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Full text of "The whole works of John Flavel, late minister of the gospel at Dartmouth, Devon"

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BX 8915 .F58 1820 v. 4 
Flavel, John, 16307-1691 
The whole works of John 

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v>-> C '- 

UNDER tH£ i»RESENT . r. ^ 


From Rev. iii. 20. 



on, A 

Thanksgiving Sermon for Ejjg land's Delivery from 
Popery, Feb. 1688-9. 


Candid Aeader, 

A HE following discourse comes (o thy liand iii that native 
|)lainness wherein it was preached. I was conscientiously unwilling 
to alter it, because I found by experience, the Lord had blessed 
and prospered it in that dress, far beyond any other composures 
on which I had besto\ted more pains. Let it not be censured 
as vanity oi* ostentation, that I here acknowledge the goodness 
of God in leading me to, and blessing my poor labours upon this 
fiubjecti Whoj and what am I that I should be continued, and 
again employed in the Lord's har\'est, and that with success and 
encouragement, when so many of my brethren^ with their much, 
richer furnitures of gifts and graces, have in my time been called 
out of the vineyard, and are now silent in the grave ! It is true, 
they enjoy what I do not ; and it is as true^ I am capable of doing 
some service for God which they are not. In preaching these ser- 
inons, 1 had many occasions to reflect upon the mystical sense of 
that scripture, Amos ix. 13. "The plowman shall overtake the 
** reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed.'' Sow- 
ing and reaping times trode so close upon one anothet, that (in all 
humility I speak it to the praise of God) it was the busiest and bles- 
fiedest time I ever saw since I first preached the gospel. 

England hath now a day of special mercy : there is a wide door 
of opportunity opened to it ; O that it might prove an effectual 

Vol. IV. A 


door ! It is transporting and astonisliing, that after all the high and. 
horrid provocations, the atheism;, protaneness, and bitter enmity 
against light and reformation : this sweet voice is still heard in Eng- 
land, Behold, I stand at the door and hiock. The mercies and liber- 
ties of this day are a new trial obtained for us by our potentate Ad- 
>'ocate in the heavens ; if we bring forth fruit, well ; if not, the 
ax lieth at the root of the tree. Let us not be secure. Jerusa- 
lem was the city of the great King ; the seat of his worship, and 
the symbols of hii^ presence were fixed there ; it was the joy of the 
•whole earth, the house of prayer for all nations ; thither the 
tribes went up to worship, the tribes of the Lord unto the testi- 
mony of Israel. For there were set thrones of judgment, the 
thrones of the house of David, Psal. cxxii. 4, 5. These privileges she 
enjoyed through the successions of many ages, and she had remain- 
ed the glory of all nations to this day, had she known and improved 
in that day, the things that belonged to her peace ; but they neglected 
their season, rejected their mercies, and miserably perished in their 
sins : for there ever was, and will be found an inseparable connex- 
ion betwixt the final rejection of Christ, and the destruction of the 
rejecters, ]VIatth. xxii. 5, 6, 7. The contemplation whereof drew 
those compassionate tears from the Redeemer's eyes, when he be- 
held it in his descent from the mount of Olives, Luke xix. 41, 42. 

Let all that are vase in heart henceforth depose their animosi- 
ties, sadly reflect on their follies, encourage and assist the labours 
of their brethren in the Lord's harvest; and rejoice that God hath 
set them at liberty by law, m hose assistance in so great an oppor- 
tunity is necessary and desirable. It is against the laws of wisdom 
and charity to envy the liberty, and much more the success of our 
brethren, 1 Cor. xiii. 4. If the workmen contend and scuffle in a 
catching har\^est, who but the owners suffers damage by it ? If, af- 
ter so miraculous, recent, and common salvation as this, we still 
retain our old prejudices and bitter envyings; if we smite with the 
tongue and pen, when we cannot with the hand; and study to 
blast the reputation and labours of our brethren ; and still hate 
those we cannot hurt : In a word, if we still bite and devour one 
another, we shall be devoured one of another. Let us not lay the 
fault upon others, we ourselves have been the authors and instru- 
ments of our own ruin; and this must be the inscription upon 
our tombstone, O England, thou hast destroyed thyself. I am more 
afraid of the rooted enmity and fixed prejudices that are to be 
found in many against holiness and the serious professors o^ it, 
and tlie inflexible obstinacy and dead formality in many others, (the 
tokens of a tremendous infatuation) than I am of all the whispered 
fears from other hands, or common enemies upon our bor- 


To prevent these mischiefs, and promote zeal and unanimity 
among the ministers of the gospel, I have presumed to address 
them in the following epistles. I am conscious of my own un- 
wortliiness to be their monitor, and of the defects their judicious 
eyes will easily discern in the stile it is Written ; and yet can pro- 
mise myself a becoming reception of what is so faithfully, season- 
ably, and honestly designed for their good. I am satisfied that no 
candid and ingenuous person will put words upon the rack, quarrel 
at a similitude, or expose a trifle, when he finds the design honest, 
and the matter good and necessary. 

As to the treatise itself, thou wilt find it a persuasive to open 
thy heart to Christ. Thy soul, reader, is a magnificent structure 
built by Christ ; such stately rooms as thy understanding, \vdll, con- 
science and affections, are too good for any other to inhabit. If 
thou be in thy unregenerate state, then he solemnly demands in 
this text admission into the soul he made, by the consent of the 
will ; which, if thou refuse to give him, then witness is taken, 
that Christ once more demanded entrance into thy soul which he 
made, and was denied it. If thou hast opened thy heart to him, 
thou wilt, I hope, meet somewhat in this treatise that will clear 
thy evidences, and cheer thy heart : Pray read, ponder, ajad ap- 
ply. I am 

Thine and the 

ChurcKs Servant) 



[ 6 ] 


To the dearly beloved IMiuisters of the Gospel, (much to be 
reverenced in Christ) now at length, by the wonderful 
Providence of God, restored to Liberty : Addressed as 
a humble Supplication to the 7nore aged, and as an Ex- 
hortation to younger Ministers and Candidates. 

Reverend Fathers, and Brethren in Christy 

X HOUGH it is not fit for us to coin metaphors according to 
our fancy, yet we ought to have a great liking to those which 
the Spirit himself hath authorised in scripture. There he hath 
represented and painted to the life the deliverance of his suffering 
church, by the sweet deHghts of the advancing spring. Cant. ii. 

In the spring, the earth, Hke a most bountiful parent, opens 
her bosom, produces variety of herbs, adorns the meadows with 
abundance of flowers ; the trees which had been stript of their for- 
mer green leaves are clothed >vith new ones ; the cold being now 
driven away, the air becomes warm, and the cattle bring home 
udders full of milk ; 

Then joyous birds frequent the lonely groves. 

Dryden's Virgil. 

All nature is renewed and smiles ; the season is kindly favour- 
able, and admirably well adapted to the benefit of all things, 
chiefly of those endued with life. All which things have been, in 
a very elaborate and ingenuous manner, applied by our learned 
countryman, Brightman, to that remarkable period, when Cyrus 
published that edict of his, .(which can never be sufficiently com- 
mended) for setting God's people at hberty. The enhvening 

* This letter was originally wrote in Latin, the author judgijig it necessary to 
be so, as what allowed him a greater freedom of expression, than might seem con- 
venient at that time in the common language; yet, that every reader might be 
profited by it, the publisher of this edition hath thought fit to translate it into 
English. It has a reference to the troubles before, and the bles&iogs after the 


beams of a like providential interposition, like the sun entering tlie 
sign of Aries, have made us who were half dead to revive. 

We are not insensible, as our wounds are yet green, what great 
and sharp afflictions we have suffered for many years by-past, for 
conscience sake. Alas, what sad things have we not seen ! what 
oppressions have we not unjustly endured, during this rough, dis- 
mal, and every- way destructive winter ? We have seen the sea swell- 
ing with dreadful storms, by reason of which, some, being amazed 
and confounded, have hoisted sail to any wind whatsoever : we have 
seen trees that excelled others, both in fruitfulness and comeliness, 
beat down and laid low by the stormy winds ; others which bare 
neither fruit nor leaves, have been, as it were, blasted. Mountains 
have we seen become white with hoar-frost, rivers locked up in ice, 
lands covered, yea, buried in snow ; flocks of fowls, and herds of 
cattle starved with hunger, wandering up and down in great want ; 
cunning fowlers spreading their nets, and ensnaring many : In a 
word, we have seen Christ's church (alas !) pierced with arrows 
winged with her own feathers ; the civil state founded on laws, al- 
most subverted by laws ; every thing having a bad aspect, and grow- 
ing daily worse and worse. 

Long and sore have we been tossed in the sea of trouble ; in our 
youth we were plunged into it, we are come out of it in old age ; 
our case has been the same with what happened at the siege of 
Tyre, Ezek. xxix. 18. Every head is made hald, and every shoidder 
is peeled ; but yet all these things seem troublesome rather than 
wonderful, to any one who seriously considers the thing prophesied 
by the great apostle, 2 Tim. iii. 1. In the last days perilous times 
shall come. Of which perilous times, * Lactantius writes thus ; 

* When the end of this world is approaching, the state of human 

* affairs must needs be greatly changed, and grow worse, through 

* the prevalency of wickedness ; in so much that this present age, 

* wherein sin and wickedness have arrived to the greatest pitch, 
' may, wlien compared with that abandoned and incorrigible age, 
' be justly deemed the happy and golden one. For then righ- 

* teousness shall decrease, and ungodHness, avarice, ambition, and 

* lust increase : so that whosoever shall happen then to be sober 
' and religious, shall become a prey to the bricked, and be greatly 
' harassed by the unrighteous ; the vicious alone shall be prosper- 
' ous and happy, while the people of God shall meet with every 
' kind of bad treatment, and be reduced to extreme poverty. All 
' right shaU be confounded, laws shaU perish ; then no body shall 
' possess any thing but what is iU got, or what he is obliged to de- 

* fend by force ; rapine and violence shall carry every thing before 
—————— , , _^ — ■ ■ I ■ 

* Lactan, iib. 70. de divino in-amio, p. 578, 579t 


5' ALETTE E,' 

* them : there shall be no fidelity among men, no peace, no hu- 
' manity, no shame, no truth, and neither safety nor order, nor 
' any rest from trouble ; for the whole earth shall be in confusion, 
' and the noise of din and war heard every where ; all nations 
' shall be up in arms, and attack one another ; neighbouring states 

* shall war among themselves ; destruction shall run over the face 
' of the earth, cutting down every thing, and laying it along, as 
^ corn-fields are in harvest. The reason of which dreadful cala- 
' mity and strange confusion, will be this. That the Roman Name, 
' which has subdued the whole world, shall then (I tremble to ut- 
' ter it, but, since it is certain, utter it I must) be quite extinct." 

What think you, reader, is not this a description of our own 
times, or must we wait longer, till that pernicious and wicked race 
of men shall appear upon the stage ? That this hath been fulfilled 
in our late troubles, none sure can hesitate that hath any discern- 

But God at length, pitying our distresses, hath raised up a man *, 
both zealous for the truth, and a lover of godliness, boldly to as- 
sert his cause in the face of danger and toil, and to put a new face 
on things. Concerning this time it shall be said. What wonderful 
ihings hath God done ? Now every impediment being removed, and 
the dreadful storm calmed, (which scatters up and down like 
stubble) our gracious God doth in this manner bespeak us. Rise up, 
my love, my fair one, and come away ; for lo, the winter is past, 
the rain is over and gone, the jiowers appear on the earth, the time 
of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard 
in our land. As if he had said, You have been long enough con- 
fined at home, come now (for you may safely come) abroad. There 
is the greatest appearance of safety and incitement to labour every 
where. Thus, the severity of the Winter recommends to us the 
pleasui es of the Spring. 

For my part, I had no sooner heard the joyful news of Liberty, 
than presently I began to prepare myself for my proper and much 
longed for work ; for if so much pleasure is found in the study of 
the mathematics, that when one has tasted of it, he is so ravished 
and bewitched with it, that he cannot be taken off from the study 
of them ; it will certainly be the sweetest pleasure of all, to em- 
ploy our labours, however much sve are exhausted, for the glory 
of Christ, and good of souls : it gives me therefore no small plea- 
sure that at length I may put in my sickle, which hath been long 
in disuse, into the Lord's harvest, together with the rest of my 
fellow-labourers. Thanks to my God, who hath not only season- 
ably opened a door of opportunity, but hath also (which I earnestly 

* WILLIAM-III. Prince of Oranqe. 

A L E T T E B. 

supplicated for) given me to see the happy effects of sound doctrine, 
and hath long ago blessed it unto many. 

These first-fruits of Restored Liberty, and wliich many have 
importuned me to publish, I now most humbly offer unto you. 
Induloe a brother, the weakest of all, and one who reckons him- 
self justly inferior to all the servants of Christ ; if, on this signal 
and most extraordinary occasion. Christian zeal should break forth 
a little more freely than may be suitable to either my small share 
of learning or experience. 

Here your preacher hath not sought after the pomp of elo- 
quence. Through the whole I have used a popular, not polite, 
stile ; pithy, not showy ; for I thought it might be justly said con- 
cerning Theology^ what Cicero says of Philosophy, That to talk 
upon subjects of that nature in an elaborate stile, is childish ; but 
to be capable of delivering with plainness and perspicuity, is the part 
of a learned and knowing man. I should be justly displeased with 
myself, if I preached the doctrine of a crucified Christ, in a stile 
unbecoming his cross ; which surely is the character of a stile pom- 
pous and swelling. 

These things being premised, 

I. Let us rejoice m our liberty, with a joy duly moderated ; I 
mean, with a joy equally balanced, and guarded on all hands by 
gi*ief for past sins, and dread of future ones. We read in Jere- 
miah, of the voice of sighing and weeping, with which the faith- 
ful would, about the time of their deliverance, confess their sins, 
by which they had provoked God, and would sincerely bewail 
them with contrite hearts. And how suitable was the song of the 
church, even at the laying of the foundation of the second temple ; a 
song equally composed of joyful shouting, and abundant weeping, 
Ezra iii. 10. " Many weeped with a loud voice, many shouted 
" aloud for joy ; so that the people could not discern the noise 
" of the shout of joy, from the noise of the weeping of the peo- 
*' pie." Nor are the saints ashamed to confess their falls and 
shameful deeds to the glory of God, for nothing is a loss to us 
which redounds to his glory. Our countenance must in his sight 
be comely and amiable, when he sees penitential tears mixed with 
those of joy and thanksgiving. It is the character of a true peni- 
tent to lament his faults, that he may not again commit things to 
be lamented. 

Asaph hath set before us an illustrious example of penitence, 
Psal. Ixxiv. 8. Remember not (says he) against us our former inu 
quities. God is said to remember iniquities when calling sins to an 
account, and judging of their greatness and number, he resolves to 
punish. Asaph speaks of God after the manner of men ; for they, when 
greatly offended, and about to punish their children, do then call 



to mind all their former faults : let us, in like manner, reflect oif 
ours, and sincerely bewail our past slothful conduct, an unhappy 
concomitant of liberty : Thus we have neither flamed with ardent 
love on the one hand, nor grieved with that degree of sorrow 
which was requisite on the other : we have oftentimes spoken more 
fi'om the head than from the heart, We have both prayed and 
preached too too coldly about matters the most awful and impor- 
tant. We have not followed the footsteps of those worthies that 
went before us in the last age, so as to come up with them. We 
have been at small pains to support the majesty of religion, by the 
graiity of our conversation, and the usefulness of our discourses. 
For which cause our God has conceived just anger against us, and 
hath manifested that by the past calamities ; and by so manifesting 
it, hath plainly admonished us io be on our guard for the time to 

II. Therefore brethren, I earnestly beg of you, in the bow- 
els of Christ, that you will not forget these words of the 
apostle, If it be possible, as viuch as lieth in you, live 'peaceably 
7vHh all men, Rom. xii. 8. There is added a twofold imitation, 
first, If it be possible, that is, consistently with justice, piety, and 
truth : Such a regard is not to be had to truth, as that the study of 
peace be entirely neglected ; nor is such unity to be sought after 
as destroys truth ; but speak the truth in love, as the same apostle 
exhorts, Eph. jv. 15. For, as our countryman Mr. Davenant 
justly observes, they love neither from the heart, who love not both. 
Christians therefore, when they both hve peaceably in owning the 
truth, and speak the truth in love, are a great ornament to their 
profession. The other limitation is, As much as lieth in you, that 
is, live in friendship with all, if it be possible ; and if they will not 
be friendly on their part, be sure you be so on yoiirs. Truth begets 
hatred among the wicked, and godhness is ever despised by them ; 
of which Lactantius * assigns this reason, " That he who sins 

* wants to have a free opportunity of sinning, and thinks he can no 
' otherwise enjoy securely the pleasure of his ill deeds, than when 

* there are many who delight in the same faults. Hence they 

* study to destroy and cut oiF root and branch those who are wit- 

* nesses of their wickedness, and they cannot endure that good men^ 

* lives should be a reproof, as it were, of theirs. Therefore by the 

* friendship of the wicked, piety is endangered." 

We have some amongst us tliat put on a form of godliness, but 
have denied the power thereof: of such •)- Bernard in his time thus 
complained : ' Woe to this generation which hath the leaven of 
— — . , — ■ I 

♦ Lactantius on Justice, b. 5. p. 332. 383. 
f Jiern^d, Sermon xxxiii. on C^nt, 


' tlie Pharisees, which is hypocrisy : If indeed that should be call-, 

* ed hypocrisy, which now through its prevalency cannot be hid, 

< and through its impudency seeks not to be hid. At present, 

< rottenness and corruption affects the whole body of the church, 
f and the wider it spreads, the more desperate ; and the more 
^ inwardly it spreads, the more dangerous : for if an heretic, an 
f open enemy, should rise up, he would be cast out ; if a vio- 
f lent enemy, she, (i. e. the church) would perhaps conceal herself 
^ from him. But now, whom shall the church cast out ? or whom 
' shall she hide herself from ? All are friends, and all are enemies : 
^ all are in mutual connexions, as relations, yet in mutual contests, 
f as adversaries : all are fellow-members of one family, yet none 
' are promoters of peace : all are neighbours, yet all are seekers of 

< their own things : by profession servants of Christ, in reality they 

* serye Antichrist : they make an honourable figure by the good 

* things they have received from the Lord, while, at the same time, 
' they give no honour to the Lord.' I will say of these men. My 
>6oul, come not into their council ; my glory, be not in their as- 

But there are many others, zealous of peace and truth, agreeing 
in fundamentals, and standing equally against the common enemies 
oi^ the reformed reHgion, who, notwithstanding, differ (alas !) about 
matters not necessaiy to salvation, and split into opposite parties, 
and cause strife : while this fierce contention spreads itself among 
the brethren, it affords a continual occasion to their enemies to 
insult and molest them. Could any one find out a remedy for this 
epidemical distemper, he would deserve well of the church ; but 
since the experience of so many years has put it beyond doubt 
that it is difficult, or indeed impracticable to accompUsh this by 
scholastic disputes, or by oppressing the conscience with penalties ; 
it were mqre advisable to sopite all their debates, than by fruit- 
less strife to tear asunder the church ; and in fine, to have recourse 
to that which is the most useful, if not the only rule for promoting 
peace, Phil. iii. 16. Wherein w^ have already attained, let us walk 
by the same ride : with which agrees well that most wholesome advice 
given by Tossanus to the college of Tubing, in the following words : 
' AH bitter railings and accusations ought justly to be laid aside, 
' and the judgments of these matters in debate left wholly to the 

* Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, and to our own posterity, 
' who, not being authors, but spectators of the debate, will judge 

* more impartially about it. Our adversaries still hve and become 

* bolder every day ; they make it their business night and day to 
' plot and contrive how they may extinguish the light of the gospel 
' that lias arisen, and bring back ancient darkness ; in the mean time, 

* we who at fii'st with one accord, by God's grace, preached the 

X2 A L E T T E E, 

< ffospel, do now, with weapons of death turned against one ano- 

* ther, rush mutually on destruction ; thereby exhibiting a delight- 

* ful spectacle to our enemies, who place more of their safety and 

* confidence in our contentions, than the weak foundation of their 

* own cause."* 

Let us therefore frequently consider tliat of the apostle, Gal. v. 
15. But \fye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye he not 
consumed one of another. What Cicero said of the discords of great 
men, our countryman Davenant scruples not to affirm concerning 
those of the churches, That they connnonly end either in the ruin of 
both parties, or in the unjust tyranny of that side which overcomes. 
It IS greatly to be feared, that every one, by these continual and 
fierce debates, is hastening (may God prevent it) his own ruin : 
yet I doubt not but that all discords amongst the godly might be 
extinguished, whatever some may allege to the contrary, if the 
mmds of some were freed from the violent emotions of suspicion, 
ano-er, and envy. Behold, brethren, what a seasonable and pro- 
per softening plaister our skilful Physician hath applied to us all 
at this time. God grant it the desired effect ; lest the scar not 
being rightly closed up, the wound should break out again. 

The godly in every place lame^nt the present deplorable state of 
the church \ and, from the destruction of some, do conjecture what 
danger hangs over all. 

* Hence let contending nations know, 

What direful mischief s from their discords flow. 

Certain it is, that all wise and good men on both sides, (how- 
ever thev difler among themselves) are unanimous in this at least. 
That these are not times for strife, but times that call for prayer 
and reformation ; for, such are the prayers they every where offer 
up : ' May God turn the heai't of the fathers to the children, and the 

* heart of the children to flie fathers, lest he come and smite the earth 

* with a curse. These do not well consult their own interest, who, be- 

* cause of disputes among the learned, perhaps never to be ended, 

* will needs be tearing the church by perpetual divisions. Our 

* brethren, that seriously pmfess they differ from us in smaller 

* matters of religion, for no other reason than a fear of offending, 
' these ought to be embraced with the greatest affection. Let all 
' causes of offence be presently removed, that we may not stumble 

* twice on the same stone. If we fall upon it again, we are broken 
*■ in pieces. We will not grant them this praise, that they are 

P>:rduxit miser as. 

En QUO dUcordiu gentes 

A L E T T E R. I3 

*■ more studious of peace and concord than ourselves. You may 

* re-exact a conformity in fundamentals and things necessary in re- 

* ligion ; but in matters erf indifference, and not absolutely neces- 

< sary, you may give a larger liberty. No body should assume to 

< himself a liberty of dividing tlie church, and dissolving brotherly 

< unity on such a ground as neither Christ, nor the apostles, nor 

* the primitive church in its purest state would ever have approv- 
' ed.' 

It must be confessed, that all kinds of controversy will never be 
at an end ; neverthelesss we can bid farewell to all discord ; for va- 
riety of opinions, and unity among those that hold them, are not 
things inconsistent. Why should there dwell in the breast of a 
Christian, the fierceness of wolves, the madness of dogs, the dead- 
ly poison of serpents, the cruel savageness of beasts ? as Cyprian 
long since complained. That is (saith Gregory) a new and un- 
heard-of manner of preaching, that forces a belief, with stripes : 
therefore let all bitter railing and accusation be gone. May the 
God of peace bring all into order and peace. 

III. Especially and above all, I humbly beseech you, that, hav- 
ing laid aside all designs of smaller importance, you would mind 
this one thing how you may gain to Christ the souls committed 
to you, to which all earthly things are to be postponed. This is 
the labour, this the work incumbent on us. 

Put far from you a vile, niggardly sparing of your gifts, an im- 
moderate care for worldly things, an excessive indulgence of the 
vile body. Let it not seem much to us to spend a little sweat for 
the sake of those souls for which Christ so willingly and plentifully 
poured out his own most precious blood. If we hide the Lord's 
talent in a napkin, where shall we find a napkin to dry up our 
tears of blood for so base a crime ^ 

Remember, brethren, that it will be required at our hands, 
how we have spent every portion of that time which is given us ; 
how much of it have we already lost in unprofitable silence ! But 
among all the oppressions under which you have long groaned, I 
persuade myself there is none you have more sorrowed for than that 
of being so long with-holden from feeding poor hungry souls. The 
present opportunity is slippery, and may be lost, as to what con- 
cerns futurity, the clouds return after the rain. Up then ye ser- 
vants of God, mind this your business, and the Lord shall be with 
you : do not regard the usual murmurings of the flesh. Look for- 
ward to that heavenly crown : " They that be \vise shall shine as 
*' the brightness of the firmament ; and they that turn many to 
*' righteousness as the stars for ever and ever."" 

With the hopes of this, let us rouse up and fortify our drooping 

]^ A L E T T E R. 

hearts gainst the mockings and troubles we may expect for th^ 
sake of the gospel. What bowels of compassion ought we to put 
on, when we speak to such men of saving their souls, and shunning 
perdition, into which they may quickly fall, but who, in the mean 
time, have not the least thought about these things themselves ? 
A famous author in Amesius * complains, ' That the words of hfe 

* in some preachers and teachers lips die away, as to any power or 

* efficacy : For so coldly and unconcernedly do they deliver the 
« word of God, that it seems to die in their lips. Hence, as they 

* themselves are cold and dead preachers, so they leave their hear- 

* ers in a cold and dead frame. I knew one who left Paris for 

* this reason, because he said, he was more and more benumbed 

* with the lectures and sermons he heard from day to day ih that 
« city ; and was afmid, that if he staid much longer there, his soul 

* would have perished with spiritual cold : wherefore he joined 
' himself to lively ministers, as unto Hve-coals, that so by conver- 
< sing with them, he might nourish and increase an holy flame in 

* his heart."* 

Lift up your eyes and behold the fields white, and ready to 
harvest ; see how you are on every side surrounded Avith crowds of 
poor hungry souls, with open mouth and earnest looks begging spi- 
ritual bread from you. If we have the bowels of the chief Shep^ 
herd in us, let us feed his sheep. Some are almost worn out with 
old age and various troubles : others lessen the majesty of scripture 
by insisting much on things of little moment, and fill the ears of 
the multitude with a vain noise of words, or tickle them with smooth 
speeches. In such a situation, if you, who are furnished with all 
kinds of gifts, and have so full and fair opjwrtunity, do not burn 
with zeal to God, and love to souls, I tremble to look forward to 
the dreadful end of you all. 

IV. Lastly^ I will conclude with a few things which I thought 
necessary for students of Theology^ and candidates for the ministry, 
who have at this needful time willingly devoted themselves to this 
service, or are about to do it : We nave long borne the burden 
and heat of the day ; we are veteran soldiers almost worn out. The 
next age will possibly produce more tractg-ble minds, and men of 
gentler dispositions than our times afford. 

I congratulate you on account of your birth, especially if your 
natural birth be, or shall be ennobled and sanctified by regenera- 
tion ; and this is the more reasonable, because all our famous 
chronologers and searchers into times, who have bestowed much 
time and pains in that study, are big with expectation, like a wo- 
man big with child, past the time of her reckoning, who therefore 

" — 1> ' •■ ' — •■ — — — — _— _ — I ■ — - • ■■ 

• Cases of Conscience, book 3. p. 16. 


expects her pains to come upon her every hour. It is very proba- 
ble, that the day which all the prophets foretold, and all good men 
have, as it were, with outstretched neck, been eagerly looking for, 
is now at hand* 

Do you, therefore, ye brave youths, the hope and desife of the 
reviving church, with eagerness lay hold on this favourable oppor- 
tunity of enriching your minds with all necessary gifts and endow- 
ments. Keep yourselves close night and day at your studies and 
most fervent prayers : He will make the best divine, that studies 
on his knees. And how shall we contend for the truth, or de- 
fend it against the adversaries, if we are destitute of gifts ? Nei- 
ther a good disposition, nor the charms of eloquence, nor a grace- 
ful gesture, nor good manners, can compensate for the want of 

But on the other hand, beware, brethren, lest while the tree 
of knowledge every day thrives and prospers, the tree of life alone 
should languish and become baiTen, as an excellent divine * speaks 
very pertinently. Take care you put not that last, which should 
be first ; and that, again, first, which should be last. Measures 
so perniciously preposterous will be fatal to the whole work of con- 
version. A head well instructed is much to be desired; but a 
sanctified heart is absolutely necessary. " Covet earnestly the best 
*' gifts, and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way," 1 Cor. 
xii. 31. For gifts, let them increase ; but grace, let it outshine 
them all. Let these words of the great apostle take deep root in 
your hearts, 1 Cor. ix. 27. " But I keep under my body, and bring 
<* it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preach- 
*' ed unto others, I myself should be a cast-a-way." For what will 
it profit, to be learned and damned ? It is one thing to be learned 
in the truths of Christ, another to be taught by him, as the truth 
is in Jesus. 

Continually bear in mind this serious warning of our learned 
countryman Reynolds -f-, ' Let us not think much of ourselves, 

* though God should have adorned us with the finest gifts of na- 

* ture, with a lively genius, with an elegant diction, much read- 
' ing, long experience of things, skill in the arts, languages and 

* sciences, solidity of judgment, quickness of understanding, al- 

* most like that of angels, unless at the same time he add to all, 

* the gift of his Spirit to help us to know and delight in the hea- 
' venly mystery. For though by the exercise of those shining ac- 

* complishments, we may procure to ourselves the favour and 

* esteem of men, though from thence great advantage may re- 

* dound to the learned world, and to the church of Christ, yet 

f S> Ford, Ambitio sat. f AruTnaiis Hotm* 


' do thev not all tend to obtain for us either the favour of God, 
' or the reward of heavenly happiness.' May God give you mi- 
nisterial and sanctifying gifts, that you may approve yourselves to 
be defenders of Christ and his rehgion, and firm opposers of his 

But it is time to close this unpohshed and homely letter, which, 
however, I hope you will favourably accept as a testimony of that 
respect due to you from 

Your fillow-servant in 

the gospel of Christy 



X HE worthy author of the discourse emitted herewith, is one 
whose praise in the gospel is throughout all the churches. His 
other books have made his name precious and famous in both Eng~ 
lands. Nor can my testimony add any thing to one every way 
greater than myself. Nevertheless, a singular providence having 
cast my lot to be at present in this great city ; I could not withstand 
the importunity of them who desired a few Prefatory lines to mani- 
fest the respect I owe to this renowned and learned man. 

It was a wise reproof which a grave divine administered to a 
young preacher, who entertained his auditory with an elaborate 
discourse : after he had commended his parts and pains, there was 
(said he) one thing wanting in the sermon ; / could not perceive 
that the Spirit of God was in it. And though inorcdity is good, and 
necessary to be taught and practised, yet it is much to be lament- 
ed, that many preachers in these days have hardly any other dis- 
courses in their pulpit than what we find in Seneca, Epictetus, 
Plutarch, or some such heathen moralist. Christ, the Holy Spirit, 
and (in a word) the gospel is not in their sermons. But blessed be 
God, that there are some (and great is their company in this land 
of light) who preach the truth as it is in Jesus : and he who has 
taken the book out of the right hand of him that sits on the 
throne, and is worthy to open the seals thereof, has been pleased 
in Avonderful ways to set open, and keep open a door of liberty to the 
gospel, that they, unto whom he has given a heart to preach 
Christ, may do it. This is the Lord's doing ; thi» is a Spirit of 

England's duty. 17 

life from God. When Cyrus proclaimed liberty for the free exercise 
of religion, the Lord's servants, who for some years had lain dead, 
were brought out of their graves^ Ezek. xxxvii. 12, 13. 

This treatise is a word in season : God lias made the author to 
be a zvlse master-builder in his house, arid according to the wisdom 
given him of God, he has enlarged on a gospel subject very proper 
to be insisted on at such a day as tl^is. I am informed by un- 
questionable hands, that there was a remarkable pouring out of the 
Spirit when these sermons were viva voce delivei'ed, a great num- 
ber of souls having been brought home to Christ thereby. The Lord 
grant that the second preaching of them to far greater multitudes by 
this way o^ the press, may, by the same Spirit, be made abundantly 
successful for the conversion and salvation of God's elect. The fruit 
brought forth by the holy apostles in respect of the writings of 
some (as well as the doctrine preached by all) of them, does still 
remain. The fruitful labours of this faithful servant of Christ will 
promote the glory of God, and the good of souls, when he himself 
shall cease from his labours, and his works shall follow him. Let 
the Lord's people be thankful to him for that he has sent such a 
labourer into the harvest, and pray that he may be continued long 
therein, and that many such (for there are but few such) may be 
raised up, and be made eminently successful in their holy endea,- 
vours, to the enlargement of the kingdom of Christ, and of God; 
and let him reign in this land for ever and ever, which is the 
heart's desii-e and prayer of one who is 

Less than the least of all saints^ 
London, 1689* 



Rev. iii. 20. 

[Behold] I stand at the door, and knock ; if any man hear my voice^ 
and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and 
he with me. 

i HIS day hath our compassionate Redeemer opened unto us 
a door of liberty ; liberty to us to preach, and hberty for you 
to hear the glad tidings of the gospel. This is a day jfew looked 
for : liow often have I said in the years that are past, God hath 


iio more work for me to do, and I shall have no more strength 
and opportunities to work for God ? And how often have you 
said in your hearts, we have sinned our ministers out of their 
pulpits, and our eyes shall no more behold those omt teachers? 
But lo, bevond the thoughts of most hearts, a wide and (I hope) 
an effectual door is now opened in the midst of us. Oh f that it 
might be to us as the valley of Achor was to Isrstel, for a door of' 
hope, Hos. ii. 15. i. e. not only making the troubles they meet 
with in that valley an inlet to their mercies, as ours have been to 
us ; but giving them that valley pigyioris nomine, as a pledge of 
greater mercies intended for them. Upon the first appearance of 
this mercy, my next thoughts were how to make the most fruit- 
ful improvement of it amongst you, lest we should twice stumble 
at the same stone, and sin ourselves back again into our old 

In the contemplation of this matter, the Lord directed me to this 
scripture, wherein the same hand that opened to you the door of 
liberty, knocks importunately at the doors of your hearts for en- 
trance into them, for tmion and communion with them. It will 
be sad indeed if he that hath let you into all these mercies, should 
himself be shut out of your hearts : but if the Lord should help 
you to open your hearts now to Christ, I doubt not but this door of 
liberty will be kept open to you, how many soever the adversaries 
be that envy it, and will do their utmost to shut it Up, Ezek. xxxix. 
S9. The mercies you enjoy this day, are the fruits of Christ's in- 
tercession with the Father for one trial more : if we bring forth 
fruit, well ; if not, " the ax lieth at the root of the tree.*" Under 
this consideration I desire to preach, and even so the Lorld help you 
to hear what shall be spoken from this precious scripture, Behold, I 
stand at the doo)', and knock, &c. 

These words are a branch of that excellent epistle dictated by 
Christ, and sent by his servant John to the church of Laodicea, the 
most formal, hypocritical, and degenerate of all the seven churches ; 
yet the great Physician will try his skill upon them, both by the re- 
bukes of the rod, verse 19. and by the persuasive power of the 
word ; verse 20, Behold I stand at the door, and knock, &c. 

This text is Christ's wooing voice, full of heavenly rhetoric to 
win and gain the hearts of sinners to himself; wherein we have 
these two general parts. 

1. Christ's suit for a sinner's heart. 

2. The powerful arguments enforcing his suit. 

First, Chrisfs suit for a sinner s heart, wherein we have (1.) 
The solemn preface, ushering it in, behold : (2.) The suit itself. 
The preface is exceeding solemn : for beside the common use of 
this word, behold, in other places, to excite attention, or exaggerate 

and put weight into an affirmation; it stands here, as a judicious 
expositor * notes, as a terrti of notification or public record, wherein 
Christ takes witnesses of the most gracious offer he was now about 
to make to their souls, and will have it stand in perpetuam ret 
memoriam^ as a testimony for or against their souls to all eternity^ 
to cut off" all excuses and pretences for time to come. 
% The suit itself, wherein we have, 

1. The Suitor^ Jesus Christ. 

2. His posture and action ; / stand at the door and Icnock. 
S. The suit itself, which is for opening, rfany man open. 

1. The suitor, Christ himself, / stand ; I that have a right of 
sovereignty over you ; I that have shed my invaluable blood to 
purchase you, and might justly condemn you upon the first denial 
or demur: behold I stand: this is the suiton 

S. His posture and action^ / sta7id at the door, and Tcnocl' ; the 
word is in the f preter tense, I have stood, but being here joined 
with another verb of the present tense, it is fitly translated, / standi 
yet so as that it notes a Continual action^ I have stood, and do still 
Btand \vith unwearied patience ; I once stood personally and bodily 
among you in the days of my flesh, and I still stand spiritually and 
representatively in my ambassadors at the door, i. e. the mina and 
conscience, the faculties and powers which are introductive into the 
whole soul. 

The word door is here properly put to signify those introductive 
faculties of the soul, which are of a like use to it, as the door is to 
the house. This is the Redeemer"*s posture, his action is knocking'^ 
i. e. his I powerful essay and gracious attempts to open the heart to 
give him admission. The word knock signifies a strong and power- 
ful knock ; he stands patiently, and knocks powerfully by the word 
outwardly, by the convictions, motions, impulses, strivings, and 
instigations of his Spirit inwardly. 

3. The design and end of the suit ; it is for openings i. e. coil' 
senting, receivmg, embracing^ and hearty accepting of him by faith. 
Acts xvi. 14. The Lord opened the heart of Lydia, \. e- persuaded 
her soul to believe ; implying, that the heart by nature is strongly 
barred and locked up against Christ , and that nothing but a power 
from him can open it. 

Secondly, The powerful arguments and motives used by Christ 
to obtain his suit, and ^Qi a grant from the sinner's heart ; and thejr 
are drawn from two inestimable benefits accruing to the opening ot 
believing soul, viz. 

• Durham on the place. 

t Es-jjxa. 

X K^sw a X£Pa$ cornu,4:sicJU Jisg^w, ^per sjjncojfen x^SW, 

Vol, IV. B 

20 EXG land's duty. 

1. Union. 

2. Communion with Christ. 

1. Union ; I will come in to him, that is, I will unite myself with 
the opening, believing soul ; he shall be mystically one with me, and 
I ^\ith him. 

2. Communion ; I will sup with him, and he with me ; that is, I 
will feast the believing soul with the delicates of heaven : such 
comforts, such ]oy?,, such pleasures, as none in the world but be- 
lievers are capable of 

And, to set home all, these special benefits are proposed by Christ 
to all sorts of sinners, great and small, old and young ; If any man 
hear my voice and open the door : That so no soul might be dis- 
couraged from believing, by the greatness or multitude of his sins, 
but the vilest of sinners may see free grace triumphing over all their 
unworthiness, upon their consent to take Christ according to the 
gracious offer^s of the gospel. 

The words thus opened, afford many great and useful points of 
doctrine, comprehending in them the very sum and substance of the 
gospel. The first which ariseth from the solemn and remarkable 
preface, Behold, will be this, 

Doct 1, Tliai every offer of Christ to the souls of sinners is recorded 
and zcitnessed ivith respect to the day of account and reckoning. 

Here we shall enquire into three things. 

1. Who are God"'s witnesses to all gospel tenders. 

2. What are the object-matters they witness to. 

3. Why God records every offer of Christ, and takes a wit- 
ness tliereof 

I. Who ai'e God's witnesses to all the tenders and offers made of 
Christ by the gospel, and they will be found to be more than a strict 
legal number; for, 

3 . His ministers, by whom he makes them, are all witnesses as 
well as officers of Christ to the people. Acts xxvi. 16. "I have 
" appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and 
" a witness.'' Here you see ministers have a double office, to pro- 
pose and offer Christ, and then to bear witness for or against those 
to whom he is thus offered: they are expressly called God's witnesses, 
Ilex. xi. 6, 7. Their labours witness, their sufferings witness, their 
solemn appeals to God witness; yea, the very dust of their feet 
shaken off against the refusers of Christ, turns to a testimony against 
them, Mark vi. 11. Every groan and sigh, every drop of sweat, 
much more of blood, are placed in God's book of marginal notes 
by all their sermons and prayers, and will be produced and read in 
the great day against all the refusers and despisers of Christ. 

England's duty. 21 

2. The gospel itself, which is preached to you, is a testimony or 
witness for God, or against every one that hears it ; John xii. 4^. 
** He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that 
" judgeth him ; the Word that I have spoken, the same shall judge 
" him in the last day."" And this is the sense of Christ's word, 
Matth. xxiv. 14. " And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preach- 
" ed in all the world for a witness to all nations, and then shall the 
" end come.'' Ah, Lord, what a solemn record is hero ! every 
sermon you hear, yea, every reproof, persuasion, and conviction, is 
a ^\4tness for God to cast and condenm every soul in judgment that 
complies not immediately with the calls of the gospel : so many 
sermons, so many witnesses. 

3. Every man's conscience is a witness for God, that he hath a 
fair offer once made him : the very consciences of the Heathens 
that never saw a Bible, that had no other preachers but the sun, 
moon, and stars, and other works of nature ; yet of them the apos- 
tle saitli, Rom. ii. 15. " That they shew the work of the law 
" written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing them wit- 
" ness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing 
" one another." Certainly if such vigour and activity was put 
into the consciences of Heathens, who could only read the will of 
God by the dim moon-light of natural reason ; how much more vi- 
gorous and active will conscience be in its accusing office against all 
that live under the bright beams of gospel-light ? Their consciences 
will be swift witnesses, and will ring sad peals in their ears another 
day, Ezek. ii. 5. " You shall know that there hath been a prophet 
" among you." This single witness is instead of a thousand wit- 
nesses for God. 

4- The examples of all those that do believe and obey the gos- 
pel, are so many witnesses for God against the despisers and neg- 
iecters of the great salvation. Every mourning, trembling soul 
among you is a witness against all the dead-hearted, unbelieving, 
disobedient ones, that sit with them under the same ordinances. 
Hence it is said, 1 Cor. vi. 2. " Know ye not that the saints shall 
" judge the world .?" They shall be assessors with Christ in the 
great day, and condemn the world for their examples, as Noali did 
the old world. Thus John, Matth. xxi. 32. came unto you in the 
i^ay of righteousness, and ye believed him not, hut the publicans and 
ftarlots believed him; and ye when ye had seen it, repented not 
afterwards that ye might believe him, q. d. What shift do you 
make to quiet your consciences, and stifle your convictions, when you 
saw ptiblicans, the worst of men, and harlots, the worst of women, 
tepenting, believing, and hungering after Christ ! their examples 
shall be your judges. These are God's witnesses. 


2S' England's duty. 

II. Next let us consider what are the object matter unto which 
they give their testimony, and that will be found two-fold, accord- 
ing to the two-fold event the gospel hath upon them that hear it : 
of both which the apostle gives this account, 9. Cor. ii. 16. " Unto 
" some we are the savour of life unto life, and unto others the 
" savour of death unto death." Accordingly a double record is made. 

1. Of the obedience and faith of some, which record ^vill be pro- 
duced to their joy and comfort in the day of the Lord ; when he 
shall come to he glorified in his saints^ and to be admired in all thsm 
that believe ; because our testimoiiy among you was believed in that 
day. Ministers are instruments of espousing souls to Christ, and 
ivitnesses to those espousals and contracts made betwixt him and 
them, 2 Cor. xi. 2. Both these offices are exceeding grateful and 
pleasant to every faithful minister. 

2. A record is made, and witness taken of all the refusals, dis- 
obedience and sligh tings of Christ by others. Thus Moses will be 
the accuser of the Jews, John v. 45. " Do not think I will accuse 
*' you to the Father ; there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, 
" in whom you trust.'"* This is the saddest part of a minister's 
work; the fore-thoughts of it are more afflictive than all our 
labours and sufferings. There is a three-fold record made in this 
case: (1.) Of the time men have enjoyed under the means of 
salvation ; how many years they have sat barren and dead-hearted 
under the labours of God's faithful ministers ; Luke xiii. 7. " Be- 
** hold these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and 
*' find none." Behold, the same term of notification with that in 
the text, applied to the time of God's patience towards them. And 
again, Jer. xxv. 3. " From the thirteenth year of Josiah, even 
" unto this day, (that is, the three and twentieth year) the word 
'' of the Lord hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you 
'' rising early, and speaking, but ye have not hearkened." O con- 
sider, all the years and days you have spent under the gospel, are 
upon your doomsday book. (5.) Records are also made of all the 
instruments that ever God employed for the conversion and salva- 
tion of your souls. So many ministers, whether fixed or transient, 
as have spent their labours upon you, are upon the book of your 
account. Jer. xxv. 4. " The Lord hath sent unto you all his 
** servants, the prophets, rising early, and sending them ; but ye 
** have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear." They 
have wasted their lungs, dropt their compassionate tears, and burnt 
down one after another, as candles to direct you to Christ and 
salvation, but all in vain. (3.) Every call, persuasion and argument, 
used by them to espouse you to Christ, is likewise upon the book of 
account. Prov. i. 24, 25. " Because I have called and ye refused, 
" I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded ; but ye have 


" set at nought all my counsels, and would none of my reproof/"' 
These calls and counsels are of too great value with God (though 
of none with you) to he lost and left out of your account. 

III. We shall, in the last place, inquire into the grounds and 
reasons of these judicial procedures of God, why he will have every 
man's obedience and disobedience registered, and witnessed for or 
against him, under gospel administrations; and there are two 
weighty reasons thereof. 

1. That wherever the end of the gospel is attained in the con- 
version of any soul, that soul, and all that were instrumentally em- 
ployed about the salvation of it, may have the proper reward and 
comfort in the great day, 2 Cor. i. 14. " As also you have ac- 
" knowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye 
*' also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus." This will be matter 
of joy unspeakable, both to you that shall receive, and to them 
that shall give such a comfortable testimony for you. O the joyful 
congratulations that will be in that day between laborious, faitnful 
ministers, and their believing, obedient hearers ! Lord, this was 
the blessed instrument of my happy illumination and conversion ; 
though I might have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet not 
many fathers ; for by the blessing of thy Spirit upon this man's 
ministry, my soul was begotten to Christ. And, on the other 
side ; Lord, these are the souls for whom I travailed, as in birth, 
until Christ was formed in them. It is a glorious thing to say, as 
the prophet, " Here am I, and the children God hath given me.'' 

Nay, those that were but collaterally useful to help on the work 
of God begun by others, must not lose their reward in that day. 
John iv. 36. " And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth 
" fruit unto eternal life, that both he that soweth and he that 
*' reapeth may rejoice together." 

2. Records are now made, and witnesses taken, that thereby 
the judicial sentence of Jesus Christ in the last day may be made 
clear and perspicuous to all the world ; that every mouth may be 
stopped, and no plea, or apology left in the mouth of any con- 
demned sinner. For Christ, in that day cometh, Jude 15. to 
convince all that are ungodly ; to convince by demonstration, that 
all that are Christless now, may be found speechless then, Matth. 
xxii. 12. Hence it is said, Psal. i. 5. That the wicked shall not 
stand, or rise up in judgment. And no wonder, when so many 
full testimonies, and unexceptionable witnesses shall come point 
blank against them, the ministers that preached, the word they 
preached, their own consciences, and the examples of all believers 
will be produced against them. 

1*^ Inference. The undoubted certainty of a day of judgment is 
hence evinced. To what purpose else are records made, ami witness. 



ses taken, but with respect to an audit-day ? This is a truth sealed 
upon the conscience of the very heathens, Rom. ii. 15. Their con- 
sciences bear witness. But in vain are all these records made, un- 
less there be a day to produce and plead them ; and of that day 
the prophet Daniel speaks, Dan. vii. 10. " The judgment was set, 
*' and the books were opened." And again. Rev. xx. 12. " And 
'* I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the 
''- books were opened, and another book was opened which is the 
*^ book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things 
'' which were written in the book, according to their works.'' 

Believe it, friends, these are no devised fables, but most awful 
and infallible truths ; according to the saving effects the gospel 
now hath, it will be a time of refreshing to our souls, Acts iii. 19. 
to all others a day of terror, wrath, and amazement, 2 Thess. i. 7, 
8. " The day in which the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from hea- 
*' ven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, taking vengeance on 
^' them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our 
*' Lord Jesus Christ. 

^d Infer. What a spur is here to ministerial diligence andjaitli- 
J'ulness ? It is an awful work that is under our hands ; the eifects 
of the gospel which we preach, will be the savour of life or death to 
them that hear us. If the Lord prosper it in our hands, we shall 
be Avitnesses for you, it \vill be an addition to our glory in heaven ; 
Dan. xii. 3. " They that turn many to righteousness, shall shine 
<' as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever and 
" ever." But if we be ignorant, lazy, men-pleasers, our people 
will come in as swift \vitnesses against us, and their blood will be 
required at our hands ; it will be an intolerable aggravation to our 
misery in hell, to have any that sat under our ministry thus up- 
braiding us ! O cruel man I thou sazvest my soul in danger, and 
never dealtst faithfully and plainly with me ; the sa^ne time and 
hreath that was spent in idle and worldly discourse, might have been 
instrumental to have saved me from this place of torment. Let minis- 
ters consider themselves as witnesses for God, and their people as 
witnesses for or against them ; and under that consideration, so study, 
preach and pray, that they may with Paul take God to record, that 
they are free from the blood of all men ; no sort of men upon earth 
have more spurs to diligence and faithfulness than we have. 

^d Infer. What a pill is this to purge formality out of all that 
hear us ; Every sabbath, every sermon, is recorded in heaven for 
or against your souls ; at what rate soever you attend to the word, 
all that you hear is set down in the book of your account : think not 
you shall return as you came, the word will have its effect and end, 
it shall not return in vain, Isa. Iv. 11. but shall accomplish the 
end for which it is sent. The decrees of heaven are executed by 


the gospel, some souls shall be quickened, and others shall be slain 
by the word of God's mouth. The gospel is a river of the waters 
of life, which quickens and refreshes every thing that lives ; but 
the miry and marshy places shall not be healed. How weighty 
therefore is that caution of our Lord, Luke viii. 18. Take heed how 
you hear ! When you come under an ordinance, you are sowing 
seed for eternity, which will spring up in the world to come. 
Preaching and hearing may be considered two ways, phT/sicaUi/ or 
morally ; in the former respect, these acts are quickly over ai/J pass 
away. I shall by and by have done preaching, and you hearing ; 
this sermon will be ended in a little time, but the consequences 
thereof will abide for ever ! Therefore, for the Lord's sake, away 
with formality ; no more drowsy eyes or wandering thoughts. Oh, 
when you come to attend upon the ministry of the gospel, that such 
thoughts as these might prepare your minds ! The word I am go- 
ing to hear will quicken or kill, save or damn my soul ; if I sit dead 
under it, and return barren from it, I shall wish one day that I 
had never seen the face of that minister, nor heard his voice that 
preached it. 

^th Infer. What a dreadful conditiori are all those in that are real 
and professed enemies to the gospel^ and them that preach it! That 
instead of embracing and obeying the message of the gospel, reject 
and despise it ; instead of opening their hearts to receive it, open 
their blasphemous mouths against it, to deride it, and hiss it (if it 
were possible) out of the world. Ah ! what a book of remembrance 
is written for such men.? I fear there never was an age, since 
Christianity blessed this nation, that was more deeply drenched in 
the guilt of this sin than the present age. How are the messengers 
of the gospel slighted and rejected ? What have we done to de- 
serve it ? Is not our case this day much like that of the prophet ? 
" Shall evil be recompensed for good ? For they have digged £^ 
" pit for my soul ; remember that I stood before thee to speak 
" good for them, and to turn away thy wrath from them,"" Jer. 
xviii. 20. What brutish madness hath possessed the souls of the se 
men ? But alas ! it is not so much they, as Satan acting in them ; 
he is a jealous prince, the gospel alarms him, his subjects are in 
danger of revolting from him : no wonder therefore he makes an 
outcry at the liberty of the gospel, as is used to be made when 
an enemy invades a kingdom. In this case Christ directs his mi- 
nisters to shake off the dust of their feet for a testimony against 
them, Mark vi. 11. The signification and meaning whereof is 
this, that look as you shake off the dust of your feet, even so Jesus 
Christ will shake qf those men that despise the gospel, and abuse 
his messengers. 

6th Infer. Hence it Hkewise follows, Tliat the case of the Pagan 

B 4 

26 enola^d's duty. 

world will he easier in the day of judgment^ than tJieirs tJmt live and 
die unrcgenerate and disobedient under the gospel of Christ. There 
are more witnesses prepared, and records filled against the day of 
your account, than can possibly be against them ; they have abused 
but one talent, the light of nature ; but we thousands, even as many 
thousands as we have had opportunities and calls under the gospel. 
Upon this account Christ saith, " Whosoever shall not receive 
*' you, nor hear your words, shake off the dust of your feet. Ve- 
*' rily, I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of 
*' Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that 
*^ city," M-at. X. 14, 15. 

Ah, what a fearful aggravation doth it put upon our sin and 
misery, that we are not only accountable for all the light we had, 
but for all that we might have had in the gospel-day ! Capernaum 
was lifted up to heaven in the enjoyment of means and precious 
opportunities, Mat. xi. S3, and had an answerable downfal into 
the depth of misery from that height of mercy ; as the higher any 
one is hfted up upon a rack, the more terrible is the jerk he receives 
by the fall. 

