 
of an exalted fancy, are not to be rested in by a 
sincere Christian. Head over therefore, I beseech 
you, the fruits of the Spirit recorded by the apostle 
Paul and the apostle Peter, Gal. v. 22, &c. 2 Pet. 
i. 5, 6; and estimate yourselves by them; these 
things are utterly incompatible to the mere animal 
man ; all the natural men and devils in the world 
.cannot be humble, meek, self-denying, patient, 
jcharitable, lovers of God more than of themselves, 
jor of their enemies as themselves. Would you 
judge rightly of the goodness of any opinion ? theu 
value it by the tendency that is in it to advance the 
life of God : particularly thus judge of the millen- 
narian opinion, which begins to be so much hugged 
in the world: concerning which I will only say 
thus much at present, that, in the common notion 
of it, as it promises a state of much ease, liberty, 
power, prosperity, and freedom from all persecutions 
and oppressions, it is as grateful to the fleshly 
palate, and will be as gladly embraced by the mere 
animal man, as by the greatest saint upon earth. 
And therefore, supposing it to be true, yet I cannot 
but wonder how it comes to administer so much 
satisfaction, and afford such a marvellous relish to 
minds divinely principled, as many seem to taste in 
it. By this same tendency to advance the divine 
life in your souls, judge also of all your enjoyments, 
riches, honours, liberties, friends, health, children. 


&c. and value them, if it be possible, only under 
this consideration. But to hasten to an end, I will 
endeavour to enforce this general exhortation by two 
or three weighty considerations. First, it is utterly 
impossible that any speculation, opinion, profession, 
enjoyment, ornament, performance, or any other 
thing, but the transformation of the mind into the 
very image and nature of God, should ever be able 
to perfect our souls, or commend us unto God. 
They cannot perfect our souls, as being most of 
them exterior, and all of them inferior to it. They 
cannot commend a man to God, who loves us, and 
whom we so far know and love, as we partake of his 
nature, and resemble him : this is the love of God, 
this is the worship of God, and this is really the 
souFs acquaintance with him, and nothing but this. 
Secondly, the advancement of the divine life is that 
which God mainly designs in the world. I need 
instance but in two things: 1. The sending of his 
own Son into the world for this very end and pur- 
pose, " that he might take away our sins,*" says the 
Apostle John ; and again, " that he might destroy 
the works of the devil ;'"' and again, says the Apostle 
Paul, " That he might redeem us from all iniquity, 
and purify to himself a peculiar people zealous of 
good works." 2. It appears that this is the grand 
design of God in the world, inasmuch as he doth 
not deliver his faithful servants out of their afflic- 
tions and tribulations ; which he would not fail to 
do, did he not intend them a greater good thereby, 



and design to lead them on and raise them up to a 
higher life. Now, what can more ennoble these 
souls of ours, than to live upon the same design 
with God himself? 

And now, reader, I commend thee to the blessing 
of God, in the perusal of this small tract, which I 
have composed, and now exposed under a sense of 
that common obligation that li6s upon every person 
to be active in his sphere for the interest of the 
name and honour of God, and to render his life as 
useful as he may : more particularly, under a sense 
of my own deficiency in several accomplishments, 
whereby others are better fitted to serve their gener- 
ation : and especially, under a sense of the peculiar 
engagement that lieth upon me, to dedicate my life 
entirely to his service, from whom I have so lately, 
and that so signally, received the same afresh : in 
imitation of whom, I hope thou wilt be indulgent 
towards my infirmities : to whom I heartily com- 
mend thee, and to the precious influences of his 
eternal Spirit, and rest. 

Thy servant, 
In his work and for his sake, 





The occasion of the words of the text — The principal 
contents of it — The origin qf true religion — All souls 
the offspring of God, and a more especial portraiture 
qf him; hut pious souls yet more especially — God 
the author of religion from without, in several respects; 
God the author qf it from within, enlightening the 
faculty — Religion something of God in the soul — A 
discovery qf religious meti by the affinity they have to 
God — God alone to be acknowledged in all holy accom- 
plishjnents — The origin qf sin from hence discovered. 

John iv. 14. 

" But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him 
shall never thirst ; but the water that I shall give him shall be 
in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.'* 

This chapter contains an excellent, profitable fami- 
liar discourse of the blessed Saviour of the world, 
into whose lips gi'ace was poured, and he ceased not 
to pour it out again. That which is said of the 
wise, is fully verified of wisdom itself, His lips dis- 
persed knowledge. A poor woman of Samaria 
comes to draw water, and our Saviour takes ocya- 


sion from the water to instruct her in the great and 
excellent doctrines of the kingdom of heaven. O 
the admirable zeal for God, and compassion for 
souls, which dwelt in that divine breast ! and O 
the wonderful, unsearchable counsels of an all-wise 
God ! He ordains SauPs seeking of asses to be the 
means of his finding a kingdom upon earth ; and 
this poor woman's seeking of water, to be an occa- 
sion of her finding the way to the kingdom of hea- 
ven. She comes to the well of Jacob, and, behold, 
she meets with the God of Jacob there. The oc- 
casion, passages, and issue of this discourse, would 
each afford many good and profitable observations : 
but I think none more than this verse that I have 
pitched upon ; in which the mystery of gospel-grace 
is rarely unfolded, and true christian religion is 
excellently described. For so I understand our 
Saviour, not as speaking of faith, or knowledge, or 
any other particular grace, but of grace in general, 
of the Holy Spirit of God ; that is, the gifts and 
graces of it, of true godliness ; or, if you will, of 
christian religion ; for that word I shall choose to 
retain throughout my discourse, as being most in- 
telligible and comprehensive. 

In which words we find the true christian reli- 
gion unfolded in the origin, nature, properties, 
consequences, and end of it. The origin of it is 
found in those words, " I shall give him ;" the na- 
ture of it is described by "a well of water;'' the 
properties of it will be found in the phrase of 

1MMA>;UEL. 5Y 

*' springing up ;'"' the consequence of it, that the 
man that is endoTA'ed with it "shall never thirst;"'*' 
the end or perfection of it is "everlasting life."" Of 
,ali these, by God's assistance, in this order. 
' First, I begin at the origin of it, as it seems 
meet I should ; for indeed it is first found in the 
words, "The water that I shall give him." And 
here the proposition that I shall go upon must be,. 
" That the true Christian religion is of divine ori- 
gin." All souls are indeed the offspring of God. 
Those noble faculties of understanding, and a will 
free from constraint, do more resemble the nature 
of God than all the world besides. There is more 
of the glory, beauty, and brightness of God in a 
soul, than there is in the sun itself. The Apostle 
allows it as a proper speech spoken in common of 
all men, "for we are also his offspring." God hatk 
transferred more lively prints of himself, and his di- 
vine essence, upon a rational soul, than he hath upon 
the whole creation : so that the soul of man, even 
as to its constitution, doth declare and discover 
more of the nature of God, than all the other things 
that he hath made, 'whereof the Apostle speaks. 
He that rightly converseth with his own soul, will 
get more acquaintance with God, than they that 
gaze continually upon the material heavens, or tra- 
verse the dark and utmost corners of the earth, or 
"go down unto the sea in ships;" the serious con- 
sideration of the little world will teach more of him 
than the great one could do ; so that I hesitate not 


to take the Apostle's words concerning the word of 
God, and apply them to the nature of God — " Say 
not in thy heart, Who shall ascend into heaven," 
to bring a discovery of God from thence ? or, "who 
shall descend into the deep,'"* to fetch it up from 
thence ? The nature and essence of God is nigh 
thee, even in thine own soul, excellently displayed 
in the constitution and frame, powers and faculties 
thereof: God hath not made any creatures so capa- 
ble of receiving and reflecting his image and glory, 
as angels and men : which hath made me often to 
say, " That the vilest soul of man is much more 
beautiful and honourable than the most excellent 
>body, than the very body of the sun at noon-day."*' 
And, by the way, this may render sin odious and 
loathsome ; because it hath defiled the fairest piece 
of God's workmanship in the world, and hath 
blurred the clearest copy which he had drawn of 
himself in the whole creation. 

But though all rational souls be the children of 
God, yet all of them do not imitate their father ; 
though their constitution do express much of the 
essence of God, yet their disposition doth express 
the image of the devil. But pious souls, who are 
followers of God, are indeed his dear children. 
Holy souls, who are endowed with a divine and 
God-like disposition, and do work the works of God, 
these are most truly and properly his offspring. 
And in this respect God's children are his " work- 
manship created unto good works." Religion is of 

IMiMAM'EL. 59^ 

a divine origin : God is the author and father of it, 
both from without and from within. 

1. God is the author of it from without. When 
man had fallen from God by sin, and so had lost 
his way, and was become both unwilling and un- 
able to return, God was pleased to set up that glo- 
rious light, his own Son, " the Sun of righteous- 
ness,'' in the world, that he might guide our feet 
into the way of peace, who is therefore called, " A 
light to lighten the Gentiles,'' anVl compared to a 
candle set upon a candlestick. God of his infinite 
free grace, and over-flowing goodness, provided a 
Mediator, in and by whom these apostate souls might 
be reconciled, and re-united to himself; and " to as 
many as receive him, to them he giveth power to 
become the sons of God." 

Yet further, it pleased God in his infinite wis- 
dom and mercy, to chalk out the way of life and 
peace in the holy scriptures, and therein to unlock 
the secrets of salvation to succeeding generations. 
Herein he hath plainly laid down the terms of the 
covenant of peace which was made in the Mediator, 
and given precepts and promises for the direction 
and encouragement of as many as will inquire into 
the same. These are the sacred oracles which 0-ive 
clear and certain answers to all that do consult 
them about their future state. Christ Jesus opened 
the way into the holiest of all, and the scriptures 
come after and point it out unto us : he purchased 
life and immortality, and these bring it to light. 


And yet further, that these might not be mis- 
taken or perverted to men''s destruction, which were 
ordained for their salvation, which sometimes doth 
come to pass, God hath been pleased to commit 
these records into the hands of his church, and 
therein to his ministers, whom he hath appointed, 
called, qualified, instructed, for the opening, ex- 
plaining, interpreting, and applying of them : so 
that they are called " scribes instructed unto the 
kingdom of God, and stewards of the mysteries, 
stewards over the household of God, to give unto 
every one his portion.^' These apostles, prophets, 
evangelists, pastors, teachers, God hath given " for 
the perfecting of the saints, for the edifying of the 
body of Christ;' 

These things hath God done for us, from with- 
out us ; he hath set up a light, chalked out our 
way, and appointed us guides. To which I might 
add the many incitements and motives which we 
call mercies or comforts of this life ; and the many 
affrightments of judgment and afflictions which God 
hath added to the promises and threatenings of his 
word, to bring us into the way of life. But all 
these are too little, too weak of themselves to bring 
back a straggling soul, or to produce a living prin- 
ciple of true religion in it. Therefore, 

2. God is the author of religion from within. 
He doth not only reveal himself and his Son to the 
soul, but in it ; he doth not only make discoveries 
to it, but lively impressions upon it ; he doth not 


only appoint, and point out the way of life, but 
breathes in the breath of life. He hath not only 
provided a Saviour, a Redeemer, but he also draws 
the soul unto him. He hath not only appointed 
pastors and teachers, but he himself impregnates 
their word, and clothes their doctrine with his own 
power, using their ministry as an instrument where- 
by to teach ; so that the children of God are said 
to be " all taught of God." Ministers can only 
discover, and as it were, enlighten the object; but 
God enlightens the faculty, he gives the seeing eye, 
and does actually enable it to discern. Therefore 
the work of converting a soul is still ascribed to 
God in scripture ; he begets us again ; he draws 
the soul, before it can run after him ; Christ appre- 
hends the soul, lays powerful hold of it. God gives 
a heart of flesh, a new heart ; he causes men to 
walk in his statutes. He puts his law into their in- 
ward parts, and writes it in their hearts. To which 
I might add many more quotations of the same 

But yet, methinks, we are not come to a perfect 
discovery of religion's being the offspring of God 
in the minds of men. For it is God who enlight- 
eneth the faculty as to the learning of all other 
things also ; he teacheth the grammar and the 
rhetoric, as well as the divinity ; he instructeth 
even the husbandman to discretion in his affairs of 
husbandry, and teaches him to plough, and sow, 
and thrash, &c. Not only the gift of divine know- 

voL. 11. a 


ledge, but indeed " every good gift cometli from the 
Father of lights/' God doth from within give that 
capacity, illumination of the faculty, ingenuity, 
whereby we comprehend the mysteries of nature, as 
well as of grace. 

Therefore we may conceive of the origin of reli- 
gion in a more inward and spiritual manner still. 
It is not so much given of God, as itself is some- 
thing of God in the soul ; as the soul is not so pro- 
perly said to give life, as to be the life of man. 
As the conjunction of the soul with the body is the 
life of the body, so verily the life of the soul stands 
in its conjunction with God by a spiritual union of 
will and affections. God doth not enlighten men''s 
minds as the sun enlightens the world, by shining 
unto them and round about them, but by shining 
into them, by enlightening the faculty, as I said be- 
fore, yea, which seems to be somewhat more, by 
shining in their hearts, as the Apostle phraseth it. 
He sets up a candle, which is his own light within 
the soul; so that the soul sees God in his own light, 
and loves him with the love that he hath shed 
abroad in it ; and religion is no other than a reflec- 
tion of that divine image, life, and light, and love, 
which from God are stamped and imprinted upon 
the souls of true Christians. God is said to en- 
lighten the soul, but it is not as the sun enlightens, 
that you see ; so he draws the soul too, but not ab 
extra only, as one man draweth another with a 
cord, as Jupiter in Homer draws men up to heaven 


by a chain, and Mahomet, his disciples by a lock of 
hair ; but he draws the soul, as the sun draws up 
earthly vapours by infusing its virtue and power 
into them ; or, as the loadstone draws the iron, by 
the powerful insinuations of his grace. God doth 
not so much communicate himself to the soul by 
way of discovery, as by way of impression, as I said 
before; and indeed not so much by impression ei- 
ther, as by a mystical and wonderful way of im- 
plantation. Religion is not so much something 
from God, as something of God in the minds of 
good men, for so the scripture allows us to speak : 
it is therefore called his image, and good men are 
said to " live according to God in the spirit ;" but, 
as if that were not high enough, it is not only called 
his image, but even a participation of his divine na- 
ture, something of Christ in the soul, an Infant-Christ 
as one calls it, alluding to the Apostle, where the sav- 
ing knowledge of Christ is called Christ himself, — 
" until Christ be formed in you.**' True religion is, 
as it were, God dwelling in the soul, and Christ 
dwelling in the soul, as the Apostles St. John and 
St. Paul do express it : yea, God himself is pleased 
thus to express his relation to the pious soul — " I 
dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that 
is of a humble spirit ;"' and again — '' As God hath 
said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them." 
Pure religion is a beam of the Father of lights, lu- 
men de lumi7ie ; it is a drop of that eternal foun- 
tain of goodness and holiness, the breath of the 


power of God, a pure influence flowing from the 
glory of the Almighty, the brightness of the ever- 
lasting light, the unspotted mirror of the power of 
God, and the image of his goodness, more beautiful 
than the sun, and above all the orders of stars; be- 
ing compared with the light, she is found before it, 
as the author of the book of Wisdom speaks, chap, 
vii. What is spoken of the eternal Son of God, 
may in a sense, be truly affirmed of religion con- 
sidered in the abstract, that it is " the effulgency 
or beaming forth of divine glory," Heb. i. 3; for 
there is more of the divine glory and beauty shining 
forth in one pious soul, than in all things in the 
world beside ; the glorious light of the sun is but a 
dark shadow of the divine light, not to be compared 
with the beauty of holiness. An immortal soul doth 
more resemble the divine nature than any other 
created being ; but religion in the soul is a thou- 
sand times more divine than the soul itself. The 
material world is indeed a darker representation of 
divine wisdom, power, and goodness ; it is as it 
were the footsteps of God : the immaterial world of 
angels and spirits does represent him more clearly, 
and are the face of God : but holiness in the soul 
doth most nearly resemble him of all created things ; 
one may call it the beauty and glory of his face. 
Every creature partakes of God indeed ; he had no 
copy but himself and his own essence to frame the 
world by ; so that all these must needs carry some 
resemblance of their Maker. But no creature is 


capable of sucli communications of God as a rational 
immortal spirit is ; and the highest that angel or 
spirit, or any created nature can be made capable 
of, is to be holy as God is holy. So then, if the poet 
may call the soul, and St. Paul allows him in it, 
a particle of the Divine essence ; sure one may rather 
speak at that rate of religion, which is the highest 
perfection that the soul can attain to, either in the 
world that now is, or that which is to come. One 
soul, any one soul of man, is worth all the world 
beside for glory and dignity ; but the lowest de- 
gree of true holiness, pure religion, conformity to 
the divine nature and will, is more worth than a 
world of souls, and to be preferred before the essence 
of angels. I have often admired three great mys- 
steries and mercies, God revealed in the flesh, God 
revealed in the word, and God revealed in the soul: 
this last is the mystery of godliness which I am 
speaking of, but cannot fathom ; it is this that 
the Apostle says transcends the sight of our eyes, 
the capacity of our ears, and all the faculties of 
our souls too, " Eye hcith not seen," &c. Christ 
Jesus formed in the soul of man, incarnate in a 
heart of flesh, is as great a miracle, and a greater 
mercy, than Christ formed in the womb of a virgin, 
and incarnate in a human body. There was once 
much glorjang concerning Christ in the world, the 
hope of Israel ; but let us call out to the powers of 
eternity, and the ages of the world to come, to help 
us to celebrate and magnify Christ in us " the hope 



of glory ;'' or, if you will, Christ in us the first-fruits 
of glory. What has been said may, 

First, Help us in our discoveries of that precious 
pearl, religion. There is nothing in the world that 
men do generally more seek, or less find : no nation 
in the world but hath courted it in one way or other; 
but alas how few that have obtained it ! At this 
day there are many claims laid to it, all pretending 
a just title ; the men of Judah cry. She is of kin to 
us ; the men of Israel say. We have ten parts in 
this queen, and we have more right in religion than 
ye ; according as they contended of old about King 
David. They say of Christ, as it was foretold, 
though perhaps not in the same sense as was fore- 
told, Lo, here he is ; and lo, there he is ; which 
hath made many say, he is not at all : or, if I may 
go on in the same allusion, they live by the rule 
that there follows, they will not go forth to seek 
him any where. Mighty strivings, yea, and wars 
there have been about the Prince of peace, whose 
he should be ; and at this day no question more de- 
bated, nor less decided, than, Which is the religious 
party in the land.'^ O would to God men would dis- 
pute this controversy with works and not with 
words, much less with blows ! Religion is of an 
eminent pedigree, of a noble descent ; you may find 
her name in the register of heaven, and look where 
God is, there is she. She carries her name in her 
forehead : the divine disposition that she is of, the 
divine works v/hich she worketh, which no one else 


can work, the same do bear witness wliich is she. 
I am ready to say with the man tliat had been 
blind, " herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know 
not" religion who she is, and yet she is the mighty 
power of God opening the eyes, changing the hearts, 
and as it were edifying the souls of men. Why do 
we not also go about enquiring which of those many 
stars is the moon in the firmament ? If ye ask 
which is the religious party? I will point you to the 
blessed and eternal God, and say, As he is, so are 
they, in their capacity, each one resembling the 
children of a king ; or, I will point out the religious 
Christian by the same token as Christ himself 
was marked out to John the Baptist — "Upon whom 
thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining, 
the same is he." If ye enquire about the children 
of God, the Apostle shall describe them for you, 
the followers of God are his dear children. That 
which is most nearly allied to the nature and life of 
God, that call religion, under whatsoever disguises 
or reproaches it may go in the world. Examine 
the world by no lower a mark, than that character 
that is given of David, and the man that doth ap- 
pear to be after God's heart, namely, conformable 
to his image, compliant with his will, and studious 
of his glory, pitch upon him, for that is the man, 
under what name soever he goes, of what party or 
faction soever he is. And let no soul examine itself 
by any lower marks than this, iari tiq Qeog fv^ov, 
" participation of the divine nature, conformity to 


the divine image/"' Examine what alliance your 
soul hath to God, " whose is the image and super- 
scription." Religion is a divine accomplishment, 
an efflux from God, and may, by its affinity to hea- 
ven, be discerned from a brat of hell and darkness. 
Therefore, Christians, if you will form a judgment 
of your state, lay your hearts and lives to the rule, 
the eternal goodness, the uncreated purity and holi- 
ness, and see whether you resemble that copy : for 
conformity to the image and will of God, that is 
religion ; and that God will own for his, when all 
the counterfeits and shadows of it will fly away, and 
disappear for ever. I fear it may be imputed as a 
great piece of vanity and idle curiosity to many 
counterfeit speculative Christians, that they are 
very inquisitive, prying into the hidden rolls of 
God's decrees, the secrets of predestination, to find 
out the causes and method of their vocation and sal- 
vation ; in the mean time they are not solicitous for, 
nor studious of the relation and resemblance that 
every religious soul bears unto God himself, the 
heaven that is opened within the pious soul itself, 
and the whole plot and mystery of salvation trans- 
acted upon the heart of a true Christian. There 
is a vanity which I have observed in many pre- 
tenders to nobility and learning, when men seek to 
demonstrate the one by their coat of arras, and 
the records of their family, and the other by a gown, 
or a title, or their names standing in the register 
of the university, rather than by the accomplish- 


ments and behaviour of gentlemen or scholars. 
A like vanity, I doubt, may be observed in many 
pretenders to religion : some are searching God's 
decretals, to find their names written in the book 
of life ; when they should be studying to find God"'s 
name written upon their hearts, holiness to the 
Lord engraven upon their souls : some are busy in 
examining; themselves bv notes and marks without 
them ; when they should labour to find the marks 
and prints of God and his nature upon them : some 
have their religion in their books and authors, which 
should be the law of God written in the tables of 
the heart : some glory in the bulk of their duties, 
and in the multitude of their pompous performances, 
and religious achievements, crying, with Jehu, 
" Come, see here my zeal for the Lord f whereas 
it were much more excellent, if one could see their 
likeness to the Lord, and the characters of divine 
beauty and holiness drawn upon their hearts and 
lives. But we, if we would judge rightly of our 
religious state, must view ourselves in God, who is 
the fountain of all goodness and holiness, and the 
rule of all perfection. Value yourselves by your 
souls, and not by your bodies, estates, friends, or 
any outward accomplishments, as most men do: but 
that is not enough ; if men rest there, they make 
an idol of the fairest of God's creatures, even their 
own souls ; therefore value your souls themselves 
by what they have of God in them. To study the 
blessed and glorious God in his word, and to con- 



verse with him in his works, is indeed an excellent 
and honourable employment ; but O what a blessed 
study it is to view him in the communications of 
himself, and the impressions of his grace upon our 
own souls ! All the thin and subtile speculations 
which the most eminent philosophers have of he 
essence and nature of God are a poor, and low, 
and beggarly employment and attainment, in com- 
parison of those blessed visions of God which a 
pious soul hath in itself, when it finds itself par- 
taker of a divine nature, and living a divine life. 
O labour to view God and his divine perfections 
in your own souls, in those copies and transcripts of 
them which his Holy Spirit draws upon the hearts 
of all pious men. This is the most excellent dis- 
covery of God that any soul is capable of; it is 
better and more desirable than that famous dis- 
covery that was made to Moses in the cleft of the 
rock. Nay, I should much rather desire to see 
the real impression of a God-like nature upon my 
own soul, to see the crucifying of my own pride 
and self-will, the mortifying of a mere sensual life, 
and a divine life springing up in my soul instead 
of it ; I would much rather desire to see my soul 
glorified in the image and beauty of God put upon 
it, which is indeed a pledge, yea, and a part of 
eternal glory, than to have a vision from the Al- 
mighty, or hear a voice witnessing from heaven, 
and saying, " Thou art my beloved Son, in whom 
my soul is well pleased."" This that I am speaking 

131 MANUEL. 71 

of is a true foundation of heaven itEielfin the soul, a 
real beginning of happiness ; for happiness, heaven 
itself, is nothing else but a perfect conformity, a 
cheerful and eternal compliance of all the powers of 
the soul with the will of God : so that as far as a 
pious soul is thus conformed to God, and filled 
with his fulness, so far is he glorified upon earth. 
Sed hen qziantum didamiis ah illo ! 

Secondly, Let wisdom then be justified of her 
children; let the children of God, those that are 
his genuine offspring, rise up and call him blessed, 
in the imitation of their Lord and Saviour, that 
eldest Son of God, that " first-born amongst many 
brethren,"" who rejoiced in spirit, and said, "I thank 
thee. Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou 
hast revealed these things,"" or, according to the 
style of the apostle Peter, "• Blessed be the God 
and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, accord- 
ing to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again !'"* 
There is no greater contradiction in the world, than 
a man pretending religion, and yet ascribing it to 
himself; whereas pure religion is purely of a divine 
origin : besides, religion doth principally consist in 
the subduing of self-will, in conformity to, and 
compliance with the divine will, in serving the in- 
terest of God's glory in the world. Then, and not 
till then, may a soul be truly called religious, when 
God becomes greatest of all to it and in it, and the 
interest of God is so powerfully planted in it, that 
no other interest, no self-interest, no crcature-Iove, 


no particular private end, can grow by it, no more 
than the magicians could stand before Moses, when 
he came in the power of God to work wonders. So 
that what Solomon saith of self-seeking, " For men 
to seek their own glory is not glory ;" the like I 
may safely say upon that double ground that I have 
laid down, self-religion is not religion. How vainly 
and madly do men dream of their self-religion car- 
rying them to heaven ; when heaven itself is no- 
thing else but the perfection of self-denial, and God's 
becoming all things to the saints. Instead of ad- 
vancing men towards heaven, there is nothing in 
the world that doth more directly make war against 
heaven, than that yiyavrw^i^g ^i^X^^ (^^ Siracides 
calls it) that proud and petulant spirit of self-will 
that rules in the children of disobedience. So that 
when the Holy Ghost would describe David one of 
the best men, to the best advantage, he describes 
him with opposition to self and self-will, "a man 
after God's own heart ;''"* and again, " he served the 
will of God in his generation." 

There have been of old a great number of phi- 
losophical men, who being raised up above the spe- 
culations of their own souls, which is the logical life, 
unto a contemplation of a deity ; and being purged, 
by a lower kind of virtue and moral goodness, from 
the pollutions that are in this world through lust, 
did yet ultimately settle into themselves, and their 
own self-love. They were full indeed, but it was 
not with the fulness of God, as the Apostle speaks, 


but with a self-sufficiency ; the leaven of self-love 
lying at the bottom made them swell with pride 
and self-conceit. Now these men, though they 
were free from gross external enormities, yet did 
not attain to a true knowledge of God, nor any true 
religion, because they set up themselves to be their 
own idols, and carried such an image of them- 
selves continually before their eyes, that they had 
no clear and spiritual discerning of God. They 
did, as it is storied of one of the Persian kings, en- 
shrine themselves in a temple of their own. But 
what speak I of heathen philosophers? Is there 
not the same unclean spirit of self-adoration to be 
found amongst many Christians, yea, and teachers 
of Christianity too ? witness that whole brood, those 
men, who, whilst they suspend the grace of God 
upon man's free will, do utterly rob him of his 
glory. Some of these have impudently given a short, 
but unsavoury answer to the Apostle's question, 
"Who maketh you to differ from another .^'' " I 
make myself to differ .?""' These men, while they 
pretend to high attainments, do discover a low and 
most ignoble spirit : to fasten and feed upon any- 
thing in the creature, is the part of a low and de- 
generate spirit ; on the other hand, it is the great- 
est perfection of the creature, not to be its own, not 
to be anything in itself, or any way distinct from 
the blessed God, the Father and Fountain of hght 
and grace. Holy Paul is all along in a different 
strain, as, " I, yet not I, but the grace of God 

VOL. II. i( 


which was with me." I told you before what a fair 
and honourable character the Holy Ghost hath 
given of holy David, "a man after God's own heart:"" 
now you may also find a description of these men 
too in scripture, not much differing from the other 
in phrase, but very much in sense ; it is the same 
that is given of the proud prince of Tyrus — " They 
set their heart as the heart of God.'' But we, if we 
do indeed partake of the divine nature, shall not 
dare to take any part of the divine glory ; if we 
conform to God's image, we shall not set up our 
own. This self-glorying, in the predominancy of 
it, is utterly inconsistent with true religion, as fire 
is with water ; for religion is nothing else but the 
shinings forth of God into the soul, the reflection of 
a beauty and glory which God hath put upon it. 
Give all therefore unto God ; for whatsoever is 
kept back, is sacrilegiously purloined from him : 
glory we in the fulness of God alone, and in self- 
penury and nothingness. The v/hole of religion is of 
God. Do we see and discern the great things of God ? 
It is by that light that God hath set up in us ; ac- 
cording to that of the Apostle — " The things of 
God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." That 
love whereby we love him, he first shed abroad in 
our hearts. If our souls be beautiful, it is with his 
brightness, the beauty and glory of essential holi- 
ness, according to that of the Apostle — " Partakers 
of his holiness." If we be really and truly full, wc 
receive it of Ids fulness, according to that of the 


Apostle — " filled with all the fulness of God/"' In 
a word, if we be in any God-like dispositions, like 
unto him, it is by his spreading of his image in us, 
and over us. By all which, it appears to be a thing 
not only wicked and unwarrantable, but utterly im- 
possible for a pious soul to exalt himself against 
God, for grace to advance itself against divine 
glory ; for grace is nothing else but a communica- 
tion of divine glory ; and God is then glorified, 
when the soul in holy and gracious dispositions be- 
comes like unto him. How is it possible that grace 
should be a shadow to obscure divine glory, when 
itself is nothing else, as it comes from God, but a 
beam of glory ? and as it is found in the creature, 
may properly be called a reflection of it. To con- 
clude then, be ye persuaded, that a man hath so much 
of God as he hath of humility, and self-denial, and 
self-nothingness, and no more ; he is so far of God, 
as he loves him, honours him, imitates him, and 
lives to him, and no farther. 

Thirdly, By this discovery of the origin of reli- 
gion, we come to understand the origin of sin and 
wickedness. And here, according to the method 
wherein I spoke of the origin of religion, I might 
show you how the origin of sin from without is of 
the devil, who first ushered it into the world, and 
ceaseth not to tempt men to it continually ; as also 
of men, who are his instruments ; and that it does, 
in a sense, spring from many occasions without. 
But these things are more improperly said to be the 


causes of sin. The inward cause is the corrupt 
heart of man, that unclean spirit, that diabolical 
nature, which is indeed the worst and most perni- 
cious devil in the world to man. It is an old say- 
ing, one man is a devil to another; which though it 
be in some sense true, yet it is more proper to say, 
man is a devil to himself; taking the spirit and 
principle of apostacy, that rebellious nature, for the 
devil, which indeed doth best deserve that name. 
But yet, if we inquire more strictly into the ori- 
gin and nature of this monster, we shall best 
know what to say of it, and how to describe it, 
by what we have heard of religion. Sin then, 
to speak properly, is nothing else but a degen- 
eration from a holy state, an apostacy from a 
holy God. Religion is a participation of God, and 
sin is a straggling off from him. Therefore it is 
wont to be defined by negatives, a departure from 
God, a forsaking of him, a living in the world with- 
ovit him, &c. The souFs falling off from God, 
describes the general nature of sin ; but then as 
it sinks into itself, or settles upon the world, and 
fastens upon the creature, or anything therein ; so 
it becomes specified, and is called pride, covetous- 
ness, ambition, and by many other names. All 
souls are the offspring of God, were originally formed 
into his image and likeness ; and when they express 
the purity and holiness of the divine nature, in be- 
ing perfect as God is perfect, then are they called 
the children of God : but those impure spirits that 


do lapse and slide from God, may be said to im- 
plant themselves into another stock by their own 
low and earthly lives, and are no more owned for 
the children of God, but " are of their father the 
devil." By which you may understand the low 
and base origin of sin : nothing can be so vile as 
that which, to speak properly, is nothing else but a 
perfect falling off from glory itself. By this you 
may also by the way, take notice of the miserable 
condition of unholy souls. We need not call for 
fire and brimstone to paint out the wretched state 
of sinful souls. Sin itself is hell and death, and 
misery to the soul, as being a departure from good- 
ness and holiness itself: I mean from God, in con- 
junction with whom the happiness, and blessedness, 
and heaven of a soul consist. Avoid it therefore, 
as you would avoid being miserable. 




True religion described, as to the nature of it, hy water; 
a metaphor usual in the scriptures — 1. By reason of 
the cleansing virtue of it — The defiling nature of sin, 
and the beauty of holiness manifested. — 2. By reason 
of the quenching vifiiie of it — This briefly touched 
upon, and the more full handling of it referred to its 
2Jroper place — The nature of religion described by a 
well of water — that it is a principle in the soids of 
me7i, proved by much scripture — An examination of 
religion by this test — by which examination are ex- 
cluded all things that are 7nerely external reformations 
and performances instanced in — A godly man hath 
7ieither the whole of his busitiess, nor his 7notives lyifig 
without hi7n — /w the same exami7iation ma7iy things 
internal foiind not to be religion — it is no sudden pas- 
sio7i of the 7ni7id — no, not though the sa7ne amount to 
071 ecstacy — 7ior anything begotten and 7naintai7ied by 
fa7icy, and the mere power of i7naginatio7i. 

I COME now to speak of the nature of true religion, 
which is here described by our blessed Lord, by "a 
well of water.*" First, by water. Secondly, by a 
well of water. I shall speak something of both 
these, but more briefly of the former, 

I. Pure religion, or gospel grace, is described by 
water. This is a comparison very familiar in the 
holy scriptures, both of the Old Testament and the 
New. By this similitude, gospel grace was typified 

IMMA7<UKL. t^ 

in the ceremonial law, wherein both persons and 
things, ceremonially unclean, were commanded to 
be washed in water, as is abundantly to be seen in 
that administration. Under this notion, the same 
grace is prayed for by the Psalmist, when he had 
defiled himself in the bed of a stranger — " Wash 
me, and I shall be whiter than snow." He had 
dnmk water out of a strange cistern, as his son 
Solomon describes that unclean act ; and now he 
calls out for water from the fountain of grace to un- 
defile him : he now cries out for water from the 
fountain of grace, the blessed Messiah, that sprung 
up into the world at Bethlehem, and that with more 
earnestness than formerly we read that he wished 
for the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by 
the gate. In the same phrase the same grace is 
promised by the ministry of the Prophets, who pro- 
phesied of the grace that should come unto us. 
Thus we read of the fair and flourishing state of 
the church — " Thou shaltbe like a watered garden, 
and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not ;''^ 
and of the fruitful state of the gospel proselytes — 
" All the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, 
and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the 
Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim.*" "Which 
promises, that they are understood of the grace of 
sanctification, the prophet Ezekiel showeth plainly 
' — " I v/ill sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye 
shall be clean ; from all your filthiness, and from 
all your idols will T cleanse vou :"" for ordinary 


elementary water cannot cleanse men from idols. 
The prophet Isaiah also puts it out of doubt, whose 
prophecy, together with the interpretation of it, we 
find both in one verse — " I will pour water upon 
him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground; 
I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing 
upon thy offspring." By the same ceremony, the 
gospel dispensation shadows out the same mystery 
in the sacrament of baptism ; and, by the same 
phrase our Saviour offers and promises the same 
grace — " If any man thirst let him come unto me 
and drink:"*' and his apostles after him, who, in allu- 
sion to water, call this grace the " washing of re- 
generation.'' To which I might add 1 Pet. iii. 21, 
and many other texts if it required. 

Now, as the grace of God is compared to nre, be- 
cause of its refining nature, and consuming the dross 
and refuse of depravity in the soul ; and to other 
things for other reasons : so it is compared to water, 
especially for those two properties, namely, clean- 
sing and quenching ; for observe this by the way, 
that it is a very injurious thing to the Holy Ghost, 
to press the metaphors which he useth in scripture, 
further than they do naturally and freely serve. 
Neither are we to adhere to the letter of the meta- 
phor, but to attend unto the scope of it. If we 
tenaciously adhere to the phrase, wanton wits will 
be ready to quarrel with absurdities, and so un- 
awares run into strange blasphemies : they will cry 
out presently, How can fire wash ? when they read 


that of tlie Prophet — " Tlie Lord will wash away 
the filth of the daughter of Zion, by the spirit of 
burning/'' But who art thou, O man ! that wilt 
teach him to speak who formed the tongue ? The 
Spirit of God intends the virtue and property of 
things, when he names them ; and that we must 
mainly attend to. 

1. Therefore, by the phrase water ^ is the clean- 
sing nature of religion commended to us : it is the 
undefiling of the soul, which sin and wickedness 
hath polluted : sin is often described in scripture 
by filthiness, loathsomeness, abomination, unclean- 
ness, a spot, a blemish, a stain, a pollution ; which 
indeed is a most proper description of it. The spots 
of leprosy, and the scurf of the foulest scurvy, are 
beauty spots in comparison of it ; Job upon the 
dunghill, furnished cap-a-pee with scabs and boils, 
was not half so loathsome as goodly Absalom, in 
whose body '' there was no blemish from the sole 
of his foot to the crown of his head ;"' but his soul 
was stained with the sanguine spots of malice and 
revenge, and festered with the loathsome carbuncle 
and tumour of ambition. Lazarus, lying at the 
gates full of raw and running sores, was a far more 
lovely object in the pure eyes of God, than dame 
Jezebel, looking out at the window, adorned with 
spots and paints. If the best of a godly man that 
he hath of his own, even his righteousness, be as a 
filthy rag, whence shall we borrow a phrase foul 
enough to describe the worst of a wicked man, even 


his wickedness ? I need say no more of it, I can 
say no worse of it, than to tell you it is something 
contrary to God, who is the eternal Father of light, 
who is beauty, and brightness, and glory itself; or, 
to give it you in the Apostle's phrase, " a falling 
short of the glory of God.'' Which hath made me 
many times to wonder, and almost ready to cry out 
with the Prophet, " Be astonished, O ye heavens, 
at this !" when I have seen poor, ignorant, wicked, 
and profane wretches, passing by a person or a family 
visited with some loathsome disease, in a mixture of 
fear and disdain, stopping their breath, and hasten- 
ing away ; when their own souls have been more 
vile than the dung upon the earth, spotted with 
ignorance and atheism, swollen with the risings of 
pride and self-will, and contempt of God and his 
holy image. This might well be matter of wonder 
to any man, till he consider with himself, that one 
part of these men's uncleanness, is that very blind- 
ness which keeps them from discerning it : I speak 
principally of the defilement of the soul; though 
indeed the same do pollute the whole conversation : 
every action springing from such an unclean heart, 
thereby becomes filthy ; even as Moses's hand, 
put into his bosom, became leprous; or rather as 
one that is unclean by a dead body, defileth all that 
he toucheth. 

Now, religion is the cleansing of this unclean 
spirit and conversation ; so that, though the soul 
were formerly as filthy and odious as Augeus's 


stable, when once those living waters flow into it, 
and through it, from the pure fountain of grace 
and holiness, the Spirit of our God, one may^say^^of 
it as the Apostle of his Corinthians, " Such were 
some of you ; but ye are washed, but ye are sancti- 
fied,'" &c. The soul that before was white as 
leprosy, is now white as wool. The soul that be- 
fore was like Moses' hand, leprous as snow, is now 
like David's heart, v/hite as snow ; yea, and whiter 
too. O what a beauty and glory is upon that pious 
soul that shines with the image and brightness of 
God upon it ! Solomon, in all his glory, was not 
beautiful like such a soul; nay, I dare say, the 
splendor of the sun, in its greatest strength and 
altitude, is a miserable glimmering, if it be com- 
pared with the day-star of religion, that even in this 
life arises in the heart ; or, if you will, in the Pro- 
phet's style, " the Sun of righteousness, which 
ariseth with healing in his wings," upon them that 
fear the name of God. To speak without a meta- 
phor, the pious soul, having received into itself, 
the pure effluxes of divine light and love, breathes 
after nothing more than to see more familiarly, and 
love more ardently: its inclinations are pure and 
holy ; its motions spiritual and powerful ; its de- 
lights high and heavenly ; it may be said to rest in 
its love ; and yet it may be said, that love will not 
suffer it to rest, but is still carrying it out into a 
more intimate union with its beloved object. What 
i.s said of the ointment of Phrist'y name, is true of 


the water of his Spirit, it is " poured forth, there- 
fore do the virgins love him." Rehgion begets a 
chaste and virgin love in the soul towards that 
blessed God that begot it ; it bathes itself in the 
fountain that produced it : and suns itself perpetu- 
ally in the warm beams that first hatched it. Reli- 
gion issues from God himself, and is ever issuing 
out towards God alone, passionately breathing with 
the holy Psalmist, " Whom have I in heaven but 
thee ? In earth there is none that I desire beside 
thee !" The soul that formerly may be said to 
have lain among the pots, by reason of its filthiness, 
is now as the wings of a dove covered with silver, 
and her feathers with yellow gold : the soul that 
formerly may be said to have sat down by the 
flesh-pots of Egypt, in regard of its sensual and 
earthly loves, being redeemed by the almighty grace 
of God, is upon its way to the holy land, hastening 
to a country not earthly but heavenly. This pure 
principle being put into the soul, puts it upon holy 
studies, indites holy meditations, directs it to high 
and noble ends, and makes all its embraces to be 
pure and chaste, labouring to compass God himself, 
which before were adulterous and idolatrous ; free 
for sin, and self, and the world, to lodge and lie 
down in. In a word, this offspring of heaven, this 
King**s daughter, the pious soul, is "all glorious 
within ;" yea, and outwardly too, " she is clothed 
with wrought gold." Here faith v/ithin is more 
precious than gold ; and her conversation is curi- 


ously made up of an embroidery of good works, some 
of piety, some of charity, some of sobriety, but all 
of purity, and shineth with more noble and excel- 
lent splendour, than the high-priesfs garments and 
breast-plate spangled with such variety of precious 
stones. This precious ointment, this holy unction, 
as the Apostle calls it, is as diffusive of itself, and 
ten thousand times more fragrant, than that of 
Aaron, so much commended in Psal. cxxxiii. that 
ran down from his head upon his beard, and from 
thence upon the skirts of his garment. " Not my feet 
only, but my hands and my head. Lord," saith Peter, 
not well knowing what he said ; but the soul that is 
truly sensible of the excellent purity which is caused 
by divine washings, longs to have the whole man, the 
whole life also, made partaker of it, and cries, Lord, 
not my head only, not my heart only, but my hands 
and my feet also ; make me wholly pure, as God is 
pure. In a word then, true religion is the cleansing 
of the soul, and all the powers of it ; so that, where- 
as murderers sometimes lodged in it, now righteous- 
ness ; the den of thieves, thievish lusts, and loves, 
and interests, and ends, which formerly stole away 
the soul from God, its right owner, is now become 
a temple fit for the great King to dwell, and live, 
and reign in : and the whole conversation is turned 
from its wonted vanity, worldliness, and iniquity, 
and is continually employed about things that are 
" true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good 



2. By the phrase water, the quenching nature 
of religion is commended to us. God hath endued 
the immortal soul with a restless appetite, and 
raging thirst after some chief good, which the heart 
of every man is continually groping after, and catch- 
ing at, though indeed few find it, because they seek 
it where it is not to be found. If we speak pro- 
perly, it is not gold or silver, or popular applause, 
which the covetous or ambitious mind doth vilti- 
mately aim at, but some chief good, happiness, suffi- 
ciency, and satisfaction in these things ; wherein 
they are more guilty of blasphemy than atheism : 
for it is clear that they do not deny a Supreme 
Good ; for that which men do chiefly and ultimately 
aim at, is their god, be it what it will ; but they do 
verily blaspheme the true God, when they place 
their happiness there where it is not to be found, 
and attribute that fulness and sufficiency to some- 
thing else besides the living God. Sin hath not 
destroyed the nature and capacity of the rational 
soul, but hath diverted the mind from its adequate 
object, and hath sunk it into the creature, where it 
wanders hither and thither, like a banished man, 
from one den and cave to another, but is secure no 
where. A wicked man, who is loosed from his 
centre by sin, and departed from the fountain of his 
life, flies low in his affections, and flutters per- 
petually about the earth, and earthly objects, but 
can find no more rest for the foot of his soul, than 
Noah's dove could find for the sole of her foot. 

I MM A NU EL. 87 

Now, religion is the hand that pulls this wandering 
bird into her own ark from whence she was departed ; 
it settles the soul upon its proper centre, and 
quenches its burning thirst after happiness. And 
hence it is called water in scripture, as appears from 
these expressions — " The Lord shall satisfy thy soul 
in drought ;"" and — " I will pour water upon him that 
is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground C com- 
pared with — " Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any 
man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." 
Heligion is a taste of infinite goodness, which 
quenches the souFs thirst after all other created and 
finite good; even as that taste which honest Na- 
thanael had of Christ''s divinity, took him off from 
the expectation of any Messiah to come, and made 
him cry out presently, ** Rabbi, thou art the Son of 
God ; thou art the King of Israel.''' And every 
religious soul hath such a taste of God, even in this 
life, which, though it do not perfectly fill him, yet 
doth perfectly assure him where all fulness dwells. 
But of this I shall have occasion to discourse more 
largely, when I come to treat of the consequences 
of true religion. 

I proceed, therefore, to the second phrase, where- 
by our Saviour describes the nature of true religion ; 
it is a well, a fountain in the soul : " Shall be in 
him a well of water."" From which phrase, to wave 
niceties, I shall only observe, " That Religion is a 
principle in the souls of men.'' 

The water that Christ pours into the soul is not 


like the water that he pours upon our streets, that 
washes them, and runs away; but it becomes a 
cleansing principle within the soul itself; every 
drop from God becomes a fountain in man; not as 
if man had a kind of avToZ(i)ri in himself, or were the 
first spring of his own motions towards God : I find 
not any will in the natural man so divinely free. 
God hath indeed given this to his own Son, 
his only begotten Son, to have "life in himself," 
but not to any of his adopted ones. If you ask me 
concerning man in his natural capacity, I am so far 
from thinking that he hath a self-quickening power, 
a principle of life in himself, that I must needs 
assert the contrary with the Apostle, that he is 
" dead in trespasses and sins ;" so far from think- 
ing that he hath in himself a well of water, that I 
must call him, with the Prophet, " thirsty and dry 
ground.'"* As for the regenerate man, I will not 
enter into that deep controversy concerning the 
co-operation of man's will with the Spirit of God, 
and its subordination to that in all gracious acts, 
or what description of cause this renewed will of 
man may be safely called ; only I will affirm, that 
repenting and believing are properly man''s acts, 
and yet they are performed by God's power ; first, 
Christ must give this water ere it can be a well of 
water in the soul ; which is enough, I suppose, to 
clear me from siding with either of those parties, 
whether those that ascribe to God that which he 
cannot do, or those that ascribe to free will that 


which God alone can do. But I fear notliinsr from 
these controversies ; for that way wherein I shall dis- 
course of this matter, will nothing at all border upon 
them. This, then, I affirm, that religion is a living 
principle in the souls of good men. I cannot bet- 
ter describe the nature of religion, than to say it is 
a nature ; for so does the Apostle speak, or at least 
allows us to speak, when he calls it a participation 
of a divine nature. Nothing but a nature can par- 
take of a nature ; a man's friend may partake of his 
goodness and kindness, but his child only partakes 
of his nature ; he that begets, begets a nature ; and so 
doth he that procreates again. The sun enlightens 
the world outwardly, but it does not give a sun-like 
nature to the tilings so enlightened ; and the rain 
doth moisten the earth, and refresh it inwardly, but 
it does not beget the nature of water in the earth : 
" But this water that I give," says our Saviour, 
" becometh a well of water in the soul." Religion 
is not anything without a man, hanging upon him, or 
annexed to him ; neither is it every something that 
is in a man, as we shall see anon ; but it is a divine 
principle informing and actuating the souls of good 
men, a living and lively principle, a free and flow- 
ing principle, a strong and lasting principle, an in- 
ward and spiritual principle. I must not speak of 
all these distinctly in this place, for fear of inter- 
fering in my discourse. When I say religion is a 
principle, a vital form acting the soul, and all the 
powers of it, an inward nature, Sec. ; saith not the 


scripture the same here, a well or fountain of wa- 
ter ? And elsewhere, a '^ new man, the hidden 
man of the heart, the inward man.'"* As the soul 
is called an inward man, relative to the body, so 
religion is called an inward man, relative to the 
soul itself. It is a man within man. The man that 
is truly alive to God, hath in him not only inward 
parts, for so a dead man hath, but an inward man, an 
inward nature and principle. Again, it is called a 
root. Job xix. 28; or, if not there, yet plainly in Mark 
iv. 17, where temporary professors are said to have 
no root in themselves. And this is by the same 
propriety of speech whereby a wicked principle is 
called, "a root of bitterness.'' Again, it is called a 
seed, " the seed of God ;" where this seed of God 
is called an abiding or remaining principle. In the 
first creation, God made the trees of the earth, hav- 
ing their seed in themselves ; and in the new crea- 
tion, these trees of righteousness of God's planting, 
are also made with seed in themselves, though not 
of themselves ; it is said to be the seed of God in- 
deed, but remaining in the pious soul. Again, it is 
called a treasure, in opposition to an alms or annuity, 
that lasteth but for a day or year, as a well of water, 
in opposition to a draught of water ; and a treasure 
of the heart, in opposition to all outward and earthly 
treasures. It is a treasure affording continual ex- 
pences, not exhausted, yea, increased by expences ; 
wherein it exceeds all treasures in the world. By 
the same propriety of speech, sin is called a trea- 

lilMANUEI,. 91' 

sure too, but it is an evil treasure, as our Saviour 
speaks in that same place. Do you not see what a 
stock of wickedness sinful men have within them- 
selves, which, although they have spent upon ever 
since they were born, yet it is not impaired, nay, it 
is much augmented thereby ; and shall not the se- 
cond Adam bestow something as certain and perma- 
nent upon his offspring, as the first Adam conveyed 
to his posterity ? Though men have something 
without them, to guide them in the way of life, yet 
it is some living principle within them, that deno- 
minates them living men. The scripture will abun-. 
dantly inform you which is the true circumcision, 
the true sacrifice to God. And indeed the law it- 
self is not so much to be considered as it was en- 
graven in tables of stone, as *' being written in the 
heart."" The Jews needed not have taken up their 
rest in the law, considered as an outward rule or 
precept ; for they knew or might have known, that 
God require th " truth in the inward parts,"*"* as one 
of themselves, a prophet and king of their own, ac- 
knowledgeth. But I doubt many Christians are 
also sick of the same disease, whilst they view the 
gospel as a history, and an external dispensation ; 
whereas the Apostle, when he opposeth it to the 
law, seems altogether to make it an internal thing, 
a vital form and principle seated in the minds and 
spirits of men. The law was an external rule or 
dispensation that could not give life, though it 


showed the way to it; but the gospel, in the most 
proper notion of it, seems to be an internal impres- 
sion from God, a living principle, whereby the soul 
is enabled to express a real conformity to God him- 
self If we consider the gospel in the history of it, 
and as a piece of book learning, it is as weak and 
impotent a thing as the law was ; and men may be 
as remiss and formal in the profession of this as they 
were of that, which we see by daily sad experience. 
But if we consider the gospel as an efflux of life and 
power from God himself upon the soul, producing 
life wherever it comes, then we have a clear distinc- 
tion between the law and the gospel ; to which the 
Apostle seems to refer, when he calls the Corin- 
thians " the epistle of Christ, not written with ink, 
nor in tables of stone, but with the Spirit of the 
living God, in fleshly tables of the heart."" Accord- 
ing to which notion of the law and gospel, I think 
we may, with a learned man of our own, come to a 
good understanding of that tormented text, Jer. 
XXX. 31, quoted by the Apostle — "This is the cove- 
nant that I will make, I will put my law into their 
minds,'"' &c. The gospel doth not so much consist 
in words as in virtue ; a divine principle of religion 
in the soul, is tlie best gospel : and so Abraham and 
Moses under the law, were truly gospellers ; and, 
on the other hand, all carnal Christians that converse 
with the gospel only as a thing without them, are 
as truly legal, and as far short of the righteousness 

of God, as ever any of the Jews were. Thus we 
see that religion is a principle in the souls of good 
men — " shall be in him a well of water.'"* 

We shall here now take notice of the difference 
between the true, and all counterfeit religions. 
Religion is that pearl of great price, which few men 
are possessed of, though all men pretend to it, 
Laodicean-like, saying, ''they are rich and need 
nothing,"' when indeed " they are poor and have 
nothing.'' This, then, shall be the test by which, 
at present, we will a little try the counterfeit pearls. 
True religion is an inward nature, an inward and 
abiding principle in the minds of good men, a well 
of water. 

1. Then we must exclude all things that are 
merely external ; these are not it. Religion is not 
something annexed to the soul, ah ewtra, but a new 
nature put into it. And here we shall glance at two 
things : — 

(1 .) A pious soul does not find the whole of his 
business lying without him. Religion does not 
consist in external reformations, though ever so 
many and specious. A false and slight religion 
may serve to tie men's hands, and reduce their out- 
ward actions to a fair seemliness in the eyes of men : 
but true religion's main dominion and power is over 
the soul, and its business lies mostly in reforming 
and purging the heart, with all the affections and 
motions thereof It is not a battering ram coming 
from without, and serving to beat down the out- 


works of open and visible enormities of life, but it 
enters with a secret and sweet power into the soul 
itself, and reduces it from its rebellious temper, and 
persuades it willingly to surrender itself, and all 
that is in it. Sin may be beaten out of the outward 
conversation, and yet retire and hide itself in the 
secret places of the soul, and there bear rule as per- 
fectly by wicked loves and lusts, as ever it did by 
profane and notorious practices. A man"'s hands 
may be tied by some external cords cast upon them, 
from visible revenge, and yet murders may lodge 
in the temple of his heart, as murderers lodged in 
the temple of old : men"'s tongues may be tied up 
from the foul sin of giving fair words concerning 
themselves ; very shame may chastise them out of 
proud boastings, and self-exaltings, when, in the 
meantime, they swell in self-conceit, and are not 
afraid to bear an unchaste and sinful love towards 
their own perfections, and adore an image of self 
set up in their hearts. What a fair outside the 
Pharisee had, himself will best describe, for indeed 
it is one of his properties to describe himself, "God, 
I thank thee that I am not," &c. But if you will 
have a draught of his inside, you may best take it 
from our Saviour, Matt, xxiii. 23. Neither doth 
religion consist in external performances, though 
ever so many, and seemingly spiritual. Many pro- 
fessors of Christianity, I doubt, sink all their reli- 
gion into a constant course of duties, and a model of 
performances, being mere strangers to the life, and 


strength, and sweetness of true religion. Those 
things are needful, and useful, and helpful, yea, 
and honourable, because they have a relation and 
some tendency to God ; but they are apt to become 
snares and idols to superstitious minds, who conceit 
that God is some way gratified by these ; and so 
they take up their rest in them. That religion, 
which only varnishes and beautifies the outside, tunes 
the tongue to prayer and conference, instructs and 
extends the hands to diligence and alms-deeds, which 
awes the conversation into some external righteous- 
ness or devotion, is here excluded, as also by the 
Apostle, 1 Cor. xiii. 1. Much less can that pass 
for religion, which spends itself about forms, and 
opinions, and parties, and many disputable points, 
which we have seen so much of in our own gene- 
ration. The religion that runs upon modes, and 
turns upon interests, as a door turns upon its hinges, 
is a poor narrow scant thing, and may easily view 
itself at once, altogether from first to last. Men 
may be as far from the kingdom of heaven in their 
more spiritual forms, and orthodox opinions, as they 
were in their more carnal and erroneous, if they 
take up their rest in them : neither is it the pursu- 
ing of any interest that will denominate them reli- 
gious, but the grand interest of their souls. 