Qth Infer. La^stly^ Hence it appears. That the day of judgment 
must certainly take up a vast space of time: For if God will bring 
every thing into judgment, Eccl. xii. 14. not only sinful actions, but 
words, Matth. xii. 36. not only words, but heart-secrets, Rom, 
ii> 16. If all the records and registers now made, shall then ba 
opened and read ; all the witnesses for or against every man exa- 
mined and heai'd; judge then what a vast space of time will that 
great day take up. Some divines zire of opinion it may last as long 
as the world hath lasted ; but this is sure, things will not be hud- 
led up, nor shuffled over in haste : you have taken your time for 
sinning, and God will take his time for judging. 

Consider the multitudes, multitudes without number, that are 
to be judged in that day, even all the posterity of Adaip, which 
are as the sand upon the sea-shore ; that not only so many per* 
sons, but all that they have done, must come into judgment, even 
the very thoughts of their hearts, which never came to the know- 
ledge of men : their consciences to be interrogated, all other wit- 
nesses fully heard and examined : how great a day must this day of 
the Lord then be .^ 

The second Use. 

But the main use of this pomt will be for exhortation, that seeing 
all the offers of Christ are recorded, and witnessed, with respect to 
a day of account, every one of you would therefore immediately em- 
brace the present gracious tender of Christ in the gospel, as ever 
you expect to be acquitted and cleared in that great day : take heed 

EXGLAXij'« DUTY. 27 \ 

of denials;, nay of delays and demurs. " For if the word spoken 
*' by angels was stcdfast, and every transgression and disobedience 
<« received a just recompence of reward ; how shall we escape if 
" we neglect so great a salvation ?" Heb. ii. 2, 3. The question 
is put, but no answer made ; How shall we escape ? The wisdom of 
men and angels cannot tell how. To enforce this exhortation, I 
shall present you with ten weighty considerations upon the matter, 
which the Lord follow home, by tlic blessing of his spirit upon all 
your hearts. 

1. Consider how invaluable a mercy it is that you are yet within 
tJie reach of offered grace. The mercies that stand in offer before 
you tliis day, were never set before the angels that fell ; no mediator 
was ever appointed for them. O astonishing mercy ! that those 
vessels of gold should be cast into everlasting fire, and such clay 
vessels as we are, thus put into a capacity of greater happiness than 
ever they fell from ; nay, the mercy that stands before you is not 
only denied to the angels that fell, but to the greatest part of your 
fellow-creatures of the same rank and dignity with you : " He 
** sheweth his word to Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto 
*' Israel, he hath not dealt so with any other nation, and as for his 
'' judgments they have not known them : Praise ye the Lord,'' 
Psal. cxlvii. 19, 20. A mercy deservedly celebrated with a joyful 
Alleliijah. What vast tracts are there in the habitable world, 
where the name of Christ is unknown ! it is your special mercy to 
be born in a land of bibles and ministers, where it is as difficult 
for you to avoid and shun the light, as it is for others to behold 
and enjoy it. 

2. Consider the nature^ weight, and worth of the mercies whicJtr 
are this day freely offered you. Certainly they are mercies of the 
first rank, the most ponderous, precious, and necessary among all 
the mercies of God. Christ the first-born of mercies, and in him 
pardon, peace, and eternal salvation are set before you^ it were 
astonishing to see a starving man refusing offered bread, or a con- 
demned man a gracious pardon. Lord ! what a composition of 
sloth and stupidity are we, that we should need so many entreaties 
to be happy. 

3. Consider who it is that makes these gracious tenders^ of par-^ 
don, peace, and salvation, to you ; even that God whom you have sof 
deeply wronged, whose laws you have violated, whose mercies yom 
have spurned, and wlwse wrath you have justly incensed. His pa^ 
tience gi-oans under the burden of your daily provocations ; he 
loses nothing if you be damned, and receives no benefit if you be 
saved ; yet the first motions of mercy and salvation to you freely 
arise out of his grace and good pleasure. God intreats you to be 
reconciled, 2 Cor. v. 20. The blessed Lord Jesus, whose blood 

28 exglaxd's duty. 

thy sins have shed, now freely offers that blood for thy reconcilia- 
tion, justification, and salvation, if thou wilt but sincerely accept 
him ere it be too late. 

4. Reflect ser'wuslij upon your own vileness^ to whom such gracU 
oiis offers of peace and mercy are made. Thy sins have set thee at 
as great a distance from the hopes and expectations of pardon, as 
any sinner in the world. Consider man, what thou hast been, 
what thou hast done, and what vast heaps of guilt thou hast con- 
tracted by a life of sin : and yet that unto thee pardon and peace 
should be offered in Christ after such a life of rebellion, how asto- 
nishing is the mercy ? the Lord is contented to pass by all thy former 
rebellions, thy deep-dyed transgressions, and to sign an act of obli- 
\aon for all that is past, if now at last thy heart relent for sin, and 
thy will bow in obedience to the great commands and calls of the 
gospel, Isa. Iv. 2, &c. and i. 18. 

5. Consider how many offers of mercy you have already refused^ 
and that every refusal is recorded against you: how long have you 
tried, and even tried the patience of God already, and that this may 
be the last overture of grace that ever God will make to your souls. 
Certainly there is an offer that will be the last offer, a striving of the 
Spirit which will be his last striving ; and after that no more offers 
without you, no more motions or strivings within you for ever- 
more. The treaty is then ended, and your last neglect or rejec- 
tion of Christ recorded against the day of your account ; and what 
if this should prove to be that last tender of grace which must con- 
clude the treaty betwixt Christ and you f What undone wTetches 
must you then be, with whom so gracious a treaty breaks off upon 
such dreadful terms. 

6. Consider well the reasonahle^ mild, and gracious nature of the 
gcspeUtcrms, on which life and jmrdon are offered to you, Acts xx. 
21. The gospel requires nothing of you but repentance and faith. 
Can you think it hard when a prince pardons a rebel, to require him 
to fall upon his knee?, and stretch forth a willing and thankful 
hand to receive his pardon ? Your repentance and faith are much 
of the same nature. Here is no legal satisfaction required at your 
hands, no reparation of the injured law by your doings or suffer- 
ings, but a hearty sormw for sins committed, sincere purposes and 
endeavours after new obedience, and a hearty, thankful accepta- 
tion of Christ your Saviour ; and for your encouragement herein, 
lis Spirit stands ready to furnish you with powers and abilities ; 
'' Turn ye at my reproof; behold I will pour out my Spirit unto 
** you, I will make known my words unto you,"* Prov. i. 23. 
\nd Isa. xxvi. 12. " Lord, thou hast wrought all our works in 
f us." 

\ 7. Again, Cgnsider how your way to Christy hy repentance and faith ^ 

England's duty. S9 

is beaten before you^ by thousands of sinners for your encouragement. 
You are not the first that ever adventured your souls in this path ' 
multitudes are gone before you, and that under as much guilt, fear, 
and discouragement as you that come after can pretend unto ; and 
not a man among them repulsed or discouraged : here they have 
found rest and peace to their weary souls, Heb. iv. 3. Acts xiii. 39. 
Here the greatest of sinners have been set forth for an ensample to 
you that should afterwards believe on his name, 1 Tim. i. 1.6. 
You see if you will not, others will joyfully accept the offers of 
Christ ; what discouragements have you that they had not ? Or 
what greater encoiu*agements had they which God hath not given 
you this day? therefore they shall be your judges, 

8. Consider the great hazard of these precious seasons you now 
enjoy. Opportunity is the golden spot of time, but it is tempus labile^ 
a very slippery and uncertain thing : great and manifold are the 
hazards and contingencies attending it. Your life is immediately 
uncertain, your breath continually going in your nostrils ; and that 
which is every moment going, will be gone at last. The gospel is 
as imcertain as your life ; God hath made no such settlement of it, 
but that he may at pleasure remove it, and will certainly do so if we 
thus trifle under it ; it is but a candlestick, though a golden one. 
Rev. ii. 5. and that you all know is a moveable thing ; and not 
only your life, and the means of your eternal life, I mean the gos- 
pel, are uncertain things ; but even the motions and strivings of 
the Spirit with your souls are as uncertain as either. ^' Work out 
" your own * alvation with fear and trembling ; for it is God that 
" worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure," 
Phil. ii. 12, 13. That God now works ^vath you is matter of great 
encouragement to your work : but that he works at his own plea- 
sure, as a free arbitrary agent, who can cease when he pleases, and 
never give but one knock at your hearts more, should make you 
work with fear and trembling. 

9. ThinJc what a fearful aggravation it will be both of your sin 
and misery^ to perish in the sight and presence of an offered remedy ; 
to sink into hell betwixt the out-stretched arms of a compassionate 
Redeemer^ that would have gathered you, but you woidd not. 

Heathens, yea devils will upbraid you in hell for such unac- 
countable folly and desperate madness ; heathens will say, Alas, 
we had but the dim moon-light of nature, which did indeed dis- 
cover sin, but not Christ the remedy. Ah, had your preachers and 
your bibles been sent among us, how gladly would we have em- 
braced them! surely saith God to Ezekicl,' " had I sent thee to 
<=* them, they would have hearkened unto thee,'"* Ezek. iii. 5, 6. 
Matth. xi. i\. The very devils will upbraid you ; O if God had 

30 i:ncla>;d's duty. 

sent a Mediator in our nature, we had never rejected him as you 
have done ; but he took not on him the nature of angels. 

10. Lastly, How clear as well as sure, will your condemnation he in 
the great day, against zvhom suck a cloud of witnesses will appear ! 
O how manifest will the righteousness of God be ! men and angels 
ishall applaud the sentence, and your own consciences shall ac- 
knowledge the equity of it. You that are christless now, will be 
speechless then, Matth. xxii. 11, " Knowing therefore the terrors 
*' of the Lord, we persuade men," 2 Cor. v. 11. as one that trem- 
bles to think of being summoned as a witness against any of your 
souls. O that I might be your rejoicing, and you mine in the day 
of pur Lord Jesus Christ. 


Rev. iii. SO. 
Behold [/] stand at the door, &c. 

JH.AVING, in the former sermon, pondered Christ's soiemn 
preface to his earnest suit ; the next thing that comes under our 
consideration, is the person soliciting and pleading for admission into 
the hearts of sinners, which is Christ himself. 

Behold [/] stand. The only difficulty here is rightly to appre* 
hend the manner of Christ's presence in gospel administrations ; for 
it is manifest the person of Christ was at this time in heaven : his 
bodily presence was removed from this lower world above sixty 
years before this epistle was written to the Laodiceans. John's ba- 
nishment into Patmos is by Eusebius, out of Irenaeus and Clemens 
Alexandrinus, placed in the fourteenth year of tjie emperor Domi- 
tian, and under his second persecution, which was about tJie ninety 
seventh year from the birth of Christ. 

Yet here he saith, BeJwld I stand ; not my messengers and mi- 
nisters only, but I by my spiritual presence among you, I your sove- 
reign Lord and owner, who have all right and authority by crea- 
tion and redemption to possess and dispose of your souls : it is I that 
stands at the door and knocks, I by my Spirit, soliciting and moving 
by the ministry of men. You see none but men ; but believe it, 
I am really and truly, though spiritually and invisibly, present in all 
those administrations ; all those knocks, motions, and solicitations, 
are truly mine, they are my acts, and I own them, and so I would 
have you to conceive and apprehend them. Hence the second Note 
is this. 

Doct. ^i That Sesus Christ is truly present with men in his ordl* 
nances., and hath to do with them, and they with him ; though 
he be not visible to their carnal eyes. 

Thus runs the plx)mise ; " Where two or three areJ gathered to- 
« gether in my name, there am I in the midst of them,^ Mat. xviii^ 
20, The middle place was the seat of the president in the Jewish 
assembhes, where he might equally hear and be heard of all. So 
will I be in the midst of the assemblies of the faithful, met together 
in my name and by my authority, to bless, guide, and protect them. 
Hence the church is called the place of his feet, Isaiah xvi. 13. 
a manifest allusion to the ark^ called God's footstool, Psal. xcix. 5. 
And agreeably hereunto, Christ is said to walk among the seven 
golden candlesticks. Rev. ii. 1. There are the spiritual walks of 
Christ, there his converses and communion with men : and this pre- 
sence of Christ was not the pecuhar privilege of the first churches, 
but is common to all the churches of the saints to the end of the 
world, as appears by that glorious promise so comfortably extended 
to the church from first to last; " Lo, I am with you always to the 
'< end of the world,"" Mat. xxii. ult. This promise is the ground 
and reason of all our faith, and expectations of benefit from ordi- 
nances ; and the subjects of it are not here considered personally but 
officially ; to you, and all that succeed you in the same work and 
office ; not to you only as extraordinary, but to all the succeeding 
ordinary standing officers in my church. As for the apostles, nei- 
ther their persons nor extraordinary office was to continue long, but 
this promise was to continue to the end of the world. 

Nor is this promise made absolutely, but conditionally ; the con- 
nection of the promise with the command, enforces this qualified 
sense ; as 2 Chron. xv. 2. " The Lord is with you, whilst you Bxe 
" with him."" Ignorant, idle, unqualified persons cannot claim the 
benefit of this gracious grant. 

Once more, this promise is made to every hour and minute of 
time. I am with you, all the days, as it is in the Greek tewt ; in 
dark and dangerous, as well as peaceable and encouraging days : 
and it is closed up with a solemn Amen, So he it, or. So it shall be. 

To open this point distinctly, we are to consider that there is a 
threefold presence of Christ. 

1. Corporeal. % Represented, 3. Spiritual. 

1. There is a corporeal presence of Christ, which the church 
once enjoyed on earth, when he went in and out amongst his 
people. Acts i. 21. when their eyes saw him, and their hands 
handled him, 1 John i. 1. This presence was a singular consola- 
tion to the disciples, and therefore they were greatly dejected 
when it was to be removed from them. But after redemption- 

S^ England's duty. 

^ork was finished on earth, this bodily presence was no longer 
necessary to be continued in this world, but more expedient to be 
removed to heaven, John x\i. 7. as indeed it was> and must there 
abide until the time of the restitution of all things, Acts iii. 21. 
And in this respeet he tells the disciples, John xvi. 28. " I leave 
*' the worid, and go to my Father.'"* 

2. There is a represented presence of Christ in ordinances. As 
the person of a king is represented in another country by his Am- 
bassado7\s, so is Christ in this world by his ministers : " We then 
" are ambassadors for God ; as though God did beseech you by us, 
*' we pray you in Christ's stead be ye reconciled to God," 2 Cor. v. 
20. Christ is about other work for us in heaven, but we stand in 
his stead on earth. And this speaks the great dignity of the mini- 
sterial office ; whatever abuses or contempts are cast on them, they 
reflect upon Christ : " He that despiseth you despiseth me," Luke 
X. 16. It also teacheth us whence the validity of gospel-administra- 
tions is ; Christ ratifies and confirms them with his own authority. 
It also instructs us how wise, spiritual, and holy ministers should 
be, who represent Christ to the world. A drunkard, a persecutor, 
a sensual worldhng, is but an ill representative of the blessed and 
holy Jesus. 

3. Besides, and above the two former, there is a spiritual presence 
of Christ in the churches, and ordinances; and this presence of 
Christ by his Spirit, who is his Vicegerent, is to be considered as that 
from which all gospel-ordinances derive, 

1. Their beauty and glory. 

2. Their power and efficacy. 

3. Tlieir awful solemnity. 

4. Their continuance and stability. 

1. From the presence of Christ by his Spirit, the ordinances and 
churches derive their beauty and glory : " To see thy power and 
" thy glory, as I have seen thee in the sanctuary," Psal. xxvii. 
4. Look as the beauty of the body is a result from the soul that 
animates it : and when the soul is gone, the beauty of the body is 
gone also; so the beauty and glory of all ordinances come and 
go with the Spirit of Christ, which is the very soul of them. 
The churches are indeed golden candlesticks, but the candlestick 
hath no light but what the candle gives it ; hence that magnificent 
description of the new temple is closed up in this expression, " The 
" name of that city shall be. The Lord is there," Ezek. xlviii. ult. 

2. From this spiritual presence of Christ, all gospel-ordinance* 
derive all that power and efficacy which is by them exerted upon 
the souls of men, either in their conversion or edification. This 
power is not inherent in them, nor do they act as natural, necessary 
agents, but as instituted means, which are successful, or unsuccess- 

England's duty. S$ 

ful according as Christ by his Spirit co-operates with them : " He 
" that planteth is nothing, neitlier he that watereth, but God that 
" giveth the increase," 1 Cor. iii. 7. That is, they are nothing to 
tlie purpose, nothing to the accompUshment of men's salvation, 
without the concurrence of the Spirit of Christ For when the 
apostle makes himself and Apollos, ^^dth all other ministers, nothing, 
we must understand him speaking not absolutely, but comparatively, 
and relatively ; they are necessary in their places, and sufficient in 
their kind, for what they are appointed to, else it would be a re- 
flection upon the wisdom of God that instituted them: But singly 
in themselves, and disjunctively considered, they are nothing ; as 
a trumpet or wind-instrument is nothing, as to its end and use, 
except breath be inspired into it, and that breath modulated by the 
art and skill of the inspirer ; like Ezekiel's wheels that moved not 
but as the Spirit that was in them moved, and directed their 
motions. If ordinances wrought upon souls naturally and neces- 
sarily, as the fire burnetii, then they could not fail of success upon 
all that come under them : But it is with them as it was with the 
waters of the pool at Bethesda, whose healing virtue was only found 
at that season when the angel descended and troubled them, 

3. This spiritual presence of Christ gives the ordinances of the 
gospel that awful solemnity wliich is due, upon that accoimt, to 
them. The presence of Christ in them commands reverence from 
all that are about him. " God is greatly to be feared in the 
" assemblies of his saints, and to be had in reverence of all that are 
" round about him C hence is that solemn caution or threatening. 
Lev. xxvi. 23, 24. " If you walk contrary unto me, then ^vill I 
" also walk contrary unto you." The Hebrew word in that text 
signifies to walk rashly, or at an adventure with God, sine personoe 
discrimine, without considering with whom we have to do, and what 
an awful majesty we stand before. And the punishment is suitable 
to the sin ; I also will walk at an adventure with you, making no 
discrimination in my judgments betwixt your persons and the 
persons of tlie worst of men. O that this were duly considered by 
all that have to do with God in gospel-institutions ! 

4. It is the spiritual presence of Christ in his churches and 
ordinances that gives them their continuance and stability : whenever 
the Spirit of Christ departs from them, it will not be long before 
they depart from us ; or if they should not, their continuance will 
be little to our advantage. When the glory of the Lord descend- 
ed from betwixt the cherubims, when that sad voice was heard ia 
the temple, migremus hinc. Let us go hence, how soon was botli 
city and temple made a desolation ! and truly Christ's presence 
is noi so fixed to any place, or any ordinances, but the sins of 
the people may banish it away, Rev. ii. 5. Who will tarry 

54 England's doty. 

in any place longer than he is welcome, if he have any \rhere els^ 
to go ? 

But more particularly, let us here di'5cuss these two points. 

I. How it appears Christ is thus spiritually present with his 
churches and ordinances. 

II. Why it is necessary he should be so. 

First, By what e\"idence doth it manifestly appear that there is 
such a presence of Christ with his churches and ordinances. And 
this will appear by two undeniable evidences thereof. 

1. By their wonderful preservations. 

2. From their supernatural effects. 

1. From their wonderful preservations : For it is wholly tinac- 
countable, and inconceivable, how the churches, ministers and 
ordinances should be supported and preserved without it, amidst 
such hosts of potent and enraged enemies. If Christ were not 
among them, they had certainly been swallowed up long ago. It 
is he that holds the stars in his right-hand. Rev. ii. 1. His walking 
among the seven golden candlesticks is their best security. The 
burning bush, Exod. iii. 3. is a rare emblem to open this mystery ; 
the bush burned with fire, but was not consumed. The busJi was 
a resemblance of the church of God in Eg^^pt, the flames upon it 
were their terrible persecution ; the wonder, that no ashes appeared 
as the effects of those terrible flames ; the reason whereof was, God 
was in the bush, Jesus Christ was in the midst of his people. 

By virtue of this presence we are here this day, in the enjoyment 
of gospel liberties; no society of men in the world have such 
security as the church hath upon this account. The mightiest 
monarchies have been overturned, no policies nor human power 
could preserve them ; but the church and ordinances are still pre- 
served, and shall ever be, by virtue of that gracious promise, Jer. 
XXX. 11. "For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save theer 
•' Though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered 
" thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee." 

The Babylonian, Persian, Grecian monarchies, have destroy- 
ed and ruined one another : 

Sic Medus ademit 

AssyriOi Syroqiie tulit moderamlna Perses, &,-€. 
but still the church of Christ Hfts up its head, and beholds their ruins- 

2. This presence of Christ in and with his ordinances is unde- 
niably evinced from their supernatural effects upon the souls of 
men, ^ Cor. x. 4. " The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, 
'' but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds."" 
It is the Spirit of Christ that gives them their success and efficacy ;, 
the sword of the gospel hath its point and edge, but it is impossible 
the heart of a stupid, hardened sinner should ever be pricked of 


wounded by it, if the Spirit of Christ did not manage it. When 
sinners fall down convinced under the authority of the word, they 
feel, and readily acknowledge that God is in it of a truth, 1 Cor. 
xiv. 25. Ruffinus reports, that at the council of Nice, a godly 
man of no great learning, was the instrument of converting a 
learned philosopher, whom the bishops with all their arguments 
could not persuade : of which the philosopher himself gave this re- 
markable account, ' Whilst you reasoned with me (said he) against 

* words, I opposed words, and what was spoken I overthrew by the 

* art of speaking ; but when instead of words power came out of 

* the mouth of the speaker, words could no longer withstand 

* truth, nor man resist the power of God/ 

And this, indeed, is the true and just account of all those mar- 
vellous and gracious changes made upon the souls of men by the 
preaching of the gospel : can the vanishing breath of a dying man, 
think you, inspire spiritual and eternal life into the souls of other 
men ? Can he search the conscience, break the heart, and bow 
the will at this rate.? No, this is the power and operation of 
Christ ; and of that presence we must say, saith a reverend author*, 
as Martha did to her Saviour concerning the death of her brother 
Lazarus, John xi. 21. " Lord if thou hadst been here, my bro- 
•* ther had not died." So say I, If that presence and power of 
Christ were felt by all, which hath been certainly experienced and 
felt by many, they would not remain in the state of spiritual death 
as they do. But though there be thousands under ordinances that 
never felt this power of Christ upon them, yet blessed be God there 
are also multitudes of witnesses and evidences of this truth, that 
there is a real, spiritual, energetical presence of Christ in his o^v^l 
appointments ; which was the first thing to be evinced. 

Secondly, The second thing requiring explication, is the uses 
and ends which make such a presence of Christ necessary. And 
they are, 

1. To preserve and support his ministers and churches amidst 
fuch hosts of potent and enraged enemies : this presence of Christ, 
is as a wall of fire round about them. It was the Divine presence 
with Jeremiah that was as a life-guard to him against the rage of 
the princes and nobles of Israel; Jer. xv. 20, 21. "I will make 
" thee to this people a fenced brazen wall, and they shall fight 
" against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee ; for I am 
" with thee to save thee, and to deliver thee, saith the Lord : and 
" I will dehver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will re- 
" deem thee out of the hand of the terrible.*' 

It was easier for the Roman army to scale the walls, and batter 

r - ■ • . — - I.I 

* Mr. Burgess on 1 Cor. ill. 

Vol. IV, C 

86 exgland'^s duty. 

down the towers of Jerusalem, than for all the enemies in Jeriisa* 
lem to destroy this prophet of God, thus immured by the Divine 
presence. Athanasius and Luther had the power of the empire en* 
gaged against them, yet the presence of Christ was their security. 
The witnesses could not be slain till they had finished their testi- 
mony, Rev. xi. 7. To this presence alone the faithful witnesses 
of Christ owe their marvellous preservation at this day ; had not 
Christ said, Zo, / am with you, you had not said at this day, be- 
hold our ministers are still with us. 

2. The presence of Christ is necessary to assist and enable his 
ministers in their work, for it is a work quite above their owtv 
strength ; it is well we are workers together with God, else we 
should soon faint under our labours. When Moses objected, 
/ am not eloquent, the Lord told him, / will he with thy mouth, 
Exod. iv. 10. When God guides the tongue, how powerful and 
persuasive must the language be ! when the apostles, illiterate men, 
were sent out to convert the world, Christ promised to give them 
a mouth and wisdom, Luke xxi. 15. a mouth to speak, and wisdom 
to guide that mouth ; and then their words were demonstrations ; 
all their adversaries could not resist that Spirit and power by which 
they spake. Empires, and kingdoms full of enemies, received the 
gospel ; but the reason of this wonderful success is given us in Mark 
xvi. XX. " They went out and preached every where, the Lord 
*' working with them.'"' It is sweet and prosperous working in 
fellowship with Christ ; tlie Spirit of Christ gives a manifold assist- 
ance to his ministers in their work ; it is he that guides and di- 
rects their mind in the choice of those subjects wherein they la- 
bour with such success to their hearers. He dictates the matter, 
influences their affections, guides their lips, follows home their 
doctrine with success. And this is a special use and end of Christ's 
presence with his ministers and ordinances. 

3. The spiritual presence of Christ is necessary for the prepa- 
ration and opening of the people's heart to receive and embrace 
the gospel to salvation ; not a heart will open to receive Christ 
till the spirit of Christ unlock them. Paul and Timothy were ex- 
traordinarily called to preach the gospel at Macedonia, there Lydia 
was converted ; but how ? Not by their skill or eloquence, but by 
the Spirit's influence ; " The Lord opened the heart of Lydia," 
Acts xvi. 14. The church could not be propagated without con- 
version ; conversion could never be wrought without Christ's in- 
fluence and spiritual presence. So that this presence is of absolute 
necessity ; tlie church cannot subsist, nor the great ends of ordi- 
nances be attained \vithout it. 

liiference I. 'Is Christ really present in all gospel administra* 
' tions, how a^vfully solemn then is Qy^x^ part of gospel worsliip ? 

e^'gland's duty. S? 

* we having to do with Christ himself, and not with' men only, in 

* gospel oi'dinances.'* Happy were it, if under this consideration, 
all our people did receive the word we preach, as the Thessalonians 
did, 1 Thess. ii; 13. not as the word of man, but as the wot'd of 
God ; then it would work effectually in us as it did in them. But 
alas ! we have loose and low apprehensions of the word ; we come 
to judge the gifts of the speaker, not to have our minds informed, 
our consciences searched, our lusts mortified, and our lifes regu- 
lated. But oh ! that men would realize the presence of Christ in 
ordinances, and seriously consider that word of his, Rev. ii. 23. 
'' All the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the 
** reins and hearts, and I will give every one of you according to 
" your works." 

How would it compose Vain and wandering hearts unto holy se- 
riousness ? O if men would but consider that they are before the 
Lord Jesus Christ, as Cornelius and his family did, Acts x. 33. 
" We are all here present before God^ to hear all things that are 
*' commanded thee of God." If they would consider the Word, 
as the executioner of God's eternal decrees, which returns not in 
vain, but accomplishes that whereunto God sends it, Isa. Iv. 11. 
and eventually proves the savour of life or death eternal to them 
that sit under it, 2 Cor. ii. 16. In a word, were it but consider- 
ed as the rule by which its hearers shall be judged in the great 
day, John xii. 48. then how would men tremble at the word ? 
What mighty effects would it have upon their hearts ? HoSv would 
it run and be glorified ? But, alas, as Job speaks. Job ix. 11. " He 
" goeth by me, and I see him not * he passeth on also, but I 
" perceive him not." Few realize the spkitual presence of Christ 
in ordinances. 

Inf. 9>. If Christ be really present with his churches afnd ordi- 
nances, ' How vain are all attempts of enemies to subvert and de- 
stroy them T That promise, Mat. xxviii. ult. supposes the continu- 
ance of a gospel and church-ministry to the end of the world, else 
there would be a promise without a subject; as^ de Jure^ there 
ought to be a church, so (k Facto, there shall be a church with 
ministei's and ordinances, let Satan and antichrist do their worst. 
I do not say this promise secures this or that particular cliurch or 
nation, for the presence of Christ is moveable from one place t<) 
another, but still the church is safe. And there ai'e three things 
that secure it against all hazards. 

1. The invaluable treasures God hath lodged in the church' 
viz. his Truths, his Worship, and his Elect ; such a precious cargo 
secures the vessel that carries it, whatever storms or tempests may 
befalit ^ 

C 2 

S8 England's duty. 

2. The covenant and promise of God with the church is it« 
abundant security. Mat. xvi. 18. " Upon this rock will I build 
*^ my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it/' 
The faithfulness of God is pa^vned for his people''s security. If the 
church fail, God's faithfulness must fail with it. 

3. But above all, the presence of Christ in the midst of it, puts 
it out of all danger of miscarrying. In that promise, Lo^ I am 
'With you alivay^ are found all munitions and fortifications whatso- 
ever : here we have his eye of pro%idence, his hand of power, and 
whatsoever else is needful to support and secure it. God accounts 
his presence our safety, Isa. xli. x. The enemies of God and his 
people account it so too, Exod. xiv. 25. and shall it not be so in 
oui* account ? Provoke not the Lord Jesus to withdraw his pre- 
sence, and fear not the consultations and oppositions of hell or 

Inf. S. From this spiritual presence of Christ all his faithful 
ministers should draw encouragement, amidst the manifold difficul- 
ties and discouragements they daily encounter in his work and ser- 
vice. Christ is ^^*ith them, they work in fellowship with him, let 
them not be dismayed. 

The difficulties and discouragements the ministers of Christ meet 
with are great and many ; and the more faithful and successful any 
of them are in their Master'*s work, the fiercer opposition they must 
expect : besides, all the discouragements rising out of their own 
hearts, which are not a few, they must encounter, 

First, The opposition of enemies from abroad. Secondly, The 
obstinacy and stubbornness of the hearts they work upon. Satan 
is a jealous prince, and will raise all manner of outcries and oppo- 
sition against those heavenly Heralds, that come to proclaim a new 
prince in his dominions, and -vnthdraw his miserable subjects from 
their cursed allegiance to him. What is it to preach the gospel 
(saith Luther) but to drive the fury of the world upon the head of 
that preacher ? But this would be easily supportable, did our work 
but prosper upon the hearts of our hearers. But this, alas ; is the 
killing consideration of all ; we know the worth of souls, and how 
great a service it is to save them from death, James v. 20. We 
also know the terrors of the Lord, which excite our utmost en- 
deavours to persuade men, 2 Cor. v. 11. We feel the compassions 
of Christ stirring in our bowels, which makes us long after their 
salvation, Phil. i. 8. We preach, we pray, yea, we travail again, 
as it were, in birth until Christ be formed in them. Gal. iv. 19. 
And when we have done all, we find their hearts as iron and brass, 
Jer. vi. 28. We mourn in secret when we cannot prevail, and 
oft times our hands hang down with discouragement, and we are 
ready to say with the prophet, Jer. xx. 9. We will speak no more in 


his name. But here is our relief, under all discouragements from 
abroad and at home ; the work is Christ's, the power is his, he is 
with us, and we are workers together with him. There was a 
time when three thousand souls were born to Christ, at one sermon, 
it may be now three thousand sermons may be preached and not 
a soul converted : yet let us not be discouraged, a time of eminent 
conversion is promised, and to be expected in these latter days, 
Ezek. xlvii. 9. when the Uving waters of the gospel shall make every 
thing to hve whither they come ; and when the fishers, i. e. the 
ministers of Christ, shall not fish with angles as now they do, taking 
now one, then another single convert, but shall spread forth their 
nets, and inclose multitudes at a draught ; " when they shall fly 
" as a cloud, and as doves to their windows." God now opens a 
door of opportunity beyond expectation ; O that the hearts of mi- 
nisters and people were suitably enlarged, and the people made wil- 
ling in the day of his power. 

Infer. 4. Hence we also iTifer the great dignity of the ministerial 
office^ and the suitable respect and hcmour due to all Christ s faithful 
ministers. The Lord Jesus himself is represented by them, they 
stand in his stead, 2 Cor. v. 20. his authority is clothed upon them ; 
the honour and dishonour given them redound to the person of 
Christ. The Galatians received Paul as an angel of God, even as 
Christ Jesus, Gal. iv. 14. 

Yet how have their persons and office been vilified and despised 
in this degenerate age ! how many learned, pious, laborious, peace- 
ful ministers of Christ have, in this age, been hunted up and do>vn 
in the world as wild beasts, been made the filth and off-scouring of 
all things unto this day ? 1 Cor. iv. 13. The word signifies that 
dirt and filth which scavengers rake together in the streets, to be 
carried to the dunghill. No doubt but Satan drives a great design 
in this to invalidate their ministry, discourage their labours, and 
break their hearts : but Jesus Christ will support us under all these 
abuses, wipe off the dirt thrown at us for his name's sake, and re^ 
serve some of us for better days. 

Infer. 5. Is Christ present in his ordinances, what a strong en^ 
gagement then lies upcm you all to attend and wait assiduously upon 
the ministry of' the word, and to bring all yours that are capable^ 
there to zvait upon Christ with you .^ We read in the days of Christ'* 
flesh, when he performed his miraculous cures upon the sick, what 
thronging there was after him ; how parents brought their children, 
masters their servants, pressing in multitudes, untiling the house to 
let down their sick to liim, Luke xii. 1. Ah, shall men be so ear- 
nest for a cure for their bodies, and so indifferent for their souls ? 
It is true, the Spirit of Christ is not tied by any necessity to act 
always with the word ; he acts as an arbitrary agent, John iii. 8^ 




The wind hloweth where it listeth ; but it is engagement enough to 
wait continually upon his ordinances, that he sometimes graciously 
and effectually concurreth with them. It is good to lie in the way 
of the Spirit ; and there is a blessing pronounced upon them that 
wait continually at his gates, Prov. viii. 34. O therefore neglect 
no season within our reach ; for who knows but it may be the sea- 
son of hfe to thy soul ! 

Infer. 6. What an unspeakable loss is the loss of the gospel, see- 
ing the presence bf Christ comes and goes with it ? When the gos- 
pel departs, the Spirit of Christ departs with it from among men ; 
no more conversions in God's ordinary way, are then to be expected : 
well therefore might the Lord say, Hosea ix. 1^. Woe to them when 
I depart from them. The Spirit may, in some sense, depart, whilst 
the ordinances are left standing for a time among the people ; but 
then expect no such blessings or benefits from them. But when 
God takes away ordinances and the Spirit too, woe indeed to that 
people; and are there not sins amongst us presaging such a judg- 
ment .? O England ! reflect upon thy barrenness under it ; where 
be the fruits answerable to such precious means ? The gospel is a 
golden lamp, the graces of the Spirit communicated by it are golden 
oil ; as in that stately vision, Zech. iv. Will God maintain such a 
lamp, fed with such precious oil, for men to trifle and play by .^ 

And no less ominous and portentous is that bitter enmity to the 
gospel, and the serious professors of it, which (I cannot speak with- 
out horror) is every where found among us ; this great hatred 
brings on the days of visitation, and the days of recompence, with 
ja swift and dreadful motion upon any people, Hosea ix. % 

Infer. 7. If Christ he present, by way of spirit and energy in his 
ordinances, th^n there is no reason to despair of the conversion and 
salvation of the greatest sinners that yet lie dead under the gospel. 
What though their hearts be hard, their understandings dark, and 
their wills never so perverse and obstinate.? all must give way, and 
open in the day of Christ's power, when his Spirit joins himself with 
the word. This makes it an irresistible word ; it is glorious to observe 
the hearts of publicans and harlots opening and yielding to the voice 
of Christ, Matth. xxi. 31. What were those three thousand persons, 
pricked at the heart by Peter's sermon, Acts ii. 36. but the very men 
that, with wicked hands, had crucified the Lord Jesus ? And what 
were the converted Corinthians but idolaters, turned from dumb 
idols, whoremongers, adulterers, effeminate f &c. 1 Cor. xii. 2. and 
vi. 11. God hath his elect among the vilest of men : the gospel will 
find them out, and draw them home to Christ, when the Spirit ani- 
mates and blesseth it. Well might the apostle therefore say, that 
, the gospel preached with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, 
is an object worthy for angels to behold with admiration, 1 Pet. i 

exglaxd's duty. 41 

12. What though Satan has strongly fortified their souls against 
Christ, with ignorance, prejudice, and enmity ; yet the weapons of 
our warfare are mighty through God, to pull down these strong 
holds. Despair not therefore of your carnal and dead-hearted re- 
lations ; bring them to the gospel upon the encouragement of these 
words of Christ, John v. 25. " The hour cometh, yea, and now is, 
'' that the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they 
" that hear it shall hve." 

Infer. 8. Is Christ spiritually present in his ordinances f O then 
wliat an endeai-ed affection shoidd every gracious soul hear ta the or- 
dinances of God ! They are the walks of Christ and of his Spirit, 
the appointed times and places for your meeting and communion 
with him ; there your souls first met with Christ ; there you began 
your acquaintance with him ; there you have had many sweet con- 
verses with him since that day ; they were the seed of your regen- 
eration, 1 Pet. i. 2S. the bread of life by which your souls have been 
sustained ever since, and therefore to be more esteemed by you than 
your necessary food. Job xxiii. 12. Here you have found the 
richest cordials to revive and recover your drooping spirits, when 
ready to sink away in a faint fit under sin within you, and afflic- 
tions upon you. No wonder David's soul even fainted for the 
courts of God, Psal. cxix. 50. and that Hezekiah desired a sign 
on his sick-bed, that he should go up to the house of the Lord. 
Here are the choicest comforts of the saints upon earth ; all our 
fresh springs are in Zion, Psal. Ixxxviii. 7. What a dungeon, what 
a barren wilderness were this world without them ! Prize the ordi- 
nances, love the ordinances, wait assiduously upon the ordinances, 
and pray for the Hberty and efficacy of the gospel, that it may set 
no more in your days, nor in the days of your posterity. 


Rev. iii. 20. 
Behold I [stand] at the doqr^ and "knocJCy &c. 

JlIAVING finished Christ*^s solemn preface, and cleared the man- 
ner of his presence in his churches and ordinances ; I nov/ come to 
a third observation which is necessarily implied in these words, 
" Behold I stand at the door and knock -^ and that sad truth there- 
in implied is this, 

Doct. That the hearts of men are naturally locked up^ and faxt 
barred against Jesus Christy their only Saviour. 



If it were not so, what need were there of all that pains and psu 
tience used and exercised by Christ, in waiting patiently, and knock- 
ing importunately for entrance into the hearts of men ? To keep 
a clear method in this point, three things must be stated in the 
lioctrinal part. 

1. How it appears the hearts of men are thus shut up, 

2. AVhat are those locks and bars that shut them up. 
S. That no power of man can remove these bars. 

First, That all hearts are naturally shut and made fast against 
Christ, is a sad but certain truth; we read, John i. 11, 12. "He 
came unto his own, and his own received him not,'^ &c. He came 
unto his own people, from whose stock he sprung up ; a people 
to whom he had been prefigured in all the sacrifices and types of 
the law, and in whom they might all clearly discern the accom- 
plishment of them all. His doctrines and his miracles plainly 
told them who he was, and whence he came ; yet few discerned 
or received him as the Son of God. Christ found the doors of 
men's hearts generally shut against him, save only a few whose 
hearts were opened by the Almighty power of God, in the way of 
faith, ver. 12, These indeed received him, but all the rest ex- 
cluded and denied entrance to the Son of God. So again, John v. 
from ver. 33. to 40. Christ reasons with them, and gives undeniable 
demonstrations, that he was the Messiah come to save them ; 
proves it from the testimony of John, ver. 33. " Ye sent unto 
*' John, and he bare witness unto the truth :"" Tells them, 
the design of his coming among them was their salvation, ver. 34. 
shews them the great seal of heaven, his uncontrolable miracles, 
ver. 36. " The works that I do bear witness of me, that the Father 
^« hath sent me :"*' And if that were not enough, he reminds them 
pf the immediate testimony given of him from heaven, ver. 37. 
'' The Father himself which hath sent me, hath borne witness of 
^' me." He did so at his baptisniy Matth. iii. 17. " And lo a voice 
*' from heaven, saying. This is my beloved Son in whom I am well 
'' pleased." And so again at his transfiguration, upon the holy 
mount, Matth. xvii. 5. " While he yet spake, behold a bright 
^' cloud overshadowed them ; and behold a voice out of the cloud, 
" which said, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, 
'^ hear ye him." He bids them search the scriptures, and criti- 
cally examine his perfect correspondence to them, John v. 39. 
Enough, one would think, to open the door of every man's under- 
standing and heart, to receive him >nth fullest satisfaction ; and 
yet, after all, behold the unreasonable obstinacy and resistance of 
their hearts against him, ver. 40. " Ye will not come unto me, that 
« ye might have life." 

Not a soul >vill open, with all the reasons and demonstrations in 

England's duty. 43 

the world, till the Almighty Power of God be put forth to that end. 
If another come down in his own name (saith he, ver. 43.) him w'lU 
ye receive ; any body rather than the Son of God : Every cheat can 
impose upon you easily ; it is to me only your hearts have such 
strong aversions. Now there is a twofold shutting up of the heart 
against Jesus Christ. 

1. Natural. 

2. Judicial. 

1. Natural Every soul comes into this world shut up and fast 
closed against the Lord Jesus. The very will of man, Avhich is 
the freest and most arbitrary faculty, comes into the world barred 
and bolted against Christ, Rom. viii. 7. " The carnal mind is en- 
^' mitv against God ; for it is not subject unto the law of God, 
" neither indeed can be,'' Phil. ii. 13. " It is God that worketh 
*' in you both to will and to do of his own good pleasure."*' This 
is a dismal effect of the fall. Who feels not strong aversions, 
violent rebellions, and obstinate resistances in his own heart, when 
moving towards Christ in the first weak and trembling acts of 
faith ? 

2. There is a judicial shutting up of the heart against Christ. 
This is a sore and tremendous stroke of God, punishing former re- 
bellions: Psal. Ixxxvi. 11, 12. " Israel would have none of me, 
<' so I gave them up to their own hearts lusts." This looks hke a 
prelude of damnation, a very near preparation to ruin. Israel 
would have none of me; there is the natural shutting up of the heart; 
so I gave them up ; there is the judicial shutting up of the heart ; 
they would not hear, they shall not hear. O fearful judgment ! 
Thus the Lord gave up the Heathens, Rom. i. 26. they had abused 
their natural light, and now their minds are judicially darkened; 
given up to a sottish and injudicious mind, not able to distinguish 
duty from sin, safety from danger ; a mind that should elect the 
worst things, and reprobate the best. This was the reprobate mind 
unto which God gave them up ; what sadder word can the Lord 
speak than this, unless it be, Take him, devil ! It is true, those that 
God shuts up he can open, and those whom justice shuts up, mercy 
can set free ; but it is beyond all the power of angels and men to 
do it : Job xii. 14. " He shutteth up a man, and there can be no 
" opening." These two closures of the heart are not always found 
together in the same subject ; and blessed be God they are not. 
Christ meets with many a repulse, and endures with much patience 
the gainsaying of sinners, before he pronounces that dreadful sen- 
tence upon them, Isa. vi. 9, 10. " Go and tell this people. Hear ye 
" indeed, but understand not ; and see ye indeed, but perceive not : 
" make the heart of this people fat," &c. 

But when it comes to this once, dreadful is the case of such souls ; 

4i England's duty, 

and none are in greater danger of this spiritual judicial stroke of 
God, than those that have sat long under the light, rebelling against 
it. That is the first thing, the hearts of men by nature are locked 
and shut up against Christ. 

Secondly^ In the next place, let us examine what those locks and 
bars are which oppose and forbid's Christ's entrance into the hearti» 
of poor sinners And they will be found to be, 

1. Ignorance. 

% Unbelief. 

8. Pride. 

4. Custom in sin. 

5. Presumption. 

6. Prejudices against the ways of holiness. 

Bars enough to secure the soul in Satan's possession, and frustrate 
all the designs of mercy, except an Almighty Power from heaven 
break them asunder. 

1. The first bar making fast the soul of man against Christ, is 
ignorance^ that obea: irifernalis, that helhsh bolt, which effectually 
keeps Christ out of the soul. 

If knowledge be the key that opens the heart to Christ, as it is 
plain it is from Luke xi. 52. where Christ denounceth a woe to 
thera that took a\vay ike ke^ of knowledge ; then ignorance must 
needs be the shutter that makes fast the door of the heart against 
Christ. Upon this ground Christ told the woman of Samaria, that 
her infidelity grew upon the root of her ignorance; Johniv. 10. " If 
*' thou k newest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, 
*' give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would 
'^'' have given thee living water.'"* Ah, sinners, did you but know 
what a Christ he is that is offered to your souk in the gospel ; did 
you see his beauty, fulness, suitableness, and feel your own neces- 
sities of him, all the world could not keep you from him : you 
would break through all reproaches, all sufferings, all self-denials, 
to come unto the enjoyment of him. But alas { it is with you, as 
it was with those, Cant. v. 9. " What is thy beloved (say they to 
" the spouse) more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge 
^' us t^ Unknown excellencies attract not : ignorance is Satan's 
sceptre which he sways over all his kingdom of darkness, and holds 
his vassals in miserable bondage to him : hence the devils are call- 
ed, Eph. vi. 12. " The rulers of the darkness of this world." Alas, 
were the eyes of sinners but opened to see their woful state, and 
their remedy in Christ, he could never hold them in subjection one 
day longer : they would break av, ay from under his cruel govern- 
ment, and run over by thousands to Christ ; for so they do as so6n 
as ever God opens their eyes ; in the same hour they are turned 
from daxkacss to light, they are also turned from the power of 

e\'glaxd\s duty. 45 

Satan to G-od, Acts xxviii. 16. O that you did but know the 
worth o£ your souls, the dreadful danger they are in, and the fear- 
ful wrath that hangs over them, the willingness and ability of Christ 
to save them, you could not sleep one night longer in the state 
you are : the next cry would be, What shall I do to he saved ? Who 
will shew me the way to Christ ? Help ministers, help Christians, 
yea, help Lord ; these would be the laments and cries of them 
that are now secure and quiet. But the god of this world hath 
bUnded the eyes of them that believe not : no cries for a physician, 
because no sense how their souls are stabbed by sins of commissiorhy 
and stabbed by sins of omission. O that the gi'eat Physician would 
once apply his excellent eye-salve to your understandings, which 
are yet darkened with gross ignorance both of your misery and 

2. The second bar or lock, that shuts Christ out of men's souls, 
is the sin of unbelief. This is one of the strongest holds of Satan 
wherein he trusteth ; this is a sin that not only locks up the heart 
of a sinner, but also binds up the hand of a Saviour ; Mat. xiii. 
58. '^ He could do no mighty works there, because of their un- 
'' belief." 

It obstructed his miraculous works when he was on earth, and 
it obstructs his gracious work, now he is in heaven. A Saviour is 
come into the world, but poor unbeliever, thy soul can neither have 
union nor communion with him till this bar of thy unbelief be 
removed. The gospel is come among us with mighty arguments; 
to convince, and powerful motives to persuade, but little saving 
effect follows : its main design is to many frustrated, and all this 
through unbehef, shutting up, and hardening men's hearts under 
it. The word preached did not profit them because of their un- 
belief Ah cursed bar ! which shuts up thy hearts, shuts out thy 
Saviour, and will effectually shut thee out of heaven, except the 
Almighty Power of God break it asunder. " They could not enter 
^' in because of unbelief," Heb. iv. 2. The ruin of souls is laid at 
the door of unbelief; it is the damning sin, Mark xvi. 16. and truly 
called so, because no other sin could damn but in virtue of this 
sin. That is the second bar to Christ. 

3. The third bar denying entrance to Christ into the hearts of 
sinners, is 'pride and stoutness of spirit. The natural heart is a 
proud heart ; it lives upon its o^vn stock, it cannot stoop to a sin- 
cere and universal renunciation of its own righteousness : " Bemg 
" ignorant of the righteousness of God, and going about to esta- 
" blish their own righteousness, o-jy^ {)':rzrayn<soLv, they have not sub- 
" mitted to the righteousness of God,'' Rom. x. 3. Pride stiffens 
the will that \x, cannot stoop or condescend to declare their own 


emptiness, discover their own shame, and Hvc wholly upon the 
righteousness of another. Proud nature had as live be damned, 
as deny itself in such a point as this is : This makes faith so ex- 
ceeding difficult, because it involves such deep points of self-denial 
in it : To give up all to Christ, to draw all from Christ, and to be 
willing to part with all for Christ. What will can be brought to ai 
deliberate consent to such things as these, unless an Omnipotent 
Power bow it ? It is natural to men rather to eat a brown crust, or 
wear a coarse ragged garment which they can call their own, than 
to feed upon the richest dainties, or wear the costliest garments 
which they must receive as an alms or gift from another. O how 
hard is it to subdue this pride of the heart, even after light and 
convictions are come into the soul ; to convince men of their un- 
done condition, and the absolute necessity of another and higher 
righteousness than their own ? When souls are in a treaty with 
Christ, and the match is almost made ; this is the sin that makes 
the last opposition. Fain would they come to Christ, ten thousand 
worlds for a Christ ; but yet they think they must not approach 
him without some qualifications which are yet wanting. But soul, 
if ever Christ and thou conclude the match, thou must deny self 
even in this, the most refined form and interest of it, and come as 
Abraham did, naked and empty-handed to him that justifieth the 
ungodly. Down with this house-idol, thy self, thy righteous self, 
trimmed up, like another Agag, with such precious pretences of 

4. The fourth bar, forbidding Christ's entrance into the soul, 
is custom in sin. Sin hath so fixed itself by long continuance in the 
soul, the soul is so settled and confirmed in its course, that all argu- 
ments and persuasions to change our way are swept away by the 
power of custom, as straws and feathers are by the rapid course of 
a mighty torrent ; Jer. xiii. 23. " Can the Ethiopian change his 
** skin, or the leopard his spots ? then may ye also do good that 
*' are accustomed to do evil." Soap and nitre may as soon make a 
blackmoor white, or fetch the spots out of the leopard's skin 
(which are not accidental, but connate) as the reasonings of men 
can prevail to remove the mighty power of customary sin. Physi- 
cians find it a hard thing to cure a cacheocia or ill habit of body. It 
is a grave and serious note of Seneca, a teneris assuescere, multum 
est It is a great matter to be accustomed this way or that from 
our childhood ; every repeated act of sin confirms and strengthens 
the habit ; and hence it is that we see so few conversions in old age. 
It was a wonder in the primitive times, that Marcus Caius Victorius 
embraced Christianity in the sixtieth year of his age. Take an 
habituated drunkard, a self-righteous moralist, lay before them 
the necessity of a change, and you shall find it as easy to stop the 


course of a river with the breath of your mouth, as to stop them 
in a customed course of sinning. That is the fourth bal: to 

5. The fifth bar, opposing and resisting Christ's entrance into 
the soul, is the sin o^ presumption ; this is the sin that parts Christ 
and thousands of souls in the world ; presuming they hope ; and 
hoping they perish. When men presume their condition is safe 
already, their souls never make out after a Saviour. This was the 
ruin of Laodicea, Rev. iii. 17. " Because thou sayest, I am rich, 
*' and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, and knowest 
<* not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, 
" and naked.*" This damning presumption is discovered in three 
things, (1.) Many think they have that grace which they have not, 
mistaking the similar for the saving works of the Spirit ; a fatal 
mistake never rectified with many thousands till it be too late. 
(2.) They presume to find that mercy in God, which they will 
never find ; for all the saving mercies of God are dispensed to men 
through Christ, in the way of regeneration and faith, Jude, ver. 21. 
(3.) They presume upon that time for repentance and faith here- 
after, which their eyes shall never see. And thus presumption doth 
lock up the heart against Christ, and leaves sinners perishing even 
in the presence of a Saviour. They make a bridge of their own 
shadow, and so perish in the waters. 

6. The sixth and last sin, barring up the heart against Christ, 
is a strong prejudice against holiness, and the strict duties of reli- 
gion. Thus, in the very infancy of Christianity, the world was 
scared and driven off from religion by the common prejudices that 
lay upon the professors of it ; As concerning this sect, we know thai 
every where it is spoken against. Acts xxvii. 22. 

Thus Justin Martyr complains, that Christians were every where 
condemned bia rr^M (pruirtv, by common fame ; and upon this account 
Christ pronounces a woe upon the world because of offences. Mat. 
xviii. 7. Alas ! it will be the ruin of thousands ; some have sucked 
in such prejudicate opinions and vile notions of religion, and its 
professors, as make them irreconcileable enemies to it. Satan hath 
dressed it up in their fancies in such an odious form and represen- 
tation, that make them lothe both name and thing. These pre- 
judices are drawn from various things ; sometimes from the neces- 
sary duties of Christianity, which are laid as crimes upon the people 
of God ; when I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that 
" was to my reproach," Psal. Ixix. 10. Sometimes the groundless 
and malicious slanders and inventions of the enemies of Christianity 
are the occasions of real prejudices to the world ; " Come, let us 
" devise devices against Jeremiah, and let us smite him with the 
** tongue," Jer. xviii. 18. Sometimes the innocent and seriou? 


professDrs of godliness are censured and condemned for hypocritical 
professors sakes, wlio never heartily espoused religion. And lastly^ 
The ways of holiness suffer for the slips and infirmities of weak 
Christians, who commonly give too many occasions to disgust the 
world against the ways of God. 