(2.) A pious soul in its more inward and spiritual 
acts, hath not its motive without it : for a man may 
be somewhat more inward in his emotions, and yet 
as outward in his motives as the former. Religious 


acts, and gracious emotions, are not originally and 
primarily caused by some weights hung upon the 
soul, either by God or men, neither by the worldly 
blessings which God gives, nor the heavy afflictions 
which he sends. The wings, by which the pious 
soul flies out towards God, are not waxed to it, as 
the poets feign Icarus's to have been; but they 
grow out of itself, as the wings of an eagle that flies 
swiftly towards heaven : on the other side, a soul 
may be pressed down unto humiliation under the 
heavy weight of God"'s judgments, that has no mind 
to stoop, no self-denying or self-abasing disposition 
in it. Thus you may see Jehu flying upon the 
wings of ambition and revenge, borne up by suc- 
cesses in his government ; and his predecessor Ahab 
bowing down mournfully under a heavy sentence. 
The laws, and penalties, and encouragements, and 
observations of men, sometimes put a weight upon 
the soul too, but they beget a more sluggish, uneven, 
and unkindly movement in it. You may expect 
that under this head I should speak something of hea- 
ven and hell : and truly so I may very pertinently, 
for I think they belong to this place. If you take 
heaven properly, for a full and glorious union to 
God, and fruition of him, and hell for an eternal 
separation and straggling from the divinity; and 
suppose that the love of God, and the fear of living 
without him, be well drunk into the soul, then verily 
these are pure and religious principles : but if we 
view them as things merely without us, and reserved 


for US, and under those common carnal notions of 
delectableness and dreadfulness, they are no higher 
nor better motives to us, than the carnal Jews had 
in the wilderness, when they turned their backs 
upon Egypt, where they had been in bondage, and 
set their faces towards Canaan, where they hoped 
to find milk and honey, peace, plenty, and liberty. 
A soul is not carried to heaven, as a body is carried 
to the grave, upon men"'s shoulders ; it is not borne 
up by props, whether human or divine ; nor carried 
to God in a chariot, as a man is carried to see 
his friend ; the holy fire of ardent love, wherein 
the soul of Elijah had been long carried up towards 
God, was something more excellent, and indeed 
more desirable, than the fiery chariot by which his 
body and soul where translated together. Religion 
is a spring of motion which God hath put into the 
soul itself. 

And as all things that are external, whether ac- 
tions or motives, are excluded in this examination, 
which we make of religion ; so neither, 

2. Must we allow of every thing that is internal 
to be religion. And therefore, 

(1.) It is not a fit, a start, a sudden passion of 
the mind, caused by the power and strength of some 
present conviction in the soul, which, in a hot 
mood, will needs set out after God in all haste. 
This may fitly be compared to the rash and rude 
motion of the host of Israel, who, being chidden for 
their slothfulness over night, rose up early in the 



morning, and gat them up to the top of the moun- 
tain, saying, " Lo we be here, and will go up unto 
the place which the Lord hath promised, for we 
have sinned." And indeed it fares with these men 
oftentimes as it did with those, both as to the under- 
taking, and as to the success ; their motion is as 
sinful as their station ; and their success is answer-' 
able, they are driven back and discomfited in their 
enterprize. Nay, though this passion might arise 
so high, as to be called an ecstacy or a rapture, yet 
it deserves not the name of religion : " For religion 
is," as one speaks elegantly, " like the natural heat 
that is radicated in the hearts of living creatures, 
which hath the dominion of the whole body, and 
sends forth warm blood and spirits, and vital 
nourishment into every part and member ; it regu- 
lates and orders the motions of it in -a due and even 
manner." But these extatical souls, though they, 
may blaze like a comet, and swell like a torrent or 
land-flood for a time, and shoot forth fresh and high 
for a little season, are soon extinguished, emptied, 
and dried up, because they have not a principle, a 
stock to spend upon, or, as our Saviour speaks, " no 
root in themselves." These men's motions and ac- 
tions bear no more proportion to religion, than a 
land-flood that swells high, and runs swiftly, but it 
is only during the rain ; or, in the scripture phrase, 
than a morning dew that soon passes away, is like a 
well or fountain of water. 

(.^.) If religion be a principle, a new nature in 


tlie soul, then it is not mere mechcanism, a piece 
of art. Art imitates nature : nothing more com- 
mon, I doubt, than for religion itself, that new na- 
ture, to go into an art. I need not tell you how 
all the external acts and shootings forth of religion, 
may be dissembled and imitated by art, and l>e 
acted over by a mimical apish Pharisee, who finds 
nothing at all of the gentle and mighty heat, nor 
the divine and noble life of it in his own soul, 
w^hereby he may fairly deceive the credulous world, 
us I have partly hinted already. But it is possible, 
I wish it be not common, for men that are some- 
what more convinced, enlightened, and affected, to 
imitate the very power and spirit of religion, and 
to deceive themselves too, as if they possessed some 
true, living principle ; and herein they exceed the 
most exquisite painters. Now, this may be done 
by the power of a quick and raised fancy ; men 
hearing such glorious things spoken of heaven, the 
city of the great King, the new Jerusalem, may be 
carried out by the power of self-love to wish them- 
selves there, being mightily taken with a conceit of 
the place. But how shall they come at it ? Why, 
they have seen in books, and heard in discourses, of 
certain signs of grace, and evidences of salvation ; 
and now they set their fancies to work, to find or 
make some such things in themselves. Fancy is 
well acquainted with the several affections of love, 
fear, joy, grief, which are in the soul, and having a 
great command over the animal spirits, it can send 


them forth to raise up these affections, even almost 
when it listeth ; and when it hath raised them, it is 
but putting to some thoughts of God and heaven, 
and then these look like a handsome platform of 
true religion drawn in the soul, which they presently 
view, and fall in love with, and think they do even 
taste of the powers of the world to come, when in- 
deed it is nothing but a self-fulness and sufficiency 
that they feed upon. Now, you may know this 
artificial religion by this : these men can vary it, 
alter it, enlarge it, straiten it, and new-mould it at 
pleasure, according to what they see in others, or, 
according to what themselves like best ; one while 
acting over the joy and confidence of some Chris- 
tians, anon the humiliation and broken-heartedness 
of others. But this fanciful religion, proceeding 
indeed from nothing but low and carnal conceits of 
God and heaven, is of a flitting and vanishing na- 
ture. But true Christians are gently, yet power- 
fully moved by the natural force of true goodness, 
and the excellencies of God, and move on steadily and 
constantly in their way to him and pursuit of him. 
The spirit of regeneration in good men spreads it- 
self upon the understanding, and sweetly diffuses 
itself through the will and affections, which makes 
true religion to be a consistent and thriving prin- 
ciple in the soul, as not being acted upon the stage 
of imagination, but upon the highest powers of the 
soul itself, and it may be discerned by the evenness 
of its movements, and the immortality of its nature ; 


for a good man, though indeed he cannot go on 
always with like speed and cheerfulness in his way, 
yet is not willing at any time to be quite out of it. 
By this same nature of true religion you may 
examine all those spurious and counterfeit religions, 
that spring from a natural belief of a deity, from 
convictions, observations, fleshly and low appre- 
hensions of heaven, book-learning, and the precepts 
of men, as the Prophet calls them, and the rest, 
which are seated in the fancy, and swim in the brain ; 
whose effect is but to gild the outward man, or, at 
best, but to move the soul by an external force, in 
an unnatural, inconstant and transient manner. In 
a word, all these pretenders to religion may seem 
to have water, but they have no well : as there are 
others, deep men, principled indeed with learning, 
policy, ingenuity, &c. but not with true goodness, 
whom the Apostle calls wells, but without water. 
But the truly pious, and God-like soul, hath in it- 
self a principle of pure religion. " The water that 
I shall give him, shall be a well of water, springing 
up into eternal life.'' 


10.'? IMMANUEL. 


Coniaining the first property mentioned of true religion — 
namely, The freeness and unconstrainedness of it — 
this discovered in several outivard acts of morality 
and ivorship — as also in the more inward acts of the 
soul — This freedom considered first as to its author — in 
which is examined how far the command of God may 

he said to upon act a pious soul Secondly, Considered 

as to its object — Two cautionary concessions — 1. That 
some things without the soul may be said to be motives 
— how far afflictions and temporal prosperity may be 
said to be so — 2. That there is a constrai?it lying upon 
the pious soul — which yet takes not away its freedom 
— An inquiry into forced devotion — first, into the 
causes of it, namely. Men themselves, and that upon 
a threefold account, other men, or the providences of 
God — and next, into the properties of it, proving that 
it is for the most part dry and spiritless, needy and 
penurious, uneven, and not permanent. 

I PROCEED now, from the nature of religion, to 
speak of the properties of it, as many of them as are 
couched under this phrase, " springing up into ever- 
lasting life.'' Not to push the phrase any farther 
than it will naturally afford discourse, I shall only 
take notice of these three properties of true religion, 
contained in the word, " springing up,"" namely, the 
freeness, activity, and permanency, or perseverance 
of it. 


The first property of it, couched under this 
phrase, is, that it is free and unconstrained, lleli- 
gion is a principle, and it flows and acts freely in 
the soul, after the manner of a fountain ; and, in 
the day of its mighty power, makes the people a 
willing people, and the soul, in whom it is truly 
seated, to become a free will-offering unto God. 
Alexander the Great subdued the world with force 
of arms, and made men rather his tributaries and 
servants, than his lovers and friends ; but the great 
God, the King of souls, obtains an amicable con- 
quest over the hearts of his people, and overpowers 
them in such a manner, that they love to be his 
servants, and do willingly and readily obey him, 
without dissimulation or constraint, without mercen- 
ariness or morosity : in which they are unlike to the 
subjects of the kingdoms of this world, who are kept 
in their duties by fear and force, not from a pure 
kindness and benevolence of mind, to whom " the 
present yoke is always grievous.*" Hence it is that 
the increase of this people is called their flowing 
unto the Lord, " The mountain of the Lord's house 
shall be esteiblished, and all nations shall flow unto 
it ;" and again, " They shall flow together to the 
goodness of the Lord.'' And the disposition of this 
people is described to be a hearty and willing frame, 
Eph. vi. 6, 7, and elsewhere often to the same pur- 
pose. Now this willingness or freeness of pious 
souls might be explained and confirmed by the con- 
sideration both of their outward and inward acts. 


1. As to the outward acts of service which the 
true Christian doth perform, he is freely carried out 
towards them, without any constraint or force. If 
he keep himself from the evil of the place, and age, 
and company, wherein he lives and converses, it is 
not by a restraint which is upon him merely from 
without him, but by a principle of holy temperance 
planted in the soul : it is the seed of God abiding 
in him that preserves him from the commission of 
sin. He is not kept back from sin as a horse by a 
bridle, but by an inward and spiritual change made 
in his nature. On the other hand, if he employ 
himself in any external acts of moral or instituted 
duty, he does it freely, not as of necessity or by con- 
straint. If you speak of acts of charity, the pious 
man gives from a principle of love to God, and 
kindness to his brother, and so cheerfully, not 
grudgingly, or of necessity. An alms may be 
wrung out of a miser ; but it proceeds from the libe- 
ral soul as a stream from its fountain : therefore he 
is called a deviser of liberal things, and one that 
standeth upon liberalities, as those last words of 
Isa. xxxii. 8, are rendered by the Dutch translators. 
If you speak of righteousness or temperance, he is 
not overruled by power, or compelled by laws, but 
indeed actuated by the power of that law which is 
written and engraven upon his mind. If you 
speak of acts of worship, whether moral or insti- 
tuted, in all these he is also free, as to any con- 
straint. Prayer is not his task, or a piece of 


penance, but it is tlie natural cry of the new-born 
soul ; neither does he take it up as a piece of policy, 
to bribe GocFs justice, or engage men's charity, to 
purchase favour with God or man, or his own 
clamorous conscience : but he prays, because he 
wants, and loves, and believes ; he wants the fuller 
presence of that God whom he loves ; he loves the 
presence which he wants ; he believes that he that 
loves him will not suffer him to want any good 
thing that he prays for. And therefore he does not 
bind up himself severely, and limit himself penu- 
riously to a morning and evening sacrifice and so- 
lemnity, as unto certain rent-seasons, wherein to 
pay a homage of dry devotion ; but his loving and 
longing soul, disdaining to be confined within 
canonical hours, is frequently soaring in some hea- 
venly raptures or other, and sallying forth in holy 
ejaculations : he is not content with some weak 
essays towards heaven, in set and formal prayer, 
once or twice a-day, but labours also to be all the 
day long drawing in those divine influences, and 
streams of grace, by the mouth of faith, which he 
begged in the morning by the tongue of prayer ; 
which has made me sometimes to think it a proper 
speech to say, the faith of prayer, as well as the 
prayer of faith ; for believing, and hanging upon 
divine grace, doth really drink in what prayer 
opens its mouth for, and is, in effect, a powerful 
kind of praying in silence : by believing we pray, 
as well as in praying we believe. A truly religious 


man hath not his hands tied up merely by tlie force 
of a national law, no, nor yet by the authority of 
the fourth commandment, to keep one in seven, 
a day of rest ; as he is not content with mere 
resting upon the Sabbath, knowing that neither 
working, nor ceasing from work, doth of itself com- 
mend a soul to God, but doth press after intimacy 
with God in the duties of his worship ; so neither 
can he be content with one Sabbath in a week, nor 
think himself absolved from holy and heavenly me- 
ditations any day in the week; but labours to make 
every day a Sabbath, as to the keeping of his heart 
up unto God in a holy frame, and to find every day 
to be a Sabbath, as to the communications of God 
unto his soul : though the necessities of his body 
will not allow him, it may be, (though indeed God 
hath granted this to some men) to keep every day 
iis a Sabbath of rest ; yet the necessities of his soul 
do call upon him to make every day, as far as may 
be, a Sabbath of communion with the blessed God. 
If you speak of fasting, he keeps not fasts merely 
by virtue of civil, no, nor a divine institution ; but, 
from a principle of godly sorrow afflicts his soul for 
sin, and daily endeavours more and more to be 
emptied of himself, which is the most excellent 
fasting in the world. If you speak of thanksgiving, 
he does not give thanks by laws and ordinances, 
but having in himself a law of thankfulness, and 
an ordinance of love engraven upon, and deeply 
radicated in his soul, delights to live unto God, and 


to make his heart and life a living descant upon the 
goodness and love of God ; which is the most divine 
way of thank-offering in the world ; it is the halle- 
lujah which the angels sing continually. In a 
word, wherever God hath a tongue to command, 
true godliness will find a hand to perform ; what- 
ever yoke Christ Jesus shall put upon the soul, 
religion will enable to bear it, yea, and to count it 
easy too ; the mouth of Christ hath pronounced it 
easy, and the Spirit of Christ makes it easy. Let 
the commandment be what it will, it will not be 
grievous. The same spirit doth, in some measure, 
dwell in every Christian, which without measure 
dwelt in Christ, who counted it his meat and drink 
to do the will of his Father. 

2. And more especially, the true Christian is 
free from any constraint as to the inward acts which 
he performeth. Holy love to God is one principal 
act of the gracious soul, whereby it is carried out 
freely, and with an ardent love towards the object 
that is truly and infinitely lovely and satisfactory, 
and to the enjoyment of it. I know indeed that 
this springs from self-indigency, and is commanded 
by the sovereignty of the Supreme Good, the object 
that the soul eyes : but it is properly free from any 
constraint. Love is an affection that cannot be ex- 
torted as fear is ; nor forced by any external power, 
nor indeed internal either : the revenues of the 
King of Persia, or the treasures of Egypt, cannot 
commit a rape upon it, neither indeed can the soul 


itself raise and lay this spirit at pleasure ; which 
made the poet complain of himself, as if he were 
not sole emperor at home. 

Though the outward bodily acts of religion are 
ordinarily compelled, yet this pure, chaste, virgin af- 
fection cannot be forced ; it seems to be kind a of a 
peculiarity in the soul, though under the jurisdiction 
of the understanding. By this property of it, it is 
elegantly described by the Spirit of God, " If a 
man would give all the substance of his house for 
love, it would utterly be contemned." It cannot be 
bought with money, or money-worth, cannot be 
purchased with gifts or arts ; and if any should 
offer to bribe it, it would give him a sharp and 
scornful check, in the language of Peter to Simon, 
" Thy money perish with thee ;" love is no hireling, 
no base-born mercenary affection, but noble, free, 
and generous. Neither is it low-spirited and slav- 
ish, as fear is : therefore, when it comes to full age, 
it will not suffer the son of the bond-woman to di- 
vide the inheritance, the dominions of the soul with 
it; when it comes to be "perfect, it casteth out 
fear,"" says the Apostle. Neither indeed is it di- 
rectly under the authority of any law, whether hu- 
man or divine : it is not begotten by the influence 
of a divine law, as a law, but as holy, just, and 
good, as we shall see more anon : the law of love ; 
or, if you will, in the Apostle's phrase, "the spirit 
of love, and of power ,^' in opposition to the spirit of 
fear, doth more influence the believer in his pur- 


suit of God than any law without him : this is as a 
win ST to the soul ; whereas outward commandments 
are but as guides in his way, or, at most, but as 
spurs in his sides. 

The same I may say of holy delight in God, 
which is indeed the flower of love, or love grown up 
to its full age and stature, which hath no torment 
in it, and consequently no force upon it. Like 
unto which are holy confidence, faith, and hope, 
ingenuous and natural acts of the religious soul, 
whereby it hastens into the divine embraces, *•' as the 
eagle hasteneth to the prey," swiftly and speedily, 
and not by force and constraint, " as a fool to the 
correction of the stocks,'** or a bear to the stake. 
These are all genuine offsprings of holy religion in 
the soul, and they are utterly incapable of force ; 
violence is contrary to the nature of them ; for to 
use the Apostle's words, with the change of one 
word, " Hope that is forced, is not hope.'"* 

Now a little farther to explain this excellent pro- 
perty of true religion, we may a little consider the 
author, and the object of it. 

The author of this noble and free principle is 
God himself, who hath made it a partaker of his own 
nature, the agency of which is free ; himself is the 
fountain of his own acts. The uncreated life and 
liberty hath given this privilege to the religious 
soul, in some sense, to have life and liberty in itself, 
and a dominion over its own acts. I do not know 
that any created being in the world hath more of 



divinity in it than the soul of man, as Cicero ex- 
presses himself; nor that anything in the soul doth 
more resemble the divine essence, than the noble 
freedom which the soul hath in itself; which freedom 
is never so divine and generous, as when it has 
God himself for its object. This excellent freedom 
is something of God in the soul of man, and there- 
fore may justly claim the free spirit for its author ; 
or the Son of God for its origin, according to that 
expression in John viii. 36, " If the Son shall make 
you free, then shall ye be free indeed." 

But here it may be demanded, whether the com- 
mand of God doth not actuate the pious soul, and set 
it upon its holy emotions ? I confess indeed that the 
command of God is much eyed by a godly man, 
and is of great weight with him, and does in some 
sense lay a constraint upon him ; but yet I think 
not so much the authority of the law, as the rea- 
sonableness and goodness of it, prevail principally 
with him. The religious soul does not so much 
eye the law under the notion of a command, as 
under the notion of holy, just, and good, as the 
Apostle speaks, and so embraces it, chooses it, and 
longs to be perfectly conformable to it. I do not 
think it so proper to say that a good man loves 
God, and all righteousness and holiness, and reli- 
gious duties, by virtue of a command to do so, as 
by virtue of a new nature that God hath put into 
him, which doth instruct and prompt him so to do. 
A religious soul being reconciled to the nature of 


God, does embrace all his laws by virtue of the 
equitableness and perfection that he sees in them ; 
not because they are commanded, but because they 
are in themselves to be desired, as David speaks, 
Psal. xix. 1 0. In which Psalm the holy man gives 
us a full account why he did so love and esteem the 
laws and commandments of God, namely, because 
they are perfect, right, pure, clean, true, sweet, and 
lovely, as you will find, ver. 7 — 10. To love the 
Lord our God with all our heart, and strength, and 
mind, is not only a duty, by virtue of that first and 
great commandment that doth require it ; but in- 
deed the highest privilege, honour, and happiness 
of the soul. To this purpose may that profession 
of the Psalmist's be applied — " I have chosen thy 
precepts ;'"* and, " I have chosen the way of truth." 
Choosing is an act of judgment and understanding, 
and respects the quality of the thing, more than the 
authority of the command. David did not stumble 
into the way of truth accidentally, by virtue of his 
education, or acquaintance, or the like circumstance; 
nor was he lashed or driven into it by the mere 
severity of a law without him ; but he chose the 
way of truth, as that which was indeed most eligible, 
pleasant, and desirable. What our blessed Saviour 
says concerning himself, is also true of every true 
Christian in his measure ; he makes it his meat and 
drink to do the will of God. Now, we know that 
men do not eat and drink because physicians pre- 
scribe it as a means to preserve life ; but the sensual 


appetite is carried out towards food, because it is 
good, sweet, and suitable: and so the spiritual 
appetite is carried out towards spiritual food, not so 
much by the force of an external precept, as by the 
attractive power of that higher good which it finds 
suitable and sufficient for it. As for the object of 
this free and generous spirit of religion, it is no 
other than God himself principally and ultimately, 
and other things only as they are subservient to 
the enjoyment of him. God, as the Supreme Good, 
able to fill, and perfectly satisfy all the wants and 
indigencies of the soul, and so to make it wholly and 
eternally happy, is the proper object of the souFs 
most free and cheerful movements. The soul eyes 
God as the perfect and absolute Good, and God in 
Christ as an attainable good, and so finds every -way 
enough in this object, to encourage it to pursue 
after him, and throw himself upon him. Religion 
fixes upon God, as upon its own centre, as upon its 
proper and adequate object ; it views God as the 
infinite and absolute Good, and so is drawn to him 
without any external force. The pious soul is over- 
powered indeed, but it is only with the infinite 
goodness of God, which exercises its sovereignty 
over all the faculties of the soul : which overpower- 
ing is so far from straitening or pinching it, that it 
makes it truly free and generous in its motions. 
Religion wings the soul, and makes it take a flight 
freely and swiftly towards God and eternal life : it 
is of God, and by a sympathy that it hath with 


him, it carries the soul out after him, and into con- 
junction with him. In a word, the pious soul being 
loosed from self-love, emptied of self-fulness, beaten 
out of all self-satisfaction, and delivered from all self- 
confining lusts, wills, interests, and ends, and being 
mightily overcome with a sense of a higher and 
more excellent good, goes after that freely, centres 
upon it firmly, grasps after it continually, and had 
rather be that than what itself is, as seeing that 
the nature of that Supreme Good is infinitely more 
excellent and desirable than its own. 

Thus have I briefly explained and confirmed the 
freeness of this principle in tlie truly pious soul : 
I would now make some little improvement of it, 
but that it seems needful I should here interweave 
a cautionary concession or two. 

1. It must be granted, that some things without 
the soul may be motives, in our common sense, and 
encouragements to the soul to quicken, and hasten, 
and strengthen it in its religious acts. Though 
grace be an internal principle, and most free from 
any constraint, yet it may be excited, or stirred up, 
as the Apostle speaks, 2 Tim. i. 6, by such means as 
God hath appointed hereunto, as prayer, meditation, 
reading, as the Apostle intimates in the body of 
that fore-quoted Epistle. But perhaps there will a 
question arise concerning some other things, which 
may seem to lay a constraint upon the spirits of 
men. I deny not but that tlie seemingly religious 
emotions of many men are merely violent, and their 

u 3 ' '. 



devotion is purely forced, as we shall see by and by ; 
but I affirm, and I think have confirmed it, that 
true and sincere religion is perfectly free and un- 
constrained. This being premised ; now, if you ask 
me, what I think of aflSictions ; I confess God doth 
ordinarily use them as means to make good men 
better, and it may be sometimes to make bad men 
good : these may be as weights to hasten and speed 
the souFs motion towards God, but they do not 
principally originate such motions. If you ask me of 
temporal prosperity, commonly called mercies and 
blessings, of promises and rewards propounded ; I 
confess they may be as oil to the wheels, and ought 
to quicken and encourage to the study of true and 
powerful godliness ; but they are not the spring of 
the souFs emotions ; they ought to be unto us, as 
dew upon the grass to refresh and fructify the soul ; 
but it is the root which properly gives life and 

% It may be granted, that there is a kind of 
constraint and necessity lying upon the pious soul 
in its holy and most excellent motions : according 
to that of the Apostle — " The love of Christ con- 
straineth us ;" and again — " Necessity is laid upon 
me*" to preach the gospel. But yet it holds good, 
that grace is a most free principle in the soul, and 
that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 
For the constraint that the Apostle speaks of is 
not opposed to freedom of soul, but to not acting ; 
»ow although the soul, so principled and spirited, 


cannot but act, yet it acts freely. Those things 
that are according to nature, though they be done 
necessarily, yet are they done with the greatest 
freedom imaginable. The water flows, and the fire 
burns necessarily yet freely. Religion is a new na- 
ture in the soul ; and the religious soul being 
touched effectually with the sense, and impressed 
with the influences of divine goodness, fulness, and 
perfection, is carried indeed necessarily towards God, 
as its proper centre, and yet its motions are pure, 
free, generous, and with the greatest delight and 
pleasure conceivable. The necessity that lay upon 
Paul to preach the gospel is not to be understood of 
any external violence that was done to him, much 
less of bodily necessity, by reason of which many 
men serve their own bellies in that great function, 
more than the Lord Jesus ; for though he preached 
the gospel necessarily, yet did he preach freely and 
willingly, as he often professeth. The pious man 
cannot but love God as his chief good, yet he 
delights in this necessity under which he lieth, and 
is exceeding glad that he finds his heart framed 
and enlarged to love him. I say enlarged, because 
God is such an object, as does not contract and pinch 
and straiten the soul, as all created objects do, but 
ennoble, ampliate, and enlarge it. The sinful soul, 
the more it lets out, and lays out, and spends itself 
upon the creature, the more it is straitened and 
contracted, and the native freedom of it is enslaved, 
debased, and destroyed; but grace does establish 


and ennoble the freedom of the soul, and restore it 
to its primitive perfection : so that a pious soul 
is never more at large, more at rest, more at liberty, 
than when it finds itself delivered from all self-con- 
fining creature-loves and passions and under the 
most powerful influences and constraint of infinite 
love and goodness. 

By this that hath been said of the free and gene- 
rous spirit of true religion, we may learn what to 
think of the forced devotion of many pressed soldiers 
of Christ in his church militant ; that there is a 
vast difference and distance between the pressed, 
and unpressed Christian. Though indeed the free- 
dom of the will cannot be destroyed, yet, in opposi- 
tion to a principle, many men''s devotion may be 
said to be wrung out of them, and their obedience 
may be said to be constrained. 1 shall explain it 
briefly in two or three particulars. 

(1.) Men force themselves, many times, to some 
things in religion that are besides, yea, and against 
their nature and genius. I need not instance in a 
slight conformity to the letter of the law, and some 
external duties which they force themselves to per- 
form, as to hear, pray, give alms, or the like : in all 
which the violent and unnatural obedience of a 
Pharisee may be more popular and specious, than 
the true and genuine obedience of a free-born dis- 
ciple of Jesus Christ. If going on hunting, and 
catching of venison might denominate a good and 
dutiful son, Esau may indeed be as acceptable t& 


his father as Jacob ; but God is not such a father 
as Isaac, whose affections were bribed with fat mor- 
sels ; he feeds not upon the pains of his children, 
nor lives on the sweat of their brows. I doubt not 
but that an unprincipled Christian, that hath the 
heart of a slave, may also force himself to imitate the 
more spiritual part of religion, and, as it were, to 
act over the very temper and disposition of a son of 
God. Therefore we read of a semblance of joy 
and zeal which was found in some, whom yet our 
Saviour reckons no better than stony ground, and 
of great ecstasies in others, whom yet the Apostle 
supposes may come to nothing, and what appear- 
ance of the most excellent and divine graces of pa- 
tience, and contempt of the world, many of the 
sourer sort of monastical devotees, and our mongrel 
breed of CathoUcs, the Quakers, do make at this day, 
all men know : nay, some of the last sort do seem 
to themselves, I believe, to act over the temper and 
experience of the chief Apostles, rejoicing with 
Peter, and the rest, that they are "counted worthy 
to suffer shame,""' and keeping a catalogue of their 
stripes with Paul, and in these things I am confident, 
to use the Apostle's words, that they think them- 
selves "not a whit behind the very chief Apos- 
tles :'' nay, they are not ashamed to lay claim to 
that grace of graces, self-denial, which they have 
forced themselves to act over so artificially, that 
even a wise man might almost be deceived into a 
favourable opinion of them, but that we know that 



whilst they profess it they destroy it ; for it is con- 
trary to the nature of self-denial, to magnify and 
boast itself: and indeed it is very evident to a wise 
observer, that these men, by a pretence of volun- 
tary humility, and counterfeit self-denial, do, in 
truth, endeavour most of all to establish their own 
righteousness, and erect an idol of self-supremacy in 
themselves, and do really fall in love with an 
avTapKua, or self-sufficiency, instead of the infinite 
fulness of God. 

Now there seem to be three things in a formal 
hypocrite that do especially force a kind of devo- 
tion, and show of religion from him, namely, con- 
sciousness of guilt, self-love, and false apprehensions 
of God. 1st. There is in all men a natural con- 
sciousness of guilt, arising from that imperfect and 
glimmering light they have of God, and of their 
duty towards him ; which, though it be in some 
men more quick and stinging, in others more re- 
miss and languid, yet, I think, is not utterly ex- 
tinguished and choked, no, not in the worst and 
most dissolute men, but that it doth sometimes be- 
get a bitter sadness in the midst of their sweetest 
merriments, and doth disturb their most supine and 
secure rest, by fastening its stings in their very 
souls at some time or other, and filling them with 
agonies and anguish, and haunting them with 
dreadful apparitions, which they cannot be per- 
fectly rid of, any more than they can run away from 
themselves. This foundation of hell is laid in the 


bowels of sin itself, as a preface to eternal horror. 
Now, although some more profligate and desperate 
wretches do furiously bluster through these briars, 
yet others are so caught in them, that they cannot 
escape these pangs and throes, except they make a 
composition, and enter into terms to live more ho- 
nestly, or at least, less scandalously. In which un- 
dertaking they are carried on in the second place, 
by the power of self-love, or a natural desire of self- 
preservation : for the worst of men hath so much 
reason left him, that he could wish that himself 
were happy, though he hath not so much light as to 
discover, nor so much true freedom of will as to 
choose, the right way to happiness. Conscience 
having discovered the certain reward and wages of 
sin, self-love will easily prompt men to do something 
or other to escape it. But now, what shall they 
do ? why, religion is the only expedient that can be 
found out ; and therefore they begin to think how 
they may become friends with God ; they will up 
and be doing. But how come they to run into so 
great a mistake about religion ? why, their false and 
gross apprehensions of God, in the third place, do 
drive them from him, in the way of superstition 
and hypocrisy, instead of leading them in the way 
of sincere love, and self-resignation to him. Self 
being the great Diana of every natural man, and 
the only standard by which he measures all things, 
he knows not how to judge of God himself, but by 
this ; and so he comes to fancy God in a dreadful 


manner, as an austere, passionate, surly, revengeful 
majesty, and so something must be done to appease 
him : but yet he fancies this angry Deity to be of 
an impotent, mercenary temper like himself, and 
not hard to be appeased either ; and so imagines 
that some cheap services, specious oblations, ex- 
ternal courtesies, will engage him, and make him a 
friend ; a sheep, or a goat, or a bullock, under the 
Old Testament ; a prayer, or a sacrament, or an 
alms, under the New : for it is reconciliation to an 
angry God that he aims at, not union with a good 
God ; he seeks to be reconciled to God, not united 
to him, though indeed these two can never be 
divided. Thus we see how a man void of the life 
and spirit of religion, yet forces himself to do God 
a kind of worship, and pay him a kind of homage. 

(2.) Sometimes men may be said, in a sense, to be 
forced by other men, to put on a mask of holiness, 
a dress of religion. And this constraint men may 
lay upon men by their tongues, hands, and eyes. 
By their tongues, in the business of education, often 
and ardent exhortation and inculcation of things 
divine and heavenly ; and thus an unjust man, like 
the unjust judge in the gospel, though he fear not 
God sincerely, yet may be overcome by the impor- 
tunity of his father, friend, minister, tutor, to do 
some righteous acts. This seems to have been the 
case of Joash king of Judah, the spring-head of 
whose religion was no higher than the instructions 
of his tutor and guardian Jehoiada the high-priest. 


By their hands ; that is, either by the enacting and 
executing of penal laws upon them, or by the holy 
example which they continually set before them. 
By their eyes ; that is, by continually observing 
and watching their behaviour ; when many eyes are 
upon men, they must do something to satisfy the 
expectations of others, and purchase a reputation to 
themselves. It may be said, that sometimes God 
doth lay an external force upon men ; as particu- 
larly by his severe judgments, or threatenings of 
judgments, awakening them, humbling them, and 
constraining them to some kind of worship and reli- 
gion. Such a forced devotion as this was the hu- 
miliation of Ahab, and the supplication of Saul. 
For God himself acting upon men, only from with- 
out them, is far from producing a living principle 
of free and noble religion in the sovd. 

Now, the better to discern this forced and violent 
religion, I will briefly describe it by three or four of 
its properties, with which I will shut up this point. 

1. This forced religion is, for the most part, dry 
and spiritless. I know, indeed, that fancy may be 
screwed up to a high pitch of joy and transport, so 
as to raise the mind into a kind of rapture, as I 
have formerly hinted in my discourse upon these 
words. A mere artificial and counterfeit Christian 
may be so strongly acted on by imagination, and the 
power of self-love, that he may seem to himself to 
be fuller of God than the sober and constant soul. 
You may sec hov/ the hypocritical Pharisees, swol- 



len with self-conceit, gloried over the poor man that 
had been blind, but now saw more than all they : 
" Thou wast altogether born in sin, and dost thou 
teach us?" — and indeed over the whole people, 
" This people that knoweth not the law is cursed." 
A counterfeit Christian may rise high as a meteor, 
and blaze much as a comet, which is yet drawn up 
by mere force from the surface of the earth or water. 
And as to the external and visible acts and duties 
of religion, which depend much upon the temper 
and constitution of the body, it may easily be con- 
ceived and accounted for, how the mimical and me- 
chanical Christian may rise higher in these, and be 
more zealous, watchful, and cheerful, than many 
truly religious and sincere men, as having greater 
power of quickness and fancy, and a greater portion 
of animal spirits ; upon which the motions and ac- 
tions of the body do mainly depend. The animal 
spirits may so nimbly serve the soul in these corporal 
acts, that the whole transaction may be a fair imita- 
tion of the motions of the divine Spirit, and one would 
verily think there were a gracious principle in the 
soul itself This seems to be notably exemplified in 
Captain Jehu, whose religious actions, as he would 
fain have them be esteemed, were indeed rather 
fury than zeal, and proceeded more from his own 
fiery spirits, than from that spirit of fire, or spirit of 
burning, which is of God. But commonly this 
forced devotion is jejune and dry, void of zeal and 
warmth, and drives on heavily in pursuit of the God 


of Israel, as Pharaoh did in pursuit of the Israel of 
God, when his chariot-wheels were taken off. God's 
drawing the soul from within, as a principle, doth 
indeed cause that soul to run after him, but you 
know the motion of those things that are drawn by 
external force is commonly heavy, slow, and languid. 
2. This forced religion is penurious and needy. 
Something the slavish-spirited Christian must do 
to appease an angry God, or to allay a storming 
conscience, as I hinted before ; but it shall be as 
little as may be. He is ready to grudge God so 
much of his time and strength, and to find fault that 
Sabbaths come so thick, and last so long, and that 
duties are to be performed so often : so he is de- 
scribed by the Prophet, "When will the Sabbath 
be past, and the new moon gone ? "" But yet I will 
not deny, but that this kind of religion may be very 
liberal and expensive too, and run out much into 
the branches of external duties, as is the manner of 
many trees that bear no fruit ; for so did the base 
spirit of the Pharisees, whose often fasting, and 
long praying, is recorded by our Saviour in the 
gospel, but not with approbation. Therefore these 
are not the things by which you must take mea- 
sure, and make estimate of your religion. But in 
the great things of the law, in the grand duties of 
mortification, self-denial, and resignation ; here this 
forced religion is always very stingy and penurious. 
In the duties that do nearly touch upon their be- 
loved lusts, they will be as strict with God as may 


be, they will break with him for a small matter : 
God must have no more than his due, as they 
blasphemously phrase it in their hearts ; with the 
slothful servant in the gospel, "Lo, there thou hast 
that is thine ; '' self and the world sure may be al- 
lowed the rest. They will not part with all for 
Christ. Is it not a little one ? let me escape thi- 
ther, and take up my abode there, said Lot. They 
will not give up themselves entirely unto God ; 
"the Lord pardon me in this one thing,"" cries 
Naaman ; so they, in this or that, let God hold me 
excused. The slavish-spirited Christian is never 
more shrunk up within himself, than when he is to 
converse with God indeed : but the pious soul is 
never freer, larger, gladder, than when he doth most 
intimately and familiarly converse with God. The 
soul that is free as to liberty, is free also as to libe- 
rality and expenses ; and that not only in external, 
but internal and spiritual obedience, and compli- 
ance with the will of God ; he gives himself wholly 
up to God, knows no interest of his own, keeps no 
reserve for himself, or for the creature. 

3. This forced religion is uneven, as depending 
upon inconstant causes. As land-floods, that have 
no spring within themselves, vary their motions, 
are swift and slow, high and low, according as they 
are supplied with rain ; even so these men's mo- 
tions in religion, depending upon fancy for the 
most part, than which nothing is more fickle and 
flitting, have no constancy nor consistency in them. 


I know indeed, that the spirits of the best men can- 
not always keep one pace, nor their lives be always 
of one piece ; but yet they are never willingly quite 
out of the call or compass of religion. But this I 
also touched upon formerly. Therefore, 

4. This forced religion is not permanent. The 
meteors will down again, and be choked in the 
earth whence they arose. Take away the weight, 
and the motion ceases ; take away Jehoiada, and 
Joash stands still, yea, runs backward. But this I 
shall speak more to, when I come to speak of the 
last property of religion, namely, its perseverance. 

M :^ 




The active and vigorous nature of' true religion proved 
by many scriptural phrases of the most porverful im- 
portance — more particularly explained in three things 
— 1. In the soul's continual care and study to be 
good — 2. In its care to do good — 3. In its powerful 
and incessant longings after the most full enjoyment 
of God. 

I COME now to the second property of true religion, 
which is to be found in this phrase, " springing up," 
or leaping up ; wherein the activity and vigorous- 
ness of it is described. Keligion, though it be com- 
pared to water, yet is no standing pool of water, but 
" a well of water springing up."" And here the pro- 
position that I shall establish, is, " That true reli- 
gion is active and vigorous." It is no lazy and 
languid thing, but full of life and power : so I find 
it every where described in scripture, by things that 
are most active, lively, vigorous, operative, spread- 
ing, powerful, and sometimes even by motion itself. 
As sin is, in scripture, described by death and dark- 
ness, which are a cessation and privation of life, 
and light, and motion : so religion is described by 
life, which is active and vigorous ; by an angelical 
life, which is spiritual and powerful ; yea, a divine 
life, which is, as I may say, most lively and vivaci- 
ous. " Christ liveth in me," and the production of 


this new nature in the soul is called a quickening, 
"And you hath he quickened, who were dead in 
trespasses and sins;'"* and the reception of it, a 
"passing from death unto life."*' Again, as sin and 
wickedness are described by flesh, which is sluggish 
and inactive, so this holy principle in the soul is 
called spirit, " The spirit lusteth against the flesh ;^"' 
yea, the "spirit of power,'" and the "spirit of life," 
— " The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath 
made me free from the law of sin and death/^ How 
can the power and activity of any principle be more 
commended, than by saying it is life, and the " spi- 
rit of life," and "the law of the spirit of life" in the 
soul ? which hath made me sometimes to apply 
those words of the Prophet, as a description of every 
pious soul, " I am full of power and might by the 
Spirit of the Lord." 

Yea, further, the holy Apostle seems to describe 
a godly principle in the soul by activity and motion 
itself, Phil. iii. 12, 13, 14; where he gives this ex- 
cellent character of himself, and this lively descrip- 
tion of his religious disposition, as if it were nothing 
else but activity and fervour ; I follow after, that I 
may apprehend ; I forget those things that are be- 
hind, and reach forth unto those things that are 
before ; I press towards the mark, &c. It were too 
much to comment upon those phrases of like im- 
portance, "labouring, seeking, striving, fighting, 
running, wrestling, panting, longing, hungering, 
thirsting, watching," and many others, which the 


Holy Ghost makes use of in the scriptures, to 
express the active, industrious, vigorous, diligent, 
and powerful nature of this divine principle, which 
God hath put into the souls of his people. The 
streams of divine grace, which flow forth from the 
throne of God, and of the Lamb, into the souls 
of men, do not cleanse them, and so pass away, 
like some violent land-flood, that washes the fields 
and meadows, and so leaves them to contract as 
much filth as ever ; but the same becomes a " well 
of water," continually springing up, boiling, and 
bubbling, and working in the soul, and sending out 
fresh rivers, as our Saviour calls them — "Out of his 
belly shall flow rivers of living water/** 

But, more particularly to unfold the active na- 
ture of this divine principle in the soul, we shall 
consider it in these three particulars, namely, as it 
is still conforming to God, doing for him, and long- 
ing after him. 

1. The active and sprightly nature of true god- 
liness, or religion planted by God in the soul, 
shows itself in a continued care and study to be 
good, to conform more and more to the nature 
of the blessed God, the glorious pattern of all per- 
fection. The nature of God being infinitely and 
absolutely perfect, is the only rule of perfection to 
the creature. If we speak of goodness, our Saviour 
tells us, that God alone is good; of wisdom, the 
Apostle tells us, that God is only wise ; of power, 
he is omnipotent ; of mercy and kindness, he is 

niMAwr.L. 129 

love itself. Men are only good by way of partici- 
pation from God, and in a way of assimilation to 
him : so that, though good men may be imitated, 
and followed, yet it must be with this limitation, 
as far as they are followers of God : the great 
Apostle durst not press his example any further 
— " Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of 
Christ.*" But the nature of God being infinitely 
and absolutely perfect, is to be eyed and imitated 
singly, entirely, universally, in all things where- 
in the creature is capable of following him, and 
becoming like unto him. So Christians are required 
to look up unto the Father of lights, the foun- 
tain of all perfections, and to take from him the pat- 
tern of their dispositions, and conversation, and to 
eye him, continually, and eyeing him, to derive an 
image of him, not into their eye, as we do by sen- 
sible objects, but into their souls, to polish and 
frame them into the most clear and lively resem- 
blances of him ; that is, in the language of scripture, 
to be " perfect, as their heavenly Father is perfect,^ 
to be " holy as God is holy." And thus the genu- 
ine children of God are described by the Holy 
Ghost, they are " followers of God.'' This is the 
shortest, but the surest and clearest mark that can 
be given of a good man, "a follower of God." They 
are not owned for the children of God, who are 
created by him, nor they who have a notional know- 
ledge of him, who profess him, or exhibit some ex- 
ternal worship and service to him in the world, but 


they that imitate him : the true children of Abra- 
ham were not those that were descended from him, 
or boasted of him, but they that did the works of 
Abraham, John viii. 39 ; even so are they only the 
offspring of heaven, the true and dear children of the 
living God, who are followers of him ; " be ye fol- 
lowers of God as dear children.'"' A pious soul hav- 
ing its eyes opened, to behold the infinite beauty, 
purity, and perfection, of that good God, whose na- 
ture is the very fountain, and must, therefore, be 
the rule of all goodness, presently comes to under- 
value all created excellencies, both in itself, and all 
the world besides, as to any satisfaction that is to be 
had in them, or any perfection that can be acquired 
by them, and cannot endure to take up with any 
lower good, or live by any lower rule than God him- 
self. A pious man, having the unclean and re- 
bellious spirit cast out, and being once reconciled 
to the nature of God, is daily labouring to be more 
intimately united thereunto, and to be all that God 
is, as far as he is capable, — the nature of God being 
infinitely more pure and perfect, and more desirable 
than his own. Religion is a participation of life 
from him, who is life itself, and so must needs be an 
active principle, spreading itself in the soul, and 
causing the soul to spread itself in God : and, there- 
fore, the kingdom of heaven, which, in many places 
of the gospel, 1 take to be nothing else but this di- 
vine principle in the soul, which is both the truest 
heaven, and most properly a kingdom (for thereby 


God doth most powerfully reign and exercise his 
sovereignty, and most excellently display and mani- 
fest his glory in the world) is compared to " seed 
sown in good ground,'" which both springeth up 
into a blade, and bringeth forth fruit ; to mustard- 
seed, which spreadeth itself, and groweth great, so 
that the birds of the air may lodge in the branches 
thereof; to leaven, spreading itself through the 
whole quantity of meal, and leavening the whole, 
and all the parts of it. By a like similitude, the 
path of the just is compared to a shining light, 
whose glory and lustre increaseth continually, "shin- 
ing more and more unto the perfect day ;" which 
continual growing up of the holy soul into God, is 
excellently described by the Apostle, in an elegant 
metaphor, " 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 ;" that is, from 
one resemblance of divine glory to another. The 
gracious soul not being contented with its present 
attainments, and having in its eye a perfect and 
absolute good, forgets that which is behind, and la- 
bours, prays, strives, and studies, to get the per- 
fections of God more clearly copied out upon itself, 
and itself, as much as may be, swallowed up in the 
divinity. It covets earnestly these best things, to 
be perfected in grace and holiness, to have divine 
characters more fair and legible, divine impressions 
more deep and lively, divine life more strong and 
powerful, and the communicable image of the blessed 


God spread quite over it, and through it. A pious 
soul is not content to receive of Christ's fulness, but 
labours to be filled with the fulness, with all the 
fulness of God ; he rejoices indeed that he hath re- 
ceived of Christ grace for grace, as a child hath 
limb for limb with his father; but this his joy is not 
fulfilled, except he find himself adding daily some 
cubits to his infant-stature ; nor indeed then either, 
nor can it be, until he come to the measure of the 
stature of his Lord, and be grown up unto him in 
all things who is the head, even Christ. He de- 
lights and glories in God, beholding his spices 
growing in his soul; but that does not satisfy him, 
except he may see them flowing out also. He is 
neither barren nor unfruitful, as the Apostle Peter 
speaks ; but that is not enough, he desires to be 
fat and fruitful also, as a watered garden, as the 
Prophet expresseth it, even as the garden of God. 
The spirit lusteth against the flesh, and struggles 
with it in the same womb of the soul, as Jacob with 
Esau, until he had cast him out. The seed of 
God warreth continually against the seed of the 
serpent, raging and restless, like Jehu, shooting, 
and stabbing, and strangling all he meets with, till 
none at all remain of the family of that Ahab who 
had formerly been his master. O how does the 
pious and devout soul long to have Christ's victory 
carried on in itself, to have Christ going on in him 
conquering and to conquer, till at length the very 
last cnemv be subdued, that tlic Prince of Peace 


may ride triumphantly through all the coasts and 
regions of his heart and life, and not so much as a 
dog move his tongue against him ! This holy 
principle which is of God in the soul, is actually 
industrious too ; it doth not fold the arms together, 
hide its hand in its bosom, faintly wishing to obtain 
a final conquest over its enemies, but advances itself 
with a noble stoutness against lusts and passions, 
even as the sun glorieth against the darkness of the 
night, until it have chased it all away. The pious 
soul puts itself under the banner of Christ, fights 
under the conduct of the angel of God's presence, 
and so marches up undauntedly against the children 
of Anak, those earthly loves, lusts, sensual affec- 
tions, which are indeed taller and stronger than all 
other enemies that encounter it in this wilderness 
state : and the gracious God is not wanting to such 
endeavours, he " remembering his promise, helpeth 
his servant," even that promise, that "they that 
wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength."" 
A true Israelitish soul, impregnated with this noble 
and heroic principle, is not like those slothful Is- 
raelites, that were content with what they had got 
of the holy land, and either could not, or cared not 
to enlarge their border. But he makes war upon 
the remainder of the Canaanites, and is never at 
rest until he have, with Sarah, cast out the bond- 
woman and her son too. You may see an emblem 
of such a soul in Moses holding up his hands all 
the day long, till Amalek was quite discomfited, 



Exod. xvii. 12. As often as the floods of tempta- 
tion, springing from the devil, the world, or the 
flesh, do offer to come in upon him, he opposeth 
them in the strength of Christ ; or, if you will, in 
the Prophet's phrase, " The Spirit of the Lord lift- 
eth up a standard against them ;" so that he is not 
carried down by them, or, at least, not overwhelmed 
with them. In the beginning of my discourse upon 
this head, I hinted to you the reason why the pious 
soul continually studies conformity to God, even 
because he is the perfect and absolute Good, and 
the soul reckons that its happiness consists only in 
being like unto him, in partaking of a divine nature. 
But I might also here take occasion to speak of 
three things, which I will but briefly name, and so 
pass on. 

(1.) A godly man reckons with himself, that con- 
formity to the image and nature of God, is the most 
proper conversing with God in the world. The 
great, and indeed only employment of an immortal 
soul, is to converse with its Creator ; for this end 
it was made, and made so capacious as we see it : 
now, to partake of a divine nature, to be endued 
with a God-like disposition, is most properly to con- 
verse with God ; this is a real, powerful, practical, 
and feeling converse with him, infinitely to be pre- 
ferred before all notions, professions, performances, 
or speculations. 

(2.) A godly man reckons that the image of God 
is the glory and ornament of the soul; it is the 

IMMANl'KL. J '35 

lustre, and brightness, and beauty of tlie soul, as 
the soul is of the body. Holiness is not only the 
duty, but the highest honour and dignity that any 
created nature is capable of: and therefore the pious 
soul, who liath his senses exercised to discern good 
and evil, pursues after it, as after his full and pro- 
per perfection. 

(3.) A godly man reckons, that conformity to 
the divine image, participation of a divine nature, 
is the surest and most comfortable evidence of divine 
love, which is a matter of so great inquiry in the 
world. By growing up daily in Christ Jesus, we 
are infallibly assured of our implantation into him. 
The Spirit of God descending upon the soul in the 
impressions of meekness, kindness, uprightness, 
which is a dove-like disposition, is a better, and 
more desirable evidence of our sonship, and God''s 
favour towards us, than if we had the Spirit de- 
scending upon our heads in a dove-like shape, as 
it did upon our blessed Saviour. These are the 
reasons, why the sincere Christian, above all 
things, labours to become God-like, to be formed 
more and more into a resemblance of the Supreme 
Good, and to drink in divine perfection into the 
very inmost of his soul. 

2. The active and industrious nature of true god- 
liness, or religion, manifests itself in a good man's 
continual care, and study to do good, to serve the 
interest of the holy and blessed God in the world. 
A good man being mastered with the sense of tlie 


infinite goodness of God, and the great end of his 
life, cannot think it worth while to spend himself for 
any inferior good, or bestow his time and strength 
for any lower end than that is ; and therefore, as it 
is the main happiness of his life to enjoy God, so 
he makes it the main business of his life to serve 
him, to be doing for him, to lay out himself for 
him, and to display, and propagate his glory in the 
world. And, as he is filled with apprehensions 
of the Supreme Goodness, which doth infinitely 
deserve, and may justly challenge, all that he can 
do or expend for him, so he doth indeed really par- 
take of the active and communicative nature of that 
blessed Being, and himself becomes active and com- 
municative too : a pious soul, sluggish and inactive, 
is as if one should say, a pious soul altogether un- 
like to God ; a pure contradiction. I cannot dwell 
upon any of those particular designs of serving the 
interest of God's glory, which a good man is still 
driving on in the v/orld : only this, in general, whe- 
ther he pray, or preach, or read, or celebrate Sab- 
baths, or administer private reproof or instruction, 
or indeed plough or sow, eat or drink, all this while 
he lives not to himself, but serves a higher interest 
than that of the flesh, and a higher good than him- 
self, or any created being. A true christian acti- 
vity doth not only appear in those things which we 
call duties of worship, or religious performances ; 
but in the whole frame of the heart contriving, and 
the conversation expressing and unfolding the glory 

l,^[ MANUEL. Ii37 

of God. A lioly, serious, heavenly, humble, sober, 
righteous, and self-denying course of life, does most 
excellently express the divine glory, by imitating 
the nature of God, and most effectually calls all men 
to the imitation of it ; according as our Saviour 
hath nakedly stated the case, " Hereby is my Father 
glorified, that ye bring forth much fruit:'" by which 
fruits are not to be understood only preaching, pray- 
ing, conference, which are indeed high and excel- 
lent duties ; but also righteousness, temperance, 
self-denial, which things are pure reflections of the 
divine image, iind a real glorifying of God"'s name 
and perfections. A good Christian cannot be con- 
tent to be happy alone, to be still drawing down 
lieaven into his own soul ; but he endeavours also 
by prayer, counsel, and holy example, to draw up 
the souls of otlier men heaven-ward. This God 
witnesseth of Abraham, "I know him, that he will 
command his children, and his household after him, 
and they shall keep the way of the Lord. And this 
Moses doth excellently witness of himself in that 
holy rapture of his, " Would God that all the 
Lord"*s people were prophets, and that the Lord 
would put his Spirit upon them ;*" By such exam- 
ples as these a good man desires to live, yea, by 
higher precedents than either Abraham or Moses, 
even by the example of the Father and of the Son : 
he admires and strives to imitate that character 
which is given of God himself, " Thou art good, 
ijnd dost good f' and that which is given of Christ- 



Jesus, the Lord of life, who "went about doing 
good :*" who also witnessed elsewhere concerning 
himself, that he came not into the world to do his 
own will, nor seek his own glory, but the will and 
glory of him that sent him : and again, " Wist ye 
not that I must be about my Father's business ? "" 
O how happy would the pious soul count itself, if it 
could but live and converse in the world, in the 
same manner, and with the same devout, fervent, 
exalted spirit, as Christ Jesus did, whose meat and 
drink it was still to be doing the will, and advanc- 
ing the glory of his Father ! But, alas ! the poor 
soul finds itself ensnared by passions, and selfish 
affections from within, clogged with an unwieldy 
body, and distracted with secular affairs from with- 
out, that it cannot rise so nimbly, run so swiftly, 
nor serve the infinite and glorious God so cheerfully, 
nor liberally, as it would ; and therefore the poor 
prisoner sighs within itself, and wishes that it 
might escape : but finding a certain time deter- 
mined upon it in the body, which it must be con- 
tent to live out, it looks up, and is ready to envy 
the angels of God, because it cannot live as they do, 
who are always upon God's errand, and almost 
thinks much that itself is not a ministering spirit, 
serving the pure and perfect will of the Supreme 
Good, without grudging or ceasing. The pious 
soul, under these powerful apprehensions of the na- 
ture of God, the example of Christ, and the ho- 
nourable office of the holy angels, is ready to grudge 


the body that attendance that it calls for, and those 
offices which it is forced to perform to it ; as judg- 
ing them impertinent to its main happiness, and 
most excellent employment; it is ready to envy 
that more cheerful and willing service, which it 
finds from the heavy and drossy body with which 
it is united ; and to cry out, O that I were that to 
my God, which my body, my eyes, hands, and feet, 
are to me ! for I say to one of these, Go, and he 
goeth ; and to another, Do this, and he doth it. 
In a word, a good man being acquainted feelingly 
with the highest Good, eyeing diligently the great 
end of his coming into the world, and his short 
time of being in it, serves the eternal and blessed 
God, lives upon eternal designs, and by consecrat- 
ing all his actions unto God, gives a kind of immor- 
tality to them, which are in themselves flitting 
and transient : he counts it a reproach to any man, 
much more to a good man, to do anything insig- 
nificantly, much more to live impertinently ; and 
he reckons all things that have not a tendency to 
the highest Good, and a subserviency to the great 
and last end, to be impertinencies, yea, and absurd- 
ities in an immortal soul, which should continually 
be "springing up into everlasting life.'"* 

3. The active and vigorous nature of true reli- 
gion manifests itself in those powerful and incessant 
longings after God, with which it fills that soul 
in which it is planted. This I superadd to the two 
former, because the religious man^ though he be 

140 liniAXTKL. 

formed into some likeness to God, yet desires to 
be more like him ; and though he be somewhat ser- 
viceable to him, yet desires to be more instrumental 
in doing his will : though he be good, yet he de- 
sires to be better ; and though he do good, ye he 
desires to do better, or at least more. And, indeed, 
I reckon that these sincere and holy hungerings 
after God, which I am going to speak of, are one 
of the best signs that I know in the world of spiri- 
tual health, and the best criterion of a true Chris- 
tian : for, in this low and animal state, we are bet- 
ter acquainted with lovings and languishings, than 
with fruition or satisfaction; and the best enjoy- 
ment that we have of God in this world is but scant 
and short, indeed but a kind of longing to enjoy 
him. Love is certainly a high and noble affection; 
but, alas ! our love, whilst we are here in the body, 
is in its non-age, in its weak and sickly state, ra- 
ther a longing than a loving, much unlike to what 
it will be wlien it shall be grown up unto its perfect 
stature in glory. But this sickly kind of languish- 
ing affection is a certain symptom of a healthful 
constitution; or as the Apostle calls it, of '^the 
spirit of a sound mind."" Pious souls are thirsty 
souls, always gasping after the living springs of 
divine grace, even as the parched desart gapeth for 
the dew of heaven, the early and the latter rain. 
One would wonder what kind of magic there was in 
Elijah's mantle, that the very casting of it upon 
Elisha should make him le^ive oxen and plovigh^ 


yea, father and mother, and all, to run after a 
stranger: Elijah himself seems to wonder at it, 
*• What have I done to thee ?" O but what a 
mighty charm is there in divine love ! which when 
it is once shed abroad in the soul, makes the soul to 
spread itself in it and to it, as the sun-flower attend- 
ing the motions of the sun, and turning itself every 
way towards it, welcoming its warm and refreshing 
beams. Elijah passing by Elisha as he was at 
plough, and catching him with his mantle, is but a 
scant resemblance of the blessed God passing by a 
carnal mind, and wrapping it in the mantle of his 
love, and thereby causing it to run, yea, to fly swiftly 
after him. If divine grace do but once touch the 
soul, the soul presently adheres to it, as the needle 
to the loadstone. They that heard Christ Jesus chid- 
ing the winds and the waves, cried out, " What 
manner of man is this, that even the winds and the 
sea obey him ?^'' but if one had been present when 
he called James and John from their nets, Matthew 
from the custom-house, and Zaccheus from the tree, 
and by calling made them willing to come, he surely 
would have cried out, What manner of God is this ! 
that, by his bare word makes poor men leave their 
trades and livelihood, and rich men their gainful 
exactions, usuries, oppressions, to follow him, and 
shows them no reasons why. What a mighty vir- 
tue is there in the ointment of Christ's name, that 
as soon as it is poured out, the virgins fall in love 
with him ? Micah cried out when he was in pur- 

l^^" IMMAXrKL. 

suit of his gods, and should they ask him what 
ailed him ? And will ye wonder that a holy soul, 
in pursuit of the holy God, should be in earnest ; 
that he should run, and cry as he runs ? as I have 
seen a fond child whom the father or mother have 
endeavoured to leave behind them. God breathing 
into the soul, makes the soul breathe after him, and 
in a mixture of holy disdain and anger, to thrust 
away from itself all distracting companions, occa- 
sions, and concerns, saying with Ephraim to her 
idols, " Get ye hence." The soul thus inspired is 
so far from prostituting itself to any earthly, sensual, 
selfish lusts, and loves, that it cannot brook any- 
thing that would weaken it in the prosecution of 
the highest good; it is impatient of every thing 
that would either stop or slacken its motions after 
God. The pious man desires still to be doing 
something for God indeed ; but if the case so fall 
out, that he cannot spend his life for God as he 
desires, yet he will be spending his soul upon him : 
though he cannot perpetually abide upon the knee 
of prayer, yet he would be continually upon the 
wing of faith and love : when his tongue cleaves to 
the roof of his mouth, that he cannot speak for God, 
yet his soul will cleave uMto him, and complain 
because it can speak no longer ; for faith and love 
are knitting graces, and do long to make the soul 
as much one with their object, as is possible for the 
creature to be with its Creator. Religion puts a 
restless appetite into the soul after a higher Good, 

m MANUEL. 143 

and makes it throw itself into his arms, and wind 
itself into his embraces, longing to be in a more 
intimate conjunction with him, or rather entirely- 
wrapped up in him ; itself is an insatiable and 
covetous principle in the soul, much like to the 
daughter of the horseleech, crying continually, 
" Give, give/'* What the Prophet speaks rhetori- 
cally of hell, is also true concerning this offspring 
of heaven in the soul, " it enlargeth itself, and 
openeth its mouth without measure."''' The spirit 
of true godliness seems to be altogether such that 
it cannot rest in any measure of gi-ace, or be fully 
contented with any of its attainments in this life ; 
but ardently longs to receive the more plentiful 
communications of love, the more deep and legible 
impressions of grace, the more clear and ample ex- 
periences of divine assistance, the more sensible evi- 
dences of divine favour, the more powerful and trans- 
porting illapses and incomes of divine consolation 
into itself; " let him kiss me with the kisses of his 
mouth."''' Such is the spirit of true godliness, that 
the weakest that is endued with it, longs to be as 
David, and the Davids to be as God, as the angel 
of the Lord, according to that promise, " In that 
day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jeru- 
salem ; and he that is feeble among them at that 
day shall be as David ; and the house of David 
shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before 
them." The pious soul, that is in his right senses, 
under the powerful apprehensions of the loveliness 


of God, and the beauty of holiness, cannot be con- 
tent to live by any lower instance than that of 
David, whose soul even broke for the longing that 
it had unto the Lord, or that of the spouse, who 
was even sick of love. You have read of the mo- 
ther of Sisera looking out at the window, waiting 
for his coming, and crying through the lattice, 
" Why is his chariot so long in coming ? why tarry 
the wheels of his chariot ?'' But this is not to be 
compared to the earnest expectation of the creature, 
the new creature, waiting for the manifestation of 
God ; which the Apostle elegantly expresseth, and 
yet seems to labour for words, as if he could not 
sufficiently express it either, Rom. viii. 19. You 
have read of the Israelites marching up towards 
the promised land, and murmuring that they were 
held so long in the wilderness ; but the true Israelit- 
ish soul makes more haste with less discontent, 
marches as under the conduct of the angel of God's 
presence, and longs to arrive at its rest : but, alas ! 
it is held in the wilderness too ; and therefore can- 
not be fully quiet in itself, but sends forth spies to 
view the land, the scouts of faith and hope, like 
Caleb and Joshua, those men of another spirit ; and 
these go and walk through the holy land, and re- 
turn home to the soul, and come back, not as Noah's 
dove with an olive leaf in her mouth, but with some 
clusters in their hands they bring the soul a taste 
of the good things of the kingdom, of the glories 
of her eternal state : yea, the soul itself marches up 


to possess the land, goes out, with the Church in 
the Canticles, to meet the Lord, to seek him whom 
her soul loveth. Religion is a sacred fire kept 
burning in the temple of the soul continually, which 
being once kindled from heaven, never goes out, 
but burns up heaven-wards, as the nature of fire is : 
this fire is kept alive in the soul to all eternity, 
though sometimes, through the ashes of earthly 
cares and concerns cast into it, or the sun of 
earthly prosperity shining upon it, it may some- 
times burn more dimly, and seem almost as if it 
were quite smothered : this fire is for sacrifice too, 
though sacrifice be not always offered upon it ; the 
same fire of faith and love which offered up the 
morning sacrifice is kept alive all the day long, and 
is ready to kindle the evening sacrifice too, when 
the appointed time of it shall come. In this chariot 
of fire it is that the soul is continually carried out 
towards God, and accomplisheth a kind of glorifi- 
cation daily ; and when it finds itself firmly seated 
and swiftly carried herein, it no longer envies the 
translation of Elijah. The spirit of sanctification is 
in the soul as a burning fire shut up in the bones, 
which makes the soul weary with forbearing, and so 
powerful in longings that it cannot stay ; as the 
spirit of prophecy is described, Jer. xx. It is more 
true of the Spirit of God than of the spirit of Elihu, 
the spirit within constraineth, and even presseth the 
soul, so that it is ready to swoon and faint away for 
very vehemence of longing. See the delighted spouse 

VOL. II. o 


falling into one of these fainting fits, and crying 
out mainly for some cordial from heaven to keep 
up her sinking spirits, " Stay me with flagons, com- 
fort me with apples ; for I am sick of love.*'' O 
Ibeautiful and blessed sight, a soul working towards 
God, panting, and longing, and labouring after its 
proper happiness and perfection ! Well, the sink- 
ing soul is relieved ; Christ Jesus reacheth forth his 
left hand to her head, and his right hand embraceth 
her ; and now she recovers, her hanging hands lift 
up themselves, and the beauties of her fading com- 
plexion are restored ; now she sits down "under his 
shadow with great delight, and his fruit is sweet unto 
her taste."*"* See here the fairest sight on this side hea- 
ven; a soul resting, and glorying, and spreading it- 
self in the arms of God, growing up in him, growing 
great in him, growing full in his fulness, and perfectly 
transported with his pure love ! O my soul, be not 
content to live by any lower instance ? " Did not our 
hearts burn within us,"" said the two disciples one 
to the other, "whilst he talked with us ?''' But the 
soul in which the sacred fire of love is powerfully 
kindled, doth not only burn towards God, whilst he 
is more familiarly present with it, and, as it were, 
blows upon it ; but if he seem to withdraw from it, 
it burns after him still ; " My beloved had with- 
drawn himself, and was gone ; I sought him ; I 
called him."" And if the fire begin to languish, and 
seem as if it v/ould go out, the holy soul is startled 
presently, and labours, as the Apostle speaks, to 


revive it, and blow it up again, calls upon itself to 
awake, to arise and pursue, to mend its pace, and 
to speed its heavy and sluggish motions. This 
divine active principle in the soul maintains a con- 
tinual striving, a holy struggling and stretching 
forth of the soul towards God, a bold and ardent 
contention after the Supreme Good ; religion hath 
the strength of the divinity in it, its motions towards 
its object are quick and potent. That elegant de- 
scription which the Prophet makes of the wicked 
heart, with some change, may be brought to ex- 
press this excellent temper of the pious soul ; it is 
like the working sea which cannot rest : and al- 
though its waters do not cast up mire and dirt, yet 
in a holy impatience, they rise and swell, and cast 
themselves up high towards heaven. In a word, 
that I may comprize many things in few expres- 
sions, no man so ambitious as the humble, none so 
covetous as the heavenly-minded, none so volup- 
tuous as the self-denying : religion gives a large- 
ness and wideness to the soul, which sin, and self, 
and the world, had straitened and confined ; but 
his ambition is only to be great in God, his covet- 
ousness is only to be filled with all the fulness of 
God, and his voluptuousness is only to drink of the 
rivers of his pure pleasures : he desires to enjoy the 
God whom he sees, and to be satisfied with the God 
whom he loves. O now, how are all the faculties 
of the soul awakened to attendance upon the Lord 
of life ! It hearkens for the sound of his feet com- 


ing, the noise of his hands knocking at the door ; 
it stands upon its watch-tower waiting for his ap- 
pearing, waiting more earnestly than they that 
watch for the morning, and rejoices to meet him at 
his coming; and having met him, runs into his 
arms, embraces him, holds him, and will not let him 
go, but brings him into the house, and entertains 
him in the guest-chamber : the soul complains that 
itself is not large enough, that there is not room 
enough to entertain so glorious a guest, no, not 
though it have given him all the room that it hath : 
it receives him with the widest arms, and the 
sweetest smiles; and if he depart and withdraw, 
fetches him again with the deepest sighs, Retiurn, 
return, O Prince of Peace, and make me an ever- 
lasting habitation of righteousness unto thyself! 

It will not be amiss here briefly to touch upon 
the reason of the pious souFs so ardent pantings 
after God. And here I might show first, nega- 
tively, that it springs not from any carnal ambition 
of being better and higher than others, not from 
any carnal hope of impunity and safety, nor merely 
from the bitter sense of pressing and tormenting 
afflictions in this life. But I shall rather insist 
upon it affirmatively. These earnest breathings 
after God spring from the feeling apprehensions of 
self-indigency and insufficiency, and the powerful 
sense of divine goodness and fulness ; they are 
produced by the divine bounty and self-sufficiency, 
manifesting itself to the spirits of men, and con- 


ceived and brought forth by a deep sense of self- 
poverty ; one might almost apply the Apostle''s 
words to this purpose, "We receive the sentence 
of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in 
ourselves, but in him.'"" I shall not discourse upon 
these two heads disjointly, but frame them into one 
i-dea, and so you may take it thus; these holy 
longings of the pious soul after God, do arise from 
the sense of its distance from God. To be so far 
distant from God who is life and love itself, and the 
proper and full happiness of the soul, is grievous to 
the soul that is rightly affected towards him : and 
hence it is that the soul cannot be at rest, but still 
longs to be more intimately joined to him, and more 
perfectly filled with him : and the clearer the souFs 
apprehensions are of its object, and the deeper its 
sense is of its own unlikeness to him, and distance 
from him, the more strong and impatient are its 
breathings ; insomuch that not only fear, as the 
Apostle speaks, but even love itself sometimes seems 
to itself to have a kind of agony and torment in 
itself; which made the Church cry she was sick of 
love, that is, sick of every thing that kept her from 
her love, sick of that distance at which she stood 
from her beloved Lord. The pious soul being 
delighted with the infinite sweetness and goodness 
of God, longs to be that rather than what itself is, 
and beholding how it is estranged from him, by 
many sensual loves, selfish passions, corporeal clogs, 
and distractions, bewails its distance, and cries out 



within itself, " O when shall I come and appear 
before God ! ^' O when will God come and appear 
gloriously to me and in me ! " Who will deliver 
me from this body of death!" O that mortality 
were swallowed up of life ! David's soul waited 
for God as earnestly, and more properly than they 
that watch for the morning ; they may be said ra- 
ther to be weary of the long, and cold, and trouble- 
some night, than properly covetous of the day ; but 
he, out of a pure and spiritual sense of his estrange- 
ment from God, longs to appear before him, and be 
wrapped up in him. Heal the godly man of all his 
afflictions, grievances, and adversities in the world, 
that he may have nothing to trouble him, nor put 
him to pain, yet he is not quiet, he is in pain be- 
cause of the distance at which he stands from God : 
give him the whole world, and all the glory of it, 
yet he has not enough ; he still cries, and craves. 
Give, give ; because he is not entirely swallowed 
up in God : he openeth his mouth wide, as the 
Psalmist speaks, and all the silver, and gold, peace, 
health, liberty, preferment, that you impart to it, 
cannot fill it ; because they are not God, he cannot 
look upon them as his chief good. In a word, a 
pious man doth not so much say, in the sense ei- 
ther of sin or affliction, " O that one would give me 
the wings of a dove, that I might fly away, and be 
at rest ! "" as in the sense of his dissimilitude to, and 
distance from God, O that one would give me the 
wings of an angel, that I might fly away towards 
heaven ! 



An expostulation with Christians concerning their remiss 
and sluggish temper — an attempt to convince them of' 
it by some considerations — which are — 1. The activity 
of worldly men — 2. The restless appetites of the body 
— 3. The strong propensions of every creature towards 
its own centre — An inquiry into the slothfulness and 
inactivity of christian souls — The grace of faith vin^ 
dicated from the slander of being merely passive — 
A short attempt to awaken Christians unto greater 
vigour and activity. 

We have seen in what respects religion is an active 
principle in the soul where it is seated : give me 
leave to enlarge a little here for conviction or re- 
prehension. By this property of true religion we 
shall be able to discover much that is false and 
counterfeit in the world. If religion be no lazy, 
languid, sluggish, passive thing, but life, love, the 
spirit of power and freedom, a fire burning, a well 
of water springing up, as we have sufficiently seen, 
what shall we say then of that heavy, sluggish, spirit- 
less kind of religion that most men take up with ? 
Shall we call it a spirit of life, with the Apostle ; 
and yet allow of a religion that is cold and dead .'^ 
Shall we call it a spirit of love and power with 
the Apostle ; and yet allow of it, though it be in- 
different, low, and impotent ? Or will such pass for 
current with the wise and holy God, if we should 


pass a favourable censure upon it ? And why 
should it ever pass with men, if it will not for ever 
puss with God ? But, indeed, how can this inac- 
tivity and sluggishness pass for religion amongst 
men ? Who can think you are in pursuit of the 
infinite and Supreme Good, that sees you so slow in 
your motions towards it ? Who can think that 
your treasure is in heaven, that sees your heart so 
far from thence ? The more anything partakes of 
God, and the nearer it comes to him who is the 
fountain of life, and power, and virtue, the more 
active, powerful, and lively will it be. We read of 
an atheistical generation in Zeph. i. 12, who fancied 
to themselves an idle and slothful God, that minded 
not the affairs of the world at all, saying, " The 
Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil ;^' 
which was also the false and gross conceit of many 
of the heathen, as Cicero confesses of some of the 
philosophers themselves, " who maintain that God 
has no power in himself, and can impart no power 
to any other :" and, indeed, though it be not so 
blasphemous, yet it is almost as absurd, to fancy an 
idle saint, as an idle deity. Sure I am, if it be not 
altogether impossible, yet it is altogether a shameful 
and deformed sight, a holy soul in a lethargy, a 
pious soul that is not in pursuit of God. Moses 
indeed bids Israel '* stand still, and see the salva- 
tion of the Lord ;'*' but there is no such divinity in 
the holy scriptures as this, ' stand still and see the 
salvation of the soul," though some have violently 



pressed those words, Exod. xiv. 13, to serve under 
their slothful standard : no, no, the scripture speaks 
to us in another manner, " work out your own sal- 
vation :'''' and indeed the Spirit of God doth every 
where describe religion by the activity, industry, 
vigour, and quietness of it, as I hinted in the very 
beginning of this discourse, and could abundantly 
confirm and explain, if there were need of it. 

But that I may more powerfully convince and 
awaken the lazy and heavy spirit and temper of 
many professors, I will briefly touch upon a few 
particulars, which I will next propound to their 
serious consideration. 

. 1. The children of this world, earthly and sen- 
sual men, are not so slothful, so lazy, so indifferent 
in the pursuit of earthly and sensual objects. You 
say you have laid up your treasure in heaven ; 
we know they have laid up their treasure in the 
earth: now, who is it that behaves himself most 
suitably and seemly towards his treasure ? you or 
they .'* You say you have a treasure in heaven, and 
are content to be able to say so, but make no haste 
to be fully and feelingly possessed of it, to enjoy 
the benefit and sweetness of it. But they " rise 
up early and sit up late,'** and either pine them- 
selves, or eat the bread of sorrow, to obtain earthly 
and perishing inheritances ; they compass the world, 
travel far, sell all to purchase that part which is of 
so great price with them : and when they have ac- 
complished it, O how do they set their heart upon 


it, bind up their very souls in the same bags with 
their money, and seal up their aiFections together 
with it : yea, and they are not at rest either, but 
find a gnawing hunger upon their hearts after more 
still, to add house to house, and land to land, and 
one bag to another : the covetous miser is ready to 
sit down and wring his hands, because he hath no 
more hands to scrape with ; the voluptuous Epicure 
is angry that he hath not the neck of a crane the 
better to taste his dainties; and ambitious Alex- 
ander, when he domineers over the known world, 
is ready to sit down and whine, because there are 
no more worlds to conquer. What Christian but 
must be ashamed of himself, when he reads the de- 
scription which Plautus the comedian gives of a 
covetous worldling, under the person of Euclio, 
how he hid his pot of gold, heeded it, watched it, 
visited it almost every hour, would not go from it 
in the day, could not sleep for it in the night, sus- 
pected every body that so much as looked towards 
it, and by all means kept it even as his life ? For 
where is the like eager and ardent disposition to be 
found in a Christian towards God himself? Tell 
me, is it possible for a man that vehemently loves 
a virgin, to be content all his life long to court her 
at a distance, and not care whether ever he eventu- 
ally marry her or not ? Or must not such a one 
necessarily pursue a matrimonial and most intimate 
union with her? Let us now confess the truth, 
and every one judge himself 


S. This dull and earthly body, is not so indiffer- 
ently affected towards meat and drink, and rest, 
and the things that serve its necessities, and gratify 
its temper. Hunger will break down stone walls, 
and thirst will give away a kingdom for a cup of 
water ; sickness will not be eased by good words, 
nor will a drowsy brain be bribed by any entertain- 
ments of company or recreation : no, no, the neces- 
sities of the body must and will be relieved with 
food, and physic, and sleep ; the restless and raging 
appetite will never cease calling and crying to the 
soul for supplies till it arise and give them. Be- 
hold, O my soul ! consider the mighty and incessant 
appetites and tendencies of the body after sensual 
objects, after its suitable good and proper perfection, 
and be ashamed of thy more remiss and sluggish 
inclinations towards the highest good, a God-like 

3. No creature in the whole world is so lan- 
guid, slow, and indifferent in its motions towards 
its proper rest and centre. How easy were it to 
call heaven and earth to witness the free, pleasant, 
cheerful, eager progress of every creature accord- 
ing to its kind, towards its own centre and happi- 
ness ? The sun in the firmament rejoices to run 
its race, and will not stand still one moment, except 
it be miraculously overpowered by the command of 
God himself; the rivers seem to be in pain, till by 
a continued flowing they have accomplished to them- 
selves a kind of perfection, and be swallowed up in 


the bosom of the ocean, except they be benumbed 
•with frost, or otherwise over-mastered and retarded 
by foreign violence ; I need not instance in sensitive 
and vegetating things ; all which you know with a 
natural vigour and activity grow up daily towards 
a perfect state and stature. Were it not a strange 
and monstrous sight to see a stone settling in the 
air, and not working towards its centre ? Such a 
spectacle is a pious soul settling upon earth, and 
not endeavouring a nearer and more intimate union 
with its God. Wherefore, Christians, either cease 
to pretend that you have chosen God for your por- 
tion, centre, happiness, or else arise and cease not 
to pursue and accomplish the closest union and the 
most familiar conjunction with him that your souls 
are capable of: otherwise I call heaven and earth 
to witness against you this day : and the day is 
coming, when you will be put to shame by the whole 
creation. Doth every, even the meanest creature 
of God, pursue its end and perfection, and proper 
happiness, with ardent and vehement longings ; and 
shall a soul, the noblest of all creatures, stand fold- 
ing up itself in itself, or choking up its wide and 
divine capacity with dust and mire ? Shall a pious 
soul, the noblest of all souls, hang the wing, sus- 
pend its motions towards the Supreme Good, or so 
much as once offer to faint and languish in its en- 
terprises for eternal life ? Tell it not at Athens, 
publish it not at Rome, lest the heathen philoso- 
phers deride and hiss us out of the world. 


But you will ask me, When a Christian may be 
said to be sluggish and inactive? and who these 
lazy souls are ? I will premise two things, and 
then give you a brief account of them. (1.) When 
I speak of a sluggish and spiritless religion, I do not 
speak as the hot-spirited Anabaptists or Chiliasts, 
who being themselves acted by a strange fervour of 
mind, miscalled zeal, are wont to declaim against 
all men as cold and benumbed in their spirits, who 
do not call for fire from heaven to consume all Dis- 
senters, under the notion of Antichristian ; who are 
not afraid to reproach the divine, holy, gentle, yet 
generous spirit of religion ; calling it weak, woman- 
ish, cowardly, low, cold, and I know not what. 
These men, I believe, so far as I can guess at their 
spirit, if they had lived in the days of our Saviour, 
and had beheld that gentle, meek, humble, peace- 
able spirit, which did infinitely shine forth in him, 
would have gone nigh to have reproved him for not 
carrying on his own kingdom with sufficient vigour 
and activity ; if not have judged Christ himself to 
be much Antichristian. I hope you see nothing in 
all my discoveries of the active spmt of religion 
that savours of such a fiery spirit as this. (2.) 
When I do so highly commend the active spirit of 
true religion, and the vigorous temper of truly reli- 
gious souls, I would not be understood as if I 
thought all such souls were alike swift, or that any 
such soul did always move with like swiftness, and 
keep a like pace towards God. I know that there 

VOL. II. p 


are different sizes of active souls, yea, and different 
degrees of activity in the same soul, as may be seen. 
Cant. V. 3, compared with the sixth verse of the 
same chapter, and in many other places of scripture. 

But yet, that none may flatter and deceive them- 
selves with an opinion of their being what indeed 
they are not, I will briefly discover the sluggishness 
and inactivity of Christians in a few particulars. I 
pray take it not ill though the greater part of Chris- 
tians be found guilty; for that is no other than 
what Christ himself has prophesied. 

1. The active spirit of religion in the soul will 
not suffer men to take up their rest in a constant 
course of external performances ; and they are but 
slothful souls that place their religion in anything 
without them. By external performances I mean 
not only open, and public, and solemn services, but 
even the most private, and secret performances that 
are in and by the body, and without the soul. It 
is not possible that a soul should be happy in any- 
thing that is extrinsical to itself, no, not in God 
himself, if we consider him only as something with- 
out the soul : the devil himself knows and sees 
much of God without him ; but having no com- 
munications of a divine nature or life, being per- 
fectly estranged from the life of God, he remains 
perfectly miserable. I doubt it is a common deceit 
in the world, men toil and labour in bodily acts of 
worship and religion in a slavish and mercenary 
manner, and think, with those labourers in the 


parable, that at the end they must needs receive 
great wages, and many thanks, because they have 
borne the heat and burden of the day. Alas ! that 
ever men should so grossly mistake the nature of 
religion, as to sink it into a few bodily acts and 
carcase-services, and to think it is nothing else but 
a running the round of duties and ordinances, and 
a keeping up a constant set and course of actions ! 
Such an external legal righteousness the apostle 
Paul, after his conversion, could not take up with, 
but counted it all loss and dung in comparison of 
that God-like righteousness which was now brought 
into his soul, that inward and spiritual conformity 
to Christ, which was now wrought in him : " That 
I may be found in Christ, not having mine own 
righteousness, which is of the law, but that which 
is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness 
which is of God by faith ; that I may know him, 
and the power of his resurrection ; and the fellow- 
ship of his sufferings, being made conformable imto 
his death."' I know indeed that men will be loth 
to confess that they place their religion in anything 
without them; but, I pray, consider seriously 
wherein you excel other men, save only in praying 
or hearing now and then, or some other outward 
acts, and judge yourselves by your nature, and not 
by your actions. 

2. The active spirit of religion, where it is in 
the soul, will not suffer men to take up their rest in 
a mere pardon of sin ; and they arc but slothful 

160 IMM AN UEL. 

souls that could be so satisfied. Blessed is the 
man indeed whose iniquities are pardoned. But if 
we could suppose a soul to be acquitted of the guilt 
of all sin, and yet to lie bound under the dominion 
of lusts and passions, and to live without God in 
the world, he were yet far from true blessedness. 
A real hell and misery will arise out of the very 
bowels of sin and wickedness, though there should 
be no reserve of fire and brimstone in the world to 
come. It is utterly impossible that a soul should 
be happy out of God, though it had the greatest 
security imaginable that it should never suffer any- 
thing from him. The highest care and ambition 
indeed of a slavish and mercenary spirit is to be 
secured from the wrath and vengeance of God, but 
the breathings of the ingenuous and holy soul are 
after a divine life, and God-like perfections. This 
right gracious temper you may see in David, which 
is also the temper of every truly religious soul: 
'' Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine 
iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; 
and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not 
away from thy presence ; and take not thy Holy 
Spirit from me.^ Restore unto me the joy of thy 
salvation ; and uphold me with thy free Spirit.'' 

3. The active spirit of religion, where it is in 
the soul, will not suffer men to take up their rest 
in mere innocence, or freedom from sin ; and they 
are slothful souls that could count it happiness 
enough to be harmless. I doubt men are much 


mistaken about holiness ; it is more than mere in- 
nocence, or freedom from the guilt or power of sin, 
it is not a negative thing; there is something 
active, noble, divine, and powerful, in true religion. 
A soul that rightly understands its own penury and 
self-insufficiency, and the emptiness and meanness of 
all creature-good, cannot possibly take up its rest, 
or place its happiness in anything but in a real 
participation of God himself; and therefore is con- 
tinually making out towards that God from whom 
it came, and is labouring to unite itself more and 
more unto him. Let a low-spirited, fleshly-minded 
Pharisee take up with a negative holiness and hap- 
piness, as he doth, "God, I thank thee that I am 
not'' so and so : a noble and high-spirited Christian 
cannot take up his rest in any negation or freedom 
from sin. Every pious soul is not so learned, in.- 
deed, as to be able to describe the nature and pro- 
per perfection of a soul, and to tell you how the 
happiness of a soul consists, not in cessation and 
rest, as the happiness of a stone doth, but in life, 
and power, and vigour, as the happiness of God 
himself doth : but yet the spirit of true religion is 
so excellent and powerful in every pious soul, that 
it is still carrying it to the fuller enjoyment of a 
higher good : and the soul doth find and feel within 
itself, though it cannot discourse philosophically of 
these thinojs, that thouch it were free from all dis- 
tur])ance of sin and affliction in tlie world, yet still 
it wants some sunreme and positive good to make 



it completely happy, and so bends all its power 
thitherward. This is the description which you 
will every where find given in scripture of the true 
spirit of holiness, which hath always something po- 
sitive and divine in it, as, " Cease to do evil, learn 
to do well;" and, "Put off the old man, put on 
that new man which after God is created in righ- 
teousness and true holiness." And accordingly a 
truly pious person, to use the Apostle'*s words, 
though he know nothing by himself, yet doth not 
thereby count himself happy. 

4. The active spirit of true religion, where it is 
in the soul, will not suffer m-en to take up their 
rest in some measures of grace received ; and so far 
as the soul doth so, it is sluggish and less active 
than it ought to be. This, indeed, ofttimes comes 
to pass when the soul is under some distemper of 
proud selfishness, earthly-mindedness, or the like, 
or is less apprehensive of its object and happiness ; 
as it seems to have been the case of the spouse, " I 
have put off my coat ; how shall I put it on ? I 
have washed my feet ; how shall I defile them ^"^ 
Some such fainting fits, languishings, surfeitings, 
insensibleness, must be allowed to be in the pious 
soul during its imprisoned and imperfect state : but 
we must not judge ourselves by any present dis- 
tempers, or infirmities. The nature of religion, 
when it actuates the soul rightly and powerfully, is 
to carry it after a more lively resemblance of God, 
which is the most proper and excellent enjoyment 


of him. A mind rightly and actually sound is most 
sick of love ; and the nature of love is, not to know 
when it is near enough to its object, but still to long 
after the most perfect conjunction with it. This 
well of water, if it be not violently obstructed for a 
time, is ever springing up till it be swallowed up in 
the ocean of divine love and grace. The soul that 
is rightly acquainted with itself and its God, sees 
something still wanting in itself, and to be enjoyed 
in him, which makes it that it cannot be at rest, but 
is still springing up into him, till it come to the 
measure of the stature of the fulness of its Lord. 
In this holy, loving, longing, striving, active tem- 
per, we find the great Apostle : " Not as though I 
had already attained, either were already perfect ; 
but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for 
which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Bre- 
thren, I count not myself to have apprehended: 
but this one thing I do, forgetting those things 
which are behind, and reaching forth imto those 
things which are before, I press toward the mark, 
for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ 
Jesus." And by how much the more of divine 
grace any soul hath drunk in, the more thirsty is it 
after much more. 

5. The active spirit of true religion, where it 
is powerfully seated in the minds of men, will not 
sufter them to settle into a love of this animal life, 
nor indeed suffer them to be content to live for ever 
in such a kind of body as this ; and that soul is in 


a degree lazy and slothful, tliat dotli not desire to 
depart and be with his Lord. The pious soul eye- 
ing God as his perfect and full happiness, and find- 
ing that his being in the body doth separate him from 
God, keep him in a poor and imperfect state, and 
hinder his blissful communion with the highest 
good, groans within himself, with the Apostle, that 
mortality were swallowed up of life. I know not 
how much, but I think he hath not very much of 
God, neither sight of him nor love of him, that 
could be content to abide for ever in this imperfect, 
mixed, low state, and never be perfected in the full 
enjoyment of him. And it seems that they in 
whom the love of God is rightly predominant, 
potent, flourishing, do also look earnestly "for the 
mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life," 
as without doubt they ought to do. " What man- 
ner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversa- 
tion and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the 
coming of the day of God ?'''' 

Let this suffice by way of general reprehension. 
But more particularly, the consideration of the 
active nature of true religion may well serve to eor.. 
rect a mistake «ibout the noble grace of faith> 
How dishonourably do some speak of this excellent 
and powerful grace, when they make it to be a sloth- 
ful, passive thing, an idle kind of waiting, or a melan- 
cholic sitting still; where, indeed and in truth, is life 
and power. Be not mistaken in so high and eminent 
a grace: true faith doth not only accept the imputed 


righteousness of Christ for justifieation, but by a 
lively dependence upon God drinks in divine influ- 
ences, and eagerly draws in grace, and virtue, and 
life, from the fountain of grace, for more perfect 
sanctification : and for this cause, I think, a puri- 
fying virtue is ascribed to it. Acts. xv. 9. Faith is 
not a lazy languid thing, content to wait for salva- 
tion till the world to come ; but is even now pant- 
ing after it, and accomplishing it too in a way of 
mortification, self-denial, and growing up in God : 
it is not content to be a candidate waiting for life 
and happiness, but is actually drawing down hea- 
ven into the soul, attracting God to itself, and gain- 
ing still further participations of divine grace for its 
aid : its motto is that of the famous painter, " No 
day without a line :" it longs to find some divine 
lineament, some line of God's image drawn upon 
the soul daily. Faith is a giving grace, as well as 
receiving ; it gives up the whole soul to God, and 
is troubled that it can give him no more : it binds 
over the soul afresh to God every day, and is 
troubled that it can bind it no faster nor closer to 
him. The believing soul is wearied because of mur- 
derers, murdering loves, lusts, cares, earthly plea- 
sures, and calls mightily upon Christ to come and 
take vengeance upon them : it is wearied because of 
those robbers that are daily stealing away precious 
time and affections from God, which are due unto 
him, and calls upon Christ to come and scourge 
these thieves, these buyers and sellers, out of his 



own temple. In a word, the pious soul is active, 
and faith is the very life and action of the soul 

Lastly, Let me exhort all Christians from hence 
to be zealous, to be fervent in spirit, serving the 
Lord, and longing after him ; " stir up the grace 
of God that is in you ; quench not," that is, blow 
up, enflame "the Spirit of God in you." Awake, 
christian soul, out of thy lethargy, and rejoice, as 
the sun, to run the race that is set before thee, and, 
as a mighty man refreshed with wine, to fight thy 
spiritual battles against the armies of uncircumcised, 
profane, and earthly concupiscences, loves, and pas- 
sions. Eye God as your centre, the enjoyment of 
him as the happiness, and full conformity to him as 
the perfection of your souls ; and then say, Awake, 
arise, O my soul, and hide not thy hand in thy 
bosom, but throw thyself into the very heart and 
bosom of God; lay hold upon eternal life. Again, 
Observe how all things in the world pursue their 
several perfections with unwearied and impatient 
longings, and say. Come, my soul, and do thou 
likewise. Converse not with God so much under 
the notion of a lawgiver, but as with love itself; 
nor with his commands, as having authority in 
them, but as having goodness, and life, and sweet- 
ness in them. Again, Consider your poverty as 
creatures, and how utterly impossible it is for you 
to be happy in yourselves, and say. Arise, O my 
soulj from off this weak and tottering foundation, 



and build thyself upon God , cease pinching thy- 
self within the straits of self-sufficiencies, and come 
stretch thyself upon infinite goodness and fulness. 
Again, Pore not upon your attainments ; do not sit 
brooding upon your present accomplishments, but 
forget the things that are behind, and say. Awake, 
O my soul, there is yet infinitely much more in 
God ; pursue after him for it, till thou hast gotten 
as much as a created being is capable to receive of 
the divine nature. In a word, take heed you live 
not by the lowest examples, (which thing keeps 
many in a dwindling state all their days) but by 
the highest : read over the spouse"*s temper, sick of 
love ; David's temper, waiting for God more than 
they that watch for the morning, breaking in heart 
for the longing that he had to the Lord, and say, 
Arise, O my soul, and live as high as the highest. 
It is no fault to desire to be as good, as holy, as 
happy as an angel of God ; and thus, O my soul, 
open thy mouth wide, and God hath promised to 
fill thee f 



*rhal religion is a lasting and persevering principle in the 
souls of men — The grounds of this perseverance 
assigned— -Jir sty negatively, it doth not arise from the 
absolute impossibilitij of losing of grace in the crea^ 
ture, nor from the strength of man's free will — Se- 
condly, affirmatively , the grace of election cannot fail 
'—The grace of justification is neither suspended nor 
violated — the covenant of grace is everlasting — the 
Mediator of this covenant lives for ever — the pro-^ 
mises of it immutable — the righteousness brought in 
by the Messiah everlasting — Art objection ansivered 
concerning a regenerate man's willing his own apos- 
tacy — An objection answered, drawn from the falls of 
saints in scripture — A discovery of counterfeit religion, 
and the shameful apostacy of false professors — An 
encouragement to all holy diligence, from the consider- 
ation of this doctrine. 

I COME now to the third property of true religion 
contained in these words, and that is, the perse- 
verance of it. And here the foundation of my fol- 
lowing discourse shall be this proposition : — 

" True religion is a lasting and persevering prin- 
ciple in the souls of good men."" It is said of the 
hypocritical Jews, that their goodness was as the 
" early dew, that soon passes away." But that 
principle of goodness which God planteth in the 
souls of his people, is compared to a well of water, 


evermore sending forth fresh streams, and inces- 
santly springing up towards God himself. Our 
Saviour compares hypocritical professors to " seed 
sown upon stony ground,'' that springs up indeed, 
but soon withers away, but this well of water, which 
is in the sincerely pious soul, springs up into ever- 
lasting life ; it springs and is never dried up ; "it 
is a spring of water, whose waters fail not,"" or lie 
not, as it is expressed by the Prophet, Isa. Iviii. 11, 
or if you look upon it under the metaphor of oil, 
as it is sometimes expressed in scripture, then it is 
truly that oil that faileth not, whereof the widow 
of Sarepta's cruise of oil was but a scant resem- 
blance. Amongst other texts which the learned 
Dr. Arrowsmith brings to prove the infallibility of 
the perseverance of saints, this saying of our Sa- 
viour's which is the subject of my whole discourse, 
is one ; who also quoteth Theophylact for the same 
opinion, namely, the perseverance of this principle, 
yea, and somewhat more, even the growth and mul- 
tiplication of it. To the same purpose the same 
excellent author quoteth John x. 27, 28, "My 
sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they 
follow me ; and I give unto them eternal life, and 
they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck 
them out of my hand." In which our Saviour 
strongly asserteth the certain glorification of his peo- 
ple, by using a verb of the present tense, " I give 
unto them eternal life ;" he will as certainly give it 
them, as if they had it already ; excqit the words 

VOL. 11. (i 


do imply that they have it already, namely, the 
beginnings of it, even in this life : and if so, then 
the words yet more strongly assert the doctrine of 
perseverance; for how can that life be called eter- 
nal, which may be ended ? In the same words he 
seemeth purposely to prevent fears, and beforehand 
to answer objections, by securing them both from 
internal and external enemies ; they shall never 
perish, namely, of their own accord, neither shall 
any pluck them out of my hand ; for the word in 
the oriffinal is such as doth secure them from the 
power of devils as well as men ; and what is said of 
the church in general, is also certain concerning 
every true member of it in particular ; " the gates 
of hell shall not prevail against it." Christ hath 
not only chosen and ordained his people that they 
should be holy, but also that they should persevere 
in holiness ; not only that they should bring forth 
good fruits, but that their " fruits should remain."" 
Hence they are said to be born again of incorrupti- 
ble seed, which liveth and abideth for ever. And 
he that is born of God, is said to have the seed of 
God in him, and remaining in him, and so remain- 
ing in him as that he shall never again commit sin, 
that is, shall not become any more ungodly, 1 John 
iii. 9. To all which may be added that strong and 
strengthening text, "I am persuaded that neither 
death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor 
powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor 
height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be 


able to separate us from the love of God which is 
in Christ Jesus our Lord :'" which one text doth 
excellently assert both those high and comfortable 
doctrines of assurance and perseverance ; and these 
doctrines are worthy to be honoured in the church, 
by a vindication of the passage from the corrupt 
glosses and cavils of the Papists, who have endea- 
voured to rob Christians of the sweetness which may 
be drawn out of that pregnant honey-comb : in a 
word, let the holy Psalmist's experience of the sup- 
porting virtue of this doctrine shut up the proof of it 
at present, who found himself wonderfully comforted 
by it after all his fears and falls, where he sings of 
the loving-kindness of the Lord in time past: " Thou 
hast holden me by thy right hand ;"*"' and, at pre- 
sent, " I am continually with thee ;'' that is, thou 
art continually with me ; and, with the like courage 
and confidence, he speaks of all time to come, 
" Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and after- 
wards receive me to glory."" Now, although the 
doctrine of the perseverance of saints be thus fully 
and clearly laid down in scripture, yet it is easy to 
err in giving an account of it, and of the grounds 
of it. And therefore I shall proceed to the grounds 
of it, which I will briefly lay down negatively and 
affirmatively. First, negatively : — 

1. The certain perseverance of the saints in a 
state of grace doth not arise from the absolute im- 
possibility of losing of grace in the creature: it is one 
thing to affirm, that grace shall not be lost, and ano- 


ther thing to affirm, that it is absolutely uiiloseable. 
God hath told us, that the world shall no more be 
drowned, but who will say for all that that it is not 
in itself capable of drowning ? whilst we think to 
honour God by asserting the permanency of grace, 
we must take heed lest we make a god of grace, and 
so dishonour him. Grace, as it is in God, in the 
fountain, which divines sometimes call active grace, 
is eternal and unchangeable, not subject to any 
defection or alteration. There is no time, or place, 
or case, wherein the love and goodness of God fail- 
eth towards believers. It is one and the same in 
God towards his people, even when they are under 
the greatest desertions, and have no sense at all of 
it ; we must not say the sun is grown dark, as 
often as a dark cloud interposeth between it and 
our sight. Yea, however it be most certain that the 
pure and holy God hateth sin even in his people, 
yet it is also certain that the good and gracious God 
loveth the persons of his saints, even at what time 
they sin : " For the love of God towards the rege- 
nerate,'' saith Davenant, " is not founded upon their 
perfect purity and holiness, but upon Christ Jesus 
the Mediator, who hath transferred their sins upon 
himself, and so hath redeemed them from the wrath 
of God.'' The love and kindness of God towards 
his people is absolutely unchangeable and everlast- 
ing. But grace in the creature, itself being a crea- 
ture, is not simply and absolutely unchangeable or 
unloseable : there is a possibility of losing inherent 


grac^, if it be considered in itself; yea, and it would 
actually be lost and perish, liut that God upholdeth 
his people with one hand, whilst he exerciseth tliem 
with the other. Though with all my might I de- 
sire to maintain the perseverance of the saints, yet 
I dare not, as the manner of some is, ground it 
upon the firmness and rootedness of faith in man, 
but upon the goodness and faithfulness of God, 
which is such towards believers, that he will keep 
them by his mighty power " through faith unto sal- 
vation,''*' as the Apostle expresseth it. 

2. It doth not arise from the strength of man"'s 
free will, as if he were of himself able to keep him-, 
self for ever in a state of grace, when God had 
once put him into it. The saints indeed shall for 
ever will their own perseverance, as we shall see 
afterwards, but it is God that worketh in them even 
this will. Man''s own free will, or self-sufficiency, 
is so far from being the ground of his perseverance 
in grace and holiness, that I do believe nothing in 
the world is more directly contrary to grace than 
habitual and predominant self-confidence ; and, even 
in the saints themselves, there is nothing that tends 
more towards their a^ostacy, than this self-conceit 
and confidence of their own strength, as something 
distinct from God, though the same be not habitual 
and predominant ; for they themselves are many 
times sadly weakened and set back by that means, 
and sufler many lamentable spiritual decays. This 
,sccms to liave sometimes been the case of Hczekiah 

Q 6 


and of David too, and had like to have been the 
case of Paul, when he had so much abounded in 
revelations. Sure it is, that nothing doth more 
estrange the hearts of God''s people from him, nor 
bind up the influences of divine grace and favour 
from them, than this security, confidence in the 
strength of their own wills, and vain opinion of self- 
sufficiency, which thing the sad experience of holy 
Christians doth attest : not only the Apostles James 
and Peter, but indeed all the true disciples of Christ 
in the world agree to that proverb, " God resisteth 
the proud, but giveth grace to the humble." In a 
word, though " to do justly," and " to love mercy,"" 
have indeed much of religion in them, yet unto 
perseverance it is also required that a man deny 
Jbimself and the sufficiency of his own free-will ; 
and, in the Prophet's expression, " Walk humbly 
with his God." You know whose boast it was, 
" Though all men shall be offended because of thee, 
yet will I never be offended;" and again, *' Though 
I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee ;" and 
what was the lamentable consequence of this self-con- 
fidence, you know likewise: wherefore "let him that 
standeth" by his own strength, " take heed lest he fall.**' 
I proceeed now to speak something affirmatively 
concerning the grounds of the saint's perseverance 
in a state of grace. I have already showed you 
that active grace is absolutely of an immutable na- 
ture : and although passive grace be not so, yet it 
shall not be totally and finally lost, For, 

I M MAX U EL. 175 

1. The grace of election cannot fail. When I 
think of that uncertain, conditional, mutable decree 
of saving men, which some ascribe to God, who is 
infinite and eternal wisdom and oneness, methinks 
I may, with great reason, apply the Apostle's words 
spoken concerning himself, and say, when God is 
thus graciously minded to choose his people to eternal 
life, " Doth he use lightness, or the things that he 
purposeth, doth he purpose according to the flesh," 
after the manner of men, who are unsteady and 
wavering in their determinations? Is there with 
him yea, yea, and nay, nay? What doth the 
Apostle mean by those words, " The foundation of 
God standeth sure, having this seal. The Lord 
knoweth them that are his ?" The Apostle, in the 
foregoing verse, having related the apostacy of 
Hymeneus and Philetus, and the overthrow of some 
men's faith by their means, immediately subjoins 
this comfortable doctrine of the stedfastness and 
firmness of God's decrees of election, to prevent the 
offence which the saints might take against the 
falls of others, and to relieve them against the fears 
that they might possibly conceive concerning their 
own perseverance ; as if he had said, let no one be 
offended, as if the salvation of believers were un- 
certain ; it appears that these men were none of 
God's people, because they are seduced, and the faith 
that they had is overthrown ; and as for your part 
who are chosen, fear not lest ye also should aposta- 
tize, it is not possible to deceive the elect in the 


necessary and fundamental truths of the gospel, 
Matt. xxiv. 24; fear not lest ye also should be 
drawn away by the error of the wicked into perdi- 
tion, " for the foundation of God standeth sure,"' &c. 
In which sentence, says Dr. Arrowsmith, almost 
every word breathes firmness and performance : no- 
thing more firm in a building than the foundation ; 
that you may not doubt of that, it is also called 
sure, or steady ; this sure foundation is said to 
stand, that is, say the Dutch annotators, abideth 
stedfast and certain ; for it is the foundation not of 
man's laying but of God's, with whom there is " no 
variableness nor shadow of change ;'' yea, farther, 
this foundation is said to be sealed ; now, what is 
accounted more firm and sure than those things 
which are sealed with a seal ? especially such a seal 
as this, '^ The Lord knoweth who are his ;" though 
the wisest of men are often deceived in their opinions, 
yet the knowledge of God is infinitely infallible, ac- 
cording to that of Augustine, " If any of the elect 
perish, God is deceived ; but God is not deceived, 
therefore none of the elect can perish, for the Lord 
knoweth who are his.'' When Samuel indeed went 
to separate one of the sons of Jesse from the rest 
of his brethren to be king over Israel, he first pitched 
upon Eliab, and afterwards rejected him, 1 Sam. 
xvi ; but God is guilty of no inconstancy in that 
eternal election which he makes of men to be kings 
and priests unto himself Those several acts of 
divinp grace mentioned Rom. viii. 29, 30, though 


they be many links, yet run one into another, and 
all from first to last make up but one chain ; con- 
cerning which divine and mysterious concatenation 
one may boldly use that peremptory prohibition 
which our Lord useth concerning a less indissoluble 
conjunction, '• What God hath joined together, let 
no man put asunder." 

2. The grace of justification is neither suspended 
nor violated ; it admits neither of intercision nor 
recision, neither of pause nor period. There is no- 
thing between justification and glorification in the 
Apostle''s sentence, but the copulative and, Rom. 
viii. 30. There is nothing between a justified soul 
and glory, but a mere passage into it. May we 
be allowed to triumph with the holy Apostle in the 
same chapter, Who shall bring an accusation 
against God's elect .? " It is God that justifieth.'"" 
But what though you be at present justified, may 
some say, is there not a possibility of being unjusti- 
fied again, may not the righteousness of the righte- 
ous be taken from him, may you not be condemned 
hereafter ? But '• who is he that shall condemn 
us ? it is Christ that died." As if the Apostle had 
said, the love of God towards his justified ones 
is not grounded upon their purity, loveliness, or 
perfection, but it is founded upon their Redeemer, 
which Redeemer hath done enough, both to bring 
them into a justified state, and to keep them in it 
for ever ; it is Christ that died to free them from 
sin, it is Christ that is risen again for their justifi- 


cation ; " who is at the right hand of God,'*'' to de- 
liver them from all their enemies, that maketh in- 
tercession for them, for their perseverance. God 
loves nothing but the communications of himself; 
so far as anything partakes of the divine image, so 
far it partakes of divine favour and complacency : 
so that whilst a good man bears a resemblance to 
God so long he shall be accepted of him, and em- 
braced in the arms of his love ; and that shall be 
for ever, as we shall see under the next head. 
Until you have blotted out all the image and super- 
scription of God out of a pious soul, until you have 
rased out all the stamps and impressions of good- 
ness ; in a word, until you have rendered him 
wicked and ungodly, you cannot remove him from 
the embraces of God, which thing men and devils 
shall never be able to do, as I have partly showed 
already, and shall yet show more at large. 

It is true indeed that Adam fell from a just state, 
though not from a justified state ; for that supposes 
sin formerly committed. But this is no great won- 
der ; for he had his righteousness in himself, and 
his happiness in his own keeping : but the condi- 
tion of believers is now more safe and firm, as de- 
pending not upon any created power or will, but 
upon the infinite and effectual help and strength of 
a Mediator, which will never fail. 

3. The covenant of grace is everlasting. It hath 
pleased God to enter into a covenant of grace and 
peace with every believing soul ; which, I suppose. 


I need not go about to prove, all Christians acknow- 
ledging it, though they do not all agree in one no- 
tion of it. Now this covenant, wherein God en- 
gages himself to be their God (for that is the sum- 
mary contents of it on his part) is expressly called 
by the Apostle, " the everlasting covenant." And 
again, Jer. xxxii. 40, " I will make an everlasting 
covenant with them f which covenant, and the ever- 
lastingness of it, are fully explained in the following 
words, " I will not turn away from them to do them 
good f the inviolable nature of this covenant is also 
expressly asserted in that famous place, Jer. xxxi. 
31, 32, " I will make a new covenant with the 
house of Israel, not according to the covenant that 
I made with their fathers, (which my covenant they 
brake ;'") as if he had said, I will make a covenant 
that shall not be subject to breaches. In the former 
covenant with their fathers, I gave them laws to 
keep, which they kept not ; but, in the new cove- 
nant, I will give them also a heart to keep my laws ; 
it is not possible that covenant should be broken, 
one principle part of which is a heart both able and 
willing to keep it. The similitudes which God 
useth in the thirty-fifth, thirty-sixth, and thirty- 
seventh verses of that same chapter, do also further 
confirm and illustrate this doctrine of the everlast- 
ingness of this covenant of grace. 

Under this head let me glance at three things. 

(1.) The Mediator of this covenant lives for 
ever, and lives to make intercession for believers ; 


and from this the Apostle argues, that they shall 
be saved to the uttermost, or evermore, as the mar- 
gin reads it. From this also the Apostle argues 
the unchangeable state of believers, as we observed 
before on liom. viii. 34. Christ Jesus is always 
heard and accepted of the Father in all the requests 
that he maketh to him, according to that in John 
xi. 41, 42, " Jesus lifted up his eyes and said. Fa- 
ther, I thank thee, that thou hast heard me, and I 
know that thou hearest me always." If these things 
be so, then the perseverance of the saints is built 
upon a most certain foundation, is secured against 
the very gates of hell ; for Christ hath prayed for 
them that they may be where he is ; and, in the 
mean time, that they may be kept " from the evil,"' 
and that their faith, " fail not."' 

2. The promises of this covenant are immutable, 
" they are in Christ Jesus yea and amen;'' as if one 
should say in Latin, Certo certiora, perfectly sure 
and certain. God, who is truth itself, will not, can- 
not be unto his people as a liar, or " as waters that 
fail,'' as the Prophet's phrase is. The infinite foun- 
tain of grace and truth cannot possibly become like 
one of the brooks which Job speaks of, which seem 
to be full of water, and are so at a certain win- 
ter season, but when the poor scorched Arabian 
comes to look for water in summer he goes away 
ashamed, because they are now vanished, they are 
consumed out of their place. Now the promise is 
conceming not only grace, but the final persever- 


ance of it : if he promise pardoning grace, it is in 
these full and satisfying expressions, " I will re- 
member their sin,*" any one of their sins, "no more." 
If he promise purging and purifying grace, it is in 
the like amplitude of phrase, " that they may fear 
me for ever ;'"' and again, " they shall not depart 
from me;" with many other places of like importance. 
3. God is said, to dwell in the souls of his peo- 
ple, in opposition to a way-faring man, "who turneth 
in to tarry for a night." God indeed hath promised, 
that it shall be said to them that were not his 
people, " Ye are the sons of the living God," Hos. 
i. 10 ; but never on the contrary, hath he any where 
threatened them that are the sons of the living God 
that it shall at any time be said to them, " Ye are 
not my people." True indeed, as to external pro- 
fession, church-membership, mere covenant holiness, 
and outward communion, God doth many times dis- 
inherit and reject them that were so his people ; 
but, as to true godliness, participation of the divine 
image, internal and spiritual communion, we may 
confidently say with the Apostle to the Corinthians, 
" God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the 
fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord ;" or, 
with the same Apostle to the Thessalonians, 
" Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do 
it." Do what ? why, that which he was speaking of 
and praying for, namely, " Preserve spirit, and soul, 
and body, blameless unto the coming of our Lord 
Jesus Christ." 



I conclude then, that grace in the creature is a 
participation of him who is essential and perfect 
grace and goodness, a communication made by him 
of his holy nature, which becomes a living principle 
in the souls of men, a fountain sending forth a 
continued stream of holy dispositions and affections 
without intercision or cessation ; though these 
streams run sometimes higher, sometimes lower, 
sometimes swifter, sometimes slower, yet they are 
never wholly dried up as the brooks of Tenia were. 
For, where God hath once opened a fountain in the 
soul, he feeds it with fresh supplies from himself; 
as a fountain itself would dry up, if it were not 
nourished by the supplies of subterraneous waters. 
The perseverance of grace depends purely upon the 
supports and supplies of uncreated essential life and 
goodness. Eut how do we know that God will cer- 
tainly afford these supplies ? We build upon his 
goodness and love in Christ towards his people, 
which is infinite and unspeakable ; and upon his 
faithfulness in accomplishing his promise, namely, 
that he will never leave nor forsake them, that he 
will keep them by his power unto salvation. They 
that are of the number of God's holy and chosen 
ones, shall, no doubt, continue of that number ac- 
cording to that in 1 John ii. 19- They that are 
truly in Christ shall abide in him. The seed of 
God remaineth in the godly, and they cannot sin, 
because they are born of God ; " He that is begot- 
ten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one 


touclieth him not.""* What can be more express 
and ample than that consolatory promise of our 
Lord made to his poor frail sheep, " I give unto 
them eternal life, and they shall never perish, nei- 
ther shall any pluck them out of my hand." 

But some one may say perhaps. What if man 
will apostatize ? what if the saints themselves will 
forsake God ? will he not then say of them, as the 
Apostle of the unbelieving husband, " If they will 
depart, let them depart ?'' Will not God forsake 
them that forsake him ? 