By these things multitudes are kept off from attendance upon the 
means of grace, and multitudes more have their hearts shut up from 
receiving any saving benefit under them. 

These are the common bars and locks by which the strong mart 
armed secures his possession in the souls of sinners ; and these bar^ 
are too strong for any power beneath the Almighty Power and anii 
of God to remove or break. It is said, that the Lord opened a 
door of faith to the Gentiles^ Acts xiv. 27. The arm of the 
Lord must be revealed, or none will open to Christ by faith, Isa. 
liii. 1. 

1. The iron bar of the law, that thundering terrible law, cannot 
force open the heart of an unbeliever ; all the dreadful curses fly- 
ing out of its fiery mouth, make no more impression than a tennis- 
ball against a wall of marble. You read of them that hear the words 
of this curse, yet bless themselves in their heart, saying. They shall 
have peace, though they walk in the imaginations of their hearts, to 
add drunkenness to thirst, Deut. xxix. 18. 

They play with hell and eternal torments, rush into iniquity as 
the horse rusheth into the battle, act as men in love with their own 
death, as those that are at an agreement with hell. the besotting^ 
hardening, infatuating power of sin ! 

2. The golden key of free grace cannot, in itself, remove these 
bars, and open men's hearts to Christ ; " We have piped unto you, 
" but you have not danced,'' Matth. xi. 17. The m.elodious and 
dehcious airs of giace, mercy, peace, and pardon, affect not the dead 
hearts of unbelievers : like deaf adders they stop their ears at the 
voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely. These gospel- 
melodies only dispose them to a more quiet sleep in sin. 

3. No works of providence are, in themselves, sufficient to open 
the hearts of men to Christ. (1.) The judgments of God cannot 
do it ; thousands have been sick with smiting, that j^et cannot be 
made sick for sin. " I have consumed them, but they refused to 
'• receive correction ; they have made tlieir faces harder than a 
" rock, they have refused to return," Jer. v. 3. Messengers of 
judgment are abroad, smiting some in their estates, scattering in 
one day the labour of many years ; and therein giving a warning- 
blow at the conscience to make sure of Christ, and the world to 
Gome, since their comfort and happiness is scattered in this world. 
Some are smitten in their dearest relations ; death knocks at their 
doors, and carries out the delight of their eyes, and with the same 

admonisheth their souls to place their happiness in more dural)]e 
comforts i some are smitten in their bodies with diseases, giving 
warning of the near approach of their latter end, and bidding them 
prepare for another habitation ; but all in vain. (^.) No mercies o^ 
Goa are in themselves sufficient to open the obstinate hearts of 
sinners to Christ. God hath heaped up mercies by multitudes ujx)ii 
many of you ; all these mercies of God lead you to repentance, Rom. 
ii. 4, 5. They take you in a friendly way by the hand, and thus 
walk with you : Ah sinner ! how canst thou grieve and dishonour 
that God tiiat thus feedeth, clotheth, and comforteth thee on every 
side ? Do you thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise ? 
Yet all will not do, neither judgments nor mercies can fright or al- 
lure the carnal heart to Jesus Christ It is his Spirit, his Almighty 
Power alone, that opens these everlasting gates, and makes thes» 
strong bars give way and fly at his voice. 

Infer. 1. Behold here the dismal state of nature^ the woful com^ 
dition of' all unregenerate souls ; Christ the Redeemer shut out, sin 
and Satan shut im This is the horrid state of nature shut up in 
unbelief, Rom. iv. 32. Ah Lord, what a condition is this ! we should 
certainly account it an unspeakable misery to be shut into a house 
haunted by the devil, where we should be continually scared and 
frighted with dreadful noises and apparitions ; but alas, what is an 
apparition of the devii without us, to the inhabitation of the devil 
within us ? Nay, what is the possession of a body, to Satan's pos^ 
session of the soul t Yet this is the very case of the unregenerate, 
Luke xi. 21. The strong man armed keepeth the palace, till Christ 
dispossesses him by sovereign victorious grace. Poor wretch, canst 
thou start at a supposed vision of a spirit, and not tremble to think 
that thy soul is the habitation of devils ? There is a twofold misery 
lying upon all christless, unregenerated persons; Satan is, 

1. Their rider in this world. 

2. Their tormentor in that to come. 

1. He is their ruler in this world, the spirit that now worketh in 
the childi'en of disobedience, Eph. ii. 3. Look as the holy Spirit 
of God dwells and rules in sanctified souls, walks in them as in lial- 
lowed temples, guiding and comforting the souls of the saints ; so 
Satan dwells in unregenerate hearts, actuating their lusts, inflaming 
them with his temptations, using their faculties and members as in- 
struments of unrighteousness. And then, 

2. He will be their tormentor in the world to come : He that 
icynpts now, will torment then, Matth. xxv. 41. " Doj)art from me 
" ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his 
" angels.'' Flee therefore, and escape for your lives, sleep not 
quietly another night in so dismal and dreadful an estate. " If the 
*;* Son make you free, tlien are you free indeed.'' 


Infer. 2. JVJmt a glorious and admirable effect of sovereign, om-^ 
nipotent grace is the effectual conversion of a sinner unto God ! 

If every heart by nature be secured for Satan under so many 
locks and bars, then the opening of any heart to Christ is de- 
servedly marvellous in our eyes. You all acknowledge that the 
opening of the graves at the resurrection will be a glorious display 
of Almighty Power, and so it will : it will be a wonderful thing to 
behold the gi-aves opened, and the dead raised at the voice of the 
Arch- An gel, and the trump of God ; but yet give me leave to say, 
that the opening of thy heart, poor sinner, to receive Christy is a 
more glorious work than that of raising the dead ; it is therefore 
deservedly put into the first rank of the great mysteries of godli- 
ness, that Christ is believed on in the world, 1 Tim. ii. 16. He 
that well views and considers Christ, may justly wonder that all 
the hearts in the enlightened world do not stand wide open to em- 
brace him ; and he that shall consider the frame and temper of the 
natural heart, and how strongly Satan hath entrenched and forti- 
fied himself in it, may justly wonder to hear of a work of conversion 
in an age. O brethren, consider the marvels of conversion, the 
wonderful works of God upon the soul that opens unto Christ by 

1. There is a new eye created in the mind: " Tlie Son of God 
*' is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know 
*' him that is true,"" 1 John v. W. O that eye, that precious eye 
of faith, which shews the soul, as it were a new w^orld, a world of 
new and ravishing objects, Eph v. 8. All the angels in heaven, 
ministers, and Libraries upon earth, cannot create such an eye, give 
such an illumination ; it is only he that " commanded the light to 
" shine out of darkness, that thus shineth in our hearts, to give the 
** light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus 
" Christ,'' 2 Cor. iv. 6. 

2. And what a glorious superaatural work is the conviction of 
the conscience by the powerful stroke of the saving beams of light 
Upon it ? Now the conscience, that lay in a dead sleep, begins to 
startle and look about it with fear and horror. Life and sense is 
got into it, and now it cries. Ah, sick, sick, sick at the heart for sin, 
sick for a Saviour. 

3. And no less marvellous an effect of the Almighty Power is the 
bowing of the stubborn will so efficaciously, so congruously, and so 
determinately and fixedly to the Lord Jesus. 

The will is efficaciously determined, so as no power of hell or 
nature can resist or frustrate that mighty power which worketh 
effectually in all them that believe, 1 Thes. ii. 13. Yet it works 
^lot by way of compulsion, but in a way congruous and agreeable 
to the nature of the will, Hosea xi. 4. " I drew them with the 


** cords o^ a mart, with the bands of love." Satan bids for the 
soul, Christ infinitely out-bids all his offers ; eternal, spiritual, and 
unsearchable riches, instead of sensitive, perishing enjoyments, 
which determine the choice of the will in its own natural method, 
by the sight of the excelling glory of spiritual things. And thus 
the mighty, supernatural power of God opens that heart which 
Satan had secured so many ways against Christ. 

Infer. 3. Hence it also follows^ that man hath rio free-will ofhin 
own to supernatural good. The will cannot, by its own power, open 
itself to receive Christ by faith. When it doth open to him, it i^ 
not virtute innata, sed illata, not by its natural power, but by the 
power of God upon it. The admirers of nature talk much of thel 
sovereignty, virginity, and liberty of the will, as if it alone had 
escaped the fall, and that no more but a moral suasion is needed toi 
open it to Christ ; that is, that God doth need no more to save 
men than the devil doth to damn them. But if ever God make 
you sensible what the work of saving conversion is, you will quickly 
find that your will is lame, its freedom to spiritual things gone ; 
you will cry out of a wounded will, as well as of a dark head, and 
a hard heart. You will quickly find, " That it is God alone that 
*' worketh in you both to will and to do of his own good pleasure," 
Phil. ii. 13. That the birth of the new creature is not of the will 
of man, but of God, John i. 13. 

Infer. 4. Learn hence the necessity of conversion, in order to 
salvation. Christ and heaven are shut up against you till your 
hearts be savingly opened unto him. " Verily, verily, I say untor 
you, you must be born again," John iii. 5. O sinner, that hard 
Iieart of thine must be humbled ; thy stubborn and refractory will 
must be bowed ; all the powers of thy soul must be unlocked and 
opened unto Christ ; he must come into thy soul, or thou canst 
never see the face of God in peace. " It is Christ in you that is the 
*' hope of glory," Col. i. 27. Till thy heart be opened, Christ, with 
all the hopes of glory, stand without thee. And if hopes from the 
death of Christ without us, without the application of his person, 
be enough so save men, then why are any damned ? Consult 1 Cor. 
1. 30. Adam''s sin damns none but only such as are in him ; and 
Christ's righteousness saves none but those only that are by faith in 
him ; the eternal purpose of the Father, the meritorious death of 
the Son, put no man into the state of salvation and happiness till 
both be brought home by the Spirit's powerful application in the 
work of saving conversion. It is good news, good indeed, that 
Christ died for sinners ; it is good news that Christ is brought to our 
very doors in the tenders of the gospel, and that the Spirit knocks 
at the door of our hearts, by many convictions and persuasions, to 
open to him, and enjoy the unspeakable benefits of his death ; these 

Vol. IV. D 

i)S England's duty. 

things bring us nigli to Christ, the next door to salvation ; and yet 
all this may be, eventually, but a dreadful aggravation of our 
damnation, and will certainly be so to them whose hearts are but 
almost opened to Christ. 

Infer. 5. See hence the necessity of fervent prayer to accompany 
the preaching of the gospel. Without the Spirit and power of God 
accompanying the word, no heart can ever be opened to Christ : 
alas, such bars as these are too strong for the breath of man to 
break ! let ministers pray, and the people pray that the gospel may 
be preached " with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven,"' 1 Pet. 
i. 12. It greatly concerns us that preach the gospel to wrestle with 
God upon our kness, to accompany us in the dispensation of it 
imto the people ; to steep that seed we sow among you in tears and 
prayers before you hear it ; and I beseech you, brethren, let us not 
strive alone, join your cries to heaven with ours, for the blessing of 
the Spirit upon the word. How doth Paul beg of the people, as a 
beggar would beg for an alms at the door, for their assistance in 
prayer, Rom.- xv. 30. " I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord 
" Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive 
" together witli me in your prayers to God for me." 

For want of such wrestlings with God in prayer, there is so httle 
efficacy in ordinances. Martha told her Saviour, John xi. 21. 
*' Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother had not died ;" and 
I may tell you, that if the Spirit had been here, your souls had not 
remained dead under the word as they do this day. O when the 
sabbath draws near, let fervent cries ascend from every family to 
heaven. Lord, pour out thy Spirit mth thy word ; make it mighty 
through thy power to open these gates of iron, and break asunder 
these bars of brass. 

Second Use of Exhortation. 

Seeing the case stands thus, that all hearts by nature are bai'red 
and shut up against Christ ; let every soul do what it can, and strive 
to its uttermost to get the heart and will opened to Christ : Strive 
to enter in at the strait gate. Christ is at the door, O strive 
with yourselves as well as with God now to get it opened, now that 
salvation is come so near your souls. 

Object. But have you not told us, that no sinner can open his 
own heart, nor bow his own \\ill to Christ ^ 

Ans. True, he cannot convert himself, but yet he may do many 
things in order to it, and which have a remote tendency to it, 
which he doth not do ; and so he perisheth not, though he cannot^ 
but because he will not. 

Divers things may be done by poor sinners with their own 



hearts, which are not done ; and though in themselves they are 
insufficient, yet being the way and method in and by which the 
Spirit of God usually works, we are bound to do them. As for 
example, (1.) Though it be not in your power to open your hearts 
to Christ, yet it is in your power to forbear the external acts of sin, 
which fasten your hearts the more against Christ ; who forces thine 
hands to steal, thy tongue to swear or lie ? Who forces the cup of 
excess down your throait ? (2.) Though you cannot open your 
hearts under the \Vord, yet it is in your power to wait and attend 
upon the external duties and ordinances of the gospel : why cannot 
those feet carry thee to the assemblies of the saints, as well as to ail 
ale-house ? (3.) And though you cannot let the word effectually 
into your hearts, yet certainly you can apply your minds with 
more attention and consideration to it than you do. Who forces 
thine eyes to wander, or closes them with sleep, when the awful 
matters of eternal life and death are sounding in thine ears ? (4.) 
Though you cannot open your hearts to embrace Christ, yet cer- 
tainly you can reflect upon yourselves when the obvious characters 
of a christless state are plainly held forth before your eyes : God 
hath given you a self-reflecting power ; " The spirit of man knoweth 
" the things of a man,"" 1 Cor. ii. 11. When you hear of convic- 
tions of sin, compunction of heart for sin, deep concernments of the 
soul about its eternal state, hungerings and thirstings after Christy 
restless and anxious days and nights about salvation, w^iich others 
have felt ; you can certainly turn in upon yourselves and examine 
whether ever it were so with you : and if not, methinks it might 
conduce to the prevention of your misery, to take your poor souls 
aside, and bemoan them, saying. Ah, my poor soul, canst thoii 
endure everlasting burnings ? What will become of thee if Christ 
pass thee by, and his Spirit strive no more wdth thee ? W^hy cannot 
you throw yourselves at the feet of God, and cry for mercy ? Prayer 
is a part of natural worship, distress usually puts men upon it that 
yet have no grace, Jonah i. 5. Do but this towards the opening and 
saving of your own souls, which though it be not in itself sufficient, 
nor puts God under any meritorious obligation or necessity to add 
the rest ; yet it puts you into the way of the Spirit. And is not 
thy soul, sinner, worth as much as this comes to ? Have you not 
taken a great deal more pains than this for the trifles of this world ? 
And will it not be a dreadful aggravation of sin and misery to all 
eternity, that you are perished so easily. Do not you see many 
striving round about you for Chnst and salvation, whilst you sit 
still with folded arms as if you had nothing to do for another 
world ? " The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the vio^ 
** lent take it by force," Mat. xi. 12. 


Wliy sliould other men's souls be clearer to them than yours unto 
you ? What discouragements have you which other men have not ? 
Or what encouragements have they which you have not ! 

Object. Say not, We have no assurance that our pains shall pros- 
per, or our strivings be made effectual to conversion ; if there were 
any promise in the gospel that such endeavours should be seconded 
from heaven, and made available to salvation, then we would strive, 
as long as breath and life should last; but all this may be to no 
purpose, we may be christless, and hopeless when all is done. 

Sol But yet remember it is possible God may bless these weak 
endeavours, and come in by his Almighty Spirit with them : nay, 
it is highly probable that he will do so : and is a strong probability 
nothing vnth you ? Do you use to do no actions about your civil 
callings without an assurance of success ? When the merchant ad- 
ventures his life or estate at sea, is he sure of a good return ? Or 
doth he not adventure upon the mere hopes and probabilities of a 
gainful voyage ? When the husbandman plows his land, empties 
both his bags and purse upon it, is he sure of a good harvest ? May 
not a blast come that shall defeat all his hopes ? Yet he ploweth 
and soweth in hope, and ordinarily God maketh him partake of his 
hope : but without such industry his expectations would be vain. 
Away then with vain excuses ; up and be doing in the use of all 
appointed means, and the Lord be with you. 

Third Use for Trial 

Before I dismiss this point, let us try ourselves by it, whether 
God hath opened our hearts to Clirist, broken these Ijars of igno- 
rance, unbelief, custom, prejudice, &c. and the will stand wide open 
to receive Christ Jesus the Lord. 

This is a solemn use, the consequence of it great ; O that our 
faithfulness and seriousness in the trial might be answerable. Try 
yourselves by these following marks : 

Mark 1. If your eyes be not opened to see sin in its vileness, 
and Christ in his glory, suitableness, and necessity ; then sure your 
hearts were never yet effectually opened by the gospel. I confess 
men's eyes may be opened to see sin, and yet their hearts at the 
same time shut up by unbelief against Christ ; but no man's heart 
can be opened to Christ whilst his eyes are shut : John iv. 40. 
*' This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth 
" the Son and beheveth on him, may have everlasting life." The 
work of faith is always wrought in the light of conviction ; the 
cure of the heart begins at the eye of the mind, Acts xxvi. 18. 
" to open their eyes, and turn them from darkness to light, and 
" from the power of Satan to God." God opens men's hearts by 

i:xgland's duty. 55 

iihining into them, 2 Cor. iv. 6. If therefore any man's eyes be still 
blinded with ignorance, prejudice, &c. so that he apprehends not his 
own guilt and misery, nor sees the worth and necessity of a Saviour; 
that man's heart is still under Satan's lock and bar, sin is shut in, 
and Christ is shut out of that man's soul. 

Mark 2. No heart opens to Christ by ftiitli till it be first prick- 
ed and wounded by compunction and humiliation ; this heart- 
wounding work is always antecedent to the work of faith. I doubt 
not but your thoughts fore-run my discourse to that famous scrip-% 
lure, Acts ii. 37. where Peter preaching to those that had crucified 
Christ, and bringing up his discourse close to their consciences, 
in the application of that sermon, convincing them not only what a 
horrid and atrocious crime the crucifying the Son of God was in 
itself; but also charging it home upon them, " Whom ye have 
<' taken, and with wicked hands have crucified and slain ; when 
" they heard this they were pricked at the heart ; and cried out, 
*' men and brethren what shall we do .^" Upon this out-cry three 
thousand souls opened in one hour to Christ. Now consider whe- 
ther your hearts have been thus pricked and wounded ; hath sor- 
row for sin pierced thy soul .? Vain sinner, that frothy heart of thine 
must be made to bleed under compunctions for sin, or there will be 
no room for Christ in it. Come souls, it is in vain to flatter your-^ 
selves in your own eyes : reflect upon the frames of your hearts, 
call back the days that are past, and say, when was the time, and 
where was the place when thou layest at the foot of God, sobbing 
and mourning upon the account of thy sins ? Did ever God hear 
such a cry as this from thy soul ! Ah Lord, my sotd is distressed, I 
roll hither and thitJier fir ease and comfort, hut find none : O the 
insupportable weight of guilt ! O the bitterness of sin f My soul fails 
under it, Lord undertake for me.. I do not say, the degrees of 
compunction and humiliation are equal in all converts ; neither their 
sins nor abilities to bear sorrows for them, are equal ; but this I say, 
thy heart must ache for sin, or it Avill never open to Christ ; he binds 
up none but broken hearts, Isa. xvi. 1. 

Mark 3. If Christ be come into thy heart, then the love and 
delight of every sin is gone out of thy heart. Christ and the love 
of sin cannot dwell together : what Christ said to the soldiers that 
apprehended him in the garden, the like he saith to every soul that 
comes to apprehend him by faith. If you seek me, let these go their 
way ; away with the sin that thou most delightest in : Christ can- 
not come in till these be gone, Isa. Iv. 6, 7, 8. " Seek ye the Lord 
" while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let 
" the wicked forsake his way, and the unrigliteous man his 
" thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have 
" mercy upon him ; and to our God, for he will abundantly par- 


56 England's duty. 

^' don."" Here be the terms of your acceptation and salvation 
plainly laid down, forsake thy ways and thoughts ; the wa?/ notes 
the external acts of sin ; and the thoughts the internal acts, both of 
contrivance and delight in sin ; both these must be forsaken ; and 
that is not all, for this makes but a negative holiness. Let him re^ 
turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy. It is in vain for men to 
make the door of salvation wider than God hath made it ; we can- 
not bring down Christ's terms lower than he hath set them ; if we 
will not come up to them, Christ and we must part. And this 
makes the great struggle, the sharp debate in the souls of converts. 
O ! it is hard to give up pleasant and profitable lusts ; but away 
they must go, a bill of divorce must be signed for them, or you 
cannot be espoused to the Lord Jesus. This will be found to be 
much harder than to part v>dth all externals for Christ's sake. 

Mark 4. No heart can open truly to Christ, that it is not made 
willing upon due deliberation to receive him, with his cross of suf- 
ferings, and his yoke of obedience, Mat. xvi. 24. and xi. 29. 

An exception against either of these is an effectual bar to thy 
union with Christ ; he looks upon that soul as not worthy of him, 
that puts in such an exception. Mat. x. 38. If thou judgest not 
Christ worth all suffermgs, all losses, all reproaches, he judges thee 
unworthy to bear the name of his disciple. So for the duties of 
obedience, called his yoke ; he that will not receive Christ's yoke 
can never receive his person, nor any benefit by his blood. 

Marli 5. Every heart that opens sincerely and evangelically to 
Christy opens to him in deep humility and sense of its emptiness and 
unworthiness ; all self-righteousness io given up as dung and dross : 
Thus Abraham came unto him as to one that justifieth the ungodly, 
Rom. iv. 5. " Now to him that worketh not, but believeth on 
*' him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteous- 
^' ness," Yea, here is the true way of justification indeed; where 
the imputed righteousness of Christ comes, all self-righteousness 
vanishes before it. By him that worketh not, understand not an 
idle, lazy behever, that takes no care of the duties of obedience ; 
iio, an idle faith can never be a saving faith : But the mean- 
ing is, he worketh not in a law sense, to the ends and intentions 
of the first covenant ; to make up a righteousness to himself by his 
own working, to cover himself with a robe of righteousness of his 
own spinning and weaving, a home-made cloth ; no, not a rag of 
that : Thou must receive Christ into an empty, naked, unworthy, 
soul, or not receive him at all. Blessed Paul heartily rejected all 
his ovrci righteousness, cast down that house-idol to the ground, that 
he might be found in the imputed righteousness of Christ, Phil. iii. 
J 8. Cast that idol out of doors, it stands in the way of a better 
righteousness. There be divers ways wherein sinners maintain 


their own righteousness to their own ruin : There is a gross and a 
more refined self-righteousness ; the one more palpable and easily 
liable to conviction, the other much harder to be discovered and 
cured. Ask some men upon what their hopes of salvation are 
grounded ? and they will tell you, they are just in their dealings 
with men, and constant in their prayers to God, that is all, and 
therefore they doubt not of their salvation : Thus they substitute a 
righteousness of their own, in the room of Christ's blood, and are 
their own destroyers by seeking this way to be their own saviours. 
But then there is a more refined way of self-righteousness, drest up 
with such pretences of humility, that men are hardly to be con- 
vinced of it. I pity many poor souls upon this account, who 
stand off from Christ, dare not believe because they want such and 
such qualifications to fit them for Christ. O saith one, could I find 
so much brokenness of heart for sin, so much reformation and power 
over corruptions, then I could come to Christ ; the meaning of which 
is this, if I could bring a price m my hand to purchase him, then 
I should be encouraged to go unto him. Here now lies honible 
pride covered over with a veil of great humility : Poor sinner, 
either come naked and empty-handed, according to Isa. Iv. 1. Rom, 
iv. 5. or expect a repulse ; for Christ is not the saUy but the gift of 

Mark 6. Lastly, whatever soul opens savingly to Christ, it opens 
finally and everlastingly to him ; the heart once opened to Christ, 
must stand open for ever to him, never to shut out Christ any 
more. And here is a very observable difference betwixt a man that 
comes to Christ, in a sudden fright of conscience, and parts with 
him again when that fright is over; and a man that receiveth 
Christ not to sojourn, but to dwell in his heart by faith, Eph. 
iii. 17. When Christ comes into the heart, he saith. Here will I 
dwell for ever ; and Lord, saith the soul, so I receive thee ; this 
is the day of union, O let me never know a day of separation ; let 
it never be in the power of life or death, angels, principalities, or 
powers, things present or to come, to make a separation betwixt 
thee and me. Soul, saith Christ, thou shalt be mine whilst I am 
in heaven ; and Lord, saith the soul, I will be thine whilst I am on 
earth. I will never leave thee nor forsake thee, saith Christ : O 
my Lord, saith the soul, hold me fast in thy hand, that I may never 
leave nor forsake thee ; my estate, liberty, and life, may, and must 
go ; but it is in the fixed purpose of my heart never, never to let 
thee go. The espousals betwixt Christ and the soul are for ever, 
Hos. ii. 19. "I will betroth thee unto me for ever, yea, for ever." 
And here lies another great difference betwixt the hyjx)crite that 
takes Christ with a politic reserve, that will venture with Christ at 
^ea no farther tlian he can see the shore ; and the upright heart 

D 4 

58 england''s duty. 

that embarks itself with Christ without reserves, come what will ; 
that saith to him, as Ittai to David, when persuaded to go back in 
a time of danger ; nay, saith he, where my Lord Jesus Christ is, 
whether it be in liberty or in prison, in life or in death, there also 
wiU I be. Flesh may persuade to a retreat , nay, saith the soul, I 
cannot retreat ; but wherever the truths of Christ, the interest and 
glory of Christ are, there also must I be ; for upon these terms I 
first received him, and opened the door of my heart to him. These 
things are no surprises to me, Christ and I have debated them long 
g^go ; he dealt fairly with me, and I must deal faithfully with him. 
Now, brethren, view over these six trials : Have your eyes been 
opened to see sin in its vileness, Christ in his beauty and necessity ? 
Have your hearts been pricked and wounded with compunction 
^nd sorrow for sin ? Are the loves and delights of sin gone out of 
your souls ? Have you no exceptions either to the cross or yoke of 
Clirist ? Have you given up all your own righteousness, whether 
gross or refined, for dung and di'oss, and received Christ for ever ? 
Then thy heart is savingly opened to him. 

Fourth Use, 

The last use that closeth this point, will be consolation to all those 
whose hearts the Lord hath thus opened to receive Christ at his 
knocks and calls of the gospel. 

Hath God indeed opened any of your hearts, and made you 
sincerely willing to receive Christ ? then there are ten sweet con- 
solations, like so many boxes of precious ointment to be pour- 
ed forth, in the close of this discourse, upon every such soul. 
And the 

First Consolation shall be this : The opening of any man's heart 
to receive Christ, is a clear, sohd scripture-evidence of the Lord's 
eternal love to, and setting apart that man for himself from all 
eternity. I do not say, that every man, whose heart is opened by 
faith, is thereupon immediately assured and satisfied that God hath 
chosen him to salvation : But whether he apprehend it or not, 
the thing in itself is certain and real : Consult 1 Thes. i. 4, 5. 
^' Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God ; for our 
^' gospel came not to you in word only, but also in power, and in 
^' the Holy Ghost," S^c. Their election of God was the thing to 
be proved ; but alas, might they say, who can know that but God 
alone ? It is among the divine secrets ; yes, saith the apostle, we 
know it, and by this we know it : for our gospel came not unto 
you in an empty sound, but in mighty efllicacy, effectually opening 
your hearts to believe. A more clear and certain evidence of your 
flection cannot be given in tliis world. Look again into Rom. viii. 


SO. " Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called ; 
<' and whom he called, them he also justified ; and whom he 
'< justified, them he also glorified.'"* 

There are two great and ravishing truths cleared in this scripture; 
the one is this, that the whole number of the called, upon earth, 
is taken out of such as were predestinated to hfe before the world 
was. The other is this, that as the whole number of the glorified 
saints in heaven, is made up of souls called and justified upon earth ; 
so the called soul, that is, the soul that savingly opens to Christ 
by faith, may, from that work of the spirit upon him, solidly reason 
backward to God's electing love before all time ; and forward to 
his glorification with God, when time shall be no more. 

O how strong is the consolation flowing out of this glorious work 
of the Spirit upon our hearts ! that is one thing. 

II. Consolation. The opening of the heart to receive Christ, is the 
peculiar effect of the divine and Almighty Power of God ; the arm 
of an angel is too weak to break those strong bars before-mention- 
ed. Therefore the exceeding greatness of his power is applied 
unto this work of believing, Eph. i. 19. " And what is the ex^ 
'' ceeding greatness of his power to us- ward who believe, according 
'' to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ 
<' when he raised him from the dead." Here is power, the 
power of God, the greatness of his power, the exceeding great- 
ness of his power, the very same power which wrought in Chnst 
when he raised him from the dead; and all this no more than 
needs to make the heart of man open by faith to receive Christ. 
The only key that fits the cross wards of man's Tvdll, and effectually 
opens his heart, is in the hand of Christ, Rev. iii. 7. "He hath 
" the key of David, he openeth and no man shutteth." 

How long have some of you sat under able ministers, searching 
sermons, and rousing providences ? yet all to no purpose, till this 
Almighty Power came with the word, and then the work was 
done. " Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,'* 
Psal. ex. 3. What a glorious power was that which opened Christ's 
grave when lie lay in the heart of the earth, with a weighty stone 
rolled upon his sepulchre ? And how mighty a power is that which 
breaks asunder all those bars which kept thy soul in the state of sin 
and death ? None feel this power, but only those whom God in- 
tendeth for salvation ; and having once wrought this, it is engaged 
to go through with all the rest, which yet remaineth to be done, 
to perfect thy salvation. 

III. Consolation. The opening of thy heart to Christ, is not only 
an effect of Almighty Power, but such an effect of it, without 
which, all that Christ hath done and suffered had been of no avail 
to thy salvation ; neither the eternal decrees of God, nor the me- 


ritorioiis sufferings of Christ, are eifectual to any man's salvation, 
until this work of the Spirit be wi'ought upon his heart. The of- 
fering up of Christ is, in its kind and place, sufRcient to purchase 
our redemption; but it is the receiving of Christ by faith that 
brings home salvation to our souls ; where there may be many con- 
causes to produce one effect, that effect is not produced until the 
last cause have wrought. Thus it is here ; the moving cause, viz, 
the free-grace of God hath wrought ; and the meritorious cause, 
the death of Christ, hath also wrought ; but still the heart, even 
of an elect man, remaineth under guilt and condemnation, until 
the Spirit, who is the appl}ing cause, have also wrought this bles- 
sed effect we now speak of. It is Christ in us, i. e. in union with 
our souls, which is to us the hope of glory, CoL i. 27. 1 Cor. i. 
30. Behold then the last stroke given in this opening of the 
heart by faith ; herein electing love hath brought home Christ, 
with all the purchases and benefits of his death, into the actual 
possession of thy soul. O how ti'ansporting and ravishing a consi- 
deration is this ! 

IV. Consolation. In this work, the opening of the heart by faith, 
the great design and main intention of the gospel is also answered 
and accomplished. You behold in the church a glorious frame of 
ordinances set up by Divine institution, ministers appointed to 
preach sermons, sacraments, prayers, singing, variety of ordinances 
set up, excellent gifts given to men, as the fruit of Christ's ascen- 
sion into heaven. Now, what was the design of God in the insti- 
tution of all these things, but that by them, as instruments in his 
hand, our ignorant, dead, unbelieving hearts might be opened to 
Christ, in acts of repentance and faith, and built up to a perfect 
man ? Ministers are sent " to open your eyes, turn you from dark- 
" ness to light, and from the power of Satan to God,"'" Acts xxvi. 
18, They are not sent by Christ into this world to get a hving, 
to drive so poor a trade as that for themselves, but to bring you to 
faith, 1 Cor. iii. 5. When God's elect are thus brought in and 
built up in Christ, you shall see this glorious frame of ordinances 
taken down ; there will be no more preaching nor hearing, the 
end of all these things being accomplished ; 1 Cor. xv. 24. " Then 
" Cometh the end, v/hen he shall have delivered up the kingdom 
" to God, even the Father,'"* he. Now the consideration of the 
accomplishment of the great and principal design of the gospel thus 
far upon thy heart, is matter of transporting joy. Ministers may, 
and must die, ordinances may be removed, but this blessed effect of 
them upon thy soul shall never die : God will perfect what he hath 
begun. That is the fourth consolation. 

V. Consolation. And then, 5thlij, That day wherein thy heart 
is savingly opened to receive Christy that very ^i^y is salvation eome 

England's duty. 61 

to thy soul. When Zaccheus' heart was opened to Christ, he 
tells him, Luke xix. 9. " This day is salvation come to thy house."" 
Salvation was come into the world before thou wast born ; yea, sal- 
vation was come to thy doors in the tenders of the gospel before, 
but it never came into thy soul till the day wherein thy heart open- 
ed to Christ by faith. And is not this matter of singular consola- 
tion.? If salvation be not, what is.? no wonder that the eunuch went 
home rejoicing when he had received Christ by faith. Acts viii. 
39. that the jailor rejoiced with all his house. Acts xvi. 34. Nei- 
ther blame nor wonder at men for rejoicing, for it is the day of 
their salvation. It is true, their salvation is not finished that day, 
there may be many things yet to be done and suffered by them 
before the completing of it ; but it is begun that day, the founda^ 
tion is laid in the 8oul that day, and the top-stone shall be set up 
with shouting in due time, crying, grace, grace, unto it. 

VI. Consolation. The opening of a sinner's heart to Christ makes 
joy in heaven a triumph in the city of our God above ; Luke xv. 
7. " I say unto you, likewise, that joy shall be in heaven over ono 
" sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety-nine just persons 
f' which need no repentance." As when a young prince is born, 
all the kingdom rejoices, the conduits run with wine, and there is 
all demonstration of joy and thankfulness in every city and town : 
It is much more so in heaven, when a soul is born to Christ under 
the gospel. It is a satisfaction to the heart of the Lord Jesus, who 
new beholds more of the travail of his soul ; and to all the angels 
and saints that another soul is espoused to him. 

Beloved, when the gospel is effectually brought home by the 
Spirit to the heart of a sinner, and wounds him for sin, sends him 
home, crying, O sick, sick of sin, and sick for Christ ; the news 
thereof is presently in heaven, and sets the whole city of God a re- 
joicing. Christ never rejoiced over thee before ; thou hast wound- 
ed him and grieved him a thousand times, but he never rejoiced 
in thee till now ; and that which gives joy to Christ may well be 
matter of joy to thee. And that is the sixth consolation. 

VII. Consolation. And then Ithly., That day thy heart is unlock- 
ed, unbarred, and savingly opened by faith, that very day an in- 
timate, spiritual, and everlasting union is made betwixt Christ and 
thy soul ; from that day Christ is thine, and thou art his. Christ 
is a great and glorious person, but how great and glorious soever 
lie be, the small and feeble arms of thy faith may surround and 
embrace him; and thou mayest say with the church, "My 
" beloved is mine, and I am his :" For mark what he saith in the 
text, " If any man open to me, I will come unto him.'' That soul 
fehall be my habitation, there will I dwell for ever. Thus will 

62 England's duty. 

Christ dwell in your hearts by faith. What soul feels not itself 
advanced by this uni»n with the Son of God ? Hereby the beUever 
becomes a member of his body, flesh and bones; this is an ho- 
nour bestowed upon thy soul, above, and beyond all that honour 
that ever God bestowed upon any angel in heaven ; to them Christ 
is an head by way of dominion, but to thee by way of vital influ- 
ence. Angels are as the ba?'ons and nobles of his kingdom^ but the 
believer his spouse, and all the angels of heaven ministering spirits 
unto such. That is the seventh consolation. 

VIII. Consolation. And then, ^thly, The opening of thy heart 
to Christ brings thee not only into union with his person^ but into 
the state of sweet, soul-enriching communion with him. So he 
speaketh in the text, " If any man open the door, I will sup with 
*' him, and he with me.'"* Poor soul, thou hast lived many years 
in the world, and never hadst any communion with God till this 
day. Christ and thy soul hath been strangers till now. It is true, 
thou hast had communion with ordinances, and communion with 
saints, but for communion with Christ thou couldest know nothing 
of it, till thou receivedst him into thy soul by faith. Now thou 
mayest say, " Truly my fellowship is with the Father, and with 
" his Son Jesus Christ,'' 1 John i. 3. 

And thenceforth thy communion with men is pleasant and de- 

IX. Consolation. The opening of a man s soul to Christ by faith 
is a special and peculiar mercy, which falls to the share, but of a very 
few. God hath done that for thee which he hath denied to mil- 
lions ; " Who hath believed our report ? and to whom is the ann 
" of the Lord revealed .^" i. e. to how small a remnant in the 
world, Isa. liii. 1. And the apostle puts the work of faith among 
the great mysteries of godliness, among the wonders of religion, 
1 Tim. iii. 19. " Preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the 
« world." 

The sound of the gospel is gone forth into the world ; " Many 
" are called, but few are chosen. There were many widows in 
" Israel, in the days of Elias, but to none of them was Ehas sent, 
*' save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a 
" widow,*" Luke iv. 25, 26. To allude to this, there were many 
hundreds that sat under the same sermon which opened thy heart 
to Christ, but it may be unto none of them was the Spirit of God 
sent that day, to open their hearts by faith, but unto thee ; thou 
wilt freely acknowledge thyself as unlikely and unworthy as the 
vilest sinner there. O astonishing mercy ! 

X. Consolation. And then lastly, in the same day thy heart opens 
by faith to Christ, all the treasures of Christ are unlocked and 
opened to thee. In the same hour God turns the key of regene- 

ENGLAXd's DtlTY. 63 

ration to open thy soul, the key of free-grdce is also turned to 
open unto thee the unsearchable riches of Christ ; then the righ- 
teousness of Christ becomes thine to justify thee, the wisdom of 
Christ to guide thee, the hohness of Christ to sanctify thee ; in a 
word, he is that day made of God to thee, " Wisdom, righteous- 
" ness, sanctification, and redemption,'" 1 Cor. i. 30. " All is 
<* yours, for ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's,"" 1 Cor. iii. ult. 
And thus I have shewed you some of those great things God doth 
for those souls that will but do this one thing for him, viz. open their 
hearts to receive Christ upon the tenders and terms of the gospel. 


Rev. iii. 20. 
Behold I [stand ] at the door and knock, &c. 

JL HE verb esrixa here rendered / stajid, is of the prefer tense, 
and woidd strictly be rendered / have stood ; but being joined with 
a verb of the present tense, is here rendered / do sta7id, a frequent 
Hebraism in scripture : And it notes the continued patience and 
long-suffering of Christ ; I have stood and still do stand, exercising 
wonderful patience towai'ds obstinate sinners. Which gives us thid 
fourth observation, 

Doct. 4. That great and admirable is the patience of Christy in 
waiting upon trifling and obstinate sinmers. 

Thus wisdom, i. e. Christ expresses himself, Prov. i. 24. " I 
** have called, and ye refused ; I have stretched out my hand, and 
" no man regarded." Here you have not only Christ's earnest 
calls, but suitable gestures also, to gain attention. The stretching 
out of the hand was a signal given to procure attention. Acts xxL 
40. Yet none regards ; and this the Lord doth not once or t\vice, 
but all the day long, Isa. Ixv. 2. shewing forth all long-suffering, as 
the apostle speaks, 1 Tim. i. 16. In the opening of this point I 
will shew you, 

1. What Divine patience is. 

2. Wherein it is evidenced. 

3. Why it is exercised towards sinners. 

First, Of the nature of Divine patience ; it is an ability in God 
not only to delay the execution of his -vvrath for a time towards 
^ome, but to d^lay it in order to the eternal salvation of otliers. 

64 England's duty. 

Let me speak to the parts of this description of Divine patience. 

1. It is an ability of power in God, not the effect of impotence, 
or want of opportunity : All sinners are continually within the reach 
of the arm of his justice, and he can strike when and where he will. 
Esau had a revengeful mind against Jacob, but wanted opportu- 
nity, and therefore was forced to delay the execution of his con- 
ceived wrath, until the days of mourning for his father were come ; 
and then saith he, " I will slay my brother Jacob," Gen. xxvii. 41. 
DBut in God it is a glorious effect of power, Nah. i. 3. " The Lord 
*' is slow to anger, and great in power." 

The greatness of his patience flows from the greatness of his 
power : So the apostle speaks, Rom. ix. 22. " What, if God wil- 
*' ling to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured 
*' with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath, fitted, or made up 
*' to destruction .^" And therefore when Moses prays for the ex- 
ercise of Divine patience towards the provoking Israelites, he doth 
it in this form, Num. xiv. 17, 18. "And now I beseech thee, let 
*' the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, 
" saying, the Lord is long-suffering," &c. He could exercise this 
Almighty power upon thee, and crush thee by it as a moth is crush- 
ed : but behold he exercises it upon himself in stopping the pro- 
pensions of his own justice, which daily solicit him to cut thee off ^ 
It is the power of God over his wrath, bridling and restraining it 
from day to day. 

2. This patience is exercised toward such as perish, in a tempo- 
rary delay of their damnation ; and though this be but a mere sus- 
pension of his wrath for a time, yet it is a glorious act of patience 
in him ; as that forecited text. Rem. ix. 22. shews. It is nothing 
for a sinner condemned as soon as bora, to be reprieved so many 
years out of hell ? Thou hast been provoking him daily and hourly 
to cut thee off, and send thee to thy own place ; and yet to be on 
this side the everlasting burnings, this is wholly owing to the riches 
of his forbearance. Ah, how is God to be admired in this his glori- 
ous power o^ er his own wrath ! when we look abroad into the v/orld, 
and see every where sinners ripe for destruction, daring the God 
of heaven to his face, yet forborne, how admirable is this power of 
God ! 

3. God doth not only exercise this power in a temporary suspen- 
sion of his wrath against some, who, alas, must feel it at last ; but 
he delays the execution of his wrath in a design of mercy towards 
others, that they may never feel it, Isa. xlviii. 8, 9. Thus he bears 
with his own elect all the years of their lives wherein they lay in 
the state of nature, and went on in a course of rebellion against 
God ; and this long-suffering of God towards them proves their 
saivationj as you have it in 2 Pet. iii. 1 5. " And account that the 

kkgland'^s DUtt. €5 

*^ long-suiFefring o£ our Lord is salvation." What is the meaning 
of that ? Ah, Christian thou mayest easily know the meaning of it, 
without turning over many Commentaries : thou art now in Christ, 
safely escaped out of tlie danger of wrath to come ; but thou owest 
this thy salvation to the patience and long-suffering of God to- 
wards thee. For what if lie had cut thee off in tlie days of thy 
ignorance and rebellion against him (and thou knowest thou didst 
give him millions of provocations so to do) where hadst thou now 
been ? Thou hadst never seen Christ, nor the least dawning hope 
of salvation by him. Remember how oft you lay in those days 
upon beds of sickness, upon the brink of the grave ; what was it that 
saved thee from eternal wrath but this admirable patience of Christ ? 
Well, therefore, may the apostle say, *' Account the long-suffering 
*' of God to be salvation.'' 

This patience of God seems to be a branch springing out of his 
mercy and goodness ; only it differs from mercy in this, that man as 
miserable is the object of mercy, but man as criminal is the object 
of patience. Thus briefly of the nature of Divine patience^ a 
power of God over his own wrath, not only to suspend it for a 
time towards them that perish, but to delay the execution of it in a 
design of salvation towards others. 

Secondly, Next we come to shew the various evidences of thii^ 
Divine patience, or wherein it appears in its glorious manifestation* 
towards provoking sinners ; and there are seven full evidences and 
discoveries of it, which should make the hearts of sinners melt 
within them, whilst they are sgunding in their ears. Ah, methinks, 
such as these should melt down your hard hearts before the 
Lord ! 

1. And the first evidence of the riches of his patience shall be 
taken from the multitude of sins that men and women are guilty of 
before him, the least of which is a burden too heavy for any crea- 
ture to bear ; the Psalmist saith, Psal. xl. \% " Innumerable evils 
" have compassed me about." It was true, as applied to the per- 
son of David ; and though it be there applied to the person of 
Christ, yet not one of them were his own sins, but ours ; called 
his, by God's reckoning or imputing them to him. Men can num- 
ber vast sums, millions of millions, but no man can number his own 
sins, they pass all account. There is not a member of the body, 
though never so small, but hath been the instrument of innumera- 
ble evils. For instance, the tongue, the apostle tells us, is a world 
of iniquity. Jam. iii. 6. And if there be a world of sin in one mem- 
ber, what then are the sins of all <f How many idle, frothy, vain 
words, hath thy tongue uttered ? And yet for them, Christ saith, 
*' Men shall give an account in the day of judgment," Mat. xii. 36. 
Aud what have the sins of thy thoughts been ? " The thoughts of 

GS" England's duty. 

" foolishness is sin,"' (saith Solomon,) Prov. 3(xlv. 9. O who cart 
understand his errors ? Yet the patience of God hath not failed 
under such innumerable evils. O glorious patience ! well may it 
be ushered in, in the text with a term of admiration. Behold, I 
stand ! 

2. The second fe\'idence of the Divine patience shall be taken 
from the heinous nature of some sins above others, whereby sin- 
ners fly, as it were, in the very face of God ; and yet he bears with 
long-suffering, lets not loose his hands to cut them off. All sins 
are not of one size ; some have a slighter tincture, and some are 
deeper ; called upon that account scarlet and crimson sins, Isa. i. 
18. double-dyed abominations, sins in grain ; such are sins against 
knowledge, sins committed after convictions, and covenants, and 
rebukes of providence. I do not only speak of outward gross acts 
of sin ; for as the schoolmen well determine, though outward sins 
are sins of greater infamy, yet inward sins may be sins of greater 
guilt ; even those sins that never took air to defame thee in the 
world : but whatever they be, reader, whether outward or inward, 
thy conscience is privy to them, and thy soul may stand amazed at 
the patience of God in forbearing thee all this while under such 
provocations and horrid rebellions against him ; especially, consi- 
dering how many there be this day in hell that never provoked 
God by sinning vnth such an high hand as thou hast done. 

3. It is yet a greater evidence of the patience of God in bearing 
with, and forbearing us under the guilt of that special sin, viz. 
The slighting and neglecting of Jesus Christ: here is a sin that 
goes to the very heart of Jesus Christ ; he can bear any other sin 
rather than that ; and yet this hath Christ borne from every soul of 
you. You are the men and women that have spurned at the yearn- 
ing bowels of his mercies, slighted his grace, trampled his precious 
blood under foot, and yet he hath forborne you unto this day ; read 
Matth. xxii. 5. and let thy conscience answer, whether thou art not 
equally deep in the guilt of making light of Christ with those 
wretches upon whom it is there charged. Christ hath suffered the 
wrath of God in thy room, brought home salvation in gospel-offers 
to thy door : and then to be shghted ! no patience but his own 
could bear it. Every sermon and prayer you have sat under with 
a dead heart ; every motion of his Spirit which you have quenched, 
wliat is this but the making light of Christ, and the great salvation ! 
here the deepest project of infinite wisdom, and the richest gift of 
free-grace, wherein God commends his love to men, are vilely un- 
dervalued as small things : and thus have you done days without 
number ; and yet his hand is not stretched out, to cut thee off in 
thy rebeUion : Who is a God like unto thee ! What patience like the 
patience of Christ I 

England's Dttt St 

4. The length of time the patience of Christ hath endured thee> 
fepeaks the perfection and riches of patience towards thee. 

Consider sinner^ What age thou art ofj how many years thou canst 
number^ and that all this hath been a time of patience, for thou wast 
a transgressor from the womb, Isa. xlviii. 8, 9. yet for his nam^ 
sake hath he deferred his anger, and hath not cut thee off. How 
soon did the wrath of God break forth upon the angels when they 
sinned in heaven ! And haw long hath it borne with thee, whilst 
thou hast been provoking him on earth ? Was there ever patience 
like the patience of God ! Many thousands have been sent away td 
hell since thy day, but thou art yet spared : O that the long-suffering 
of God might be salvation to thee ! 

5. It is a great evidence of the power of divine patience that may 
be drawn from the grieVoilsness of our sins to God, during the 
whole time of his forbearance ; it is true, there is no proper passion 
in the Divine nature, no real perturbation, his anger is a mild and 
holy flame ; yet the contrariety of sin to the holiness of his nature 
is what makes his patience miraculous in the eyes of men. The 
scripture speaking in a condescending language to the understanding 
of the creature, represents God as woUnded to the heart by the sins 
of men ; so in E^ek. vi. 9. " I am broken mth their whotish heart, 
" which hath departed from me ;" and Amos ii- 13. " Behold I am 
** pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves," 
when the axle-tree is ready to crack under the load ; and 2 Chron. 
xxxvi. 16* it is said, " The wrath of the Lord arose agairist his 
*' people till there vvas no remedy ;"" his patience would bear no 
longer, and therefore when he executes his wrath upon provoking 
sinners^ that execution is represented in the nature of an ease or 
relief to his burdened patience and justice, Isa. i. 24. " Ah, saith he, 
" I will ease me of my enemies, and avenge me of my adversaries." 
Yet, observe, it comes in with an (ah) with a kind of regret and 
reluctancy ; so in Isa. x. 25. " Yet a very little while and the indig- 
** nation shall cease, and my anger is in their destruction."" God 
could have given ease and rest this way to his anger long ago, but 
he chuses rather still to bear with thee, than on these terms to ease 
himself of thee. 

Evidence 6. The vast expences of his riches and bounty upon us, 
during the whole time of his forbearance and patience towards us, 
speak him inconceivable and infinite in his long-suffering towards 
us, Rom. ii. 4, 5. " Despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and 
" forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness 
" of God leadeth thee to repentance .?" q. d. Vile sinner, canst 
thou compute the treasures of bounty and goodness, thou hast bee» 
riotously spending and wasting all this while .^ Dost thou know 
what vast sums Christ hath spent upon thee to preserve thee sa 

\qu IV. E 

ijH England's duty. 

long out of hell ? There be two tre£(sures spending upon sinners all 
the time of God's forbearance of them ; there is the precious 
treasure of thy time wasted, and the invaluable streams of gospel- 
grace running all this while at the waste spout : thy time is precious; 
the whole of thy time, which is betwixt thee and eternity, is but 
little, and the most thereof hast been wasted in sin, and cast away 
upon vanity : but that is not all, the treasures of gospel-grace have 
been wasting all this while upon thee. In Zech. iv. 12. it is com- 
pared to golden oil, maintaining the lamps of ordinances ; so it is 
set forth to us in that stately emblem. Who would maintain a lamp 
with golden oil for wanton children to play by ? Yet this hath 
God done while thy soul hath dallied and trifled with him. The 
witnesses and ministers of Christ, in Rev. xi. 3, 4. are compared to 
tliose olive-trees that drop their precious oil, their gifts, graces,- 
yea, and their natural spirits with them, into this lamp, to keep it 
burning ; all this while the blood of Christ hath been running in 
vain, the ministers of Christ preaching and beseeching in vain, the 
Spirit of Christ striving with you in vain. You burn away golden 
oil, and yet your lamp is not gone out. O marvellous patience ! O 
the riches of God"'s forbearance ! 

7. Lastly, The riches of divine patience towards you, are greatly 
heightened and aggravated by the quick dispatch the Lord hath 
made of other sinners, whilst he hath spared and past over you. 
This comparative consideration calls upon you in the apostle's lan- 
guage, Rom. xi. 22. " Behold the goodness and severity of God ; 
*' on them which fell, severity ; but towards thee, goodness, if 
'' thou continue in his goodness, otherwise thou shalt be cut off."" 
Some sinners have been cut off in the beginning of their days, many 
in the very acts of sin, and those not greater than thy sins ; they 
are gone to their own place, and thou still left for a monument of 
the patience and forbearance of God. The sin of Achan was not 
a greater sin than thy covetousness, and the earthliness of thy heart 
is ; the sin of Nadab and Abihu, in offering up strange fire, than 
thy superstition, and offering up uncommanded services to God: 
yet the hand of God fell upon them, and smote them dead in the 
place; in the day and place wherein they sinned, they perished; 
they were taken away in their iniquities, but thou reserved. O 
that it might be for an instance and example of the riches of Divine 
patience, which may at last lead thee to repentance ! 

Thus I have given you seven evidences of the wonderful patience 
of Christ, who hath stood, and still doth stand at the door and knock. 
Next we will enquire into the grounds and reasons of this marvellous 
|)atience of Christ, this astonishing long-suffering of God towai'ds 
sinners ; and there are divers obvious reasons of the long-suffering 
of God towards men. 

England's duty. 69 

Reason 1. The exercise of his patience is a standing testimony of 
his reCdntilable and merciful nature towards sinful man. This he 
shewed forth in his patience toward Paul, a great example of his 
irierciful nature, for a pattern to them that should hereafter believe 
on him, 1 Tim. i. 16. The long-suffering of God is a special part 
of his manifestative glory ; and therefore when Moses desired a 
sight of his glory, E^cod. xxxiv. 6. he proclaims his name, " The 
" Lord, the Lord God^ merciful and gracious, long-suffering, 
" and abundant in goodness imd truth."" He would have poor 
sinners lortk towards him as an atoneable Deity, a God willing to 
be reconciled, a God that retaineth not his anger for ever ; but if 
poor sinners will take hold of his strength, and make peace with 
him, they may have peace, Isa. xxvii. 4. This long-suffering is an 
attribute very expressive of the Divine nature ; he is wilHng sinners 
should know, whatever their provocations have been, there is 
room for pardon and peace, if they will yet come in to accept the! 
term?/ Thi& patience is a diadern belonging to the imperial crown 
of heaven ; the Lord glories in it, as what is peculiar to himself, 
Hos. xi. 9. I will not execute the fierceness of my anger; for I am 
" God and hot man ;" q. d. Had I been as man, the holiest, 
meekest, and mortifiedst man upon earth, I had consumed them 
long ago ; but I am God and not man, my patience rs above all 
created patience; no husband can bear with his mfe, no parent 
with his child, as God hath boi-ne with you. That is one reason 
of Christ's waiting upon trifling sinners, to give proof of his gra- 
cious, merciful, and reconcilable nature towards the worst of 

Reason 2. The Lord exercises this admirable patieiice towards 
sinners, with design thereby to lead them to repentance ; that is 
the direct aim and intention of it. The Lord desires, and delights 
to see ingenuous relentings and brokenness of heart for sin ; and 
there is nothing like his forbearance and patience for promoting 
such an evangelical repentance. All the terrors of the law will 
not break the heart of a sinner, as the patience and long-suffering 
of God will do; therefore it is said, Rom. ii. 4. "That the good- 
" ness, forbearance, and long-suffering of God lead men to re- 
" pentance':'' these are fitted to work upon all those principles of 
humanity which incline men to repentance; reason, conscience, 
gratitude, feel the influences of the goodness of God herein, and 
melt under it; Saul's heart relented in this case, 1 Sam. xxiv. 17. 
" Is this thy voice, my Son David ? and Saul lift up his voice and 
" wept : and he said to David, Thou art more righteous than I, 
" for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded 
^ thee evil." Thus the goodness and forbearance of God doth, 



as it were, take a sinner by tlie hand, leads him into a corner, and 
saith, come, let thee and me talk together, thus and thus vile hast 
thou been, and thus and thus long-suffering and merciful have I been 
to thee ; thy heart hath been full of sin, the heart of thy God hath 
been full of pity and mercy : This puts the sinner into tears, breaks 
his heart in pieces ; if any thing in the world will melt a hard heart, 
this will do It. O how good hath God been to me ! How have I 
tried his patience to the uttermost, and still he waiteth to be gracious, 
and is exalted that he may have compassion ; the sobs and tears, 
the ingenuous thaws and relentings of a sinner's heart, under the 
apprehensions of the sparing mercy and goodness of God, is the 
music of heaven. 

Reason 3. The Lord exercises this long-suffering towards sinners, 
to clear his justice in the damnation of all the obstinate refusers, of 
Christ and mercy. Christ waits at our doors now, that he may be 
clear in his sentence against us hereafter. This patience of Christ 
takes away all apologies and pleas out of the mouths of impenitent 
sinners ; the more Christ's patience hath been, the less defence or 
plea they will have for themselves. 

Think with thj'self, sinner, what wilt thou answer in the great day, 
when Christ shall say. Did I riot stand at thy door from day to day, 
from sabbath to sabbath, from' year to year, calUng, wooing, per- 
suading thee to be reconciled, and accept pardon and mercy in the 
proper season of them, and thou wouldest not? Rev. ii. 21. "I gave 
" her space to repent, and she repented not.'' Well, the Lord gives 
you time now, a space for repentance, such a space as millions of 
souls, gone out of time into a miserable eternity, never had. With 
v/homsoever Christ hath been quick and severe, to be sure he hath 
not been so with you. This time of Christ's patience will be evi- 
dence enough to clear Christ and condemn you ; men and angels 
shall applaud the sentence as dreadful as it is, and say, righteous art 
thou, O Lord, in judging thus. 

Reason 4. The Lord draws forth and exercises his admirable 
patience towards sinners for the continuation and propagation of the 
church. The church must be continued and propagated from age 
to age ; and if God should be quick in cutting off sinners as soon 
as ever they provoke him. Whence should the elect of God rise in 
this world ? There are thousands of God's elect in the loins of 
God's enemies. Many that will heartily embrace Christ, must rise 
from such as reject him. 

Now if God should cut off these in the beginning of their pro- 
vocations, How should the church be continued.? Where had 
good Abijah and Hezekiah been, if. wicked Jeroboam and Ahaz 
had been cut off in their first transgressions ? The Lord suffers 
many a wicked parent to stand for a time under his patience ; be* 

• England's duty, 71 

cause children are to spring from them who will obey and embrace 
that Christ whom their wicked parents rejected : yea, the wicked 
do not only propagate the church, but are useful to preserve and de- 
fend it : as the useless chaff is a defence to the wheat, Rev. xii. 16. 
« The earth shall help the woman." 

Reason 5. To conclude, The Lord exerciseth this long-suffering 
toward sinners, in a gracious condescension to the prayers of his 
people. " Were it not that the Lord had left a small remnant, 
" we had been as Sodom, we had been Uke unto Gomorrha,'' 
Isa. i. 9. 

The prayers and intercessions of the saints are a skreen betwixt 
wicked men and the wrath of God for a time, Job xxii. 30. The 
innocent preserve the island. The world stands by the prayers of 
the saints ; what multitudes of rebellious Christ-despising sinners 
swarm this day in every part of this nation ? Such as declare, by 
their open practice, they will not have Christ to reign over them, 
now contemn his offers, despise his messengers ; but blessed be God, 
yea, and let them bless him too, that there are others mourning to 
the Lord for them, beseeching his forbearance towards them. Lit- 
tle do the wicked know how much they are beholden to the pray- 
ers of the saints. These and such like reasons prevail with the 
Lord Jesus to stand in a waiting, patient posture, at the doors of 
sinners. Ah, how loth is he to give them up ! We now proceed 
to the uses of this point by way of, 

1. Information. 

2. Exhortation. 

3. Consolation. 

Use 1. And First, This point will be very fruitful for informa- 
tion of our understandings in divers great and useful points, both 
doctrinal and practical, wherein every soul among you is deeply 
concerned ; and therefore, I beseech you, let them be heard and 
pondered with an answerable attention and seriousness of Spirit ; 
And the first inference shall be this. 

Infer. 1. If the Lord Jesus do exercise such admirable patience 
towards sinners. Then how much better is itjbr poor sinners to be 
in the hands of Christ, tlian in the hands of the best and Jwliest man 
in the world ? O sinner, it is better for thee to fall into the hands of 
the meek and merciful Jesus, than into the hands of the dearest 
friend thou hast upon earth ; no creature can bear what Christ 
bears : no patience like the patience of Christ : It is said of Moses, 
Numb. xi. 12. " Now the man Moses was meek above all men upon 
" the face of the earth." There was never such a man born into 
the world, for patience, meekness, and long-suffering as Moses was ; 
and yet for all that, this mirror of meekness could not bear t*he 
provocations of Israel : You rebels, saith he, must I draw water 


T2 england'*s duty. 

for you out of the rock ? Thus was his spirit ruffled with the 
provocations of Israel, and this lost him the land of Canaan. Jo- 
nah was a good man, a prophet of the Lord ; yet because the Lord 
would not be so quick and severe with Nineveh, as Jonah would 
have had him, in what uncomely language doth his angry soul re- 
turn upon his God ? Jonah iv.' 2. '^ O Lord, (saith he) was not 
** this my saying when I was yet in my country ; Therefore 
^' I fled before unto Tarshish, for I knew thou wert a gra- 
" cious God and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, 
" and repentest thee of the evil ; therefore, now, O Lord, take, 
*' I beseech thee, my life from me, for it is better for me to die 
*^ than to hve ;" q. d. Ah, Lord, I knew it would come to this, 
I knew thy gracious nature, how inclinable thou art to mercy, and 
that upon the first appearance of their repentance, thou wouldst 
repent of the evil, and so free-grace would make me as a liar among 

Nay, give me leave to speak a higher word than all this, and let 
it not seem strange, that the patience of the glorified saints in 
heaven is nothing to the patience of Christ towards provoking sin- 
ners upon earth. Those glorified souls that be above, though they 
have patience among other graces, perfected in its kind, yet still it 
is but created, finite patience, and it cannot bear what Christ's 
patience bears : Take an instance of it out of Rev. vi. 9, 10, 11. 
" I saw under the altar the souls of those that were slain for the 
" word of God, and for the testimony which they held ; and they 
" cried ^vith a loud voice, saying. How long, O Lord, holy and 
" true, dost not thou judge and avenge our blood on them that 
" dwell on the earth : And it was said unto them. That they should 
" rest for a little season.'^ Here you see glorified souls less able to 
bear the slow pace of justice towards their enemies, than Christ 
\yas. It is true, here was no sinful impatience, but yet a patience 
short of Christ's infinite patience. Ah, if you were to depend 
upon the patience of any creature in heaven or earth, you had 
worn it out long ago. I will not execute the fierceness of me in an- 
ger, for I am God and not man. Ah, it is well we have to do with 
God ; if a man find his enemy, will he let him go away ? 1 Sam. 
:sxiv. 19. No, he will reckon before he part with him. Sinner, 
the Lord finds thee daily in thy sins, and yet lets thee go ; vet 
beware thou try not his patience too far, lest vengeance overtake 
thee at last, and pay the justice of God with all the arrears due to 

Infer. 2. Hence it follows, that convinced and broken-hearted sin- 
ners need not be discouraged in going to Jesus Christ for mercy ^ 
seeing he exercises such wonderful patience towards obstinate and 
7-efusing sinners^ 

England's duty. 73 

This inference breathes pure gospel ; it is a cordial to cheer the 
heart that is moving towards Christ with fear and trembhng. It is 
a great artifice of the devil to daunt and discourage poor convin- 
ced sinners, by telling them there is no hope of mercy for them ; 
that they shall find the arms of mercy closed, the bowels of com- 
passion shut up; that the time of mercy is now past, they come too 
late. O how busy is Satan with such suggestions as these in many 
of your souls ! Biit I am come to tell you this day, that these are 
but the artifices of the enemy, you are going to the fountain of 
mercy, patience, goodness, and long-suffering; go on, and jou 
shall find abundantly more than you expect. He will not cast off 
a soul that comes mourning and panting towards him, and is willing 
to subscribe the gospeLarticles of reconciliation : No, he will not 
shut out such a soul, whatever its rebellions and provocations have 
been. Sinner, thou art going to the meek and merciful Jesus, 
Matth. xi. 28. " Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy 
" laden, and I will give you rest ; take my yoke upon you, and 
" learn of me, » for I am meek and lowly."" You are going to 
meekness and. mercy itself; he is the Lamb of God, that is his 
name : Go on then, poor trembling sinner, do not stand any longer 
at, shall I, shall I ? with Christ ; but make a bold but necessary 
adventure of faith ; try him once, and then report what you find 
him to be : Certainly if he exercise such patience towards the vessels 
of wrath, whilst they are fitting to destruction, as he doth, Rom. ix. 
S2. he will not want patience for a vessel of mercy, preparing by 
humiliation and faith for Christ and glory. Doth he forbear those 
that stand in defiance, and will he fall upon those that are mourning 
to him upon the knee of submission ? Shall a damned wretch, 
that is preparing for hell, find so much forbearance, and a poor 
broken-hearted sinner none ? It cannot be. If Jesus Christ forbore 
thee when thy heart was hard as a rock, and could not yield one 
tear, one sigh for sin, will he execute his wrath upon thee, will he 
shew thee no mercy, when thy heart is broken all to pieces with 
sorrow, and filled with loathing and detestation against sin, and 
thyself for sin ? Did he forbear thee when sin was thy deliglit ? 
And will he destroy thee now it is thy burden .^ It cannot be. 

Moreover, if the Lord Jesus had not a mind to shew mercy to 
thy poor soul, now that thine eyes are opened, and thine heart 
touched to the quick, why hath he forborne the execution of his 
wrath so long ? He might have taken his own time to cut you off 
when he would,^ he might have made any day the execution-day : 
But sure, among all the davs of thy life, the day of thy humilia- 
tion, the day of thy faith, is not like to prove that day. 

Again, as great and vile sinners as thyself have adventured upon 
the grace of Christ, and found it infinitely beyond therr expecta- 

E i 

74 England's duty. 

tion. These the Lord Jesus hath set forth as encouraging exam- 
ples to all the broken-hearted sinners that are coming after ; that 
they, seeing ho\y it hath fared with their fore-runners to Christ, 
might be encouraged to come on with the more confidence, 1 Tim. 
i. 16. '^ But I obtained mercy, that in me first Christ might shew 
*' forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them that should here- 
*' after believe on him to life everlasting.'' Well then, shut your 
ears against all the whispers of Satan, entertain no evil reports of 
Christ ; the devil loves to draw a false picture of Christ, and repre-. 
sent him in the most discouraging form to poor trembling sinners ; 
but you mil not find him so. What can Christ say more to con- 
vince and satisfy souls than he hath done .'* He hath left the bosom 
of the Father, he hath taken union with thy nature, he hath pour* 
ed out his soul unto death ; he hath told us, " Those that come 
*' unto him, he will in no wise cast out," Thousands are gone be- 
fore us in the paths of repentance and faith, and found it according 
to his word : you have been spared all your hfe to this day of mer- 
cy. O do not stand off now upon such weak objections. 

Infer, S. The long-suffering of Christ towards sinners instructeth 
and teacheth his ministers to imitate their Lord in a christlike pati^ 
ence and long-suffering. Christ is our pattern of patience ; if he 
wait, much more may we : We think it much to stand from sabbath 
to sabbath, wooing, pleading, and inviting, and are apt to be dis- 
couraged when we see no fruit follow. The want of success is apt 
to cast us under Jeremiah's temptation, " To speak no more in his 
" name ;" and to lament with Isaiah, " That we have laboured in 
<^ vain." It is a hard case to study, pray, and preach, and see all 
our labours return in vain. It is not so much the expending as the 
returning of our labours upon us in vain, that discourageth our 
hearts. Ministers would not die so fast, saith Mr. Lockier on Colos- 
sians, nor be grey-headed so soon, did they see the fruits of their la^ 
bours upon their people. But let us look to our pattern in the text, 
^* Behold, I stand at the door and knock." If the master wait, let 
pot the servant be weary : ^* The servant of the Lord must not 
*' strive, but be patient toward all ; waiting, if at any time God 
^' will give them repentance," 2 Tim, iv. 24. 

Though the beginnings be small, our latter end may greatly in- 
crease : Though we now fish with angles, and take but now one, 
and then another, the time may come, and we hope it is at the door, 
wheji we shall spread our nets, and inclose multitudes. Aretius, a 

})ious Divine, comforteth himself thus, under the unsuccessfulness of 
lis labours, Dabit posterior cetas tractabiliores fortasse animos, mi- 
tiora pectora quam nostra habent tempora. ' Perhaps, future days 
' will afford more tractable spirits, and easier tempers of mind, than 
* our present times afford.' Reside, the fruit of our labours may spring 


up to a blessed harvest when we are gone, Jolin iv. 37. One man 
sowetli, and another reapeth ; but if not, our reward will not be 
measured by the success, but the sincerity of our designs and la- 
bours. Our zeal for conversion of souls to Christ will be accepted, 
but our discouragement in his service will certainly displease him. 
If Israel be not gathered, yet shall we be glorious in the eyes of the 
Lord. However, let this be a caution to you that hear us, that 
you cast not our souls under such discouragements. If I may speak 
the sense of others from my own experience, then I can assure you 
that the fixedness of your hearts in the ways of sin, and your un- 
tractableness to the calls of God, are a greater burden and discou- 
ragement to us than all the sufferings we have met withal from 
the world ; yet are we contented to pray in hope, and preach in 
hope, encouraging ourselves (the Lord grant it be not without 
ground) that a crop shall yet spring up, which shall make the har- 
vest-men laugh. 

Infer. 4. From the patience and long suffering of Christ, we may 
learn the invaluable preciousncss of souls, and the high esteem Christ 
luithfor them. 

Though your souls be cheap in your o^vn eyes, and you are con- 
tented to sell them for a trifle, for a little sensual pleasure and ease, 
(some of you will hazard them for a shilling;) yet certainly Jesus 
Christ hath an high esteem of them, else he would never stand 
knocking with such importunity, and waiting with such wonderful 
patience for the salvation of them. Christ knows their worth, 
though you do not ; he accounts, and so should you, one of your 
souls more worth than the whole world, Mat. xvi. 26. The soul 
of the poorest child or meanest servant that hears me this day, is 
of greater value in Christ's eye than the whole world ; and he hath 
given three great evidences of it, (1.) That he thought it worth his 
heart-blood to redeem and save it : 1 Pet. i. 19. " you were not 
" redeemed with silver and gold, but \vdth the precious blood of 
** the Son of God.''' Had they not been precious in his eyes, he 
would never have shed his most precious blood to ransom them. 
(2.) Were they not highly valuable in his eyes, he would never 
wait with such unwearied patience to save them as he doth. He 
hath borne thousands of repulses and unreasonable denials from 
you : Sinner, Christ hath knocked at thy door in many a sermon, in 
many a prayer, in many a sickness, in all which thou hast put him 
off, denied him, or delayed him ; yet still he continues knocking 
and waiting. Thou couldst not have made the poorest beggar in 
the world wait at thy door so long as thy Redeemer hath been 
made to wait, and yet he is not gone ; at this day his voice sounds 
in thine ears, " Behold, I stand at the door, and knock."" Here is 
clear demonstration of the preciousncss of thy soul in the Redeemer's 

T6 England's crTv. 

eyes. And tlien, lastly, when Christ ends the treaty, and gives up 
the souls of men for lost and unpersuadable, with what regret and 
sorrow doth he part witli them ! Never did one friend part from 
another with such demonstrations of sorrow as Christ parte th with 
the souls of sinners. The bowels of his compassion roll together ; 
for he knows what is coming upon them, and what that eternal 
misery is into which their wilful rejection of him will cost them : In 
Liike xix. 42. you find the Redeemer's tears wept over obstinate 
Jerusalem ; " And when he came nigh to the city, he wept over it, 
" and said, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, if thou hadst known, at least 
" in this thy day, the things that belong to thy peace : but now 
'' they are hid from thine eyes."^ Like unto this is that expression, 
Isa. i. 24. " Ah, I will ease me of mine enemies,'^ &c. Though 
it be an ease to his justice, yet he cannot give them up without an 
Aky an intei^ction of sorrow ; so in Hos. xi. 8. " How shall I 
*' give thee up, Ephraim ? How shall I deliver thee, Judah ?"" I 
must do it, but how shall I go about it ? All these expressions 
shew the great value God hath for your souls; and did you know 
it also, certainly you would not make Christ wait one hour 

Infer. 5. Hence it follows, That greater is the sin, and severer 
will be the condemnation of them that perish under the gospel, than 
of all other people in the world. Let me speak freely to you that 
hear me this day. Jesus Christ hath spent more of the riches of his 
patience upon you in one year, yea, in this xery day, than he hath 
spent upon the heathen world in all the days oi their lives ; they 
never heard of Christ, and the great salvation ; they have had no 
calls to faith and repentance, as you have had ; do not think God 
hath dealt at this rate with other nations. You have his sabbaths, 
ministers, calls ; he hath not dealt so with other nations, and as 
for these things they have not known them, Psak cxlvii. 19. God 
hath dealt in a peculiar way with us, and these special favours will 
make dreadful accounts. He told the Jews, among whom he had 
preached and wrought his miracles, '' It would be more tolerable 
"for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment than for 
them ;'* and in his name I will tell you this day, that barbarous 
Indians and Americans will have a milder hell than you ; Mitius 
ardent : And as the Lord told Ezekiel, chap. iii. 5, 6. " Thou art 
not sent to a " people of a strange speech and of a hard language, 
*' whose words thou canst not understand ; surely had I sent 
*' thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee: But the 
*" house of Israel would not hearken unto thee, for they will not 
** hearken unto me : For all the house of Israel are impudent and 
" hard-hearte<l.'' 

Ah, brethren, it is a sad truth, that the ministers of Christ have 


found more fruit of their labours among the savage Americans than 
in P2norland, people born and bred up under the gospel. Had a 
heathen people your sabbaths, your ministers, and bibles, they 
would not deal by Christ as you have done : But look you to it, 
for certainly the severity of his justice will at last recompense the 
expence of his patience : There are two glasses turned up this day, 
and both almost run down ; the glass of the gospel running down 
on earth, and the glass of Christ's patience running down in hea,- 
ven. Be sure of it, that for every sand of mercy, every drop of 
love that runs do\vn in vain in this world, a drop of wrath runs 
into the .vial of wrath which is fitting in heaven. 

Infer. 6. If Christ hath exercised such admirable patience and 
long-syfferin^ towards you, before he could gain entrance into your 
hearts ; then you have all the reason in the world to exercise your 
patience for Christ, and account all lo7ig-suffering to be your un- 
questionable duty. Christ was not weary in waiting upon you, be 
not you weary in waiting upon him, or for him. Now, there are 
three things wherein the people of God will have much occasion to 
exercise their ]")atience^ with respect to Christ. 

(1.) You will need a great deal of patience to wait for the returns 
and answers of your prayers ; you knock and wait at the door of 
mercy, and no answer comes ; hereupon discouragement and weari- 
ness seizeth your spirits. Possibly some of you have prayers many 
years gone upon the file in heaven, some upon spiritual accounts, 
and some upon temporal ; and because the answer is not dispatched, 
your eyes are ready to fail with waiting : For the Lord may bear 
long with his own elect, Luke xviii. 7. The seed of prayer lies 
under the clods, and will at last spring up, " For he never said to 
" the seed of Jacob, seek me in vain :" None seek God in vain, 
but those that seek him vainly. Now, you should not be too quick 
and short-breathed in waiting upon God for the returns of prayer, 
considering how long you made Christ wait upon you. 

(2.) You will have occasion to exercise your patience in bearing 
the burden of reproaches, and sufferings for Christ; " For to you 
" it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe, but also 
" to suffer for his sake," Phil. i. 29. Sufferings, you see, are the 
gifts of Christ, the comfort of suffering is his gift, and so are the 
abilities to suffer also ; and that which will increase your suffering 
ability, \\i\\ be the consideration of Christ's long suffering towards 
you, and the hard things he endured for you and from you. 

(3.) You will have occasion to exercise your patience for the day 
of your complete redemption and salvation. If you love Christ 
fervently, the time of your separation from him will be borne diffi- 
cultly ; vehement love needs the allay of patience, ^ Thes. iii. 5. 


" The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the 
*' patient waiting for Christ."^ Others need much patience to die, 
but such will need as much patience to live ; but wherever the 
exercises of your patience shall be, whether in waiting for the 
returns of your prayers, in bearing the cross and sufferings of Christy 
or in waiting for the day of your complete redemption and enjoy- 
ment of Christ : This single consideration, that Christ stood and 
waited so long upon you, is enough to fortify your patience against 
all the difficulties it shall encounter. 

Infer. 7. Lastly, If Christ thus patiently wait upon trifling and 
obstinate sinners ; then let no godly person he discouragedy hecause 
ifieir unregenerate relations have not yet made their first step to^ 
wards Christy in the way of repentance and saving Jaith^ 

It may be you have laid up a great stock of prayers for them, the 
believing husband hath prayed for his unbeheving wife, and the be- 
lieving wife for her unbeheving husband ; godly parents for their 
ungodly children, and the gracious child for his ungodly parents ; 
and yet no returns of prayer appear. Many cries are gone up to 
heaven like that of Abraham, Gen. x\di. 18. " O tliat Ishmael 
*' might hve before thee."" Well, be not discouraged, Christ is 
contented to wait, and therefore well may you. Those cries of 
parents. Lord, my poor child is in the state of nature, look in mercy^ 
upon him, open his eyes, break his heart for sin, draw his will to 
Christ ; these cries may not be lost, though the fruit of them yet 
appear not : Consider how long Christ waited upon you. There 
be three things that encourage hope : (1.) That your hearts and 
theirs were of the same natural complexion and temper ; and the 
same power which opened your hearts can open theirs ; thy under- 
standing was once as dark, thy heart as hard, and thy will as 
inflexible as thy carnal relations now are. The same hand that 
opened thy heart can open theirs. Do not think Christ had an^ 
easier task to win thy heart, than he will have to win theirs. 
Almighty power wrought upon you, and the same power can 
work eff'ectually upon them; the Lord's hand is not shortened. 
(2.) You have reason to wait, for as much as it is probable you 
yourselves have put stumbling-blocks in the way of their souls to 
Christ, and hindered the returns of your ovm prayers for the con- 
version of your carnal relatives. O Christians, there is more due 
to them than your prayers, prayers must be backed with examples ; 
had they not only heard your cries to God for them, but seen your 
suitable encouraging pattern set before them also, you and yours 
might have rejoiced together long ago. But (3.) consider that 
God many times makes the fruit of such prayers to spring up after 
those that soAved them are dead and gone. The Lord may give 
life to your prayers when you are dead : certainly your prayers die 


iK)t With you. It is the opinion of some, that l^auPs conversion 
was the return of Stephen's prayer, " Lord, lay not this sin to 
«* their charge." Stephen died, but his prayers hved, and were 
answered upon one that stood by and consented to his death. But 
however it be, wait on ; if your prayers come not into their bosoms, 
they will certainly return into your own. Here is duty discharged, 
love to Christ and their souls manifested ; which will be your com* 
fort, however God dispose the event. 

II. Use. 

Secondly^ The doctrine of Chrises patience puts a great and seri- 
ous exhortation into my mouth this day, to press one of the great- 
est duties upon you that ever I pressed in the whole course of my 
ministry among you : And could I deliver this exhortation to you 
upon my knees, with tears of blood mingled with my words, might 
that prevail, I would surely do it. My exhortation is to all that 
are in an unregenerate state, that they presume not to try the pa- 
tience of Christ any longer. If you have any regard to your eter- 
nal happiness, exercise not his patience beyond this hour. O that 
this hour might put an end to Christ's waiting, and your danger ! 
Hitherto you have wearied men, but will you weary God also ? 
Christ hath called but you have refused ; he hath stretched out 
his hands, but you have not regarded. Your thoughts have been 
wandering after vanity, whilst the voice of the gospel hath been 
sounding in your eyes ; 'some of you have been sottish, and incapa- 
ble to apprehend spiritual truths, others of you sensual, given up to 
the pleasures of the world, and abandoning all serious thoughts 
about the world to come. Some of you have been buried alive in 
the cares of the world, and others settled upon a dead formahty in 
religion: And to this day Christ hath called upon you in vain. 
Now that which I exhort you to is, that you venture not to try 
tlie patience of Christ one day longer ; if you have any regard to 
the everlasting happiness of your souls, come not under the guilt 
and danger of one denial or delay more. If you ask me why ? 
Why may we not venture a little longer ? Christ hath borne all 
this while, and will he not bear a little longer ? May we not take a 
little more pleasure in sin ^ May we not hazard one sermon or sab- 
bath more, and yet not perish ? I answer, No ! If your souls be 
precious in your eyes, let there be no more denials, nor delays to 
Christ's suit For, 

1. How patient, and long-suffering soever Christ hath been, yet 
there will be an end of the day of his patience ; a time when he 
will wait no longer, when his Spirit shall strive no more with you. 
There is a knock of Christ at the heart, which will be the last 
knock that ever he will give ; and after that no more knocks : a 

80' E^ GLAND S DlJTT. 

time when the master erf" the house will rise up, and the door be shuti 
You liave had to do witli si meek and patient Christ hitherto ; but 
believe it, sinners, there is a day called the day of ike wrath of 
the Lamh^ and that day is dreadfal, Rev. vi. 16. where you find 
sinners crying to the roclis and mountains to Jail upon tliem, and 
hide them from the wrath of the Lamb. O if this wrath be once 
kindled* though but a little ; blessed are they that trust in him, that 
have finished their agreement with him. The day of Christ's pa- 
tience towards Jerusalem, was a long day, but it had an end, Mat. 
xxiii. 37. and it ended in their desolation : therefore try the patience 
of Christ no further ; you know not the limits of it, it may end 
with your next refusal, and then where are you ? 2. The longer 
Christ hath exercised his patience already towards you, the more 
terribly will he avenge the abuse of it in hell upon you. It is past 
doubt with me, that there are different degrees of torment in hell ; 
the scriptures are plainly, and clearly for it. Now among all the 
aggravations of the torments of hell, none can be greater than the 
reflections of damned souls upon the abused patience and grace of 
Christ : those that had the best means, the loudest calls, and the 
longest day under the gospel, will certainly have the hottest place 
in hell, if the goodness and long-suffering of Christ do not now 
lead them to repentance ; the cries of such souls wall be heard above 
the cries of all other miserable wretches that are cast aAvay. "It 
" shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah, than for Ca- 
" pemaum,'' Mat. xi. 23v O friends^ you little know the smart 
reflections of conscience in hell, upon such hours as you now enjoy ; 
such wooing, charming voices and allurements to Christ as you now 
hear. There are many thousands of souls in hell, that came thither 
out of the dark, heathenish parts of the world, where they never 
heard of Christ ; but your misery will be far beyond theirs, your 
reflections more sharp and bitter : therefore delay no longer, lest 
you perish with peculiar aggravation of misery. 3. Try the patience 
of Christ no further. I beseech you, for as much as you see every 
day the patience of Christ ending towards others ; patience coming 
down, and justice ascending the stage, to triumph over the abusers 
of mercy. You do not only read in Scripture the finishing and 
ending of God's patience with men, but you may see it every day 
with your own eyes. If you look into Scripture, you may find the 
patience of God ended towards multitudes of sinners, who possibly 
had the same presumptions, and vain hopes, for the continuance of 
it, that you now have ; if you look into 1 Pet. iii. 19, 20. you shall 
there find, that Christ went and preached to the spirits in prison, 
which sometimes were disobedient, ivhen once the long-suffering of 
God waited in the days of Noah. The meaning of it is this, that in 
the days before the flood, Christ by his Spirit strove with the disobe- 

EX<JLANl)\s DUTY; 81 

dient and rebellious sinners in the ministry of Noah, wlro then were 
li\inor men and women, as now we are, but now are sj)irits in pri- 
son, i. e. damned souls in hell, for their disobedience : and truly^ 
brethren, you may frequently behold tlie glass of patience run 
down> the very last sand in it :ipent upon others. Whenever you 
see a wicked, christless man or woman die, you see the end of 
God's patience with that man or woman ; and all this for a warn-" 
ing to you, tliat you adventure not to trifle and dally with it as they 
did. 4. Lastly, Do not try God's patience any longer (if you love 
your souls) for this reason, because when men grow bold, and en- 
courage themselves in sin, upon the account of God's forbearance 
and long-suffering towards them, there cannot be a more certain 
sign that his patience is very near its end towards that soul. It is 
time for God to put an end to his patience, when it is made an en- 
couragement to sin ; God cannot suffer so vile an abuse of his glo- 
rious patience, nor endure to see it turned into wantonness : this 
quickly brings up sin to its finishing act and perfection, and then 
patience is just upon finishing also. That patience is thus abused, 
appears from Eccl. viii.,11. and when it is so abused, look for a 
sudden change. O, therefore, beware of provoking God, for now 
tJie day of patience is certainly near its end with sinners, Prov. L 
24, 25, 26. " Because I have called, and ye refused, I have 
*' stretched out my hand, and no man regardeth ; but ye have set 
" at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also 
" will laugh at your calamity, and mock when your fear cometh ; 
" when your feareth cometh as desolation, and your destruction 
" cometh as a whirlwind.'" Ah, when sinners scoff and mock at 
the thrcatenings of God, and bear themselves up upon his patience, 
as that which will never crack under them ; then look out for a 
whirlwind, a sudden tempest of wrath, which will hurry such souls 
into hell. Then misery comes like a storm blowing furiously from 
all quarters. Well, the heavens are yet clear over you, but a 
storm is nigh, and may certainly be presaged from such vile abuses 
of the glorious patience of Christ towards you. This is the first 
exhortation, try not the patience of Christ, by any further de- 

Exliort. 2. Admire Chrisf s patience and forbearance of you un- 
til now, that he hath not cut you off in your sin, but lengthened 
out his patience unto this day, and brought about your salvation 
by his long-suffering towards you. Here now I must change my 
voice, and turn it unto those whose hearts the Lord hath opened. 
Stand amazed at the riches of his grace towards you, and see that 
you account this long-suffering of God to be your salvation ; for in 
plain truth it is so : your salvation was bound up in Christ's for- 
bearance. If Christ had not borne as he did, you had not been 

82 i:5:glaxd's duty. 

where yo^J ^i'^- I could heartily wish, that all the time yoxi (-art 
redeem from the necessary employments you have in tlie world, 
may now be spent in an humble, thankful admiration of this admi- 
rable grace and patience of Christ, and answerable duties to the 
intentions and ends thereof To this end I shall subjoin divers 
weighty considerations, which, methinks, should melt every heart 
wherein the least dram of saving grace is found. 

Consideration 1. Bethink yourselves of the great and manifold 
provocations you have given the Lord to put an end to all further 
patience towards you ; not only in the days of your vanity and un- 
regeneracy, but even since your reconciliation to him. Do you 
not believe thousands of sinners are now in the depths of hell, who 
never provoked the Lord at a higher rate than you have done ? 
Were you not herded once among the vilest of sinners ? 1 Cor. vi. 
11. " And such were some of you ;" as vile as the vilest among 
them : yet you are washed in the blood of Christ, and your com- 
panions roaring in the lowest hell ; or if your lives were moi'e clean, 
sure your hearts and natures were as filthy as theirs. And certain- 
ly, your sins, since the time of reconciliation have had special ag- 
gravations in them, enough to put an end to all further mercies 
towards you. Light and love have aggravated these sins, and yet' 
the Lord will not cast you off. 

Consid. 2. How often have you been upon the rery brink of hell, 
in the days of your unregeneracy ? Every sickness, and every dan- 
ger of life which you have escaped in those days, was a marvellous 
escape from the everlasting wrath of God. Had thy disease pre- 
vailed one degree further, thou hadst been past hope, and out of 
the reach of mercy's arm now. Doubtless some of you can remem- 
ber, when in such and such a disease, you were like a ship riding 
in a furious storm by one cable, and two or three of the strands 
of that cable were snapt asunder. So it hath been with you, the 
thread of life, how weak soever, hath held till the bonds of union 
betwixt Christ and your souls were fastened, and the eternal hazard 
over. This is admirable grace. 

Consid. 3. How often hath death come up into your windows, 
entered into your houses, fetched off your nearest relations ; but 
had no commission to carry you out with them, because the Lord 
had a design of mercy upon your souls ? 

This cannot but affect a gracious heart, that God should smite 
so near, and yet spare you. 

Consid. 4. Lastly, This is affecting, yea, very transporting, that 
God hath not only given you time beyond others, but in that time 
the precious opportunities and means of your salvation, both ex- 
ternal and internal ; there is the very marrow and kernel of the 
mercy. Had God lengthened out hb patience for a while, but 

England's dutV. 83 

eiven you no means of salvation, or afforded yoii the tiieatiSj but 
denied you the blessing arid efficacy of them ; at the most it could 
have been but a reprieve from hell : But for the Lord to give you 
the gospel, and with the gospel to send down his Spirit, to perstiade 
and open thy heart to Christ ; here is the riches of his goddness, a^ 
Well as forbearance. 

Exhort 3. This doctrme of the patience of Christ exhorts all 
that have felt it, to exercise a Christ-like patience towards others ; 
as you have found the benefit of divine patience yourselves, see 
that you exercise the meekness and long-suffering of Christians to- 
wards those that have wronged and injured you. Who shoulcj 
shew patience more than those that have found it.^ Do not be 
severe, short, and quick with others, who have lived yourselves 
so many years upon the long-suffering of God. We are poor, 
short-spirited creatures, quick to revenge injuries ; but oh, had God 
been so to usj miserable had our condition been. Christ hath made 
this duty the very scope of that excellent parable, Mat. xviii. from 
ver. 25. onward, where the king takes an account of his servants, 
reckoning with them one by one, and amongst them finds one 
which c^ed him ten thousand talents, and having not to pay, com- 
mands him, his wife and children, and all he had^ to be sold, and 
payment to be made ; but the servant falling down, and begging 
patience, his Lord was moved with compassion, and loosed him, 
and not only forbore, but forgave the debt. One would think the 
heart of this man should have been a fountain of compassion to- 
wards others ; but see the deep corruption of nature ; the same 
servant finding one of his fellow-servants which owed him but an 
hundred pence, laid hands on him, and took him by the throat. 
Alas, the wrongs done to us are but trifles, compared with our 
injuries done to God; where others have wronged you once, you 
have ^vronged God a thousand times. Methinks the patience of 
Christ towards you, should melt your hearts into an ingenuous 
easiness to forgive others, especially, considering that an unfor- 
giving spirit is a dreadful sign of an unforgiven person. 

Exhort. 4. Burden not the patience of Christ after your admissiort 
of him and reconciliation to him ; let it suffice that you tried his 
patience long enough before ; give him no new exercises now he is 
come to dwell in, and with you for ever. There are two ways 
wherein God's own people do greatly provoke him after their re- 

1. By sluggishness in duty. 

2. By sinning against light. 

1. By sluggishness and deadness of spirit in the ways of duty 
and obedience, turning a deaf ear to the calls and motions of 
Christ's Spirit exciting them to the sweet and pleasant duties of 

Vol. IV, F 

S^i exglaxd's dlty. 

religion. We have a sad instance of this in the spouse, Cant. 
V. 2, 3. " It is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, open 
" to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled : for my 
*' head is filled ^ith dew, and my locks Avith the drops of the night."" 
One would think that Christ might have opened the heart of his 
own spouse w^th less solicitation and importunate arguments than 
he here useth ; what wife could shut the door upon her own dear 
husband, and bar him out of his own house ? And yet see the 
lazy excuse she makes, rer. 3. " I have put off my coat, how 
'' shall I put it on.^ I have washed my feet, how shall I defile 
" them ?'' 

Oh the sluggishness of the flesh, even in regenerate persons ! 
those that have opened the door to Christ by regeneration, even 
they do often shut the door against Christ in the hours and seasons of 
communion with him. Strange, that such a suitor as Christ should 
be put by, moving and calling to such heavenly, pleasant exercises, 
as communion with him is ; but flesh will be flesh, even in the 
most spiritual Christians : Little do we know what a grief this is to 
Christ, and loss to us. 

2. i\Ianv grieve Chrisf s Spirit, and sorely try his patience, even 
after reconciliation, by sinning against light and love. That cau- 
tion, Eph. iv. 30. is not without weighty cause. " And grieve 
" not the Holy Spirit of God, by which you are sealed to the day 
" of redemption.*" 

Do we thus requite the Lord ? Is this the return we make him 
for all his admirable kindness, and unparalleled love towards us .'' 
Certainly Christ can put up a thousand injuries from his enemies, 
easier than such affronts from his own people. Did you not pro- 
mise him better obedience ? Did you not engage to more holiness 
and watchfulness, in the day that you sued out your pardon, and 
made up your peace ^nth him ? Are all those vows and covenants 
forgotten ? If you have forgotten them, God hath not. 

Exlioj'L 5. Improve the time that remains in this world with 
double diligence, because you made Christ wait so long, and cast 
away so great a part of your life, before you opened your hearts to 
receive him. The morning of your hfe, which was certainly the 
freshest and freest part of it, w^as no better than time lost with 
many of us ; all the days of your unregeneracy Christ was shut out, 
and vanity shut into your hearts ; you never began to live till Christ 
gave you life, and that was late in the day with many of you. How 
should this provoke to extraordinary diligence in those few re- 
mains of time we have yet to enjoy ? It was Austin's lamentation, 
O Lord it repents me^ (saith he) that I loved thee so late. This 
consideration excited Paul to extraordinary diligence for Christ. It 
wade him fly up and down the world, as a Seraphirrii in a flame of 

england'^s duty. 85 

holy zeal for Christ. Those that have much to write, and are 
almost come to the end of their paper, had need write close. 
Friends, you have something to do for God on earth, which you 
cannot do for him in heaven, Isa. xxxviii. 18, 19. You that have 
carnal relations, have something to do for them here, which you 
cannot do in heaven. You can now counsel, exhort and pray, in 
order to their conversion and salvation ; but when you are gone 
down to the grave, these opportunities of service are cut off. 

Exhort. 6. Let us all be ashamed and humbled for the baseness 
of our hearts and natures, which made Christ wait at the door so 
long, before we opened to him. O what wretched hearts have 
we ! that are no more affected with the groans of Christ's heart, 
than with the groans of a beast, nor so much neither, if that beast 
were our own. O the vileness of nature, to make the Prince of the 
kings of the earth, bringing pardon and salvation with him, to stand 
so long unanswered ! Let who will cry up the goodness of nature 
I am sure we have reason to look upon the vileness of it with 
amazement and horror. You could not have found in your hearts 
to make the poorest beggar wait so long at your door, as you have 
made Christ wait upon you. 

Exhort. 7. Lastly, Let us all bless and admire the Lord Jesus for 
the continuation of his patience, not to ourselves only, but to that 
whole sinful nation in which we live. We thought the treaty of 
peace had been ended with us ; many good men looking upon the 
iniquities and abominations of these times, considering the vanities 
and backslidings of professors, the heaven-daring provocations of 
this atheistical age, concluded in their own hearts, that God would 
make England another Shiloh. Many faithful ministers of Christ 
said within themselves, God hath no more work for us to do, and 
we shall have no more opportunities to work for God : when lo, 
beyond the thoughts of all hearts, the merciful and long-suffering 
Redeemer makes one return more to these nations, renews the 
treaty, and with compassions rolled together, speaks to us this day, 
as to Ephraim of old, how shall I deliver thee ? Look upon this 
day, this unexpected day of mercy, as the fruit and acquisition of 
the intercession of your great Advocate in heaven, answerable to 
that, Luke xiii. 7, 8, 9- Well, God hath put us upon one trial 
more ; if now we bring forth fruit, well ; if not, the axe lies at the 
root of the tree. Once more Christ knocks at our doors, the voice 
of the bridegroom is heard ; those sweet voices. Come unto me, ope?i 
to me : your opening to Christ now, will be unto you as the valley 
of Achor, for a door of hope. But what if all this should be turned 
into wantonness and formality ? What if your obstinacy and in- 
fidelity should wear out the remains of that little strength and time 

F 2 

86 England's duty. 

left you, and that former labours and sorrows have left your 
ministers ? Then actum est de nobis, we are gone for ever : then 
farewell gospel, ministers, reformation, and all, because we knew 
not the time of our visitation. What was the dismal doom of God 
upon the fruitless vineyard ? Isa. v. 5. " I will take away the hedge 
" thereof, and it shall be eaten up ; and break down the wall 
" thereof, and it shall be trodden down : I ^vill also command the 
" clouds that they rain not upon it.'' The hedge and the wall 
are the spiritual and providential presence of God ; these are the 
defence and safety of his people ; the clouds and the rain are the 
sweet influences of gospel-ordinances. If the hedge be broken 
down, God's pleasant plants will soon be eaten up ; and if the clouds 
rain not upon them, their root will be rottenness, and their blossom 
go up as dust ; our churches will soon become as the mountains of 
Gilboa : therefore see that you know and improve the time of your 

III. Use of Consolation. 

I shall wind up this fourth doctrine, in two or three words of 
consolation, to those that have answered, and are now preparing 
to answer the design and end of Jesus Christ in all his patience to- 
wards them, by their compliance with his great design and end 
therein. O blessed be God, and let his high praises be for ever in 
our mouths, that at last Christ is like to obtain his end upon some 
of us, and that all do not receive the grace of God in vain. And 
there be three considerations able to wind up your hearts to the 
height of praise, if the Lord hath now made them indeed willing 
to open to the Lord Jesus. 

Consideration 1. The faith and obedience of your hearts make it 
evident, that the Lord's waiting upon you hitherto hath been in 
pursuance of his design of electing love. What was the reason God 
would not take you away by death, though you passed so often upon 
the very brink of it, in the days of your unregeneracy ? And what 
think you, was the very reason of the revocation of your gospel- 
liberties when they were quite out of sight, and almost out of hope ? 
why surely this was the reason, that you, and such as you are, might 
be brought to Christ at last. Therefore though the Lord let you 
run on so long in sin, yet still he continued your lives, and the 
means of your salvation, because he had a design of mercy and 
grace upon you. And now the time of mercy, even the set time is 
come, Praise ye the Loi'd. 

Consid. 2. You may also see the sovereignty and freeness of divine 
grace in your vocation: your hearts resisted all along the most 
powerful means, and importunate calls of Christ ; and would have 
resisted stiD, had not free and sovereign grace overpowered them 

ekglakd\s duty. S7 

when the time of love was come. Ah, it was not the tractab]eness 
of thine own will, the easy temper of thy heart to be wrought 
upon ; the Lord let thee stand long enough in the state of nature 
to discover that ; there was nothing in nature but obstinacy and 
enmity. Thou didst hear as many powerful sermons, melting 
prayers, and didst see as many awakening providences before thy 
heart was opened to Christ, as thou hast since : yet thy heart never 
opened till now ; and why did it open now ? Because now the 
Spirit of God joined himself to the word ; victorious grace went 
forth in the word to break the hardness, and conquer the rebellions 
of thy heart. The gospel was now preached (as the apostle speaks, 
1 Pet. i. 12.) " with the holy Ghost sent down from heaven, which 
" things, (saith he) the angels desire to look into."" Ah friends, 
it is a glorious sight, worthy of angelical observation and admiratioi;, 
to behold the effects of the gospel preached, with the Holy Ghost 
sent down from heaven ; to see when the Spirit comes along with 
the word, the blind eyes of sinners opened, and they brought into 
a new world of ravishing objects ; to behold fountains of tears flow- 
ing for sin, out of hearts lately as hard as the rocks ; to see all the 
bars of ignorance, prejudice, custom, and unbelief, fly open at the 
voice of the gospel ; to see rebels against Christ laying down their 
arms at his feet, come upon the knee of submission, crying, " Lord, 
" I will rebel no more ;" to see the proud heart centered and wrapt 
up in its own righteousness, now stripping itself naked, loading 
itself with all shame and reproach, and made willing that its own 
shame should go to the Redeemer's glory. These, I say, are sights 
which angels desire to look into. 

Certainly your hearts were more tender, and your wills more 
apt to yield and bend in the days of your youth, than they were 
now, when sin had so hardened them, and long continued-custom 
riveted and fixed them, yet then they did not, and now they do 
yield to the calls and invitations of the gospel. Ascribe all to so^ 
vereign grace, and say, " Not unto us, not unto us, but to thy 
" name give the glory."" The observation and experience of our 
own hearts will furnish us with arguments enough to resist all 
temptations to self-glorifying and conceit. t 

Certainly you were born not of flesh, nor of blood, nor of the 
will of man, but of God. 

Consid. 3. Lastly, This is a comfortable consideration, that he 
that waited upon you so long, and won your hearts at last ; that 
hath gained you at the expence of so much pains and patience, will 
not now forsake you. Poor souls, I question not but there are 
many fears and jealousies within you, that all this will come to no- 
thing, and you shall perish at last. Divers things foment these 
jealousies within your hearts : The weakness of your own graces, 


83 England's duty. 

which alas, are but in their infancy ; the sense you have of your 
own corruptions, and the great strength they still retain : The 
subtilty of Satan, who employs all his policies to reduce you ; some- 
times roaring after his escaped prey with hideous injections, which 
make your souls to tremble ; sometimes the discouraging appre- 
hensions of the difficulties of religion, how far the spirituality of 
active obedience, and the difficulty of passive obedience is above 
your strength ; sometimes feeling within yourselves sad alterations, 
by the hiding of God's face, and withdrawment of sweet and sen- 
sible communion with him. These, and such like things as these, 
cause many a qualm to come over your hearts ; but cheer up, Christ 
will not lose at last what he pursued so long ; he that waited so 
many years for thy soul, will never cast it away now that he hath 
seated himself in the possession of it. 


Rev. iii. 20. 
Behold I stand at the door [ arid knock,] &c. 

AN the former point we have seen the Redeemer's posture, a 
posture of condescending humility, rather the posture of a ser- 
vant than the Lord of all ; Behold I stand at the door. We now 
come to consider his action or motion for entrance, I stand and 
knock : This metaphorical action of knocking, signifies nothing else 
but the motions made by Christ for entrance into the souls of sin- 
ners ; and affiards us this fifth observation, 

Doct. 5. That every conviction of conscience, and motion upon 
the affections of sinners, is a knock of Christ from heaven for 
entrance into their souls. 

This action of knocking is ascribed sometimes to the soul, and is 
expressive of its desires to come into the gracious presence and com- 
munion of God; so Mat. vii. 7. " To him that knocks, it shall 
'? be opened,'' i. e. to him that seeks by importunate prayer, fel- 
lowship and communion with the Lord. But here it is appHed to 
(vhrist, and "is expressive of his importunate desire to come into 
union and communion with the souls of sinners. Here I shall open 
to you the following particulars. 

1. What are the doors of the soul at which Christ knocks. 

3. What his knocking at these doors implies. 

3. By what instruments he knocks at them. 

4. Jn what manner he performs this action. 

First, What arc the doors of tlie soul at wliicli Christ knocks. 
You all know that term Christ here used, cannot be proper but 
metaphorical ; it is a figurative speech, the door is that part which 
is introductive into the house, and whatever is introductive into the 
soul, that is the door of the soul. Now in the soul of man there 
are many powers and faculties that have this use, and are of an 
introductive nature to let things into the soul of man. Some are 
more outward, as we may speak comparatively; and some more 
inward, as the doors of our houses are. 

Christ knocks orderly at them all, one after another, for the 
operations of the Spirit disturb not the order of nature. 

1. The first door that opens and lets into the soul is the imd€r' 
standing; nothing passes into the soul, but it must first come 
through this door of the understanding; nothing can touch the 
heart or move the affections, but what hath first touched the un- 
derstanding. Hence we read so often in scripture of the opening 
of the understanding, that being, as it were, the fore-door of the 

2. Within this is the royal gate of the soul, viz. The will of 
man, that noble and imperial power. Many things may pass into 
the mind, or understanding of a man, and yet be able to get no 
further ; the door of the will may be shut against them. There 
were many precious truths of God let into the understandings of 
the Heathens, by the light of nature, but could never get further, 
their hearts and wills were locked and shut up against them ; as 
you may see, Rom. i. 18. " They held the truths of God in un- 
" righteousness ;" that is, they bound and imprisoned those com- 
mon notices the law of nature impressed upon their minds, con^ 
cerning the being and natuix? of God, and the duties of both ta- 
bles. These truths could get no further into their souls, and, 
Avhich is of sad and dreadful consideration, Christ himself stands 
betwixt these two doors, in the soids of many persons; he is got 
into their understandings and consciences, they are convinced of 
the possibility and necessity of obtaining Jesus Christ, but still the 
door of their will is barred against him, which drew from him that 
sad complaint, John v. 40. " Ye will not come unto me that ye 
" might have life.'" When this door of the will is once effcctuaDy 
opened, then all the inner doors of the affections are quickly set 
open to receive, and welcome him; desire, joy, delight, and all 
the rest, stand open to him. These are the doors at which the 
Redeemer knocks. 

Secondly, Next we must consider what is meant by Christ's knock- 
ing at the doors, and what that action implies. In the generaf, 
knocking is nothing else but an action sii^nificative of the desires 
of one that is without, to come in ; it is a sign appointed to 


00 England's duty. 

that end: And what is Christ's knocking, but a signification to 
the soul of his earnest desires to come into it ; a notice given to 
the soul of Christ's willingness to possess it for his own habitation P 
And it is as much as if Christ should say, Soul, thou art the house 
that was built by my hand, purchased and redeemed by my blood ; 

1 have an unquestionable right to it, and now demand entrance, 
]\Iore particularly, there are divers great things implied in this 
gracious act of Christ's knocking at the door of the soul. 