A?is. Yes, God will forsake them that forsake 
him ; but they never shall forsake him : they being 
rightly renewed after the image of God, and per- 
fectly overpowered by his grace, shall never will 
any such departure : " I will betroth thee unto me 
for ever." "It is certain," saith Dr. Arrowsmith, 
" that God will condemn all impenitent sinners ; 
but it is as certain that all justified and regenerate 
sinners shall repent ; — this always occurs through the 
influence of the Spirit." It seems unreasonable to 
demand, what if man himself will apostatize ? see- 
ing he is, by the grace of God, so renewed in his 
will, and put into such a condition, that he cannot 
will any such thing. " God doth not give unto his 
saints," saith Augustine, " only such help without 
which they could not persevere if they would (which 
was that v.hich he gave Adam ;) but he also work- 
eth in them the v/ill : that because they shall not 
persevere except they both can and will, his bounti* 


ful grace bestoweth upon them both the can and 
the will : for their will is so inflamed by the Spirit 
of God, that they therefore can, because they so 
will ; they therefore so will, because God worketh 
in them to will." Neither is it any disparagement 
or injury to the freedom of man's will, that it should 
be overpowered by divine grace, and determined 
only to that which is good. The indifference and 
fluctuation of the will of man is indeed the imper- 
fection of it ; and the more God reveals himself to 
the soul, as the chief good, the more this indif- 
ference of the will is destroyed, and the faculty is 
determined ; not by being constrained, but indeed 
perfected. O happy liberty, for a soul to be in- 
differently affected towards its own happiness, and 
to be free to choose its own misery ! The noblest 
freedom in the world is, when a soul being delivered 
from its hesitancies, and healed of its indifferences, 
is carried like a ship with spread sails and powerful 
winds in a most speedy, cheerful, and steady course 
into its own harbour, into the arms and embraces of 
its own object. The grace of God doth never so 
overpower the will of man, as to reduce it to a con- 
dition of slavery, so as that man should not have a 
proper dominion over his own acts ; but I think we 
do generally conclude that, in the world to come, in 
the future state, the wills of all glorified saints shall 
be so advanced and perfected in their freedom, as 
not in the least to verge towards anything that is 
evil, but shall in the most gladsome and steady 


manner be eternally carried towinds their full and 
glorious object, which the glorified understanding 
shall then represent in a most true, clear, and 
ample manner ; and this we take to be the soul's 
truest liberty in the highest elevation of it. Now, 
althouojh it be not altogether thus with us in this 
present world, for, by reason of the weakness and 
rauddiness of our understandings which do here re- 
present God unto us so faintly and disadvantageously, 
it comes to pass that the will cannot so freely and 
fervently, with so ardent and generous motions pur- 
sue its excellent object, as it shall do hereafter, yet 
I believe that the more God reveals himself to any 
soul, the more the fluctuations and volatileness of 
it are healed, and a true liberty of will, increased ; 
and that he doth so far reveal himself to every truly 
pious soul, as to establish this noble freedom in him, 
in such a degree as will keep it from willing a final 
departure from him, and carry him certainly (how 
remissly and faintly so ever) towards the supreme 
and sovereign Good, till he come to be perfectly 
swallowed up in it. A will thus truly and divinely 
free, though it be not the proper efficient cause, yet 
certainly is an inseparable concomitant of final per- 
severance. So then the more God communicateth 
himself to any soul, the more powerfully it willeth 
a nearer conjunction with him ; and no soul, I 
conceive, to whom God communicateth himself 
savingly, can at any time will an utter separation 
from him. 

It S 


As for the foukst faults of scripture saints, that 
are any where recorded, I know not what more can 
rationally be inferred from them, but that grace in 
the creature admits of ebbs and flows, is subject to 
augmentations and diminutions ; which I know no 
sober person that denies. But I think the history 
of their lapses, if we take it altogether, hath a very 
favourable aspect upon the doctrine of perseverance ; 
yea, for aught I know, one great design of God in 
penning those relations, might be to confirm this 
very doctrine, by giving us so express and ample 
an account of their repentance and recovery, that 
we are indeed to believe they were strengthened by 
their falls, so far were their falls from proving mor- 
tal to them : one would think, that if ever the ha- 
bits of grace should be utterly suffocated and extinct, 
if ever they should languish even unto death, it 
would be under the power of such contrary acts as 
David and Peter committed, and especially Solo- 
mon, whose acts, for aught I can see, were as foul, 
and also often repeated, which is the likeliest thing 
that I know to destroy gracious habits. I know 
there are instances given of Joash, Hymeneus, Alex- 
ander, and Demas, utterly falling from that appa- 
rently gracious state, wherein for some time they had 
been. But it did never yet appear to me beyond con- 
tradiction, that ever they were any of them in such a 
state. Joash is put amongst the number of hypo- 
crites by some that have examined his story : and 
for aught that can evidently appear to the contrary, 


Demas might be no better. Most is pleaded for 
Hymeneus and Alexander, who put away a good 
conscience, and made shipwreck of faith, 1 Tim. i. 
19. But it does not yet appear that the faith which 
they made shipwreck of, was any more than the pro- 
fession or doctrine of the true faith ; yea, rather it 
doth appear that it was no more. Neither does it 
at all appear, that they ever had that good con- 
science, which they are said, in our translation, to 
have put away, which may as fitly be rendered, 
rejected; for that we find to be the most common 
use of the Greek word airiijOio), to reject, repel, or 
thrust away from one. I am not confident that 
this apostacy of theirs was total either, supposing 
it to be an apostacy ; for however their faith was 
shipwrecked, possibly some plank or other of it 
might be left. And who dare say that it was final? 
the Apostle doth not, that I perceive, give them up 
for lost, but executes discipline upon them, as it 
seems, for their recovery, of which one might think, 
by the following words that he had some hopes — 
*' that they may learn not to blaspheme."' In short 
then, as to these two men, I conceive, that good 
conscience which they put away they never had, 
^nd the faith which they had was not the good 
faith. And as to the other two that were named, 
and indeed as to all other instances of the like 
nature, I suppose we may give this general answer, 
that either they did but seem to stand, or they did 
but seem to fall ; the former perhaps was the case of 


Joash, the latter of Demas. Whenever you observe 
therefore the backslidings of any seeming Christians, 
take heed of concluding rashly against the perse- 
verance of saints, but rather infer with the holy 
Apostle, " They went out from us, but they were 
not of us : for if they had been of us, they would, no 
doubt, have continued with us :"' which words, if 
they be meant only of a communion in doctrine and 
profession, so as to conclude against a separation of 
such as are indeed in such a communion ; then we 
may argue the more strongly, from the less to the 
greater, against the final apostacy of any that are 
in a higher and more excellent communion. 

As for those texts of scripture that seem to sup- 
pose a man''s falling away from grace, and turning 
from righteousness, I conceive a fair answer may 
be given to them, by the distinguishing of righ- 
teousness ; and so it may be granted, that many 
men have turned away from, and utterly made ship- 
wreck of, their legal righteousness, consisting in an 
external conformity to the letter of the precepts of 
the law, void of the supernatural and divine prin- 
ciple : it is indeed the common lot of these men 
that spring up thus fairly, and yet have no root, 
to "wither away." And yet, on the other hand, 
it abides an everlasting maxim of truth, " Whoso- 
ever is born of God doth not commit sin ; for his 
seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because 
he is born of God.'' If there be any texts that seem 
to speak of apostatizing from an evangelical righ- 


teousness, a righteousness of faith, and so cannot 
well be solved by this distinction, as that in Heb. 
X. 38, and some others, it must be considered that 
suppositions are made of things impossible as well 
as possible, yea, and that even in the scriptures 
themselves, as some have observed from Gal. i. 8, 
1 Cor. XV. 14, which texts do not at all imply 
what they suppose, n I know indeed that eternal 
salvation is ordinarily entailed upon perseverance, 
and so is promised to us in scripture, as it were 
conditionally, "If ye continue in my word, then 
are ye my disciples indeed." — " You hath he re- 
conciled in the body of his flesh, through death, to 
present you holy, and unblameable, and unreprov- 
able in his sight, if ye continue in the faitb, and 
be not moved away from the hope of the gospel," &c. 
To the same purpose are those words, "He that 
endureth to the end, the same shall be saved ;" and 
"He that overcometh, and keepeth my words unto 
the end, to him will I give," &c. All which do 
strongly imply that there is no salvation but in a 
way of perseverance; and the words being laid 
down thus conditionally, especially the words first 
quoted, are indeed cautionary and quickening to 
the dull and sluggish minds of men, but do not 
necessarily imply any uncertainty or doubtfulness 
in the thing itself, no more than those words of 
the Apostle Peter, 2 Pet. i. 10, compared with the 
latter end of the twelfth verse, where he doth affirm 
them to be " established in the truth," and yet at 


the same time doth speak to them by way of caution 
and encouragement. There are many texts that 
seem to suppose the apostacy of men in a state of 
regeneration, but not one that doth assert it, that 
ever I could yet find ; but they are almost without 
number, that, to my apprehension, do more than 
seem to assert the contrary, namely, their final per- 
severance: of which perseverance we have also, 
through the goodness of God, thousands of in- 
stances ; but no man could ever yet produce one 
instance of the contrary, but by mere conjecture ; 
which conjectures, let them that make them see 
that they neither be over charitable towards men, 
or uncharitable towards God. Wherefore I do 
conclude that what is said concerning heaven and 
hell in the parable, as to one branch of it, is true 
of grace and wickedness; a gulf is fixed, and they 
that would pass from God to sin and the devil can- 
not : not that there shall ever be in any a real and 
predominant desire so to pass, as I suppose I have 
already proved ; but it denotes the impossibility of 
the thing. It is Equally impossible that a pious 
soul should fall from God, and become a hater of 
him, fall from his love and image, and take upon 
him the image of the devil, as it was for Lazarus to 
quit Abraham's bosom for the flames of hell : the 
case seems to be the same, the former being the 
most real heaven, and the latter the truest hell. 
True religion is that hcly fire which, being once 
Ivindled in the soul from heaven, never goes out ; 


whereof the fire of the altar was but a faint and im- 
perfect resemblance : it is as true in this respect of 
good men, as it is of wicked men in another, "their 
fire never goes out/'' 

And here, now, we are presented with another 
crreat difference between true and counterfeit reliorion. 
All counterfeit relis^on will fade in time, thoucrh 
ever so specious and flourishing ; all dew will pass 
away, though some lies much longer than other; all 
land-floods will fail ; yea, the flood of Noah at length 
dried up, though it were of many months' duration. 
But this well of water which our Saviour speaks of 
here, will never utterly fail ; cold adversity cannot 
freeze it up ; scorching prosperity cannot dry it up ; 
the upper springs of uncreated grace and goodness 
will evermore feed those nether springs of grace and 
holiness in the creature. Though heaven and earth 
pass away, yet shall the seed of God remain, '* He 
that hath begun a good work will certainly perform 
it." Where the grace of God hath begotten a di- 
vine principle and spirit of true religion in a soul; 
there is the central force even of heaven itself, still 
attracting, and carrvins; the soul in its motions 
thitherward, until it have lodged it in the very bo- 
som and heart of God. If any principle lower than 
true religion do actuate a man, it will certainly waste 
and be exhausted ; though it may carry him swiftly 
in a rapid motion, yet not in a steady ; though it 
may carr)' him high, yet not quite through. A me- 
teor that is exhaled from the earth by a foreign 


force, though it may mount high in appearance, and 
brave it in a blaze, enough to be envied by the poor 
twinkling stars, and to be admired by ordinary 
spectators, yet its fate is to fall down, and shame- 
fully confess its base original. That religion which 
men put on only for a cloak, will wear out and drop 
into rags, if it be not presently thrown by as a gar- 
ment of fashion. You have read of the seeming 
righteousness of Jehu, founded in ambition and 
cruelty — the piety and devotion of Joash, grounded 
upon a good and virtuous education — the zeal of 
Saul for the worship of God, and his fat sacrifices, 
growing upon a root of superstition, as Samuel that 
man of God interprets it, 1 Sam. xv. 22 ; and you 
have seen the shameful issue of all these dissemblers, 
and the offensive snuff in which all this candle-light 
religion ended, very much unlike to that sun-like 
lustre of true and genuine goodness, "which shineth 
more and more unto the perfect day,"' according to 
that elegant description which the Spirit of God 
makes of it in the writings of Solomon, whose pen 
hath as much adorned this great truth as his life 
hath blotted it : " But the path of the just is as 
the shining light, that shineth more and more unto 
the perfect day." To this purpose I might fairly 
allege the frequent testimonies which the Holy 
Ghost in scripture gives concerning such hypocritical 
and unprincipled professors ; that, having no root, 
they wither away in a scorching season, that chey 
are again entangled in the pollutions of the world, 


and overcome, that, like dogs, tliey turn to their 
own vomit again, and, like sows, wallow in the mire 
from which they had been washed, together with 
many others of the same nature : as also the pro- 
phecies that are made concerning them, that that 
which they seemed to have shall be taken away 
from them, that they shall proceed no further; "for 
their folly shall be manifest unto all men,"" that 
" evil men and seducers,"" and of those — self-seducers 
are the worst, "shall wax worse and worse,"" with 
other places of the like nature. It were easy to 
record many histories of many men, especially of 
great men, who have speedily, I had almost said 
disdainfully, thrown off that semblance of humility, 
meekness, self-denial, justice, and faithfulness, which 
they had put on for a vizard during their proba- 
tionaryship for preferment, the better to accomplish 
their selfish designs, and to be possessed of some 
base ends of their own. Still I will not deny but 
that a hypocrite may maintain a fair conformity to, 
and correspondence with the letter of the law of God ; 
he may continue fair and specious to the very end 
of his life ; yea, perhaps may go to his grave undis- 
covered either to himself or any in the world be- 
sides. I believe many men have lived and died 
Pharisees,, have never apostatized from that righ- 
teousness which they professed, but have persevered 
in their formality and hypocrisy to the last. But 
although that counterfeit righteousness and reli- 

VOL, II. s 


gion may possibly not fade away, yet nevertheless, 
being of an earthly and selfish constitution, it is 
transitory and fading ; and if it were soundly as- 
saulted and battered with persecutions and tempta- 
tions, no doubt, would actually vanish and disap- 
pear; on the other hand, the promise of God is 
pregnant and precious. '' They that wait upon the 
Lord shall renew their strength ; they shall walk 
and not faint." 

Take encouragement from hence, all ye that love 
the Lord ; go on in the strength of God ; be the 
more lively, by how much the more you are assured 
that this well of water shall spring up in you into 
everlasting life. Make this good use of this com- 
fortable doctrine : Will God indeed work in you 
"both to will and to do.^" why then so much the 
rather " work out your own salvation," according to 
the Apostle. Will the Lord God be "with you.?" 
will he " not fail you nor forsake you till you have 
finished all your work?" why then "be strong and 
of good courage," and do as good David infers and 
argues. Have you this hope, this firm ground of 
hope in the promise and goodness of God.'^ why 
then, " purify yourselves as God is pure," according 
to the Apostle. Stop the mouths of those men that' 
say the doctrine of perseverance is prejudicial to 
godliness : let them see, and be forced to acknow- 
ledge it, that the more a pious soul is assured of 
the infinite and unchangeable love and care of God 


towards him, the more he is winged with love and 
zeal, with speed mounting up thither daily, where 
he longs to arrive. They that understand the doc- 
trine of perseverance, do also understand that they 
must accomplish it in a way of dutiful diligence 
and watchful willingness ; and if any grow profane 
and licentious, and apostatize from the way of righ- 
teousness which they have known, it is an evident 
argument to them that they are no saints, and then 
what will the doctrine of the perseverance of saints 
avail them ? 

196 I MM AN LIE t. 


Religion considered in the cojisequence, of not thirsting 
— divine grace gives a solid satisfaction to the sotd — 
This aphorism conjirmed by some scriptures^ and 
largely explained in six propositions — First, That 
there is a raging thirst in every soul of man after 
some ultimate and satisfactory good — Second, That 
every natural man thirsteth principally after happi- 
ness in the creature — Third, That tio matt can Jind 
that soiil-Jilling satisfaction in any creature-enjoyment 
— Fourth, That grace takes not away the soul's thirst 
after happiness — Ffth, That the pious soid thirsteth 
no more after rest in any worldly thing, hut in God 
alone — how far a good man may he said to thirst 
after the creature — Sixth, That in the enjoyment of 
God the soul is at rest — and this in a double sense, 
namely, so as that it is perfectly matched with its 
object — Secondly, So satisfied as to have joy and plea- 
sure in him — The chapter concludes in a passionate 
lamentation over the levity and earthliness of christian 

Hitherto we have taken a view of true religion, as 
it stands described in this pregnant text, by its ori- 
gin, nature, and properties : we are now to consider 
it in the certain and genuine consequence of it ; and 
that is, in one word, affirmatively, satisfaction ; 
or, if you will, negatively, 7iot thirsting : for so it 


is, in our Saviour's phrase, " Whosoever drinketh 
of the water that I shall give him, shall never 

Whilst I address myself to the explication of this 
phrase, I suppose I need not be so exact and curious 
as to tell you in order, with a certain kind of scho- 
lastical gravity, first, what is not ; and then, what 
is meant by it : for I presume nobody will dream 
of a corporeal or gross kind of thirsting to be meant 
here. Grace doth no more quench the thirst of 
the body, than elementary water can relieve the 
panting of the soul. Nay, he himself was subject to 
this gross kind of thirst, who gave to others the water 
whereof, if they drank, they should never thirst 
more. If it be understood of a spiritual thirst, yet 
I suppose I need not to tell you either, that then 
it must not be understood absolutely : for it cannot 
possibly be, that the thirst of a soul should be per- 
fectly allayed till all its faculties be filled up to the 
brim of their respective capacities, which will never 
be until it be swallowed up in the infinite and un- 
bounded ocean of the Supreme Good. 

But I conceive we may fairly come to the mean- 
ing of this phrase, never thirst, either by adding or 

1. Then let us supply the sentence thus, Who- 
soever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, 
shall never thirst after any other water."*"* There is 
no worldly liquour can be so accommodated or at- 
tempered to the palate as to produce a universal s.itia- 



faction, as that a man should be perfectly mortified 
to all variety : but this heavenly water which our 
Saviour treats of here, is so fitted to the palate of 
spirits, and brings such satisfaction along with it, 
that the soul that is made to drink of it sus- 
pends its chase of all other delights, counts all other 
waters but a filthy and offensive puddle, thirsts no 
more after any other thing, either through neces- 
sity or for variety. The more indeed the soul 
drinks of this water, the more it thirsteth after fuller 
measures and larger portions of the same ; and does 
not only draw in divine virtue and influences, but 
even longs to be itself swallowed up in the divinity, 
as we shall see further in the procedure of this dis- 
course : but its thirst after all created good, after 
all the waters of the cistern, is hereby extinguished, 
or at least mastered and mortified. Or, 

2. By distinguishing upon thirst, the sense of 
the phrase will be clearly this, " Whosoever drink- 
eth of the water that I shall give him" shall never 
be at a loss more, never be to seek any more, never 
be uncertain or unsatisfied as to his main happiness 
or supreme object ; he shall not rove and range up 
and down the world in an unfixedness and suspence 
any more ; shall not run up and down to seek satis- 
faction and rest any more. From an internal un- 
satisfiedness of the body, spring violent and restless 
motions and runnings up and down, by which thirst 
is contracted ; so that, by a metonomy, thirst comes 
to be used for unsatisfiedness which is the remote 


cause of it ; and, by a metaphor, the same phrase 
comes to be applied to the soul. I suppose I am 
warranted, by the sacred style, thus to interpret ; 
especially by the use and explication of the phrase 
in Jer. ii. 25, where the Prophet intimates, that 
bv thirst is to be meant a restless and discontented 
running up and down to seek satisfaction^ " With- 
hold thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat 
from thirst ;'^ which two phrases are of the same im- 
port, and signify no more than cease from gad- 
ding after your idols ; and that this is the meaning 
of that thirsting appears by the answer that the 
wilful and desperate people make in the sequel of 
the verse : for instead of saying. No, but we will 
thirst ; they cry, " No, but after them will I go.*" 
To thirst then is, in an unsatisfiedness and spiritual 
disquiet, to range up and down seeking something 
wherein ultimately to acquiesce. And, in this sense, 
it is most true what our Lord here pronounceth, that 
" whose ver drinketh of the water that I shall give 
him, shall never thirst."*' Of which thirst that fa- 
mous proclamation of our Saviour's is to be under- 
stood — " If any man thirst let him come unto me 
and drink ;'"* in which place also we must necessarily 
understand what is here expressed, that then he 
shall never thirst more. 

It matters not much by which of these two ways 
we explain the phrase here of not thirsting ; for, 
according to either of them, it will result in this 
theological maxim, namely, that " Divine grace, or 


true Christian religion, gives a real and solid satis- 
faction to the soul that is principled with it."" 

This will appear plain though we apply but out 
of each Testament of the holy scriptures one text 
thereunto. I think it cannot reasonably be doubted, 
but that the prophecy and promise made in Isa. 
xlix. 10, is to be performed to believers in this pre- 
sent life ; for so must the foregoing verses neces- 
sarily be understood : and there we have the doc- 
trine expressly asserted, " They shall not hunger 
nor thirst, &c. for he that hath mercy on them shall 
lead them, even by the springs of water shall he 
guide them.'' To which those words of our Sa- 
viour are parallel, '' He that believeth on me shall 
never thirst f' which doctrine of his is yet amplified 
and enlarged in John vii. 38, " He that believeth 
on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly 
shall flow rivers of living water." What greater 
security from thirst can be desired, than that one 
should be led by springs of water ? Yes, one may 
be led by the springs of water, and yet not be suf- 
fered to drink of them : well therefore to put all out 
of fear, the pious soul shall contain within himself a 
spring of water ; he shall have rivers of living wa- 
ters in himself ; and for his fuller security, these 
rivers shall be ever flowing too. It shall suffice at 
present, thus briefly to have established this con- 
clusion. And now, having wrapt up the meaning 
of the words in this short position, I shall endeavour 
to unfold it in these six following propositions :'»« 


1 . " There is a raging thirst in every soul of man 
after some ultimate and satisfactory good."' The 
God of nature hath implanted in every created na- 
ture a secret but powerful tendency towards a centre, 
the dictates of which, arising out of the very consti- 
tution of it, it cannot disobey until it cease to be 
such, and utterly apostatize from the state of its 
creation. And the nobler any being is, the more 
excellent is the object assigned to it, and the more 
strong and potent, and uncontrollable are its raptures 
and motions thereunto. Wherefore the soul of man 
must needs also have its own proper centre, which 
must be something superior to, and more excellent 
than itself, able to fill up all its indigencies, to 
match all its capacities, to master all its cravings, 
and give a plenary and perfect satisfaction : which 
therefore can be no other than the uncreated good- 
ness, even God himself. It was not possible that 
God should make man of such faculties, and of 
that capaciousness as we see them, and appoint any- 
thing below himself to be his ultimate happiness. 
Now, although it be sadly true, that the faculties of 
the soul are miserably maimed, depraved, benighted, 
and distorted; yet I do not see that the soul is utterly 
•changed in its nature by sin, so as that any other 
thing should be obtruded upon it for its centre and 
happiness, than the same infinite good that was 
such from the beginning, or so as that its main and 
cardinal motions should be ultimately directed to 
any other than its natural and primitive object. 


The natural understanding hath not indeed any 
clear or distinct sight of this blessed object ; but 
yet it retains a darker and more general apprehen- 
sion of him, and may be said, even in all its pursuits 
of other things to be still groping in the dark after 
him : neither is it without some secret and latent 
sense of God, that the will of man chooseth or embrac- 
€th anything for good. The Apostle hesitates not to 
-affirm, that the idolatrous Athenians themselves did 
worship God, though at that time indeed they knew 
not what they worshipped ; their worship was secretly 
^nd implicitly directed to God, and did ultimately 
resolve itself into him, though they were not aware 
of it — " whom ye ignorantly worship, him declare I 
unto you."" Now that he declared God to them, ap- 
pears abundantly by the following verses. What 
he says in point of worship, the same methinks I 
may say in point of love, trust, delight, dependence, 
and apply it to all sorts of idolaters, as well as 
image-worshippers, and affirm that the covetous 
idolater, even when he most fondly hugs his bags, 
and most firmly confideth in his riches doth ig- 
norantly love and trust in God ; the proud idola- 
ter, in the highest acts of self-seeking and self- 
pleasing, doth ignorantly admire and adore God ; 
the ambitious idolater, even in the hottest chase of 
secular glory, and popular applause, doth ignorantly 
pursue, and advance God. For that rest, content- 
ment, peace, happiness, satisfaction, which these 
mistaken souls do aim at, what is it other than God, 


though they attribute it to something else which 
cannot afford it, and so commit a real blasphemy ? 
for they that do in their hearts and course of their 
lives, ascribe a filling and satisfying virtue to riches, 
pleasures, or honours, do as truly, though not so 
loudly, blaspheme, as they who cried out concern- 
ing the calf of gold, Exod. xxxii. 4, " These be 
thy gods, O Israel ! " &c. And in this sense that I 
have been speaking, one may safely affirm, that the 
most professed atheist in the world doth secretly 
pursue the God whom he openly denies, whilst 
his will is catching at that which his judgment re- 
nounceth, and he allows that Deity in his lusts 
which he will not own in heaven. The hypocrite 
professes to know God, but in works denies him ; 
on the other hand, the atheist, though in words he 
deny God, yet in his works he professeth him : so 
natural and necessary it is for all men to acknow- 
ledge a Deity, though some are so brutish and besot- 
ted as to confine him to their own bellies ; of whom 
the Apostle speaks, " Whose god is their belly/'' 
I say natural ; for it is not only some few men of 
better education, and more contemplative complex- 
ions, that hunt after this invisible and satisfying 
good ; but indeed the most vulgar souls, retaining 
still the nature of souls, are perpetually catching at 
an ultimate happiness and satisfaction, and are se- 
cretly stung and tormented with the want of it. 
Certainly the motions of a soul are more strong and 
weiglity than we arc ordinarily aware of; and, I 


tliink, one may safely conclude, that if there were 
no latent sense, or natural science of God, the poor 
man could not spend the powers of his soul so in- 
tensely for the purchasing a little food and raiment 
for the body, nor the covetous man so insatiably 
thirst after houses and land, and a larger heap 
of refined earth : did they not secretly imagine, 
some contentment, happiness, or satisfaction, were 
to be drunk in together with these acquirements, 
they would seem to be but dry and insipid morsels 
to a soul ; which ultimate happiness and satisfaction, 
as I said before, can be no other than God himself, 
whom these mistaken souls do ignorantly adore, and 
feel for in the dark. Neither let any one think that 
this ignorant and unwary pursuit of God can pass 
for religion, or be acceptable in the sight of God ; 
for, as it is impossible that ever any man should 
stumble into a happy state, without foresight and 
free choice, and be in it without any kind of sense 
or feeling of it, so neither can God accept the blind 
for sacrifice, or be pleased with anything less than 
reasonable service from a reasonable creature. As 
the Athenians, worshipping God by altars and 
images, are counted superstitious, not devout, so 
the whole generation of gross and sensual souls 
admiring, loving, and ignorantly coveting after God 
in the pictures and images of true goodness, are, 
indeed, truly blasphemers and idolaters, but reli- 
gious they cannot be. We cannot excuse them 
from idolatry, who direct their worship purposely to 


the true God, by or through images ; much less can 
we be favourable to them who bestow their love, 
joy, confidence and delight, ignorantly upon the 
supreme and self-sufficient good, by or through any 
created good, in which they, as far as they under- 
stand, do terminate their devotion. I do not say 
that all souls have a distinct discovery of the good 
they aim at, it is evident they have not ; but yet 
the will of every man is secretly in chase of some 
ultimate end and happiness, and indeed in its eager 
tendencies outflies the understanding. All which 
mystery seems to be wrapped up in that short but 
pithy inquiry, which, if it were a little otherwise 
modified, would be an excellent description of the 
natural soul, " Many say. Who will show us any 
good.'^" The nature of the object is set out in the 
word ^ooc?,- the eagerness of the motion, in the form 
of the question^ "Who will show us.^^" and the 
ignorance of the mover appears in the indeter- 
minateness of this object, which is well explained 
by the supply of the word any; "Who will show 
us any good ? "*"* And that this is the cry of every 
rational soul is insinuated by the word many; 
which many is also in metre multiplied into the 
greater sort, and must indeed necessarily be ex- 
tended unto all. 

2. "Every natural man thirsteth principally after 
happiness and satisfaction in the creature." The 
fall of the soul consisteth in its sinking itself into the 
animal life, and the business of every unrenewed 



soul is in one kind or other still to gratify the same 
life ; for although, as I have shown, God is in the 
bottom of these men's cares, and loves, and desires, 
and implicitly in all their thirstings, yet I may 
well say of them, as God says of the Assyrian mon- 
arch, at what time he executed his pleasure in cor- 
recting his people Israel, "Howbeit he meaneth 
not so, neither doth his heart think so." God is 
not in all their thoughts, whilst they pursue that in 
the creature which really none but God alone can 
be unto them. They do ultimately direct, as to their 
intention, all their cares, and covetings, and thirst- 
ings, to some created object ; all which are calcu- 
lated for the animal life, the gratifying and accom- 
plishing their own base lusts. This is very appa- 
rent in the idolatry of the Pagans, whose lusts gave 
being to their gods ; and so their deities were as 
many as their concupiscences and filthy passions : 
to sacrifice to their own revenge and sensuality, 
under the names of Mars, Bacchus, and Venus, 
what was it else but to proclaim to all the world, 
that they took the highest contentment and satis- 
faction in the fulfilHng of such kind of lusts ? this 
was to them their god or supreme felicity. The 
case is the same, though not so expressly and pro- 
fessedly, with all carnal Christians who, although 
they profess the true God, yet in truth make him 
only a pander to their own lusts and base ends : 
though they name the natne of Christ, yet in very 
4ee.(J deify their own passions, and sacrifice to the 

gratification of their animal powers. The Psalmist, 
as we have seen, determines the main end of all 
men to be good, Psal. iv. 6, but, lest any man should 
be deceived in them, he presently tells us where 
this good was placed, ver. 7, namely, in "corn and 
wine ;" by which we must understand the animal 
life, and whatsoever administers to the delight 
thereof. And certainly this will go far; for not 
only meats and drinks, sensual pleasures, gorgeous 
apparel, sumptuous buildings, splendid descent, ho- 
nourable preferments, popular applause, inordinate 
recreations, and an unwieldy bulk of earthly riches ; 
but also orthodox opinions, philosophical, political, 
yea, and scholastical learning, fair professions, much 
pompous worship, yea, and worship industriously 
void of pomp, specious performances ; to which we 
may add the most seemly exercises of undaunted 
valour, unshaken constancy, unbribed justice, un- 
interrupted temperance, unspotted chastity, and 
unlimited charity, if much giving may deserve so 
sacred a name ; even all these, and as many more, 
may serve only as fuel for the rapacious fire of lust 
and self-love, to maintain and keep alive the mere 
animal, or at most logical, life; and are ordinarily 
designed as sacrifices to that which we significantly 
call self^ in contradistinction from God. I need 
not here declaim against covetous, luxurious, am- 
bitious souls, the Apostle having so expressly pre- 
vented me by his plain and punctual arraignment 
of such men. Col. iii. 5, Phil. iii. 19, where he 


charges them with placing a deity in their bags 
and bellies: otherwise I durst appeal to all the 
world that are not parties, yea, to the parties them- 
selves, whether it be God or themselves that these 
persons do intend to serve, and please, and gratify ; 
whether it be a real assimilation to God, and the 
true honour of his name, or some lust or humour 
of self-pleasing, self-advancing, and self-enjoying, 
that they sacrifice their cares and pains, and the 
main thirstings of their souls to. I am confident it 
will be easily acknowledged, that the covetous, vo- 
luptuous, and ambitious, do sacrifice all they are 
and do to the latter ; but, alas ! it is not yet agreed 
among men who are such ; the hypothesis is granted, 
but the thesis is disputed : and indeed this is no 
wonder either ; for it is as natural for the animal 
self-life to shift off guilt as it is to contract it ; and 
the pride of the natural man is no less conspicuous 
in his wrongful endeavours to seem innocent of 
what he is indeed guilty, than his covetousness 
and voluptuousness is apparent in the matter wherein 
his guilt consisteth. It is not only these, and some 
few of the grossest and profanest sort of souls, that 
are guilty in this kind which I have been describing, 
though they indeed are grossly and most visibly 
guilty ; but verily the whole generation of mere 
animal men, who have no principle of divine life 
implanted in them, do spend all their days, bestow 
all their pains, and enjoy all their comforts, in a 
real strain of blasphemy, from first to last. What 



a blasphemous kind of philosophy was that which 
professedly placed the supreme good and chief hap- 
piness of man in the fruition of pleasures ? And 
indeed all those kinds of philosophy which placed it 
elsewhere, in things below God himself, and the 
enjoyment of him, were no less profane, though they 
may seem somewhat less beastly : for whether the 
Epicureans idolized their own senses, or the more 
exalted Stoics deified their own faculty, placing 
their main contentment in their self-sufficiency, and 
the perpetual serenity and tranquillity of their own 
minds, it is too apparent that both the one and the 
other still moved within the narrow and low sphere 
of natural self, and grasped after a deity in the poor 
dark shadows, and glimmering representatives of 
him. But I am speaking to Christians: and, 
amongst these, let no man tell me how orthodox his 
opinions, how pure and spiritual his forms, how 
numerous and specious his performances are, how 
rightly he pays his homage, and prays to one living 
God by one living IVIediator ; I will willingly allow, 
and do with delight observe these things wherever 
they are ; but yet all this doth not denominate a 
Christian: for still that of the Apostle must hold 
good, " His servants ye are to whom ye obey ;"*' and 
I may add by somewhat a like phraseology, "His 
children ye are whom ye resemble C his creatures 
ye are, as far as you can make yourselves so, whose 
sufficiency and sovereignty is most magnified in 
your hearts ; his worshippers ye arc whom ye 

'i i) 


mostly love, trust in, delight in, depend upon ; in a 
word, that is your god which your soul doth mainly 
rest, and centre, and wrap up itself in. And, alas ! 
how visibly dear and precious is the self-central life, 
which is so universally pampered, cherished, and 
sacrificed unto, besides the invisible and more spiri- 
tual oblations that are made for this purpose. This is 
as true an Antichrist in the mystery as there is any 
literal Antichrist in the world : and of this one may 
as truly say, as St. John doth of the other, ''All the 
world wondercth after the beast." In a word then, 
whosoever saith in his heart concerning anything 
that is not God, what that rich man in the gospel 
said concerning his goods, " Soul, take thine ease 
in them and be merry," the same is an idolater and 
blasphemer: and this I affirm to be the language 
of every apostate spirit, and unregenerate soul of 

3. " No man can find that happiness, and soul- 
filling satisfaction in any creature-enjoyment, which 
every natural man principally seeketh therein." 
Here are two things to be spoken to, namely, the 
enjoyments of men, or what they possess, and the 
satisfaction which the natural man seeketh in such 
possessions. For the first of these, I do not be- 
lieve that ever any natural man had his fill of such 
possessions, I mean as to the quantity of them ; he 
never had so much of them as to be able freely to 
say, " It is enough." The rational soul hath a 
strong and insatiable appetite, and wherever it 


imagineth its beloved prey to be found, and filling 
enjoyment to be had, it is exceedingly greedy and 
rapacious ; whether the same will ever be able to 
afford it or not, it matters not. The animal life is 
that voracious idol, not like Bel in the story, which 
seems only to eat up, but which doth really devour 
all the fat morsels, and sensual pleasures that are 
sacrificed unto it, and yet it is not filled therewith. 
The whole employment of the natural man, is no- 
thing else but as the Apostle elegantly describes it, 
Rom. xiii. 14, " To make provision for the flesh, to 
fulfil the lusts thereof;'' wherein however, to speak 
the truth, he loses his labour ; for he sacrifices all 
to an insatiable idol, and pours it into a gulf that 
hath neither bottom nor bounds, but swalloweth up 
all into its barren womb, and is rather made to 
thirst, than to cease from thirsting by all that is or 
can be administered to it. I take that of Solomon, 
Eccl. i. 8, to be a clear proof in general of what I 
affirm, " The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor 
the ear filled with hearing;"" the eye of man, as 
little as it is, is bigger than the whole visible world, 
which, although it may be wearied with looking up- 
on various objects, as the English annotators observe 
upon these words, yet still desires new ones, and 
can drink them in without surfeiting : so that, al- 
though the acts of the eye be scant and finite, yet 
the lusts of the eye seem to have a kind of infinity 
in them. And indeed by the insatiableness of the 
eye and ear, is meant the greediness and voracity of 


the flesh or animal life, as Mr. Cartwright hath 
well observed upon Pro v. xxvii. 20, " Hell and 
destruction are never full, so the eyes of man are 
never satisfied ;"" where, by not being satisfied, is 
meant not having enough in quantity, as appears by 
the similitude in the former part of the verse. To 
the same sense he speaks, Eccles. iv. 8 ; v. 10. It 
would be endless to relate the monstrous and inex- 
plicable gapings of covetous, ambitious, voluptuous, 
proud, vain-glorious minds after their respective 
idols. And indeed I need not descend to particular 
instances ; for I suppose never any natural man 
could heartily say he had enough of riches, promo- 
tions, applause, sensual delights, eloquence, policy, 
prowess, or victory, or of any other thing which is 
accommodated to the gratification of the flesh, no 
more than any pious soul sojourning upon earth 
could ever yet be able to say he had enough of God 
and eternal life. So that, in a word, I know not 
how to apply any description to this insatiable and 
devouring principle more properly than that which 
the Prophet makes of hell, " She enlargeth herself, 
and openeth her mouth without measure, and all 
glory, multitude, and pomp, descend into it." I 
know there are of those men that pretend to have 
enough in quantity of these fleshly provisions ; but 
I fear falsely and unjustly : for, as for the rich and 
honourable of the earth, it is too evident that they 
are still climbing higher, and grasping after more, 
as the great Alexander is said to have whined after 


more worlds, when he conceited himself to be master 
of all this : as for the poorer and meaner sort of 
people, who are as ready sometimes to lay claim to 
this virtue of thinking themselves to have enough, 
as any other people whatsoever, it is too manifest to 
a wise observer, that it is not a real apprehension 
that they have enough, but either a lowness and 
weakness of spirit, arising from the meanness of 
their education, or a downright despair of ever get- 
ting more. 

But be it imagined that the enjoyments of some 
natural men are enough in respect of quantity, yet 
still there is certainly wanting a true and sincere 
satisfaction of soul in such possessions ; no man of 
all these finds that real happiness in those things 
which he so vehemently hunteth after. Solomon 
reduces all the pleasure and contentment that is to 
be found in multiplied riches to a very pitiful sum 
total, " What good is there to the owners thereof, 
save the beholding of them with their eyes "f And, 
alas ! what is the sight of the eye to the satisfaction 
of the soul ! The whole visible world is utterly too 
scant for, and incommensurate to the wide and deep 
capacity of an immortal spirit ; so that the same 
can no more satisfy than a less can fill a greater, 
which is surely impossible. Whatever is in the 
world out of God, is described by the Prophet, Isa. 
Iv. 2, to be not bread, there is the unsuitableness ; 
and not to satisfy, there is the insufficiency of it as 
to the soul of man : on the other hand, the soul of 

514 im:uakuel. 

man is so vastly capacious, that though it be also 
ever so greedy and rapacious, snatching on the right 
hand, and catching on the left hand, as the Prophet 
describes the famishing people, Isa. ix. 20, yet still 
it is hungry and unsatisfied. AVhich ravenous and 
insatiable appetite of the sensual soul, is elegantly 
described by the Prophet in the similitude of a whor- 
ish woman, who prostituteth herself to all comers, 
and " multiplieth her fornications," yet is " unsati- 
able, is not, cannot be satisfied." The soul may in- 
deed feed, yea, and surfeit upon, but it can never 
satisfy itself from any created good ; nothing can 
ultimately determine and centre the motions of a 
soul, but something superior to its own essence; 
which, whilst it misses of, it is as it were divided 
against itself, perpetually struggling and fluctuating, 
and travailing in pangs with some new design or 
other to be at rest; like the old lioness in the parable 
of Ezekiel, breeding up one whelp after another to 
be a lion wherein to confide, but disappointed in all; 
or like the poor discontented butterfly, lighting and 
catching every where but sticking no where, adoring 
something for a god to-day, which it will be ready 
to fling into the fire to-morrow, after the manner of 
idolaters creating gods to themselves. 

Neither the quantity, variety, nor duration of 
any created objects, can possibly fill up that large 
and noble capacity wherewith God hath endued 
the rational soul; but having departed from its 
centre, and not knowing how to return to its ori- 


ginal, it wanders up and down as it were in a wil- 
derness, and having an imperfect glimmering sight 
of something better than what itself as yet either is 
or hath, but not being able to attain to it, is miser- 
ably tormented, even as a man in a thirst which 
he cannot quench ; yea, the more he runs up and 
down to seek water, the more is his thirst increased 
whilst he misses of it ; so this distempered and dis- 
tracted soul, whilst it seeks to quench its thirst at 
the creature-cistern does but inflame it, and in a 
continual pursuit of rest becomes most restless. 
That every unregenerate soul is in such a distressed, 
weary, restless state as I have been describing, ap- 
pears most evidently by those famous gospel procla- 
mations ; one in Isa. Iv. 1,3," Ho, every one that 
thirsteth, come ye to the waters ;'''' where, by the 
thirsters are meant those unfixed, unsatisfied souls, 
as appears by the second verse ; the other in Matt, 
xi. 28, " Come unto me, all ye that labour," &c. 
where the promise of giving rest does plainly imply 
the restless state of the persons invited. There is 
a certain horror and anguish in sin and wickedness, 
even long before it be swallowed up in hell ; a cer- 
tain vanity and vexation folded up in all earthly 
enjoyments, though the same do not always sting 
and pierce the soul alike : so true is that famous 
aphorism of the Prophet Isaiah, " There is no peace 
to the wicked.'"' 

4. " Grace takes not away this thirst of the soul 
after happiness and plenary satisfaction."" I^ove 

216 IxVlMANUEL. 

and desire, and a tendency towards blessedness, are 
so woven into the nature of the soul, and inlaid 
in its very essence, that she cannot possibly put 
them off: however, it is the work of grace to change 
and rectify them, as we shall see under the next 
head. The soul of man is a kind of immaterial 
fire, an inextinguishable activity, always necessarily 
catching at some object or other, in conjunction 
with which she thinks to be happy ; and, therefore, 
if she be rent from herself and the world, and be 
mortified to the love of fleshly and animal lusts, she 
will certainly cleave to some higher and more excel- 
lent object, as will more clearly appear by and by. 
Grace does not stupify the soul as to its sense of its 
own indigency and poverty, but, indeed, makes it 
more abundantly sensible and importunate. There 
are more strong emotions, and more powerful appe- 
tites in the pious soul towards its true and proper 
happiness, than in the ungodly and wicked. For 
the understanding of the regenerate soul is so en- 
lightened, as that it doth present the will with an 
amiable and satisfactory object ; which object, 
therefore, being more distinctly and perfectly appre- 
hended, doth also apprehend, or lay hold upon, the 
soul, and attract her unto itself That "the eyes 
are leaders in love,"" is most true of the eye of the 
soul ; I mean the understanding, that first affects 
the heart with fervid passions. The first and 
fundamental error and mistake of the rational soul, 
seems to lie here, even in the understanding; here 


lies the very root of the degenerate souPs distemper; 
and if this were thoroughly restored and healed, so 
as to present the will with pure and proper ideas 
and representations of God, it might be hoped that 
this ductile faculty would not be long before it clave 
unto him entirely : nay, it may be doubted whether 
it could possibly resist the dictates of it. Now in 
the regenerate soul this faculty is repaired ; yea, I 
may say, that the spirit of regeneration first of all 
spreads itself into the understanding, and awakens 
in it a sense of self-indigency, and of the perfect, 
all-sufficient, suitable, and satisfactory fulness of 
God, in whom it sees all beauty, sweetness, and 
loveliness, in an infinitely ineffable manner, wrapped 
up and contained ; which will be so far from allaying 
the essential thirst of the soul, and stifling its eager 
pantings, that it must needs give a mighty edge 
and ardour to its inclinations, and put it upon a 
more bold and earnest contention towards this glori- 
ous object, and charm the whole soul into the very 
arms of God. Therefore not thirsting in the text, 
must not be understood absolutely, as if grace did 
utterly extinguish the natural activities of the soul, 
and its propensions : but the regenerate and gi'acious 
soul doth not thirst in such a sense, as thirst implies 
a want of a suitable good, or dissatisfaction, or in- 
cludes torment properly so called. In this notion of 
thirst grace doth indeed quench it, as I intimated in 
the beginning of this discourse, and as it will further 
appear in the procedure of it. But as to this most 

VOL. II. u 


essential thirst, this natural desire, or vergency of 
the soul after central rest and happiness, the same 
is so far from being extinguished or moderated by 
divine grace, that it is greatly improved, and migh- 
tily inflamed thereby. I suppose I need not enlarge 
upon so acknowledged a subject; therefore I will 
but present you with the instances of holy David in 
the Old Testament, and gracious Paul in the New. 
I need not, I suppose, magnify the holy and divine 
frame of David's spirit by any rhetoric of mine; 
God himself hath given the amplest testimony, and 
fairest character of him that I remember to have 
been, at any time, given of any man, when he owns 
him for "a man after his own heart:" and what a 
longing, thirsting soul this was, I need do no more 
to demonstrate than to turn you to some passages 
and professions of his own in his devout Psalms, 
such as Psal. xlii. 1. Ixiii. 1. cxliii. 6, where he bor- 
rows the strongest inclinations that are to be found 
in the whole creation, to represent the devout ar- 
dours of his own soul ; " As the hart panteth after 
the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O 
God" — "0 God, thou art my God, early will I 
seek thee ; my soul thirsteth for thee ; my flesh 
longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no 
water is" — "I stretch forth my hands unto thee ; my 
soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land :" yea, he 
seems like one that would swoon away for very 
longing: "Hear me, speedily, O Lord, my spirit 
faileth ; liide not thy face from me, lest I be like 
unto them that go down into the pit ; I lift up my 


soul unto thee ; I flee unto thee,^ &c. The very 
same temper you will find in holy Paul, that chosen 
-vessel of God, if you peruse his Epistles, in all 
which you will meet with devout and strong breathe 
ings of the same kind ; particularly Phil. iii. 11 — 
14, where he seems to be so thirsty after a state of 
heavenly perfection, that he longs after, if I mis- 
take not the meaning of the eleventh verse, some- 
thing that yet he knows he cannot arrive at whilst 
he is in this world, even the resurrection of the 
dead, or such a perfect state of purity and holiness, 
as belongs to the children of the resurrection. 

5. "The pious soul thirsteth no more after hap- 
piness in any creature, nor rests in any worldly 
thing, but in God alone.'' This particular consists 
also of two branches : the former and negative part 
whereof seems to me to contain in it the scope and 
meaning of our Saviour, in these words which I am 
now interpreting. We have already seen that every 
unsanctified soul is restless, and craving, wavering, 
unsatisfied, inconstant to itself, and its choice : by 
reason of its natural activity, it is always spending 
itself in restless and giddy motions ; but by reason 
of its ignorance, and unacquaintedness with the one 
supreme and all-sufficient Good, and the multi- 
plicity of lower ends and objects, it is miserably 
distracted, and doth necessarily grapple with inevit- 
able disturbances, in a continual unsteadiness, put- 
ting forth itself now towards one thing, anon to ano- 
ther, courting every thing, but matching with no- 


thing ; like a fickle lover, that is always enamoured 
with the last feature he saw ; or a greedy merchant, 
that being equally in love with the pleasure of being 
at home, and the profit of being abroad, can stay 
long no where with any content, but has always 
most mind of the place where he is not. 

The description that our Lord gives of the un- 
clean spirit that is " gone out of a man,^' seems very 
aptly to agree with that unclean spirit that is in 
man, that being departed from God its proper rest 
and habitation, walketh through dry and desert 
places, I mean, empty and unsatisfying creature- 
enjoyments, seeking rest but finding none. It was 
an accidental affliction of believers, but is the natu- 
ral and necessary affliction of every unbelieving and 
wicked soul, to wander up and down the world des- 
titute, afflicted, tormented. Sinful self is so multi- 
form, and that one root, the animal life, has such a 
world of branches, that it is impossible to adminis- 
ter due nourishment to them all ; and yet they are 
all importunate and greedy suckers too : so that he 
must needs have a difiicult task, and a painful pro- 
vince, that is constrained to attend upon so many, 
so different, and yet all of them so impatient and 
imperious masters. But I shall lose ground by thus 
going backward to what I considered under the se- 
cond head, except I can make this advantage of it, to 
enforce that which I was going to speak of, with the 
greater strength and clearer evidence. The case 
standing thus with the unregenerate soul, as we 


have seen in this short review, I now say, that 
divine grace allays the multifarious thirst of the 
soul after other waters, of which it could never yet 
drink deep, or if it drunk ever so deep, could not 
be quenched ; it determines the soul to one object, 
which before was rent in pieces amongst many. It 
does not destroy any of the natural powers, nor dry 
up the innate vigour of the soul, as I made evident 
under the last head, but it takes it off from the 
chase of all inferior ends, and inadequate objects, 
setting it upon a vehement pursuit of, and causing 
it to spend all its powers not less vigorously, 
but far more rationally and satisfactorily upon, that 
object worthy of our love, the infinitely amiable and 
self-sufficient God. When the soul hath once met 
with this glorious object, is once mastered with this 
Supreme Good, is, by divine grace, enlarged, it can- 
not, with any ease, stretch itself upon the creature 
any more ; that is too scant and insufficient for it. 
Certainly the soul that understands its own origin, 
nature, and capacity, and once comes to view itself 
in God, will see itself too large to be bounded by 
the narrow confines of self, or any creature, and 
too free to be bound down and chained to any 
earthly object whatever. The world indeed may, 
yea, and will labour to take o^' the soul ; " What is 
thy beloved more than another beloved,"" that thou 
art so fond of him ? " Are not Abana and Pharpar, 
rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of 
Israel?" Be content, here is hay and provender; 

r o 


Stay with me this night; let us dally and make 
merry together a little longer. But these Syren 
songs are sung to a deaf ear ; they cannot inchant 
the wise and devout soul that hath her senses rightly 
awakened, and exercised to discern between good 
and evil : O no, " I am sick of love,'' and sick of 
every thing that keeps me from my Beloved ; and 
therefore, however you may go about to defile me 
through fraud or force, through surprise or violence, 
yet I will not prostitute myself to you. The gra- 
cious soul hath now discovered the most beautiful, 
perfect, and lovely object, even Him whose name is 
love itself; which glorious vision hath so blasted 
and withered the choicest flowers in nature's gar- 
den, that they have now no more form or come- 
liness, beauty or fragrancy, so as to deserve to be de- 
sired ; she hath tasted the pure and perfect sweet- 
ness of the fountain, which has so imbittered all 
cistern-waters, that she finds no more thirstings in 
herself after them ; which is that which our Saviour 
promiseth here, "shall never thirst." A pious soul 
cannot possibly be put off with anything short of 
God ; give him his God, or he dies ; give him ever 
so much fair usage in the world, ever so much of 
earthly accommodations, they are not accommodated 
to his wants and thirst, if they have not that God 
in them out of whom all worldly pleasures are even 
irksome and unpleasant, and all fleshly ease is 
tedious and painful : creature-employments are but a 
wearisome drudgery to a soul that is. acquainted 


•with the work of angels ; and creature-enjoyments, 
in themselves considered, are very insignificant, if 
not burdensome to a mind that is feelingly pos- 
sessed of the chief good. 

But here it will be seasonable to take into con- 
sideration a grand inquiry, namely. Whether a 
good man may not be said in some sense to desire 
the creature, and how far such a person may be 
said to thirst after it. This I shall speak to as 
briefly, and yet as clearly as I can, in these four 
following particulars : — 

1. "All pious souls are not equally mortified to 
worldly loves, nor equally zealous and importunate 
lovers of God.'** This is so evident, that I need not 
insist upon it. Abraham seems to have been as 
much higher and nobler in spirit than his brother 
Lot, as Lot was more excellent than one of the or- 
dinary sons of Adam, I had almost said, than one 
of the Sodomites amongst whom he dwelt. The 
one leaves all the pleasant and plentiful accommo- 
dations of his native country, at the very first call 
out, not knowing whither he went, only rely- 
ing upon the gracious guidance of him whom he 
followed ; he seems to reckon all soils alike for his 
sojourning, and the whole habitable world as his 
own city and home, as appears by his readiness to 
break up house, and quit his present habitation, ra- 
ther than interfere with the conveniences of his 
nephew, Gen. xiii. 9- The other preferred a fruit- 
ful soil before a faithful society, and so in some 


sense his body before his soul ; and yet, as if it had 
not been enough to make so unadvised a choice, he 
rests in it too ; yea, though he was so severely re- 
proved by the captivity that befel him there, whereby 
he was not so much called, as indeed carried away 
thence, yet this will not loosen him from his earthly 
conveniences, but he returns to Sodom, and from 
thence he will not part till he be fired out, nay, and 
then also it is with much lingering and lothness, 
Gen. xix. 16. It is evident I say, both from this 
and many other instances which I purposely omit, 
that it is so, that all pious souls are not equally 
careless of these earthly things, nor carried out with 
equal ardour and intemperance, as I may call it, to- 
wards the supreme and most glorious object ; of 
which I can assign no better reason than this, be- 
cause they are not all equally pious. For, 

% " So far as grace prevails, and religion in the 
power of it actuateth the soul in which it is planted, 
so far earthly loves decay and wither." For these two 
cannot stand together, the love of the world is in- 
consistent with the love of God ; " If any man love 
the world, the love of the Father is not in him.'' 
So far as any soul is sanctified, so far is it mortified 
also to all creature-enjoyments, to all things that 
are only fuel for the animal life, honour, ease vic- 
tory, plenty, liberty, relations, recreations, all the 
entertainments and delights in this lower life, yea, 
and this very life itself. Earthly and heavenly 
loves arc to each otlier as the two scales of a pair of 


balances, save that they are never found equally 
poizing, as the one rises the other falls; just so 
much advantage as this gets, that loses. The more 
the sensual and self-central life thrives and prospers, 
and the creature is exalted, the more religion and 
the divine life faint and flag in the soul : and as 
certainly, on the other hand, the more divine grace 
prevails, and the divine life flourisheth in the soul, 
the more all earthly objects wither away and lose 
their beauty, and the soul cooleth and languisheth 
as to its love and desire of them. So far as a re- 
generate soul is unregenerate, so far will she be 
bustling after other lovers : which regeneration will 
not, I conceive, be thoroughly perfected, and there- 
fore these passions, not utterly extinguished, till this 
mortal put on immortality; or, as the Apostle speaks 
elsewhere, till " mortality be swallowed up of life."" 
3. For the preventing of rash and uncharitable 
judging, I do affirm, that " divine and holy souls 
are often mistaken by them that behold their ordi- 
nary converse and actions in the body." They are 
thought sometimes to take pleasure in the creature, 
and to gratify the flesh, when indeed it is no such 
matter; but they take pleasure in the image of God, 
or the evidence of his fatherly love, which they con- 
template therein, and do perhaps, most of all, serve 
a spiritual end, and an eternal design in those very 
actions which others may think are calculated for 
the gratification of the animal life, and the service 
of the flesh. Let not the purblind world, nor the 


self-befriending hypocrite, be judge, and it will ap- 
pear that the truly pious soul counts nothing savoury 
to itself, but what represents, teaches, exhibits some- 
thing of God, nothing pleasant but what hath a 
tendency to him : such a man doth not feel himself 
in his highest raptures, doth not value himself on 
his noblest accomplishments, doth not seek himself 
in his most excellent performances ; be not mistaken, 
he doth not so much thirst after long life, riches, 
friends, liberties, as indeed after God in them all ; 
these all signify nothing to him, if they bring him 
not nearer to his God, and conduce to his real and 
spiritual happiness. Yea, possibly, in his most 
suspected actions, and those that seem most alien 
from religion, and most designed to please the flesh, 
he may be highly spiritual and pure : so was our 
blessed Saviour we know, even in his conversing 
with scandalous sinners, eating and drinking with 
Publicans and notorious offenders, however he was 
traduced by a proud and hypocritical generation ; 
and so I doubt not is many a good Christian, ac- 
cording to his measure, pure as Christ was pure. 
When a painted hypocrite, who can guess at the 
temper of others no other way but by what he finds 
in himself, and by what he should be and do, if he 
were under the same circumstances, comes to be 
judge of the actions or disposition of one who is 
transformed into the image of the divine freedom 
and benignity, you may easily imagine what a per- 
verse sentence he will pass. It needs not seem very 


Strange, methinks, in spiritual things, any more 
than it is in corporeal things, that the most sound 
and healthful constitutions should, upon a lawful 
call, adventure themselves further than the crazy, 
and sickly, and familiarly converse with and handle, 
yea, and make good work v/ith those briers and 
thorns, which would prove a snare, or a wound, or 
a pricking temptation to others. If it were possible 
for any man to arrive at the purity and perfection 
of his Saviour, and his firm and immoveable radi- 
cation in true goodness, he would find himself so 
wholly dead to sin, and all temptations and motions 
thereunto, that he would be able to walk upon the 
most boisterous waves, without fear of being swal- 
lowed up in them, and to take up in his hands the 
most venemous serpent, not dreading the sting of it. 
However, the apprehensions and actions of more 
perfect and refined souls are not rashly to be judged; 
for they may easily be mistaken, either by the un- 
hallowed hypocrite, or the more imperfect and im- 
potent saint. 

4. To answer yet more fully, I do affirm, that 
" no truly religious soul in the world doth so thirst 
after the creature, as to place its main happiness in 
it, or to seek satisfaction from it." However all 
holy souls may not be alike weaned from the world, 
nor equally loving of God, however the affections 
and actions of some may really be, and of others 
may seem to be, too gross and fleshly, yet no one of 
all these, in whom this new and divine life is indeed 


found, doth erect a self-supremacy in his own soul, 
nor take his full and complete rest and happiness 
to consist in any creature-communion whatsoever. 
Surely this, of not thirsting, is so far a consequence 
of true religion, as that no religious soul in the 
world can be content to exchange the presence of 
God, and acquaintance with him, for any thing, for 
all things besides ; or, if you will, plainly thus, no 
such person could be content, no, not for all the 
world, the glory of heaven not excepted, if it may 
be supposed, to be wicked and ungodly : so that by 
thirsting here must not be meant some weak wish- 
ings, and fainter propensions of the soul towards 
created objects; for certainly there is no soul found 
in a body of earth, in which these are not found, 
no, nor yet some more lively and stronger strugglings 
after them, (how strong they may be in a good 
Christian, and yet predominated over by grace, we 
cannot punctually determine ;) but, by thirsting 
here, must be meant the most quick and powerful 
breathings, the highest and strongest ardencies, the 
predominant and victorious motions and desires of 
the soul, which do, as it were, fold up the whole 
soul, and lead all its powers and faculties with it 
into a grateful captivity. Thus shall he thirst no 
more, who hath once drunk of these waters which 
flow forth from the presence of the Lord of life, and 
which the blessed Redeemer of the world is here 
said to give. 

But, which is the latter branch of this particular, 


this inspired soul which we have been describing, 
thirsteth after his happiness in God alone, that is, 
in the enjoyment of him. We have already seen 
that grace does not destroy the natural and essential 
longings of the soul after a satisfactory good, but 
rather enhances them, and that the pious soul is 
most thirsty of all, but not with a creature-thirst, 
as is before proved ; it remains then, that his thirst- 
ing after rest and happiness is terminated upon 
God alone. And so indeed it appears in the in- 
stances of holy men recorded in holy writ, which I 
have under the last head spoken something to. But 
to those passages and professions which I quoted out 
of Psalm xlii. 1, 2, &c. you may add such as Psalm 
iv. 6, which is the voice of every pious soul; " Lord, 
lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us :" 
Psalm xxxix. 6, 7, " Surely every man walketh in a 
vain show ; surely they are disquieted in vain ; he 
heapeth up riches, &c. And now. Lord, what wait 
I for ? my hope is in thee ;" where you have the 
different seekings and centrings of the ungodly, and 
of the godly soul, elegantly described. Lastly, You 
may, in Psalm Ixxiii. 25, again view the term or 
end of the pious man's ambition ; " Whom have I 
in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth 
that I desire besides thee !" Which translation 
of the words doth in a lively manner set out the 
good man's end, and aim, and object, and happi- 
ness, and indeed his all : or, if we translate, perhaps 
more fitly, with Mollerus, yet they afford us the 



same doctrine, " Who will give me to be in heaven 
and with thee ? on earth I desire nothing." 

And thus have we despatched the fifth proposi- 
tion, namely, that the pious soul thirsteth no more 
after happiness in any creature, or rest in any worldly 
thing; and come to the sixth and last particular 
designed for the explication of this not thirsting of 
the religious soul, which is this : — 

In the enjoyment of God, this soul is at rest, is 
fully satisfied. I do not mean so satisfied as not to 
thirst after any more of him, as I have often hinted; 
but so satisfied, as to be perfectly matched with an 
object transcendently adequate to all its faculties, 
and their respective capacities ; and so satisfied as 
to have peace, and joy, and triumph in him. To 
these two I will speak distinctly, and so pass on. 

Now, for the better understanding of the first of 
these it should be noticed, that the reasonable soul 
and the faculties of it are of a vast, large, and noble 
capacity. It is universally granted by all that are 
not Sadducees, that the capacity of angels is very 
great and noble ; and that the condition of the hu- 
man soul is not much inferior to it, may, I think, 
be gathered from the Psalmist's words, " Thou hast 
made him a little lower than the angels:" which 
words, although the author of the Epistle to the He- 
brews applies them to Christ, Heb. ii. 9, and indeed 
they have a marvellous aptness to him, according to 
the Dutch translation, which runs thus, " We see 
Jesus crowned with glory and honour, who was be- 


come a little less than the angels, by reason of 
the sufferings of death ; that he should, by the grace 
of God," Sec. Yet I see nothing hindering but that 
they may be well applied to the excellent condition 
of man by creation; especially considering that 
many other passages of the Old Testament have a 
double aspect, one more ordinary and obvious, 
which was most clearly understood by the Prophet 
that wrote them ; the other more abstruse and mys- 
terious, principally intended by the Spirit that in- 
spired him, and only to be understood by the reve- 
lation of the same Spirit : such are those passages, 
I conceive, which are found in Isa. vii. 14. Hosea 
xi. 1, interpreted by the Evangelist, Matt. i. 23, 
and ii. 15 ; as also Jer. xxxi. 15, with many more. 
But however it goes with that text, and whether or 
not the souls of men be so near of kindred to the 
angels, as to their own comprehensions ; yet, that 
they are capable of a most noble and excellent hap- 
piness, and much allied to God himself, doth ap- 
pear from such texts of scripture as doth require 
them to be " holy as God is holy C to be " perfect 
as their heavenly Father is perfect."*' Neither need 
it seem to any incredible, that the rational soul 
should be so capacious ; for we are no more to judge 
of the angelical temper, and noble actings of the 
separated soul, by what we see it to be and do in 
this body of flesh, than one can judge of the prowess 
and puissance of a renowned warrior at the head of 
an army, by what we discern in him when he lies 


bound in chains, or of the ^owqr and splendour of 
the sun, by what we discern of it when it is eclipsed, 
or miserably beclouded ; or, if you will, no more 
than we can judge of a man by the imperfections of 
his childhood : for so the Apostle Paul seems to 
state the case, 1 Cor. xiii. 10, 11, plainly implying, 
that the present and future condition of the soul is 
comparable to the minority and adult state of a 
man; as if he had said, "the soul, in its future 
and separate state, will act as much nobler a part 
than what it doth now, as the soul of the wisest 
man in the world acteth more nobly than what it 
did when he was a child :" yea, and what is still 
more to our present purpose, he seems clearly to 
intimate in the twelfth verse, that this improvement 
shall happen not so much by the more evident pro- 
pounding of the object, as by the more ample illu- 
mination and corroboration of the faculties. In 
the next place it will be easily inferred, that all 
created good is too scant and insufficient for this ca- 
pacious spirit of man; too short a bed to stretch 
itself upon : nay, it cannot contract itself so as to 
be accommodated to any worldly good, without pain 
and anguish. From both which it will be naturally 
and necessarily concluded, that God alone is that 
adequate object which can match the soul of man, 
and satisfy it, as being infinitely superior and trans- 
cendent to it. The enjoyment of God is that ulti- 
mate end, and perfect good that is only able to fix 
the spirit of man ; which otherwise, not meeting 


with its chief good, would be tossed to and fro, and 
labour under perpetual disquietness, and restless fluc- 
tuations. God is that almighty goodness and sweet- 
ness, who alone is able to draw out all the appetites 
of the soul into himself, satisfy all its cravings, 
charm all its restless motions, and cause all its fa- 
culties, in the purest and most complacential man- 
ner, to conspire together to give up themselves 
wholly and entirely to himself 

Secondly, From this conjunction with omnipotent 
goodness, ariseth pure peace, yea, joy and triumph, 
to the religious soul. For the clearer understanding 
of this I should premise, what some have wisely ob- 
served, that there is a natural congruity between 
God and the soul, she being a spiritual substance, 
and he being a spiritual good, only suitable to her. 
This seems to be evident by experience ; for we see 
how difficult, I had almost said, impossible it is, 
utterly to eradicate and extinguish all sense of vir- 
tue and goodness out of the soul of man ; to which 
purpose I think our divines generally speak, when 
they allow of some holy relics, something of the 
image of God remaining in the most degenerate 
souls, however all men have reduced the same to a 
very poor and inconsiderable spark, and many have 
raked that very spark under ashes too, and impri- 
soned that remainder of truth in unrighteousness, 
living according to those unnatural and foreign 
principles and conceptions that they have unhap- 
pily drunk in. Hence it is, I suppose, that sin and 

X 3 


wickedness are so often styled the defilement of the 
soul. Now, we know, that whatsoever defileth, is 
adventitious and improper; and hence it is, that 
sin many times stings and wounds the consciences 
of those that take most pleasure in it, because 
being so perfectly contrary to this noble and inbred 
sense of the soul. Allowing, then, this natural sym- 
pathy that the soul of man hath with its Creator, it 
will be easy to give a philosophical account of that 
peace, joy, and triumph, of which the soul must 
needs be possessed, or rather indeed transported 
with, that finds and feels itself in conjunction 
with its centre, and in the dearest embraces of its 
Creator. It needs not seem strange, that the soul 
should mightily congratulate itself in its arrival at 
its own haven ; nay, it were strange if it should not 
dissolve into secret joy and pleasure in the hearty 
entertainments of so blessed and proper a guest as 
God is to it ; nay, indeed it were unreasonable to 
imagine, that the conjunction of such noble and dis- 
cerning faculties with so perfect and proper an ob- 
ject, should not beget the truest and sincerest de- 
light and pleasure imaginable. The delights of an 
earthly and sensual mind are filthy and dreggy, in 
comparison of those pleasures of the refined and 
puriiied soul, which must needs live most grace- 
fully, triumphantly, and deliciously, when it con- 
verseth with God most intimately. Certainly if 
there be any innocent and well-natured self-feeling, 
or self-pleasing, in the world, this is it; though 


indeed to speak truly, it deserves a better name. 
It cannot be but that a pious soul, being in its right 
senses, should taste a sweetness in these pure and 
divine accomplishments wrought in it by the eter- 
nal spirit of righteousness ; which self-pleasing is 
no more blameable, than that natural pleasure which 
every creature finds in the enjoyment of that which 
is most aptly accommodated to its necessities, and 
most perfective of its happiness ; which pleasure, I 
say, ariseth in the soul from its sensible union with 
God in the spirit, and enjoyment of him : by which 
enjoyment of God, you will easily perceive that I do 
not mean the bare pardon of sin, or an abstract jus- 
tification ; for this is not the attainment that is per- 
fective of the soul, neither could it alone, if we could 
suppose it alone, fill up the capacities of the soul, 
or make it happy, however the rapturous joys of the 
unprincipled hypocrite spring principally from the 
opinion and false apprehension of this ; which in- 
deed I take to be a notable, though not infallible, 
sign of a mercenary, low-spirited, and fleshly-minded 
Christian : but, by it, I mean the soul's being really 
regenerated into the image of God, consisting in 
knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, and her im- 
plantation into the root Christ Jesus, by which she 
partakes of his divine life, power, and Spirit. 
\ And yet, besides this, I conceive there is a more 
theological account to be given of these joys and 
pleasures which the renewed soul doth so plentifully 
reap upon her return to God, from whom she had 

236 1MM*ANUEL. 

SO long straggled by sin and wickedness. For the 
" God of hope filleth the pious soul with all peace 
and joy in believing.'' Christ doth on purpose speak 
words to the hearts of his disciples, that " their joy 
may be full.'** But whether the most benign and 
gracious Father of spirits doth immediately from 
himself inspire the holy soul with divine joys and 
pleasures, kindled, as I may say, with nothing but 
his own breath ; or whether he bring them to his 
holy mountain, and into his house of prayer, and 
by that, or any other like means, make them joyful, 
and of glad heart, as in the day of a solemn festi- 
val, as he hath promised to do, Isa. Ivi. 7, and xxv. 
6, however it be, I say, sure it is that he frequently 
puts a gladness into their hearts beyond that of the 
harvest or the vintage, and makes them to rejoice 
with "joy unspeakable and full of glory."" 

Having now unfolded the meaning of the gracious 
gouFs not thirsting any more, I should pass to the 
last thing contained in the text ; but finding my- 
self oppressed in my spirit by the consideration of 
this necessary consequence of true religion, when I 
compare the temper of Christians with it, I must 
crave leave to stay a little and breathe. And what 
shall I breathe but a sad and bitter complaint over 
that low, earthly, selfish, greedy spirit which actuat- 
eth the world at this day, yea, and the generality 
of professors of that sacred religion which we call 
Christianity. Alas ! what a company of thieves 
and murderers, I mean, base and sensual loves and 

immanIqel. 5^37 

lusts, lodge in those very souls who would be taken 
for temples consecrated to the name, and honour, 
and inhabitation of the eternal God, the Spirit of 
truth and holiness. O what pity is it that the pre- 
cious souls of men, yea, and of Christians, the best 
of men, that are all capable of so glorious liberty, 
so high and honourable a happiness, should be bound 
down under such vile and sordid lusts, feeding upon 
dust and gravel, to whom the hidden manna is 
freely offered, and God himself is ready to become 
a banquet ! And O what a shame is it for those 
who profess themselves to be children of God, dis- 
ciples of the most holy Jesus, and heirs of his pure 
and undefiled kingdom of heaven ; for these, I say, 
willingly and greedily to roll themselves in filthy 
and brutish sensualities, to set up that on high in 
their souls, which was made to be under their bo- 
dies, and so to love and live as if they studied to 
have no affinity at all, but would be as unlike as 
they could, to that God, and Redeemer, and unfit 
for that inheritance ! How often shall it be pro- 
tested to the Christian world, by men of the great- 
est devotion and seriousness, that it is utterly 
mad, and perfectly vain, to dream of entering into 
the kingdom of heaven hereafter, except the king- 
dom of heaven enter into our souls during their 
union with these bodies ? How long shall the Son 
of God, who came into the world on purpose to be 
the most glorious example of true and divine purity, 
exact and perfect self-denial and mortification, how 


long shall he lie by in his word as an antiquated 
pattern only cut out for the apostolical ages of the 
world, and only suited to some few morose and me- 
lancholy men? Is it not a monstrous spectacle, 
and to be hissed out of the world with the greatest 
indignation, a covetous, voluptuous, ambitious, sen- 
sual saint ? With what face can we pretend to true 
religion, or a feeling acquaintance with God, and 
the things of his personal service and kingdom, 
whilst the continual bleatings and lowings of our 
souls after created good do bewray us so manifestly, 
and proclaim before all the world that the beast, 
the brutish life, is still powerful in us ? "If ye 
seek me,'*' saith Christ to his followers, as well as he 
did once to his persecutors, "then let these go;"" 
let go the hold of these earthly objects, let vanish 
these worldly joys and toys ; " withhold your throat 
from thirst, and your feet from being unshod,*" and 
come follow me only, and ye shall have treasure in 
heaven ; for he that will not deny all for me, is not 
worthy of me. Ah sad and dreadful fall, that hath 
so miserably cramped this royal offspring, and made 
the king's son to be a lame Mephibosheth ! Ah dole- 
ful apostacy ! How are the sons of the morning 
become children of darkness, and the heirs of hea- 
ven vassals and drudges to earth ! How is the 
King's daughter unequally yoked with a churlish 
Nabal, that continually checketh her more divine 
and generous motions ! "How unhappily art thou 
matched, my soul ! '' And yet, alas ! I see it is 


too properly a marriage ; for thou hast clean for- 
gotten "thine own people, and thy Father's house." 
Take up, oh take up a lamentation, thou virgin 
daughter of the God of Zion : formerly indeed a 
vjrgin, but now, alas ! no longer a virgin, but miser- 
Siiy married to an unworthy mate, that can never 
be able to match thy faculties, nor maintain thee 
according to the grandeur of thy birth, or the ne- 
cessary pomp of thy expenses, and way of living ; 
nay, thou art become not only a miserable wife, but, 
in so being, thou art also a wicked adulteress, pros- 
tituting thyself to the very vilest of thy lawful hus- 
band's servants ; if thou be not incestuous, it is no 
thank to thee, there being nothing in this world so 
near of kin to thee, as to make way for incest. 
" Return, return, O Shulamite ; return, return ; 
put away thine adulteries from between thy breasts, 
and so shall the King yet again greatly desire thy 
beauty ;" for so he hath promised, Jer. iii. 21 , that 
when there shall be a voice heard upon the high 
places, weeping, and supplications of the children of 
Israel, because they have perverted their way, and 
forgotten the Lord their God, and the backsliding 
children shall return, and then he " will heal their 



TAe term or end of religion, eternal life, considered in 
a double notion — First, As it signi^es the essential 
happiness of the soul — Second, As it takes in many 
glorious appendixes — The noble and genuine breath' 
ings of the pious soul after, and springing up into, 
the former — The argument drarvn from the example 
of Christ — Moses and Paul moderated — It ends in a 
serious exhortation made to Christians, to live and 
love more spiritually, more suitably to the nature of 
souls, redeemed souls, resulting from the whole dis- 

I AM now come to the last thing whereby this most 
noble principle is described, namely, the term or end 
of it ; and that is said here, in the text, to be "ever- 
lasting life." This is the highest pitch of perfec- 
tion, unto which the new creature is continually 
growing up ; which the Apostle Paul hath express- 
ed with as much grand eloquence, as words are able 
to magnify it, calling it, "the measure of the sta- 
ture of the fulness of Christ :" this is that unbounded 
ocean, which this living fountain, by so many inces- 
sant issues, and unwearied streamings, perpetually 
endeavours to empty itself into, or rather to em- 
bosom itself in. Now, what this is, we must confess 
with the Apostle John, and indeed we have more 
reason to make such a confession than he had, that 


it doth not yet appear, namely, neither fully nor 
distinctly : but yet, since I am thus cast upon the 
contemplation of it, it will be a suitable and agree- 
able matter to enquire into it ; and though it sur- 
pass the power and skill of all created comprehen- 
sions to take the just dimensions, and faithfully give 
in the height, and depth, and length, and breadth 
of it ; yet we may attempt to walk about this hea- 
venly Jerusalem, as the Psalmist speaks of the 
earthly, "and tell the towers thereof, mark her 
walls, consider her palaces,*" that we may tell it to 
the generation following. 

1. Then, we will consider "eternal life" in the 
most proper notion of it, as it implies the essential 
happiness of the soul ; and so it is no other than 
the soul's pure, perfect, and established state. By 
a state, I do designedly undervalue that grosser no- 
tion of a place, as that which scarcely deserves to 
enter into the description of such a glory, or, at 
best, will obtain but a very low room there : by pu- 
rity, I do purposely explode that carnal ease, rest, 
immunity, affluence of sensual delights, accommo- 
dated only to the animal life — which last Maho- 
metans, and the former too many professed Chris- 
tians, and the Jews almost, generally dream of, 
and judge heaven to be. By perfection, I dis- 
tinguish it from the best state which the best men 
upon earth can possibly be in. So then I take eter- 
nal life in the primary and most proper notion of it 
to be the full, perfect, and everlasting enjoyment of 

VOL. II. r 


God, communion with him, and a most blissful con- 
formity of all the powers and faculties of the soul 
to that eternal goodness, truth, and love, as far as 
it is or may become capable of the communications 
of the Divinity. This life was, at the highest rate 
imaginable, purchased by our ever blessed Lord and 
Saviour in the days of his flesh, and here in the text 
promised to every believing soul. Now, inasmuch 
as we are ignorant both of the present capacity of 
our own faculties, how large they are, and much 
more ignorant, how much more large and ample they 
may be made, on purpose to receive the more rich 
and plentiful communications of the divine life and 
image, therefore can we not comprehend either 
the transcendent life, happiness, and glory, or that 
degree of sanctity and blessedness which the believ- 
ing soul may be advanced to in another world. 
The Popish schoolmen do nicely dispute about the 
sight of God, and the love of God, to wit, in whe- 
ther of these the formal blessedness of the soul con- 
sisteth, Ul separating those which God hath so 
firmly joined together, as if it were possible that 
either a blind love, or a jejune and unafFectionate 
speculation, could render a soul entirely happy: 
but it is much safer to say, that the happiness and 
eternal life of the soul standeth in the possession 
or fruition of God ; and this doth necessarily im- 
port the proper perfection of every faculty. No- 
thing can be the formal happiness of a spirit that 
is either inferior or extrinsical to it; it must be 

IMMAlSlUEL. 243 

something divine, and that wrought into the very 
nature and temper of it. I hesitate not to affirm, 
that if the soul of man could possibly be advanced, 
so as to receive adoration or divine power, yet if it 
were in the mean time void of divine dispositions, 
and a God-like nature; it would be 'far from being 
glorified, and made happy as to its capacity. What 
health is to the body, that is holiness to the soul ; 
which haply the Apostle alludes to when he speaks 
of the " spirit of a sound mind,'' S Tim. i. 7. 

2. There is another notion of " eternal life" which 
some contend for, by which they mean not barely 
the essential happiness of the soul, but that with 
the addition of many suitable and glorious circum- 
stances — the essential happiness of the soul, a3 it is 
attended with the appendixes of a glorified body, 
the beholding of Christ, the amicable society of 
angels, freedom from temptations, the knowledge of 
the secrets of nature and providence, and such like : 
to which may be also added, though of a lower de- 
gree, open absolution, or a visible deliverance of the 
saints out of the overthrow of the wicked, at the 
conflagration of the world, power over devils, emi- 
nence of place, enjoyment of friends, and such like. 
Now, let us briefly consider what tendencies there 
are in the religious soul towards each of these. And 
here I must crave leave to speak jointly both of the 
end, and of the motion thereunto ; though it may 
be thought that the former only falls fairly under 
our present consideration. 


(1.) Then, I suppose, that "eternal life,'"* in the 
first sense of it, is intended here, to wit, the essen- 
tial happiness of the soul, or its perfect and ever- 
lasting enjoyment of God. For the description is 
here made of religion itself in the abstract, or that 
principle of divine life, which Christ Jesus implant- 
ed in the soul ; and being so considered, it is hard 
to conceive how that should spring up into any of 
these appendant circumstances, or into anything but 
the completion and perfection of itself; though the 
religious soul, taken in connection with them, pos- 
sibly may. And, indeed, though we should allow, 
which we shall take into consideration under the 
next head, that many of those high scriptural 
phrases, which are brought to describe the future 
condition of believing souls, do principally respect 
the appendixes of its essential happiness, (as a king- 
dom, a house not made with hands, eternal in the 
heavens, an inheritance reserved, a place prepared, 
and the like,) yet it seems very unnatural to inter- 
pret this phrase, "life," and "eternal hfe," any 
otherwise than of that which I call the essential 
happiness of the soul : but if we interpret it of this, 
the sense is very fair and easy. Thus, this prin- 
ciple of divine life is continually endeavouring to 
grow up to its just altitude, to advance itself to a 
triumphant state, even as all other principles of 
life do naturally tend towards a final accomplish- 
ment, and ultimate perfection. Carnal self, or the 
animal life, may be indeed said to be a well of water 


too, poisonous water ; but that springs up into a 
sensual life, popular applause, self-accommodations, 
or, if you will, in the Apostle's phrase, into the ful- 
filment of the lusts of the flesh. This I speak only 
by way of illustrative opposition; for, to speak 
more properly, this corrupt principle hath in it the 
central force of death and hell, and is always tum- 
bling downward ; whereas this divine principle is 
always climbing upward : but they do both agree in 
this, that they both seek their own gratifications, 
and study to acquire their respective perfections. 
The everlasting and most glorious enjoyment of 
God is certainly most perfective of the soul ; and 
therefore is most properly and most deservingly 
said to be its " eternal life," according to that of 
our Saviour, John xvii. 3. Now, this "eternal 
life"" is not a thing specifically different from reli- 
gion, or the image of God, or the divine life, but 
indeed the greatest height, and the greatest possible 
perfection of itself: even as the sun at noon-day is 
not a light really distinct from what it was in the 
first dawnings of the morning, but a different de- 
gree, and far more glorious state ; which seems to 
be the very similitude whereby the Spirit of God 
illustrateth the matter in hand, Prov. iv. 18, or, as 
a man of perfect age is not a distinct species from a 
child, but much more complete and excellent in that 
species ; to which the Apostle refers, treating of this 
subject, 1 Cor. xiii. 11. Man hath not two distinct 
kinds of happiness in the two distinct worlds, that 

y i3 

24)6 IMMANUEL. , 

he is made to live in ; but one and the same thing 
is his blessedness in both, which, as I said before, 
must needs be the enjoyment of God. The trans- 
lation made of the text is very suitable to this notion : 
for this divine principle is said to spring up, not 
unto, but into, everlasting life, as if he should say, 
it springs up till it be swallowed up into the perfect 
knowledge, love, and enjoyment of God. Even as 
youth is swallowed up in manhood, so this grace is 
swallowed up in glory, and not so much abolished, 
as indeed perfected. 

By this phrase, the genius of true religion, and 
the excellent temper of the truly religious soul, is 
most livelily described. This is the soul, that, be- 
ing in some measure delivered from its unnatural 
bondage, and freed from its unhappy confinement, 
now spreads itself in God, lifts up itself to him, 
stretches itself upon him, is not content with a hea- 
ven merely to come, but brings down a heaven into 
itself, by carrying up itself unto, and after, the God 
of heaven. God is become great, only great in the 
eye of such a Christian ; he is indeed become all 
things to him. Whilst this principle is rightly and 
actually predominant in him, he knows no interest 
but to thrive and grow great in God ; no will, but to 
serve the will, and comply with the mind of God ; 
no end, but to be united to God ; no business, but 
to display and reflect the glory and perfections of 
God upon the earth. The main business of his 
life, I say, is to serve him ; the main ambition of 


his soul, to be like to him ; and his m«iin happiness 
in this world, to be united to him ; and in the world 
to come, to be swallowed up in him : in this world, 
to know, and love, and rest, and delight in, and 
enjoy God more than all things, and in the world 
to come, to enjoy him more so. The gladsome 
growings up of the tender flowers to the friendly 
sun, being once powerfully attracted with his pre- 
cious and benign influences, and the cheerful haste 
with which the sympathetic needle so amorously 
pursues the enchanting loadstone, being once rightly 
touched and affected with it, do a little, though but 
a little, resemble and represent the motions of a 
spirit impregnated with this divine principle, and 
strongly impressed with the image and stamp of 
God : he puts in his hand by the hole of the door, 
and the bowels of the espoused soul are presently 
moved, yea, melted for him. Cant. v. 4. He casts 
the skirt of his garment, the mantle of his love, 
and presently the converted soul leaves all to follow 
him. Faith, hope, and love, are knitting and spring- 
ing graces, and this eternal life is the end and per- 
fection of them all ; not that any one of them, I 
conceive, shall be utterly abolished, as some con- 
clude concerning the two former, though without 
good ground, I think, from the Apostle's words, 
1 Cor. xiii. 13. But faith will be ripened into the 
most firm and undisturbed confidence, affiance, and 
acquiescence in God ; hope will be advanced into a 
more cheerful, powerful, and confident expectation, 


having for its object the perpetuation of the souFs 
felicity ; and love will become much more loving, 
and more clearly distinguishable from the imperfect 
longings and languishings of this present state, 
when it shall flower up into pure delights and com- 
placencies, resting and glorying in the arms of its 
adequate, satisfactory, and eternal object. The 
faith of the hypocrite, and indeed his hope too, is 
still springing up into self-preservation, deliverance, 
liberty, a splendid and pompous state of the church, 
(that is, of his own party) or some such thing as 
will gratify the animal life, and there it terminates; 
but the faith of the sincere and religious soul springs 
up into eternal life ; it knows no term but " the sal- 
vation of the soul," 1 Pet. i. 9, as his hope knows 
no accomplishment but a state of God-like purity 
and perfection, 1 John iii. 3. The mere natural 
man lives within himself, within a circle of his own, 
and cannot get out ; whether he eat, or drink, or 
pray, or be zealous for the popular pulling down of 
the political Antichrist, he is still in his own circle, 
he is still sacrificing in all this to that great helluo^ 
the animal life, as I have already made evident : but 
the pious soul is disinterested of self, and so is still 
contriving the advancement of a nobler life within 
itself, and moving towards God, as his supreme and 
all-sufficient good. Give him all that the whole 
world can afford, he cannot fix, nor settle, nor cen- 
tre here : God hath put into him a holy restless ap- 
petite after a higher good, which he would rather be, 


than what he is. I know indeed that the soul that 
is thus divinely free may be hindered in its flight ; 
but it will deliver itself from the clog at length. 
You may choke and dam up the streamings of this 
fountain, perhaps, but they will burst out again ; 
you may cast ashes upon this pure fire for a time, 
but it will flame out again : such a damp cannot 
arise, no, not from hell itself, as to extinguish it. 
The Philistines, I remember, stopped the wells of 
water which Abraham had digged in Gerar, " and 
filled them with earth,'' Gen. xxvi. 15. But this 
well of water, which God diggeth in the holy and 
humble soul, cannot be stopped, neither by the 
devil, that king of Gerar, that is, of wanderings, 
Job i. 7, nor by any of his servants, but it will find 
vent upward : though you endpavour to fill it with, 
earth, which indeed is the likeliest to choke it, 
though you cast the dust and gravel of earthly 
pleasures, profits, or preferments into it, yet it is a 
well of living water, and will work its passage out. 
The hungerings of the pious soul are not, cannot be 
satisfied, till it come to feed upon the hidden manna, 
nor its thirstings quenched, till it come to be swal- 
lowed up in the unbounded ocean of life and love. 

But I find I cannot divide " springing up" from 
"eternal life," nor pursue the term of religion, but 
I must also take in the notion of the religious soul, 
whereby he pursues it, which I have already han- 
dled in my discourse; therefore I will quit this 
bead, and take a short view of the second. 


(2.) The secondary and more improper notion of 
" eternal life," I mentioned, was that which takes in 
the circumstances or appendixes of it. And here 
we must needs allow, that the Holy Scriptures do 
openly avouch some of these circumstances, as those 
especially of the first class that I named, of some 
of which it seems to make great account ; and pos- 
sibly the Scripture may somewhere or other imply 
all the rest, even those of the inferior rank. Again, 
we will allow, that many of those phrases which the 
Scripture uses to describe the blessed state of the 
other world, do principally respect these appendixes 
of the souFs essential happiness ; such perhaps are 
the "crown of righteousness*" mentioned by the 
Apostle Paul. " The prize of the high calling," 
znentioned by the same Apostle. " The house which 
is from heaven." "A kingdom, an incorruptible 
inheritance, a place prepared, mansions, a reward, 
praise, and honour, and glory at the appearing of 
Jesus Christ," 1 Pet. i. 7. And that "glory, ho- 
nour, and peace," spoken of by the Apostle, Rom. 
ii. 10. These are all Scripture descriptions of the 
other state, and I suppose we may grant them to 
have a peculiar reference to this secondary essential 
happiness of the soul : though I know not any ne- 
cessity there is to be so liberal in our concessions ; 
for it may be fairly said concerning all, or most of 
them, that the design of these phrases is not so 
much to establish this less proper notion, or to point 
out the circumstances of the glorified state, as to 


insinuate iiow much more ample and glorious the 
state shall be than this in which we now are ; as a 
prize is looked upon as somewhat more excellent 
than what is done or expended to acquire it, (it 
must needs be so esteemed by runners or wrestlers) ; 
a kingdom is a more glorious state than that of sub- 
jection, and an inheritance is incomparably more 
ample than the pension that is allowed the heir in 
his minority. 

But these things being conceded, it doth not 
appear how far, or under what notion, the religious 
soul, as such, doth spring up into these additional 
glories, and thirst after them. I know there are 
many that speak very highly of these appendixes, 
and allow the pious soul a very high and irrespec- 
tive valuation of them ; and this they principally 
infer from the example of Christ himself, as also of 
Moses and Paul. Give me leave, therefore, to sug- 
gest something, not to enervate, but to moderate 
the argument drawn from these persons ; and after 
that, I shall briefly lay down, what I conceive to be 
most scriptural and rational in this matter. 

1. As for the example of Christ, it seems to make 
not much for them in this matter. For though the 
text is very plain, that "for the joy that was set 
before him, he endured the cross,"' and this joy 
seems plainly to be his session "at the right hand 
of God ;'' yet, if by this joy we understand a moie 
full and glorious possession of God, and a more ex- 
cellent exaltation of his human nature, to a more 


free fruition of the divine, then it cannot be applied 
to anything but the springing up of the gracious 
soul into its essential happiness ; which I have 
already contended for, as being the proper genius 
of such a soul : or if by this joy and throne we un- 
derstand the power that Christ foresaw he should be 
vested with, of leading captivity captive, trampling 
under feet the powers of hell and darkness, and pro- 
curing gifts for men, which seems to me to be most 
likely, then it belongs not at all to men, neither can 
this example be exhibited for imitation. 

As for the instance of Moses, who is said to have 
had " respect to the recompense of the reward." 
It is not yet granted, that that "recompense of 
reward" relates principally to these appendants of 
the souPs essential happiness, neither can it, I sup- 
pose, be evinced : but, though I should also allow 
that, which I incline to do, yet all that can be in- 
ferred from it is but a respect that Moses had, as 
our translation well renders it, or some account 
which he in his sufferings made of this recompense ; 
which was a very warrantable contemplation. 

The Apostle Paul, indeed, doth openly profess 
that he looked for, and desired the coming of Christ 
from heaven, upon the account of that glorious body 
which he would then clothe him with, and so he 
might, and yet not desire it principally and pri- 
marily, but secondarily, and with reference. 

And this leads me to the general answer that I 
was preparing to give, which is this: — some of these 


circumstances which I have named, especially that 
of the glorified body, may be reduced to the essen- 
tial happiness of the soul, or included in it, so that 
the soul could not otherwise be perfectly happy. It 
is the opinion of all divines, I think, that a Chris- 
tian is not completely happy, till he consist of a soul 
and body both glorified. And, indeed, considering 
the dear affection, and essential aptitude, that God 
hath planted in the human soul for a body, we can- 
not well conceive how she should be perfectly happy 
without one : and this earthly body is, alas ! an 
unequal yoke-fellow, in which she is half stifled, 
and rather buried, than conveniently lodged ; so 
that it seems necessary, even to her essential hap- 
piness, that she should have some more heavenly 
and glorious body, wherein she may commodiously 
and pleasantly exert her innate powers, and whereby 
she may express herself in a spiritual and nobler 
manner, suitable to her own natural dignity and 
vigour, and to her infinitely amiable, and most be- 
loved object. 

Concerning the rest of the circumstances which 
cannot be thus reduced, I conceive that such of 
them as are necessary to the essential happiness of 
the soul, by way of subserviency, may be eyed, and 
desired, and thirsted after, secondarily, under this 
notion only, as being subservient to that essential 
blessedness. I confess, I do not understand under 
what other notion a religious soul can lift up itself 
to them ; I mean, not so far forth as it is holy and 

VOL. Jl. z 


religious, and acts suitably to that divine principle 
which the Father of spirits, or rather the Father of 
our Lord Jesus Christ, hath implanted in it. And 
if there be any other circumstance which cannot be 
reduced to one of these kinds, I suppose it may be 
reckoned amongst the objects and gratifications of 
the animal life, and not to make up any part of the 
godly man's heaven, or that eternal life which reli- 
gion springs up into : for I easily imagine, that a 
fleshly fancy may verily be mightily elated with 
the desire of such a heaven as is suitable to it ; and 
that a mere animal man may be as heartily desirous 
to be in such a kingdom of God, as he hath shaped 
out to himself, as he is utterly unwilling that the true 
kingdom of God, such as the Apostle describes, 
Rom. xiv. 17, consisting in "righteousness and 
peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost," should be in 
him. If our continual cry be after safety, self-pre- 
servation, liberty, redemption, and deliverance from 
those things only that oppress and grieve our fleshly 
interest, and our thirstings principally terminated 
in knowledge, though it be of God himself, free- 
dom from condemnation, power over devils, yea, or 
any visible pomp, glory, or splendour, though it be 
of ever so ethereal and heavenly a nature, what do 
we more than others ? what is all this more than 
may naturally spring up from the animal life, and 
may be ultimately resolved into what is carnal ? 

Wherefore, as a result from the whole discourse, 
especially from this last part of it, let me earnestly 
entreat of all the professors of this holy religion. 


which the blessed Messiah, Christ Jesus, hath so 
dearly bought for the world, and so clearly revealed 
in it, not to value themselves by anything which 
the power of natural self-love may exert or desire, 
perform or expect, nor by anything below the image 
of God, and the internal and transforming manifes- 
tations of Christ Jesus in them ; the perfection of 
which is eternal life, in the most proper and true 
notion of it. I know that I have often suggested 
the same lesson in this short treatise, but I know 
also, that I can never inculcate it often enough ; 
nay, the eloquence of angels is not sufficient to 
imprint it upon the hearts of men. Possibly it may 
startle some hypocritical professors, and carnal gos- 
pellers, (God grant it may effectually !) and make 
the ears of many that hear it to tingle, but yet I 
will proclaim it, "It is possible for a man to desire 
not only the things of this world, which St. James 
speaks of, (James iv. 3,) but even heaven itself, to 
consume it upon his lusts ; and he may as truly be 
making provision for the flesh to fulfil it in the lust 
thereof, in longing after a kind of self-salvation, 
as in " eating, and drinking, and rising up to play."" 
Certainly a true christian spirit, rightly invigorated 
and actuated by this divine and potent principle, 
christian religion, cannot look upon heaven as 
merely future, or as something perfectly distinct 
from him ; but he eyes it as life, eternal life, the 
perfection of the purest and divinest life communi- 
cable to a soul, and is daily thirsting after it, or ra- 


ther, as it is in the text, "springing up into it." I 
know that heaven sometimes is called a rest, in oppo- 
sition to the dissatisfaction of the uncentred and 
unbelieving soul ; but, in opposition to a sluggish, 
inert, and dormant rest, it is here said to be life, 
eternal life. Let us show ourselves to be living 
Christians, by springing up into the utmost consum- 
mation of life : let it appear that Christ Jesus, the 
Prince of life, who was manifested on purpose " to 
take away our sins," hath not only covered our 
shame, and, as it were, embalmed our dead souls, 
to keep them from putrefaction, and strewed them 
with the flowers of his merits, to take away their 
noisome smell from the nostrils of his Father, but 
hath truly advanced, reinstated, and made the souls 
flourish that sin had so miserably degraded and 
deflowered. Deliver yourselves, O immortal souls ! 
from all those unsuitable and unseemly cares, studies, 
and joys; from all those low and particular ends and 
lusts, which do not only pinch and straiten, but even 
debase and degrade you. Let it not be said, that 
the king of Sodom made Abraham rich; that your 
main delight, happiness, and contentment, is derived 
from any prosperous, plentiful, peaceable, pompous 
state, anything that may be called a self-accommo- 
dation, either in the world that now is, or that which 
is to come ; but from the righteousness of faith, and 
your vital union with the Father and the Son; 
to whom, in the unity of the Spirit, be honour and 
glory, world without end. Amen. 




z ti 



1 John i. 3. 

*' Our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son 
Jesus Christ." 

These words express the way of a Christian"'s living, 
and that kind of converse whereby a good man 
is distinguished from all other men. 

A good man is not differenced from other men 
by anything without him, any church privileges 
which are common to hypocrites and sincere Chris- 
tians ; any external visible performances, in which 
the disciples of the Pharisees may be more abundant 
and more specious than the disciples of Christ, 
much less by any corporeal or temporal enjoyment 
or ornament, strength, beauty, riches, descent, &c. 
nor by any carnal relation, though it were to Abra- 
ham, as the Jews boasted of their father Abraham, 
but by something internal, substantial, by a relation 
to God; the character of a good man must be drawn 
from his correspondence to the chief good, and 
the happiness of a soul must be judged of by its 
relation to life, and love, and blessedness itself. 


Things external, corporeal, temporal, make some 
difference amongst men, but it is only nominal and 
titular in comparison : by these, men are said to be 
rich or poor, noble or ignoble ; but men are really 
and substantially differenced by the relation that 
they have to God ; by this, they are good or bad, 
godly or wicked. This is the most certain and 
proper criterion of a good man, namely. Communion 
with God : in all other things he may be like other 
men, but in this he differs from and excels them 
all. This is a character proper or peculiar to them ; 
for it agrees to every good man, to none but a good 
man, and always to him, as we shall see hereafter. 
The ground of my discourse then shall be this short 
and plain proposition, namely, 

" A pious man hath communion with God.'*"' 

In order to the more distinct handling hereof, 
I must premise a few things briefly. 

1 " That the gracious and loving God made no- 
thing miserable of all that he made."' There are 
no slaves born in this great house of the world. 
He made all things out of himself, and he hath no 
idea of evil in himself, so that it was not possible 
that he should make anything evil or miserable. 
Every thing was good, Gen i. and so in some sense 
happy. He was free to make the world, but making 
it he could not make it evil or miserable. Every 
thing is the product of Almighty love and goodness. 

2. " The happiness of every creature consists in 
its acting agreeably to that nature that God gave 


it, and those ends which he propounded to it, 
and suitably to those laws which he gave to all f ' 
which laws were contrived with the greatest suita- 
bleness to those natures, and subserviency to those 
ends. Every creature is in its khid happy, whilst it 
acts agreeably to that nature which the wise Creator 
implanted in it ; as the sun runs its race without 
ceasing, and rejoices so to do, and is, in some sense, 
happy in so doing. Departing from that nature it 
' becomes miserable, as the earth bringing forth briers 
and thorns, instead of those good fruits which it 
was appointed to bring forth, is said to be cursed, 
Gen. iii. 17, 18. 

3. *' The happiness of the creature is higher or 
" lower, greater or less, according as it comes 
nearer to God, or is farther off from him," according 
as it receives more or less from him, according to 
what communion it hath with him. The life and 
happiness of the sun is much lower than that of a 
man, because it cannot enjoy such high and excel- 
lent communications from, or communion with God, 
as man doth. 

4. " There can be no communion without like- 
ness.*'"* The sun shines upon a stone wall, as well 
as upon man ; but a stone wall has no communion 
with the sun, because it hath no eyes to see the 
light of it, as man hath ; nor can receive the benign 
influences of its heat, as the herbs do. A log of 
wood lieth in the water as well as the fish, but it 
hath no communion with the water, nor receives 


any advantage by it as the fish doth. God is pre- 
sent, according to his infinite essence, with the 
devils as with the angels ; but they have no likeness 
in nature to him, and so no communion with him, 
as these have. 

5. "God hath given a more large and excellent 
capacity to man, than to any other of his creatures 
upon earth."" God hath endued man with reason, 
and so made him capable of a higher life, and a 
more excellent communion with his Maker than all ' 
the rest. Of all sublunary creatures, the rational 
soul only is capable to know, love, serve, enjoy, imi- 
tate God, and so to have a glorious communion with 
him. The sun, in all its glory and brightness, is 
not so excellent a being as any soul of man upon 
this account. And although man, by his fall, lost 
his actual communion with God, yet he is a reason- 
able creature still ; he hath not lost his capacity of 
receiving influences from him, and enjoying com- 
munion with him. The world, when it is at the 
darkest, is yet capable of being enlightened. 

6. " When the nature of man is, by divine grace, 
healed of its distemperedness, and restored to its 
former rectitude, to act suitably to the end for 
which it was made, and to spend itself upon its 
proper object, then man comes to have right com- 
munion with God, and to be happy."" All rational 
souls are capable of holding communion with God, 
but all do not hold communion with him ; but they 
that express the purity and holiness of the divine 


life, that know God, and live like him, these are 
his children. Matt. v. 45, and those only do rightly 
and really converse with him : when the Spirit of 
God informs these rational souls, and communicates 
the strength of a divine life through them, and 
stamps the lively impressions of divine perfections 
upon them, rendering our hearts, wills, and ways, 
conformable to that glorious pattern, that infinite 
good, then do we enjoy a proper communion with 
him, and are truly blessed; though we are not 
completely blessed, till this conformity be perfected 
according to what those souls are, or may be capa- 
ble of 

This is the true and proper notion of man's com- 
munion with God, and relation to him, which we 
cannot fully describe, till we more fully enjoy. That 
soul that truly lives and feeds upon God, does taste 
more than it can tell ; and yet it can tell this, that 
this is the most high, excellent, noble, glorious life 
in the whole world. 

This communion, as also the intimateness and 
closeness of it, are described variously in the Holy 
Scriptures, by the similitude of members being in 
the body ; of branches being in the vine ; by 
being formed according to God's image, changed 
into his image ; by God's dwelling in the soul, 
and the soul in him ; by Christ's being formed 
in the soul ; by the soul's having Christ ; by 
Christ's supping with the soul, and the soul with 
him. Because nothing is more our own, nor more 


one with us, than that which we eat and drink, be- 
ing incorporated into us ; therefore is this spiritual 
communion between God and the pious soul, oft- 
times in scripture described by our eating and 
drinking with him. Thus God was pleased to al- 
low his people under the law, when they had offered 
up a part of their beasts in sacrifice to him, to sit 
down and feast upon the rest, as a token of that 
familiarity and oneness that was between him and 
them. By the like action, our Saviour shadowed 
out the same mystery, when, in the sacrament of his 
supper, he appointed them to sit down to eat and 
drink with him, to intimate their feeding upon him, 
and most close communion with him : yea, the state 
of glory, which is the most perfect communion with 
God, is thus shadowed out too. Matt. viii. 11. Rev. 
xix. 9. And, which is worth noting, I think the 
sacramental eating and drinking hath some reference 
to that most intimate communion of the saints with 
God in glory. Our Saviour himself seems to imply 
as much in that speech of his, Luke xxii. 30, " That 
ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom :" 
in which words he seems plainly to allude to the 
sacramental eating and drinking which he had a 
little before instituted. Which makes some to be- 
lieve that that gesture is to be retained in that ordi- 
nance, which is most proper and usual to express 
familiarity and communion ; and to take away that 
gesture, is to destroy one great end of our Saviour, 
in appointing this supper, which was to represent 


that familiar communion which is between himself 
and every believing soul. I will not here examine 
the validity of their argument, which, possibly, if 
pressed home, might introduce a rudeness into the 
worship of God, under pretence of familiarity : but 
it seems very plain, that the nature of that ordi- 
nance doth shadow out the intimate communion be- 
tween God and a pious soul. 

I have already, in part, anticipated myself, and 
showed you wherein the soul's communion with God 
consists : but yet, to give you a more distinct know- 
ledge of this great mystery, I shall unfold it in these 
three following particulars : — 

1. "A pious soul hath communion with God in 
his attributes." When the soul of man is moulded 
and formed into a resemblance of the divine nature, 
then hath it a true fellowship with him. Now, this 
communion with God in his attributes is to be seen 
two ways. 

(1.) "When the soul is, in its measure, according 
to the capacity of a creature, all that which God is."*"* 
This is the communion which the angels have with 
God. Their beholding the face of God, is not to be 
understood of a mere speculation, or an idle gazing 
upon Deity; but they see him, by receiving his 
image upon themselves, and reflecting his glory and 
brightness ; they partake of the goodness, purity, 
holiness, wisdom, righteousness of God, which 
makes them such glorious spirits ; and the want of 
this makes the other, whom we call devils, to be 

VOL. II. ^ A 


what they are. Thus, good men shall have com- 
munion with God, they shall see God. Yea, thus 
they have communion with him in some measure : 
they do not only see God in the world, as the devils 
do, or see him in the Word, as many hypocritical 
and wicked men do, but they see him in themselves, 
in the frame of their own souls; they find themselves 
moulded into his image, and a resemblance of him 
drawn upon them. This is a beatifical vision of 
God, true and real, though not full and complete. 
This is set out in scripture, by being " holy as God 
is holy," "perfect as God is perfect."" This our 
Saviour exhorts us to seek after, "Take my yoke 
upon you, learn of me ; for I am meek and lowly ;'"* 
and the Apostle, "Be ye followers of God, as dear 
children." When the nature and perfections of 
God, his holiness, goodness, righteousness, wisdom, 
kc. are copied out upon our natures, and the same 
spirit is in us, which was in Christ Jesus, then have 
we a true communion with God, which blessed com- 
munion, when the soul becomes all that which God 
is, is by a conformity of nature. 

(2.) " When the soul, in its actions as a creature, 
doth rightly answer to the attributes of the Creator." 
As when the soul doth answer the goodness of God 
with suitable affections of love and joy, and delight ; 
when the soul doth correspond to the sovereignty 
and wisdom of God by the acts of self-denial and re- 
signation ; and doth converse with the righteousness 
of God by patience and a holy acquiescence. When 


the soul doth rightly exert those acts which are 
proper and suitable to the nature of God, then it 
may be said to hold communion with him in his 
attributes ; when the actions and motions of the soul 
do correspond to the divine nature and attributes. 
Now, this suitableness of the soul, I mean especially 
with reference to the incommunicable attributes of 
God, where there is no place for imitation, though 
it hold good in the rest also. 

2. "A pious soul hath communion with God in 
his word."" To read, profess, or hear his word, is 
not to hold a communion with God therein : many 
do so that are strangers to God : a man may read 
my letters, and yet correspond with my enemy. 
That son, in the gospel, that heard his father's com- 
mand, and answered, "I go, sir,'' but went not, had 
no right communion with his paternal authority. 
But when the soul is ennobled into such a frame as 
this word doth require, then it holds communion 
with God in his word ; for example, when the soul 
puts forth those acts of humiliation, holy fear and 
reverence, godly trembling, which do suit the nature 
of a divine threatening ; when the soul answers the 
command of God with suitable resolutions, repent- 
ings, reformations, and real obedience; when it enter- 
tains the promise witli suitable acts of holy delight, 
joy, refreshment, recumbency, and acquiesces in the 
same, then doth it truly converse with God in his 

3. " A pious soul hath communion with God in 


his works." And that is, when the soul doth an- 
swer the several providences of God with suitable 
and pertinent affections and dispositions. The pious 
soul doth not only eye and observe the hand of 
God in all things that fall out, but doth comply with 
those providences, and is moulded into that frame, 
and put upon those duties, which such providences 
do call for. Then doth the soul rightly hold com- 
munion with God in his works, when it is humbled 
under humbling providences, is refreshed, strength- 
ened, and grows up under prosperous providences, 
as they did. Acts ix. 31, who having rest given 
them, were edified, comforted, multiplied, &c. 
When the soul doth rightly comport with every pro- 
vidence, and the will is moulded into the will of God, 
then do we hold communion with him in his works. 
This theme is large, because the works of God are 
manifold, of creation, redemption, preservation, 
works towards other men, and towards ourselves, 
both towards our outward and inward man. A 
pious soul hath communion with God in all these; 
in the sense that I named even now, though per- 
haps not equally in all, yet sincerely and truly. 

By what hath been said, you understand that 
right fellowship with God is not a bare communion 
of names. To have the name of God called upon 
us, and to be called Christians, or the people of 
God, or to name the name of God, to profess it, to 
cry. Lord, Lord, doth not make any one really and 
truly the better man, doth not make a soul rightly 


happy. It is not enough to cry, "Tlie temple of 
the Lord, the temple of the Lord,*" with those in 
Jer. vii. 4, to make our " boast in the law,'' with those 
in Rom. ii. 23, to call ourselves " the children of 
Abraham,'' as the Jews did in John the Baptist's 
time, Matt. iii. 9- These privileges and professions 
are extrinsical to the soul, and do nothing to the 
true ennobling of it. But right fellowship with God 
is a communion of hearts and natures, of will and 
affections, of interest and ends ; to have one heart 
and will, the same interest and ends with God, is to 
be truly godly : a God-like man is the only godly 
man ; a Christ-like nature brought into the soul, 
doth only denominate a man a true Christian. It 
is not speaking together, but loving and living toge- 
ther, that brings God and the soul into one : '' I 
live, yet not I, but Christ that liveth in me." And 
thus, I suppose, you have a fair account why ths 
Apostle James, chap. ii. does so much prefer works 
before *faith, (for indeed faith is nothing worth, save 
only that faith which joins the soul to the object, 
and makes the thing believed one's own,) as alsOj 
why the Apostle prefers love before a faith of mira- 
cles, 1 Cor. xiii. 2. Though, indeed, a justifying 
faith is the most admirable, that faith which unites 
the soul and God together is more excellent, and, 
indeed, more wonderful than the faith that removes 
mountains. When I consider the proper happiness 
and perfection of a soul, and the nature of this true 
blissful communion with God, I cannot but wonder 

2 A i> 


how it is possible, that men should take their com- 
munion with God to consist in an overly acquaint- 
ance with him, profession of him, performances to 
him. I am confident it is not possible, that men 
should have any true feeling of happiness in such 
acquaintance, any more than a man can be really 
filled with the seeing or craving of meat which he 
eats not. 

Before I apply the doctrine, give me leave to lay 
down some rules or positions, tending further to ex- 
plain and clear it. 

1. This must be held, which I touched upon 
before, that " there can be no communion between 
God and man^ but by a likeness of nature, a new, 
a divine principle planted in the soul." A beast 
hath no communion with a man, because reason, the 
ground of such communion, is wanting. Of all the 
creatures, there was none found that could be a help 
meet for Adam, that could be taken into the human 
society, till Eve was made, who was a human per- 
son. So, neither can there be any conjunction of 
the soul with God, but by oneness of spirit, " He 
that is joined to the Lord is one spirit." 

2. " There can be no communion with God but 
by a mediator," and no mediator but Christ Jesus, 
who is God-man. "Two cannot walk together,"" 
nor hold communion, " except they be agreed ; and 
there can be no agreement made between God and 
man but by Christ Jesus. Therefore it is said, 
** Our communion is with the Father and the Son," 


with the Father by the Son : and faith, whereby 
the soul and God are united, is still said to be 
" faith in Christ," as we find in the scriptures. 

3. " There can be no perfect communion with 
God in this life." Our communion with heaven, 
whilst we are upon earth, is imperfect ; our resem- 
blance to God is scant and dark in comparison of 
what it shall be. We know but in part, love but 
in part, enjoy but in part ; we are but in part holy 
and happy. There can be no perfect communion 
with God, till there be a perfect reconciliation of 
natures as well as persons ; and that cannot be whilst 
there is anything unlike to God in the soul, whilst 
any impure thing dwells in the soul which cannot 
truly close with God, nor God with that. The 
Holy Spirit can never suffer any defiled thing to 
unite itself with it: " It is not lawful for any impure 
thing to mix itself with pure divinity," saith So- 
crates the heathen. "What communion hath righ- 
teousness with unrighteousness.'^" saith the Apostle; 
and so far as a righteous man is in any part unrigh- 
teous, so far is he a stranger to God. The unre- 
generate part of a regenerate man hath no more 
communion with God than a wicked man, than the 
devil himself hath ; no more than darkness hath 
with light. 

4. " Our communion with God must be distin- 
guished from the sense and feeling of it." Many 
have run upon sad miscarriages, (and those indeed 
extremes,) whilst they place communion with God 


in the sense and feeling of it, in raptures of joy, ex- 
tacies and transports of soul; which, indeed, if they 
be real, are not so much it, as the flower of it, some- 
thing resulting and separable from it. Communion 
with God cannot be lost in a saint, for then he is 
no saint ; for it is the proper characteristic of a saint 
to have communion with God ; and a saint under 
desertion, hath communion with God even then as 
really, though not so feelingly as at any other time, 
so far as he is sanctified. But the sense of this 
communion may be very much, if not altogether 
lost, and oftentimes is lost. 