1. It implies the special favour and distinguishing grace and 
goodness of Jesus Christ, that he will stand and knock at our doors 
when he passes by so great a part of the world, never giving one 
such knock or call at other men's doors ; it is certainly a most glo- 
rious and admirable condescension and favour of heaven, and 
wherever it is successful, it speaks a man highly favoured of 
God. O amazing ! when Christ passes by the souls of thou- 
sands and millions, that would certainly afford him as comfortable 
an habitation as our souls can do, and will not give one effectual 
knock or call at their doors all the days of their life ; that he will 
please to turn aside to thy soul, and wait and knock there for en- 
trance : I say, here is one of the greatest acts of favour that can be 
ehewn to the soul of a sinner. How many souls be there in the 
world equal in natural dignity to yours, and of sweeter natural 
tempers, whom yet the Lord Jesus lets alone in the quiet possession 
of Satan, Luke xi. 21. There is a deep silence and stillness in their 
consciences, no stirrings nor disturbances by convictions, but, 
through a dreadful judgment of God, they are left in a deep sleep ; 
and if their consciences at any time begin to grumble, how soon are 
they hushed and quieted again by Satan f What the condition of 
the world was in former ages, we may see in Acts xiv. 16. " Who 
*' in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own way." O ! 
it is the greatest mercy in the world for the sleepy conscience of a 
sinner to be roused by convictions, because it is introductive to all 
other spiritual mercies. I confess this act of grace is little appre- 
hended by the sons and daughters of men ; much rather would 
poor sinners be let alone, than be thus disturbed by troublesome 
tjonvictions ; and when Christ disturbs their rest, how do they 
startle at the knocks of his Word and Spirit? How angry are they 
that they cannot be let alone to enjoy their quiet sleep in sin till 
the flames of hell awaken them ? Mr. Fenner, that great and emi- 
nent instrument of God in this work, tells us, in one of bis sermons, 
how it fared with a certain man that came to hear him preach : It 
seems the word had got entrance into his conscience, and gave it a ter- 
rible alarm, and as he was going home, some that followed him, heard 
him thus blaming and bemoaning himself: ' O what a fool, what 
^ a beast was I to come under this sermon to-day ? \ shall never 

England's ucty. D1 

* have peace and quietness any more.' And what is the reason 
tliat smooth and general preaching is so much applauded and affect- 
ed in the world, and close convincing doctrine so much shunned 
and hated, but this, that sinners are very loth to be disquieted, 
and have their consciences thoroughly awakened ? Well, whatever 
your apprehensions be, certainly it is an unspeakable mercy for 
Christ to knock, and disquiet the souls of sinners by his calls. That 
is the first thing, 

S. The next thing implied in this action of Christ is this. That 
the first motions towards the recovery and salvation of sinners begin 
not in themselves, but in Christ : We never knock at heaven's door 
by prayer till Christ hath first knocked at our doors by his Spirit : 
Did not Christ move first, there would be no motions after him in 
our hearts ; we move towards him, because he hath first moved 
upon our souls. Christ might sit long enough unsought and un- 
desired, did he not make the first motion. All our motions are 
secondary and consequential motions, Isa. Ixv. 1. " I am found of 
*' them that sought me not.'' As we love him because he first 
loved us, so we seek after him because he first sought us. Alas ! 
poor sinners are as well satisfied as any people in the world can be 
to lie fast asleep in the devil's arms. When the Spirit of God goes 
forth with the word of conviction, he finds the souls of men in the 
very same posture which the angels that had surveyed the world 
reported the whole earth to be in, Zech. i. 11. " Behold all the 
*' earth sitteth still and is at rest." Every man settled and satis- 
fied in his own way. What a strange stillness and midnight silence 
is there amongst sinners.? Not a sigh, not a cry to be heard for sin: 
So the Psalmist, Psal. xiv. 2. represents the case of sinners, " The 
^< Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see 
** if there were any that did understand and seek God. They are 
" all gone aside," '&c. There is one thing that is admirably strange 
in this case, that even those men and women, whose rattles of earth- 
ly pleasures and delights, which brought them into this sleep and 
security, are taken away from them by the hand of Providence, I 
mean their estates, health, children, &c. yet they awake not ; there 
are no stirrings after God. O what a dead sleep hath sin cast the 
souls of sinners into ! You have a notable scripture to this purpose, 
in Job XXXV. 9, 10. they are the words of Elihu, concerning men 
and women under grievous oppression, persons squeezed and ground 
by the cruel hands of wicked men : " By reason of the multitude 
" of oppressions they make the oppressed to cry ; they cry out by 
" reason of the arm of the mighty : But none saith, where is God 
" my Maker, who giveth songs in the night .?" i. e. Succour, com- 
fort,"^ and refreshment to the afflicted. Here are men turned 
out of their estates, thrown into prison.'-v cast upon all extremities 


and miseries ; and wheat do these poor creatures do ? Why, saith 
he> they cry by reason of tlieir oppression : O my father, or my 
mother, my wife, my child, my estate, my hberty ;'biit none saith, 
where is my God ? O my sin, or my misery by reason of sin f 
" Where is he that giveth *^songs in the night ?" The people of God 
when they he musing upon their beds under affliction, they hsixe 
their " songs in the night ;'' in the midst of the multitude of their 
troubled thoughts within them, the comforts of God dehght their 
souls. These are their songs in the night, but no such word or 
thought in carnal men. How plain is it, that all the first motions 
of salvation have their first spring and rise in God, and not in us ? 
That is the second thing implied in Christ's knocking. 

S. Christ's knocking at the door of the heart implies the method 
of the Spirit in conversion to be congruous and agreeable to the 
nature of man's soul. Mark Christ's expression in the text ; he doth 
not say, " Behold I come to the door," and break it open by vio- 
lence ; no, Christ makes no forcible entries, whether sinners will 
or not ; he will come in by consent of the will, or not at all. I 
stand and knock ; if any man open the door I will come in to him. 
There is a great difference between a friendly admission by consent, 
and a forcible entrance : In a forcible entrance bars of iron are 
brought to break open the door ; but in a friendly admission one 
knocks, and the other opens. Forcible actions are unsuitable to 
the nature of the will, whose motions are free and spontaneous ; 
therefore it is said. Psalm ex. 3. " Thy people shall be willing in the 
'' day of thy power." It is true, the power of God is upon the 
will of man in the day of his conversion, or else it would never open 
to Christ ; but yet that pov/er of God doth not act against the free- 
dom of man's will, by co-action and force ; no, but of unwilling he 
makes it willing ; taking away the obstinacy and reluctancy of the 
will by the efficacy of his grace, w^hich some Divines call victrix dc- 
Icctatio, SL sweet and pleasant victory ; and so the door of the will 
still opens freely, Hos. xi. 4. " I drew them with the cords of 
" a man, with the bands of love." / drezo them, there is Almighty 
Power ; but how did this power draw them ? with the cords of 
a man, i. e. with rational arguments convincing the judgment. 
Beasts are driven and forced, but men are drawn by reason, and will 
not move without it, if they act like themselves. It must be con- 
fessed, that when the day of God's power is come for the bringing 
home of a poor sinner to Christ, he cannot resist the power of God's 
Spirit, that draws him effectually : " Every one that hath heard 
". and learned of the Father cometh unto me ;" yet still the soul 
comes freely by the consent of his will ; for this is the method of 
Christ in drawing souls to him. There is in the day of a sinner's 
conversion a Vid, an offer made for the will, both by Satan and Christ ; 

EXGLAXDS nriY. 93 

Satan bids riches, honours, and pleasures, with case and quietness to 
the flesh in the enjoyment of them : Abide where thou art, saith 
Satan, remain with me, and thou shalt escape all the persecutions, 
losses, and troubles of the world, which conscience entancrles other 
men in ; thou shalt draw thy life through peace and pleasure to 
thy dying day. O, saith the flesh, this is a good motion, what 
can be better for me? But then, saith Christ, dost tliou not con- 
sider that all these enjoyments will quickly be at an end, and what 
shall become of thee then ? Behold, I offer thee the free, full, and 
final pardon of thy sins ; peace and reconciliation with God ; trea- 
sures in heaven ; all these shall be thine with troubles, reproaches, 
and persecutions in this world. The understanding and conscience 
(»f a sinner being convinced of the vanity of earthly things, and the 
indispensible necessity of pardon and peace with God ; I say, when 
a convinced judgment hath duly balanced these things, and laid 
them before the will, and the Spirit of God puts forth his power 
in the renovation of it ; it moves towards Christ freely, and yet 
cannot, according to its natural order, act other^vise than it doth. 
And, doubtless, this is the true meaning of that expression so often 
mistaken and abused, in Luke xiv. 23. " Cpmpel them to come in."** 
What ! by forcing men against the light of their consciences .^ No ; 
to the shame of many Protestants let us hear the gloss of Stella, 
a Popish commentator upon the place. ' Christ (saith he) com- 

* pels men to come in, by shewing to their will such an excelling 

* good as it cannot but embrace :' For voluntas naturaliter fertur 
in boinnn^ the will is naturally carried to the best good. And thus 
the Spirit works upon the soul harmoniously, and agreeably to its 
own nature. That is the third thing implied in Christ's knock- 

4. Christ's knocking at the door of the soul, manifestly implies 
the immediate access of the Spirit of God unto the soul of man, 
that he can come to the very innermost door of the soul at his 
pleasure, and make what impression vipon it he pleaseth. As for 
other instruments used in this work, they have no such privilege or 
power ; Ministers can but knock at the external door of the senses. 
Thine eyes shall see thy teachers, we can see their persons and 
hear their voices; we can reason with sinners, and plead with 
their souls; but awaken them we cannot, open their hearts we 
cannot ; we can only lodge our messages in their ears, and leave it 
to the Spirit of God to make it effectual. This is a royalty be- 
longing unto the Spirit of God, incommunicable to angels or men; 
if an angel from heaven were the preacher, he could not give one 
iflimediatc stroke to the conscience, much less can man ; we have 
no dominion over your consciences. The key of the doors of your 

24; England's duty. 

souls hang not at our girdles, but are in the hands of Christ, Rev, 
ill. 7. " He hath the key of David, he openeth, and no man shut- 
<< teth ; and he shutteth and no man openeth.'^ The conscience 
and all the faculties lie naked and open to the stroke of God's Spi- 
rit ; he can wound them and heal them, and make what impres- 
sions he pleaseth upon them. Learn hence what need there is 
both for ministers and people before they enter upon the solemn 
ordinances of God, to lift up their hearts by prayer for the blessing 
and power of the Spirit upon them. Lord, send forth thy Spirit, 
pour it forth upon, and with thy word. Ah ! how many sermons 
have we preached, and you heard, and yet there is no opening f 
These are the four things imphed in Christ's knocking at the door, 
viz. condescending grace : All first motions being in God, the mo- 
tions of his Spirit are congruous and agreeable to the nature of the 
soul ; and that his Spirit can have immediate access to the inner- 
most faculties and powers of the soul at his pleasure. Now in the 
next place let us consider, 

Thirdli/, By what instruments Christ knocks at the doors, that 
is, the judgment, conscience, and will of a sinner. And these are 
two, viz. 

1. His word. 

2. His providence. 

Here my work will be to shew you how the Spirit of God makes 
use both of the word and works of God, to rouse and open the 
consciences and hearts of sinners. These are the two hammers or 
instruments of the Spirit, by which he knocks at the door of the 

1. The word written or preached, but especially preached; to 
4his Christ gives the preference above all other instruments em- 
ployed about this work ; and, answerably, the word is called God's 
hammer, Jer. xxii. 29. " Is not my word like fire, and as the 
*' hammer which breaketh the rocks in pieces r"^ By this ham- 
mer Christ raps at the door of a sinner's soul, to give warning that 
he is there. The Spirit of God can open the heart immediately if 
he pleaseth ; but he will honour his word in this work. And 
therefore, when Lydia's heart was to be opened, Paul, the great 
gospel-preacher, must be invited, even by an angel, to come over to 
Macedonia, and assist in that blessed work. Acts xvi. 9. Lydia was 
to be converted, her heart must be opened to Christ ; the angel 
could not do it, but calls for the help of the apostle, God's appoint- 
ed instrument to carry on that work. " I have made thee (saith 
" God to Paul) a minister and a witness to open their eyes, and 
" turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan 
'• to God," Acts xxvi. 13. Now there be three ways in which 

the Spirit uses the word as his hammer in knocking at tile door of 
tlie souii 

(1.) He knocks by the particular convictions of the word upon 
the conscience ; this knock by conviction, rings and sounds 
through all the rooms and chambers of the soul ; particular and ef- 
fectual conviction wounds to the very centre of the soul. Ah, 
when the word shall come home by the Spirit's particular applica- 
tion, like that of Nathan's to David, Thou art the man ; then ali 
the powers of the soul are roused and alarmed ; now it pierces as a 
two-edged sword, Heb* iv. 12. divides the soul and spirit, the su- 
perior and inferior faculties of it ; cuts down by the back-bone, lays 
open the secret guilt and innermost thoughts of a man's heart, be- 
fore which the sinner cannot stand. The secrets of his heart are 
made manifest ; and falling down on his face he must acknowledge 
that God is in the word of a truth, 1 Cor xiv. 24. O these con- 
victions of the word are such a rap, such a knock at the door of 
the conscience as will never be forgotten, no not in heaven, to all 

(2.) Christ knocks in the word by its terrible comminations and 
a\vful threatenings, menacing the soul that opens not with eternal 
ruin ; these are dreadful knocks : O sinner, saith Christy wilt thou 
not open ? Shall all the tenders of my grace made to thee be in 
vain ? Know then that this thy obstinacy shall be thy damnation. 
Thus the world denounces ruin, in the name of the great and ter- 
rible God, to all wilful impenitents and obstinate unbelievers, John 
iii. 36. " He that believeth not the Son, shall not see life ; but the 
*' wrath of God abideth on him." O dreadful sound ! like unto 
which is that, John viii. 24. " If ye believe not that I am he, 
*' shall die in your sins i" q. d. Thy mittimus for hell shall 
made and signed. Will you not come to me that you might have 
life ? Then will I foretel what death you shall die, you shall even 
die in your sins. O it were better for thee to die any kind of death 
than to die in thy sins. These are loud knocks of the word, ter- 
rible sounds, yet no more than needs to startle the drousy con- 
sciences of sinners. And then, 

(3.) The Spirit knocks by the gracious invitations of the word^ 
the sweet allurements and gracious insinuations of it ; and with- 
out this, no heart would ever open to Christ. It is not frosts and 
snow, storms and thunder, but the gentle distilling dews and che- 
rishing sun-beams that make the flowers open in the spring. 
The terrors of the law may be preparative, but the grace of the 
gospel is that which effectually opens the sinner's heai't. The ob- 
durate flint will sooner fly when smitten upon the soft pillow, than 
upon the anvil. Now the gospel abounds with alluring invitations 
to draw the will, and open the heart of a sinner : such is that, Mat* 


XI. 28. " Come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden ; 
'• and I \^ill giv3 you rest/' O what a charming voice is here ? 
he that considers it may well wonder what heart in the world can 
resist it : hke unto this is that in Isa. Iv. 1. ^' Ho, every one that 
*• thirsteth, come ye to the waters ; and he that hath no money 
" let him come ; yea, let him come and buy ^vine and milk with- 
'' out money and without price.'' q. d. Come, sinner, come ; though 
thou have no qualifications nor worthiness, nor righteousness of 
thy ov>ii ; though thou be but a heap of sin and vileness, yet come : 
my grace is a gifi, not a sale : and such is that in John vii. 37. 
" In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and 
'' cried, if any mnn thu'st let him come to me and drink."" q. d. 
My grace is not a sealed fountain, it is free and open to the great- 
est of sinners ; if they tliii'st, they are invited to come and di'ink. 
This is that oil of the gospel grace which makes the key turn so 
pleasantly and effectually amongst all the cross wards of man's 
^^ill. And thus you see how the word preached becomes an in- 
strument in the Spirit's hand, to open the door of a sinners heart, 
at which it knocks by its mighty convictions, dreadful threats, and 
gracious uivitations. 

2. We next come to the second hammer by which the Spirit 
knocks at the sinners heart, and that is tlie providential works of 
God. These, in subser\'iency to the word, are of excellent use to 
awaken sinners, and make them open their hearts to Christ. God 
hath magnified his word above all his name ; yet there ai'e some of 
the providential works of God greatly sendceable in this case ; the 
word sanctifies providences, and providences assist the word, and 
make it work. Now tliere are two sorts of providential dispensa- 
tions which the Lord Jesus makes use of to gain entrance for liim 
into the hearts of men, viz. 
(1.) Judgments. 
(2.) Mercies. 

(1.) Judgments and afflictions ; the word of God many times 
works not till some stroke of God come to quicken and assist it ; 
thus did the Lord open the heart of that monster of vrickedness, 
-\Ianasseh, the word could not work alone, but a smart rod quick- 
ened its operation : 2 Chron. xxxiii. 10, 11, 12. "■ And the 
" Lord spake to ^Vlanasseh, and to liis people ; but they would not 
'• hearken. Wherefore the Loi'd brought upon them the cap- 
'•' tains of the host of the king of Ass^Tia, which took Manasseh 
" among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and earned him 
" to Babylon. And when he was in affliction he besought the 
" Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of 
'* his fathers.*" 

Thus the heart of this man relented under the word assisted by 

England's duty. 97 

t'le rod. Ah it is good that God takes such a course with some 
sinners, else the word would do them no good : and to this pur- 
pose is that iu Job xxxvi. 8, 9, 10. " And if they be bound in 
" fetters, and holden in cords of affliction ; then he sheweth 
*' them their work and their transgression, that they have exceed- 
" ed ; and openeth their ears to discipline.'^ This is that rough 
course the obstinacy of men's hearts makes necessary for their re- 
covery, and therefore it is very observable, that some words of 
God have lain dead in some sinners hearts for years together, and 
at last have begun to work under some smart and close rod. Alas, 
while all things are pleasant and prosperous about us, the word 
hath but little operation and effect : Jer. xxii. 21, 22. " I spake 
" unto thee in thy prosperity, but thou saidst I will not hear : 
" this hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst 
" not my voice. The wind shall eat up all thy pastures, and thy 
*' lovers shall go into captivity ; surely then shalt thou be ashamed 
" and confounded for all thy wickedness." q. d. Your eyes are so 
dazzled with the beautiful flowers, and your ears so charmed with 
the Syren songs or earthly delights, that my word can take no 
place upon you. Let an east-wind blow, and wither up these 
flowers ; then the word shall work, and conscience resent the con- 
cernments of eternity. This course God is fain to take with many 
of you ; here you sit from sabbath to sabbath under the word, and 
nothing takes place upon your hearts. Will you not hear the 
voice of my word ? Go, death, saitli God, smite that man's child 
dead, I will try what that will do ; go, poverty, and blast his 
estate, and see what that wdll do ; go, sickness, and smite his body, 
and shake him over the grave's mouth, I mil see what that will 
do. Thus God sends to sinners, as Absalom sent to Joab, who 
refused to come near him, till he set fire to his field of corn, and 
then away comes Joab, 2 Sam. xiv. 29, 30, 31. And thus the 
Lord opened the heart of 'the Jailor, by putting him into a fright, 
a panic fear of death, x\cts xvi. 27. And thus doth the Lord 
devise means to bring back his banished. 

(2.) As God makes use of the hammer of judgments, so he 
makes use of mercies to make way for Christ into the hearts of 
men. Every mercy is a call, a knock of God : and truly if there 
be any ingenuity left unextinguished in the heart, one would think 
mercy would prevail more than all the judgments in the world, 
Rom. ii. 4. " Knowest thou not that the goodness of God leadeth 
" thee to repentance .^" q. d. Dost thou not see the hand of mercy 
stretched out to lead thee into a corner, there to mourn over 
thy sins committed against so gracious and merciful a God ? By 
every mercy you receive, Christ doth, as it were, sue you to open 
your hearts to him ; they are so many gifts sent from heaven to 

98 England's duty. 

make way tor Christ into your hearts. It would be an endless task 
to enumerate all the mercies bestowed to this end upon the unre- 
generate : but surely this is the errand of them all ; and the Lord 
takes it very ill when his end is not answered in them : hence is 
that complaint, Jer. v. 24. *• Neither say they in their heart, let 
*' us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth us rain, both the 
*' former and the latter, in his season^"" Some of you have been 
marvellously preserved in times of common contagion and death, 
when thousands have fallen at your right hand and left : then have 
you been preserv^ed or recovered, according to that, Exod. xv. 26. 
'* I will put none of those diseases upon thee, for I am the Lord 
** that healeth thee.'' I am Jehovah Rophe, the Lord the physi- 
cian ; many of you have been at the grave's mouth, in many dis- 
eases, others upon the deeps ; yet the hand of mercy pulled you 
back, and suffered you not to drop into the grave and hell in the 
i3ame moment. O what a knock was here given by the hand of 
mercy at thy hard heart ! Certainly if men would but observe, they 
might see a strange, marvellous working and moulding of things 
by the hand of providence, for the productions of thousands of 
mercies for them : and if mercy would do the work, and win you 
over to Christ, many rods had been spared, which your obstinacy 
hath made necessary. O ungrateful sinners ! doth your Redeemer 
thus woo and fee you by so many gifts of mercy, and yet will you 
shut him out.'' Do ye ifms requite the Lord, OJoolish people and 
unwise ? For which of all his benefits do your ungrateful souls shut 
the doors upon him ? 

(3.) You see what Christ's knocking at the soul of a sinner im- 
phes, and bv what instruments it is performed. In the last place, 
we A\'ill consider the manner how this action is performed in the 
ten following particulars, wherein much of the mysterv^ of Conver- 
sion will be opened ; the Lord grant your experience may answer 
them. We cannot indeed exactly describe and mark all the foot- 
steps of the Spirit, in this work, upon the souls of men ; yet these 
things seem eminently obsenable. 

1. The knocks of Christ at the sinner's heart are silent and secret 
to all persons in the world, except the soul itself at whose door he 
knocks ; here be many hundreds of you this day under the word ; 
if the Lord shall this day knock by con^action at any man's heart, 
none will hear that knock, but that man only ; for it is a knock 
without sound or noise to any but the particulai* soul concerned in 
it. It was fore-prophesied of our Redeemer, and of this very act 
erf* his, Isa. xlii. 2. " He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his 
" voice to be heard in the street." The kingdom of God cometh 
not into the souls of men with pubhc observation : you read in 1 
Cor. ii. 11, " No man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit 

ei;glakd'*s duty. 99 

" of a man that is in him." None knows what convictions another' 
man's conscience feels, until he himself shall discoier them ; you 
hear the same sound of the gospel, but you hear not the inward 
strokes it gives to another man's conscience. Christ^s approaches to 
the soul make no noise ; little do we know what the Spirit of Christ 
whispers in the ear of him that sits next us. It is said of the inward 
comforts of the Spirit, / will give him the hidden manna which na 
man knows hut he that eatcth of it. This is true also of inward 
terrors and troubles. Chrisf s knocks by conviction are but a secret 
whisper of his Spirit in the ear of a sinner, saying. Thou art the 
man, this is thy case. That is the first thing in the manner of 
Christ's knocking, it is a silent knock without public sound. 

2. These silent inward knocks of the Spirit of Christ, though 
they are heard by none but the soul itself, yet do they greatly differ 
as to the terror, or mildness of them in different subjects. Some 
hear them with more terror and astonishment, others in a mild 
and gentle manner. When the Lord knocked at the Jailor's 
conscience. Acts xvi. 29, 30. it was a terrible stroke ; he called 
for a hght, and sprang in like a man distracted ; and trembling 
and astonished fell down at the apostles feet, crying, " Sirs, what 
" must I do to be saved .'*"' Here was a terrible knock indeed, which, 
almost affrighted his soul out of his body ; it is as if he had said. 
Tell me, for the Lord's sake, and tell me quickly, whether there 
be any way of salvation, and where it hes, for I am a lost man, an 
undone soul. But when the Lord opened the heart of Lydia, 
there were no such terrors, the Lord spake to her in a more mild 
and gentle voice ; as you see ver. 14. The Spirit of God varies 
his method according to the temper of the soul he worketh on. 
Knotty pieces need greater wedges and harder blows to rive them 
asunder, and as he directs his ministers, Jude 9,9,. to make a dif- 
ference, to deal tenderly and compassionately with some; but 
others, to save with fear ; and so he himself observeth like different 

3. Some knocks of Christ are successful^ and obtain the desired 
effect. He knocks, and the soul opens; but others are unsuccessful ; 
he knocks once, and again, by convictions, which may cause the 
conscience, for the present, to startle a little, but there is no open- 
ing to Christ by faith. O friends ! this is of dreadful consideration ; 
Prov. i, 24. " I called, and ye refused ; I stretched out my handy 
^' and no man regarded." There is a call without an answer,^ a 
knock, and no opening; and these things are very common,, 
especially among the unconverted, that hve under a lively, rou- 
ting gospel-ministry. Of this Christ complains, Mat. x\a. 17. 
" Whereunto shall I liken this generation ? They are Hke unto 
«' children sitting in the market-place, and calling to th«ir 

Vol. IV. G 

100 englaxd's duty. 

" fellows, saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not 
*' danced ; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented :"" 
q. d. Neither the delicious airs and melody of gospel-grace, nor the 
mournful and dreadful threats of damnation to unbelievers, avail 
any thing to open your hearts to embrace me ; no voices from 
mount Gerizzim, or mount Ebal, will prevail with you. Ah ! how 
many sad witnesses unto this truth have I now before mine eyes ! 
but Grod forbid it should be thus all round : no, no, there be some 
souls who hear, and open, even every one that hath he^'d, and 
learned of the Father, John vi. 45. when the Spirit of God puts 
forth his power with the word, then, and not till then, it becomes 

4, Sometimes Christ knocks with a thick succession of con- 
victions, a quick repetition of his calls. Some men have had 
thousands of convictions in a few years ; for in this case the Lord 
saith, as it is Exod. iv. 8. " If they will not hearken to the voice 
'' of the first sign, yet they may believe the voice of the latter 
'' sign."" And yet sometimes neither the former nor the latter 
avail any thing. " How oft would I have gathered thy children, 
*^ and ye would not ?^'' Mat. xxiii. 37. How often ? Intimating the 
many calls Christ gave Jerusalem to come unto him, yet all in vain. 
Obstinate sinners, Christ hath been knocking, and calling at some 
of your consciences, from your very childhood ; thousands of 
convictions have been tried upon some of you, and yet, to this day, 
your souls are shut fast against him. The Lord hath waited, from 
year to year, for your answer, by this signifying how loth he is to 
part with you ; such a time thou wast upon a sick-bed, nigh unto 
death; at such a time under such a sermon, and then Christ 
knocked at thy soul : if all this be in vain, so many convictions as 
you have stifled, so many faggots you carry with you to hell, to 
increase your flames, and torments. Yet commonly those quick 
repetitions, and redoublings of the strokes of convictions end well ; 
and it is a good sign, when one conviction revives another, and the 
Lord keeps the soul still waking. But O take heed, and try not 
his patience too long, lest the next stroke be more dreadful than all 
the former ; not to open your Hearts, but smite dead your hopes 
for heaven. 

5. Sometimes Christ knocks inter mittingly^ knocking and stop- 
ping, a call and silence, and that at a considerable time and dis- 
tance : a conviction this day, and, it may be, not another in many 
months. There be some aged sinners that have not had more 
than one or two remarkable rousings of conscience in fifty or sixty 
years time, and then no more ; do not think that the Lord will 
make his Spirit always strive with men. Gen. vi. 3. no, there is a 
tinie when God saith to the word, convict the conscience of that 


exglaxd'^s duty. 101 

mail <ft woman Ho more^ not a stroke more by way of conviction, 
but henceforth be thou for obduration, not to open, but to shut him 
up, Isa. vi. 10. Reader, bethink thyself, how long was it since 
thy conscience was roused and awakened ? O saith one, seven or 
ten years ago I heard such a sermon which tore my conscience to 
pieces ; I fell under such a providence, which roused and awakened 
all my fears ; but since that time, all hath been still and quiet ; the 
Lord give a second awakening, lest you awake with the flames of 
God's wrath about you. I observe, it is usual, when God works 
upon any very early, he knocks thus intermittingly : now the con- 
science is active, and full of trouble, then the vanities of youth ex- 
tinguish these convictions again ; but tlie Lord follows his design, 
and at last the conviction settles, and ends in conversion. 

6. Christ sometimes knocks with both hands at once^ with the 
word and with the rod together ; the latter in subserviency to the 
former ; and if ever the soul be like to open, it will open then, 
when ordinances and afflictions work together. The word smites 
the conscience with conviction, and at or about the same time pro- 
vidence smites the outward man with some affliction^ to make the 
word work effectually ; or, under some smart affliction, a suitable 
word is seasonably directed to the conscience : and thus juncta ju-^ 
vant, the one assisteth the other, and both together produce the 
desired effect. Thus the Lord wrought upon the Thessalonians^ 
1 Thes. i. 6. " And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord^ 
" having received the word in much affliction." A child dies, an 
estate is lost, or a sickness seizeth at the time when conscience is 
prepared by a conviction from the word, or afflictions have prepared 
it for the word : tlie rod upon the back helps the word to work upon 
the heart, and if both these working in fellowship will not do the 
work, there is little hope that any thing will do it. 

7. Every knock of Christ disturbs the sinful rest of the soul ; it 
rouseth guilt in the conscience, and puts the inner man into great 
distress and trouble. Before Christ comes and knocks at the door 
of the heart all is still and quiet within; the soul is in a quiet sleep 
of sinful security, no fears or troubles molest its rest. Luke xi. 21. 
*' When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in 
" peace ; but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and 
" overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trust- 
" ed.'*' The armour which Satan puts into the hands of sinners, to de- 
fend themselves against the convictive strokes of the word^ are the 
general mercy of God, the outward duties of religion, partial reforma- 
tions, &c. But when Christ comes by effectual conviction, he disarms 
the sinner of all these pleas, and then the soul sees what broken reeds 
it leaned upon. " When the commandment came, (saith Paul) sin 


102 England's duty. 

" revived, and I died,*" Rom. vii. 9. i- e. all my vain hopes expired ; 
no artifice of Satan can any longer quiet the sinner's conscience ; 
he apprehends himself in a miserable condition, meditates an 
escape ; farewell now to sound and quiet sleep : no peace till out of 

8. Every effectual knock of Christ gives an alarm to hell, and 
puts Satan to all his shifts and arts to secure the possession of the 
convinced sinner. The devil is a jealous spirit, and when his inte- 
rest is in danger he bestirs himself to purpose ; the time of convic- 
tion is an hour of temptation. " We wrestle not with flesh and 
"blood, (saith the apostle) but against principalities, against 
" powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against 
'' spiritual wickedness, (or ^ncked spirits) in high places," or about 
heavenlies, Eph. vi. IS. The strife betwixt Satan and the soul is 
now for no less than the prize of eternal life ; it is now for all, or 
none, for life or death, for heaven or hell : The powers of hell 
are now all in arms to destroy convictions, and secure the posses- 
sion of the soul against Christ ; as when a granado falls into a gar- 
rison, the first care of the defendants is, to stifle and choak it 
before it break. Whilst Christ is speaking by his Spirit in one ear, 
the devil is whispering in the other ; and the things he whispers to 
quench convictions are usually such as these : It is time enough yet, 
what need such haste ? Enjoy thy pleasures a little longer, thou 
mayest come to Christ and be saved at last. If that will not do, 
then he changeth his voice: To what purpose wilt thou go to 
Christ ? It is now too late, the time of grace is over ; hadst thou 
come to him in thy youth, and obeyed his first call, it had been 
somewhat, but now it is to no purpose. If this will not quiet the 
soul, then he saith. Thy sins are two great to be pardoned, there is 
no hope for such a prodigious sinner as thou art. If the Lord 
help the soul to overcome this by discovering to it the riches of 
mercy, pardoning the greatest of sinners ; then he represents the 
toultitudes which are in the same case with the convinced sinner ; 
Come, fear not, if it go ill with thee, it will be as bad for millions 
of men and women ; if thou go to hell, thousands will go with thee : 
But if the soul be loth to be damned for company, then he bids it 
look upon the train of troubles and afflictions that come along with 
Christ, and will certainly follow him, if the door be open to let him 
in : If Chirst come in, reproaches, losses, and sufferings will certainly 
come in with him ; troops of miseries and calamities follow him ; 
himself hath told thee so, and art thou mad to ruin all thy com- 
forts in the world, and plunge thyself into a sea of trouble for what 
thine eyes never saw ? But if the soul reply, these are more tolera- 
ble than damnation ; better my flesh suffer for a time, than my soul 
be cast away for ever. Then lie represents the insuperable difficul- 

exglaxd's duty. 103 

ties of religion ; What a hard thing it is to be saved, how many 
painful duties and acts of mortification the soul must pass through ! 
Thus you see what an alarm conviction gives to the powers of 

9. Every effectual knock of Christ is followed on, and new con- 
victions revive old and former ones, and the Lord never leaves 
knocking till the door be opened ; if one sermon will not do, ano- 
ther shall ; if one wound be plaistered and healed by the art of 
Satan, a fresh wound shall be made ; if a former conviction vanish, 
the next shall be sealed upon the soul ; and when the Spirit of the 
Lord sealeth a conviction upon the conscience, raze it out who can ? 
And here is the difference betwixt special and common convictions ; 
common convictions come and go, they put the soul in a fright for 
a day or a month, and then trouble it no more for ever ; but spe- 
cial convictions will be continued, one thing backs another ; for 
Christ is in pursuit of the soul, and will give it chase, till at last 
he overtake, and come up with it. 

10. Lastly, All the knocks of Christ cease and end when the sin- 
ner's day of grace is ended ; this is of dreadful consideration ; 
when the time of mercy is over, no more strivings of the Spirit with 
a man after that. Christ saith to the drowsy sinner, as he spake to 
the drowsy disciples in the garden. Sleep on now, and take your rest. 
So here, I called thee in such a sermon, but thou heardest not ; by 
such a providence, but thou obeyedst not ; sleep on now, and take 
thy rest : " My people would not hearken to my voice, and Israel 
" would none of me ; so I gave them up to their own hearts lust, 
^' to walk in their own counsels," Psal. Jxxxi. 11, 12. q. d. I have 
done with them, the treaty is ended, I will make no more essays 
towards their conversion and salvation. So I gave them up. Me- 
thinks it sounds as much as this, — Take them sin, take them devil^ 
I will have no more to do with them : — so Hosea iv. 17. " Ephraim 
" is joined to idols, let him alone."" His heart is glued fast to sin, 
he is enamoured upon other lovers, let him alone. O beloved, it 
is a dreadful thing for God to say. Let this man alone in his for- 
mality, and that man in his carnal security. Let not this be mis- 
applied by poor trembling souls under conviction : I know the fear 
of this judgment is upon their hearts, nothing makes them tremble 
more than lest the day of grace be ended with them. But there is 
no ground for this fear, whilst the Spirit continues convincing and 
the soul trembling lest his convictions should prove ineffectual. 
Thus much of the nature, instruments, and manner of Christ's 
knocking at the door of a sinner's heart. Our way is now opened 
to a fruitful application of this point, which I will wind up in divers 
necessary uses. 


lOi England's duty. 

I. Use^for Information, 

And first, The point before us will be useful for information in 
the following inferences and deductions. 

Infer. 1. Into how deep a sleep hath sin cast the souls of sinners^ 
that Christ must stand so long, and give such loud repeated knocks 
before it will awal^e and open to him ? There is the spirit of a deep 
sleep fallen upon men, hke that into which God cast Adam ; God 
speaks once, yea, twice, but man regards it not ; it is the hardest 
thing in the world to rouse and awaken a man out of his carnal 
security. Look over Satan's kingdom, and you shall find a general 
stillness and quietness among his subjects ; there is no trouble for 
sin, no strivings after salvation, no cryings out, " What shall we do 
" to be saved ?'"* Go into the crowds of carnal men and women, 
and you shall find them all intent and busy about other matters. 
How long shall you be in their company before you hear one groan 
for sin, or see one tear slide from their eyes on that account ? Oh ! 
what a marvellous thing is here ! do not their consciences know 
the guilt that lies upon them ? Are they not aware of a day of 
reckoning which approach eth ? Yes, yes, these things are not hid 
from their consciences : What art then is used to keep them so still 
and quiet ? Why, there are divers rattles to still the consciences of 
sinners, and they do it effectually. There are four causes and oc- 
casions of this wonderful stillness in the souls of sinners. 

I. Ignorance of the nature of regenerating grace, taking that 
for regeneration, which is none of it; thus did the Jews, John 
viii. 25. confidently affirm God to be their God, and yet they 
did not know him. How many poor ignorant creatures think 
there is no need of any other work of regeneration, but what pas- 
sed upon them in baptism ? They were born and baptized Chris- 
tians, and that is enough, they think, to save them : Mat. iii. 9. 
^* We have Abraham to our father." They thought it sufficient 
that Abraham's blood ran in their veins, though there were not a 
spark of Abraham's faith kindled in their souls. The Lord for- 
give the sin of those men that lead poor souls into such fatal mis- 
takes. O if men were but aware of the necessity of a greater and 
farther work to pass upon their souls than their baptism, common 
powerless profession, or the similar works which appear upon for- 
mal hypocrites, heaven and earth would ring with their cries. But 
ignorance of the nature and necessity of special regenerating grace, 
like a dose of opium^ casts the consciences of many into this deep 

% Freedom from grosser sins and poUuions of the world, stills 
and quiets the consciences of thousands ; they have had a civil, 
sober, and fair education ; and though there be no grace and re- 

r.y gland's duty. 105 

generation, yet what saints do they seem to themsehes, ]>ein^' 
adorned with sobriety and civihty ! This stilled the conscience of 
the Pharisee, Luke xviii. 11. " God, I thank thee, tliat I am not 
" as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as 
" this publican."" Thus, like delicate Agag, they spruce up them- 
selves with moral homolitical virtues, wherein many tliousand Hea- 
thens were more gay than themselves; but justice will hew them 
to pieces as Agag was, for all their moral ornaments and endow- 

3. The strict performance of the external duties of religion 
quiets the consciences of many ; they question not but those that 
do so well shall fai'e well, and that God will never damn men and 
women that keep their church and say their prayers as they do. 
Thus the carnal Jews deluded themselves, crying, " The temple 
" of the Lord, the temple of the Lord i"" As malefactors, in 
some of our neighbouring kingdoms, fly to the church from the 
hand of justice, so do these ; but God will pluck them from the 
horns of the altar, and convince them that the empty name of re- 
ligion is no security from damnation. 

4. Many consciences are still and quieted in a natural, sinful 
state, by misinterpreting the voices of providence ; it may be God 
prospers your earthly affairs, succeeds and smiles upon your under- 
takings ; and this you conclude must be a token of his love and 
favour : But alas ! this is a great mistake, the Lord give you bet- 
ter evidences of his love than these ; for who prosper more in the 
wprld than wicked men.? And who are more crossed than the 
people of God ? Read Job xxi. and Psal. Ixxiii. and compare both 
with Eccl. ix. 1. and you will quickly find the vanity of all hopes 
built upon such a foundation. 

However, by such things as these ave, the god of this world 
blinds the eyes of multitudes. 

Infer. 2. If every conviction be a Jcnoclc of Christ, how deeply are 
all souls concerned in the success and issue of them f 

Conviction is an embryo of the new creature ; if it go out its full 
time, and come to a perfect new birth, it brings forth salvation to 
your souls ; if it miscarry finally, you are finally lost. It is of in- 
finite concernment therefore to every man and woman to be ten- 
der over these convictions of their consciences. It is true, coi>- 
viction and conversion are two things : there may be conviction 
without conversion, though there can be no conversion without 
conviction. The blossoms upon the trees in the spring of the year 
cannot properly be called fruit, they are rather the rudiments of 
fruit, or something in order to fruit. If they open kindly, and 
knit or set firmly, perfect fruit follows them ; but if a blast or 
frosty mornings kill them, no fruit is to be expected. Thus it is 


106 England's duty. 

here, great care therefore ought to be taken about the prserva- 
tion and success of convictions, both by 

1. The soul itself that is under them. 

2. And by all others that are concerned about them. 

1. What care should the soul itself have, upon whom convic- 
tions are wrought ; have a care, friends, how you quench them, 
divert or hinder the operations of them, lest you hinder as much 
as in you lies, the very conception of Christ in your souls by 
them. I remember it is said, Exod. xxi. 22. " If men strive and 
"hurt a woman with child, and mischief follow, life shall be 
" given for life."' The life of your souls is bound up in the hfe 
of your convictions. I know it is hard for men and women to 
dwell with their own convictions ; guilt and wrath are sad subjects 
for men's thoughts to dwell upon ; but yet it is far better to dwell 
with the thoughts of sin and wrath here, than to lie sweltering 
under them in hell for ever. You may be rid of your convictions 
and your salvation together ; be not too eager after peace, a good 
trouble is better than a false peace. And on the other side, beware 
that your convictions and troubles turn not into discouragements to 
faith ; this will cross the proper intention of them : they are Christ's 
knocks for entrance, and were never intended to be bars or stum- 
bling-blocks in your way to him ; not stops, but steps in your way 
to Christ. 

2. Let all others that are concerned about convinced souls, be- 
ware what counsels they give, and what rules they prescribe, lest 
they render them abortive, and destroy all in the bud. There are 
two errors too commonly committed, one in excess, persuading 
souls under trouble of conscience that there is no coming for them 
to Christ, unless they be so and so prepared, humbled just to such 
a degree ; this is dangerous counsel, it overheats the troubles of 
conscience, and keeps the soul from its proper, present duty and 
remedy. I am sure Paul and Silas took no such course with the 
convinced Jailor, nor Peter with the three thousand wounded con- 
sciences. Acts ii. Nor do I find where God hath stated the time 
and degree of spiritual troubles, so that there must be no addresses 
to Christ in the way of faith, until they have suffered them so long 
and to such an height : if they have imbittered sin to the soul, and 
made it see the necessity of a Saviour, I think they cannot move 
too soon after Christ in the way of faith. Let no man set bounds 
where God sets none. 

There is anotlier error committed in defect, when promises and 
comforts are presently applied, before the nature of faith is known, 
or one act of recumbency put forth towards Christ: these hasty 
comforts come to nothing ; they will not, they cannot stand. It 
is a dangerous thing to apply gospel-cordials, and pour out the pre- 

England's dlty. 107 

cious ointment of the promises upon them that were never heart- 
sick for sin ; when upon every shght trouble which is but as an early 
dew, the peculiar consolations of penitent and believing souls are 
hand over-head applied to them. How many such unskilful emperics 
are there in every place ? Such as the prophet Jeremiah complains of, 
" They have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slight- 
" ly, crying, peace, peace, where there is no peace."" Remember 
the foundation is now laying for eternity, and that is the time of 
deep consideration ; men and women must ponder the terms and 
count the cost, and deliberately accept and close with Christ, be- 
fore the consolations of the promises can be regularly administered 
to them. 

Infer. 3. Wliat a singular blessing is a rousing faithful ministry 
among the people 9 By such a ministry Christ knocks powerfully ; 
this is one of the greatest blessings God can bestow upon a people, 
next to the saving effects of it, when he sends among them powerful, 
judicious preachers of the gospel, under whose ministry their con- 
sciences cannot sleep quietly. These are the proper instruments 
Christ knocks at men's hearts by : and as for those prophets that 
sew pillows for drowsy sinners to sleep quietly upon, the Lord owns 
them not for his ; Lam. ii. 14. " Thy prophets (not mine, but 
" thine) hath seen vain and foolish things for thee, they have not 
" discovered thine iniquity."" 

It is true, those ministers that give men no rest nor quietness in 
their sins, must expect but little rest and quietness themselves. 
What is it for ministers to preach home to the consciences of 
others, but to pull down the rage of the world upon their own 
heads ? But certainly you will have cause to bless God to eternity, 
for casting your lot under such a ministry ; and the Lord accounts 
such a mercy sufficient to recompense any outward affliction that 
lies upon you, Isa. xxx. 20. You fare richly under such doctrine, 
though the Lord should feed you with the bread of affliction, and 
give you the waters of adversity to drink; this makes amends 
for all, " Thine eyes shall behold thy teachers, and they shall be 
" driven no more into corners." O blessed be God that England'*s 
corners are this day emptied, that its pulpits may be filled with 
laborious, faithful ministers. O that the knocks of Christ might 
this day be heard in all the cities, towns, and villages of this na- 
tion ! the kingdom of God is come nigh unto us, this mercy is in- 
valuable ; pray that the Lord would continue it, and make all 
your ministers and means, whether more public or private, suc- 

Infer. 4. And then^ lastly, let all men beware of those things that 
deafen their ears^ atid droxcn the sound of Christ s knocks and calls 
in the gcApel. 

108 EXGLAXd's DtJTY. 

What pernicious enemies to the souls of men are those persons, 
and things, that turn away men's ears from attending to the knocks 
and calls of Christ in his word? Such are, (1.) Profane, wicked 
men, who, like Elymas the sorcerer, make it their business, by 
wicked insinuations, shouts, and jeers, to turn away men's ears 
from the gospel. Acts xiii. 10. " O full of all subtilty, and all 
" mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteous- 
" ness ; wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord ?" 
All opposition to godliness hath a spice of devilishness, and no child 
more resembles his father, than a scoffing enemy resembles his 
father, the devil. But blessed be God for that good providence 
which, in a great measure, hath stopt the mouths both of the 
father and his children, this day. (2.) Take heed of carnal and 
ungodly relations, which discourage and threaten their chosen 
servants, and all that depend on them, from attending upon the 
means, or giving way to the convictions which God by them hath 
set upon their hearts. Cruel parents, who had rather see their 
children turned into their graves, than turning to the ways of 
serious godliness ! O that any should dare to quench the beginnings 
of spiritual life, in those to whom they were instruments to convey 
natural life. (3.) Take heed of the world, its distracting cares, 
and charming pleasures; what a din, what a confused buz and 
noise do these things make in the ears of men I Mark iv, 19. 
" The cares of this world choak the word, and it becometh un- 
fruitful." Tell not them of getting Christ, they must study how to 
get bread. These are some of those distracting and diverting sounds, 
which drown the voice of Christ's knocks and calls in the gospeL 
As you value your souls, beware of them» 

II. Use,Jbr Exliorfaiiwi. 

Christ is now come near us in the gospel, " Behold he stands at 
" the door and knocks :" and I am here this day to demand your 
answer, and in his name I do solemnly demand it ; what shall I 
return to him that sent me ? What sayest thou, sinner ? Wilt thou 
open to Christ, or wilt thou shut him out ; and with him thy own 
pardon, peace, and salvation.^ Once more, let me try the force of 
a few more arguments upon your hearts, and refute your vain pleas 
to the contrary ; methinks, no heart should be able to resist such 
motives, and rational persuasions, as these following will be found 
to be. 

Motive 1. You are in extreme need of Christ, you want hina 
more than bread or breath ; many things are convenient far your 
bodies, but Christ is the one thing necessary for your souls." 
Necessity is an engine that will open any thing in the world that can 
be opened; necessity will make all fly before it. Now there is a plain. 

England's duty. lOf) 

present absolute necessity lying upon every one of you to open your 
hearts to Christ, and that without delay. Necessity goes before the 
face o£ Christ, to open the way for him into the heart ; thou must 
have him, or be lost for ever. Christ and faith are not among the 
ma^ bees, but the must bees, to the happiness of thy soul. A man 
may be poor, and happy ; reproached, and blessed ; but he cannot 
be christless and safe ; nor christless and comfortable : you must 
have Christ, or you cannot have life, John iii. 36. you must have 
Christ, or you can have no hope, Col. i. 27. Christ and life, 
Christ and hope, go together : No Christ, no life ; no Christ, no 
hope : Sinner, thou must have Christ, or thou canst have no 
pardon; for Christ and pardon are undivided, Eph. i. 7. In a 
word, you must have Christ, or you can have no salvation, Acts 
iv. 12. Well, then, if thou canst have no life nor hope, no 
pardon nor salvation without Christ ; then a plain necessity goes 
Defore Christ, to open his way into thine heart; methinks, thou 
shouldst now say, then will I open to Christ whatever the terms 
be. Come sufferings, losses, reproaches, yea, death itself, all is 
one ; Christ I must have, and Christ I will have : necessity is laid 
upon me, and my heart is opened to Christ by it : woe to me for 
ever, if I miss of Christ. 

Motive 2. The Lord Jesus is this day come nigh to every one of 
your souls. I may say to you as Christ did to them, Luke x. 9. 
^' The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you." The Lord grant 
he be not as nigh to some of you as ever he shall be ; for he must 
come nearer, or else you are lost for ever. It is not Christ among 
you in the means of grace, but Christ within you by the work of 
grace, which must be unto you the hope of glory, Col. i. 27. He 
IS not only among you with respect to external means, but he is come 
into your understandings and consciences ; yea, some motions of 
his you may feel upon your affections ; there wants but a little more 
to make you eternally happy. O what would one effectual touch 
upon your wills be worth now [ the head-work is done, but O that 
the heart-work were done too. You are almost saved, but to be 
almost saved, is to be wholly and eternally lost, if it go no further. 
It is a sad thing for a man that hath one foot in heaven to slide from 
thence into hell; it is sad to be shipwrecked at the harbour's 

Motive 3. Jesus Christ hath unquestionable right to enter into, 
and possess every one of your souls : Satan is but an usurj^er : Christ 
is your lawful owner and proprietor ; thy soul, sinner, hath not 
so full a title to thy body, as Christ hath to thy soul : Satan keeps 
Christ out of his right. Christ knocks at the door of his own 
house ; he built it, and therefore may well claim admission in 

110 enc-laxd's duty. 

to it; it is his own creature, Col. i. 16. " By him were all things 
** made, whether they be visible or invisible ;'' bodies or souls. 
The invisible part, thy soul, is his workmanship, a stately struc- 
ture of his own raising. He hath also a right by redemption, 
Christ hath bought thy soul, and that at the invaluable price of 
his own blood. Who then can dispute the right of Christ to enter 
into his own house ? But alas ! he cometh to his own, but his own 
receive him not. 

Motive 4. Open the door to Christ, for a train of blessings and 
mercies come in with him ; a troop of privileges follow him. In 
the same day and hour that Christ comes into thine heart, by a full 
consent and deliberate choice, a pardon comes with him of all the 
ans that ever thou committedst in thought, word, or action. Will 
such a pardon be welcome to thy soul ? Then let Christ be wel- 
come, Eph. i. 7. for where Christ comes, pardon comes. If you 
open to Christ, you open to peace, and who would shut the door of 
his soul against peace ? If peace be welcome, let Christ be welcome ; 
for peace follows faith in Christ, Rom. v. 1. Where Christ comes 
liberty comes, John viii. 36. " If the Son therefore make you free, 
" then are you free indeed."" Are you in love with bonds and 
fetters.^ Satan's laws are written in blood. Christ's yoke is easy, 
and his commands not grievous. If you love liberty, love Christ. 
In a word, where Christ comes, salvation comes ; " for he is the 
*^' author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him.*" If there- 
fore you love pardon, peace, liberty, and salvation, shut not the 
door against Christ ; for all these follow him wherever he goes. 

Motive 5. Christ this day solemnly demands entrance into thy 
soul ; he begs thee to open to him, 2 Cor. v. 20. he commands 
thee to open unto him, 1 John iii. 23. He denounceth eternal 
damnation to those that refuse him entrance. Now consider well, 
here is entrance demanded under pain of the eternal wrath of 
God: This demand is filed and recorded in heaven; at your 
own peril be it, if you shut the door against him : Only thus will I 
say in my Redeemer's behalf, if you refuse, bear witness heaven 
and earth this day, that Christ solemnly demanded entrance into 
thy soul, and was refused ; bear witness, that the door was shut 
against the only Redeemer, who intreated, commanded, and 
threatened eternal damnation to the rejectors of him. Oh ! methinks, 
that scripture, Prov. i. 24, 25. is able to strike terror into the very 
centre of that soul that refuses the offers of Christ ! 

Motive 6. And so I have done my master's errand, if you 
now refuse the knock of Christ at your hearts, he may never 
knock more ; and where are you then ? There is a knock which 
will be the last knock, a call which will be lais last call ; and after 

England's duty. Ill 

that no more knocks or calls, but an eternal silence as to any over- 
ture of mercy or grace. 

Object 1. But if I do open to Christy lie will never come in to 
Mich ajilthy polluted sinful soul as mine is. 

Jnsw. Who saith so ? Who dare affirm so impudent a falsehood 
in the very face of the text .? *' If any man open to me, I will 
*' come in to him."" 

Object. % If I open to Christ, I must bid farewell to ease and 
rest in this zvorld ; reproaches, sufferings, losses follow him. 

Answ. If Christ, pardon, and salvation, be not worth the endur- 
ing and suffering these small things, sure thou valuest Christ and 
thy soul at a low rate. O who can sufficiently bewail the ignorance 
and folly of unbelievers that will sell their souls and hopes of hea- 
ven for such trifles ! And if Christ and thy soul must part upon 
these terms, then hear me, sinner, and let it sink into thine heart ; 
thy damnation will be both, 

1. Just and righteous. 

2. Unavoidable and sure. 

1. Thy damnation will be just; for thou hadst thy o\vn choice, 
and deliberately preferredst the insignificant trifles of this world 
before Christ and salvation. It was plainly told thee what the 
issue of thy rejecting Christ would be ; and yet, after sufficient 
warning thou adventuredst upon it : Whatever other sinners will 
plead, I know not, but as for thee thou must be speechless, Matth. 
xxii. 12. If thou die christless thou must appear at his bar speech- 
less; and the day of judgment will be the day of the revelation of 
the righteous judgment oi God, Rom. ii. 5. 

2. It will also be unavoidable, for there is no other way to salva- 
tion but this. Acts iv. 12. No Christ, no heaven; no faith, no 
Christ : " How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation \* 
Heb. ii. 3. Mercy itself cannot save thee out of Christ, fop all the 
saving mercy of God is dispensed to men through him, Jude 21. 
It is to no purpose to cry mercy. Lord, mercy ! when Christ, in 
whom all the mercies of God are dispensed to men, is rejected by 

III. Use, for Consolation. 

This point winds up in consolation to all such, as, hearing the 
knocks of Christ, have opened or are now resolved to open their 
hearts unto him ; and that nothing henceforth shall keep Christ 
and their souls asunder ; To such I shall address the following 
grounds of comfort. 