5. "A souFs communion with God cannot be 
interrupted by any local mutations." It is a spiri- 
tual conjunction, and is not violated by any confine- 
ment ; the walls of a prison cannot separate God 
and the pious soul ; banishment cannot di'ive a soul 
from God. The blessed angels, those ministering 
spirits, when they are despatched into the utmost 
ends of the world upon the service of God, are even 
then beholding the face of God, and do enjoy as in- 
timate communion with him as ever. The case is 
the same with all pious souls, whose communion 
with God does not depend upon any local situation ; 
it is not thousands of miles that can beget a dis- 
tance between God and the soul. Indeed nothing 
but sin does it, or can do it. " Your iniquities have 
separated between you and your God;"' nothing 
but sin is contrary to this divine fellowship, and 
BO nothing but that can interrupt this spiritual so* 


ciety. To speak properly, sin does not so much 
cause the souFs distance from God, as itself is that 
distance. Man and wife remain one, though at a 
hundred miles' distance ; and believing souls do 
maintain a certain spiritual communion one with 
another, though in several parts of the world. The 
society and communion of pious souls one with ano- 
ther, so far as it is spiritual, cannot be interrupted 
by bodily distance ; much less, then, the fellowship 
of God with the pious soul, who carries about with 
him, and in him, a divine nature, the image of God, 
a holy, God-like disposition whithersoever he goes. 

S. " This communion with God which I have 
been speaking of, is much better than all outward 
acts and enjoyments, duties and ordinances whatso- 
ever, though they be ever so many or specious." 
God himself long since decided this matter, that a 
broken and contrite heart is better than all sacrifices. 
Psalm li. 17 ; that to obey was better than sacrifice, 
1 Sam. XV. 22 ; that mercy was better than sacrifice, 
Hosea vi. 6 ; that to do justly, love mercy, and to 
walk humbly with God, was to be preferred before 
" thousands of rams, and ten thousands of rivers of 
oil,"' Micah vi. 7, 8. It holds in reference to 
gospel duties, though they may seem more spiritual 
than the oblations of the law. A real soul-com- 
munion with God, a communion of hearts and na- 
tures, of wills and affections, of interests and ends, 
is infinitely more excellent than all hearing, pray- 
ing, celebration of Sabbaths or sacraments, James 


i. 25, as the end is more excellent than the means : 
for so stands the case between them. 

Yea, I will add, (though some proud and wanton 
spirits have made strange work with it, yet) it is a 
sure and most excellent doctrine, that this spiritual 
communion is a continual sabbath, (a sabbath of 
communion is much better than a sabbath of rest ;) 
this is the sabbath that the angels and saints in 
heaven keep, though they know no such thing as a 
first day in the week, have no reading, preaching, 
or praying, amongst them. This is a continual 
praying, and effectual way of praying in silence. A 
right active appropriating faith, does virtually con- 
tain a prayer in it ; right believing is powerful pray- 
ing. The knees, eyes, and tongues, bear the least 
share in prayer, the whole of the work lies upon the 
soul, and particularly upon faith in the soul, which 
is indeed the life and soul of prayer. Faith can 
pray without words; but the most elegant words, 
the phrase of angels, is not worthy to be called 
prayer without faith. I speak not so much of faith 
inditing a prayer, or giving life to it, as of its being 
virtually prayer, if not something more ; for, in- 
deed, faith is a real bringing down of that God, and 
drawing in of those influences into the soul, which 
prayer only look^ up for. 

Communion with God is a continual fast ; it is 
that spiritual and most excellent way of fasting, 
whereby the soul, emptying itself of itself, and all 
iself-fulness, self-sufficiency, self-confidence, receives 


of the fulness of God alone, and is filled therewith. 
A soul communing rightly with God, is a soul 
emptied of, and, as it were, fasting from itself; 
which is the most excellent way of fasting. 

It is a continual thanksgiving ; and indeed the 
best way of thanksgiving in the world. To render 
up ourselves to God purely and entirely, to reflect 
the glory of God in a holy and God-like temper, 
is a real and living thank-offering. This is that 
hallelujah, so much spoken of, which the angels and 
saints in glory do sing perpetually : what other ad- 
junct of it there may be, I will not here dispute. 

This communion of hearts and wills is a constant 
and most excellent celebration of sacraments. The 
soul that is really baptized into the Spirit of the 
Lord Jesus, and feeds upon God, and is one with 
him, keeps a continual sacrament ; without which, 
the sacramental eating and drinking is but a jejune 
and dry devotion. In a word, it is not possible for 
anything that is extrinsical to the soul to make it 
happy ; but the soul that is advanced into the noble 
state of communion with God, is made partaker of a 
new nature, and is truly happy. 

Nay, further, I will add, that this communion 
with God is not only better than all duties and or- 
dinances, but even better than all revelations, evi- 
dences, discoveries that can be made or given to the 
soul from without ; a manifestation of God, that is, 
of a divine life in the soul, is much better than such 
a manifestation as Moses had of his glory in the 


cleft of the rock, Exod. xxxiv. Many say, O if 
we might but be assured of the love of God, of the 
pardon of sin, of an interest in Christ, we should 
be happy ! why, I will tell you, if you had a voice 
from heaven, saying that ye were the beloved chil- 
dren of God, as Christ had ; an angel sent from 
God to tell you that ye were beloved and highly 
favoured of God, as his mother Mary had, yet were 
communion with God to be preferred before these : 
for these things could not make a soul happy with- 
out real communion with God, but communion with 
God can and doth make a soul happy without these: 
and to this purpose, I suppose, I may apply that 
famous speech of our Saviour's by way of allusion, 
" It is more blessed to give, than to receive,"" to 
give up one''s self, one''s heart, will, interests, and 
affections, to God, than to receive any external dis- 
coveries and manifestations from him. Why do we 
so earnestly seek after signs from without us, of 
God's presence with us, as if there were anything 
better or more desirable to the soul than Immanuel, 
God with us, or, as the Apostle speaks, " Christ in 
us the hope of glory ?'"* He that desires any other 
evidence of grace, but more grace, does not only 
light up a candle to see the sun by, but indeed he 
acts like one that thinks there is something better 
than God himself; though I do not say that all do 
think so who are covetous of such manifestations. 
But this I will say, and you may do well to meditate 
upon it, that holy longings after a true and spiritual 


communion with God, do certainly spring from a 
divine principle in the soul ; whereas a thirst after 
assurance of God's love, and reconciliation of our 
persons with him, may be only the fruit of self-love 
and interest. — " Let me die the death of the righ- 
teous ! '' you know whose wish it was. 

7. " Though communion with God do concern 
the whole soul, and all the faculties, affections and 
motions of it,*" it is God's spreading his influences, 
and exercising his sovereignty over all the powers of 
the soul, and their mutual spending of themselves 
upon him, and conforming to him, " yet the great 
acts of the soul, whereby it chiefly holds communion 
with God, are loving and believing."" Love is the 
joining and knitting of the soul to God ; faith is the 
soul's labouring after more intimate conjunction with 
him, a drawing in influences from him, and partici- 
pations of him into the soul. We may say that 
faith fetches in supplies from heaven, and love en- 
joys them ; faith draws in sweetness and virtue from 
Christ, and love feeds upon it. Certainly these 
two eminent graces grow, live, and thrive together, 
and are inseparable companions. It is somewhat 
difficult to distinguish them, or to assign to each 
its proper place and work in the soul ; they seem 
mutually to act, and to be mutually acted on by each 
other ; perhaps the Apostle might have respect to 
this mystery, when he speaks so doubtfully, Gal. 
V. 6, " Faith which worketh by love," which words 
may signify either 'faith acting by love,' or 'faith 

VOL. II. 2 B 


acted on by love."* We know, indeed, that in the 
state of perfect communion, which we call glory, love 
shall abide and flourish more abundantly, and there 
shall be no room for faith there, as to the principal 
acts of it; but which of them hath the greater part 
in maintaining our communion with God in this 
world, is not easy, nor indeed needful to determine. 
The pious soul is the most proper temple wherein 
God dwelleth, according to that, " Ye are the temple 
of the livhig God :" faith and love are the Jachin 
and Boaz, the two great pillars which keep up the 
soul as a temple ; take away these and it remains a 
soul indeed, but the soul does not remain a temple 
to the Lord. In a word, these two are the souFs 
principal handmaids which she useth about this 
blessed guest ; faith goes out and brings him in, and 
love entertains him ; by faith she finds him whom 
she seeks, and by love she kisses him whom she 
finds, as the spouse is described. Cant. viii. 1. 

8. " The communion that is between God and 
the pious soul is altogether different from that com- 
munion that is between creatures." Here I might 
show you how it exceeds and excels that, in many 
respects : but I shall not insist upon any of those 
particulars, nor indeed upon any of those many dif- 
ferences that are between them, save only upon this 
one : The communion that is between creature and 
creature is perfect in its kind, and so, consequently, 
gives mutual satisfaction ; I mean, it terminates the 
expectations, so that nothhig remains to be enjoyed 


in them more than what is enjoyed. The creature 
is shallow, and soon is fathomed, we soon come to 
the bottom of it : a finite can grasp a finite being, 
and enjoy it, as I may say, all at once. A man 
may come so near to his friend, that he can come no 
nearer, enjoy him as fully as he is capable to enjoy, 
or the other to be enjoyed : created sweetness may 
be exhausted to the very bottom. But the souFs 
communion with God does not give it any such 
satisfaction, though indeed, in some sense, it gives 
a satisfaction of a much higher and more excellent 
kind. I told you before, that the soul's communion 
with God is imperfect in this life ; and therefore it 
must needs follow, that it cannot satisfy ; that is, 
not terminate and fill up the desires of it. Com- 
munion with God is maintained by faith and love, 
which proves it to be very sweet ; but it also admits 
of hope, which proves it to be not satisfactory ; for 
where there is yet any place left for hope, there is 
no full or satisfactory enjoyment. This may serve 
as a certain mark, whereby to judge of the truth of 
that communion with God ; it is not glutting to the 
soul, but will certainly manifest itself in incessant 
hungering, poor in the midst of riches ; the soul is 
in the midst of plenty, and yet cries out, as if it 
were ready to starve for want. When I consider 
the temper of some perfectionists, who cry down 
duties and ordinances, as low and unprofitable ru- 
diments, and boast of their full and inaccessible 
attainments, and compare it with the temper of the 


great Apostle, who did not reckon that he had 
attained, but still followed after that he might appre- 
hend, who forgot the things that were behind, and 
reached forth unto those things that were before, press- 
ing towards the mark, &c. I am ready to cry out, 
either this man is not an Apostle, or these men are 
not what they pretend ; but an Apostle he was, and 
had intimate communion with his Lord ; and there- 
fore, I confess, I cannot allow these men so high a 
place, in my opinion, as they have in their own. 
God is infinite ; and, therefore, though the soul be 
ever grasping, yet it can never comprehend ; the soul 
however finds him to be infinitely good, and so can- 
not cease grasping at him either. The pious soul 
sees that there is yet much more to be enjoyed of 
God, and in him ; and, therefore, though it be very 
near to him, yet cries out, and complains of its dis- 
tance from him ; — " Oh when shall I come and appear 
before him ! " though it be united to him, yet it longs 
to be still more one with him, and to be in a closer 
conjunction. The pious soul forgets, with Paul, 
what it hath received, not through disingenuity and 
unthankfulness, but through a holy ardour and co- 
vetousness : all that he hath of God seems little, 
because there is yet so much to be had. Though 
the pious soul do drink of the fountain, yet that is 
not enough, it would lie down by it ; though it do 
lie down by it, yet it is not satisfied either, except 
it may bathe itself, and even be swallowed up therein. 
Behold a paradox ! the pious soul is most thirsty. 


though, according to Christ's promise, it thirsts no 
more : it is most restless, though, according to his 
promise, it have rest. It is proper to God alone to 
rest in his love, for the creature cannot in this im- 
perfect state : hy this we know that v/e are not yet 
in heaven ; for it is a state of perfect rest, not sloth, 
or cessation, but satisfaction. Faith is the fever of 
the soul, rendering it more thirsty by how much the 
more it drinks in of the water of life, the living 
streams that flow forth from the throne of God and 
of the Lamb. As the waters of the sanctuary are 
described by the prophet, growing deeper and deeper, 
Ezek. xlvii. so hope, which is the soul's appetite, 
grows larger and larger, and cannot be satisfied till 
the souPs capacity be filled up. 

The doctrinal part being thus briefly despatched, 
it will be easy to infer some things by way of corol- 
lary. I shall content myself with three only amongst 

1. "All wicked men are strangers to God." 
We know, indeed, that God, according to his infinite 
essence, is present with all his creatures ; not only 
men, but even devils too, have their being in him : 
he hath spread his omnipotence, as the foundation 
whereupon the whole creation doth stand; he reared 
up the world in himself, and in him it doth subsist 
at this day. However angels and men have sadly 
fallen from God, yet they may be truly said to live 
in him still ; and althouorh all wicked souls do 
straggle oii from God, as to their dispositions and* 

2 b. 3 


affections, ingrafting themselves into another stock 
by sin and wickedness, yet they cannot possibly 
straggle from him as to their subsistence, as the 
Apostle teaches the Athenian philosophers, " He 
is not far from every one of us,""* though few feel 
after him or find him. And it may be truly said, 
in some sense, that all the creatures, yea, the very 
worst of them, have a communion with God ; all 
partake of him ; no creature hath anything of its 
own really distinct from him. Every thing that 
hath a being, hath a relation to that infinite and 
Supreme Being; and every living thing may be 
rightly said to have communion with him who is 
life itself And all those several excellencies that 
are in the creatures, flow out from God, who hath 
impressed various prints of his own beauty and per- 
fection upon every thing that he hath made. God's 
making of a thing is no other than the communicat- 
ing of himself thereunto. And, therefore, when you 
look into the world, do not view any creature in the 
narrow point of its own being, but in the unbounded 
essence of God, and therein love and admire it. 
But, upon the immortal soul of man, God hath 
copied out his divine perfections more clearly and 
gloriously, than upon any other creature in this 
world. God could not make a rational soul, with- 
out communicating of his own infinite wisdom, 
power, life, freedom to it ; so that there is more 
of the divine nature to be seen in the understand- 
ing and will of any one man, than in the whole 
fabric of heaven and earth. 


Notwithstanding this, wicked men are strangers 
to God. They live and move in God indeed, but 
they know it not, they consider it not ; they act as 
if they had no dependence upon him, no relation to 
him. Though they have some kind of communion 
with God, as creatures, yet this makes them not at 
all happy : for they are departed from God in their 
affections and dispositions ; they have degenerated 
from that subserviency and subordination to the 
divine will, which is the proper perfection of the 
creature, and are " alienated from the life of God,'' 
as the Apostle speaks. It is not the souFs moving 
in God, that makes it truly and happily nigh unto 
him, but its moving towards God, as the chief 
object, and according to the will of God, as the chief 
rule ; and therefore wicked men, who pitch upon 
other objects, and walk by other laws, even the lusts 
and ordinances of their own flesh and fancy, are 
properly strangers to God, and miserable. He is 
not properly said to know God, who hath a notion 
of him formed in his head, but he whose heart and 
will are moulded into a conformity to God, and a de- 
light in him ; so that a wicked man though he know, 
and believe, and tremble, as much as any of the 
devils, yet not loving nor delighting in God, as his 
chief good, not being conformed to his image, as the 
highest and purest perfection, may be truly said to 
be estranged from him ; which is a state of hell, 
and death, and darkness. This is the man, who, 
though not in words, yet, interpretatively, and really. 


saith unto God, " Depart from me, I desire not the 
knowledge of thy ways,'' with them in Job xxi. 1 4. 
These do really exempt themselves from the do- 
minion of Christ, and do really, though not audibly, 
say with them in the gospel, " We will not have 
this man to reign over us.'' However men pretend, 
and boast of their relation to, and acquaintance with 
God, certainly all that live a mere sensual life, non- 
conformists to the image of God, are truly said to 
be strangers to him, and in a state of non-com- 
munion with him, 1 John i. 6 ; 2 Cor. vi. 14 

2. " The life of a true Christian is the most high 
and noble life in the world ;" it exceeds the life of 
all other men, even of the greatest men. The 
character that is here given of the good man is the 
highest that can be given of any man, or indeed of 
any creature. It is the highest glory and excel- 
lency of the creature, to partake of the life of God, 
of the perfections of the Creator ; and such is the 
description that the Spirit of God here makes of the 
religious man. What an unreasonable and senseless 
reproach is that which this wicked world doth cast 
upon religion, calling it a low and despicable thing; 
and upon religious and pious men, calling them 
low-spirited, silly people. Can a man be better 
spirited, than with the Spirit of God ? Can any- 
thing more truly ennoble a soul than a divine na- 
ture ? Can a man be raised any higher than unto 
heaven itself.'^ So noble is the godly soul. " The 
way of life is above to the wise ;" and, consequently, 


all wicked men lead a low life, and are bound under 
chains of death and darkness : the righteous man is 
of a high and divine original, born of God, born 
from above; and therefore is more excellent than his 
neighbour, than any of his neighbours, even a king 
himself being judge, Prov. xii. 26. What a hellish 
baseness is that sinful gallantry of spirit, what a 
brutishness is that sensuality of living, which the 
degenerate sons of Adam do so much magnify ! 
True goodness and excellency of spirit must be 
measured by the proportion that it bears to the 
Supreme Good, the infinite pattern of all perfection. 
What excellent persons were those renowned saints 
of old, of whom the Apostle says, that " the world 
was not worthy,'"* however they were thought not 
worthy to live in the world ! What a noble and 
generous spirit of true christian valour, patience, 
meekness, contempt of the world, and self-denial, 
was that, which was to be seen in the blessed 
apostles, however they were esteemed as the filth 
and sweepings of the world, the " offscouring of all 
things !'■* To which of the noble, wise, mighty men 
of the world, as such, did God ever say. These are 
the men that have fellowship with me, these are the 
men that lead a noble and divine life? No, no, 
" not many noble are called ;'' and when they are 
called, they are made more noble than ever they 
were by birth or descent, by places of preferment or 
command. The life of every wicked man, of what 
rank soever he be in the world, is but a low life, a 


life in most things common to the very beasts with 
him ; if the main of his business and dehght be to 
eat, and drink, and work, and sleep, and enjoy sen- 
sual pleasures, what doth he ? what enjoyeth he 
more than the beasts that perish ? But the life of 
the meanest soul, that hath true and spiritual com- 
munion with God, is a life common to him with the 
blessed angels, those sons of the morning, the flower 
of the whole creation. That life which hath self 
for its centre, must needs be a penurious, and indeed 
a painful life : for how can the soul of man possibly 
feed to the full upon such spare diet, such scant 
fare as it finds at home ? Nay, indeed, how can it 
choose but be in pain and torture, whilst it stretch- 
eth itself upon self-sufficiency, or creature fulness, 
which is not at all commensurate to it ? But the 
jsoul that rightly stretches and spends all its facul* 
ties upon the infinite and blessed God, finds all its 
capacities filled up to the brim with that fountain of 
goodness, and itself perfectly matched with a suit- 
able and satisfactory object. This is the true and 
only nobleness of spirit, when all the powers and 
faculties of this immortal soul are exalted and ad- 
vanced into a true and vital sympathy and com- 
munion with the chief Good, formed according to 
his will, conformed to his image. 

And O that wisdom might be more "justified of 
licr children!" O that the life of God did but 
clearly manifest itself, and shine forth in the lives of 
those that call themselves Christians ! Alas, that ever 


God himself should suffer reproach, by recason of the 
low-spiritedness and laziness of his servants ! For 
this cause is religion evil spoken of The Lord 
awake and enable us to express and show forth the 
divine life with all power and vigour, to live as high 
as the calling wherewith we are called, and so roll 
away this reproach ! 

3. " The life of a Christian is not a heavy 
sluggish thing, but active and vigorous," as the 
phrase ' communion with God," imports. Religion is 
a communication of life and vigour from Him, who 
is life itself; which makes the truly God-like soul 
to be quick and powerful in its motions. Every 
thing is by so much the swifter and stronger in its 
motions, by how much the nearer it is to its centre, 
as philosophy tells us. Certainly by how much the 
nearer any man is gotten to God, who is the centre 
of souls, by so much the more does he covet after 
more intimate communion with him, and the more 
eagerly lay hold upon him. Communion does ne- 
cessarily imply re-action or reflection : the soul that 
receives of God, and his fulness, will certainly be 
emptying itself into him again. Communion, in 
the very force of the phrase, implies a mutualness ; 
we cannot suppose a soul partaking of God, but it 
must needs mutually render up itself to him again. 
There can be no commerce nor correspondence with- 
out returns : but what return can the pious soul 
make unto God ? Why, it renders up its whole 
self to him. Faith is a giving grace as well as a 


receiving, it gives the soul back to Christ, as well 
as takes Christ into the soul ; it draws in strength 
and grace from God, and reciprocally spends the 
whole powers of the soul upon him. The happiness 
of a real Christian doth not consist in cessation and 
rest; the soul itself being a powerful and active 
being, the happiness of it, the very rest of it, must 
also be active and vigorous. Where there is com- 
munion, there must needs be quick and lively re- 
turns, reciprocations, reflections, and corresponden- 
cies ; the drawings of God are answered with the 
soul's running. The motion of Christ's fingers 
begets a motion in the Christian's soul : " My 
Beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, 
and my bowels were moved for him."" These are 
the divine and harmonious responses which are made 
and maintained in the godly soul, the temple of the 
living God. O shake off that lazy and drowsy 
spirit, which hath so benumbed many in this cold 
and stupid age of the world ; work out your salva- 
tion with care and diligence. If your religion be 
nothing but a spiritual kind of sleep, your heaven 
will prove to be nothing but a pleasant kind of 

Communion with God speaks something divine, 
active, vigorous. The life of a Christian doth not 
consist only in cessation from evil, reformation from 
sin, or dying thereunto ; mortification is but one part 
of regeneration. It is the conceit, and, I doubt, 
the deceit, of many nominal Christians, that if they 


can but keep up an indifferent even spirit and con- 
versation, free, from gross and scandalous sins from 
day to day, they are happy enough ; their utmost 
ambition is to be innocent and harmless. This in- 
deed is necessary and praiseworthy ; but surely the 
happiness of a soul lies higher : thus happy are all 
the creatures that keep in the station, and keep up 
the order prescribed them of God : thus happy is 
the sun in the firmament, running its race contin- 
ually, and never departing from the office which is 
assigned to it. But the soul of man is capable of a 
higher kind of happiness, namely. Communion with 
God; which is, when the faculties thereof being 
awakened, refined, and acted on by the Spirit of God, 
do reciprocally act, and spend themselves upon him, 
longing to be perfectly swallowed up in him, and 
to be all that which God himself is, as far as the 
creature is capable to drink in the perfections of the 
Creator, and become one with his Maker. This is 
that truly noble and divine life, which is here called 
communion with God, which the high-spirited and 
generous soul labours yet more and more to be grow- 
ing up into, and perfected in. Keep yourselves, 
with David, from your iniquities ; it is something 
to be freed from the guilt and power of sin; but 
there is somewhat higher than this, a more excellent 
attainment, a more divine accomplishment: go on 
therefore with the same David, and aspire after this 
pure and blissful state, this heaven upon earth, 
waiting for the more ample and glorious manifcsta- 

VOL. II. 2 c 


tions of God to you and in you, more than they 
that watch for the morning, as he did. This in- 
ference was only of instruction, but the sweetness 
and needfulness of the subject almost prevails with 
me to turn it into an earnest exhortation, but that I 
would not anticipate myself. Therefore I proceed to 
the next way of improving this doctrine, which shall 
be by way of conviction or reprehension. 

1. Our fellowship is — it reproves them that can 
take up with a shall be — a heaven to come. I am 
now speaking, not to the worst of men, whose very 
souls are swallowed up in sensual enjoyments, and 
imprisoned in their senses : for these men either 
think of no heaven at all, or else they place their 
heaven and happiness in the enjoyment of them- 
selves or of the creature. Nor yet do I speak to those 
men who, being persuaded of a future state, do in- 
deed wish for a heaven to come, but then it is a 
poor kind of low and earthly heaven, consisting in 
ease, rest, safety, freedom from troubles or torments, 
which is the best happiness which most men under- 
stand, the highest heaven that any carnal mind can 
see or soar up to. But I am speaking to a better 
and finer sort of souls than these, that are verily 
possessed with a sense of a pure and spiritual hea- 
ven in the world to come ; yea, they are so over- 
powered with the foresight of it, as that they do 
earnestly expect and wish for it ; yea, the hopes of 
it do sustain and strengthen their hearts under the 
manifold temptations and persecutions of this pre- 


sent world; they are so verily persuaded of the 
truth of it, and of their own title to it too, that they 
are content to abide this long and disconsolate night 
of dimness, and anguish, and frightfulness, merely 
in expectation of the dawning of that day, that clear 
and bright day of their glorious and everlasting re- 
demption. And herein I am far from blaming 
them, nay, I must needs commend their magnani- 
mous faith and self-denial. But, in the mean time, 
they dwell too much upon heaven as a future state, 
and comfort themselves only in a happiness to come, 
not longing and labouring to find a heaven opened 
within themselves, a beginning of eternal bliss brought 
into themselves : they are too well content with a 
certain reversion, and do not eagerly enough endea- 
vour after present possession, to be actually instated 
in so much of the inheritance of souls as may fall to 
their share even in this lower world ; this slothful 
temper and inactivity I do condemn wherever it is 
found ; yea, though it be in my own soul. Every 
thing in the world, by a natural principle, thirsts 
after its proper rest, and a happiness suitable to the 
nature of it ; no creature can be content, though it 
may be constrained, to be at a distance from its 
centre, but is still carried out towards its own per- 
fection. And why then should a pious soul, who 
is God's only new creature in the world, be content 
with a state of imperfections ? why should not he as 
eagerly covet, and as earnestly pursue the most in- 
timate and close communion and conjunction with 


his God, as they do with their respective centres ? 
Can any earthly, sensual, unregenerate man be con- 
tent with an inheritance in reversion, so as to sus- 
pend his minding and following of the world till 
hereafter? Can any ambitious spirit, who places 
his main happiness and contentment in popular esti- 
mation, and worldly greatness, be content to stand 
gazing at preferments; will he be willing to sit still, 
and wait till they drop into his mouth ? No, no, 
there is a raging thirst in the soul, which will not 
suffer it to be at rest, but is still awakening and 
provoking all the powers of the whole man, till they 
arise and fetch in water to quench it. And there- 
fore we read of men making haste to be rich, and 
hastening after another god ; whicli eager and ardent 
passions towards earthly objects, you may see lively 
described in the instances of Ahab, Amnon, and 
Haman, in the holy scriptures. And is there any 
reason to be given, why that new nature and divine 
principle which God putteth into regenerate souls, 
should not carry them as hastily and forcibly to a 
present fruition of their proper object and happi- 
ness, (so far as at present it maybe enjoyed) as that 
corrupt and degenerate nature doth hurry on those 
in whom it ruleth, towards the satisfaction of their 
brutal lusts .? Divines speak sometimes of making 
heaven and eternal life present to ourselves, and say 
that this is the work of faith ; which is a high and 
excellent doctrine, but, I doubt, not thoroughly un- 
derstood by ordinary Christians. To make heaven 


present to one's self, is not only to insist upon a state 
of future happiness in frequent meditations, to think 
much of it, neither is this that noble employment 
of saving faith ; but the life and power of faith is 
most eminently exerted in drawing in participations 
of life and grace from Christ, and in a real bringing 
down of God and heaven into the soul. The truth 
is, heaven is a state of perfect communion with God, 
a state of love, joy, peace, purity, freedom ; and as 
far as any soul is in such a state upon earth, so far 
he is above the earth, and may be said to be in 
heaven. Therefore a right active soul, that truly 
understands its proper and spiritual heaven and 
happiness, so far as he is thus active and sensible, 
cannot be content to stay for all his happiness tiU 
the world to come; cannot be content to be unhappy, 
no, not for an hour, but is still growing up in God, 
and springing up into everlasting life. 

2. It reprehends those that make a stir about the 
kingdom of Christ in the world, and men's being 
brought into the communion of the church, but ad- 
vance not his kingdom in their own souls, nor long 
to have their ov/n souls advanced into that noble 
state of communion with " the Father, and with his 
Son Jesus Christ."" There is, doubtless, a genera- 
tion of such popular Christians, who, being strangers 
to the life, and power, and spirit of true religion, do 
endeavour to pass off themselves on the world, and 
commend themselves to the charity of their brethren, 
by a pretended zeal for the kingdom of Christ in thu 

2c 3 


world, and the glorious manifestation of it, as they 
speak. I know, indeed, that it is worthy the cares, 
and prayers, and utmost diligence of every serious 
Christian, to spread and propagate the knowledge of 
the gospel, to pour out the ointment of Christ's 
name far and near. A more pure and spiritual ad- 
ministration of all gospel ordinances throughout the 
world is highly desirable ; yea, and I think an in- 
different and careless disposition towards the wor- 
ship of God argues much of an earthly and atheis- 
tical mind. But I fear that kingdom of Christ, and 
those glorious manifestations and discoveries which 
are so much pretended to by many, if they should 
be thoroughly examined, would be, at length, re- 
solved into nothing else but the advancement of 
some one party or interest above all the rest, or the 
exchanging of an old form or dress of religion for a 
new one ; and that this zeal would be found little 
better than the blazings of self-love, a fire kindled 
not by a coal from the altar, but by a spark of their 
own. But, be it so, that this disposition of theirs is 
sincere and spiritual ; should not this charity begin 
at home ? The most proper kingdom of Christ is 
that whereby he ruleth in the hearts of men ; the 
most excellent worship is when the soul itself be- 
comes a temple for the living God to dwell in, and 
to receive and reflect the manifestations of his glory; 
when a fire of divine love is kindled in it, and therein 
it doth offer up, not bulls and goats, no, nor prayers 
and meditations, so much as itself unto God ; which 


is a reasonable service, as the Apostle speaks, far 
more glorious than either the Mosaical or Evangelical 
dispensation, if you consider it in the letter only. 
Whatever men may pretend, no man can be truly 
and rightly studious of the advancement of the 
kingdom of God in the world, that hath not first 
felt the mighty power and blessed effects of it in his 
own soul. Communion with the church is only 
so far to be valued, as it is in order to a real and 
spiritual communion with God ; which communion 
with God , if we do indeed sincerely wish to others, 
we shall more abundantly labour to promote in our- 
selves. I cannot believe that he doth heartily seek 
the happiness of others, who himself sits still, and is 
content to be miserable, especially when their hap- 
piness and his is one and the same. 

3. It condemns them as not Christians, whose 
fellowship is only with their fellow-creatures. We 
have seen that it is the character, the distinguishing 
character of a pious man, to have fellowship with 
God. It must needs follow, then, that those dege- 
nerate souls that rise no higher than the world, 
that converse only with self or any other creature, 
are verily strangers to true Christianity, whatever 
their confidence or presumption may be. Christians, 
tell not me what you profess of Christ, what you 
believe of the gospel, what orthodox opinions you 
hold, what an honest party you side with, how many 
and specious duties you perform, no, nor what hopes 
or wishes you have of going to heaven ; but, tell me. 


where is your principal communion ; what do you 
mainly mind, follow, converse with ; what pattern do 
you conform to ; what rule do you live by ; what 
object do you ultimately aim at ? The whole world 
of worldly men doth hasten after another god, as the 
Psalmist phrases it, though not all after the same 
god : they spend their souls, indeed, upon various 
objects, and use difierent methods to obtain rest, but 
yet all their happiness and contentment is ultimately 
resolved into creature-communion. That dreadful 
sentence, which the Apostle delivers universally 
concerning all men, is to be limited to all wicked 
men only, and of them it is undoubtedly true : "All 
seek their own, and none the things of Jesus Christ.'" 
And, of all these, that of the Psalmist's "many" 
is to be understood : " There be many that say. 
Who will show us any good .?" that is, any creature- 
good, as the words following do explain it. All un- 
regenerate souls are bound up in the creature, some 
creature or other; and therefore the noblest of 
them, whatever boasting they may make, are low and 
ignoble ; their main converse is but with their fel- 
low-creatures, and indeed creatures much inferior to 
themselves : " Corn and wine,"' says the Psalmist ; 
" earthly things," says the Apostle, — " who mind 
earthly things." In a word, though it be true 
what the Apostle says in one place, that all men in 
the world do live in God, yet it is also true, that 
most of men, as the same Apostle speaks elsewhere, 
do "live without God in tlic world," have their 


hearts staked down to one creature or other, and so 
fall short of this honourable character which the 
Apostle here gives of good men : " Our fellow- 
ship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus 

And now I shall conclude the remainder of this 
discourse, with a humble request, and earnest ex- 

"Reckon not upon any happiness below this com- 
munion." There are many things which a Christian 
may take to be comforts; but only one, this one, that 
he ought to take to be the happiness of his life. I 
design not to speak anything to the prejudice of 
natural or civil ornaments or accomplishments, much 
less to the disparagement of any of those endow- 
ments or employments which are, in a sense, spiri- 
tual, commonly called gifts and duties : but, I must 
confess, it is one of the great wonders of the world 
to me, to see such a noble and intelligent being, as 
the soul of man is, attending to, and pursuing after, 
things either extrinsical or inferior to itself, in the 
mean time carelessly forgetting, or wilfully reject- 
ing its main happiness, principal end, and proper 
perfection. As for those sensual persons, those 
mere animals, whose souls are incarnate in their 
senses, and seem to perform no higher office in the 
world than the souls of beasts, that is, to carry about 
their bodies ; who value themselves by their bodies, 
or, which is baser, by the apparel that clothes them. 


or the estates that feed them : I shall not now trou- 
ble myself about them, but leave them to be chas- 
tised by Seneca or Plutarch, or indeed any ordinary 
philosopher. I shall rather apply myself a little to 
a sort of higher spirited people, whom by a con- 
descension of charity we call Christians, who, va- 
luing themselves by external professions, privileges, 
performances, may indeed be said to be somewhat 
more scrupulous and curious, but no less mistaken 
than the former : for if the grosser sort of sensualists 
do deny, and professedly abjure their own reason, and 
the finer sort of hypocrites do more cunningly bribe 
theirs, each method amounts to no more than a 
cheat, and both parties will be alike miserable, save 
that the latter will be somewhat more tormented in 
missing a happiness which he looked and hoped 
for. It is not proper to my present discourse, to 
speak so highly and honourably of these externals 
of Christianity, nor to press them so zealously, as I 
do at all times when I have occasion ; for I verily 
value all ordinances of Christ, and duties of God's 
worship, at a high rate ; nay, I know not any serious 
and truly pious soul in the world, but is of this 
same opinion with me ; but, I must confess, I think 
it is one of the greatest and most pernicious cheats 
in the world, for men to feed upon the dish instead 
of the meat, to place their happiness in those things 
which God hath only appointed to be means to con- 
vey it. This was the great destruction of the Jewish 


church ; by this they perished : thus they are every 
where described in Scripture, as a people resting in 
their privileges and performances, boasting of their 
sacrifices and temple-service; they made account 
of a strange kind of flesh-pleasing heaven, some- 
thing distinct from them, and reserved for them, 
to be given them by way of reward for the righ- 
teousness which themselves had wrought by the 
power of their own free will (which free will, they 
say, is an effect of man''s fall, but they make it a 
cause of man**s rise ; for now he can purchase and 
merit a happiness, which happiness is also more 
illustrious than that given of mere grace ;) which 
righteousness, if we look either into their own 
writings, or God''s writings concerning them, we shall 
find was nothing else but a strict observance of the 
precepts of the law, according to the letter and ex- 
ternal dispensation of it. Such a low and legal 
spirit was generally found amongst the Jews ; I wish 
the greatest part of us, who are in profession and 
name evangelical, be not found as truly legal in 
spirit and temper as they were. If we cry the gos- 
pel of Christ, the gospel of Christ, with the same 
spirit, as they cried, " the temple of the Lord, the 
temple of the Lord," our confidence will as surely 
betray us into final misery as theirs did. True, in- 
deed, prayers, sacraments, sermons, are somewhat 
finer words than the old obsolete ones, the law, 
sacrifices, ceremonies ; but, alas ! they are but words ; 


at least they are not gods, not more fit to ter- 
minate our devotions and affections than these. I 
beseech you, therefore, Christians, be not mistaken 
in this matter. True Christianity is not a notion, 
but a nature ; that is not religion which is wrapped 
up in books, or laid up in men'^s brains, but it is 
laid in the very constitution of the soul, a new 
principle implanted by God, in the highest powers 
of the soul, refining and spiritualizing all the facul- 
ties thereof, and rendering them as like to God 
himself, as such a creature can resemble its Creator. 
It is a truth, as clear as the sun is clear, that no- 
thing can make a soul truly happy, but what is 
wrought into the nature of it, and that must 
be somewhat more excellent than itself, and be 
nothing less than something divine, even the 
image of the blessed God. If you be Christians, 
in deed and in truth, value all the ordinances of 
God, and the duties of the Christian religion, but 
value not yourselves by these, or your happiness 
by these. Attend upon them all for the main- 
taining and increasing of real fellowship with God ; 
for though these be not it, yet they are the way 
wherein it pleases God to give it. Drink the 
sincere milk of the word, but let it be only with a 
holy design of growing thereby, of growing up into 
God, and a divine life. Away with those low and 
base thoughts of happiness ; the happiness of a soul 
is a high and excellent, indeed a divine thing ; it is 


in some sense common to God and the soul ; God 
is happy in himself alone, and the soul can only be 
happy in him. What contentment, what real hap- 
piness. Christian, can the rising of thy party in the 
world, or the rising of thy name in the country, 
bring thee, if, in the mean time, thou thyself har- 
bourest any carnal will, self-interest that doth rise 
up in opposition to the pure and perfect will and 
nature of God ? how art thou happy in thy prayers, 
if thou cast sin out of thy mouth, and, in the mean 
time, a fountain of iniquity be springing up in thy 
heart ! What avails it towards a state of perfection, 
to be of the most orthodox opinions, the most honest 
society, the fairest profession, the most popular and 
sanctimonious form, or the most plausible perform- 
ances either, the soul being, in the mean time, 
alienated from the life of God, and feeding upon 
some earthly trash or other, which destroys the na- 
tive powers and vigour of it, and keeps it under a 
perpetual languor ? even just so much as a silken 
stocking upon a gouty leg, or a princely diadem 
upon an aching head, avails towards a state of ease 
and soundness and good temperature of body. Let 
nothing limit your ambition, but a state of God-like 
perfection, let nothing set bounds to your loving 
and longing souls, but a real fruition of God him- 
self; nay, let not that bound them either, but the 
more you enjoy, see, and taste, the more let your 
love be strengthened, after the manner of fire, which, 

VOL. II. 2 D 


the more it is fed, the more hungry and devouring 
it grows. In a word, let nothing satisfy you lower 
than the highest character that can be given of 
mortal man, to be men " after God's own heart," 
to have God dwelling in you, to be filled with his 
fulness, to have this real and excellent "commnuion 
with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.'' 
To whom be all honour, praise, and glory, for ever 
and ever. 






Matt. xxii. 30. 
'— " Are as the angels of God in heaven** 

The doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the 
great things of the christian religion, as they were 
accounted strange things by all the world when they 
were first published and preached, so indeed by 
none less entertained, or rather more opposed, than 
by the wisest of men living in that age, namely. 
Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, who were the " dis- 
puters of this world,*" as the Apostle's phrase is : a 
thing of wonderful observation, not only to us in 
our day, but even to our blessed Lord himself in 
the days of his flesh, who fetches the cause of it 
from heaven, and adores the infinite wisdom of God 
in it — " I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven 
and earth, because thou hast hid these things from 
the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto 
babes."" Amongst other set disputations that the 
Sadducees held with our Saviour, the one in this 

2d 3 



chapter is very famous ; where they dispute against 
the resurrection of the dead, by an absurd argument 
grounded upon an instance of a woman that had 
been married to seven husbands successively. Now, 
say they, if there be a resurrection, whose wife shall 
she be then ? Our Saviour answers by destroy- 
ing the ground of their argument, and showing 
that they disputed upon a false supposition ; for, 
saith he, " In the resurrection there shall be no 
marrying ; but men shall be as the angels of God." 
In which words this doctrine is plainly laid down, 
(for I shall not meddle with the controversy,) 

" That the glorified saints shall be as the angels 
of God in heaven.*" The other evangelists lay down 
the same truths, see Mark xii. 25, Luke xx. 36. 
In the explication of which point I will shew, 
I. Negatively, wherein the saints shall not be like 
the angels. II. Affirmatively, wherein the saints 
shall be like unto them, or, as St. Luke hath it, 
equal to them. 

I. Negatively. 

1. " The glorified saints shall not be like the 
angels in essence." The angelical essence, and the 
rational soul are, and shall be different. Souls shall 
remain souls still, keep their own essence : the es- 
sence shall not be changed; souls shall not be 
changed into angelical essences. 

2. " They shall not be wholly spirits without bo- 
dies,." as the angels. The spirits of ju«t men now 
made perfect, are ^M>i^e like to the angels in this 


sense than they shall be after the resurrection ; for 
now they are spirits without bodies : but the saints 
shall have bodies, not such as now, corruptible, not 
in anything defective, not needing creature-supplies, 
but incorruptible, glorious bodies, in some sense 
spiritual bodies ; which are described by three cha- 
racters — incorruptible, (somewhat more than immor- 
tal,) glorious, powerful. Neither doth their having 
bodies any whit abate their perfection or glory, nor 
render them inferior to the angels ; for even the 
glorious Redeemer of the world hath a body, who 
is yet superior to the angels ; and he shall change 
the vile bodies of the saints, and make them like 
unto his glorious body. 

3. " Neither have we any ground to believe that 
the saints shall be altogether equal to the angels in 
dignity and glory f but rather, that as man was at 
first made a little lower than the angels, so that he 
shall never come to be exalted altogether so high 
as they ; for it seems, that the natural capacity of 
an angel is greater than of a man, and so shall 
continue, for they are a distinct kind of creatures. 
As a beast cannot become so wise and intelligent as 
a man, for then he would cease to be a beast ; so 
neither can a man become so powerful and capable as 
an angel, for then he would cease to be a man. 

II. Affirmatively. 

The glorified saints shall be like the angels of 
God in heaven, 1st. In their qualities ; that is, 

1. " In being pure and holy." Whether they 


shall be equal to them in positive holiness or not, I 
know not ; whether they shall understand, and know, 
and love God, in all degrees, as much as the angels ; 
it seems rather that they shall not, because, as I 
said before, their capacity shall not be so large. 
But if in this they be not altogether equal to the 
angels, yet it implies no imperfection ; for they shall 
be positively holy, as far as their nature is capable, 
and so shall be perfect in their kind — " The spirits 
of just men made perfect :*" they shall in this be like 
unto the angels^ if not equal to them, yea, like unto 
God himself in it — " Be ye holy, as I am holy." 
But as to negative holiness, the saints shall be even 
equal to the angels of God in heaven, that is, they 
shall have no more sin, no more corruption than 
they have : they shall be as perfectly freed from all 
iniquities, imperfections, and infirmities, as the an- 
g-els. What can be cleaner than that which hath 
no uncleanness at all in it ? Why, so clean shall 
all the saints be — " No unclean thing shall enter 
into heaven." They shall be without all kind of 
spot or blemish, which is a perfect negative holiness ; 
more cannot be said of the angels in this respect. 
As branches of this : — 

2. " As the holy angels do reverence the divine 
Majesty ; they cover their faces with their wings, 
crying, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, so 
shall the glorified saints." You may see what sweet 
harmony they make, consenting together to give the 
glory pf all to God, The saints stood and cried. 


** Salvation to our God who sittetli upon the throne, 
and to the Lamb ;'' the angels stood round about, 
saying, " Amen, amen."'' 

3. "In their readiness to do the will of God, and 
execute his commands ;"*' therefore the angels are 
described to have wirig^ — "with twain they did fly."" 
How God shall please to employ angels or saints in 
the world to come, is not for us to enquire ; but they 
shall be alike ready to do his will, and serve his 
pleasure, whatever it shall be. Even whilst the 
saints are imperfect on earth, they can cry, " Here 
am I, send me :"" how much more ready shall they 
be then, when all their fetters are knocked off ! 

4. They shall be as the angels, " in their cheer- 
ful and unwearied execution of the will of God." So 
the angels are, and so shall the saints be. The 
spirit shall then be more willing, and the flesh shall 
be no more weak, as it is now ; for when it is raised 
again, it shall be in power. More things of this 
nature might be added, but 1 pass lightly over them ; 
because, although they be true, yet they are not 
principally looked at in this text : therefore I come 
to the second thing wherein the glorified saints 
shall be like unto the angels, and that is. 

In their way of living. They shall be like the 
angels, that is, saith one truly, laayyO^wg /3iouvT£c» 
living like the angels. How is that ? our Saviour 
tells us, neither marrying, nor being given in mar- 
riage ; it is added presently in Luke xx. 36, " For 
neither can they die any more.'' If there be no 


dying, there will be no need of propagation ; and 
if no need of propagation, then why should they 
marry ? The angels are single, and know no 
other conjunction but with God in a spiritual 
manner ; no more shall the saints. But what great 
matter is that to be like the angels in.^^ what 
perfection is that ? Many saints, yea, and sinners 
too upon earth, are so like the angels, nay, and the 
devils too. Therefore you must know that our 
Saviour under this phrase of not marrying, doth 
comprehend all manner of creature-converse, all 
kind of living upon, and delighting in the creature, 
by a synecdoche of the part, as is ordinary in scrip- 
ture ; "I have not given upon usury," saith the 
prophet, " yet the people curse me,"" that is, I have 
had no dealing in the world, no negociation. By 
one kind he understands the whole, Ezek. xxv. 4, 
where, by eating their fruits, and drinking their 
milk, is understood the possession of all that was 
theirs ; and in many other places the Spirit of God 
uses this tropical way of speaking. 

The angels of God neither marry, nor are given 
in marriage, that is, they live not upon any created 
good, delight not in any created comfort, but live 
entirely upon God, converse with him, are everlast- 
ingly beholding his glory, and delighting themselves 
in him. Thus shall the glorified saints live for 
ever : their bodies shall not need nor use created 
supplies, food, physic, raiment, &c. which things in 
this animal state they stand in need of, Matt. vi. 32. 


But that is not all : for their souls shall not any 
longer desire, nor hanker after any created thing, 
but, as the angels, shall be possessed of God, filled 
with the fulness of God ; all their powers and fa- 
culties are perfectly refined and spiritualized, ab- 
stracted from all created things, eternally rejoicing 
and delighting themselves in the contemplation and 
participation of the supreme and infinite Good : for 
during this earthly and imperfect state, not only the 
bodies of good men feed upon, and are sustained by 
the creatures, in common with other men, but even 
their souls do taste too much of worldly content- 
ments, and drink too deep of earthly pleasures and 
creature comforts : even the most refined souls upon 
earth, though they do not properly feed upon any 
thing below God, yet do oft dip the end of their 
rod in this honey that lies upon the earth, with 
Jonathan ; do use their earthly enjoyments, and de- 
light in them in a way too unspiritual, having ab- 
stracted them from God, and loving them with a 
distinct love. But in the resurrection it shall not 
be so; for the holy souls shall be perfectly con- 
formed to the holy God, shall feed upon him singly, 
live upon him entirely, be wrapt up in him wholly, 
and be satisfied with him solely and everlastingly, 
and so shall they be equal to the angels. The crea- 
ture, although it does not fill any truly sanctified 
soul upon earth, yet it hath some room there ; but 
then it shall be perfectly cast out, and the soul shall 
be filled with all the fulness of God. The crca- 


ture is now much in some pious souls, and some- 
thing in all of them ; but then it shall be nothing 
at all to them, or in them, but God shall be all in 
all, all things in all of them ; as the way of the 
saints'* living, and their glorified state is described 
— " that God may be all in all.'' " They shall in- 
herit all things :"' but how is that ? why, see the 
explication of it in the following words, " He that 
overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be 
his God.'"* God will be their God ; God shall be 
unto them instead of all things. In that *tate there 
shall no need of sun or moon ; by which excellent 
and useful creatures the whole creation seems to be 
understood ; for they that shall live above the sun 
and moon, shall certainly live above all things that 
are below these : but how then ? why it follows, 
" The glory of God shall enlighten them, and the 
Lamb shall be their light." " And there shall be 
no night there, and they need no candle, neither 
light of the sun : for the Lord giveth them light.*" 
All happiness is derived into them from God, and 
therefore there shall be no night, no want of any 
creature comfort to them ; neither shall they desire 
anything more of the creature whether small or great, 
whether candle or sun. For explication of this 
their blessed life, let me allude to that of our Sa- 
viour — " The fowls of heaven neither sow nor reap, 
yet God feedeth them ;" so the saints in heaven 
neither want nor desire any created good, for they 
feed upon God the supreme and infinite Good : and 


again, " The lilies neither toil nor spin, and yet 
Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of 
these/' These blessed souls have no respect at all 
to things terrene and created ; yet they are so filled 
and adorned with the glory of the infinite Majesty, 
that Solomon in all his glory was nothing in com- 
parison of them. In a word, the state of the glori- 
fied saints and angels is set out by our Saviour in 
the same manner, by one and the same description, 
and that is the seeing of God : the life of angels is 
called a continual beholding of the face of God, and 
the state of the saints'* glory and happiness is also a 
seeing of God — " They shall see his face, and his 
name shall be in their foreheads.*" Now, this 
phrase, the seeing of God, applied both to the saints 
and angels, doth place their happiness in God alone, 
excluding the creature ; and it doth import the ful- 
ness and clearness, and certainty of their bliss. 

Thus I have showed you, in what sense, though 
I am not able to show you in what degree, the glo- 
rified saints shall be like the angels of God in hea- 
ven : their way of living upon the blessed God alone, 
shall be the same with that of the holy angels. 


From the discovery of the future state of the 
saints, I find myself furnished with reasons for, 

1. Reproof against the carnal conceits that many 
Christians have of heaven. Christians do I call 
them ! nay, herein they seem rather Mahometans, 

VOL. II. 2 E 


who place heaven in the full and lasting enjoyment 
of all creature-comforts, nay, indeed of sinful and 
abominable pleasures, as one may read in their 
Alcoran. It may be, few Christians are altogether 
so sensual; but, sure I am, the far greater sort of 
Christians, so called, are very gross and carnal, at 
least, very low in their conceits of the state of future 
happiness. Heaven is a word as little understood 
as holiness ; and that, I am sure, is the greatest 
mystery in the world. It would be tedious to run 
through the various apprehensions of men in this 
matter, and indeed impossible to know them. The 
common sort of people understand by heaven either 
just nothing but a glorious name, or at best but a 
freedom from bodily torment : as nothing of hell 
affects them but that dreadful word Jire^ so nothing 
of heaven but the comfortable word rest or safety. 
Others, it may be, think there is something posi- 
tive in heaven, and they dream of an honour- 
able, easy, pleasant life, free from such kind of 
toils, labours, pains, persecutions, reproaches, and 
penuries, which men are subject to in this life ; this 
is a true notion, but much below the nature of that 
happy state. Others are yet more highly affected 
with the words of glory and glorious, and seem to 
be much ravished with them, but are like men in a 
maze or wonderment, who admire something that 
they understand not, and are altogether confounded 
m their own apprehensions of it ; as if a man should 
b^ mightily taken with such a fine name as Arabia 


the Happy, and by a blind fervour of mind should 
desire to go and visit it. Others rise yet higher in 
their apprehensions of heaven, and look upon it as 
a holy state, but that holiness is negative, a perfect 
freedom from sin, and all temptations to it : and in- 
deed this is a precious consideration, and that where- 
in many a weary soul finds much rest : but yet this 
amounts not to the life of angels ; it is a lower con- 
sideration of heaven than what our Saviour here 
presents us with. The state of the glorified saints 
shall not only be a state of freedom from temporal 
pains, or eternal pains, or a freedom from spiritual 
pains and imperfections, but a state of perfect posi- 
tive holiness, pure light, ardent love, spiritual 
liberty, holy delights ; when all created good shall 
perfectly vanish, all created love shall be swallowed 
up, the soul shall become of a most God-like dispo- 
sition, shining forth in the glory that he shall put 
upon it, glorying in nothing but the blessed God, 
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in his divine image 
and perfections, and wrapt up entirely into his in- 
finite fulness to all eternity : which hath made me 
oft times to nauseate, and indeed to blame the poor 
low descriptions of the kingdom of heaven which I 
have found in books and sermons, for too dry, yea, 
and gross ; which describe heaven principally as 
a place, and give it such circumstances of beauty, 
firmness, security, light, and splendour, pleasant 
society, good neighbourhood, as they think will 
most commend an earthly habitation. True indeed. 


the Holy Ghost in scripture is pleased to conde- 
scend so far to our weak capacities, as to describe 
that glorious state to us by such things as we do 
best understand, and are apt to be most taken with, 
and do most gratify our senses in this world ; as a 
kingdom, paradise, a glorious city, a crown, an in- 
heritance ; but yet it is not the will of God that 
his enlightened people should rest in such low no- 
tions of eternal life ; for in other places God speaks 
of the state of glory according to the nature and 
excellency of it, and not according to the weakness 
of our understanding, and describes it at another 
rate, calling it the life of angels ; as the beholding 
of God — a coming unto the measure of the stature 
of the fulness of Christ — God's being all things in 
us — it is called a knowing of God, and of his Son 
Jesus Christ. In a word, which is as high as can 
be spoken, higher indeed than can be perfectly un- 
derstood, it is called a being like unto God — "We 
shall be like unto him." But this use is not so 
much for reproof, as it is for information. 