Consolation 1. An opening heart to Christ is a woi-k wholly and 
altogether supernatural ; a special work of the Spirit of God, never 
found upon any but an elect soul There are common gifts of the 

11£ England's duty. 

Spirit, such as knowledge, vanishing convictions, &c. but the opeft- 
ing of the heart by faith is the special, saving, and peculiar work of 
the Spirit, John vi. S9. " This is the work of God that ye believe.'' 
Yea, it is the effect of the Almighty Power of God, the exceeding 
greatness of his power is exerted in the work of faith, Eph. i. 19- 
It rises not out of nature, as common gifts do ; but of this k is 
expressly said, Eph. ii. 8. " It is not of yourselves, it is the gift of 
•' God/' Where this work is effectually wrought, we may rea- 
son as solidly as comfortably from it, both backward, to the elect- 
ing love of God, and forward, to our eternal glorification wdth hmi, 
Rom. viii. 30. 

Consolati 2. The opening of thy heart to Christ by saving faith, 
gives thee interest in Christ the very same hour ; the relation is 
then constituted, the conjugal tie or bond is fastened betwixt him 
and thy soul; John i. 12. " To as many as received him, to 
" them gave he power, (viz. right or privilege) to become the sons 
" of God, even to as many as believe on his name." You nei- 
ther need, nor may expect an extraordinary messenger or voice 
from heaven to tell you that Christ is yours, and you are his ; you 
have a better foundation in this word and work of faith : For my 
part, if God will give me the clear and satisfying experience of this 
work upon my heart, I w ould never desire more satisfaction on this 
side heaven. I know not but the devil may counterfeit an extra- 
ordinary voice, and cheat the soul by a lying oracle ; but if I really 
feel my heart and will sincerely opening to Christ upon gospel- 
terms, I am sure there is no deceit in that. 

Coiisolat. 3. The opening of thy heart to Christ by faith is a good 
assurance that heaven shall be opened to thy soul hereafter : Hea- 
ven is shut against none but those that shut their heart against Christ 
by unbelief. Will you bar Christ out of your souls by ignorance 
and unjbelief, and then cry. Lord, open to us ? No, God will open 
to none but them that open to Christ. Eternity itself shall but suf- 
fice to bless God for this opening act of faith : " He that beheveth 
" shall be saved j'' Mark xvi. 16. 

Consolat. 4. The opening of thy soul to Christ by faith makes it 
Christ's habitation for ever ; in that hour out goes sin and Satan, 
and in comes Christ and gi'ace : " If any man open unto me, I will 
" come in to him,'' saith the text. Of such a soul Christ saith as 
it was said of the temple, Psal. cxxxii. 13, 14. " The Lord hath 
" desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever; here 
" will I dwell, for I have desired it." The soul now becomes an 
hallowed temple to the Lord : as he hath said, " I will dwell in 
" them, and walk in them, and will be their God, and they shall 
" be my people," 2 Cor. vi. 16. O what a heaven upon earth is 
here ! Christ dw^elling in the soul is the glory of the soul ; as God'a 
dwelling in the temj^le was the glory of the temple. 

England's duty. 113 

Consolat. 5. In a word, the opening of the heart to Christ is that 
-work which answers the great design of the gospel. Wherefore 
hath God set up ordinances and ministers, yea, wherefore is the 
Spirit sent forth but to open the hearts of sinners to Christ by- 
faith ? When this is done, the main end and intention of the gos- 
pel is attained and answered ; the union is effected betwixt Christ 
and the soul ; it is now put out of hazard. The whole work of 
the gospel after that is but to build up, confirm, and comfort the 
soul ; ripen its implanted graces, and make it meet for glory. 

And thus, through the assistance of the Spirit, I have finished 
the fifth observation. That every conviction of conscience^ and ma- 
timi upon the affections, is a knock or call of Christ for entrance 
into the sinner'' s heart. 


Revel, iii. 20. 
Behold I \stand\ ai, the door and knock, &c. 

[/ stand and knock.] 

XXERE is pains and patience, all means used by Christ to gain 
entrance into the souls of sinners. It speaks the earnestness of his 
suit, and vehemency of his desire to be in union with the souls of 
men. The sixth observation therefore will be this, 

Doct. 6. That Jesus Christ is an earnest suitor for union and 
communion zvith the souls of sinners. 

This point lies directly and fully in the very eye and intention of 
the text. In the opening of it, two things must be spoken to, in 
the doctrinal part, viz. 

I. The demonstration of this truth, that he is so. 

II. The marvellous and admirable grace and condescension of 
Christ, that he should be so. 

I. For demonstration of this truth, that Christ is an earnest suitor 
for union and communion with the souls of sinners. I shall draw 
down the demonstration of this truth, from a view and considera- 
tion of the dispositions, carriages, and actions of the Lord Jesus to- 
wards poor sinners from first to last : And when you have com- 
pared them all together, and by them seen the temper of his heart, 

114f England's duty. 

how great and clear a light will shine upon this point ! That his 
heait hath still inclined towards union and communion with sinful 
man, will evidently appear by Considering him in a fourfold state 
and time. 

1. Before his incarnation. 

2. In the days of his flesh. 

3. At his death. And, 

4. Atj and since his ascension into heaven. 

First, Consider him before his incarnation, and you will find two 
things in that state which plainly speak his desire after union with 

1. Demonst. In the covenant of redemption he made 'vvith God 
concerning us before this Avorld had a being ; for such covenants 
and promises did really pass betwixt him and the Father before all 
time, or else I know not how to understand that scripture. Tit. i, 
S. " In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised 
'' before the world began." To whom could that promise be made 
but unto Christ, which bears date before the creation ? What else 
can this mean but the covenant of redemption made betwixt the 
Father and the Son ? the terms whereof are set down in Isa. liii. 
10, 11. where you find what Christ was to do, viz. To make his soul 
an offering for sin. And what should be his reward for pouring out 
his soul unto death, viz. To see his seed, to see the travail of' his 
soul, even a church purchased mth his own blood ? Whether this be 
not a great demonstration of the propension and inclination of 
Christ's heart and desire towards union and communion with poor 
sinners, let all men judge. O what a value did Christ set upon our 
souls, that upon such costly terms he would consent to redeem them ! 
Unto this agreement God the Father held him, Rom. viii. 32. God 
spared not his own Son. And this very covenant Christ pleaded 
with the Father, John viii. 6. " I have manifested thy name to the 
" men which thou gavest me out of the world ; thine they were, and 
*' thou gavest them me." This plainly shews the vehement desire 
of Christ's heart to be in union with men ; according to tliat Prov. 
viii. 31. " Rejoicing in the habitable parts of his earth, and my 
" delights were with the sons of men." Blessed Jesus ? nothing 
but the strength of thine own desire and love could ever have drawn 
thee out of that bosom of delights to suff'er so many things for the 
sake of poor sinners. 

2. Demonst. Secondly, Let us consider Christ's temper and dispo- 
sition towards union and communion with sinners, within time; 
and every thing done by Christ carries and conforms this conclu'- 

1. His assumption of our nature plainly speaks it. 

2. His whole life upon earth evidently discovers it. 

England's duty. 115 

3. His doctrine is a clear proof of it. 

4. His joy at the conversion of souls proves it 

5. His sorrows for men's unbelief evidence it. 

6. His indefatigable labours plainly shew it 

7. His admirable encouragements to coming sinners. 

8. His dreadful menaces to obstinate sinners. 

9i His sending and encouraging ministers to draw and gather 
the world to himself 

All these things, which were transacted in the life of Christ, 
plainly demonstrate how greatly and earnestly his heart did pro- 
pend and incline towards this desirable union with the sons of 

1. Christ*s assumption of our nature nianifesteth his desire after 
imion with us. Herein he gave two incomparable proofs of his 
transcendent love to us, and desire after us. 

(1.) In passing by a more excellent nature^ 
(2.) In marrying our nature to himself 

(1.) He passed by a superior and more excellent nature, Heb. 
ii. 16. " Verily he took not oil him the natui^e of angels." An- 
gels were excellent creatures, but behold vessels of gold cast into 
the fire, and earthen potsherds fitted for glory I It is true, the 
angels that kept their integrity are members of Christ's kingdom ; 
he is a head to them by way of dominion, but unto us by way of 
vital union. Christ takes the believer into a nearer union with 
himself than any angel in heaven ; but for the multitudes of apos- 
tate angels, he never designed their recovery^ but left them, as 
they were before, bound in chains of darkness unto the judgment 
of the great day, Jude, ver. 6. This pretention of Christ heigh- 
tens his love to poor man. 

(2.) In marrying our nature to himself, and that aftei* sin had 
blasted its beauty, and let in so many direful calamities upon it^ 
Rom. viii. S. " He was found in the likeness of sinful flesh," i. e. 
Flesh subject to weariness, pains and death, which though there 
be no sin in them, yet are the effects and consequences of sin : 
such a nature he assumed into a personal union with himself, not- 
to experience any new pleasure in it, but to capacitate himself to 
suffer and satisfy for us ; and therein to give a convincing proof of 
the strength of his love, and vehemency of his desire to us. His per- 
sonal union with our nature shews his desire after a mystical unioit 
with our persons. He would never have been the Son of man, 
but to make us the sons and daughters of the living God : he came 
in our likeness, that we, by sanctification, might be made in his 
likeness. Behold how near Christ comes to us by his incarnation ! 
O what a stoop did he make therein to recover us ! Rather than 
lose us, he was contented to lose his manifestative glory for a time ; 

Vol. IV. H 

116 England's duty. 

for his incarnation made him of no reputation, Phil. ii. 7. Behold 
the desire of a Saviour after union with sinners ! 

2. The whole life of Christ upon earth was an evident proof 
and demonstration of the desire of his heart to be in union and 
communion with us; John xvii. 19. " For their sakes I sanctify 
myself The life of Christ was wholly set apart for us ; there- 
fore it is said, Isa. ix. 6. " Unto us a child is born, unto us a son 
" is given."*' What was the errand and business upon which 
Christ came into this world, but to seek and to save that which 
was lost. 

All the miracles he wrought on earth were so many works of 
mercy ; he could have wrought his miracles to have destroyed and 
ruined such as received him not ; but his Almighty Power was 
employed to heal and save the bodies of men, that thereby he 
might win theu' souls unto him ; Acts x. 38. " God anointed Je- 
*' sus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power; Avho 
'• went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of 
" the devil ; for God was with him." When the apostles desired 
a commission from him to fetch fire from heaven to destroy the 
Samaritans, he rebuked them, saying, " Ye know not what man- 
" ner of spirit ye are of; for the Son of man came not to destroy 
'' men's lives, but to save them," Luke ix. 54, 55, 56. The whole 
life of Christ in this world was nothing else but a wooing, draw- 
ing motive to the hearts of sinners ; he rejected not the vilest of 
sinners, Luke vii. 39. He rejected none that came unto him ; he 
would not have little children forbidden to be brought unto him, 
Mark x. 13. What his winning carriage should be, was long before 
predicted by the prophet, Isa. xlii. 3. " A bruised reed shall he 
" not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench." Lentulus, 
the proconsul, in his epistle, ad. S. P. Q. R. having graphically 
described the person of Christ, gives this account of his carriage 
and deportment ; " In his reproofs he was terrible, in his admo- 
** nitions fair and amiable, cheerful without levity ; he was never 
" seen to laugh, but often to weep ; his words grave, few, and 
" modest," &:c. 

Christ was in the world as a load-stone drawing all men to him ; 
liis deportment was every way suitable to his commission, which 
was " to preach good tidings to the meek, to bind up the broken- 
" hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captive, and the opening of 
" the prison to them that are bound," Isa. h. 1. 

3. As his life, so his doctrine was a wooing and inviting doctrine : 
a most pathetical invitation unto sinners : Never man spahe as he 
spake ; whenever he opened his lips, heaven opened, the very heart of 
God was opened in it to sinners ; the whole stream and current of his 
doctrine was one continued powerful persuasive to draw sinners to 

englaxd's dutv. 117 

him. This was liis language, " Come unto me all ye that labour, 
" and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, Mat. xi. 28. " In 
'' the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood up and cried, 
" If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink,'' John vii. 37. 
Himself resembles it to the clucking of a hen, to gather her 
chickens under her wings, Luke xiii. 34. " O Jerusalem, Jeru- 
" salem, how often would I have gathered thy children together, 
" as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings r Certainly 
the whole stream of the gospel is nothing else but the charming 
voice of the heavenly bridegroom, 

4. The joy he always expressed for the success of the gospel^ 
speaks him to be an earnest suitor for the hearts of sinners. It is 
very remarkable^ that all the evangelists who have recorded the 
life of Christ, never mentioned one laugh or smile that ever came 
from him,^^r he was a man of sorrows. Yet once you read, that 
he rejoiced in spirit ; and you shall see the occasion of it, in Luke 
X. 21. In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit And what was it that 
gladdened his heart, but the report brought him by the seventy, 
who returned with joy, saying. Lord, even the devils are subject to us 
through thy name. And he said unto them, / beheld Satan as lights 
ningfalljrom heaven, ver. 17, 18. Satan's kingdom was going 
down in the world, and the mysteries of salvation revealed unto 
babes ; this made his holy heart leap with joy within him, to be* 
hold the success of the gospel destroying Satan's kingdom ; and 
the poorest, meanest among men enlightened and converted by it. 
This was a cordial to his very soul, and spake the earnestness of his 
desire after union and communion with sinners. 

5. His sorrows and mourning upon the account of the obstinacy 
and unbelief of sinners, speaks the vehemency of his desire after 
union with them ; it is said, Mark iii. 5. " When he had looked 
** round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hard* 
" ness of their hearts," &c. You see from hence, that a hard 
heart is a grief to Jesus Christ. O how tenderly did Christ resent 
it, when Jerusalem rejected him I It is said, Luke xix. 41. " That 
" when Jesus came nigh to the city, he wept over it." The Re- 
deemer's tears wept over obstinate Jerusalem, spake the zeal and 
fervency of his affection to their salvation ; how loth Christ is to 
give up sinners. What a mournful voice is that in John v. 40. 
" And you will not come unto me, that you might have life.'^ 
How fain would I give you hfe ? but you would rather die than 
come unto me for it. What can Christ do more to express his 
willingness ? All the sorrows that ever touched the heart of Christ 
from men, were upon this account, that they would not yield to 
his calls and invitations. 


lis England's duty. 

6. This appears to be the great design of Christ, by the unwea- 
ried labours he underwent day and night to accompUsh it : Many 
weary journeys Christ took, many sermons and prayers he preach- 
ed and poured out, and all upon this design, to open the hearts of 
sinners to him, and win the consent of their wills, to become his ; 
this was the work which he preferred to his necessary food; John 
iv. 34. " My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to 
" finish his work :" q, d. My bringing home the elect of God, 
and saving them from A\Tath to come, is more to me than meat and 
drink. So vehement and intense were his desires after the win- 
ning of sinners, that he would lose no occasion to accomplish it. 
If he were never so weary with his travels and labours, yet if any 
occasion offered to save a lost soul, he would be sure to improve it. 
You have an instance of this in John iv. 6. " Then cometh he to 
^' a city of Samaria, called Sychar, &c. now Jacob's well was there. 
*' Jesus therefore being weary with his journey, sat thus on the 
'' well,'' &c. Christ was weary with his journey, and sat on the 
well for a little rest and refreshment, in the heat of the day. At 
the same time comes a woman of Samaria, to draw water ; a great 
sinner she was: Christ compassionately beholding this miserable 
object, forgets his own weariness, presently falls a preaching re- 
pentance to this sinner, and opens her heart; a greater refresh- 
ment to him than that well could afford him, by giving him a seat 
to sit on, or water to drink. 

7. The great and admirable encouragements Christ always gave 
to coming and willing souls, plainly speak the earnest desire of his 
heart after union with them ; never were the hke encouragements 
given that Christ gave to draw the souls of men to him. It is re- 
markable in what general terms and forms of expression he deli- 
vered them, that none might be discouraged, but come on in hope 
towards him : Come unto me all ye that labour, Matth. xi. 28. If 
any man thirst, John viii. 7. All along, the terms of invitation are 
exceeding large, which speak the desire of his heart to be so also ; 
and his practice was answerable to his invitation ; his mercies and 
compassions never failed when the vilest of sinners came to him in 
the way of repentance and faith. You read in Luke vii. 41, 42. 
that when Christ sat at meat in the house of Simon the Pharisee, 
there came in a poor convinced sinner, who had guilt enough upon 
her to sink ten thousand souls to the bottom of hell ; this poor 
wretch comes with a great deal of humility unto Christ,, not pre- 
suming to come before his face, but falls down behind him, kisseth 
his feet, washeth them with tears, and wipes them with the hair of 
her head ; all demonstrations of a broken heart. And how did the 
merciful Jesus welcome this poor sinner? He seals her pardon, 
commends the fervour of her affections, and sends her away a joy- 

England's duty. J19 

ful soul ; herein making good that gracious promise, He that comctk 
unto me I will in no wise cast out. 

8. The dreadful threatenings of Christ against all that refuse him, 
and shut the doors of their hearts against him, speak his vehement 
desire to prevent the loss and ruin of souls. The threats of 
Christ are not intended to discourage any from coming to him, to 
fright away souls from him; no, that is not their intention; 
but to bring them under a blessed necessity of comphance with his 
terms. O the dreadful threatenings, which, like claps of thunder, 
brake from the mouth of Christ against all that should refuse or 
delay to come unto him ! " If you believe not, you shall die in your 
" sins : he that believeth not shall not see life,'' John iii. 36. What 
a terrible thunder-clap is that against all unbelievers ! So Mark xvi. 
16. He that believeth not shall be damned. All these, and many 
more are warning-pieces shot off from heaven to prevent the ruin 
and damnation of men ; the very threatenings of the gospel carry a 
design of mercy in them ; damnation is threatened, that it may be 

9. And then in the last place herein appears the earnestness of 
Christ after union with sinners, that when he could be no longer a 
preacher to this world in his own person, he ordained a succession 
of ministers, in his bodily absence from us, to gather and build the 
church, and to continue to the end of the world ; to carry on the 
suit that Christ had begun, as long as there was one elect soul in 
the world lying in the state of sin and nature. 

Reader, Christ could not always abide here ; he must die, or we 
could not live ; he must rise again, or we could not be j ustified ; 
our business called him to another place and state : Now when 
Christ was to ascend to heaven, what doth he do ? Why, he choos- 
eth and calleth men, men made of the same clay with ourselves, 
whose presence and appearance should not affright or discourage 
us ; who should treat with us in a familiar way about the great 
concerns of our salvation in his name and stead : 2 Cor. v. 20. " We 
" then are ambassadors for Christ ; as though God did beseech 
" you, we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." 
He did not commissionate angels to be his Legates, their presence 
would confound and terrify us ; but men cast into the same moidd 
with yourselves, who may say to you as Elihu said to Job, Job 
xxxiii. 6, 7. " Behold, I am according to thy wish in God's stead ; I 
" also am formed out of the clay. Behold, my terror shall not make 
'' thee afraid, neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee.'^ Upon 
these commission-officers of Christ he poured forth excellent gifts, 
in great diversity and useful variety, to fit the capacities and various 
dispositions of men's souls : When he ascended up on high, he gave 
gifts unto men ; this ministerial office is by him established in the 


120 England's duty. 

church, " till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the 
" knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, unto the mea- 
" sure of the stature of the fulness of Christ," Ephes. iv. 11, 12, 
18. Unto these his ministers he gives the highest encouragements 
to quicken them to their labours : If one do but one part of the 
work, and another the other ; one soweth, another reapeth ; 
he tells them both, " He that reapeth receiveth wages, and 
" gathereth fruit unto life eternal : that both he that soweth and 
" he that reapeth may rejoice together,'' John iv. ^6. He tells 
them that every soul they win to him shall be as a jewel in their 
cro^vn of glory ; Dan. xii. 3. " And they that be wise shall shine 
*' as the brightness of the firmament ; and they that turn many to 
'' righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever."" Wh;at is Christ's 
intention in all these encouragements to his ministers ? Surely it is 
as if he should say to his sei'^ants, study hard, pray earnestly, plead 
with sinners affectionately ; every soul you win to me shall make an 
addition to your glory in heaven. 

Weigh now the force of this second demonstration from the 
life of Christ ; will you have a proof of Christ's earnest suit to gain 
the hearts of sinners .^ his whole life upon earth was a great proof of 
it ; his doctrine, so full of pathetical invitations, proves it ; the joy 
of his heart at the success of the gospel ; his tears and sorrows for 
the obstinacy of unbelievers ; his labours and travels to gather sin- 
ners to him ; his admirable encouragements put into general invita- 
tions ; his dreadful threatenings to all that reject his motions ; his 
commissionating and qualifying, continuing and encouraging his 
ministers to carry on his suit in his name : all these things make up 
a full demonstration that Jesus Christ is an earnest suitor for union 
and communion with the souls of sinners ; which was the thing to 
be proved. 

3. Demonst. Thirdly, the death of Christ is the fullest demon- 
stration that ever was or can be given of his love to sinners, and 
desire after union and communion with them. His doctrine and life 
discovered much, but his death and sufferings abundantly more ; 
in his doctrine he spent his breathy but upon the cross he spent his 
blood. Here he comes a suing to the souls of sinners in his scarlet 
robes, his red garments ; garments dipt in his own blood. You 
may now propound the same admiring question the church pro- 
pounded, Isa. Ixiii. 1,2. " Who is this that cometh from Edom, 
*' with dyed garments from Bozrah ? This that is glorious in his 
*' apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength ? Wherefore 
" art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that 
*' treadeth in the wine-fat .^" Wilt thou know, sinner, why he 
comes to thee in red garments ? It is to give thee such a demon- 
stration of his love as may draw forth all the love of thy lieart to 

England's duty. 121 

him ; by this blood he hatli bought and purcliascd tliy soul for a 
spouse tor himself, Acts xx. 28. Now there are two things in the 
death of Christ evidential of the fervency of his desires after 

1. The greatness of the sufferings which he endured. 

2. The use and end to which they were designed. 

Both these shew how the heart of Christ is heated with the vc* 
hemency of his own desires after union with our poor souls. 

1. The greatness of the sufferings of Christ discover the ardency 
of his affection. Christ's sufferings are twofold. 
(1.) External, in his body. 
(2.) Internal, in his soul. 

Both together making up the fulness of his sufferings : when 
you shall hear what Christ hath endured in both kinds, to pur- 
chase you to himself, then you may guess what a value he put 
upon you, what desire he hath after you. Now (1.) as to the exter- 
nal sufferings of Christ in his body, they were exceeding great, for 
the death he died was not a natural but violent death ; indeed he 
could not die a natural death, for there was no sin in his nature to 
open a door to death that way : his body was intended for a sacri- 
fice to God, and as a sacrifice it died ; therefore it is said, 1 Pet. 
iii. 18. He was put to death in tJieJlesh ; his soul and body were 
violently rent asunder in the fulness and perfection of his strength 
and vigour. And this violent death was also a cursed death ; he 
was made a curse for us. For it is written, cursed is every one that 
han^reth on a tree. Gal. iii. 13. A ceremonial curse was affixed to the 
deatli of the cross ; He that is hanged is accursed of God, saith the 
law : the intention of that death was to shew the person that died 
to be so vile, that he was not worthy to touch heaven or earth, and 
therefore was hanged betwixt both. Moreover, this violent death 
Christ died was a most painful death ; full of torture, and very 
slow and lingering : the cross was a rack to the body of Christ ; / 
mar/ tell all my hones, saith he, they look and stare upon me, Psal. 
xxi. 17. But yet (2.) the sufferings of his body were but the body of 
his sufferings ; it were the sufferings of his soul that were the very 
soul of his sufferings. These inward sufferings of Christ may like- 
wise be considered two ways. (1.) In his bitter propassions in the 
garden ; O what agonies and conflicts, what shai-p encounters and 
distresses did his soul there meet with from the wrath of God 
there endured for your sakes \ once and again he cried out, 
Abba Father, all things are possible, let this cup pass ; Fa- 
ther, if it be possible, let this cup pass; thrice he returned to the 
same place, rolling himself on the ground. The sufferings of his 
soul cast his blessed lx)dy into a bkx)dy agony : " His sweat was as it 
" were <?reat drops of blood falling to the ground/' Luke xx. 4-3, 44. 


1^? exglaxd's duty. 

(2.) In the fulness of his passion on the cross, there was his blessed 
soul for a time deserted of the Father, as to any sensible communis 
cations of joy and comfort from him ; which occasioned that bitter 
outcry, Matth. xxvii. 46, " My God, my God, why hast thou 
" forsaken me ?" Never was there such a cry heard since the 
heavens were spread over the earth ; never had Christ seen one 
frown in his Father's face, from eternity, before this time ; but now 
the smihng face of God was hid, and a strong impression of his 
wrath made upon him. And now, brethren, you see what Christ 
hath endured both in his body and in his soul ; and all for the sake 
of sinners. What think you now, is not Christ an earnest suitor ? 
Doth not all this fully and plainly speak the ardour of his love, the 
fervency of his desire after union and communion with us .'' If this 
do not, then nothing can demonstrate love and desire. That is the 
first thing, the greatness of the sufferings which he endured. 

2. Let us next consider the use and intention of these sufferings 
of Christ, and how this also demonstrates the earnestness of his de- 
sire after conjugal union with us. Now there was a double use and 
end of the sufferings of Christ, 

(1.) To make us free, that we might be capable of espousals. 
(2.) To win our affections by the argument of his sufferings. 

(1.) One end of Christ's death was, to purchase our freedom, 
that we might be capable of being espoused to him ; for you must 
know that we were not in a capacity whilst under the curse of the 
law, to be married unto Christ: the apostle, Rom. vii. 2, 3, 4. 
compares the law to a husband, to whom the wife is bound as long 
as he liveth, and not capable of a second marriage until her hus- 
band be dead. The death of Christ was the death of the law, as a 
covenant of works holding us under the bond of the curse of it ; and 
so it gave us a manumission or freedom from that bond, and a capa^. 
city of espousals to Christ, as ver. 4. " Wherefore, my brethren, ye 
^' also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye 
" should be married to another, even to him who is raised from 
<' the dead." A slave to another is not capable of being disposed 
in marriage, until made free ; you were in bondage to the law ; 
the slaves of sin and Satan ; Christ bought out your liberty (for his 
blood is called a ransom, Mat. xx. 28.) and so put you into a capa- 
city of being espoused unto himself: here you see Christ loved you 
not for any advantage he could have by you, for you had nothing 
to bring him ; nay, he must purchase you, and that with his own 
blood, before he can be united to you. O incomparable love \ 
O fervent desires ! 

(2.) Another design and end of the death of Christ was to win 
^nd gain our hearts and affections to himself, by the arguments of 
bis death ; this himself hath declared to be the very end and in- 


tention of it, John xli. 32. " And I, if I be lifted up from the 
" earth will draw all men unto me : this he said, signifying what 
♦' death he should die/'' Christ endured all that you have heard, 
and infinitely more than the tongue or pen of man can express ; and 
all to draw thy soul, and win thy consent to come unto him : the 
Lord Jesus, by his sufferings, casts a threefold cord over the souls 
of sinners, to draw them to himself 

1. The death of Christ obtains complete righteousness for guilty 
sinners ; and if any thing in the world will draw the heart of a 
sinner, this will. The anxious search and enquiry of a convinced 
sinner is after a perfect righteousness to justify liim before God. 
O, that is it the sinner wants ! conscience saith, thou hast broken 
all the laws of God, and art therefore a law-condemned wretch ; 
the sentence of the law casts thee for hell. Now what would a poor 
sinner give for a release from this sentence of the law ? Oh, ten 
thousands worlds for a pardon ? Why here it is, saith Christ ; 
come unto me, and thou shalt receive a free, full, and final par- 
don ; my blood cleanseth from all sin, my righteousness answers 
all the demands of the law. I have taken away the hand- writing 
that was against thee, and nailed it to my cross. Gal. ii. 1 4. Come 
unto me, and take up thy bonds, thy cancelled bonds ; come unto 
me, and that dreadful attribute of Divine Justice shall never 
scare or fright thy conscience any more ; nay, thou shalt build thy 
hope upon it. You read, Rom. iii. 25. " That God hath set forth 
^' Christ to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare 
" his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through 
*' the forbearance of God : to declare, I say, at this time his righ- 
*' teousness ; that he might be just and the justifiei* of him thatbe- 
" lieveth in Jesus." Here you see the justification and pardon of 
a sinner built upon that very attribute which was so frightful and 
dreadful to him before. Well then, poor sinner, is there guilt 
upon thy conscience ? And doth thy soul shake and quiver to think 
how it shall stand before the just and terrible God in the great 
day ? Hearken to the voice of Christ crucified, who calls thee to 
him to receive thy discharge ; which if thou refuse, the law still 
itands in its full force and virtue against thy soul. This is one cord 
Christ casts from the cross over the souls of guilty sinners, to draw 
them to him. 

2. The death of Christ purchases and procures perfect cleansing 
from the filth and pollution of sin to wash the defiled souls of sin- 
ners from all their uncleanness. For, " this is he that came by 
" water and by blood ; not by blood only, but by water also,'' 
1 John V. 6. He comes by way of sanctification, as well as by way 
of justification. Lord, saith a convinced sinner, what an unclean 
nature, heart, and life have I .'^ Oh ! I am nothing but a heap of 


uncleanness, an abhorrence to God and myself? how shall such 
a heart as mine, such an Augean stable be cleansed ? Come unto 
me, saith Christ ; I came by water as well as blood ; in me thou 
shalt find a fountain for sanctification as well as justification : come 
unto me, my Spirit shall undertake the cleansing of thy heart ; he 
shall take away the pollutions of sin perfectly, so that it shall be 
presented to God without spot. 

3. And, lastly, the transcendent love of Christ shines out in its 
full strength upon the souls of sinners from the cmss ; and there is 
nothing hke love to draw love. When Christ was lifted up upon 
the cros-s, he gave such a glorious demonstration of the strength of 
his love to sinners, as one would think should draw love from the 
hardest heart that ever lodged in a sinner's breast. " Herein is 
" love, (saith the apostle) not that we loved God, but that he 
<' loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins," 
1 John iv. 10. q. d. Here is the triumph, the riches and glory of 
Divine Love ; never was such love manifested in the world. There 
is much of God's love in temporal providences, but all is nothing 
to this ; this is love in its highest elevation ; love in its meridian 
glory ; before it was none hke it, and after it shall none appear 
hke unto it. And thus you see Christ, from the cross, casting forth 
a threefold cord (which is not easily broken) to draw the hearts of 
sinners to him. 

4. DemonM. Fourthly, to conclude ; what mighty demonstration 
of the desire of his heart towards us, did our Redeemer give at and 
since his ascension into heaven ? As the whole life of Christ upon 
earth was a persuasive argument to dra^v sinners to him, so his ascen- 
sion to heaven hath many things in it which are mighty attractives 
to the hearts of men. I will only mention two : 

1. The gifts he bestowed at his ascension. 

2. The ends and designs of his ascension. 

1. The gifts he bestowed on men at his ascension, for this very 
end and purpose ; whereof the Psalmist gives this account, Psal. 
Ixviii. 18. " Thou hast ascended on high ; thou hast received gifts 
" for men, yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might 
'' dwell among them.'' He alludes to the Roman conquerors, who 
in the day of their triumph did spargere missilia, scatter their 
largesses among the people. Thus Christ at his ascension shed forth 
the gifts of the Spirit in various kinds, qualifying men for the work 
of the ministry' ; to enable them to plead with your souls, and carry 
on his suit when he should be in heaven. These gifts were ex- 
traordinary in the first age ; as the gifts of tongues and miracles, 
&c. and ordinary, to continue to the end of the world, Eph. iv. 8, 9- 
To some he gives depth of learning and judgment, to others a 
mighty Pathos^ a melting influence upon the affections; but all 

exgland's duty. 125 

designed to win over your hearts to Christ. This shews what care 
he took, and Avhat provision he answerably made for the success of 
his great design to draw the hearts of sinners to liim. 

2. The ends of his ascension, as they are declared in scripture, 
plainly speak the vehemency of Chrisf s desire to draw souls to 
him. Now the declared ends of his ascension were, (1) To 
make way for the Spirit's coming to convince, convert, and com- 
fort the souls of all that come unto him ; John xvi. 7. " Neverthe- 
^' less I tell you the truth, it is expedient for you that I go away ; 
" for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come to you ; but 
'' if I depart, I will send him unto you : And when he is come, 
" he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of 
"judgment.'" Without the conviction of these things no man can 
come to Christ ; and no such convictions can be wrought upon the 
conscience of any man, without the Spirit; and the Spirit could 
not come to effect these things upon men's hearts, if Christ had 
not ascended ; John vii. 39. " But this spake he of the Spirit, 
" which they that believe on him should receive ; for the Holy 
" Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glori-. 
" fied." Thus Christ provided for the carrying on his great design 
upon your hearts when he was entering into his own glory : the 
thoughts of that glory made him not to forget his great design 
upon earth. (2.) Another end of Christ's ascension was, to make 
intercession with the Father for all and every soul that should come 
unto him; that their future sins might make no breach of the 
bond of the covenant betwixt God and them : a privilege able to 
draw the hearts of all sinners to him; 1 John ii. 1, 2. "My little 
" children, these things I write unto you that ye sin not." Mark 
it, the intercession of Christ must encourage and embolden no man 
to sin ; that would be a vile abuse of the grace of God : " But if 
*' any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ 
^' the righteous ; and he is the propitiation for our sins ;" i. e. If 
sin surprize and deceive any gracious soul, the bent of whose heart 
is against it, let him not be discouraged ; he hath a potent advo- 
cate ascended into the heavens, to continue the peace betwixt God 
and that soul. O what an encouragement is here to gain the con- 
sent of a sinner's heart to embrace Jesus Christ ! (3.) Another 
declared end of Christ's ascension was, to lead captivity captive, as 
in the forecited place, Psal. Ixviii. 17. that is, to captivate and tri- 
umph over Satan as a conquered enemy, who led us captive in the 
day of our vanity : he conquered Satan upon the cross, Col. ii. 15. 
and he triumphed over him at his ascension : and without such a 
conquest and triumph no soul could come to Christ. (4.) In a 
word, Christ ascended into heaven to prepare mansions of rest and 

15G exgla:cd'*s duty. 

glory for every soul that should embrace him in the way of repent- 
ance and faith in this world ; John xiv. 2. "In my Father's house 
<' are many mansions ; if it were not so, I would have told you : 
*• I go to prepare a place for you," q. d. It satisfies me not to enjoy 
my glory in heaven alone ; all that come unto me by faith, shall 
be with me where I am ; let them know, for their encouragement, 
that the glory which God hath given me, I have given them, John 
xvii. 22. All these things loudly speak the fervent desire of Christ's 
soul after union and communion with poor sinners ; which was the 
thing to be demonstrated. 

II. Having proved the point, that Christ is an earnest suitor for 
union and communion with the souls of sinners ; we next come to 
shew the marvellous and admirable grace and condescension of 
Christ that it should be so. And this will appear five ways to the. 
astonishment of every considering soul. 

1. Though Christ be thus intent and earnest in his suit for 
your consent, yet he gaineth nothing by you when you do consent; 
the gain is to yourselves, but not to him : He is over all, God blessed 

for ever, Rom. ix. 5. above all accessions from the creature. What 
^oth the sun gain by enlightening and animating the lower world .^ 
Or what doth a fountain gain when men drink and are refreshed 
by its waters ? If any soul that heareth me this day should presently 
resolve henceforth to break asunder all the ties and engagements 
betwixt liim and sin ; to subscribe the articles of the gospel ; to 
give away himself, soul and body to Christ ; to hve henceforth as a 
hallowed, dedicated creature to the Lord Jesus ; this indeed would 
turn to the infinite and everlasting advantage of such a soul ; but 
yet Christ cannot be profited thereby. 

2. And that which still increases the wonder is this, that though 
Christ make no gain or profit by our conversion, yet hath he im- 
poverished himself^ to gain such unprofitable creatures as we are to 
him. He hath made himself poor to make us rich ; so speaks the 
apostle in 2 Cor. viii. 9. " For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus 
" Christ, that though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became 
" poor, that ye through his poverty might be ricli.'" He expends 
his riches, makes no advantage unto himself; his incarnation im- 
poverished his reputation, Phil. ii. 7. How poor was Christ when 
he said, Psal. xxii. 6. " But I am a worm, and no man, a reproach 
" of men, and despised of the people t"^ How poor in temporal 
comforts, when he said, Matth. viii. 20. " The foxes have holes, 
" and the birds of the air have nests ; but the Son of man hath 
" not where to lay his head." Yea, how poor was he in spiritual 
comforts, when that astonishing out-cry brake from him upon the 
cross, Matth. xxvii. 46. " My God, my God, why hast thou for- 
*•' saken |pe .-"^ let it astonish us, that Christ should earnestly 


desire union With our souls upon terms of such deep self-denial to 
himself. - 

3. Though Christ gain nothing by you, and impoverished him- 
self for you ; yet doth he endure many vile repulses, delays, and 
denials of his suit, and will not leave it for all that : O astonishing 
grace ! One would think that the least delay, and much 'more a re- 
fusal of an overture from Christ, upon such terms as you have heard^ 
should make his indignation presently to smoke against such a soul ; 
and that he should say, Thou hast refused my offer, so full of self, 
denying and condescending grace, never shall another offer be made 
to so unworthy a soul ; and yet you see he is contented to wait as 
well as knock. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. 

4. Herein the admirable grace of this heavenly suitor appears, 
that Jesus Christ pa,sseth by millions of creatures, of more excellent 
gifts and temperaments, and never makes them one offer of him- 
self, never turneth aside to give one knock at their door : but 
comes to thee, the vilest and basest of creatures, and will not be 
gone from thy door without his errand's end. 

Knowest thou not, sinner, that among the unsanctified there are 
to be found multitudes of men and women of more raised and ex- 
cellent parts, nimble wits, strong memories, solid judgments ; yea, 
men and women of cleaner conversations, strict morality, adorned 
with excellent homolitical virtues, capable, if called, to do him 
abundantly more service than thou canst ; yet these are past by, 
and he becomes a suitor to such a poor worthless thing as thou art ; 
yea, and rejoices in his choice. Matth. xi. 25. " 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.'" Here is the triumph of free-grac^. 

5. And lastly. This justly increases the wonder, that ever Jesus 
Christ should desire and dehght to dwell in such an unclean heju-t 
as thine, which, from the beginning, hath been the seat and throne 
of Satan, full of all uncleanness and abominations. O that ever 
Christ should make an overture of love to such a polluted soul ! 
That he should chuse to erect his throne where Satan's seat was ! 
Look into thine own heart, sinner, and think what can Christ see there 
to be desired ? Thou knowest thy heart hath been a sink of sin, 
thy conscience like the common sewer, into which all the filth of 
thy life hath been cast ; yet Christ passeth by thee, as thou liest in 
thy blood and filthiness, and casteth love upon thee, and desire to- 
wards thee, as it is, Ezek. xvi. 6, 8. All these things put together 
make it justly admirable, and astonishing in our eyes, that ever 
Jesus Christ, the Lord from heaven, should become an earnest 
suitor for union and communion with the souls of sinners. 



I. tfse,Jbr Injbrmati<m. 

Infer. 1. If Christ be such an earnest suitor for union and corn- 
niunion with the souls of sinners, then it follows, That sinners can 
justly charge their damnation upon none hut themselves. Your blood 
must be upon your own heads ; salvation by Christ is not only free- 
ly offered, but you are with great importunity persuaded to accept 
it. Christ offers you life, you chuse rather to die than accept it 
upon his terms ; where noAv can your damnation be charged but 
upon your own Anlful obstinacy ? Hosea xiii. 9. Israel, thy de* 
struct ion is of thyself ! Thou art the author of thine own ruin ; / 
^'ould have gathered thy children, saith Christ to Jerusalem, but 
tlwu icouldest not ; your ruin, therefore, lies upon yourselves, and 
upon none beside. Indeed, if the ministers of Christ be negligent 
m their duty, they may come in as accessories to your destruction ; 
but that is a poor relief to you ; as for myself, I hope I may with 
Paul, take God to record this day, that 1 am free from the blood 
of all men. Now, consider what a dismal aggravation of your de- 
struction ^\-ill this be, that you perished by your owi\ hands : this 
cuts off all plea and apologv. 

InJ'. 2. Hence it also follows, That distressed sinners have no rea^ 
son to question Chrisfs icilUngness to receive them, zvhen their hearts 
are made icilling to come unto him. It were no less than a blas- 
phemous imputation of insincerity to Christ himself, to question his 
willingness to I'eceive broken-hearted sinners, after so many protes- 
tations as he hath made in the gospel, of his zeal and earnestness for 
their salvation ; that scripture, John vi. 37. puts it out of doubt, 
" Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out.'' I know 
guilt breeds many fears and jealousies in the hearts of sinners ; 
will Christ ever accept and receive such a one as 1 1! Try him, soul, 
he hath said he will ; let him have but the deliberate consent of thy 
heart to his terais, and then, if thou be rejected, thou wilt be the 
first soul in the world that ever met with a repulse from him. 

InJ'. 3. By Chrisfs earnest suit for the soids of sinners, you may 
estimate the invaluable zcvrth, and precious imture of the soul of 
7?ian. Were not the soul of a creature of great value, Jesus Christ 
would never be so deeply concerned about the winning and saving 
of it. Sinners have a vile esteem of their own souls, they will sell 
them for nought ; but Christ knows their true worth, and his solici- 
tude to save them is answerable to his estimation of them ; he counts 
when he hath gained a soul, he hath gained a treasure. There- 
fore he pleads, woos and waits so earnestly and assiduously for the 
salvation of them. Two things speak the gi'eat value of the soul of 

1. That it is a marriageable creature to Christ now. 


2> That it is capable of glory with Christ hereafter; 

1. It is a marriageable creature to Christ now, capable of espou- 
sals to the Son of God ; upon which account it is that Christ so 
earnestly seeks its love, and sues for its consent. Now this is a dig- 
nity beyond all other creatures in heaven or earth ; no angel in 
heaven, no other creature but the soul of man on earth is capable 
of espousals to Christ ; it is a dignity above that of angels, for 
Christ took not on him their nature, and the h^^postatical union is 
the ground and foundation of the mystical union. They are mem- 
bers indeed of Christ's kingdom, and he is to them a head of do- 
minion ; but this honour was never conferred upon angels to be 
members of his body, flesh, and bones, as the saints are, Eph. v, 30. 

2. As the soul is capable of espousals to Christ on earth, so it is 
capable of glory with Clirist in heaven throughout eternity, John, 
xvii. 24. " Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, 
" be with me where I am, that they may behold the glory which 
" thou hast given me.'^ It hath a natural capacity of enjoying eter- 
nal blessedness which the souls of other creatures have not And 
this >vill be the aggravation of hell-torments, that men capable of 
the highest happiness, should, as it were, receive that capacity in 
vain ; but that which constitutes an actual right to the everlasting 
enjovment of Christ in glory, is the soufs espousals to him here in 
the way of grace. Upon these two accounts it is, that Clirist puts 
such a price upon them, courts their love so passionately ; laments 
their loss so pathetically ; and encourages his ministers to all dili- 
gence in persuading and wooing them for him with such abundant 
rewards, Dan. xii. 3. Know then your own worth and dignity, 
neither pawn nor sell so precious a thing as thy soul for any thing 
Satan can set before tliee by way of exchange for it ; What shall a 
man give in excJiangeJbr his soul ? 

Inf. 4. Is Christ such an earnest suitor for union zvith sinners ? 
then certainly^ they are the enemies of Christy and the souls of men, 
that any way endeavour to hinder or break off the match betwixt 
Christ and them? 

Some there are that labour to create jealousies, and beget dis- 
tastes and prejudices in the souls of men against Christ and his 
ways ; men that bring up an evil report upon Christ, and strict re- 
ligion, as that which will beggar them, and expose them to all the 
miseries of the world : Who instigated by Satan, whis})er such sto- 
ries into the souPs ear, whom Christ is wooing for himself, that the 
severity of religion will certainly extinguish all tlitir joys and 
pleasures ; they shall never laugh more, never be merry more ; 
beside, it will expose all their comforts upon earth to hazard, their 
estates and lives must fall a prey to their enemies, and this is the 
estate in which Christ will jointer them in, if they consent to his 

V30 England's duty, 

terms : and that this is no groundless jealousy of their own, but 
that Christ himself hath openly declared as much ; " That he that 
" will come after Iiim must hate father and mother, wife and chil- 
*' di-en, yea, and his own life also.'" This is what they must ex- 
pect as the fruit of their consent to Christ's proposals. But, O 
what will these men have to answer, and how will they stand be- 
fore Christ another day, who are such professed enemies to his cross, 
and set themselves so directly in opposition to the great design 
Christ is driving on in the world ! Is it not enough that you will 
not enter yourselves, but you vnll hinder them that Would ? Mat. 
xxiii. 13. Tims carnal parents discourage their children, one rela- 
tion another. But, to help souls under this discouragement, I ^vill 
leave only this one caveat with them. That such seeming friends 
are their real mortal enemies^ their ijcords are poison to your souls : 
Satan hath fee'd them to do his work, hu'ed their tongues for his 
service. But if the serious cares of salvation, and fervent love of 
Christ be in thy heart, thou wilt resolve, as Jerom did, ' If my 

* father who begat me, and my mother who bare me, should hang 
' about my neck with tears and entreaties, to keep me from Christ, 
' I would fling off my father, and tread upon my mother, to go to 

* Christ.' 

To this head also belong all those scandals and offences which 
loose and careless professors cast in the way to discourage others from 
coming unto Christ ; JVo to the world (saith Christ) because qfofi- 
fences^ Matth. xviii. 7. Wo to the world, this will be their ruin 
and undoing ; by this means such prejudices will be begotten in 
their souls against Christ and religion, as they will never be able to 
free themselves from. "But woe to them by whom such offence 
" Cometh ; it were better a mill-stone were hanged about their 
" necks, and they were cast into the bottom of the sea." Chris- 
tians, look carefully to your conversations ; for besides the evil ef- 
fects of sin upon yourselves, you see the mischievous effects of it 
upon others. And thus we may understand those words. Cant. ii. 
7. "I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and 
*' by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love 
" till he please." Roes and hinds are timorous creatures, the least 
crack of a stick will startle and fright them away ; such ai'e comers 
on toward Christ ; young beginners in the ways of religion, how 
small a matter may damp and discourage them .? O friend, you 
have sins enough of your own, bring not the sin and ruin of other 
men upon your account also. 

Inf. 5. To conclude, How great is the blindness and ignorance of 
sinners^ that need so much entreaty and importunity to be mxide 
happy ? It is your ignorance, sinners, that makes all the gospel-im- 
portunity necessary ; did you know your own misery, and see Christ 

t}NGLAND\s DUTY. 131 

iti his necessity, suitableness, and excellency, all these persuasionfi 
tnight be spared ; nay, you yourselves would become importunate 
suitors for Christ : He would not need to be twice offered : there ig 
a conscience in every man and woman, set there on purpose by the 
Lord to give them an alarm ; but the alarm goes off for want of a 
spring, to wit, the knowledge of your sin and misery. Ah soul ! 
cndst thou but know who it is that sues for thy love, what the bene- 
fits of union with Christ are, thou wouldst answer his first call in 
such language as this : Lord Jesus, write down thine own terms ; 
be they what they will, I am ready to subscribe them with the ful- 
lest consent of heart and will; and then, how soon would the 
match be made betwixt Christ and you ! Yea, you would watch 
for, and hang on half a word of encouragement from Christ's 
mouth, as Benhadad's servant did on that word of Ahab, My 
brother Benhadad, 1 Kings xx. 32, 33. There is no need of rhe- 
toric to persuade a condemned malefactor to accept his pardon, a 
hungry man to sit down at a full table ; but, alas ! Sin is not felt^ 
Christ is not known ; therefore the one is not bewailed, nor the 
other desired. 

II. Use^f(yr Exhoriation. 

In the next place, the point naturally leads us to an use of exhor- 
tatkm, to persuade sinners to embrace Chrisf s motion, subscribe 
his terms, and debate no more with him, but end the treaty in a 
cordial present consent ; and so close up the match betwixt him 
and your owti souls. How long sinner, wilt thou be at shall /, 
shall I ? and thy will hang undetermined betwixt Christ and sin^ 
bivious and unresolved in so great and deep a concernment? O 
that Christ's next overture might bring the matter to an issue f 
Why will you trifle and dally with him at this rate ? There is, 
indeed, a treaty on foot betwixt Christ and you ; but you may pe- 
rish for all that; there is no conclusion or agreement made, 
Christ and you may yet part. The Lord help you therefore to 
ponder and deliberate, with all speed and seriousness, the terms 
propounded by Christ in the gospel ; to count the cost, and yet 
not always to be deliberating neither, but to bring matters to an 
issue, and that, with all the convenient speed you can : in order 
whereunto, I will lay two things before you ; weigh and seriously 
ponder them. 

1. What are the advantages you will gain by Christ ? 

2. What is the most you can lose by your consent to his terms ? 
and then bring thoughts to an issue. 

Firsi, Ponder well the advantages you will gain by Christ ; these 
are so great and manifold, that it is impossible for me to enumerate 
or value them : it shall suffice in this place, to shew you one of 

Voi.. IV. I 

132 England's dutv. 

those bunches of the grapes of Eshcol, that by it you may estimate 
the riches and fertihty of that good land, settled upon you by 
Christ as a dowry or jointure ; and these are four. 

3. The payment of all your. debts to the law. 
2. An honour above angels. 

8. An eternal inheritance in heaven. 

4. A glorious and joyful presentation of you to the Father) in 
the great day, by Christ, as his spouse and wife. 

1. The same dav and hour you give your cordial consent to take 
Christ upon gospel-terms, that is to say, Christ with his yoke of 
obedience, and Christ with his cross of sufferings, all your debts 
to the law are discharged and paid. What have you been doing, 
ever since you came into the world, but running upon score to 
God, deeper and deeper every day ? Oh, what a vast sum owest 
thou to his justice ! and not able to pay one farthing. If thou con- 
sent not to Christ's offer, the bailiff and executioner, death and the 
de^'il, will shortly be upon thy back, and huiTy thee away to that 
prison, from whence thou shalt not come until thou hast paid the 
last farthing, Mat. v. 25, 26. If thou consent to Christ's terms, 
thy debts are paid upon thy marriage-day, thy bonds cancelled, and 
thy discharge in heaven sealed ; Rom. viii. 1. " There is there- 
" fore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ ;" and the 
reason is given, ver. 4. In this, " That the righteousness of the 
** law is fulfilled in us that believe.'" But how in us .'^ certainly 
the meaning is not that the ro credere, the act of faith doth, as it is 
a work of ours, satisfy the demand of the law, and fulfil its righ- 
teousness ; no, but it apprehends the righteousness of Christ, ap- 
plies it, and makes it ours, and so " the righteousness of the law 
" is fulfilled in us that beheve/' It is an ease, it is a comfort to 
be out of debt ? Then embrace the offer of Christ ; for after thy 
espousals to him, the law cannot touch thee by an act of condem- 
nation; it goes to the husband, Christ ; thou art discharged. Well 
then, resolve what to do : shall the debt run on and increa.se till 
justice come to levy it upon you in hell-torments ? Or will you ac- 
cept of Christ and the riches of righteousness that are in him, and 
so be fully and finally acquitted from all your debts at once, and be 
able to lie down in peace, and enjoy your lives without slavish fear.? 
He that owes nothing, fears no baihffs, but may (as we use to say) 
whet his knife upon the compter threshold. 

2. Your consent to Christ^s terms, will advance you , to an ho. 
nour above and beyond the honour of angels. It is said, that the 
children of the resurrection shall be equal unto angels ; and it is 
most sure, that in some respect their union with Christ advances 
them far above angels; for the apostle tells us, Heb. i. 14. " Tliey 
" ^re ministering spirits, sent forth for the good of them that shall 

England's duty. 133 

" be heirs of salvation r'' as tlie great peers and nobles in a king- 
dom, count it no dishonour to perform their service to the heir 
apparent. The ministry of angels is a mystery which we little un- 
derstand ; but by it tve receiye great and manifold advantages, and 
it certainly puts a great deal of honour Upon all the members of 

3. Christ will not bnly pay all your debts, and exalt you to a 
dignity above angels ■, but in that day wherein you cordially consent 
to his terms he will entitle you to the most glorious inheritance 
purchased by his blood ; " You shall be heirs of God, and joint 
" heirs with Christ,'' Rom. viii. 17. Oh, what an inducement is 
here to close the match betwixt Christ and our souls ! If I consent 
to take Christ upon gospel-terms, I shall thereby be entitled to all 
the glory that is in heaven ; it shall be mine as truly as it is Christ's. 
It is true the glory of Christ will in some respects far surpass the 
glory of the saints ; he will shine among them as the sun compared 
with the stars; but yet the glory which God gave him, that is, 
the communicable glory shall be truly theirs, as it is his, John 
xvii. 22. " The glory which thou gavest me, I have given them." 
Tell my brethren (saith he) John xx. 17. ^'^ I ascend unto my Fa- 
" ther, and your Father ; to my God, and your God." This, 
you shall gain also by closing this treaty with a hearty consent ta 
Christ's terms and proposals. 