2. Here is matter of reproof, yea, and of just 
indignation, against the gross, low, sensual, earthly 
life of professors, who yet hope to be the children 
of the resurrection, and to be as the angels of God 
in heaven. What ! hope to be like them then, and 
yet altogether unlike them now ! I speak not in a 
passion, but out of a just indignation that I have 
conceived against myself, and against the generality 
even of saints themselves. I am not going to speak 


of covetousness commonly so called ; there is a sin 
much like to it, which is not indeed a single sin, bnt 
an evil and unseemly temper, which is earthly- 
mindedness, or minding of earthly things ; or if you 
will, because I would not be misunderstood, a living 
upon the creature, or a loving of the creature with 
a distinct love. Oh ! the insensible secrecy, and 
insuperable power of this creature-love ! I cannot 
sufficiently exclaim against it. Why do we spend 
noble affections upon such low and empty nothings ? 
Are we called with such a high calling, think you, 
that our conversation should be so low.? Is the 
fulness of the fountain yours, and do ye yet delight 
to sit down by and bathe yourselves in the shallow 
streams ? Is your life hid with Christ with God ? 
why then do you converse as if your life were bound 
up in the creature ? Have you laid lip your trea- 
sure in the blessed God.? what do your hearts, then, 
so far from it ? Is your happiness in heaven ? why 
then is not your conversation there too ? Do ye 
count it your bliss to see God ? what then mean 
those fond glances that ye cast upon created com- 
forts, and that impure love which you bestow on 
things below ? I mean not only the " bleatings of 
the sheep, and the lowings of the oxen,'' I speak 
not of the grosser sort of earthly-mindedness, sen- 
suality, or covetousness, hut of that more refined 
and hidden creature-love, a loving of friends, rela- 
tions, health, liberty, life, and that not in God, but 
with a love distinct from that love wherewith we 



love God. To love all these in God, and for his 
sake, and as flowing from him, and partaking of 
him, and with the same love wherewith we love God 
himself, is allowed us ; but to love them with a par- 
ticular love, as things distinct from God, to delight 
in them merely as creatures, and to follow them as 
if some good, or happiness, or pleasure, were to 
be found in them, distinct from what is in God, 
this is a branch of spiritual adultery, I had almost 
said idolatry. To taste a sweetness in the crea- 
ture, and to see a beauty and goodness in it, is our 
duty ; but then, it must be the sweetness of God in 
it, and the goodness of God which we ought alone 
to taste and see in it. As we say, " the wife shines 
with the rays of her husband ;"" so more truly every 
creature shines but by a borrowed light, and com- 
mends to us the goodness, and sweetness, and ful- 
ness of the blessed Creator. You have heard that 
the glorified souls shall live upon God alone en- 
tirely, wholly, eternally ; and should not the less 
glorious souls, I mean gracious souls, do so too, in 
some degree ? yea, even we who are upon earth, 
and do yet use creatures, should behold all the scat- 
tered beams of goodness, sweetness, perfection, that 
are in these creatures, all united and gathered up 
in God, and so feeding upon them only in God, 
and upon God in all of them. It is the character 
of wicked and godless men, that they set up and 
drive a trade for themselves ; live in a way distinct 
from God, as though they had no dependence upon 


him ; they love the world with a predominant love; 
they enjoy creature-comforts in a gross, unspiritual 
manner ; they dwell upon the dark side of their mer- 
cies ; they treasure up riches, not only in their chests, 
but in their hearts ; they feed upon the creature, not 
only with their bodies, but their very souls do feed 
upon them: and thus, in a word, they "live without 
God in the world." All this is no wonder ; for that 
which is of the earth must needs be earthly ; but is it 
iiot a monstrous thing, that a heavenly soul should 
feed upon earthly trash ? I speak without any hy- 
perbole ; the famous king of Babylon, forsaking the 
society of men, and herding himself with the beasts 
of the earth, and eating grass with the oxen, was 
not so absurd a thing, nor half so monstrous or 
unseemly, as the children of the Most High God 
forsaking the true bread of souls, and feeding upon 
the low fare of carnal men, even created sweetness, 
worldly goods : nay, a glorious star falling from its 
own sphere, and choking itself in the dust, would 
not be such an eminent piece of baseness ; for what 
is said of the true God in one sense, is true of the 
truly godly in this sense — " He that cometh from 
heaven is above all ;'" that is, above all things that 
are below God himself 

3. Shall this life of angels be also the life of 
saints ? this may then serve as a powerful consider- 
ation to mortify in us the love of this animal life, to 
make us weary of this low kind of living, and quicken 
us to long after so blessed a change. Well might 


the Apostle say indeed, that to die was gain ; for is 
not this gain, to exchange an animal for an angelical 
life ? a life which is in some sense common to the 
very beasts with us, for that which in some sense 
may be called the life of God ? For as the blessed 
and holy God lives upon his own infinite and self- 
sufficient fulness, whithout being beholden to any- 
thing without himself, so shall the saints live upon 
him, and upon the self-same infinite fulness, and 
shall not need any creature-contributions. The 
Apostle indeed saith, that " the last enemy to be 
destroyed is death ;" which is true of enemies with- 
out us ; and it is true with respect to Christ, who 
shall make a general resurrection from the dead, for 
that is the proper meaning of it ; but it is true also, 
that the last enemy to be overcome within us is the 
love of life, therefore it is said, that a man will part 
with anything to keep his life, Job ii. 4 ; and we do 
generally excuse the matter, and cry. Oh ! life is 
sweet, life is precious. It must be confessed, and it 
may be granted ; I believe that there is an inclina- 
tion of the soul to the body, arising from that dear 
and inconceivable union that God himself hath 
made of them, which is purely natural, some say 
altogether necessary for the maintaining of man 
in this complex state, and not in itself sinful : possi- 
bly there may not be found a man upon earth so 
holy and mortified, in whom this is not found ; cer- 
tainly it is the last hinderance to be removed out of 
the wiiy of our perfect happiness. This, although 


in itself natural, yea necessary, and without blame, 
yet in the inordinateness of it, ordinarily, if not 
constantly, becomes sinful. I count him the most 
perfect man in the world, who loves not his own life 
with an inordinate sinful love ; who loves it only in 
God, and not with a creature-love distinct from God. 
There are two ways whereby this natural and lawful 
love of life becomes sinful — immoderateness and in- 
ordinateness. Immoderateness is, when men love 
their lives at that rate, that they are filled with un- 
reasonable and distracting fears, cares, and thoughts 
about them ; when the whole business of life is al- 
most nothing else but a studiousness to preserve the 
being of life. Inordinateness is, when men, though 
they do not love their lives at that excessive rate, 
yet do love hfe as a creature-good, not in God, nor 
in order to him, but love it for itself, as something 
out of God. Every carnal man in the world is 
guilty of the latter, and I doubt but few saints are 
altogether free from the guilt of it. Now, that this 
immoderate love of life ought to be subdued in 
Christians, all men almost will grant : if any will 
not grant it, we can easily prove it from the com- 
mand of God — " Take no thought for your life." — 
" Love not the world, neither the things that are in 
the world.""* Both which words in the most favour- 
able interpretation that can be given of them, do, in 
the judgment of all, forbid immoderation : nay, a 
mere philosopher would inforce this from mere 
moral considerations, which I cannot now stand upon. 


But this inordinate love of life, as it is a more secret 
evil, a more refined corruption, is harder to be dis- 
covered, and men are loth to be convinced of the 
evil of it. Now, this particular distinct loving of 
life not as in God, but in itself, as a creature-good, 
is clearly condemned in that first and great com- 
mandment — " Thou shalt love the Lord thy God 
with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all 
thy soul, and with all thy mind ;'"* as if he should 
say, God the supreme, infinite, perfect, original, 
essential, self-sufficient Good, is to be loved in the 
highest, and purest, and strongest manner, that the 
heart of men is capable to love ; and all other things 
only in him, and under him, and as being of him, 
and for his sake. Let it be allowed that life is 
good ; yet it must be added, that it is but a created 
good : let it be allowed that life is comfortable ; yet 
it must be acknowledged, that man's chief com- 
fort and happiness doth not stand in this animal 
life. So then, life itself is to be loved in God, who 
is the fountain and spring of life; it is to be loved 
in the quality of a created good, and no otherwise. 
Now, created goods are to be loved only in the 
Creator, as coming from him, as partaking of him, 
as leading to him. Argue the case a little thus : The 
soul of man is allowed to love its body with which 
the great God hath united it, and to love union with 
this body, which union we call life; but this body 
being a creature, and a creature much inferior to it- 
self, and much more ignoble than itself, cannot in 


reason be judged to be the fit and adequate object 
of its strongest and best affections : that must needs 
be something more excellent than itself; and that 
cannot be anything in this world, for this world hath 
nothing so noble, so excellent in it as the soul of 
man ; it must needs be the Creator himself Well, 
seeing God is the supreme, self-sufficient, perfect 
Good, he is to be loved with all the strength and 
powers of the soul, singly and entirely : and the 
will of God being God himself, is not only to be 
submitted to, or rested in, but to be chosen and 
loved above all created things, yea, even above life 
itself, the best of creatures. So then, if it be the 
will of God to call for our lives, we ought readily to 
give them up ; because we ought to love the will 
of God much "more than our lives. I pray you be 
impressed with this, that the will of God being pure, 
holy, and perfect, should not only be submitted to, 
or rested in, but even loved and chosen above all 
creatures. Now, the will of God is not that only 
whereby he teaches men, and prescribes laws to 
them, but that whereby he rules and governs the 
world, and disposes of men in any condition of life, 
or takes away their lives from them. The eternal 
Fountain of goodness can send forth nothing but 
what is perfectly good ; and that which is perfectly 
good ought to be loved with a universal, pure, and, 
as far as possible, perfect love. This you will say, 
perhaps, is a high and a hard saying; but let it not 
seem impossible for a man to love his own life only 


in God, and in subordination to liim ; for this God 
requires, and he requires not things impossible — 
" If any man come after me, and hate not his own 
life, he cannot be my disciple ;" that is, not simply 
hate it, but in comparison of me and my will. It is 
not then impossible, nay, you see it is a necessary 
duty, without which we cannot be Christ's disciples. 
The saints of old found it possible. Holy Paul 
gives this answer readily — " I am ready to die at 
Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus ;" and 
"' I count not my life dear unto me, so that I might 
finish my course with joy."" It is witnessed of the 
whole army of martyrs that ''they loved not their 
lives unto the death :'' that is, they did not value 
them in respect of God and his truth. Neither let 
any one flatter himself, and say. Yea, if I were called 
to die for God, I would rather do it than deny him ; 
for the will of God is as much to be eyed in his 
sending for us by a natural death as by martyrdom, 
and a not giving up our lives to him at any time, is 
as truly to deny him and his will, as not to give 
them up at the stake when we are called to it. Be- 
sides, how shall we imagine that he that is unwilling 
to die in his bed should be willing to die at a stake .^ 
Now, this duty of being mortified to the love of this 
animal life, being so difficult, yet so necessary, and 
so noble, how doth it become every saint to study to 
attain to this perfection ? which, that we may, let 
us press upon ourselves this consideration, this doc- 
trine, that the glorified saints shall live as angels of 


God in heaven. We know that if this body were 
broken down, this low Ufe cut off, we should live 
like angels, not being beholden any more to poor 
creatures for help or comfort, but should be filled 
with the fulness of God, filled with his image and 
glory, and live upon him entirely for evermore. 
Yea, I may add, that this very living above our 
own lives merely at the will of God, is a participa- 
tion of the angelical life even in this world ; there- 
fore labour to be mortified to that love of this life 
which is here upon earth, yea, to be weary of it, yea, 
almost ashamed of it. 

4. Shall we thus live the lives of the angels, sub- 
sisting in God, feasting upon him, filled with him 
to all eternity ? this may moderate our sorrow which 
we conceive for the loss of any created good, houses, 
lands, husband, wife, children, &c. ; yet a little while 
and we shall not miss them, shall not need them, 
shall not desire them any more. The blessed an- 
gels live a glorious life, and they have none of these, 
but are perfectly satisfied in the enjoyment of God 
alone ; they have no wives nor children, yet they 
want none; and yet a little while, and we shall have 
none either, neither shall we want them, having all 
things in the God of all things : they neither marry, 
nor are given in marriage, but are in conjunction 
with the Father, with love, and goodness, and truth 
itself; and so they have no want of anything. If 
you have no candles left in the house, yet it is to- 
wards day-break, and the sun will rise upon you, 

VOL. IL 2 F 


and you shall need none, and yet have light enough 
too. In a word, learn to live independent of them 
whilst you have them, and you will be the better 
able to live without them when they are removed. 

5. I come now to the fifth and last use that I 
shall make of this doctrine ; and oh that you and I 
may make this happy use of it ! Shall the saints 
be as the angels of God in their way of living upon 
God, and enjoying all happiness in him alone for 
ever ? shall this certainly be our life in heaven ? 
oh ! then, labour to begin this life upon earth. If 
you cannot perfectly transcribe, yet, at least, imitate 
that angelical kind of life. Though you are here 
imprisoned in a body of earth, and oft cumbered and 
clogged with bodily infirmities, and called to tend 
upon bodily necessities, yet, as far as this animal 
state will permit, live upon God. Do not excuse 
nor vindicate that low kind of earthly life, do not 
justify your living below and besides God, but stir 
up yourselves to behold where your happiness lies, 
and live not willingly below it. Certainly a pious 
soul hath more than bare hope in this world. God 
the blessed, infinite, and communicative Good, hath 
not locked himself so far out of sight, but that he 
gives his people a comfortable beholding of him 
even whilst they are in their pilgrimage ; and what 
Solomon saith of the life of the godly, he means 
of their present life. " The way of life is above to 
the wise f their living not only shall be, but is 
now above ; it is a high way of livings, They are 


certainly a puny sort of meclianical Christians, that 
think and talk only of a heaven to come, and dream 
of a happiness without them, and distinct from them. 
The truly religious and God-like soul cannot so con- 
tent himself, but being spirited and principled from 
above, is carried out after the infinite and almighty 
Good, as a thing is carried towards its centre ; and 
hastens into his embraces as the iron hastens to the 
loadstone, and longs to be in conjunction with it. 
If therefore ye be from heaven, live above all earthly 
things : " If ye be risen with Christ, seek the things 
that are above."' If ye be born of God, live upon 
God. Deny self, live besides self, that is, live not 
to the service of your senses, to the lust of the flesh, 
to the lust of the eye, to the pride of life ; let not 
your souls be servants to your sins, no, nor to your 
senses ; that were for servants to ride on horseback, 
and princes to walk on foot. Live above self, that 
is, let your souls quit all their own interest in them- 
selves, and entirely resign themselves to God, as to 
all points of duty and service. But that is not all ; 
neither is that it which I urge you to from these 
words ; but live above the creature, and whatsoever 
is in it, namely, delighting in God, conversing and 
communing with him alone as the chief Good ; 
desire not any creature any further than as it may 
help you forward to the Creator ; neither delight in 
it any further than as it either represents some of 
the divine perfections, witnesses something of divine 
love, or leads to some divine participation or com- 


munion. Seeing we shall come to live upon God, 
and delight in God alone, without any creature, let 
us now live upon, love God alone in very creature. 
Now, to give you a more distinct knowledge of this 
high and noble life, I will explain it in some parti- 
culars, negatively and affirmatively. 

I. Negatively. 

1. " Live not upon self I speak not of living 
unto self, but live not upon self, self-excellencies, 
self-sufficiencies, any created accomplishments, which 
was the life of the Stoics, those great philosophers, 
who placed happiness in the enjoyment of them- 
selves, which they called " independence of all 
things." To enjoy one's self indeed is a high duty, 
a noble privilege, a duty of the gospel — " Possess 
ye your souls." But how must we enjoy ourselves.'^ 
why, only in God. He enjoys himself, 

(1.) Not who, in a sullen melancholy, retires to 
a solitary and monastic life, as many of the sourer 
sort of Papists do. 

(2.) Nor he who, in a proud mood, disdains the 
perfections of God shining forth in other men ; and 
hiding himself from them through envy, contents 
himself to sit and admire his own personal accom- 
plishments, as many humourists do. 

(3.) Nor he who finding nothing without him, 
and knowing nothing above him to give his soul her 
full rest, settles upon a foundation of his own, and 
admires a self-sufficiency in the temper of his own 
spirit, a little subdued by philosophical precepts, as 


the Stoics did — But he who enjoys himself in God, 
that is, who doth not view himself in the narrow 
point of his own being, but, taking a view of himself 
in the unbounded essence of God, loves, and enjoys, 
and values himself, and all his personal excellencies 
as he is in God, and partakes of his perfections. To 
live in a way of self-converse is below the end of 
man's creation, who was made for a hiorher s:ood ; 
and hereby a man shall never obtain true happiness, 
for it is peculiar to God alone to be happy in him- 
self " In a word, a soul that confines itself to it- 
self, and lives, and moves, and rejoices only within 
the narrow cell of its own particular being, deprives 
itself of that almighty and original goodness and 
glory that fills the world, and shines through the 
whole creation." 

2. " Live not upon any creature without your- 
selves." Self indeed is a creature ; but yet for 
clearness in proceeding we shall distinguish them. 
Now, this is the life of the greatest part of men, 
they live beside God, and move only within the 
sphere of the creature. You will easily understand 
that I speak not of the body's living upon the crea- 
ture, for so God hath appointed that it shall live ; 
and yet as to this too, I say with our Saviour, 
" Man liveth not by bread alone ;" but I speak of 
the soul of man living upon the creature as its high- 
est, good, and feeding upon it as its best fare : they 
rise up early, and sit up late, and God is not in all 
their thoughts : they are filled with domestic and 


foreign comforts, but behold not the Father of 
lights from whom all these descend : they live upon 
the good things of the world, yet live without God 
in the world. Now, by these men, 

(1.) I do not mean those heathens that in the 
most idolatrous manner do, in the literal sense, set 
up the creatures for gods. 

(2.) Nor those Christians that in a most gross 
manner make idols of the creatures, and place their 
happiness in them. 

(3.) No, nor only those earthly professors, who 
follow the world too eagerly, and have such a deep 
and rooted respect for it, that they can be ordinarily 
content to suffer creature-employments to justle God 
and duties out of their hearts and houses, whose 
worldliness is apparently too hard for their religion. 
Who then ? shall we come any nearer ? yes. 

(4.) Those are guilty of creature-converse who 
do not enjoy all creatures in God ; who love any- 
thing in any creature with a distinct love, who do 
not love it only in God ; who love silver, gold, 
houses, lands, trading, friends, with a particular 
over-weening love. Oh take heed of this creature- 
love, of valuing any created thing any otherwise 
than in God, any otherwise than as being from God, 
partaking of him, and leading to him. 

3. " Live not upon ordinances.'^ These are 
God's institutions, love them, cleave unto them, 
attend upon them, let no temptation cause you to 
leave them ; but live not upon them, place not your 


religion, place not your hope, your happiness in 
them, but love them only in God; attend upon 
them, yet not so much upon them, as upon God in 
them ; lie by the pool, but wait for the angel ; 
love not, no, not a divine ordinance for its own 
sake. Why, who doth so ? alas ! who almost doth 

(1.) Thus did they in Ezek. xxxiii. 32, who 
delighted in the prophet's eloquence, and in the 
rhetoric of his sermons, as much as in a well-tuned 
voice and harmonious music : and so do thousands in 
England, who read the Bible for the style or the 
story's sake, and love to sit under learned and ele- 
gant discourses, more for accomplishment than for 
conversion: and swarms of priests, who preach 
themselves more than Christ Jesus, even in his own 
ordinances ; as a proud boy rides a horse into the 
market, to set forth himself more than his m-aster's 

(2.) But there are many not so gross as these, 
who do yet use ordinances in a way very gross and 
unspiritual, placing their devotion in them, and 
sinking their religion into a settled course of hear- 
ing or praying ; who will wait upon God, as they 
call it, at some set and solemn times, new moons, 
and Sabbaths, it may be evening and morning; but 
religion must not be too busy with them, nor inter- 
meddle in their ordinary affairs, or worldly employ- 
ments ; it hath no place there ; they do not count 
it a garment for every day's wear. 


(3.) And not only these, but even almost all men 
are too apt to seek rest in duties and ordinances, 
or, at least, to be pretty well satisfied with the work 
done, whether they have conversed with God there 
or not. Oh, if you love youi souls, seek your hap- 
piness higher ! Conversing with divine ordinances, 
I confess, is honourable and amiable, but it is too 
low a life for an immortal soul. 

II. Affirmatively. 

Let nothing satisfy you but God himself; take 
up with no pleasure, no treasure, no portion, no 
paradise, nay, no heaven, no happiness, below the 
infinite, supreme, and self-sufficient Good. Let 
your eye be upon him, and his all-filling fulness ; 
let your desire be unto him, and to the remembrance 
of his name ; follow hard after to know the Lord, 
and to enjoy the Father through his Son Jesus 
Christ ; let your fellowship be with the Father, and 
with the Son, by the Spirit, " O love the Lord, all 
ye his saints ;"*"* " love him with all your soul, and 
with all your strength ;"" " yea, and keep yourselves 
always in the love of God ; persevere and increase 
in the love of God ;'' " Keep yourselves in the love 
of God." Oh sweet duty ! Oh amiable, pleasant 
task ! Oh^ sweet and grateful command ! Away, 
ye crowd of creatures, I must keep my heart for my 
God : away, ye gaudy suitors, away, ye glittering 
toys, there is no room for you ; my whole soul, if 
its capacity were ten thousand times larger than 
it is, were too scant to entertain the supreme 


Good, to let in infinite goodness and fulness. Oh 
charge it upon yourselves with the greatest vehe- 
mence ! Love the Lord, O my soul, keep thyself 
in the love of God ; let the love of God constrain 
you, and keep yourselves under the most powerful 
constraints of it. In a word, live upon God as 
upon uncreated life itself, drink at the fountain, 
feed upon infinite fulness, depend upon almighty 
power, refer yourselves to unsearchable wisdom, and 
unbounded love ; see nothing but God in the crea- 
ture, taste nothing but God in the world, delight 
yourselves in him, long for communion with him, 
and communications from him, to receive of his 
fulness grace for grace. Then do we live most like 
angels, when we live most purely in God, and find 
all the powers of our souls spending themselves 
upon him ; and oiurselves, our life, and all the com- 
forts of it, flowing from him, and again swallowed 
up in him. But because we are yet in the body, I 
shall explain it in these following particulars : — 

1. " Converse with God in all your self-excellen- 
cies." I bade you before not converse with these ; 
now, I say, converse with God in these. Thus do 
the angels ; they know nothing that they have of 
their own, they enjoy nothing distinct from God : 
they are excellent creatures, excellent in knowledge, 
power, hoHness, &c. ; yet they enjoy all their excel- 
lencies in God, and ascribe them all to him, and so 
let us labour to do. 

(1.) View yourselves not in your own particular 


beings, but in the essence of God ; look upon your- 
selves as being and subsisting in the midst of an 
infinite essence, in which the whole creation is, as it 
were, wrapt up, and doth subsist. 

(2.) And whatever excellency you find in your 
souls or bodies, look not upon it as your own ; main- 
tain'not a mine and thine, a distinction of interests 
between God and yourselves, but look upon all as 
God's, and enjoy it in him. 

(3.) When you find yourselves tempted to cast 
a fond and unchaste look upon the beauty, strength, 
activity, or temper of your own bodies, upon the 
ingenuity, wisdom, constancy, courage, composed- 
ness of your own souls, take heed of settling into a 
selfish admiration of any of them, but enjoy them 
in God, and say, This, O my body, this, O my soul, 
is no other than the portraitiu-e of the blessed God; 
these created excellencies are broken beams of the 
infinite, unspotted, uncreated perfections. Having 
once attained to this, we shall no longer covet to be 
admired, desire to be commended, fret at being 
undervalued ; I mean, not in a selfish manner, but 
rather break out in a spiritual passion with the 
Psalmist, " O that men would praise the Lord for 
his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the 
children of men ! " 

(4.) Nay, let me add, when you find yourselves 
ready to put your own stamp upon God's best coin, to 
look upon supernatural gifts and graces with a sin- 
fijl, selfish admiration, remember that you have them 


only in Christ Jesus, and enjoy them in your head; 
labour to enjoy grace itself only in Christ, as the 
Apostle, " I, yet not I, but Christ in me ;"" " I 
labour, yet not I, but the grace of God.'' So ought 
we to glory : I believe, I love, I am patient, peni- 
tent, humble ; yet not I, but the grace of God that 
is with me, Christ Jesus that dwelleth in me. And 
indeed a pious man, who thus lives at the very 
height of his own being, yea, and above it too, 
knows best how to reverence himself, yea, and to 
love himself too, and yet without any self-love : for 
he loves himself in God, and his own endowments 
as divine ornaments. 

2. " Converse with God, and live upon him in 
the excellencies of all other creatures, and in all 
your creature-enjoyments." We cannot live with- 
out creatures, as the angels do indeed, but let us 
come as near them as we can, which is by living 
above creatures : place your happiness in God, and 
your hearts upon him ; labour to find God all 
things to you, and in you, and to be filled with his 
fulness ; labour to get your understandings filled 
with the knowledge of God, your wills filled with 
his divine will, your hearts filled with his infinite 
goodness and sweetness, your memories filled with 
the remembrance of his name, your whole souls 
filled with his holy and pure image, filled with the 
fruits of his Holy Spirit : nay, let these very bodies 
be filled not only with his good creatures, but more 
especially with his good-will in the creatures. It is 


said indeed of the sensual epicures of the world, 
that their bellies are filled with God's hid treasures, 
that is, with rare and precious delicacies : but how 
much better doth God fill the souls of his saints 
with his hid treasures, when he feedeth them with 
his divine favour, and dippeth his hand with them 
in the dish ? This is meat indeed which the saints 
eat of, which other men, though they feed at the 
same table, know not of. The glorified saints shall 
be satisfied wholly and perfectly with the divine 
image shining gloriously on them, and in them ; to 
which purpose that of the Psalmist may be accom- 
modated, " I shall be satisfied when I awake with 
his likeness." Well, we cannot be so satisfied in 
this life it seems : however, though we cannot be so 
satisfied with it, yet let us not be satisfied without 
it, nor satisfied with anything besides it. Resolve, 
holy soul. Well, if I must not be fully satisfied with 
the image of my heavenly Father till I awake, I will 
lie down, and fall asleep hungry as I am then ; for 
I will not fill my mouth with chaff, nor my soul 
with the husks that the swine do eat. But, in the 
mean time, get what you can of God out of crea- 
ture-enj oyments. 

(1.) Enjoy all things for God, and that these 
two ways : 

(i.) Use all for him. Those riches, honours, 
interest, friends, which are clogs upon the heels of 
others, let them be as heels to you to carry you 
heaven-ward ; let your souls be winged with those 


very enjoyments, wherewith the wings of others are 
pinioned ; and that which is fuel to their worldly 
lusts, let it be as fuel to feed and nourish your spi- 
ritual love. To use what we have for God, is the 
only way of not abusing it ; this is one way of en- 
joying all for God, to use all for him : and yet there 
is something higher in that phrase of enjoying all 
for God, than this, namely, 

(ii.) Value no creature-comfort any further than 
as it leads to God ; and this in a double sense too. 
1. Value things to -be good only by this, by their 
leading you unto God. Now, God being the su- 
preme and infinite Good, anything is so far good as 
it leads to the enjoyment of him. Now, the enjoy- 
ment of God is only in being like to him ; holiness 
is his image; so then, every thing is good that 
tends to sanctification, and to make men partakers 
of a divine nature. We are usually mistaken in 
the true notion of good and evil, of mercies and 
judgments, judging according to the taste, as foolish 
patients do; but God's thoughts are not as our 
thoughts. Measure all things by the proportion 
they bear, and the tendency they have to the su- 
preme Good : and call not anything evil that brings 
nearer to him, nor anything good that draws off 
from him. 2. When you have found a thing that 
is really good, tending and leading to the chief 
Good, and to the possession of him ; labour to enjoy 
it, and rejoice in it only under this notion, as such ; 
when you love it, let it be with a pure spiritual 

VOL. TI. 2 G 


love ; and so order your delight in it, that it may 
be said, you do rather rejoice in the end of it, than 
in the enjoyment of it. 

(2.) Another way of living upon God in the 
creature is, to enjoy all things as partaking of him. 
" Every good and perfect gift is from above."" 
Every beam of created light floweth out of the 
Father of lights. When the blessed and glorious 
God framed this stately fabric of the visible world, 
because there was nothing better in the world than 
himself, he was pleased to copy out himself in it, 
and to spread his own infinite perfections over it, 
and through it, so that every particular good is a 
blossom of the first goodness ; every created excel- 
lency is a dark draught of God, and a broken beam 
of this infinite Sun of righteousness. Oh labour to 
do so ! look upon the perfections which you find 
here below, not so much as the perfections of this 
or that particular being, but as they are so many 
drops risen out of the Fountain of all perfections, 
in whom they all meet, and are concentrated. It is 
well expressed by one, " In a particular being, love 
the imiversal Goodness;" let the whole world be as 
the garden of God to you, where every creature is a 
flower, from which you may drink something of the 
divine sweetness. Alas ! at what a low and sensual 
rate do we live, when we rejoice in creatures, either 
as they are excellent, or as they are ours ? whereas 
indeed neither of these is true ; for they are not ex- 
cellent, but God is £xcellent in them ; and how 


can we call anything our own, when God made both 
us and all things for himself ? Oh ! how injurious 
it is to the blessed God, when we rob him of his 
own perfections that he hath imprinted upon the 
creature, by loving it, and delighting in it, not 
as in him, but as something distinct from him ! nay, 
we are then injurious to ourselves, as we shall see 
by and by. Labour to enjoy and to converse with 
God in the creatures. " O how precious are thy 
thoughts unto me, O God ! ^^ cried David, when he 
had been meditating of the creature''s excellencies. 
Labour to abstract your minds from terrene 
things even in the enjoyment of them, and call 
upon yourselves to love, and live, and feed upoil 
God in them ; live not upon the dark side of your 
mercies, but upon the representations of God in 
them. Is there anything good ? oh, this is a taste 
of infinite goodness ! Is there anything sweet ? oh, 
how sweet is the God that made it so ! Is there 
anything lovely ? it is a picture of him whose name 
is Love. Is anything firm, stable, lasting? it is a 
shadow of that glorious Essence with whom there is 
no shadow of change. Have you anything strong ? 
it arises out of that God with whom is everlasting 
strength. Doth any creature give rest, ease, re- 
freshment ? it springs out of the all-satisfying ful- 
ness of God. In a word, labour to climb up by 
every created excellency, as by so many beams, to 
the Father of lights : let all the world be to you as 
God^s temple, and be ready to say of every place. 


as Jacob, " How dreadful is this place ! surely this 
is none other but the house of God;" that God 
who runs through all created beings, and from him- 
self derives several prints of beauty and excellency 
all the world over. But especially take heed of 
your own created comforts, that they do not insen- 
sibly lead away your hearts, and ensnare you into 
a sinful, particular, distinct love of them ; which is 
a sin soon committed, hardly discerned, and most 
hardly reformed. If any be freed from these inor- 
dinate affections, sure they are but few ; and those 
few have come dearly by it ; as one said in another 
case. With a great sum they have obtained this 
freedom ; they have paid for it, not with the fore- 
skins of the Philistines, but with the lives of what 
they so loved, there being no way to cure this evil 
distemper, but cutting off the member infected with 
it, the part that it fed upon. As a branch of this 
head, let me add, Labour to live upon God in the 
excellencies of other men ; value them, and all their 
accomplishments, only in God, as he that did ad- 
mire God, and enjoy God in them. Wherever you 
see wisdom, goodness, ingenuity, holiness, justice, 
or any other accomplishment, say, here and there is 
God. And this is the honest way of making our- 
selves masters of whatever is another man's, and 
enjoying it, as truly as he himself doth, yea, as 
truly as if it were our own ; when we behold all 
these beams, as coming from the same Fountain of 
lights, and do love them all in him, with a univer- 


sal love. This is the rare art of having nothing, 
yet possessing all things ; of being rich, though 
one have nothing ; and of being wise, though one 
know nothing. 

(3.) The last way of living upon God in the 
creature is, to taste and feed upon the love of God 
in them, not only his common bounty, but his spe- 
cial love in Christ. The good will of God gives a 
sweet relish to every morsel, as I hinted before. 
Even in the midst of all your delightful, pleasant, 
sweet enjoyments, let your souls be more affected 
with this than with them ; let this be as the manna 
lying upon the top of all your outward comforts, 
which your spirits may gather up and feed upon. But 
this I touched upon before, therefore I shall add 
no more concerning it. Thus I have shown you 
how you may imitate the life of angels, in living^ 
upon God, even whilst you live in the body. To 
this I may add another particular or two. 

3. "Converse with God, and live upon him in 
all his ordinances.*" Let communion with God be 
your drift in every duty, and the very life and souU 
and sweetness of every ordinance. You never read 
of a soul more thirsty after ordinances than David, 
as might appear abundantly ; yet if you look well 
into the expressions, you will find, that it was not 
so much after them, as after God in them ; not after 
the dead letter, but after the livinj? God — " Mv 
soul thirsteth for God, for the living God ;" " My 
heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God,'* 

2g 3 


Let the word, preached or read, be as a voice from 
heaven talking with you ; let your conference be a 
comment upon that word ; let meditation be as a kind 
of bringing down God into your souls, and prayer as 
a raising up of your souls into God, nothing but faith 
and love put into praises. And so of all the rest. 

4. " Converse with God in all his providences ;**' 
prosperity, adversity, plenty, penury, health, sick- 
ness, peace, and perplexity. This is a large theme : 
but as to prosperity, I have spoken something al- 
ready, under that head of conversing with God in 
creature-enjoyments ; as for adversity, I have said 
much more in a large discourse to describe and com- 
mend the art of conversing with God in afflictions. 
Briefly at this time, converse not with losses, wants, 
afflictions, but with God in them ; and that not 
only with the justice, righteousness, severity, and 
sovereignty of God in them, but with the goodness 
and mercy of God in them. They are dark provi- 
dences, we had not need to dwell altogether on the 
dark side of them. If all the ways of the Lord to- 
wards his people be mercy and truth, then his rough- 
est and most dark ways are so too : if God be wholly 
love, then his very corrections proceed not from 
hatred : if it be his name to be good, and to do 
good, where have we learned then to call his afflict- 
ing providences evils, and to divide evil, which is 
but one, even as God is one, into sin and affliction ? 
Surely we speak as men ; and if God call them so, he 
speaks after the manner of men, as he often doth. If 


the governing will of God be pure, perfect, and infi- 
nitely good and righteous, ought we not to converse 
with it in a free and cheerful manner, yea, and to love 
it too ? In a word, pore not upon creature-changes, 
nor the uncertain wheels of motion, that are turning: 
up and down we know not how, nor how oft ; but 
fix yourselves upon that all-seeing Eye, that im- 
bounded Understanding, that unsearchable and infi- 
nite Goodness, which pervades the whole universe, 
and sits in all the wheels of motion, governing all the 
strange motions of the creatures in a wonderful and 
powerful manner, and carrying them all in tlieir 
several orbs to one last and blessed end. 

Thus imitate tlie angelical life, even whilst you are 
in the body : converse with God in self-excellencies, in 
the creature excellencies, ordinances, providences ; 
and yet labour to be more like him still, to abstract 
your mind from all these, and all material and sensible 
things, and to converse with God without the help of 
any creature, I mean in the Spirit, and by a secret 
feeling of his almighty goodness, and energy of grace, 
and the communications of a divine life in your souls. 
In a word, if you would taste of heaven, whilst you 
are upon earth, labour above all things for a true 
conjunction of your hearts with God, in a secret 
feeling of his goodness, and a reciprocation of love 
to him ; and to find the holy and blessed God ex- 
ercising his grace and power upon all the faculties 
of your souls, and rendering them like unto himself, 
and all tliese powers of tlic soul mutually spending 
themselves upon him freely and entirely, as upon 


the chief Good, which is their proper and full 
object. Seeing the saints in glory shall be like unto 
the angels of God in their way of living in and upon 
God alone, receive, I pray, this exhortation, which 
I have so largely prosecuted, and labour to begin 
that life, as far as you can, upon earth. Is there not 
reason for such an inference ? doth it not now flow 
naturally from the doctrine ? If you think it does 
not, I will add two or three particulars to strengthen 
this inference, or at least to clear it. 

(1.) It is highly reasonable that we begin to be 
that which we expect to be for ever, to learn that 
way of living in which we hope to live to all eternity : 
so that I infer, upon as strong ground as the Apos- 
tle, " He that hath this hope purifieth himself even 
as Christ is pure." 

(2.) If this be the life of angels, then it is the 
highest and noblest life that any created being is 
capable of. As by the bread of angels, and the 
tongue of angels, the most excellent food, and the 
most excellent language is understood in scripture, 
so must we understand this life of angels. Now, it 
is very suitable to the reasonable soul, that immor- 
tal, noble being, to aim at the highest and noblest life : 
" What shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?'''' 

(S.) This shall not only be our life in heaven, 
but itself is something of heaven, a beginning of 
heaven. This life is not a thing really distinct 
from life eternal — " This is life eternal, to know 
thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom 
thou hast sent." " Ye have eternal life." There- 


fore we read of eternal life abiding in men, and not 
abiding in them — " Whoso eateth my flesh hath eter- 
nal life." A holy soul thus deified, thus living in and 
upon God, is as truly glorified upon earth, in some 
degree, as the world is enlightened by the morning- 
sun, which is as truly enlightened, though not so glo- 
riously, as by the sun in its greatest height. Oh low 
and ignoble spirits, who can be satisfied with a hap- 
piness which shall only be in the world to come ! 
Certainly it is true and proper speech to say, that 
a participation of God, is an anticipation of heaven ; 
and to be like unto him, is to be with him. You see 
what reason I have to make such an inference, and to 
form it unto such an earnest exhortation ; oh, there- 
fore, I beseech you before God, and his holy angels, 
to endeavour to be like him, and to live like them ? 

Ohj. Say not, How can men on earth live like 
angels.? Aiis. 1. But fall on and imitate them, 
though it be — with unequal steps ; labour to be as 
angels, if you cannot be altogether equal to angels. 
2. We are bidden to live the life of God — " Be per- 
fect as your Father in heaven is perfect." " Be ye 
holy as I am holy." If I speak high, how high 
speak these texts. 

Ohj. Say not. But how can this animal life permit 
this? Ans. 1. Thus men have lived in the body; 
thus lived Enoch, thus lived Paul, thus lived 
David, that man after God's own heart, the greatest 
and most divine character that can be given of a 
mortal man, " There is none upon earth that I desire 
besides thee." 2. Cannot we live in the body, ex- 


cept we live to the body ? You see saints upon 
earth live above other men upon earth ; and yet a 
little more pains, take the other flight, and you 
may live above yourselves too, higher than you do. 
I will only add a motive or two to this duty of liv- 
ing upon God. 

1. " The last enemy to be overcome is creature- 
love. This is the last enemy that keeps the field, 
by which alone the greatest part of men do perish 
everlastingly : beat down this, and you win the day, 
and shall wear the crown ; nay, the very conquest 
of it is a crown, as I said before. 

2. " To live upon God in the creature, is to 
enjoy the creature in the best sense." You will 
lose nothing of the creature by this means, but shall 
enjoy it more fully than ever you did : for the crea- 
ture is ten thousand times sweeter in God than it is 
in itself. Yea, in a word, this is the way to enjoy all 
the world, and to enjoy the accomplishments of all 
men, and all things, as much as if they were your own. 

3. " It is the way never to lose anything." He 
that lives upon God, spends upon a stock that 
cannot be wasted, drinks at a fountain that cannot 
be exhausted. So much as we enjoy of God in the 
creature, we do not lose with it ; and that which 
we do not so enjoy, we deserve to lose. This then 
is the secure and honourable life, in comparison of 
which the life of a prince is but a wallowing in the 
mire. " Lord, give us evermore this bread," and 
hearts to feed upon it. Amen. 





Communion with Christ is frequent in the lips of 
many men, but a hidden mystery to the souls of 
most men. This atheistical age scoffs at, and ridi- 
cules it as enthusiasm and fanaticism ; but the saints 
find that reality and incomparable sweetness in it,that 
they would not part with it for ten thousand worlds. 
When the Roman soldiers entered the temple at 
Jerusalem, and found no image there, as they used 
to have in their own idolatrous temples ; they gave 
out in a jeer, that the Jews worshipped the clouds. 
Thus profane atheists scoff at the most solemn, aw- 
ful, and sweetest part of internal religion as a mere 
fancy ; but the thing is real, sure, and sensible : if 
there be truth in anything in the world, there is 
truth in this, that there are real intercourses between 
the visible and invisible world ; between Christ and 
the souls of believers, which we here call com- 
munion : " Truly our fellowship is with the Father, 
and with his Son Christ Jesus.'' It is really and 
truly so, we impose not upon the world, we tell you 
no more than we have felt. The life of Enoch is 

VOL. II. 3 H 


called " his walking with God.'' O sweet and plea- 
sant walk ! all pleasures, all joys are in that walk 
with God. " Blessed are the people that hear the 
joyful sound ; they shall walk, O Lord, in the light 
of thy countenance.'' The joyful sound there 
spoken of was the sound of the trumpet, which 
called the people to the solemn assemblies, where 
they walked in the light of God's countenance, the 
sweet manifestations of his favour ; and because the 
world is so apt to suspect the reality and certainty 
of this doctrine, the Apostle again asserts it, 
"Truly our conversation is in heaven." We 
breathe below, but we live above ; we walk on earth, 
but our conversation is in heaven. To open this 
point, three things must come under consideration. 

I. What communion with Christ is. 

II. That there is such a communion between him 
and believers. 

III. The excellency of this communion. 

First, What communion with Christ is, in the 
general nature of it. To open this it must be con- 
sidered that there is a twofold communion. 

1. A state of communion. 

2. Actual communion. 

The first is fundamental to the second ; we can 
have no actual communion with the Father, Son, or 
Spirit, till we be first brought into a state of com- 
munion. This state of communion is in scripture 
called jcotvovm, our fellowship or partnership with 
Christ : such a fellowship as merchants have in one 


and the same ship and cargo ; where one hath more 
and another less, but, however, a joint, though un- 
equal interest ; one lives in one kingdom, another 
in another kingdom, but they are jointly interested 
in the same goods. This comparison must not be 
stretched beyond its intention, which is to show no- 
thing but this, that Christ and believers are co-part- 
ners, or co-heirs in the same inheritance : hence 
they are called, his fellows ; " God, even thy God, 
hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above 
thy fellows." And again, " If children, then heirs ; 
heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ."' Christ 
states his people, gives them a right and title not 
only to himself, but to those good things purchased 
by him, yea, and the very glory he now enjoys in 
heaven — " The glory which thou gavest me, I have 
given them."*' 

It is true, there are some things in Christ which 
are peculiar to himself, and incommunicable to any 
creature, as his eternity, consubstantiality with his 
Father, &c. neither have we fellowship in his media- 
torial works ; we have the fruits and benefits of 
them, but no partnership with him in the glory and 
honour of them ; that is peculiarly his own : and 
though it be said in the scriptures, that believers 
" are righteous as he is righteous,'*'' yet the meaning 
is not that they can justify others as Christ doth ; 
no, they are justified by him, but cannot communi- 
cate righteousness to others as Christ doth to them. 
But there are other tilings wherein there is a partner- 


ship between Christ and his people ; among others, 
they partake with him in the spirit of sanctification 
on earth, and glory in heaven : the same spirit of 
holiness which dwells in Christ without measure, is 
communicated by him to the saints in measure : 
" He hath given us of his Spirit." And as Christ 
communicates his Spirit to the saints, so he com- 
municates the glory of heaven to them ; not that 
they shall be as glorious in heaven as Christ is : no, 
he will be known among the saints in glory, as the 
sun is known from the lesser stars. Thus briefly of 
the state of communion, which is called in scripture 
" our being made nigh,'^ and indeed we must be 
made nigh before we can actually draw nigh. We 
must be put into a state of fellowship before ever 
we can have actual communion with God. 

2. Beside this state of communion, there is also 
an actual communion which the saints have in this 
world wiUi the Father and the Son in the duties of 
religion. This is what I am here engaged to open : 
this is our supping with Christ, and his with us : 
and, for clearness"* sake, I shall open it. 

First, Negatively, what it is not. 

Secondly, Positively, what it is. 

First, Negatively, what it is not; for I find persons 
are hugely apt to mistake in this matter, taking that 
for communion with God which is not so : and here 
l^t it be noted, 

(1.) That communion with God doth not consist 
in the bare performance of religious duties. I do 


not say that men may have communion with God 
in this world without duties, it is a delusion of 
Satan to think so ; but this is what I say, that com- 
munion with God consisteth not in the mere per- 
formance of duties. Communion and duties of reli- 
gion are two things, separable one from the other. 
Men may multiply duties, and yet be strangers to 
communion with God in them ; even humiliation 
and fasting days may be kept by souls that are 
estranged from communion with the Lord — " Speak 
unto all the people of the land, and unto the priests, 
saying. When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth 
and seventh month, even these seventy years, did ye 
at all fast unto me, even unto me, ? " as if he should 
say. Had your souls pure intentions and respects 
in those duties to my glory ? Had you special com- 
munion with me, or I with you in those duties ? 
Did you ever feel your souls in these days w^ounded 
for sin ? Or did you not fast out of custom, and 
mourn for company ? God may be near in men''s 
mouths, and at the same time far from their reins. 
Religious words may flow cut of men's lips when 
not one drop of religion touches their reins and 
hearts ; that is, the secret, inward powers of their 
souls : you cannot therefore safely depend upon 
this, Christ rejects this plea. Get a better evidence 
of communion with God than this, or you will cer- 
tainly come short of your expectation. " I know 
you not,'' saith Christ ; there was never any spiri- 



tual acquaintance between your souls and me ; I 
know you not in a way of approbation. 

(2.) Neither do all stirrings and workings of the 
affections in duties infallibly evidence and prove 
communion between Christ and that soul ; for it is 
possible, yea, common, to have the affections raised 
in a natural way, and by external motives in the 
duties of religion ; this you see in that example, 
" 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 they 
do them not.'' The sweet modulation of the pro- 
phets voice was like the skilful touch of a rare mu- 
sical instrument, which in a natural way, moved 
and excited their affections. Thus John"'s hearers 
rejoiced in his ministry for a season. I confess this 
is very apt to cast souls into a mistake of their con- 
dition. They distinguish not between the influences 
that come upon their affections from without, from 
extrinsic things, and those that are purely inward, 
divine, and spiritual. But then. 

Secondly, To show you positively what communion 
with God is. Here we must consider two things, 

1. What things it presupposes in us. 

2. Wherein the nature of it consists. 

1. There are divers things prerequired and pre- 
supposed unto all actual communion with God in 
duties ; and where these things are wanting, men 
have no communion with God. You may have 
pommunion with his people, and communion with 


his ordinances, but not communion with God and 
Christ in them. And these prerequisites are three: 

(1 .) Union with Christ is fundamentally neces- 
sary to all communion with him. All communion 
is founded in union ; and where there is no union, 
there can be no communion. ' You know," saith an 
excellent person,* ' the member receives nothing 
from the head unless it be united to it; nor the 
branch from the root.' " All is yours, and ye are 
Christ's;"' 'here is a vast possession, but all founded 
upon union : as all communion is founded upon 
union, so all union terminates in communion : and 
the closer the union the fuller is the communion.' 

Before our union with Christ we are strangers 
unto God — " We live withovit God in the world ;'"" 
it is in Christ that we are made nigh; it is in the be- 
loved we are made accepted. Whilst we are in the 
state of alienation from Christ, we have no more to 
do with the communications of joy and peace, with 
the seals and earnests of the Spirit, than a native 
Indian hath with the privileges of London. " If 
any man open to me, (saith Christ) I will come in 
to him and sup with him, and he with me." 

(2.) Communion with God presupposes the 
habits of grace implanted in the soul by sanctifi ca- 
tion ; a sound and sincere change of heart. No 
sanctification, no communion ; " If we say we have 
fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, 
and do not the truth." The Apostle gives the lie 

* Dr. Jacomb on Rom. viii. page 69. 


to such bold pretenders. " The Lord is nigh to all 
that call upon him, unto all that call upon him in 
truth ;*" the latter clause restrains all spiritual com- 
munion unto upright souls. " For an hypocrite 
shall not come before him." 

(S.) Communion with God doth not only suppose 
grace implanted, but also implanted grace excited, 
grace in act; for a man may have the habits of faith, 
love, and delight in him, and yet be without actual 
communion with God; for by this grace is awakened 
and put into act. A believer when he is asleep, and 
acts no grace, is in a state of communion with God ; 
but if he will have actual communion, his faith, love, 
and delight must be awakened ; they must not lie 
asleep in the habit. " Thou saidst, Seek ye my 
face ; my heart said unto thee. Thy face. Lord, will 
I seek."" It was in order to actual communion with 
Christ that the church so earnestly begs fresh in- 
fluences of the Spirit to excite her graces into act — 
" Awake, O north wind, and come thou south, blow 
upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow 
out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and 
eat his pleasant fruits.'" And though believers are 
not so to wait for the influences of the Spirit, as in 
the mean time to neglect all proper outward means 
of exciting their own graces, engaging their hearts 
to approach unto God ; yet certainly it is the work 
of God's Spirit, and without him we can do nothing 
to any purpose. The seamen may trim the sails, 
weigh the anchor, put all into a sailing posture ; 


but till a gale come from heaven there is little or no 
motion. The same Spirit that plants the habits, is 
he also that excites the acts of grace. These three 
things therefore are prerequisites unto all commu- 
nion with God 

2. Next let us consider wherein this heavenly 
privilege of communion with God doth consist ; and 
more generally it will be found to lie in a spiritual 
correspondence between Christ and the soul. God 
lets forth influences upon our souls, and we, by the 
assistance of his Spirit, make returns again unto 
God. Communion is a mutual action ; so in the 
text, " I will sup with him, and he with me." We 
cry to God, and God answers that cry by the in- 
comes of spiritual grace upon the soul : " In the 
day that I cried, thou answeredst me, and strengthen- 
edst me with strength in my soul.'"' More particu- 
larly, there are many ways and methods wherein 
men have this spiritual correspondence or commu- 
nion with God, namely : — 

First, In the contemplation of his attributes. 

Secondly, In the exercises of our graces in religi- 
ous duties. 

Thirdly, In his various providences. In all these 
the saints have communion with him. 

1. There is a sweet and sensible communion be- 
tween God and his people, in the contemplation of the 
Divine attributes, and the impressions God makes 
by them upon our souls, whilst we meditate on them. 
As for instance. 


(1.) Sometimes the Lord discovers and manifests 
to the souls of his people his immense greatness ; 
the manifestation of which attribute makes an awful, 
humbling impression upon the soul, makes them 
seem as nothing to themselves. Thus when Abra- 
ham, that great believer, considered the greatness 
of that God with whom he had to do ; that sight of 
God seems to reduce him to his first principles, to 
crumble him, as it were, into dust and ashes again — 
" I that am but dust and ashes have taken upon me 
to speak unto God." He now looks upon himself 
as a heap of vileness and unworthiness ; so David, 
" When I consider the heavens, the work of thy 
hands, the moon and the stars which thou hast 
made,'^ (from hence he inferred the greatness of the 
Creator,) " Lord, what is man that thou art mindful 
of him ? " as if he should say : When I consider 
what a great God the Creator of the world is, I am 
justly astonished that ever he should set his heart 
upon so vile a thing as man. When men compare 
themselves among themselves, and measure them- 
selves by themselves, their spirits are apt to swell 
with pride ; but would they look up to God, as these 
holy men did, they would admire his condescension. 
And this is communion with God in the meditation 
of his immense greatness. 

(2.) The representations and meditations of the 
purity mid holiness of Gorf, working shame and deep 
abasement in the soul, for the pollutions and sinful 
filthincss that are in it. This is communion with 


God, and an excellent way of fellowship with him. 
Thus, when a representation of God, in his holiness, 
was made unto the prophet, there we^e the seraphims, 
covering their faces with their wings, and crying one 
to another, saying, " Holy, holy, holy is the Lord 
of hosts ; the whole earth is full of his glory." The 
effect this produced, or the return made by the pro- 
phet to this manifestation of God in his holiness, 
was deep abasement of the soul for his unsuitable- 
ness to so holy a God ; " Then said I, woe is me, 
for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean 
lips,*" &c. And this is real communion with God in 
his holiness. Thus Job who had stiffly defended 
his own integrity against men, yet when God enters 
the lists with him, and he saw what a great and holy 
God he had to do with, cried out, " Behold, I am 
vile, what shall I answer thee ? I will lay my hand 
upon my mouth. Once have I spoken, but I will 
not answer ; yea, twice, but I will proceed no fur- 
ther C as if he should say, I have done, Lord, I 
have done ; I could answer men, but I cannot an- 
swer thee : thou art holy, but I am vile. 

(3.) There are sometimes representations of the 
goodness and mercy of God, made unto the souls 
of his people; when these produce an ingenuous 
thaw and melting of the heart, into an humble, 
thankful admiration of it, and an answerable care of 
pleasing him in the ways of obedience, then have 
men communion with God in his goodness. The 
goodness of God runs down to men in a double chan- 


nel : his goodness to their bodies in external provi- 
dences ; his goodness to their souls in spiritual mer- 
cies. When thcrgoodness of God, either way, draws 
forth the love and gratitude of the soul to the God 
of our mercies, then have we real communion with 
him ! Thus Jacob, " And Jacob said, O God of 
my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac ; 
which saidst unto me, return unto thy country, and 
to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee. I am 
not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all 
the truth which thou hast showed unto thy servant : 
for with my stafl* I passed over this Jordan, and 
now I am become two bands." Ah, Lord, I see a 
multitude of mercies round about me, and the least 
of them is greater than I. So David, " And David 
the king came and sat before the Lord, and said, 
Who am I, O Lord God, and what is mine house, 
that thou hast brought me hither ? And yet this 
was a small thing in thine eyes, O God, &c. what 
can David speak more to thee ? '' You see in these 
instances, what effects the goodness of God, even in 
inferior, outward mercies useth to produce in sanc- 
tified hearts. But then, if you come to spiritual 
mercies, and ponder the goodness of God to your 
souls, in pardoning, accepting, and saving such vile, 
sinful creatures as you have been ; this much more 
affects the heart, and overwhelms it with holy aston- 
ishment ; as you see in Paul : " The grace of our 
Lord was abundant : I was a persecutor, a blas- 
phemer, yet I obtained mercy.'' So Mary, that 


notorious sinner, when pardoning grace appeared to 
her, into what a flood of tears, into what transports 
of love did the sight of mercy cast her soul ! She 
wept, and washed her Saviour's feet with tears of 
joy and thankfulness. No terrors of the law, no 
frights of hell, thaw the heart like the apprehensions 
of pardoning mercy. 

(4.) Sometimes there are special representations 
of the veracity and faithfulness of God, made unto 
his people, begetting trust and holy confidence in 
their souls ; and when they do so, then have men 
communion with God in his faithfulness. Thus — 
*' I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." There 
is a discovery of the faithfulness of God, and what 
follows upon this.'^ "So that we may boldly say, 
the Lord is our God ; we will not fear what man 
can do unto us." Here is faithfulness in God, pro- 
ducing trust and confidence in the believer ; this is 
that reciprocation, that sweet fellowship and commu- 
nion between God and a believer, with respect to his 
fidelity. " Behold, God is my salvation : I will 
trust, and not be afraid." And truly, friend, this is 
what the Lord justly expects from thee, even thy 
trust and confidence in him, thy steady dependence 
on him, in return for all the discoveries of his faith- 
fulness to thee both in his word and providences. 

(5.) There are manifestations of the ange)\ and 
displeasure of God, by the hiding of his face from 
them, and the frowns of his providence : when these 
produce repentance, and deep humiliation for sin, 

VOL. II. 2 I 


an unquietness, a restlessness of spirit, till he restore 
his favour, and manifest his reconciliation to the 
soul ; even here also, is a real communion between 
God and the soul : " Thou didst hide thy face, and 
I was troubled." Nor will a gracious soul rest there, 
but will take pains to sue out a fresh pardon— 
" Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones 
which thou hast broken may rejoice ; restore unto 
me the joys of thy salvation.'"' 

I cannot here omit to detect a great mistake even 
amongst God's own people ; many of them under- 
stand not what communion there should be with 
God under the manifestations of his displeasure for 
sin : they know the affectionate meltings of their 
souls into love, praise, &c. to be communion with 
God ; but that in the shame, grief, and sorrow pro- 
duced in them by the manifestations of God's dis- 
pleasure, I say that even in these things there may 
be communion with God they understand not. But 
let me tell thee, that even such things as these are 
the choice fruits of the spirit of adoption, and that 
in them thy soul hath as real and beneficial com- 
munion with God as in the greatest transports of 
spiritual joy and comfort. O it is a blessed frame 
to be before the Lord, as Ezra was, after conviction 
of thy looseness, carelessness, and spiritual defile- 
ments, the consequence of those sins ; saying with 
him — " O my God, I am ashamed, and even blush 
to lift up my face unto thee." Shame and blushing 
are as excellent signs of communion with God as 
the sweetest smiles. 


Lastly, Tliere are representations and special 
contemplations of the omniscience of God, produc- 
ing sincerity, comfort in appeals, and recourse to it 
in doubts of our own uprightness : And this also is 
a choice and excellent method of communion with 
God. (1.) When the omniscience of God strongly 
obliges the soul to sincerity and uprightness, as it 
did David, Psal. cxxxix. 11, 12, compared with 
Psal. xviii. 23, " I was also upright before him."" 
The consideration that he was always before the eye 
of God was his preservative from iniquity, yea, from 
his own iniquity. (2.) When it produceth comforts 
in appeals to it, as it did Hezekiah — '^ Remember 
now, O Lord, that I have walked before thee in 
truth, and with a perfect heart.*" So Job also ap- 
peals to this attribute — " Thou knowest that I am 
not wicked."" So did Jeremiah — " But thou, O 
Lord, knowest me, thou hast seen me, and tried my 
heart towards thee."" (3.) When we have recourse 
to it under doubts and fears of our own upright- 
ness. Thus did David — " Search me, O God, and 
try my heart ; prove me, and see my reins : see if 
there be any way of wickedness in me."" In all these 
attributes of God, Christians have real and sweet 
communion with him. Which was the first thing 
to be opened, to wit, communion with God in the 
meditation of his attributes. 

2. The next method of communion with God is in 
the exercises of our graces in the various duties of 
religion; in prayer, hearing, sacraments, &c. in all 


■which the Sph-it of the Lord influences the graces of 
his people, and they return the fruits thereof in 
some measure to him. As God hath planted vari- 
ous graces in regenerate souls, so he hath appointed 
various duties to exercise and draw forth those 
graces ; and when they do so, then have his people 
sweet actual communion with him. And, 

(1 .) To begin with the first grace that shows it- 
self in the soul of a Christian, to wit, repentance, 
and sorrow for sin. In the exercise of this grace of 
repentance, ^the soul pours out itself before the 
Lord with much bitterness and brokenness of heart; 
casts forth its sorrows ; which sorrows are as so 
much seed sown, and, in return thereto, the Lord 
usually sends an answer of peace — " I said, I will 
confess my transgression, and thou forgavest the 
iniquity of my sin."" Here is a voice of sorrow 
sent up, and a voice of peace coming down, which is 
real communion between God and man in the exer- 
cises of repentance. 