4. If you will consider and Consent, you shall be presented by 
him to the Father^ pure and spotless, with exceeding joy and glad- 
ness in the great day. This will be such a presentation of your 
persons to God as will make your hearts leap for joy to read what 
the scriptures speak about it. Thid, methinks, should induce every 
soul, without further delay, to present himself, soul and body, 
cheerfully and willingly to Jesus Christ. For, (1) Christ will bring 
you in the great day to his Father, in the shining beauty of perfect 
holiness, not a spot or WTinkle upon your souls, Eph. v. 27. The 
blood of Christ perfectly washes off every spot of guilt ; for then 
the Spirit of Christ hath perfectly cleansed the soul from all the 
defilement and filth of sin ; so that it shall come to God a pure and 
beautiful creature out of Christ's hand. (2.) This presentation will 
be made with the greatest honour and solemnity ; we little think in 
what state and triumph Christ intends to bring the poorest believer 
to his Father, Psal. xlv. 14, 15. " With joy and gladness shall they 
*• be brought," &c. So Jude, ver. 24. " They shall be presented 
" faultless before the presence of his glory, with exceeding joy :" 
Joy running over joy, upon all hands; God himself will rejoice, 
that ever he created such a soul as hath sincerely bestowed itself 
upon Christ : Jesus Christ will rejoice that ever he shed his blood for 



that soul that now places his sole righteousness therein : the Holy 
Spirit ivill rejoice, that ever he came with a commission from the Fa- 
ther and the Son to draw such a soul to Christ, who hath obeyed his 
voice. The angels will rejoice with joy unspeakable, Luke xv. 10. 
'* There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sin- 
" ner that repenteth." If the consent of any of your souls shall be 
this day gained to Christ ; if the word you have heard this day shall 
send any poor soul hence to his closet, or into a corner, there to 
make his covenant with Christ, (for that is the way of making up 
the match with Christ) in that hour the news of it will be in hea- 
ven, and excite joy among the angels of God. Lay these and 
many other privileges together, which I want time to mention, but 
the scriptures will abundantly furnish you with them ; and then 
consider what a rich bargain, what an advantageous match, Jesus 
Chi'ist is for your souls. 

Secondly, Upon the other side cast up the account, what you may 
lose by youi* consent to be Christ's ; and whether these losses be 
sufficient to balance or preponderate the gain that comes by such 
a consent ; that so your choice of Christ may be a deliberate and 
full choice, and you may never repent afterwards of the choice 
you have made. It is a rule in the civil law, Non consentit qui non 
sentit. He cannot consent that doth not think, understand, and 
deliberate : and this is the reason of so much flinching from Christ, 
and shameful apostasy in times of persecution ; men did not think 
of such sufferings and losses ; they are mere surprisals to them. 
To prevent all such occasions of offence, our Lord deals candidly 
and openly with us, and tells us before-hand what are the worst 
things that may befal us for his sake, John xvi. 1, 2. " These 
" things have I spoken unto you, that you should not be offended : 
" They shall put you out of the synagogues; yea, the time 
" Cometh, that whosoever killeth you, will think he doth God 
" service.'' But, ver. 4. he adds, " These things have I told you, 
^' that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told 
** you of them :" q. d. Remember yourselves in times of persecu- 
tion, that all these things were propounded, considered, and con- 
sented to ; they were the very terms you subscribed to me ; had 
you not liked them, you might, at the everlasting damage and 
ruin of your immortal souls, have refused and rejected them. Now 
the things you are to balance mth the gain of Christ, must by you 
be sorted into two ranks. 

1. Things that must be parted with. 

2. Things that may be parted with for Christ. 

1. The things that you must part with, viz. your lusts, and all 
the vicious pleasures you have had in them ; how much profit or 
pleasure soever they have brought you in, away they must go ; 

England's duty. 135 

they must be devoted to destruction and mortification, or you can 
have no interest in Christ, you must shake hands for ever with all 
your sinful courses and companions, Rom. vi. 16. "His servants 
" you arc, to whom you obey.'' Be they as pleasant and profit- 
able as your right hand or eye, they must be plucked out and cut 
off, Mat. V. 22, 30. Doth this sound harsh and unpleasant to your 
cars ? Doth this cause the demur ? O, consider, what it is to part 
with sin ; it is but to part with the disease of your souls, and the 
instruments of your everlasting ruin. Which of you would not be 
glad to part with a fever, the stone, or dropsy ? What is passipn, 
but the fever of the soul ? What is a hard heart, but a stone ? 
What is covetousness and earthly-mindedness, but the insatiable 
dropsy of the soul ? Now, if men would be glad to be rid of such 
dreadful diseases in their bodies, and to be restored to soundness, 
case, and health ; how much more should you be glad to be rid of 
your corruptions, and have the rectitude, ease, and pleasure of 
your souls restored again ? yea, instead of these impure, vicious, 
brutish pleasures you have taken in sin, you shall enjoy the pure, 
divine, suitable and everlasting pleasures of holiness. Consider 
now, and accordingly make your choice, whether you will take 
the pleasures of sin, which are but for a season, in exchange for 
the everlasting joys which are at God's right hand for ever. 

2. There are other things which you mai/ be called to part with, 
and give up for Christ. It is uncertain whether God may actually 
call you to part with your liberties, estates, relations, and lives for 
Christ : Many are never actually called forth to such sufferings ; 
but because many are, and every one of you may be so called, you 
must realize them, ponder them, and subscribe those very terms, 
making full account of these things as if they were now before you, 
Luke ix. 23. For so Christ hath propounded them : But then 
withal, weigh these troubles with the gain and advantages you shall 
have by them, and not singly and alone by themselves ; for so 
Christ hath presented them to you, Matth, xix. 28. " And every 
" one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, 
" or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, 
" shall receive a hundred fold, and shall inherit everlasting life." 

Now, if you think such gainful troubles, such soul-enriching 
losses, be worth accepting for Christ's sake ; then close the match 
with Christ, and bring the matter to a conclusion : Do not beibol 
yourselves with a fond and groundless presumption that these 
things will never befal you. I fear many flatter themselves with 
such vain hopes ; the Lord knows how soon these suppositions, at 
a distance, may be turned into realities before your eyes : You 
have much reason to expect them, and much more to embrace 
them, whenever Christ shall call you to them. This is the great 


136 England's duty. 

work you have now to do ; and really you cannot safely demur any 
longer ; this matter must come to a conclusion, and the sooner the 
better. For you know, (1.) that your lives are immediately un- 
certain, and it is an unaccountable madness to let the great con- 
cern of your salvation lie one day or night at hazard ; your breath 
is continually coming and going, and that which is going must at 
last be gone, James iv. 14. Your souls hang over everlasting dan- 
gers by the single thread of that feeble breath which plays in your 
nostrils, and every disease is like the flame of a candle held under 
that thread ; and can it either be safe or comfortable to delay so 
great a work as this, upon which all your expectations and eternal 
blessedness depend ? (2.) Not only your lives are hazardous and 
uncertain, but the enjoyment of the gospel, and all the opportu- 
nities and means of your conversion, are as uncertain as they. It is 
true, and to the glory of God be it acknowledged, we now enjoy 
the freedom and fulness of gospel-mercies : but where has God 
made any such settlement of these blessings upon you, as puts the 
enjoyment of them out of hazard ? The rain is over, but yet the 
clouds may return after the rain ; we are upon our good beha^ 
viour ; if it bring forth the fruits of your conversion, well ; if not, 
the ax lieth at the root of the tree, Matth. iii. 10. And if God re- 
move the gospel from among us (as our delays and triflings may pro- 
voke him to do) then the treaty is ended, and there is little proba- 
bility that any thing further will be done betwixt Christ and you, 
Luke xiii. 25. (3.) Bring this matter to an issue with all due 
speed, because you are not capable to give one sound reason for a 
moment's delay of so great and weighty a concernment. Can you 
be safe too soon ? Can you be happy too soon ? Certainly you 
cannot be out of the danger of hell too soon ; and therefore why 
should not your closing with Christ upon the terms propounded be 
your very next work ? For certainly if the business, the main work 
and business of everv man's life be to fly from the wrath to come, 
as indeed it is, Matth. iii. 7. and to fly for refuge to Jesus Christ, 
as indeed it is, Heb. vi. 18. then certainly, all delays are highly dan- 
gerous in such a business as this : the man-slayer, when flying to 
the refuge-city before the avenger of blood, when his heart was 
hot within him, did not think he could recover the city too soon. 
And now set all your own reason to work upon this matter ; put 
the case as really it is : I am fleeing from wrath to come : the jus- 
tice of God, and the curses of the law are closely pursuing me : is 
it reasonable that I now sit down in the way to gather flowers, or 
play with trifles ? For such are all our other concernments in this 
world, compared with our salvation. (4.) Bring this treaty to an 
issue with all due speed, because most souls that perish, perish by 
delays; men think they have time enough before them, and tiiat 

exgland\s duty. 1^*7 

to-morrow will be as to-day, and so Satan gets part by part, what 
he had not confidence to demand in the whole hnnp. Most that 
perish under the gospel had convictions upon their consciences, and 
vain purposes in their hearts ; but not bringing them to a speedy 
execution, that was their undoing ; James i. 24. " He beholdeth 
<' himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgets what manner 
*' of person he was." It is an allusion to a man that looks in the 
morning into a glass, where he discerns a spot upon his face, and 
resolves with himself anon to wash it off; but some diversion or 
other falls in, other matters take up his thoughts, and so the spot re- 
mains all day, and he carries it to bed at night. O these delays are 
the undoing of millions ! (5.) Delay not to close thi« treaty with 
Christ, because all delay increases the difficulty ; and the longer you 
neglect, the more mil your hearts be hardened by the deceitfulness 
of sin, Heb. iii. 13. Continuance in sin, and quenching of convic- 
tions, do insensibly harden the heart, and stiffen the will. Under 
the first convictions the heart is tender, the affections flowing : O if 
this advantage were apprehended and pursued, how soon might the 
work come to a comfortable conclusion ! but after a while, those 
soul-affecting words, sin, Christ, heaven, hell, death, and eternity, 
will become words of a conmion sound. (6.) And lastly, beware 
of delays in this matter, because you can never expect a fitter and 
fairer opportunity and season for the dispatch of this great concern- 
ment, than, by the special indulgence of heaven, you enjoy this day, 
2 Cor. vi. 1, 2. *•' Now is the accepted time, now is the day of saK. 
" vation.'' You have now the wind and tide with you ; if you 
will not weigh anchor now, you may He A^d-bound to your dying 
day. What advantages can you reasonably expect, which God 
hath not furnished you with at this day ? You have the means of 
grace among you ; you have liberty and freedom to attend on those 
means without fear. Say not^ I have such or such troubles and 
encumbrances in the world ; for you must never expect to be with- 
out them, except you, only, shall find the world another thing than 
all others find it. Have you health ? O what a precious season and 
advantage is that ? art thou sick ! O what a spur is that ! What is 
to be done must be doae quickly. 

III. Use^for Direction, 

But it may be some souls may plead ignorance,, th^t they know 
not how to manage and transact so great a concernment with Christ, 
and therefore set not about it ; and it is very Ukely there may be 
much truth in that plea. For the help and assistance of such souls, 
I will gather up the sum of what hath been, and- ought to be fur- 
ther spoken about this matter,, in the following directions ; so that 

I 4 


nothing but your unwillingness and slothfulness shaU remain to 
hinder you, 

Direct. 1. If ever you bring the treaty betwixt Christ and your 
souls to a happy issue and conclusion, you must, as before was noted, 
sit down and count the cost, Luke xiv. 28. it will be vain else to 
engage youi'selves in the profession of religion : it is not Christ's 
design to draw you under a rash inconsiderate engagement, and so 
to reap more dishonour by your apostasy and hypocrisy than ever 
he shall have glory by your profession. No, he would have you 
foresee and seriously bethink yourselves of all the outward trou- 
bles and inconveniences you may afterwards meet with for his sake. 
You are to embark yourselves with Christ, and abide with him in 
storms as well as in halcyon days; you must follow the Lamb whither- 
soever he goeth, Rev. xiv. 4. There is no retreating after engage- 
ment to Christ : '' If any man draw back, my soul shall have no 
" pleasure in him," Heb. x. 38. It is eternal death by that mar- 
tial law of heaven, to run from Christ's colours in the day of battle. 
Well then, retire thyself into the iimermost closet of thy soul ; sit 
quiet and patiently there, until thou hast debated this matter fully 
with thy own thoughts, and hast balanced the good and the evil, 
the profits and losses of religion ; for want of this the church is 
fiUed with hypocrites, and hell with inconsiderate and rash profes- 
sors : the more we dehberate the better we shall conclude. 

Direct. 2. Having debated the matter over and over in thy most 
sedate and serious thoughts, let not Satan discourage thee from cast- 
ing thy soul at Christ's feet with a hearty consent to all his terms, 
for want of such and sqch qualifications as thou canst not find in 
thine own soul. It is usual for Satan to suggest at tliis time, the 
want of greater sorrow and humiliation for sin ; that the soul hath 
not lain long enough under the humbling work of the law ; that 
the aggravations of its sins have been such, that there is no hope of 
acceptance. Free thy soul from these snares of Satan, by the con- 
sideration of this unquestionable truth ; that Christ expects from 
thee no more humihation than what produceth such a hearty de- 
liberate consent as thy will is now to give ; and such a consent once 
gained, no aggravation of sin is pleadable against the duty of be- 

Direct. 3. Distrust not the sincerity of Christ in those gracious 
offers he makes unto coming souls. Be satisfied, he speaks his very 
heai't in them to thee ; the devil labours to sow jealousy and beget 
suspicions in the hearts of poor convinced sinners, that they will not 
^nd such a welcome entertainment with Christ as he seems to pro- 
mise them in those encouraging scriptures, Mat. xi. 28, 29. John 
vi. 37. but that something else lies hid in those scriptures, as a 
mystery which they understand not, and so by shaking the as- 

England's dt:ty. 1^9 

sentinw act, labours to hinder the accepting act of faith. This is a 
case as common as it is sad. The Lord help poor souls to avoid 
this snare, lest instead of honouring Christ, by a resolved adherence 
to him, they make him a liai', and impute insmcerity to the God of 
truth : F(yr he that belteveth not hath made him a liar. 

Direct. 4. Look up to God for power to enable you to come to 
Christ in this supernatural and difficult work of faith. Do not think 
faith is of the growth of thine own heart ; " No man can come 
" unto me, (saith Christ) except my father which hath sent me, 
" draw him.*" There is a legal spirit working under evangelical 
pretences in many souls ; they look Avithin them to find that which 
is quite above them. The apostle points you to the fountain of 
faith, in Eph. ii. 8. " It is not of yourselves ; it is the gift of 
" God." It is one of the greatest difficulties in the world to be- 
lieve. For if the power of God must be owned as the cause of 
every new degree of faith in the greatest believers in the world, as 
is plain, Luke xvii. 5. " The apostles said unto the Lord, increase 
" our faith ;" how much more is the production of faith itself, and 
the first vital act thereof to be ascribed to the Almighty Power of 

Direct. 5. Keeping thine eye of expectation upon that Almighty 
Power, pray and plead with the Lord assiduously and importunately 
for the exerting that poAver upon thy soul ; and give not over thy 
suit, until thou feel that power coming upon thee. The time of 
beheving is a time of earnest pleading thine own danger and 
necessity ; and the Spirit of the Lord, improving them, will abun- 
dantly furnish thee with pleas and arguments to enforce this suit. 
Such as these; (1.) Lord, I have thy call and invitation; yea, 
I have thy command to encourage me to believe ; it is not pre- 
sumption, therefore, in thy poor creature, to come after thou hast 
invited and commanded me; hadst thou not encouraged me, I 
durst not have moved towards thee : Lord, whose word is it ? 
1 John iii. 23. is it not thine own ? This makes my faith an act of 
obedience. (2.) Yea, Lord, I have thy promise, as well as thy 
command, made upon no other condition but my coming to thee. 
Blessed Jesus, hast thou not said, John vi. 37. " Him that cometh 
" unto me, I will in no wise cast out ?" An invitation is much, 
but thy promise is more. (3.) O my God, I have not only thy 
command, making it my duty to believe, and thy promise to en- 
courage me to that duty, but I have the examples of other sinners 
that came unto thee long ago, and thou didst not reject them : nor 
do I abuse these examples in drawing encouragement from them ; 
for it was thy very design in recording them, that they might lie 
so many patterns to all that should hereafter believe on thee, 1 Tim. 
i. 10. (4.) my God, I am shut up under a plain necessity ; 


I have no other way to take : thus stands the case with me, I am 
beaten ofF from all other refuges ; there is no help for me in angels 
nor in men, in duties or self-righteousness ; in thee only my soul 
can find rest. I am shut up to thee as to the only door of hope, 
Gal. iii. 23. here I must speed or perish ; my soul is burdened and 
wearied ; I know not how to dispose of it, but into thy hands ; nor 
where to lay the burden of my guilt, but upon thee : If I miss hercy 
I am gone for ever. (5.) Lord, I am willing to renounce and 
abandon all other hopes, refuges, and righteousness, and to stick to 
^nd rely upon thee only. Duties cannot justify me, tears cannot 
wash me, reformation cannot save me ; nothing but thy righteous- 
ness can answer my end ; I come to thee a poor naked creature, 
saying as the church, Hos. xiv. 3. " Ashur shall not save us^ &c. 
" for in thee do the fatherless find mercy.'" Thus plead it with 
God, and still remember you are pleading for life, yea, for your 
eternal life. 

Direct. 6. Labour to make a resolved adventure upon Christ,. 
amidst all those encouragements, let the issue be what it will ; re^ 
solve to venture, though you have not the least degree of assurance 
that you shall be accepted and pardoned. This is that brave and 
noble act of faith, which carries the vsoul to Christ : much as Esther 
came to the King, " Yet will I go into the king ; and if I perish, 
" I perish,'" Esth iv. 16. It pities me to think how the faith of 
the fervent love of Christ alone should be enough to save a sinner, 
and make him justified without any act of belief; but you see faith 
is. another matter. O there are great difficulties and mighty 
wrestlings in the work of believing : it is a great matter for a poor 
convinced sinner, in the face of so much guilt and vileness, and 
amidst such manifold damps and discouragements from Satan, to 
cast and adventure himself upon Christ, and that upon such self- 
denying terms : but the pinch of necessity will bring tl>e soul to 
this, for now it reasons with itself as the lepers did, 2 Kings vi:.. 
4, 5. If we go to the camp of the Assyrians, we can bu.t die ; and 
If we abide here, we must certainly die: thus here, if I sit still in 
the state of nature, and still continue demurring, and delaying, my 
damnation is unavoidable ; to hell I must go : and if I cast myself 
upon Christ, I can but be rej:ected. But he hath said, He will not 
cast out those that come unto him : in this way of faith there is a 
}X)ssibility of salvation, yea, there dawns from it a strong proba- 
bility : this therefore is my only way ; To him I will gOy and if I 
perish^ I perish. 

Direct. 7. Never measure the grace of God, nor the mercy of 
Clirist, by the rule of your own narrow conception and apprehensions 
of him ; but believe them to be far greater than your contracted 
aad narrov>' understanding represents them to you. Our casting 

en:g land's Df.Tv. 141 

of the pardoning power and mercy of God in the mould of our own 
thouo-hts, disfigures and alters them, so that they look not like 
themselves, but with a very discouraging aspect u})on our souls ; 
by this, Satan keeps off many a soul from coming to Christ : the 
Lord knows how to forgive thee, though thou scarce knowcst how 
to forgive thyself for the injuries thou hast done against him. That 
is a very considerable scripture to this purpose, in Isa. Iv. 7, 8, 9. 
f' Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his 
^' thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have 
'' mercy upon him ; and to our God, for he will abundantly 
" pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are 
" your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are 
" higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, 
" and my thoughts than your thoughts.'' Man lies under a 
double misery, one by reason of affliction, another by reason of 
transgression; concerning both these, God's thoughts are not as 
ours, but far above what we can think : Either (1.) with simple 
cogitation: i. e. we cannot think such thoughts to others, under 
misery in themselves, or under transgression against us, as God 
doth towards us. Or (2.) by way of reflective comprehension ; 
i. e. we cannot conceive what thos2 thoughts of God are towards 
us, when we are under misery or sin, just as he thinks them ; still 
his thoughts will be above ours, as the heavens are above the earth. 
Such is the altitude of heaven above the earth, that the vast body 
of the whole earth is but a small, inconsiderable point to it ; the 
highest cedars, mountains, clouds, cannot reach it : God's thoughts 
are infinite, ours finite; his thoughts are continued, ours in- 
terrupted and at a stand ; his are immutable, ours changeable ; his 
are intuitive, ours discursive : therefore never measure his by your 
own ; the thoughts of pardoning grace in him, are rich, plenteous 
and glorious ; but when our unbelieving hearts have practised upon 
them, they are quite artother thing. Thou sayest, how can sucli 
a wretch as I obtain mercy ? Thou knowest not, but the Lord 
knoweth. O if we could take in such a proper idea and apprehen- 
sion of the mercy and goodness of God, as he hath given of thcni 
himself, in Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7. this would bring you to Christ ^vith 
much encouragement. 

Direct. 8. Be not discouraged in the work of faith, though no 
peace or comfort should come in by the first act of it : nay, though 
there should be an increase of trouble for the present ; the first sav- 
ing act of faith certainly puts you into a state of peace, but it may 
not presently produce the sense of peace ; you may, after you have 
believed and really closed with Christ, meet with some discourage- 
inents which may make you question whether Christ has received 


you or no, whether he has any love for your souls or no ? Yet hold 
on, wliether comfort come or not ; though Christ and comfort are 
inseparable, yet Christ and the sense of comfort are not so : think 
not that all your troubles shall be over as soon as ever you believe, 
because it is said, Heb. iv. 3. We which have believed do enter 
into rest : That scripture speaks of a state of rest, and not of the 
present or continued sense of rest. The woman of Canaan, in Mat. 
XV. 26, 27. did really believe in Christ, yet met with sore trials 
under the first act of her faith ; yet this took her not off from the 
work of faith ; but rather quickened and inflamed her the more ; 
she was glad of a word from Christ, and she expected deeds. O 
but the words were discouraging ; it is not meet to take the cMldreii^s 
bread, and give it to dogs ; yet this beats not off her faith ; the dog 
belongs to the family, and crums to the dog. O woman, saith 
Christ, great is thy faith. If you resolve for Christ, you must not 
be discouraged; a resolute faith overconies all difficulties. You 
pray, you believe, and yet no comfort ; well, the vision of peace is 
for an appointed time, at the end it will speak, and not lie. 

Direct. 9- In your treating with Christ, have a care of all secret 
reserves that will spoil the treaty betwixt Christ and you ; If' I re~ 
gard iniquity in my heart, God will not hear my prayer, saith 
David : If there be but a reserve of one lust, that reserve will break 
off the treaty : be honest with Christ, and say not of any sin, the 
Lord be merciful to me in this ; and be sure there be no secret 
purpose or resei've in thy heart for a retreat in time of danger ; but 
embark thyself with Christ for storms and tempests, troubles and 
afflictions, as well as peace and prosperity. Christ bestows himself 
wholly upon you, and he expects the same from you : give up all, 
or you will get nothing from him. 

Direct. 10. Close up your treaty with Christ by a solemn cove- 
nant vA\h him ; engage yourselves to be the Lord's : " One shall 
" say, I am the Lord's : And another shall 'subscribe with his hand 
'^ to the holy One of Israel." Here you have two things to do : 
(1.) To give yourselves up to Christ, according to that expression, 
2 Cor. viii. 5. They gave themselves to the Lord. Make your soul 
and body, time and talents, henceforth to be dedicated things to his 
service. (2.) Take Christ in both his natures, and in all his offices 
to be yours ; and to this covenant you are to stand to the last breath, 
whatever times or troubles shall come. This consent of thy heart 
to be Christ's, this choice of thy will in taking him for thine, is but 
the echo of Christ's choice of thee ; and I would rather have such 
an evidence of my interest in him, than a voice from heaven to as- 
sure me that Christ is mine. 


Revel, iii. 20. 

Behold I stand at the door and knock ; [if any maji] hear my voice^ 
and open the door^ I will come in to him, and wiU sup with him, 
and he with me. 

If any man *. 


HIS expression extends the gracious offer of Christ, and brings 
in hope to every hearer. It is a proclamation with a Si quis, if 
any man ; as if Christ should say, I will have this offer of my grace 
to go round to every particular person ; if thou, or thou, or thou, 
the greatest, the vilest of sinners, of what quality or condition soever, 
old or young, profane or hypocritical, will hear my voice, and open 
to me, I will come into tlieir souls. And hereby all objections are 
obviated ; as for example, I am the greatest of sinners, saith one ; I 
have been a self-cozening hypocrite, saith another ; I have resisted 
grace too long, and doubt the time of mercy is past, saith a third. 
The ground of all these, and a thousand more objections, is taken 
away by the gracious extent of Christ's offer in the text : for who 
is he that can limit where Christ doth not ? This gives us a seventh 
profitable and comfortable Observation, which is this, 

Doct, 7. That Jesus Christ will not refuse to come in to the soul 
of the vilest sinner, when once it is made highly willing to open 
to him. 

If any man open, I will come in to him. It is not unworthiness, 
but unwillingness, that bars any man from Christ : thousands have 
missed of Christ by their unwillingness, but Christ never put off one 
soul upon account of its unworthiness ; Christ is not the sale but 
the gift of God ; you come not to make a bargain, but to receive a 
free gift : faith is a marriage with Christ, wherein nothing but our 
hearty consent is expected ; so runs the strain of the whole Scrip^ 
lures, Isa. Iv. 1. " Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the 
" waters ; and he that hath no money, (i. e. no merit, no wor- 
" thiness of his own) let him come.*" Behold the free grace of 
Christ to the vilest and unworthiest of sinners. So Rev. xxii. 17. 

Eav rig. Qualiscunque faerit peccator, Hypocrita^ qui diu obititit Evangelio. — 
If any man. Whoever the sinner be. let him be an hypocrite, or vho hath long resisted 
the gospel, &c. 

144 England's riufy. 

'' L^t him that is athirst come ; and whosoever will, let him come, 
" and take the water of life freely."" And, in the very phrase of my 
text^ he speaks again, John vii. 37. " If any man thirst, let him 
" come to me and drink.'"' It is very observable, throughout the 
whole gospel, that Christ never made any objection against any soul 
that came to him upon the account of its sinfulness and un worthiness; 
but all the complaints of Christ are still upon the account of their 
unwillingness. So in his complaint over Jerusalem, Luke xiii. 34. 
" I would, but you would not ;" so again, John v. 40. " You will 
" tiot come unto me, that you might have life."" The complaint is 
still upon their unwillingness. In stating this point, I shall doc- 
trinally discourse these two things : 

Firsts What it is to be truly Avilling to receive Jesus Christ. 
Secondly^ How it appears that they who are so, shall certainly be 
received, and graciously accepted of him. 

First, What it is to be truly willing to receive Jesus Christ ; for 
this is meant by opening to him. Now this implies, and involves 
in it, many great and weighty things. 

1. It implies, and necessarily includes, the right understanding 
and true apprehension of gospel terms and articles : these must be 
known, pondered, and duly considered, before the will can sa- 
vingly open, in an act of consent, to Chrisfs offer. I desire this 
inay be especially observed, because multitudes are mistaken and 
deceived about this thing : he that doth not consider, doth not con- 
sent ; you must exercise your understandings upon the terms and 
articles of Christianity, or else your consent is rash, blindfold, and 
unstable. This in Luke xiv. 3*1. is called consulting; the consent 
of faith is the result of many previous consultations and debates in 
the mind ; the soul that comes to Christ must take up religion in 
his most sedate and serious thoughts ; turn both sides of it, the 
dark as well as the bright side of religion, to the eye of his mind ; 
balance all the conveniences and inconveniences, losses as well as 
gains. If I open to Christ, this I shall gain, but that I must lose; 
I cannot separate Christ from sufferings, Christ will separate me 
from my sins ; if I seek him, I must let them go ; if I profess Christ, 
providence will one time or other bring me to this dUeinma, either 
Christ or eai'thly comforts must go. It is necessary therefore that 
I now propound to myself what providence may, one time or other, 
propound to me ; he hath set down his terms. Mat. xvi. 24. " If 
" any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up 
" his cross and follow me."" This self-denial deserves serious con- 
sideration ; for Christ extends it to natural self, righteous self, and 
civil self; and requires that I give up my life, my liberty, my estate, 
my relations, and my own righteousness, as hard to be parted with as 
any of the former. I must take up my cross, that is, the sufferings 

England's dutv. t'0 

and troubles God shall appoint for me, and which I cannot avoid or 
escape without sin ; and I must follow Christ, follow liim whither- 
soever he goes. I know not what religion may cost me before I 
die ; all this it hath cost others ; and there is no bringing down 
Christ's terms lower than he hath laid them. I must come up to 
them, they will not come down to me : if I hke them not as Christ 
hath left them, the treaty between him and me is ended ; Mat x, 
37, 38. " He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not 
" worthy of me ; and he that loveth son or daughter more than 
" me, is n6t worthy of me, and he that taketh not his cross, and 
" foUoweth after me, is not worthy of me." Where, by worthiness, 
we are not to understand the meritoriousness of these acts, but the 
necessary qualification of the will, and due qualification of a comer 
unto Christ; these previous consultations and debates in the mind 
prepare and enable the Vvill to make a serious and well-advised choice 
of Christ ; and for want of this, there are sucli swarms of hypo- 
crites and apostates in tlie world. 

2. It implies such a sense of misery in us, and of the necessity and 
excellency of Christ, as determines the will to the choice of him, 
notwithstanding all those difficulties and troubles which have fallen, 
or can fall under consideration and debate in the mind. When 
the soul sees that in Christ which preponderates all sutferings, all 
losses, all reproaches, &;c. and then determines, I will have Christ, 
though I sacrifice all that is dear to me in the world for him, this is 
to be truly willing to open to Christ. It is true, the enjoyments of 
this world are understood by Christians as much as other men ; 
they have a feeling sense of the sweetness and comforts of earthly 
enjoyments ; their souls have as much affection to the body as other 
men ; they understand the charming language of the world, and 
their dear relations in it, as well as others ; only they see a greater 
necessity of Christ, and a greater worth in Christ than they do in 
these things. You read. Lam. i. 11. that in the famine of Jerusa- 
lem they gave their pleasant things for meat to relieve their soul ; 
jewels, bracelets, gold, silver, any thing for bread : they understood 
the worth of those things, knew the price and cost of them ; but 
away they go to preserve life. So it is here, no earthly enjoyment, 
of what value soever it be, hath such an excellency in it, such an 
absolute necessity of enjoying it as Christ hath. 

Object. But oh ! saith the poor soul, who can do this ? I am 
willing to have Christ, and to come up to every term he hath laid 
down in the gospel ; I am willing to part with every sin, and to 
endure any suffering for Christ : But oh ! I tremble to think, if 
it should come to a prison, to a stake, to an actual separation from 
all the comforts and relations in the world, what shall I do for 
strength to go through such hard and difficult work as this .' Here 

146 exglaxd's DUTr. 

is the great rub in the way of many souls ; they find a wilHngness, 
but fear the want of strength. 

Answ. How or where you shall find strength to endure and suf- 
fer these things for Christ, is not the question now before you : 
God will take care for that, and it shall be given you in that hour, 
and so others have found who have had the very sanie fears you 
have. I say, the question is not whether you be able, but whether 
you be heai'tily ^nlling ? Christ asks but your will, he will provide 
ability : The greatest believer in the world cannot say, I am able to 
suffer this or that for Christ ; but the least behever in the world 
must say, I am willing, the Lord assisting me, to endure and suffer 
all things for his sake. And this is the second thing included in 
opening to Christ. 

3. The third thing which perfects and consummates the whole 
act, is an entire choice of Jesus Christ upon all those terms prescribed 
by him ; the entireaess of the choice, without halving or dividing^ 
excepting or reserving, making the consent full and effectual. 
There is a twofold consent of the will to Christ. 
(1.) One partial, and with exception. 
(2.) The other entire, and ^vithout any reservation. 

(1.) There is a partial consent, which is always hypocritical, de- 
fective, lame, and ineffectual ; thus the hypocrite consents to the 
offer of Christ : He is really wilhng to have the pardons of Christy 
and the glory purchased by Christ ; but to part with his beloved 
lusts, and to give up his earthly enjoyments, that his will cannot 
consent to. 

(2.) There is a full and entire consent of the will, called, A be- 
lievlng with all the heart, Acts viii. 84. Now this integrity and 
fulness of the will's choice, is that which closeth the match betwixt 
Christ and the soul, and frees a man from the danger of hypocrisy. 
And there are three things which make the consent to, and choice 
of Christ complete and full. 

1. When we give up all we are and haVe to him. 

2. When we derive and draw all we want from him. 

3. When we are ready to deny any thing for his sake. 

1. We do then heartily consent to be Christ's, when we give 
up all we are and have to him ; so that after this choice of Christ, 
we look upon ourselves thenceforth as none of our own, but 
bought with a price, to glorify God in our body and soul, which 
are his, 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20. Soul and body are all that we are, and 
both these parts of ourselves do now pass, by an act of our own con- 
sent, into the Redeemer's right ; we are not to have the dispose of 
them ; that belongs to him that purchased them. You know in 
all purchases, property is altered : You did live as your own, fol- 
lowed your own wills, lusts, passions, were under the dominion. 

England's duty. 147 

and at the beck of every lust ; but now the case is altered; Tit. iii. S. 
" We ourselves were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving 
" divers lusts and pleasures." So many lusts, so many lords. But 
now the case is altered, we have given ourselves to Christ, no more 
to be swayed this way or that against his word, and the voice of 
our own consciences. Thus our souls and bodies are his, hallowed^ 
dedicated things to Christ, temples for God to dwell in. And then 
all other things follow of course ; if I am the Lord's, then my time, 
my talents, and all that I have are his. 

2. As you must give up all to Christ, so we must derive and draw 
all we want from him ; else your choice of Christ is not entire and 
full : God hath stored up in Christ all that you want, a suitable 
and full supply for every need ; and made it all communicable to 
you, 1 Cor. i. 30. " Who of God is made unto us, wisdom and 
*' righteousness, sanctification and redemption." All the believer's 
fresh springs are in Christ. Have I any difficult business to do that 
requires counsel.'* then I must repair to Christ the fountain of 
wisdom : Am I under any guilt ? then I must repair to Christ 
for righteousness : Is my soul defiled by corruption ? then must I 
go to Christ for sanctification : Do I groan under troubles of soul 
or body, temptations, afflictions.? &c. then must I relieve myself 
by the faith and hope o£ that complete redemption, and final de- 
liverance, procured by Christ from all these. If you consent to be 
Christ's, you must not look for justification, partly upon his righ- 
teousness, and partly ujx)n your own graces and duties ; but must 
make mention of his righteousness, even of his only. If there be 
but one conduit in a town, and not a drop of water to be had else- 
where, then all the inhabitants of that town repair thither for water. 
In the whole city of God there is but one conduit, one fountain, 
and that is Christ ; there is not one drop of righteousness, holiness, 
strength or comfort to be had elsewhere. Then we fetch all from 
Christ, when we live upon hhn, as the new-born infant doth upon 
the mother's breast. 

3. Then is our consent to, and choice of Christ entire and full, 
when we are ready to deny, give up, and part with any thing we 
have for his sake ; reckoning nothing to be lost to us, which goes 
to the glory of Christ. How dear soever our liberties, estates or 
lives are to us, if the Lord have need of them, we must let them 
go. Thus you read, Rev. xii. 11. " They loved not their hves 
" unto the death." These three things shew saving faith to be 
another manner of thing than the world generally understands it 
to be; and it is impossible for any man's will to open to, and re- 
ceive Christ, upon terms of such deep self-denial as these, untii 
there be, 

1. A conviction of our sin and misery. 
Vol. IV. K 

148 England's duty. 

2. A discovery of Christ in his glory and necessity. 
S. The drawing power of the Spirit upon the souL 

1. Comdction of our sin and misery makes these terms of reUgion 
acceptable ; poor sinners stand debating with Christ, excepting and 
objecting against his teniis, until the Lord hath shaken them by 
conviction over hell, made them to see the dreadful danger they are 
in ; and then the next cry is, Men and hrethren^ what shall we do ? 
Acts iii. 37. q. d. Prescribe any means, impose upon us the greatest 
difficulties, we are willing to comply vn\h them. 

% Nor will souls ever comply with those terms of the gospel, 
until a discovery hath been made to them of Jesus Christ in his 
glory and necessity. When a man feels his wants, and sees a com- 
plete remedy, his will then complies and bows readily and freely ; 
the convinced sinner sees a full and suitable supply in Christ for all 
his wants, a complete Saviour, in whom there is nothing defective^ 
but in all respects according to the wish of a sinner's heart, 1 Cor. 
i. 24. 

3. To all this must be superadded the powerful drawings of the 
Spirit, in the virtue whereof the will comes home to Christ, John 
vi. 44. " No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath 
'' sent me draw him."" When these things are past upon the soul, 
then it hears Christ's voice, his powerful call, which breaks asunder 
all the ties and bonds betwixt a man and his lusts ; a man and his 
earthly enjoyments ; and without these things the -will is unpersuad- 
able to comply wiXh the difficulties and severities of religion. This 
is the first thing, wliat the opening of the door_, or consent of the will 
to receive Christ is. 

Secondly^ The next thing to be opened in order is. How it ap- 
pears that Jesus Christ will not refuse to come into the soul of any 
sinner, be his sins or unworthiness ever so great, when once he is 
made heartily willing thus to embrace and receive Christ upon his 
own terms. Oh, sinner ! what good tidings are these to thy soul, 
that Christ will not disdain to be in union and communion with 
thee, as ^ile as thou art, if thy will stand thus open to him ! The 
tidings are sweet, and I hope thou wilt find them as sure and certain, 
as they are svseet and comfortable, when thou shalt have seriously 
pursued and pondered the following evidences. 

Evidence 1. The truth of this sweet assertion clearly evidenceth 
itself from the form and manner of gospel-invitations. They are 
designedly put into large, general, free, and most extensive terms, 
to assure sinners that Christ will not be shy of the worst sinner in 
the world, thus made willing to embrace him ; they ai'e so framed 
on purpose to anticipate or take away all objections from sinners. No 
other condition is put in the gospel, but this only. Art thou heartily 
willing to take Christ upon his own terms ? The offisrs of Clirist 


are extended to all that thirst and desire after him, John vii. 37. to 
the greatest of sinners, upon this only condition, that they be wil- 
ling and obedient, Isa. i. 18, 19- " Go preach the gospel to every 
"creature: lie that believeth shall be saved," Mark xvi. 15, 16. 
It is extended to all nations, " For in Christ Jesus there is neither 
" Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision. Barbarian, 
" Scythian, bond nor free," Col. iii. 11. If there be any poor soul 
of any quality or condition whatsoever, under the cope of heaven, 
whose will is wrought up to a hearty compliance with the terms of 
the gospel, Christ \vill not be shy of coming into that soul, though 
it hath been never so vile and abominable ; the heart of a Mary 
Magdalen, which had been an habitation of devils ; the soul of a 
Saul, a bloody, raging persecutor, will make as delightful habita- 
tions for Christj as the soul of the most civilized person in the world, 
when once the will is thus opened. 

Evidence 2. The truth of this assertion further appears from 
the encouraging promises made by Christ unto all who are thus 
made willing to come unto him. All the promises ^vith one mouth, 
assure the willing sinner of a welcome with Christ ; so doth that 
glorious promise, to which so many thousand souls have been 
beholden for encouragement and help at their first coming to 
Christ ; John vi. 37, 38. " All that the Father giveth me, shall 
" come to me ; and him that cometh to me, I will in no wise 
*' cast out : For I came down from heaven not to do mine own will, 
" but the will of him that sent me." Note here, (1.) That this 
is not a promise made to them that are already in Christ, that they 
shall never be cast out by apostasy, or final desertion ; but it is a 
promise made to coming souls, to such as are moving towards 
Christ, under great discouragements, fears and tremblings. When 
a poor sinner looks to Christ, sees his fulness and suitableness, and 
sees the pinching need and want of him ; O, saith he, that I had 
an interest in him, though I should beg my bread in desolate 
places ! But looking into his own heart, and seeing such a heap 
of guilt and un worthiness there, then saith he, how can I think 
that ever Jesus Christ will come into such a heart as this ? These 
are the persons upon whom this promise casts an encouraging 
aspect. (2.) And because the fears of such poor creatures are dou- 
ble to the fears that others have, Christ hath put a double negative 
into this promise for the souPs encouragement ; " I will not, in 
" no case, or at any hand, cast out such a soul as this." (3.) And 
to put all out of doubt, he doth not only assure the soul that he 
will not, but condescends to give it the reason why he will not cast 
it out, ver. 38. " I came down from heaven not to do mine own 
" will, but the will of him that sent me." As if he should say, 



this was the very errand upon which I came down from heaven ; 
it was my great business to receive all that were made willing to 
embrace me ; for this I had my Father's commission^ Isa. Ixi. 1. 
«< To preach good tidings to the meek ; and to bind up the broken- 
«' hearted ; and to comfort all them that mourn.'*' I cannot be 
faithful to the trust committed to me by my Father, should I shut 
the door upon such souls. How can Christ comfort the soul that 
mounis, but by opening his arms of mercy to receive it ? If Christ 
should say to the convinced mourning sinner, hold thy peace, soul, 
I will give thee riches, honours, and pleasures in the world ; but 
as for me, thou canst not have union with me. I say, this would 
never comfort the heart of a convinced sinner ; it is Christ, and 
none but Christ, can quiet it. Like unto this, is that testimony 
and promise made on purpose for the encouragement of willing 
souls, Acts X. 44. " To him give all the prophets ^vitness, that 
" through his name, whosoever beheveth on him shall receive re- 
*' mission of sins.'' This you see is a truth confirmed by the testi- 
mony of all the prophets, who foretold what his gracious readiness 
to receive poor broken-hearted sinners should be ; and sure they 
neither did, nor could conspire to deceive the world. These gra- 
cious assurances and promises cut off all pleas against faith, from 
the greatness of sin ; and why should we except, where God hath 
not excepted ? Had Christ said, all sinners of such a size and de- 
gree may come unto me, but let all others stand back, the case had 
been otherwise ; but this promise assures us, that all the sincerely 
willing, shall be truly welcome to Jesus Christ. Moreover, these 
universal promises take away all fear and doubt of presumption in 
coming to Christ. That is the case of many a poor soul. I am afraid 
I am running out of despair into presumption ; I doubt I am an 
imbidden, and therefore shall be an unwelcome guest to Christ. 
All this is prevented and cut off by these sweet universal terms in- 
serted on purpose in these promises for our encouragement. That 
is the second evidence of this truth. 

Evidence 3. The willingness of Christ to receive the willing soul, 
how many and great soever its sins and unworthiness be, appears 
from the actual gTants of pardon and mercy, even to the vilest sin- 
ners that ever were upon the earth, when they thus came unto him. 
Here you see how the waters of free-grace rise higher and higher. 
An invitation is much ; a promise of welcome is more ; but the 
actual grant of mercy is most satisfying of all. Come on, poor 
trembling soul, do not be discouraged, stretch out the small weak 
arms of thy faith to that great and gracious Redeemer ; open thy 
heart wide to receive him ; he Avjll not refuse to come in. He hath 
sealed thousands of pardons to as vile wretches as thyself; he never 
yet shut the door of mercy upon a willing, hungering soul. It is a 

f.xglaxd's duty. 151 

great matter to have the way beaten, and the ice broken before 
thee, in thy way to Christ. If thou wert the first sinner that had 
cast his soul upon Christ, I confess I should want this encourage- 
ment I am now giving thee ; but when so many have gone before 
thee, and all found a welcome beyond their expectation, what en- 
couragement doth this breatlie into thy trembling, discouraged heart 
to go on and venture thyself upon Christ, as they did ? What an 
example hare we in Manasseh, 2 Chron. xxxiii. from ver. 3, to 
1 2. An idolatei'j one that used enchantments and divinations, fa- 
miliar spirits, shed innocent blood in the streets of Jerusalem \ A 
man might rake the world, and hardly bring to sight a viler wretch, 
a greater monster in sin and wickedness : yet his heart being bro- 
ken, and his will bowed, this man found mercy. How great a 
sinner was Mary, that came to Christ in the house of Simon the 
Pharisee, Luke vii. 39. so notorious a sinner, that Simon took 
offence at Christ for suffering so vile a wretch to come into liis 
presence. " If this man were a Prophet, (saith he) he would have 
" known who, and what manner of woman this is that touched 
" him, for she is a sinner. Yet Mary's heart being broken for 
sin, and made willing to accept of a Saviour, what a gracious de- 
monstration of welcome did Christ give her, and to all other sin- 
ners a singular encouragement in her example ? Once more, you 
have an eminent example of the abundant welcome of another sin- 
ner to Christ, who owned himself for the greatest of sinners ; a 
persecutor, a blasphemer, injurious ; but saith he, I obtained mercy y 
1 Tim. i. 16. And the example of his gracious entertainment 
with Christ, is recorded on purpose for an encouragement unto all 
that should hereafter believe. How many thousands are now in 
hell that never stood guilty of greater enormities than the Corinth- 
ians did? Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, covetous, 
drunkards, revilers, extortioners, such were some of them; yet 
sanctified, washed, justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and 
by the Spirit of our God. If ever Christ would have shut the door 
of mercy upon any ; if ever he would have been coy and shy of 
coming into any souls, certainly these were the souls he would have 
disdained to come near. O what a demonstration is here of that 
comfortable point before us ! That Christ will not refuse to come 
mto the soul of the vilest sinner, when once it is made heartily 
willing to open to him. 

Evidence 4. A further evidence of this comfortable truth shall 
be taken from the scriptural-resembtances of the abundant grace of 
God, and riches of mercy in Christ, towards all broken-hearted 
and willing sinners. There are some chosen resemblances and ex- 
cellent emblems, which brinsr down the grace of God before tlie 
eyes of men ; amongst which I will single out three glorious reseni- 


152 England's duty. 

blances of free-grace, chosen by his wisdom on purpose for the en- 
couragement of poor drooping sinners. A resemblance from the 
heavens, a resemblance from the sun, and a resemblance from the 
sea ; all such as the wisdom of men and angels could never have 
chosen for such a purpose as this is. 

1. A resemblance from the heavens, those vast extended heavens 
that cover and compass this earth. What an inconsiderable spot 
is the whole terrestrial globe, to those high and all-surrounding 
heavens ? And yet these heavens are not at so vast a distance above 
the earth, as the pardoning grace of God is above the guilt, yea, 
and the very thoughts of poor sinners. For, of the pardoning 
grace of God to penitent and willing souls, that precious scripture 
speaks, Isa. Iv. 8, 9. " Let the wicked forsake his way, and the 
*' unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the 
" Lord, and he will have mercy upon him ; and to our God, for 
^' he will abundantly pardon." O, saith the soul, I cannot think 
God will ever have mercy on such a wretch as I : why, saith he, 
ver. 8. " My thoughts are not your thoughts," and it is well they 
are not ; " but as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are 
" my thoughts higher than your thoughts." You cannot take the 
height, nor sound the depth of my pardoning grace. That is one 
emblem, from the unconceivable height of the heavens above the 

2. Another is taken from the sun in the heavens, a creature of 
admirable power and virtue. You know, that anon this part of the 
world will be the throne of darkness; the sable curtains of the 
night will be spread over all the beauties of this part of the earth, 
and it mav be in the morning a thick fog or mist will cover it ; 
thick and dark clouds may darken the heavens : But, behold this 
glorious creature the sun chasing before him the darkness of the 
night, breaking up the mists and clouds of the morning, scattering 
the dark and thick clouds of heaven ; they are all gone, and there 
is no appearance of them : Just so, saith God, shall it be with thy 
sins, and thy cloudy fears arising out of sin, Isa. xliv. 22. " I have 
" blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions, and as a cloud thy 
" sins." Thy soul is beclouded, thy fears have bemisted thee, so 
that thou canst not see the grounds of thy encouragement ; but my 
grace shall rise upon thee like the sun in the heavens, and scatter all 
these dismal clouds both of guilt and fear, and make a clear heaven 
over thee, and a clear soul within thee. " Unto you that fear 
" my name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing under 
" his wings," Mai. iv. 2. 

3. Another resemblance you have from the sea, the great abyss, 
that vast congregation of waters, whose depth ^no line can fathom : 
Veer out as much line as you will, you cannot touch the bottom. 

r!NGLAND\s DUTV. 155 

To this unfathomable ocean tlie pardoninpf grace of God is also 
resembled, Micah vii. 18, 19. " Who is a God like imto thee, that 
" pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the trangression of the rem- 
^« nant of his heritage : He retaineth not his anger for ever, be- 
" cause he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have 
*' compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities, and thou 
^< wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea/' If the loftiest 
pyramid, or highest mountain were cast into the depth of the sea, 
it would never be seen more by the eyes of men. God hath on 
purpose chosen these emblems of his grace, to obviate that common 
discouragement of Satan, taken from the greatness and aggravation 
of sin ; and, in that case, thou art to make use of them, and bless 
the Lord for them : He never designed them for encouragement 
to sin, but. for encouragement to repentance and faith. That is 
the fourth evidence of the truth before us. 

Evidence 5. The truth of this conclusion will also evidently 
appear from the innate characters and properties of the gi'ace and 
pardoning mercy of God towards penitent and hungering sinners. 
Now there are three glorious characters of Divine grace, which do 
all assure such sinners of welcome to Christ, whatever they have been 
or done. The grace of God shines forth in scripture in three illus- 
trious characters. 

1. As superabounding grace, 

2. As free grace. 

3. As grace exercised with delight. 

1. It is superabounding grace. Waters do not so abound in the 
ocean, nor light in the sun, as grace and compassion do in the bow- 
els of God towards broken-hearted and hungry sinners, Isa. Iv. 6. 
" Let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon 
" him ; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." The 
compassions of our God inserted that word on purpose to relieve 
poor souls, fainting under the sense of their abounding iniquities. 
Here is abundant pardon for abounding guilt ; and yet, lest a des- 
ponding sinner should not find enough here to quiet his fears, the 
Lord goes yet farther in the expression of his grace, Rom. v. 20. 
" Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound."" It over- 
flowed all the bounds, it rose quite above the high-water mark of 
sin and guilt ; but these overflowings of grace run only through that 
channel of all grace, Jesus Christ, to broken-hearted and obedier^t 

2. The grace of God to such souls is free ; every way free ; k 
is the very design of the gospel to exhibit it in this its glory. It 
costs you nothing but acceptance ; it is free without merit ; yea, 
free against merit. You can desei*ve nothing of God, therefore 
his grace is iree without merit ; yea, you have deserved hell a^ oi- 


154! England's duty. 

ten as you have sinned against him, and so it is free against merit, 
If a pardon were to be purchased by us, we want a stock for such 
a purchase ; neither can we borrow from men or angels a sufficient 
sum for such a purchase ; blessed be God therefore, that it flows 
freely to us without money and witliout price, Isa. Iv. 2. 

3. Grace glories in another property also, which is very encou- 
raging to the soul of a drooping sinner, viz. That it is the darling 
attribute which God greatly delights to exercise. The tender 
mother draws not out her aching breast with such delight to her 
hungry crying child, as the Lord doth his mercy and compassion to 
broken-hearted and hungry sinners. In this attribute, and in this 
property of it, his people therefore admire him, Micah vii. 18. 
" Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and pas- 
" seth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage ? he re- 
'* taineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy." 
You cannot put Jesus Christ upon a more delightful employment, 
than to bind up the wounds, and set the broken bones of poor con- 
vinced humbled sinners. Let every such soul come to Christ and 
welcome ; for he greatly delights in such employments. 

Evidence 6. Such sinners need not doubt a welcome reception 
with Christ ; for should he reject, and turn back such as these, 
then none can have the benefit of his blood ; and, consequently, 
it must be shed in vain, as water spilt upon the ground. The blood 
of Christ is invaluably precious, and it cannot be lost ; it were a 
desperate impeachment of the wisdom and goodness of God to 
think so ; yet so it must be, if broken-hearted and willing souls be 
rejected and turned back from him. There are but two sorts 
in all the world, viz. hardened, and broken-hearted sinners ; 
willing and unwilling sinners. The whole world falls into these 
two ranks. As for impenitent, hardened, and obstinate sinners, it 
is certain they can have no benefit by the blood of Christ ; they 
shall die in their sins; the gospel cuts them off (so continuing) 
from all expecation of pardon and mercy. Now there is but one 
sort of sinners more left in the world, and they are convinced and 
humbled sinners, who are made heartily willing to receive Christ 
upon his own terms ; who stretch forth the hands of their desires 
to him, and pant after an interest in him. Should Christ reject 
these also, who then shall receive the benefit of his blood ? did 
Christ die in vain ? or can the counsels of heaven prove abortive ? 
No ; fear not therefore to go to Christ, thou broken-hearted 
sinner, thou poor panting, longing soul ; fear not, he will not cast 
thee out. 