(2.) As there are seasons in duty wherein the 
saints exercise their repentance, and the Lord re- 
turns peace ; so likewise the Lord helps them in 
their duties to act i\\e\x faWi, in return whereunto, 
they find from the Lord inward support, rest, and 
refresliment. " I had fainted unless I had believed." 
And ofttimes an assurance of the mercies they have 
acted their faith about. 

(3.) Tlie Lord many times draws forth eminent 
degrees of our love to him, in the course of our du- 


ties ; the licart is filled vvitli love to Christ. The 
strength of the soul is drawn forth to Christ in love, 
and this the Lord repays in kind, love for love — 
" He that loveth me, my Father will love him ; and 
we will come and make our abode with him.*" Here 
is sweet communion with God in the exercise of 
love. O what a rich trade do Christians drive this 
way in their duties and exercises of graces ? 

(4.) To mention no more in the duties of passive 
obedience, Christians are enabled to exercise their 
patience, meekness, and long-suffering for Christ, 
in return for which, the Lord gives them the singu- 
lar consolations of his Spirit, double returns of joy. 
" The Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon them.*" 
The Lord strengthens them with passive fortitude, 
with all might in the inner man, unto all long-suf- 
fering ; but the reward of that long-suffering is joy- 
fulness. This is the trade they carry on with heaven. 

3. Beside communion with God in the contem- 
plation of his attributes, and graces exercised in the 
course of duties, there is another method of com- 
munion with God in the way of his providences, 
for therein also his people walk with him. To give 
a taste of this, let us consider providence in a four- 
fold aspect upon the people of God : — 

(1.) There are afflictive providences, rods and 
rebukes wherewith the Lord chastens his children, 
this is the discipline of his house ; in answer where- 
unto gracious souls return meek and child-like sub- 
mission, a fruit of the spirit of adoption ; they are 

2i 3 



broiiglit to accept the punishment of their iniquities. 
And herein lies communion with God under the 
rod ; this return to the rod may not be presently 
made, for there is much stubbornness unmortified 
in the best hearts; but this is the fruit it shall 
yield ; and when it doth, there is a real communion 
with God and the afflicted soul. Let not Christians 
mistake themselves, if when God is smiting, they 
are humbled, searching their hearts, and blessing God 
for the discoveries of sin made by their afflictions ; 
admiring his wisdom in timing, moderating, and 
choosing the rod ; kissing it with a child-like sub- 
mission, and saying, it is good for me that I have 
been afflicted : that soul hath real communion with 
God, though it may be for a time without joy. 

(2.) There are times when providefice straitejis 
the people of God ; when the waters of comfort ebb 
and run very low, wants pinch ; if then the soul 
returns fdial dependence upon fatherly care, saying 
with David, " The Lord is my shepherd, I shall 
not want ;'' it belongs to him to provide, and to me 
to depend : I will trust my father's care and love. 
Here now is sweet communion with God under 
pinching wants. The wants of the body enrich the 
soul, outward straitenings are the occasions of in- 
ward enlargements. O see from lience how good it 
is to have an interest in God as a Father whatever 
changes of providence may come upon you. 

(3.) Tliere are seasons wherein the Lord exposes 
his people to imminent and visible dangers, when 


to the eye of sense there is no way of escape. Now 
when this produces trust in God, and resignation to 
the pleasure of his will, here is communion with God 
in times of distress and difficulty. Thus David, 
" At what time I am afraid I will trust in thee (^ 
as if he should say. Father, I see a storm rising, 
thy poor child comes under his Father ''s roof for 
shelter ; for whither should a distressed child go 
but to his Father ? And then, as to the issues 
and events of doubtful providences, when the soul 
resigns and leaves itself to the wise disposal of the 
will of God, as David — " Here am I, let him do 
with me as seemeth good in his sight.'"* This is real 
and sweet communion with God in his providences. 
And so much for the nature of communion with 

Secondly, In the next place I shall evidence the 
reality of communion with God, and prove it to be 
no fancy. I confess it grieves me to be put upon 
the proof of this, but the atheism and profaneness 
of the age we live in seems to make it necessary ; for 
many men will allow nothing for certain but what 
falls under the cognizance of sense. And O that 
they had their spiritual senses exercised ! then they 
would sensibly discern the reality of these things. 
But to put the matter out of question, I shall evi- 
dence the truth and reality of the saints' communion 
with God divers ways. 

Evidence 1. From the saints' union with Christ. 
If there be a union between Christ and believers, 


then of necessity there must be n communion be- 
tween them also. Now the Avhole word of God 
which you profess to be the rule of your faith, 
plainly asserts this union between Christ and be- 
lievers ; a union like that between the branches and 
the root, or that between the head and the members. 
Now if Christ be to believers as the root to the 
branches, and as the head to the members ; then of 
necessity there must be a communion between them : 
for if there were not a communion, there could be 
no communications ; and if no communications, no 
life. For it is by the communication of vital sap 
and spirits, from the root and from the head, that 
the branches and members subsist and live. 

Evid. % There is a cohabitation of Christ 
with believers; he dwells with them, yea, he 
dwells in them — " I will dwell in them, and walk 
in them." The soul of a believer is the temple of 
Christ: yea, his living temple. And if Christ 
dwell with them ; yea, if he dwell in them and 
walk in them, then certainly there must be com- 
munion between him and them ; if they live toge- 
ther they must converse together. A man indeed 
may dwell in his house, and yet cannot be said to 
have communion with it ; but the saints are a living 
house, they are the living temples of Christ ; and 
he cannot dwell in such temples, capable of com- 
munion with him, and yet liave no communion with 

Evid. 3. The reality of communion between God 


and the saints is undeniably evinced from all the 
spiritual relations into which God hath taken them. 
Every believer is the child of God and the spouse 
of Christ. God is the believer's Father, and the 
church is the Lamb's wife. Christ calls the be- 
liever not only his servant, but friend ; henceforth 
I call you not servants, but friends, &c. Now, if 
God be the believer's Father, and the believer be 
God's own child, certainly there must be communion 
between them. If Christ be the believer's husband, 
and the believer be Christ's spouse, there must be 
communion between him and them. What, no 
communion between the Father and his children, 
the husband and the wife.^ We must either re- 
nounce and deny all such relations to him, and 
therein renounce our Bibles ; or else yield the con- 
clusion, that there is a real communion between 
Christ and believers. 

Evid. 4. The reality of communion with God 
evidently appears from the institution and appoint- 
ment of so many ordinances and duties of religion, 
on purpose to maintain daily communion between 
Christ and his people. As to instance but in that 
one institution of prai/er, a duty appointed on pur- 
pose for the soul's meeting with God, and commu- 
nion with him : " Draw nigh to God, and he will 
draw nigh to you." Now, to what purpose can it 
be conceived such an ordinance is appointed for the 
soul's drawing nigh to God, and God to it ; if there 
be no such thing as communion to be enjoyed with 


liim? If communion with God were a mere phantom, 
as the carnal world thinks it to be, what encourage- 
ment have the saints to bow their knees to the God 
and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ? But surely 
there is an access to God in prayer — " In whom we 
have boldness, and access with confidence." Access 
to what ? If God be not there, and that there can 
be no communion with him, what means that access ? 
" I will meet with you, saith the Lord, and I will 
commune with you in every place where I record 
my name." Certainly duties had never been ap- 
pointed, but for the sake of God's communing with 
us, and we with him. 

£vid. 5. This is yet further evidenced from the 
mutual desires both of Christ and his people to be 
in sweet and intimate communion one with the 
other. The scripture speaks much of the saints'* 
vehement desires of communion with Christ, and of 
Christ's desires after communion with the saints, and 
of both jointly. The saints' desires after com- 
munion with him are frequent in all the scriptures, 
«ee Psal. Ixiii. 1 — 3 ; xlii. 1 ; cxix. 20 ; and the 
like throughout the New Testament. And Christ 
is no less desirous, yea, he is much more desirous of 
communion with us than we are with him. Consi- 
der that expression of his to the spouse — " O thou 
that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken 
to thy voice : cause me to hear it." As if he should 
say, O my people, you frequently converse one with 
another, you talk daily together ; why shall not you 


and I converse one with another : you speak often 
to men, O that you would speak more frequently 
to me ! " Let me see thy countenance, let me hear 
thy voice; for thy voice is sweet, and thy countenance 
is comely."" And then these desires are mutually 
expressed one to another — " Surely ""' (saith Christ) 
" I come quickly, amen : even so come, Lord Jesus,'"* 
saith the church. Now if there be such vehement 
mutual desires after communion between Christ and 
his people in this world; then certainly there is 
such a thing as real communion between them, or 
else both must live a very restless and dissatisfied 

Evid. 6. The mutual complaints that are found 
on both sides of the interruption of communion, 
plainly prove there is such a thing. If God com- 
plain of his people for their estrangements from him, 
and the saints complain to God about his silence to 
them, and the hidings of his face from them ; surely 
then there must be a communion between them, or 
else there could be no ground of complaint for the 
interruptions of it. But it is manifest God doth 
complain of his people for their estrangements from 
him — " Thus saith the Lord, I remember thee, the 
kindness of thy youth, and the love of thy espousals. 
What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that 
they are gone far from me ?'"* as if he should say, 
You and I have been better acquainted in days past ; 
what cause have I given for your estrangements 
from me ? And thus Christ in like manner complains 


of tlie church of Ephesus ; after he had commended 
many things in her, yet one thing grieves and 
troubles him — "Nevertheless I have somewhat 
against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.^' 
And then on the other side, when the Lord hides 
his face, and seems to estrange himself from his 
people ; what sad lamentations and moans do they 
make about it, as an affliction they know not how to 
bear ? Thus Heman, " Lord, why castest thou off 
my soul ? Why hidest thou thy face from me ?'"" 
So David, " Hide not thy face from me : put not 
thy servant away in anger.^' This is what they can- 
not bear. 

Emd. 7. The reality of communion with God is 
made visible to others, in the sensible effects of it 
upon the saints that enjoy it. There are visible 
signs and tokens of it appearing to the conviction of 
others. Thus that marvellous change that appeared 
upon the very countenance of Hannah, after she 
had poured out her heart in prayer, and the Lord 
had answered her ; it is noted, " She went away, 
and her countenance was no more sad.^' You 
might have read in her face that God had spoken 
peace and satisfaction to her heart. Thus, when 
the disciples had been with Christ, the mark of 
communion with him was visible to others — " Now 
when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, they 
marvelled, and took knowledge of them that they 
had been with Jesus.'' It is sweet, Christian, when 
the heavenly cheerfulness, and spirituality of thy 


conversations with men, shall convince others that 
thou hast been with Jesus. 

Evid. 8. We may prove the reality of communion 
with God, from the impossibility of sustaining those 
troubles the saints do without it. If prayers did 
not go up, and answers come down, there were no 
living for a Christian in this world. Prayer is the 
out-let of the saints' sorrows, and the in-let of their 
supports and comforts. Say not, other men have 
their troubles as well as the saints, and yet they 
make a shift to bear them without the help of com- 
munion with God. It is true, carnal men have 
their troubles, and those troubles are often too 
heavy for them. " The sorrows of the world work 
death ;" but carnal men have no such troubles as 
the saints have, for they have their inward, spiritual 
troubles, as well their outward troubles. And in- 
ward troubles are the sinking troubles ; but this way 
the strength of God comes in to succour them : and 
except they had a God to go to, and fetch comfort 
from, they could never bear them : " I had fainted 
unless I had believed." Paul had sunk under the 
buifetings of Satan, unless he had gone once and 
again to his God, and received this answer, " My 
grace is sufficient for thee." 

Evid. 9. We conclude the reality of communion 
with God, from the end of the saint"*s vocation. 
We read frequently in scripture of effectual calling ; 
ROW what is that to which God calls his people, out" 
of the state of nature, but unto fellowship and com- 

VOL. II. ^ K 


niunion with Jesus Christ ? " God is faithful, by 
whom ye are called unto the fellowship of his Son 
Jesus Christ our Lord.**' They are called, you see, 
into a life of communion with Christ ; therefore cer- 
tainly there is such a communion, else the saints 
are called to the enjoyment of a fancy, instead of a 
privilege, which is the greatest reproach that can be 
cast upon the faithful God that called them. 

Evid. 10. Lastly, In a word, the characters and 
descriptions given to the saints in scripture, evi- 
dently prove their life of communion with God. 
The men of this world are manifestly distinguished 
from the people of God in scripture ; they are called, 
" The children of this world ;' ' the saints, " The chil- 
dren of light." They are said to be "after the flesh," 
saints to be " after the Spirit." They " mind earth- 
ly things," but the saint's " conversation is in hea- 
ven." By all which it undeniably appears that 
there is a reality in the doctrine of communion be- 
tween Christ and his people. We are not imposed 
upon, it is no cunningly devised fable ; but a thing 
whose foundation is as sure as its nature is sweet. 

Thirdly, In the last place, I shall show you the 
transcendent excellency of this life of communion 
with God : it is the life of our life, the joy of our 
hearts ; a heaven upon earth, as will appear by these 
twenty excellencies thereof following : — 

1 Excellency. It is the assimilating instrument 
whereby the soul is moulded and fashioned after the 
image of God. This is the excellency of comma- 


nion with God, to make the soul like him. There 
is a twofold assimilation, or conformity of the soul 
to God, the one perfect and complete, the other in- 
choate and in part. Perfect assimilation is the pri- 
vilege of the perfect state, resulting from the im- 
mediate vision and perfect communion the soul hath 
with God in glory — "When he shall appear, we 
shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."" 
Perfect vision produceth perfect assimilation; but 
the soul''s assimilation or imperfect conformity to 
God in this world, is wrought and gradually carried 
on, by daily communion with him. And as our 
communion with God here, grows up more and more 
into spirituality and power, so in an answerable de- 
gree doth our conformity to him advance : " 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, as by the Spirit of the Lord.**' 
All sorts of communion among men have an assimi- 
lating efficacy ; he that walks in vain company is 
made vainer than he was before ; and he that walks 
in spiritual, heavenly company, will be ordinarily 
more serious than he was before. But nothing so 
transforms the spirit of a man as communion with 
God doth. Those are most like unto God that 
converse most frequently with him. The beauty of 
the Lord is upon those souls ; it forms the spirit 
of a man after the divine pattern. That is the 
first excellency of communion with God, it assimi- 
lates them to God. 


2 EiVcellency. It is the beauty of the soul, in the 
eyes of God and all good men ; it makes the face to 
shine. No outward splendor attracts like this ; it 
makes a man the most desirable companion in the 
whole world : " These things have I written unto 
you, that you might have fellowship with us : and 
truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with 
his Son Jesus Christ.'" This was the great and 
only inducement the Apostle makes use of to draw 
the world into fellowship with the saints, that their 
fellowship is with God. And if there were ten 
thousand other inducements, yet none like this. You 
read of a blessed time, Zech. viii. when the earth 
shall be full of holiness ; when the Jews, that are 
now as a lost generation to the eye of sense, shall 
be called, and an eminent degree of sanctification 
shall be visible in them ; and then see the effect of 
this, ver. 23, " In those days, ten men shall take 
hold, out of all languages of the nations, even shall 
take hold of the skirts of him that is a Jew, saying, 
We will go with you, for we have heard that God 
is with you."" This is the powerful attractive, " the 
Lord is with you C it is the effect of communion 
with God, which makes the righteous more excellent 
than his neighbour. What a vast and visible dif- 
ference doth this make between one man and ano- 
ther ! How heavenly, sweet, and desirable are the 
conversations and company of some men ! How 
frothy, burdensome, and unprofitable is the com- 
pany of others ! and what makes the difference but 


only this, the one walks in communion with God, 
the other is alienated from the life of God. 

3 Excellency. It is the centre which rests the 
motions of a weary soul : it is the rest and refresh- 
ment of a man"'s spirits — " Return unto thy rest, O 
my soul."" When we attain perfect communion 
with God in heaven, we attain to perfect rest, and 
and all the rest the spirit of man finds on earth, is 
found in communion with God. Take a sanctified 
person, who hath intermitted for some time his com- 
munion with the Lord, and ask him. Is your soul at 
rest and ease ''^ He will tell you, no ! The motions 
of his soul are like those of a member out of joint, 
neither comely nor easy. Let that man recover his 
spiritual frame again, and, with it, he recovers his 
rest and comfort. Christians, you meet with variety 
of troubles in this world ; many a sweet comfort is 
cut off, many a hopeful project dashed by the hand 
of providence ; and what think you is the meaning 
of those blasting, disappointing providences ? Surely 
this is their design and errand, to disturb your false 
rest in the bosom of the creature ; to pluck away 
those pillows you were laying your heads upon, that 
thereby you might be reduced unto God, and re- 
cover your lost communion with him ; and say, with 
David, " Return unto thy rest, O my soul." Some- 
times we are settling ourselves to rest in an estate, 
in a child, or the like ; at this time it is usual with 
God to say, go, losses, smite and blast such a man''s. 
estate ; go, death, and take away the desire of his^ 



eyes with a stroke, that my child may find rest no 
where but in me. God is the ark ; the soul, like 
the dove Noah sent forth, let it fly where it will, it 
shall find no rest till it come back to God. 

4 Excellency. It is the desire of all gracious souls 
throughout the world. Wherever there is a gra- 
cious soul, the desires of that soul are working after 
communion with God. As Christ was called, " The 
desire of all nations,"" so communion with him is 
" the desire of all saints ;" and this speaks the ex- 
cellency of it — " One thing have I desired of the 
Lord, that will I seek after ; that I might dwell in 
the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to see 
the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple ;"*"* 
that is, to enjoy communion with him in the public 
duties of his worship. " One thing have I desired," 
that is, one thing above all other things ; such a 
one, as, (if God shall give me,) I can comfortably 
bear the want of all other things. Let him deny me 
what he will, if so be he will not deny me this one 
thing ; this one thing shall richly recompense the 
want of all other things. Hence the desires of the 
saints are so intense and fervent after this one thing, 
in such expressions as the following — " My soul 
panteth after thee, O God f' and " My soul fainteth 
for thy salvation.'" No duties can satisfy without 
it, the soul cannot bear the delays, much less the 
denials of it. They reckon their lives worth no- 
thing without it. Ministers may come, ordinances 
and sabbaths may come; but there is no satisfaction 


to the desires of a gi-acious heart, till God comes 
too ; " O when wilt thou come unto me ?" 

5 Eoocelleficy. As it is the desire, so it is the de- 
light of all the children of God, both in heaven and 
earth. As communion with the saints is the dclisht 
of Christ — " Let me hear thy voice:"" and again — 
" The companions hearken to thy voice ; cause me 
to hear it :" so communion with Christ is the de- 
light of his people. " I sat under his shadow with 
great delight, and his fruit was sweet unto my taste."'"' 
It is the pleasure of Christ to see the yearning 
countenances, the blushing cheeks, the dropping 
eyes of his people upon their knees ; and it is the 
delight of the saints to see a smile upon his face, to 
hear a voice of pardon and peace from his lips. I 
must tell you, Christians, you must look for no such 
delights as these, in any earthly enjoyment, none 
better than these, till you come home to glory ; 
communion with God then appears most excellent, 
in as much as it is found to be the desire and de- 
light of all gracious souls. 

6 Excellency. It is the envy of Scitan^ that which 
cuts and grates that wicked spirit. O how it grates, 
and galls that proud and envious spirit, to see men 
and women enjoying the felicity and pleasure of 
that communion with God, from which he himself 
is fallen and cut off for ever ! to see the saints im- 
bosomed in delightful communion with Christ, 
whilst himself feels the pangs of horror, and despair! 
this is what he cannot endure to behold. And 


therefore you should find in your experience, that 
times of communion with God are usually busy 
times of temptation from the devil. " And he 
showed me Joshua the high-priest standing before 
the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to 
resist him." It is well for thee. Christian, that thou 
hast an Advocate standing at God's right hand to 
resist, and frustrate his attempts upon thee ; other- 
wise Satan would this way destroy your communion 
with God, and make that which is now your delight, 
to be your terror. Many ways doth the devil op- 
pose the saint''s communion with God ; sometimes 
he labours to divert them from it: this business 
shall fall in, or that occasion fall out, on purpose to 
divert thy soul's approach to God ; but if he can- 
not prevail there, then he labours to distract your 
thoughts, and break them into a thousand vanities; 
or if he succeed not there, then he attacks you in 
your return from duty, with spiritual pride, security, 
&c. these fierce oppositions of hell discover the worth, 
and excellency of communion with God. 

7 Eoccellency. It is the end of all ordinances, and 
duties of religion. God hath instituted every ordi- 
nance and duty, whether public or private, to beget 
and maintain communion between himself and our 
souls. What are ordinances, duties, and graces, 
but perspective glasses to give us a sight of God, 
and help us to communion with him ? God never 
intended his ordinances to be our rest, but mediums, 
and instruments of communion with himself, wha 


is our true rest. When we go into a boat, it is not 
with an intention to dwell, and rest there, but to 
ferry us over the water, where our business lies. If 
a man miss of communion with God in the best ordi- 
nances, or duty, it yields him little comfort. He 
comes back from it, like a man that hath travelled 
a great many miles to meet a dear friend, upon 
special and important business ; but met with dis- 
appointment, and returns sad and dissatisfied. God 
appoints ordinances to be meeting-places with him- 
self in this world — " Thou shall put the mercy-seat 
above upon the ark, and in the ark thou shalt put 
the testimony that I shall give thee ; and there I 
will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee, 
from above the mercy-seat, from between the two 
cherubims." It was not the sight of the golden 
cherubims, or of the ark overlaid with pure gold, 
that could have satisfied Moses, had not the special 
presence of God been there, and he had had com- 
munion with him. " O God, (saith David) my 
soul thirsteth for thee, that I might see thy beauty, 
and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanc- 
tuary.'^ ]\Iagnificent structures, artificial ornaments 
of the places of worship, are of little account with a 
gracious soul ; it is the presence of God, and com- 
munion with him, which is the beauty and glory the 
saints desire to behold, 

8 Excellency, It is the evidence of our union 
with Christ and interest in him. All union with 
Christ must evidence itself by a life of communion 

382 COMMUNION WlTil CillllST. 

with him, or our pretensions to it are vain and 
groundless. There be many of you (I wish there 
were more) enquiring after evidences and signs of 
your union with Christ ; why here is an evidence 
that can never fail you : do you live in communion 
with him ? May your life be called a walking with 
God, as Enoch's was ? Then you may be sure you 
have union with him, and this is so sure a sign, as 
death itself (which uses to discover the vanity of 
false signs) will never be able to destroy. " Re- 
member now, O Lord, (saith Hezekiah) that I have 
walked before thee in truth, and in a perfect heart."" 

professors ! it will be a dreadful thing (whatever 
ungrounded hopes and false comforts you now have) 
to find them shrinking away from you, as certainly 
as they will do at death ; and all upon this account : 

1 have been a man of knowledge, I have been fre- 
quent in the external duties of religion, but my heart 
was not in them ; I had no communion with the Lord 
in them, and now God is a terror to my soul. I am 
going to his awful bar, and have not one sound evi- 
dence to carry along with me. This is a remarkable 
place — " If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in 
the Spirit ;" that is, let us evidence the life of grace 
in us by exercising that grace in a life of communion 
with God. When all is said, this is the surest evi- 
dence of our union with Christ ; and no gifts or per- 
formances whatsoever can amount to an evidence of 
our union with Christ without it. 

9 E.vcellency. It is ease in all pains, sweet and 


sensible ease to a troubled soul. Look, as the bleed- 
ing of a vein cools, eases, and refreshes a feverish 
body ; so the opening of the soul by acts of commu- 
nion with God, gives sensible ease to a burdened 
soul : griefs are eased by groans heavenward. ]\Iany 
souls are deeply laden with their own fears, cares, 
and distresses ; no refreshment for such a soul, no 
such anodyne in the whole world as communion 
with God is. How did troubles boil in David's 
soul ? night and day God's hand was heavy on him ; 
his soul, as Elihu speaks, was like bottles full of 
new wine ; he must speak to God that he may be 
refreshed : and so he did, and was refreshed by it. 
" I said, I will confess uiy transgressions unto the 
Lord, and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.'^ 
It would grieve one to see how many poor distressed 
souls carry their troubles up and down the world, 
making their complaints to one another ; but no 
ease. Away to thy God, poor Christian, get thee 
into thy closet, pour out thy soul before him ; and 
that ease which thou seekest in vain elsewhere, will 
there be found, or no where. 

10 Excellency. It is food to the soul, and the 
most delicious, pleasant, proper, and satisfying food 
that ever it tasted ; it is hidden manna. " By these 
things, O Lord, do men live, and in them is the life 
of their soul." A regenerate soul cannot live with- 
out it ; their bodies can live as well without bread 
or breath as their souls without communion with 
God : it is more than their necessary food. Here 


they iind what they truly call marrow and fatness. 
O the satisfaction and support they draw out of spi- 
ritual things by thoughts and meditations upon 
them ! — " To be spiritually minded is life and 
peace/' The delicacies upon princes' tables are 
husks and chaff to this. Crows and vultures can 
live upon the carrion of this v/orld, but a renewed 
soul cannot subsist long without God. Let such a 
soul be diverted for a time from its usual refresh- 
ments this way, and he shall find something within 
paining him like the sucking and drawing of an 
empty stomach. It is angeFs food, it is that your 
souls must live upon throughout eternity, and most 
happily too. 

11 EoDcellency. It is the guard of the soul against 
the assaults of temptation. It is like a shield ad- 
vanced against the fiery darts of that wicked one. 
Your safety and security lie in drawing nigh to God 
— " They that are far from thee shall perish : but it 
is good for me to draw near to God.*" It is good in- 
deed ; not only the good of comfort, but the good of 
safety is in it — " The beloved of the Lord shall 
dwell in safety by him.'"* You know the gracious 
presence of God is your shield and safety ; and if 
you will have the Lord thus present with you in all 
your fears, straits, and dangers, see that you keep 
near to him in the duties of communion : " For the 
Lord is with you whilst you are with him. 

12 Excellency. It is the honour of the soul, and 
tlie greatest honour that ever God conferred on any 


creature. It is the glory of the holy angels in hea- 
ven, to be always beholding the face of God. O 
that God should admit poor dust and ashes unto 
such a nearness to himself ! to walk with a king, 
and have frequent converse with him, put a great 
deal of honour upon a subject ; but the saints walk 
with God; so did Enoch, so do all the saint?. 
" Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and 
with his Son Christ Jesus.'' They have liberty 
and access with confidence ; the Lord, as it were, 
delivers them the golden key of prayers by which 
they may come into his presence on all occasions 
with the freedom of children to a father. 

13 E.vcellency. It is the instrument of mortifica- 
tion, and the most excellent and successful instru- 
ment for that purpose in all the world — " This I 
say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil 
the works of the flesh." Walking in the Spirit is 
the same thing with walking in communion with 
God. Now, saith that apostle, if you thus walk in 
the Spirit, in the actings of faith, love, and obedi- 
ence, throughout the course of holy duties, the 
effect of this will be, that ye shall not fulfil the 
lusts of the flesh. He doth not say. You shall not 
feel the motions of sin in you, or temptations to sin 
assaulting you ; but he saith. You shall not fulfil 
the lusts of the flesh, sin shall not have dominion 
over you ; this will let out the life-blood of sin. 
A temptation overcome this way is more effectually 
subdued than by all the vows, resolutions, and ex- 

VOL. II. ^ L 


ternal means in the world : as a candle that is 
blown out with a puff of breath may be rekindled 
by another puff, but if it be quenched in water it 
is not so easily lighted again ; so it is here : you 
never find that power or success in temptations 
when your hearts are up with God in their exer- 
cises of faith and love, as you do when your hearts 
hang loose from him, and dead towards him. The 
schoolmen assign this as one reason why the saints 
in heaven are impeccable, no sin can fasten upon 
them, because, say they, they there enjoy the bea- 
tifical vision of God. This is sure, the more com- 
munion any man hath with God on earth, the freer 
he lives from the power of his corruptions. 

14 Excellency. It is the kernel of all duties and 
ordinances : words, gestures, &c. are but the inte- 
guments, husks, and shells of duties. Communion 
with God is the sv/eet kernel, the pleasant and 
nourishing food which lies within them : you see 
the fruits of the earth are covered and defended by 
husks, shells, and such like integuments ; within 
which lie the pleasant kernels and grains, and these 
are the food. The hypocrite who goes no further 
than the externals of religion, is therefore said to 
feed on ashes, to spend his money for that which is 
not bread, and his labour for that which satisfieth 
not. He feeds but upon husks, in which there is 
but little pleasure or nourishment. What a poor 
house doth a hypocrite keep? Words, gestures, 
ceremonies of religion, will never fill the soul ; but 


communion with God is substantial nourishment. 
" My soul (saith David) shall be satisfied as with 
marrow and fatness, whilst I think and meditate on 
thee/"* It would grieve one's heart to think what 
airy things many souls satisfy themselves with ; 
feeding like Ephraim upon the wind, well contented 
if they can but shufHe over a few heartless, empty 
duties ; wliilst tlie saints, feeding thus upon hid- 
den manna, are feasted, as it were, with angel's 

15 E.vcellency. It is the light of the soul in dark- 
ness ; and the pleasantest light that ever shone 
upon the soul of man. There is many a soul which 
walketh in darkness ; some in the darkness of ig- 
norance and unbelief, the most dismal of all dark- 
ness, except that in hell. There are others who are 
children of light in a state of reconciliation, yet walk 
in the darkness of outward afflictions, and inward 
desertions and temptations ; but as soon as ever the 
light of God's countenance shines upon the soul in 
the duties of communion with him, that darkness is 
dissipated and scattered ; it is all light within him 
and round about him — " They looked unto him 
and were enlightened ;" they looked, there is faith 
acted in duty ; and were enlightened, there is the 
sweet effect of faith. The horrors and troubles of 
gracious souls shrink away upon the rising of this 
cheerful light. As wild beasts come out of their 
dens in the darkness of the night, and shrink back 
again into them when the sun ariseth ; so do the 


fears and inward troubles of the people of God when 
this light shines upon their souls. Nay more, this 
is a light which scatters the very darkness of death 
itself It was the saying of a worthy divine of Ger- 
many upon his death-bed, when his eye-sight was 
gone, being asked how it was within ? " Why," said 
he, " though all be dark about me,'' yet, pointing 
as well as he could to his breast, " Mc sat hicis, 
here is light enough.'' 

16 Excellency. It is liberty to the straitened soul, 
and the most comfortable and excellent liberty in the 
whole world. He only walks at liberty that walks with 
God — " I will walk at liberty, for I seek thy precepts." 
Wicked men cry out of bands and cords in religion, 
they look upon the duties of godliness as the greatest 
bondage and thraldom in the whole world — " Let us 
break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords 
from us ;" as if he should say, away with this strict- 
ness and preciseness, it extinguishes the joy and plea- 
sure of our lives ; give us our cups instead of Bibles, 
our profane songs instead of spiritual psalms, our 
sports and pastimes instead of prayers and sermons. 
Alas, poor creatures, how do they dance in their 
shackles and chains ! when, in reality, the sweetest 
liberty is enjoyed in those duties at which they thus 
snuff. The law of Christ is the law of liberty ; the 
soul of man never enjoys more liberty than when it 
is bound with the strictest bands of duty to God. 
Here is liberty from enthralling lusts, and from en- 
slaving fears : " The law of the Spirit of life in 


Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin 
and death.'' And here is freedom indeed : " If the 
Son make you free, then are ye free indeed." And 
here is freedom from fears, Luke i. 74, 75. Those 
that will not endure any restraint from their lusts, 
will have their freedom to sin ; a freedom they shall 
have, such as it is : " When ye were the servants 
of sin, ye were free from righteousness." Let none 
therefore be prejudiced at the ways of duty and strict 
godliness — " The law of Christ is the perfect law of 
liberty;" not liberty to sin, but liberty from sin. 

17 Eivcellency. It is a mercy purchased by the 
blood of Christ for believers, and one of the principal 
mercies settled upon them by the new covenant- 
grant. A peculiar mercy, which none but the re- 
deemed of the Lord partake of; a mercy which cost 
the blood of Christ to purchase it. I do not deny 
but there are thousands of other mercies bestowed 
upon the unregenerate ; they have health, wealth, 
children, honours, pleasures, and all the delights of 
this life ; but for communion with God, and the 
pleasures that result therefrom, they are incapable 
of these. No supping with Christ, upon such ex- 
cellent privileges and mercies as these, till the heart 
be opened to him by faith ; you cannot come nigh to 
God, until you be first made nigh by reconciliation. 
What would your lives. Christians, be worth to you, 
if this mercy were cut off from you ? There would 
be little sweetness or savour in all your outward 
mercies, were it not for this mercy that sweetens 

52 L 3 


them all. And there is this difference, among 
many others, between this mercy and all outward 
mercies: you may be cut off from the enjoyment of 
those, you cannot from this ; no prison can keep out 
the Comforter. O bless God for this invaluable 

18 Excellency. It is natural to the new crea- 
ture ; the inclination and instinct of the new crea- 
ture leadeth to communion with God. It is as 
natural to the new creature to desire it, and work 
after it, as it is to the new-born babe to make to 
the breast — " As new-born babes desire the sincere 
milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby." 
There is a law upon the regenerate part, which 
inwardly and powerfully obliges it to acts of duty, 
and converse with God in them. Communion with 
God is a thing that ariseth out of the principles of 
grace. You know all creatures in this lower world 
act according to the laws of nature ; the sun will 
rise, and the sea will flow at their appointed times ; 
and the gracious soul will make towards its God 
in the times and seasons of communion with him. 
They are not forced on to those duties by the 
frights of conscience, and the fears of hell, so much 
as by the natural inclination of the new creature. 
Two things demonstrate communion with God to 
be congenial with the regenerate part, called the 
hidden man of the heart, namely: (1.) The rest- 
lessness of a gracious soul without it, Cant. iii. 2. 
The church, in the first verse, had sought her be- 


loved, but found him not. Doth she sit down 
satisfied in his absence ? No ; "I will rise now, 
and go about the city, in the streets, and in the 
broad ways ; I will seek him whom my soul loveth."'"' 
(2.) The satisfaction and pleasure, the rest and 
delight which the soul finds and feels in the enjoy- 
ment of communion with God, plainly show it to 
be agreeable to the new nature — " My soul shall be 
satisfied when I think on thee.'" And when it 
is thus, then duties become easy and pleasant to the 
soul : " His commandments are not grievous." Yea, 
and such a soul will be constant and assiduous in 
those duties. That which is natural, is constant as 
well as pleasant. What is the reason hypocrites 
throw up the duties of religion in times of difficulty, 
but because they have not an inward principle 
agreeable to them ? The motives to duty lie with- 
out them, not within them. 

19 Excellency. It is the occupation and trade of 
all sanctified persons, and the richest trade that was 
ever carried on by men. This way they grow rich 
in spiritual treasures ; the revenues of it are better 
than silver and gold. There be many of you have 
traded long for this world, and it comes to little ; 
and had you gained your designs you had gained but 
trifles. This is the rich and profitable occupation 
— " Our conversation is in heaven." Our commerce 
and trade lies that way, so that word signifies. 
There be few Christians that have carried on this 
soul-enriching trade any considerable time, but can 


sliow some spiritual treasures which they have got- 
ten by it — " This 1 had, because I kept thy pre- 
cepts." As merchants can show the gold and silver, 
the lands and houses, the rich goods and furniture, 
which they have gotten by their successful adven- 
tures abroad ; and tell their friends, so much I got 
by such a voyage, and so much by another: so 
Christians have invaluable treasures, though their 
humility conceals them, which they have gotten by 
this heavenly trade of communion with God. Their 
souls are weak, and by communion with God they 
have gotten strength : "I cried, and thou strength- 
enedst me with strength in my soul." They have 
gotten peace by it, a treasure inestimable : " Great 
peace have they that love thy law and nothing shall 
offend them." They have gotten purity by it: 
" They do no iniquity that walk in thy ways." O 
what rich returns are here ! nay, they get some- 
times full assurance by it. The riches of both the 
Indies will not purchase from a Christian the least 
of these mercies. These are the rich rewards of 
our pains in the duties of religion ; "In keeping 
thy commandments there is great reward." 

20 Excellency. It is oil to the wheels of obedi- 
ence, which makes the soul go on cheerfully in the 
ways of the Lord — " Then will I run the ways of 
thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my 
heart." No7i tardat uncta rota^ — Oiled wheels run 
nimbly. How prompt and ready for any duty of 
obedience, is a soul under the influence of commu- 


nion with God! Then, as Isaiah, having gotten 
a sight of God, "Here am I, Lord, send me." 
Now the soul can turn its hand to the duties of, 

First, Active ; and 

Secondly, Passive obedience. 

First, Hereby the soul is prepared and fitted for 
the duties of active obedience, to which it applies 
itself with pleasure and delight — " Then will I go 
unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding 
joy ;" or, as it is in the Hebrew, " the gladness of 
my joy."" It goes to prayer as a hungry man to a 
feast, or as a covetous man to his treasures — " I 
have rejoiced in the way of thy commandments as 
much as in all riches." 

Secondly, It prepares the soul for passive ohedi- 
ence: makes a man to rejoice in his sufferings. It 
will make a Christian stand ready to receive any 
burden or load that God shall lay upon his shoul- 
ders, and even be thankful to be so employed — 
" This joy of the Lord is their strength." A Chris- 
tian, under the cheerful influences of near commu- 
nion with God, can, with more cheerfulness, lay 
down his neck for Christ, than other men can lay 
out a shilling for him. In all these twenty parti- 
culars, you have an account of the excellency of 
this privilege ; but O how short an account have I 
given of it ! What remains, is the application of 
this point, in a double use : — 

I. Of information. 

II. Of exhortation. 


I. For information in the following inferences: — 
Inference 1. How sure and certain a thing it is, 
that there is a God, and a state of glory prepared 
in heaven for sanctified souls. 

These things are undeniable. God hath set them 
before our spiritual eyes and senses : beside the 
revelation of it in the gospel, which singly makes it 
infallible ; the Lord, for our abundant satisfaction, 
hath brought these things down to the touch and 
test of our spiritual senses and experiences. You 
that have had so many sights of God by faith, so 
many sweet tastes of heaven in the duties of reli- 
gion, O what a confirmation and seal have you of 
the reality of invisible things ! You may say of 
heaven, and the joys above, as the Apostle did of 
him that purchased it — " That which our eyes 
have seen, and our ears have heard, and our hands 
have handled,'' &c. For God hath set these things 
in some degree before your very eyes, and put the 
first-fruits of them into your own hands. The sweet 
relish of the joy of the Lord is upon the very palate 
of your souls. To this spiritual sense of the be- 
lieving Hebrews, the Apostle appealed, when he 
said, " Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, 
knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a 
better, and an enduring substance."" This knowing 
in ourselves is more certain and sweet than all the 
traditional reports we can get from the reports of 
others — " Whom having not seen ye love ; whom, 
though now you see him not, yet believing, ye re- 


joice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.'" 
There is more of heaven felt and tasted in this 
world than men are aware of; it is one thing to 
hear of such countries as Spain, Italy, Smyrna, by 
the discourses and reports we heard of them in our 
childhood, and another thing, to understand those 
countries by the rich commodities imported from 
them, in the way of our trade and commerce. O did we 
but know what other Christians have felt and tasted, 
we should not have such staggering thoughts about 
invisible things ! but the secret comforts of religion 
are, and ought to be for the most part inclosed 
things. Religion lays not all open ; the Christian 
life is a hidden life. 

Infer. 9,. If such a height of communion with 
God be attainable on earth, then most Christians 
live below the duties and comforts of Christianity. 

Alas, the best of us are but at the foot of this 
pleasant mount Pisgah. As we are but in the 
infancy of our graces, so we are but in the infancy 
of our comforts. What a poor house is kept by 
many of God's own children ; living between hopes 
and fears, seldom tasting the riches and pleasures, 
the joys and comforts of assurance ! and will you 
know the reasons of it ? There are five things 
which usually keep them poor and low as to spiri- 
tual joys and comforts. (1.) The incumbrances of 
the world, which divert them from, or distract them 
in their duties of communion with God, and so 
keep them low in their spiritual comforts : they 


have so much to do on earth, that they have little 
time for heavenly employments. O what a noise 
and din do the trifles of this world make in the 
heads and hearts of many Christians ! How dear 
do we pay for such trifles as these ? (2.) A spirit 
of formality creeping into the duties of religion, 
impoverishes the vital spirit thereof, like the wan- 
ton embraces of the ivy, which binds and starves 
the tree it clasps about. Religion cannot thrive 
under formality ; and it is difficult to keep out 
formality in a settled course of duty, and much 
more when duties are intermitted. (3.) The busi- 
ness of temptations pestering the minds of many 
Christians, especially such as are of melancholy 
constitutions. How importunate and restless are 
these temptations with some Christians ? They 
can make little comfort or advantage out of duty, 
by reason of them. (4.) Heart-apostacy, inward 
decays of our first love, is another reason why our 
duties prosper so little — " Thou hast left thy first 
love." You were not wont to serve God with such 
coldness. (5.) In a word, spiritual pride impove- 
rishes our comforts ; the joys of the Spirit, like 
brisk wines, are two strong for our weak heads. 
For these causes, many Christians are kept low in 
spiritual comforts. 

Infer. 3. How sweet and desirable is the society 
of the saints ! it must needs be desirable to walk 
with them, who walk with God. 

No such companions as the saints. What benefit, 


or pleasure can we find in converses with sensual world- 
lings ? All we can carry out of such company is guilt 
or grief. " All my delight (saith David) is in the 
saints, and in the excellent of the earth, which ex- 
cel in virtue ;" and their society would certainly be 
much more sweet, and desirable, than it is, did they 
live more in communion with God than they do. 
There was a time when the communion of the 
saints was exceeding lovely : the Lord restore it to 
its primitive glory and sweetness. 

Infer. 4. What an unspeakable mercy is conver- 
sion, which lets the soul into such a state of spiritual 
pleasure ? 

Here is the beginning of your acquaintance with 
God, the first tale of spiritual pleasures, of which 
there shall never be an end. All the time men 
have spent in the world in an unconverted state, 
hath been a time of estrangement and alienation 
from God ; when the Lord brings a man to Christ, 
in the way of conversion, he then begins his first 
acquaintance with God. " Acquaint now thyself 
with him, and be at peace, thereby good shall come 
unto thee." This is your first acquaintance with 
tlie Lord, which will be a growing thing; every 
visit you give him in prayer, increaseth your ac- 
quaintance, and begets more intimacy, and humble, 
holy familiarity between him and you. And, O 
what a paradise of pleasure doth this let the soul 
into ! the life of religion abounds with pleasures : 
'* All his ways are ways of pleasantness, and his 

VOL. II. 2 ^[ 


paths are peace." Now you know where to go, and 
unload any trouble that presseth your hearts, what- 
ever prejudices and scandals Satan and his instru- 
ments, cast upon religion ; this I will affirm of it, 
that that man must necessarily be a stranger to true 
pleasure, and empty of real comfort, who is a stranger 
to Christ, and the duties of communion with him. 
It is true, here is no allowance for sinful pleasures, 
nor any want of spiritual pleasures. Bless God, 
therefore, for converting grace, you that have it, 
and lift up a cry to heaven for it, you that want it. 

Infer. 5. Lastly, If there be so much delight, 
and pleasure in our imperfect, and often interrupted 
communion with God here ; O then, what is liea- 
ven ! what are the immediate visions of his face in 
the perfect state ? 

" Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have 
entered into the heart of man, the things which 
God hath prepared for them that love him.'" You 
have heard glorious, and ravishing reports in the 
gospel, of that blessed future state, things which the 
angels desire to look into. You have felt, and 
tasted joys unspeakable, and full of glory, in the 
actings of your faith and love upon Christ ; yet 
all that you have heard, and all that you have 
felt and tasted in the way to glory, falls so short of 
the perfection and blessedness of that state, that 
heaven will, and must be a great surprise to them 
that have now the greatest acquaintance with it. 
Though the present comforts of the saints are some- 


times as much as they can bear, for they seem to 
reel and stagger under the weight of them — "•' Stay 
me with flagons, comfort me with apples, I am sick 
of love." Yet, I say, these high tides of pleasant 
joy, are but shallows to the joys of his immediate 
presence. And as they run not so deep, so they 
are not constant and continued as they shall be 
above^ — " Ever with the Lord." And thus much 
for information. 

II. Use, for exhortation. 

The last improvement of this point will be by 
way of exhortation. 

First, To believers. 

Secondly, To unbelievers. 

First, Is this the privileged state, into which all 
believers are admitted by conversion ? Then strive 
to come up to the highest attainment of communion 
with God in this world, and be not contented with 
just so much grace as will secure you from hell ; 
but labour after such a height of grace and com- 
munion with God, in the exercise thereof, as may 
bring you into the suburbs of heaven on earth. 

Forget the things that are behind you, as to satis- 
faction in them, and press toward the mark, for the 
prize of your high calling. It is greatly to your 
loss, that you live at such a distance from God, 
and are so seldom with him ; think not the ablest 
ministers, or choicest books will ever be able to 
satisfy your doubts and comfort your hearts, whilst 
you let down your communion with God to so low 


a degree. O that you might be persuaded now to 
hearken obediently to three or four necessary words 
of counsel. 

1 Counsel. Make communion with God the very 
scope and aim of your souls in all your approaches 
to him in the ordinances and duties of religion. 
Set it upon the point of your compass, let it be the 
very thing your souls design ; let the desires and 
hopes of communion with God be the thing that 
draws you to every sermon and prayer. " One 
thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek 
after, that I may see the beauty of the Lord, and 
enquire after him in his temple." That was the 
mark David aimed at ; and men's success in duties 
is usually according to the spiritual aims and in- 
tentions of their hearts in them : both sincerity and 
comforts lie much in men''s ends. 

2 Counsel. In all your approaches to God, beg 
and plead hard with him for the manifestations of 
his love, and further communications of his grace. 
" Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice ; have 
mercy also upon me, and answer me. When thou 
saidst, seek ye my face, my heart said unto thee, 
Thy face. Lord, will I seek. Hide not thy face far 
from me, put not thy servant away in anger."*" 
How full and thick of pleas and arguments for com- 
munion with God was this prayer of David ? Lord, 
I am come, in obedience to thy command ; thou 
saidst, " Seek ye my face,'' thou biddest me come 
to thee, and wilt thou put away thy servant in 


anger ? Thou hast been my help, I have had 
sweet experience of thy goodness, thou dost not use 
to put me off, and turn me away empty. 

3 Counsel. Desh-e not comfort for comforfs sake ; 
but comforts and refreshments for service and obe- 
dience"' sake ; that thereby you may be strengthened 
to go on in the ways of your duty with more 
cheerfulness — " Then will I run the ways of thy 
commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.'"' 
As if he should say, O Lord, the comforts thou 
shalt give me, shall be returned again in cheerful 
services to thee. I desire them as oil to the wheels 
of obedience, not food for my pride. 

4 Counsel. As ever you expect to be owners of 
much comfort in the ways of your communion with 
God, see that you are strict and circumspect in the 
course of your conversation. It is the looseness 
and carelessness of our hearts and lives which im- 
poverishes our spiritual comforts. A little pride, a 
little carelessness, dashes and frustrates a great deal 
of comfort, which was very near us, almost in our 
hands ; to allude to that, Hos. vii. 1 , " When I would 
have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim 
was discovered." So here, just when the desire of 
thy heart was come to the door, some sin stept in 
the way of it. " Your iniquities (saith God) have 
separated between you and your God, and your sins 
have hid his face from you." The Comforter, the 
Holy Spirit, is sensible and tender ; he hatli quick 
resentments of your unkindnesses and offences. As 

2 M 3 


ever, therefore, you expect comfort from him, beware 
of him, and grieve him not. 

Secondly, In the last place, this point speaks 
necessary counsel and advice to unbelievers ; to all 
that live estranged from the life of God, and have 
done so from the womb. To you the voice of 
the Redeemer sounds a summons once more — 
" Behold, I stand at the door and knock." O 
that at last you might be prevailed on to com- 
ply with the merciful terms propounded by him. 
Will you shut out a Saviour bringing salvation, 
pardon, and peace with him ! Christ is thy right- 
ful owner, and demands possession of thy soul : 
if thou wilt now hear his voice, thy former re- 
fusals shall never be objected. If thou still reject 
his gracious offers, mercy may never more be ten- 
dered to thee ; there is a call of Christ which will 
be the last call, and after that no more. Take 
heed what you do ; if you still demur and delay, 
your damnation is just, inevitable, and inexcusable. 
Hear me, therefore, you unregenerated souls, in 
what rank or condition soever providence hath 
placed you in this world, whether you be rich or 
poor, young or old, masters or servants, whether 
there be any stirrings of conviction in your con- 
sciences or not. For however your conditions in 
this world differ from each other at present, there 
is one common misery hanging over you all, if you 
continue in that state of unbelief you are now 
fixed in. 


And 1. Hearken to the voice and call of Christ, 
you that are exalted by providence above your poorer 
neighbours ; you that have your heads, hands, and 
hearts full of the world ; men of trade and business, 
I have a few solemn questions to ask you this day. 

(1.) You have made many gainful bargains in your 
time, but what will all profit you if tl^e agreement 
be not made between Christ and your souls ? Christ 
is a treasure which only can enrich you, Matt. xiii. 
44. Thou art a poor and miserable wretch, what- 
ever thou hast gained of this world, if thou hast not 
gained Christ, thou hast heaped up guilt with thy 
riches, which will more torment thy conscience here- 
after, than thy estate can yield thee comfort here. 

(2.) You have made many insurances to secure 
your floating estates, which you call policies ; but 
what insurance have you made for your souls ? 
Are not they exposed to eternal hazards ? O im- 
politic man ! to be so provident to secure trifles, and 
so negligent in securing the richest treasure. 

(3.) You have adjusted many accounts with 
men, but who shall make up your accounts with 
God, if you be Christless ? " What shall it profit 
a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own 
soul .^" Say not, you have much business under 
your hands, and cannot allow time ; you will have 
space enough hereafter to reflect upon your folly. 

2. You that are poor, and mean in the world, 
what say you, will you have two hells, one here, 
and another hereafter ? No comfort in this world, 


nor hope for the next ? Your expectations here 
laid m the cUisfc, and your hopes for heaven built 
upon the sand ? O if you were once in Christ, how 
happy were you, though you knew not where to 
fetch your next bread ! " Poor in the world, but 
rich in faith ; and heirs of the kingdom which God 
hath promised." O blessed state ! If you had 
Christ, you had then a right to all things ; you had 
then a father to take care for you. But to be poor 
and Christless, no comfort from this world, nor 
hopes from the next ; this is to be truly miserable 
indeed. Your very straits and wants, should prompt 
you to the great duty I am now pressing on you ; 
and methinks it should be matter of encouragement 
that the greatest number of Christ's friends and fol- 
lowers, come out of that rank and order of men to 
which 3''ou belong. 

S. You that are seamen, floating so often upon 
the great deeps, you are reckoned a third sort of 
persons between the living and the dead ; you be- 
long not to the dead, because you breathe, and 
scarcely to the living, because you are continually 
so near death. What think you, friends, have you 
no need of a Saviour ? Do you live so secure from 
the reach and danger of death ? Have your lives 
been so pure, righteous, and innocent, who have 
been in the midst of temptations in the world abroad? 
Ponder that scripture, 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10, "Be not 
deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor 
adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves 


with mankind,"'* &c. ponder it, I say, and think whe- 
ther you have not as great and pressing a necessity 
of Jesus Christ, as any poor souls under heaven ? 
You have had many temporal salvations from God, 
great and eminent deliverances, and will these 
satisfy you ? Is it enough that your bodies are 
delivered from the danger of the sea, though your 
souls sink, and perish in the ocean of God's wrath 
for ever ? If you will yet accept Christ upon his 
terms, all that you have done shall be forgiven. 
The Lord now calls to you in a still voice ; if you 
hear his voice, weU ; if not, you may shortly hear 
his voice in the tempestuous storms without you, 
and a roaring conscience within you. Poor man, 
think what an interest in Christ will be worth, wert 
thou now (as shortly thou mayest be) floating upon 
a piece of wreck, or shivering upon a cold and de- 
solate rock, crying, Mercy, Lord, mercy ! Well, 
mercy is now offered thee, but in vain wilt thou 
expect to find it, if thou continue thus to despise 
and reject it. 

4. You that are aged and full of days, hearken 
to the voice of Christ, God hath called upon you 
a long time : when you were young you said, it is 
time enough yet, we will mind these things when 
we are old, and come nearer to the borders of eter- 
nity. Well, now you are old, and just upon the 
borders of it; will you indeed mind it now .f* You 
have left the great concernments of your souls to 
this time, this short, very short time : and do the 


temptations of your youth take hold upon your age ? 
What i delay and put off* Christ still as you were 
wont to do ? Poor creatures, you are almost gone 
out of time, you have but a short time to deliberate; 
what you do must be done quickly, or it can never 
be done. Your night is even come upon you when 
no man can work. 

5. You that are young, in the bud or flower of 
your time, Christ is a suitor for your first love ; he 
desires the kindness of your youth ; your spirits are 
vigorous, your hearts tender, your affections flowing 
and impressive, you are not yet entered into the in- 
cumbrances and distracting cares of the world. 
Hereafter a crowd and thick succession of earthly 
employments and engagements will come on ; sin 
will harden you by custom and continuance. Now 
is your time ; you are in the convertible age ; few 
that pass the season of youth (comparatively speak- 
ing) are brought over to Christ afterwards. It is a 
rarity, the wonder of an age, to hear of the conver- 
sion of aged sinners. Besides, you are the hopes 
of the next generation : should you be Christ-neg- 
lecting and despising souls ; how bad soever the 
present age is, the next will be worse. Say not we 
have time enough before us, we will not quench the 
sprightly vigour of our youth in melancholy thoughts : 
remember there are skulls of all sizes in Golgotha ; 
graves of all lengths in the church-yard : you may 
anticipate those that stand nearer the grave than 
you seem to do. O you cannot be happy too soon. 


As young as you are, did you but taste the comforts 
that be in Christ, nothing would grieve you more 
than that you knew him no sooner. Behold he 
standeth at thy door in the morning of thy age, 
knocking this day for admission into thy heart. 

6. You that have had some slight, ineffectual and 
vanishing convictions upon you formerly ; the Lord 
Jesus once more renews his call : Will you now at 
last hear his voice ? It is an infinite mercy to have 
a second call. I doubt not but there are many 
among you, whilst you have sat under the word, 
have had such thoughts as these in your hearts : 
Sure my condition is not right, nor safe ; there 
must another manner of work pass upon my soul, or 
I am lost for ever. External duties of religion I do 
perform, but I am a stranger to regeneration. Such 
inward convictions as these were the knocks and calls 
of Christ, but they passed away and were forgotten . 
your convictions are dead, and your hearts the more 
hardened ; for it is in putting a soul under convic- 
tion as it is in putting iron into the fire, and quench- 
ing it again, which hardens it the more. You have 
been near the kingdom of God, but the more miser- 
able for that, if you be shut out at last. The quick- 
ening of your convictions is the right way to the 
saving of your souls. The Lord make you this day 
to hear his voice. 

7. Such as have come hither upon vain or vile ac- 
counts, for mere novelty or worse ends ; to catch 


advantages, or reproach the truths of God ; scoffing 
at the most solemn and awful voice of Christ. The 
word that you have slighted and reproached, the 
same shall judge you in that great day, except the 
Lord will give you repentance unto life, and make 
the heart tremble under it that hath scoffed at it. 
" Be not mockers, lest your bands be made strong." 
8. To conclude ; let all whose hearts the Lord 
hath opened this day, for the enjoyments of the 
gospel, the blessed instrument of their salvation, 
bless the Lord that hath made it a key by regenera- 
tion to open the door of salvation to your souls. 
And as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, 
so walk ye in him. 


J. Vint, Printer, Idle. 

Princeton Theological Seminary-Speer Libra 


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