Evidence 7. Moreover, for the encouragement of all such souls, 
mercy and pardon are designed for, and bestowed upon, the great- 
est and vilest of sinners ; to enhance and raise the ^ovy of free 

englaxd's DUTr. 155 

grace to the highest pitch. God picks out such sinners as you are, 
on purpose to illustrate the glory of his grace in and upon you : 
he knows that you, to whom so much is forgiven, will love much, 
Luke vii. 47. Ye that have done so much against his name and 
glory, will excel others in zeal and obedience, 1 Cor. xv. 9, 10. 
You will go beyond others in service for God, as you have done in 
sinning against him. All these things laid together make up a full 
demonstration of the point. That Jesus Christ zvill not refuse to 
come into the soul of the vilest sinner, when once it is made heartily 
willing to open ufito him : which was the thing to be proved ; and 
now our way is open to the application of the point, which will be 
exceeding useful for information, exhortation, and consolation, 

I. Use, for Information, 

Infer. 1. Learn hence, what an invaluable mercy it is to enjoy 
the gospel in its light and liberty, which is so great a relief to the 
distressed consciences of sinners. 

Here only that balm is to be found that heals your spiritual wounds. 
The gospel hath been a low-priced commodity in England : The 
Lord pardon the guilt thereof to us. Ah ! brethren, if you were 
in the heathen world with your sick and wounded consciences, what 
would you do ? There are no Bibles, ministers, or promises, not a 
breath of Christ, or the blood of sprinkling, which are the true 
and proper remedies of sick souls. That is a pitiful cry, Micah vi. 
6. " Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself 
*' before the high God ? Shall I come before him with burnt-ofFer- 
'' ings, with calves of a year old ? Will the Lord be pleased w ith 
" thousands of rams, or ten thousand rivers of oil ? Shall I give 
*' my first-born for my transgression ; the fruit of my body for the 
'^ sin of my soul .f^" Behold here the anguish of a distressed, sin- 
burdened conscience ; it would give up any thing in the world for 
peace and ease ; they would cast their children, their dearest chil- 
dren, their first-born into the burning flames, if that might be an 
atonement for their sins. O the efficacy of conscience ! and the 
misery of an unrelieved conscience ! but the gospel which you en- 
joy leads you to the fountain of pardon and peace, Isa. liii. 5. " By 
" his stripes we are healed.'" The voice of the gospel is peace, 
" peace to every one that belie veth ; a rational peace, founded upon 
the full satisfaction of Christ, Eph. i. 7. " In whom we have re- 
" demption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins, 
" according to the riches of his grace.'' Here you see justice and 
mercy kissing each other ; God satisfied, and the sinner justified : 
for conscience demands as much to satisfy it, as God demands to 
satisfy him ; if God be satisfied, conscience is satisfied. "O blessed 
" are the people that hear this joyful sound,*' Psalm Ixxxix. 1-5. 

156 England's criT. 

And, doubtless, it is a joyful sound to every convinced humbled 
souL " Beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them that 
" bring good tidings, that publish peace." It is a gospel worthy of 
all acceptation, 1 Tim. i. 15. It brings with it a fulness of bles- 
sings among the people. O England ! O Dartmouth ! Provoke 
not thy God to extinguish this blessed light. Great is our wanton- 
ness, and ominous is our barrenness and ingratitude. " Yet a 
*' little while the light is with you, walk whilst ye have the light, 
'' lest darkness come upon you ; for he that walketh in darkness 
" knoweth not whither he goeth,'' John xii. 35. Should God blow 
out this light, whither will ye go ? Who shall pour in balm to your 
distressed bleeding consciences ? 

Infer. 2. Hence, in like 7nanner it follows, that the greatness or 
heinousness of past sins is no bar to believing- and accepting Christ 
tipon gospel-terms. Let no sinner be dismayed by the atrocity and 
heinousness of sins past, from coming unto Jesus Christ for remis- 
sion and peace. I am aware what mischievous use Satan makes of 
former sins to discourage souls from the work of faith. By heaping 
them together, he raiseth up a mountain betwixt Christ and the 
distressed soul ; but behold this day Christ leaping over these moun- 
tains, and skipping over these hills. Could this objection be rolled 
out of the way, sinners would go on in hope : but, certainly, if God 
hath given thee a broken heart and a willing mind, the greatness 
of thy sin needs not discourage thee from beheving. For (1.) thou 
hast sufficient encouragement from the sufficiency of the causes of 
pardon, whatever thy particular enormities have been. There is 
a sufficiency in the impulsive case, the free grace and mercy of God, 
Expd. xxxiv. 6, 7. Mic. vii. 18, 19. Isa. Iv. 7, 8, 9. It is well 
thei"^ is mercy enough in God to heal and cover all ; and there is 
no less sufficiency in the meritorious cause of pardon, the blood of 
Jesus Christ, which taketh away all sin, 1 John i. 7. John. i. 9Q. 
And it must needs be so because of its divine blood. Acts xx. 28. 
Neither is there any defect in the applying cause, the Spirit of God, 
who hath already begun to work upon thy heart, and is able to 
break it and bow it, and bring it home fully to Christ, and tp com- 
plete the work of faith upon thee with power. Thou compiainest, 
thou canst not mourn nor believe as thou wouldst ; but he wants 
no ability to supply all the defects of thy repentance and faith. 
Well then, if the mercy of God be sufficient to pardon the sin of 
a creature ; if the blood of Christ, the treasures and revenues of a 
king, be able to pay the debts of a beggar, if th& Spirit of God, 
who works by an Almighty power, be able to convince thee of 
righteousness, as well as sin, John xvi. 9. I say, if all these three 
causes of forgiveness be sufficient, every one in its kind, the first 
tp move, the second to purchase^ and the third to apply ; what 


hinders but thy trembHng conscience should go to Christ, and thy 
discouraged soul move onward with hope, in the way of beUeving, 
whatever thy former enormities have been? (2.) If God raise 
glory ta his name, out of the greatness of the sins he pardoneth, 
then the greatness of sin can be no discouragement to believing; 
but so God doth ; he raiscth the glory of his name from the mul- 
titude and magnitude of the sins he pardoneth, Jer. xxxiii. 8, 9. 
" I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have 
*' sinned against me ; and will pardon their iniquities wherebv they 
^' have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me ; 
" and it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour be- 
" fore all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good I 
*' do unto them. And they shall fear and tremble for all the good- 
'" ness, and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it." As a 
cure performed upon a man labouring under il desperate disease ; it 
magnifies the physician, and spreads his name far and near. The 
devil envies God tliis glory, and thy soul this comfort ; and there- 
fore scares thee off from Christ, by the aggravations of thy sins. 
David was willing to give God the glory of pardoning his great ini- 
quities, and with that very argument moves him for a pardon, Psal. 
XXV. 11. " Pardon my iniquity, for it is great." You see there 
are strange ways of arguing in scripture, which are not in use 
among men ; this is one, " Lord, pardon my sin, for it is great." 
He doth not say, Lord pardon it,Jbr it is but a small offence ; no, 
but pardon it because it is great ; and the greater it is, the greater 
glory ^vilt thou have in pardoning it. And then there is another 
way of arguing for pardon in the scripture, which is peculiar ; and 
that is, to argue from former pardons unto new pardons. When 
men beg their pardon one of another, they use to say, I never 
wronged you before, and therefore forgive now; but here it is 
quite otherwise; Lord, thou hast signed thousands of pardons 
heretofore, therefore pardon me again. Such is that plea, Numb. 
xiv. 19. ** Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people, 
" according to the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast for- 
" given them from Egypt even until now." (3.) As great sins as 
those that now stare in the face of thy conscience, have been 
actually forgiven to men, upon their humiliation and closing with 
Christ. Poor sinners, under trouble of conscience, are apt to 
think there is no sin hke theirs. God forbid I should diminish and 
extenuate sin ; but certain I am that free grace hath pardoned as 
great sinners as thou art, upon their repentance and faith. What 
think you, had you had a "hand in putting Christ to death, w^ould 
not that sin have been as dreadful as any that now discourages you ? 
Yea, certainly you would have thought that an unpardonable sin ; 

158 rKGLAXD's Durr. 

and yet behold tbat very sin was no bar to their pardon when once 
they were pricked at their heart, and made wilhng to come to 
Christ, Acts ii. 36, 37, 38. (4.) If it be the design and pohcy of 
Satan to object the greatness of your sins, to prevent the pardon- 
ing of them ; then certainly it is neither your duty nor interest to 
plead it to the same end the devil doth, to say a confederacy, and 
join with your mortal enemy in a plot against the honour of Christ, 
and salvation of your own souls. Take heed what you do,^ seal 
not Satan's conclusions. Do you think it is a small matter to be 
confederate with the devil ? Certainly this is his design, he magni- 
fies your sins on purpose to discourage you from faith. While you 
were secure and carnal, the devil never aggravated, but diminished 
your sins to you ; but now the Lord hath opened your eyes, and 
you are come near to the door of hope, mercy, and pardon, now 
he magnifies them, hyping thereby to lame and weaken thy faith, 
that it shall not be able to carry thee to Christ. (5.) If thy sin 
be really unpardonable, then God hath sohiewhere excepted it in 
the gospel-grant. He hath somewhere said> The man that hath 
committed this sin, or continued so many years in sin, shall never 
be forgiven : but now in the whole gospel there is but one sin that 
is absolutely excepted from the possibility of pardon, and that such 
a sin as thy sorrows and desires after Christ do fully acquit and clear 
thee from the guilt of. This sin indeed is excepted, Mat. xii. 31 . 
" But the sin against the Holy Ghast shall never be forgiven." 
This is that which the scripture calls a sin unto death. Let apos- 
tate professors, transformed into persecutors, scoffers, and haters of 
godliness, and the professors of it, look to themselves ; the dread- 
ful symptoms of this sin seem to appear upon such. But the hum- 
bled, thirsty soul after Christ, stands clear of the. guilt of that sin. 
(6.) If there were no forgiveness with God for great sinners, then 
great sinners had never been invited to come to Christ. The invi- 
tations of the gospel are no mockeries, but things of most awful 
solemnity. Now such sinners are called and invited under the 
encouragement of a j^ardon. Consult Isa. i. J?'om ver. 10. to 17. 
and see the horrid aggravations of thy people's sins ; and yet at 
ver. 17, 18. you may read the gracious invitations of God, with 
conditional promises of a plenary remission. So in Jer. iii. from 1. 
to 13. what a sad catalogue of sins, with their horrid aggravations, 
do you find there ? and yet it is said, ver. 12. " Go and proclaim 
" these words towards the north, and say, return thou backsliding 
" Israel, and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you, for I 
" am merciful."* (T.) If thy sins had not been capable of remis- 
sion, God would never have given thee conviction and compunc- 
tion for sin, nor have drawn forth the desires of thy heart in this 
manner after Christ. He hath tacked remission to repentance. 

England's duty. 15^ 

Acts V. 31. a blessing to gracious desires and hungerings, Mat. v. 
ij. There is therefore hoj>e, that when God liath given thee one, 
he will not long with-hoid the other. This very wounding of thy 
heart by compunction, and drawing forth thy will by inclination, 
shews that remission is not only possible, but even at the door. 
(8.) And lastly. Let this be thine encouragement, (whatever Satan 
or thine own heart suggests to discourage thee) that great sinners 
are moving in the way of repentance and faith to a great Saviour, 
who hath merit enough in his blood, and mercy enough in his 
bowels, to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him, 
Heb. vii. 25. The Lord open to the eyes of your faith that rich 
treasury of free-grace, Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7. and give you a sight of 
that plenteous redemption and forgiveness that is with God, Psal. 
cxxx. 4, 7. that you may not at once cast reproach upon the most 
glorious attribute of God, impeach the precious blood of Christ, 
and stab your own souls with a death- wound of desperation; 
which is that the devil intends, and the whole strain of the gospel- 
designs to prevent 

Infer, 3. If' the vilest of sinners stand as fair for pardon and 
mercy ^ upon their closing with Christ hy faitli^ as the least of sin- 
ners do : then, certainly, the pardon and salvation of sinners is not 
built upon any 7'ighteousness in themselves, hut purely and only upon 
the free-grace of God in Jesus Christ. Do not diink God hath set 
the blood of Christ to sale, and that those only are capable of the 
benefits of it, who have lived the strictest and soberest lives. No ; 
though sobriety, morality, and strictness in religious duties be things 
commanded and commended in the gospel ; yet no man by these 
things can purchase a pardon for the least sin, Rohl xi. 6. " And 
*' if by grace, then it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no 
^' more grace ; but if it be of works, then it is no more grace, 
*' otherwise work is no more work." See how these exclude one 
another : thus Titus iiL 5. '' Not by works of righteousness which 
*' we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us.'" No 
man can satisfy God by any thing he himself can do or suffer ; not 
by doing, for all we do is mixed with sin, Job xiv. 4. and that 
which is sinful can be no atonement for sin. All we do or can do, 
IS a debt due to God, Luke xvii. 10. and one debt cannot satisfy 
for another. Nor yet by suffering, for the sufFermgs awarded by 
the law are everlasting ; aud to be ever satisfying is never to satisfv : 
so then by the works of the law shall no flesh living be justified in 
his sight. The saints in all generations have fled to mercy for re- 
mission, Psal. cxxx. ult. The tw^o debtors, Luke vii. 48J 44, 45. 
though there were a vast difference in the debts ; yet of the lesser, 
as well as of the greater, it is said they had nothing to pay. No- 
thing but the satisfaction of Christ tan quit your scores with God. 

160 exglaxd's duty. 

Infer. 4. If the grace of Christ be thus free to the greatest of sin- 
ners, then it is both our sin and Jolly to stand off from Christ, and 
drazc back from believing, fur ivant of such and such qualifications, 
which we yet find not to be wrought in our hearts. Poor convinced 
souls think, O if they had more humility, tenderness, love to God, 
spirituality of mind, this would be some encouragement to believe ; 
but because they have no such ornaments to dress up their souls 
withal, they are not fit to go to Christ. Now to remove this great 
mistake, let two things be considered. 

1. That such a conceit as this crosses the very stream of the 
covenant of grace, where nothing is sold, but all freely given. 
This is the very spirit of the covenant of works ; fain we would 
find something in ourselves to bring to God, to procure his favour 
and acceptance ; but the gospel tells us we must come naked and 
empty-handed, to be justified freely by his grace, Rom. iii. 24. 
We must be justified as Abraham was, who believed in him that 
justifieth the ungodly ; Rom. iv. 5. " But to him that worketh 
"not, but belleveth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith 
'•' is counted for righteousness."' The meaning is, to him that 
worketh not iii a law-sense, to procure pardon and acceptance by 
and for working. Go then, poor sinner, unto God through 
Christ, and tell him thou hast nothing to bring him ; thou comest 
not to bring, but to receive : Lord, I am a vile sinner, I have 
nothing to plead but thy mercy, and Christ's merit. This is the 
spirit of the gospel. 

2. By standing off from faith, for want of these qualifications^ 
you invert the settled order of the gospel : by putting consequents 
in the place of antecedents, and antecedents in the place of conse* 
quents. It is as if a man should say, if I were cured of such and 
such diseases, then I would go to the physician ; alas, could you 
otherwise procure the healing of your corruptions, or the gracious 
qualifications you speak of, you would have no need to go to Christ 
at all. Nothing is required of us in our coming to Christ, but such 
a sense of, and sorrow for sin, as makes us heartily wilhng to ac- 
cept Christ, and subscribe the terms on which he is offered in the 

Infer. 5. Behold the admirable condescension of Christ, that he 
would come into the heart of the vilest sinner, and not disdain to 
take his abode in that soul which hath been the seat of Satan, where 
he hath 7'uled, and evei-y unclean lust hath been harboured ! 

There are two things wlierein the admirable condescension of 
Christ appears. (1.) In taking union with our nature after sin had 
blasted the beauty of it. This was a marvellous stoop indeed, and 
justly admired by the apostle, Phil. ii. 7. " He made himself of no 
" reputation, and was made in the likeness of man." Yea, " God 


^* sent his own Son in the Ukeness of sinful flesh,"" Rom. viii. 3* 
But (^.) it is justly admirable in our eyes, that Christ should also 
take union with our persons, and take his habitation and abode in 
our hearts, after Satan and sin had so long inhabited and defiled 
them ; that he should accept those members as instruments of his 
service ; that very tongue to praise him that had blasphemed him^ 
^c. yet so he is willing to do. and commands us to deliver them 
up to him, Rom. vi. 19. " As ye have yielded your members ser- 
*' vants to uncleanness, and to iniquity unto iniquity ; even so now 
*' yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.'' 
One would have thought Jesus Christ should have said, vile wretch, 
Satan hath had the use and service of thy soul and body, from the 
beginning to tliis day ; thy memory hath been his store-house, thy 
mouth his shop, thy will his throne, and all thy members his tools 
and instruments to sin against me ; thou hast been a creature dedi- 
cated to Satan, and to him thou shalt go. No ; but the merciful 
Lord declares his willingness, if thou mlt open thy soul to receive 
him, to cleanse it by his Spirit, and make it his temple to dwell in. 
O admirable grace ! 

Infer. 6. Lastly, How just and inevitaUe will their damnation he^ 
•who consent not to the necessary and reasonable terms of the gospel^ 
which is the only point on which Christ and their souls part for ever. 

The terms required by the gospel are every way equal and rea- 
sonable. If a gracious prince will bestow a pardon upon a traitor, 
upon this condition, that he lay down his arms, acknowledge 
his offence, and list himself into his prince's service, and he shall 
refuse so to do, how just and unpitied would his destruction be ? 
And what else doth God require of thee, but only this "^ " Let the 
*' wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, 
" and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon 
*"' him ; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon,'"* Isa. Iv. 
7. And as the damnation of such is just, so it will be inevitable ; 
for, if there be no way to glory but by Christ, as you know there 
is not, Acts iv. 12. " Neither is there salvation in any other.'"* And 
if there be no way to Christ, but by accepting him upon these very 
terms, as it plainly appears from Luke xiv. 26. there is not ; what 
then remains but inevitable damnation to all that come not up to 
the terms of the gospel .? If you think not Christ a good bargain, 
with all the sufferings, losses, and reproaches that attend him, your 
mouths will be stopped ; no plea will be left you in the great day. 
You refused a fair offer, when it was seasonably and graciously 
made you by the gospel, and now you must expect no more sucri 
offers to eternity. Thy blood, sinner, be upon thine own head ; 
the freeness and importunity of the tenders of grace will then only 



serve to illustrate and clear the righteousness of God in thy con- 

II. Use, for Exhortation. 

In the next place, the point naturally leads me to a Tehement 
persuasive unto all sinners, of what rank or size soever they be, to 
hearken to the voice of Christ, who takes them all within the 
compass of his gracious invitation in the text, saying, If any man 
open, I will come in. Let all sorts of sinners bless God for the ex- 
tensiveness of this invitation, and that they find themselves by it, 
as yet, within the reach and compass of the ai*ms of a merciful Re- 
deemer ; and that there is nothing wanting to secure their salva- 
tion, but the hearty consent of their wills to the reasonable and 
necessary terms of the gospel. Look over the whole book of God, 
and you shall there find but one case absolutely excepted from the 
possibility of forgiveness ; but one wound absolutely incurable, of 
which Christ speaks. Mat. xii. 31, 32. And what may be the rea- 
son that this only is an incurable wound ? Certainly it cannot be 
because the malignity of this sin exceeds the meritorious and par- 
doning virtue of the blood of Christ ; but rather, because there is 
no sacrifice appointed by the Lord for it. God never designed 
that the blood of Christ should be an expiatory sacrifice for that 
sin, as the apostle plainly speaks, Heb. vi. 4, 5, 6j 7. All other 
sins and blasphemies shall be forgiven unto men, saith Christ ; 
that is, they are capable of forgiveness, upon sincere and actual 
repentance and faith ; yea, they have been actually pardoned unto 
many: now the greater any man's sins have been, the greater 
need he hath to hasten to Christ for pardon. There are some of' 
you greater sinners than others ; for though no sin be venial, light 
and trivial in itself, yet compared one with another, there is a vast 
difference found betwixt them in the weight and aggravations of 
them. Now, I will labour to shew you by what rules men are to 
estimate the greatness and aggravations of sin ; and then, to con- 
vince you that the greatest of sinners stand yet fair for mercy as 
well as the lesser, and sometimes much fairer. " Publicans and 
" harlots go into the kingdom of God before you," saith Christ, 
Mat. xxii. 31. Now the rules to estimate the aggravations and 
greatness of sin by, are these : 

1. There be sins of infirmity, committed out of weakness; and 
there are cr\ang sins in the ears of the Lord. Of the foiTner sort, 
sins of infirmity, you read. Gal. vi. 1. where it is called a being 
overtaken in a fault. Here is no premeditation, nor deliberate 
consent, but a surprize : these go not to the account of gross and 
heinous enormities, called in Scripture, crying sins, such is the 
sin of oppression, Hab. ii. 10, 11. " The stone shall cry out of 

England's duty. 163 

*• the wall^ and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.'^ The 
meaning is, that the injustice and oppression which men have used 
in raising their own houses, shall cry in the ears of the Lord for 
vengeance. The stone in the wall shall say, I was digged out of 
the quarry, hewn, and laid here by the unrewarded labours of the 

nr Mason; and the timber out of the beam shall say, I was 
n, squared, and placed here by the unrewarded hands of the 
poor Carpenter. This is a crying sin ; so also is the sin of murder, 
when our hands have been defiled with innocent blood. This 
makes a dismal cry to heaven ; Gen. iv. 10. " The voice of thy 
*' brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground."" A sin that 
makes a horrid outcry in both worlds at once ; in heaven, and in 
the sinner's conscience. Such also is the sin of unnatural lusts. 
The sin of Sodom made a cry which came up to heaven, Gen. 
xviii. rlO. " Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and 
" their sin is very grievous." Compare these sins with the sins of 
common infirmity, which come by way of involuntary surprise^ 
and what vast odds will be found in the weight and aggravations 
of them ? 

2. You find in Scripture a great difference put betwixt sins com- 
mitted against the clear shining light of knowledge in the sinner's 
conscience, and sins of ignorance, which are committed for want 
of knowledge. Christ himself puts a great difference betwixt them^ 
Luke xii. 47, 48. and so doth the apostle, James iv. 17. " To him 
" that knoweth to do good, and ddth it not, to him it is sin.'' 
Sin with a witness ! 

3. There are single acts of sin, and continued or repeated acts 
of sin; sins committed after convictions, promises, and resolu- 
tions. Now there is not so much of guilt in a single act of sin as 
there is in a repeated and continued course of sin, called, Deut. 
xxix. 19. " The adding of drunkenness to thirst;" and Isa. xxx. 1. 
" Adding sin to sin." For, as it is in numbering, so it is in sin- 
ning ; if the first figure be 1, the second is 10, the third 100, the 
fourth 1000 ; and every addition makes a greater multipKcation. 
O what a dreadful reckoning will there be for the consciences of 
poor sinners ! 

4. Contrivers and studiers of sin are always in Scripture placed 
in the first rank of sinners. The best servant God hath in the 
world may be surprised by the deceitfulness of sin, against the gra- 
cious bent and resolution of his soul ; but the contrivance and plot- 
ting of sin is quite another thing ; therefore it is said of the wicked. 
Job XV. 35. " They conceive mischief, and bring forth vanity, 
" and their belly prepareth deceit." This sin, hke the Jcetus m 
the womb, hath its time of conception, ero^vth, and birth ; and 

Vol. IV. L 

16^ England's duty. 

all this by the deliberate consent of the naughty heart and will, 
which fosters and cherishes it. 

5. There are ring-leaders in sin, and single personal sins, which 
spread no farther than ourselves : a ring-leader in sin, is in Scrip- 
ture reckoned amongst the greatest sinners; so, Rev. ii. 14. 
" Thou hast them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught 
" Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel." 
Thus Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, made Israel to sin. There is 
the same difference betAvixt these and single personal sins, as there 
is betwixt a chain-shot, and a single bullet. Mind tliis, you that 
have induced others to sin by your counsel or example. 

6. There are sins in which men glory and take pleasure; and 
sins for which men groan and mourn. Now, the more pleasure 
any man takes in sin, the greater doth the sin arise in its aggrava- 
tion. We read of some. Job xx. 12. " In whose mouths wicked- 
" ness is sweet, and they hide it under their tongue." That is, they 
draw a great deal of contemplative delight before and after the 
commission of sin, as well as in the commission of it. It is bad 
enough to sin and sigh, to sin and weep ; but to sin and boast, to 
sin and make a mock of sin, what a prodigious way of sinning is 
this ! O sinner ! what a heart hast thou, that canst play and sport 
with that which grieves God, crucified Christ, and which, without 
deep and sound repentance, will damn thine own soul ! 

7. The more bonds of restraint any man breaks asunder to com- 
mit sin, the greater and more aggravated always that sin is in the 
sight of God. There be some persons upon whom God hath laid 
more restraints to keep back their souls from iniquity, than he 
hath upon others. The more mercies he hath bestowed upon you, 
the more restraints from sin. So many mercies, so many ties, 
Jer. ii. 5, 6. especially spiritual mercies ; as light in your minds, 
pardons sealed to your consciences, love manifested to your souls. 
Such also are your own vows, promises, and resolutions ; Jer. ii. 
SO. " Thou saidst, I will no more transgress. Didst not thou 
promise me, saith God, more care and circumspection for time to 
come ? And such are all the examples and warnings God hath 
given us by his judgments upon others, 1 Cor. x. 11. These 
things put an accent upon sin, and make it out of measure sinful. 

And now my friends, what have I been driving at all this while, 
in opening the greatness and aggravations of sin ? The design of all 
this is to shew you the indispensable need of repentance, and faith, 
to carry you to Christ. 

Object. But I am the person upon whom these crying aggravated 
sins are found. You tell me of going to Christ ; alas ! there is no 
hope of mercy for such a wretch as I am ! There it sticks. Poor 

England's duty. 165 

sinners think it is to no purpose, they had as good go on in sin ; for 
they conclude, there is no hope for them. 

Ansrc. Come sinners, give me leave to tell you, you have a- text 
before you, that clears the way of your duty and salvation at once ; 
If any man^ be he what he will, be his sins never so great, yet if he 
hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, saith Christ. 
There is mercy in Jesus Christ, for thee who art guilty of crying 
sins : for thee, that hast sinned against light and knowledge : for 
thee, that hast added drunkenness to thirst ; for thee, that hast 
contrived sin with deliberation : for thee, that hast induced others 
to sin by counsel or example : for thee, that hast taken pleasure 
in iniquity, and made a sport of sin ; yea, and for thee aJso, that 
hast broken asunder the bonds of mercies, vows apd warnings, 
provided thou wilt now hear the voice of Christ, and thy will open 
to him with a hearty firm consent, Isa. Iv. 4. You are great and 
heinous sinners ; but I shew this day a great and Almighty Saviour, 
one that is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by 
him, Heb. vii. 25. There is a sacrifice laid out and appointed for 
these sins. O bless God for that ! they are no where excepted from 
the possibility of forgiveness. Nothing but the impenitency of thy 
heart, and obstinacy of thy will, can bar thee from a full and final 
pardon. Jesus Christ can save thee to the uttermost. Say not 
within thyself. Can the virtue of his blood extend itself to the re- 
mission of this or that sin ? He can save to the uttermost. Look 
round about thee to the uttermost horizon of all thy guilt, and 
Christ can save thee to the uttermost that the eye of thy conscience 
can discern, yea, and beyond it too ; but then thou must come unto 
liim. You speak of the greatness of sin, and you have cause to 
have sad thoughts about it ; but, in the mean time, you consider 
not, that your unbelief, by which you stand off from Christ, your 
only remedy, is certainly the greatest of all the sins that ever you 
stood guilty of against the Lord. This is the sin that binds the 
guilt of all your other sins upon you. Let me therefore address 
myself, (1.) To you who cry out of the greatness of sin that dis- 
courages you from going to Christ. (2.) To lesser sinners, who 
because they are clear of great enormities, see not their need of 

1. This exhortation speaketh to you, whose consciences are seared 
with the horrid and hideous aggravations of your sins, by reason 
whereof your own misgiving hearts, assisted by the policy of Satan, 
discourage you from all attempts to gain Christ and pardon, in the 
way of repentance and faith. Let me, at this time, hint three or 
four considerations to you, by way of encouragement. 

(1.) The sparing goodness of God, till now, gives some encoiu 


166 England's duty. 

ragement, that God may have a reserve of mercy for so great and 
vile a sinner as thou art. O what a mercy is it, that thy life hath 
been spared hitherto ! Many of thy companions in sin are beyond 
hope and mercy, whilst thou art left. I confess, this is no sure 
sign of God's gracious intention to thee, unless his goodness and 
forbearance do lead thee to repentance: Then the gracious in- 
tention of God, in prolonging thy life, would evidently appear. 
But, however, it is in itself a very great mercy ; because, without 
it, no spiritual mercy could be expected. 

(2.) It is matter of encouragement and hope, that though your 
disease be dreadful, yet it is not desperate and incurable. The text 
takes it within the compass of mercy : O bless God for that. If any 
man^ &c. 

(3.) As great sinners as you have been have found mercy, 1 Tim. 
i. 16. and God would have it to be recorded for your encourage- 
ment. If now the Lord shall make thy heart to break, and thy 
will to bow, Avhatever thy sins have been, they shall not bar thee 
from mercy and forgiveness. But if thou resolve to go on in sin, 
or sit down desponding or discouraged, and wilt not come in at the 
invitation and call of Christ, then thy wound is incurable indeed ; 
and there is but one way with thee, thy mittimus is already made 
for hell; and that scripture in 1 Cor. vi. 9. ^vill tell thee whi- 
ther thou art going. But God forbid that this should be the issue 
of Christ's gracious invitations to thee, and forbearance of thee. 
Seeing mercy is tendered to any man that will accept it upon 
Christ's terms, exclude not thyself when he hath not excluded 

2. I will close up this use of exhortation to another sort of per- 
sons, who are not of the notorious, infamous rank of profane sin- 
ners, but their lives have been drawn more smoothly through a 
course of civility. These have as great need to be pressed to re- 
pentance and faith, as the most notorious sinners in the world. 
These are a generation that bless themselves in their own eyes, 
and thank God with the Pharisee, Luke xviii. 11. They are 
" not as other men." They acknowledge conversion to be the duty 
of the profane ; that such sinners as I last dealt Avith stand in ap- 
parent need of it. But, as for themselves, they scarce know where 
to find matter for repentance ; nor do they feel any need of Christ. 
Now, I would lay three considerations before such persons, to con- 
^^nce them that their case is as sad and hazardous, yea, and in some 
respect, more hazardous than the state of the most notorious sin- 
ners in the world ; and that a change must also pass upon them, or 
else it had been good for them they had never been horn. 

Consideration 1. Let the civilized part of the world lay this 
thought close to their hearts, That, though their sins be not so gross 

i:xgla::^d;s duty. 167 

and horrid to appearance as other men's arc, yet, continued in, they 
will prove as mortal and destructive as those greater abominations of 
other men. No sin, absolutely considered, is small. Every sin is 
mortal and damning without Christ, Rom. vi. ult. The wages of 
sin is death. It is no great odds, if a man be killed, whether it 
were by a broad sword, or by a small penknife. The least sin vio- 
lates the whole law, James ii. 10. " He that ofFendcth in one point, 
*' is guilty of all.*" The least transgression of the law pulls down 
the guilt and curse of the whole law upon the sinner's head. And 
this is your misery, that you are out of Christ, and stand under the 
rigorous terms of the first covenant. Moreover, the law of God is 
violated grossly and externally ; or spiritually, and more internally. 
Thus every unchaste thought is adultery : And the very inward 
burning of malice and anger in the heart is murder. Now, if the 
Lord shall bring the spiritual sense of the law home to your con- 
sciences, as he did to Paul's, Rom. vii. 9. you will certainly give up 
that plea, and you have not so much need of conversion as other 
sinners have. There are sins of greater infamy, and sins of deeper 
guUt. There may be more guilt in those sins that are stifled in thy 
heart, and never defamed thee, than there may be in some sins that 
make a louder noise in the word. 

Conskl. % You are guilty of one sin (how civil and blameless 
soever your lives are) which is certainly more great and heinous than 
any outward act of sin can ordinarily be, and that is, your trusting to 
your own righteousness, as the Pharisees did, Luke xviii. 9. " He 
" spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that 
" they were righteous, and despised others." Here is an idol of 
jealousy set up in the room of Christ. It is true, this sin makes not 
so loud a noise in the world, raises not such a d«st as the sins of pro- 
fane ones do. But certainly it is as abominable in the eyes of God as 
the sins that stink so much in the nostrils of nature. Civilized per- 
sons, thus trusting to their own civihty, and neglecting Jesus Christ, 
will be one day put into the van of that wretched crew that are going 
to hell ; a portion with unbelievers, as the scripture speaks. 

Consid. 3. Lastly, it hath been always found a more rare and 
difficult thing to convince and bring home to Christ the civilized 
part of the world, than it is to convince and work upon the pro- 
fane part of it, Matth. xxi. 31. " Pubhcans and harlots go into 
" the kingdom of God before you." Publicans were reckoned the 
vilest sort of men, and harlots the worst sort of women : yet, either 
of these were easier to be brought to Christ than self-righteous 
Pharisees. Well then, away with your own vain and idle pretensions, 
that your case is safer and better than others. By what hath been 
said, it evidently appears, that you stand in as much need of Christ 
as the most infamous sinners in the world do. 


168 England's duty. 

III. Use. 

This point winds up in encouragement to every willing and obe- 
dient soul, whom the Lord shall persuade to comply with the call 
of the gospel, whatever his former rebellions have been. There 
are some whose hearts the Lord hath touched with a deep sense of 
their sin and misery, and of the all-sufficient remedy that is in Christ ; 
but the sense of former rebellions appals and daunts them ; they 
cannot hope for any acceptance with him. Here is good news for 
such souls ; Christ is at the door, and former rebellions are no bar 
to him, provided there be now a hearty compliance with his voice ; 
/ wUl come unto him. A glorious promise, comprising five inesti- 
mable benefits and mercies in it. (1.) This is the most glorious 
work of God that ever was, or can be wrought upon the heart of 
a poor sinner, to open it by repentance and faith, and put Christ 
into the full possession of it. The power of all the angels in hea- 
ven, ministers on earth, duties and ordinances, cannot effect tliis ; 
this is the peculiar work of God, 1 Cor. i. 30. " But of him are 
*^ ye in Christ Jesus." Look, as it were the marvellous work of 
God to unite our nature unto Christ, by an hypostat'ical union ; so 
it is no less a marvellous work of God to unite our persons to Christ 
by a mystical union, to prepare the soul as a habitation for Christ, 
and give him the possession of it. (2.) This coming of Christ into 
the soul is the very foundation of all our hopes for glory ; until 
this be done, we are without hope. But in the same hour Christ 
comes into the soul, a solid foundation of the hopes of glory is laid 
in that soul, Col. i. 27. " which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." 
I know the um-egenerate world is full of hope ; but their hopes are 
built upon the sand. Union with Christ is the steady foundation on 
which the hopes of heaven are laid. (3.) / ivill come vnto Mm ; that 
is, to dwell in his soul for ever, never to leave him more ; therefore 
(Eph. iii. 17.) he is said to dwell in our hearts hy faith ; not sojourn 
for a night, but abide there for ever. Nothing can separate Clirist 
and that soul, Rom. viii. 35. Thy soul shall never be an habita- 
tion for Satan any more. When Christ comes in, he saith, as of 
the temple, " Here will I dwell for ever.*" (4.) This coming in of 
Christ entitles the soul to all spiritual privileges, 1 John v. IS. 
" He that hath the Son, hath life :" and, 1 Cor. iii. ult. " All is 
" yours, for ye are Christ's." (5.) This is the highest honour that 
ever God put upon a creature, / will come in to Mm. O, how 
should the soul feel itself advanced by such an honour as this ! 
What, to be the living temple of Jesus Christ ! for Christ to dwell, 
and walk in thy soul ! as it is 2 Cor. vi. 16. I tell you, this is an 
honour beyond and above the honour done to angels. 

And, how near art thou to all these blessed privileges in the day 

rXGLAXD's DUTY. 169 

that thy heart is wounded for sin ! Thy tlioughts become solicitous 
about union with Christ, and thy will begins to bow and yield 
after a serious debate of the terms of the gospel in thy most solemn 
thoughts. Now is the door half open, and Christ ready to make 
his first entrance into thy soul. God forbid any thing should now 
liinder the completing of so great work. 


Revel, iii. 20. 

Behold, I stand at the door, and hiock ; [if any man hear my 
voice,'] and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with 
him, and he with me. 

In the former sermons, Christ's free and general invitation to 
sinners hath been considered ; in the next place we are to take into 
consideration the principal means or instrument by which the heart 
of a sinner is opened to receive Christ ; and that is not by the 
native power of his own will, not by the alone efficacy of the gos- 
pel preaclied, but by the voice of Jesus Christ, \vhich opens the 
will, and makes the persuasions of the gospel effectual. If any man, 
hear my voice. 

Hearing is either external or internal ; for the soul hath its ear, 
as well as the body. " He that hath an ear, let him hear what 
" the Spirit saith unto the churches," Rev. ii. 17. i. e. He that 
hath a spiritual ear to perceive and judge the voice of the Spirit 
by. And it is a sore judgment when God denies such an ear to 
the soul, Isa. vi. 9- " Go tell this people, hear ye indeed, but un- 
" derstand not." Spiritual hearing is the work of the inner man. 
And though we have many auditors, yet, in this sense, no more 
hearers than believers. Words of sense do in scripture connote 
affections. This hearing of Christ's voice implies not only the re- 
ceiving of the sound of the gospel into the external organ ; but it 
notes the work of the understanding; which by the ear trieth words, 
as the mouth taste th meat. Job xii. 11. And the work of the 
affections, which receive the truth in love, 2 Thess. ii. 10. It also 
implies the obedience of the soul to what we hear. We cannot be 
said, in this sense, to hear what we obey not. Qur minds may be 
delighted with the pleasant air and melody of the gospel, and yet it 
is all one as if we heard it not, when obedience doth not follow hear- 
ing, Ezek. xxxiii. 32. " Thou art unto them a very lovely song, 
" &c. for they hear thy words, but they do them not." But in 


170 England's duty. 

this place it especially signifies the vital sound of Chrises efficacious 
internal voice, which is the principle of spiritual life to the souls of 
dead sinners ; according to that expression of Christ, John v. 25. 
'' Verily, verily I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, 
*' when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they 
" that hear shall live."" 

From hence the eighth Observation will be this, 

Doct. 8. That no ma?i*s will savingly and effectually opens to re- 
ceive Christ, tmtil the spiritual quickening voice o/* Christ be 
Jirst heard by the soul. 

Now, touching this almighty spiritual voice of Christ, by which 
the hearts of sinners are effectually opened, six things must be ex« 
plained in order. 

1 . The divers sorts and kinds of Christ's voices. 

2. The general nature of this internal voice. 

3. The innate characters and special properties of it. 

4. The objects to whom it is directed. 

5. The motives inducing Clirist to speak to one, and not to an- 

6. The special effects wrought and sealed by it upon every soul 
that hears it. 

First, We will speak of the divers sorts and kinds of Christ'*s 
voices. I am here only concerned about two, viz. 

1. His external. 

2. His internal voice. 

1. There is an external voice of Christ, which we may call his 
ministerial voice in the preaching of the gospel. The scriptures are 
his word, and ministers his mouth, Jer. xv. 19. He that heareth 
them, heareth Christ. 

2. There is also an internal energetical voice of Christ, consisting 
not in sound, but power : and betwixt these two, there are two re- 
markable differences. (1.) The external or ministerial voice of Christ 
is but the organ or instrument of conveying his internal and effica- 
cious voice to the soul ; in the former he speaks to the ear, and in 
or by that sound conveys his spiritual voice to the heart. (2.) The 
external voice is evermore ineffectual and successless, when it is not 
animated by that internal spiritual voice. It was mai-vellous to see 
the walls of Jericho falling to the ground at the sound of rams- 
horns ; there was certainly more than the force of an external blast 
to produce such an effect ; but more marvellous it is, to see at the 
sound of the gospel, not only the weapons of iniquity falling out of 
sinner s hands, but the very enmity itself out of their hearts. Here 
you see is a voice in a voice, an internal efficacy in the external 
pound ; without which the gospel makes no saving impression. 

ekglaxd's duty. 171 

Secondly, This spiritual voice of Christ must be considered in its 
general nature, which implies two things in it : 

1. Almighty efficacy. 

2. Great facility. 

1. Almighty efficacy, to quicken and open the heart with a 
word ; O what manner of voice is this, which carries such a vital 
power along with it ! In all the mighty works of Christ, his power 
was still put forth in some voice, as at the resurrection of Lazarus, 
John xi. 43. " He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus come forth ; 
'' and he that was dead came forth." So in curing the deaf man, 
Mark vii. 34. " He saith unto him, Ephphatha, and straightway 
" his cars were opened." Thus, in the exerting of his Almighty 
glorious power in quickening a soul spiritually dead, and opening 
the heart that was lockt up by ignorance and unbelief ; an internal 
ahnighty efficacy passeth from Christ, along with the voice of the 
gospel, to effect this glorious work upon the soul : an emblem 
whereof Av^e have in Ezek. xxxvii. 9, 10. " Then said he unto me, 
'' prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, unto the wind, 
" saith the Lord God ; Come from the four winds, O breath, 
^' and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophe- 
" sied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and 
" they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great 
^' army." The animating vital breath which quickened the dead, 
came in, or with the four winds of heaven, as this almighty power 
of Christ doth with the sound of the gospel ; and before it the heart 
opens, the will bows, Psal. ex. 3. Man can no longer oppose the 
power of God ; man and man stand upon equal ground ; the 
power of man can repel the power of a fellow-creature ; but when 
the power of Christ comes along with the voice of man, there is 
no more power to resist. * This voice of Christ then, of which 
the text speaks, is an almighty impression made upon the soul of a 
sinner from heaven, which is to that soul instead of a voice ; and 
as fully expressive of God's mind concerning it, as any articulate 
voice in the world can be. It is a beam of light shining im- 
mediately from the Spirit, into the soul of a sinner ; as plainly and 
evidently discovering both its danger and duty, as if a voice from 
heaven had declared them. Thus it is said, Isa. viii. 11. The 
Lord spake to Isaiah with a strong hand, that is, by a mighty im- 
pression upon the prophet''s spirit, which was as a voice to him. Thus 
here, the Lord not only directs a suitable word to a sinner's condi- 
tion ; but also impresses it with such a strong hand upon his heart, 
as leaves no doubt behind it, but that it was the Lord himself that 

♦ This voice and this knocking signify the thoughts which God injects, in order 
to awaken the sinner's conscience ; this God doth sometimes, not always. Pood 
St/nopsis on this place. 

17!2 exglaxd's duty. 

epake to his soul. This is Clirist's way of speaking by Ms spirit, to 
the inner spiritual ear of the soul ; not by oraculous voices, which 
I take to be but the suppositions of an overtroubled fancy ; but by 
an efficacious impression upon the heart. As to oraculous voices, 
we may sooner meet satanical delusions, than divine illuminations in 
that way. The learned Gerson speaks of a good man, who, being 
in prayer, seemed to hear such a voice as this ; / am come inperso)i 
to visit thee, for thou art worth?/. But he justly suspecting a delu- 
sion of Satan, shut his eyes and said, N'olo hie videre Ch?i^tum, &c. 
' I will not see Christ here, it shall suffice me to see him in glory.' 
I am sure Christ's voice in the written word is more sure than a 
voice from heaven, 2 Pet. i. 19. This inward spiritual impression 
is Christ's effectual call from heaven ; and it is a voice sine strepitu 
syllabarum, without sound or syllable. 

2. As this voice of Christ implies almighty efficacy, so it implies, 
in like manner, the facility of conversion unto Christ ; he can do 
it easily with a word of his mouth : As in the bodily cures per- 
formed by him in the days of his flesh, how suddenly and easily did 
Christ effect them 't Speak the word cmly, said the Centurion, and 
my servant shall he healed. Thus, let the Spirit but speak inter- - 
nally to the deadest soul, and it lives. Elijah did but cast his 
mantle upon Elisha, as he was plowing in the field, and he presently 
intreats the prophet to give him leave to go home, and bid his friends 
farewel, and he would follow him : Thus it is here ; let a beam of 
saving light shine from the Spirit into a man's heart ; let an effectual 
impression be made upon his soul, and he is presently made willing 
to quit and give up his dearest lusts and interests, and to embrace 
Christ upon the severest terms of the gospel. Conversion is too 
difficult a work for ano-els or men to effect in their own strength ; 
but Christ can do it with a word. And thus much of the general 
nature of Christ's spiritual internal voice ; but all this gives us but a 
remote imperfect knowledge of it : Therefore, 

Thirdly, I shall endeavour to open the innate characters and 
special properties of this internal spiritual voice of Christ, which 
must be heard, or there can be no opening the door of the heart 
to receive him. 

I. Character. And the first character is this ; it is a secret and a 
still voice, whereby somewhat is, as it were, whispered into the ear 
of the soul, making a particular application of what is spoken ex- 
ternally to the ear, much Hke that of Nathan to David, Thou art 
the man. This still voice sounds throughout the whole soul, yet 
none hear it but the soul concerned in it ; it is said, 1 Sam. ix. 15. 
" The Lord told Samuel in his ear, the night before," S^c. that 
is, he whispered the secret into the prophet's mind : So the Spirit of 
Christ whispers a word into tlie ear of a sinner, which makes his 

England's duty. 173 

heart to tremble, after tliis manner, This U ihij very state and con~ 
dit'ion ; this is thij sin, rvhich is noza opened b?/ the gvspel in thine 
ears. Tliis is a voice without sound or noise to any others, but very 
intelligible to the soul unto whom it is spoken. You read in 1 
Kings xix. 11, 12. when Elijah stood upon the mount before the 
Lord, there came " a great and strong wind, which rent the moun- 
" tains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the I^ord, but the 
" Lord was not in the wind ; and after the wind an earthquake, but 
" the Lord was not in the earthquake ; and after the earthquake a 
" fire, but the Lord was not in the fire ; and after the fire a still 
" small voice : And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped 
" his face in his mantle,'" (^c. So it is here ; dreadful things are 
thundered against men by the voice of the law, the teiTors of the 
Lord are made known, hell and damnation are set before the eyes 
of sinners ; but until the Lord come in the still voice of his Spirit, 
and apply those things to the conscience, the sinner never covers his 
face with shame and confusion, nor goes aside to mourn and lament 
his misery. This voice of God sounds to the very centre of the soul. 
As for the outward voice of the gospel alone, it signifies little ; i?i 
hearing, men hear not, Mat. xiii. 13. They hear the voice of man, 
but not the voice of God : They hear the sound, but feel not the 
power of the word. What is spoken externally, dies in the ear that 
liears it : But this still voice of the Spirit by secret passages makes 
its way to the heart, and none knows what God speaks but the soul 
to whom he speaks. That is the first character. 

XL Character. The internal spiritual voice of Christ is b, personal 
and particular voice, speaking distinctly and particularly to the case 
and state of the soul, as if it were by name. Ministers do, and must 
speak in general ; they draw the bow of the gospel at a venture, 
not knowing to whom God will direct the arrow; but the Spirit 
guides it to the mark. He applies general truths unto particular 
persons, so as the soul, to whom he directs it, is fully convinced 
and satisfied the Lord intends and means it, in such a convictive 
and threatening expression. Oh, saith the soul, hath the Lord 
singled me out in special ? This is my very state and case. You 
read, John x. 5. that Christ calleth his sheep by name. How doth 
he call them by name ? But by speaking directly and particularly 
to their condition and case, as if he called them by their particular 
names. He doth not now in an extraordinary way, as of old, call 
Samuel, Samuel ; or Saul, Saul ; but he sends a beam of convincing 
light into the conscience, plainly discovering this or that to be our 
sin, danger, or duty ; and so as to the effect, it is all one as if 
God named him: And truly, until it comes to this, the word 
hath no saving o|^ration upon the soul. A man may hear ten 


thousand general truths, assent to them, and never be the better 
for them. How still and quiet was David's conscience, until Na- 
than struck the nail upon the head, by a home personal applica- 
tion, and then his conscience startled ? Thus God singles out one 
man or Moman from among a thousand in tlie congregation, speaks 
to the heart, rips up the seciu*e conscience ; the rest hear the same 
words, but feel not the same efficacy. And truly, it is a choice 
mercy when God shall please thus to single out one person from 
among many, after tliis manner to speak to his heart. As Christ 
said in Luke iv. 25, 26. " Many widows were in Israel in the days 
-' of Elias, &c. but to none of them was Elias sent, save unto 
'* Sai'epta a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow." So 
here, multitudes sat with you under the same prayer or sermon, 
but unto none of them, at that time, was the Spirit sent, to make 
a particular convictive apphcation thereof, but unto thee. In this 
the peculiar goodness of God shines out, and shoidd for ever be 
admired in the eyes of that soul. 

III. Clmracter. This spiritual, internal voice of Christ is distin- 
guishable by the soid that hears it from aU other voices ; John x. 
4. " The sheep know his voice."^ As in the stile of the scriptures, 
there is a weight and majesty which distinguishes it from all human 
composures ; so in this voice of Christ, there is a majesty, a pecu- 
liar efficacy, a Divine and awful authority, by which the soul dis- 
tinguishes it from all human voices. It was said of Christ in the 
days of his flesh, John vii. 46. " Never man spake like this man."* 
The same may we say of his spiritual voice, the soul never heard 
such a voice before ; it seals the truth upon the heart so firmly, 
that no objections are left against it. It was not so when he heard 
the voice of man. And there are two things in this inward voice 
of Christ, which apparently difference it from all human voices. 
(1.) A marvellous light comes into the soul with it, which disco- 
vers all the secrets of the heart. God shines into the heart tlie 
same time he speaks unto it, 2 Cor. iv. 6. and now the secret of 
the hearts are manifest, and God is acknowledged to be in that 
word of truth, 1 Cor. xiv. 25. (2.) A marvellous power accom- 
panieth this voice, to make a deep and firm impression of what is 
spoken upon the soul : and this power is an innate character of the 
voice of God, whereby the soul receives it as his, with much assur- 
ance, as the apostle speaks, 1 Thes. i. 5. " Our gospel came not 
" to you in word onh , but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, 
'' and in much assurance." They could not l>e more certain of 
any thing in the world, than thoy were of this, that it was 
the Lord that spake to them in that word. It is true, at the first 
mstant, the soul may be amazed and at a loss, as Peter wjien he 
was dehvercd out of prison. Acts xii. 11. thought at first he had 


seen a vision ; but when lie was come to himself, " Now, (said he) 
" I know of a surety that the Lord hath sent his angel,'"* &c. Thus 
it is with the soul, it is amazed, and doubts what manner of call or 
power this is, sure it is, it never heard such a voice, nor never felt 
any thing like this before. But the matter is quickly cleared up^ 
when the soul hath reflected duly upon it, and finds (as it quickly 
doth) such a wonderful change of the frame and temper of the heart 
following u}x»n it. I now speak not of those into whom grace is 
distilled in the way of godly education in their tender years, but of 
adult persons, and especially such as have been grosser sinners, 

IV. Clmracter. This spiritual internal voice of Christ is a sur- 
2)rising voice, altogether unexpected by the soul that hears it ; "I 
** am found of them that sought me not," Isa, Ixv. 1. Little do we 
foresee the designs God hath upon us in bringing us to such a place^ 
and under such a setmon, at such or such a time ; even as little as 
Saul thought of a kingdom when he was seeking his father's asses. 
It is much with us as it was with the apostles when Christ called 
them ; little did Matthew think when he sat at the receipt of custom, 
or Saul think when posting unto Damascus upon the deviPs errand, 
that Christ and salvation had then been so near them. Some have 
come to scoff and deride the messengers and truths of God ; others 
to gratify their curiosity; and many in a customary course, not 
knowing where else, with peace to themselves or reputation with 
others, to spend that hour. But God's thoughts were not theirs ; 
the time of mercy was now come^ and whatever sinful or low enda 
brouglit them thither, the Lord's design was then and there to 
manifest himself to them. It is with such souls, in some respect, as 
it was with the spouse, Cant. vi. 12. to whose expression I may here 
allude, " Or ever I was aware, my soul made me as the chariots of 
Abinadab."" I went to the congregation for company, I was sitting 
under the word with a careless wandering heart, as at other times ; 
when lo, above all the thoughts of my heart, an arrow of conviction 
was suddenly shot into my conscience, which startled, wounded, and 
disquieted it, as it is now beyond the power of any but Christ him- 
self to settle and satisfy it. 

V. Character, This spiritual internal voice of Christ is energet'icaly 
great and mighty in power ; piercing the heart, cleaving, as it were, 
the very reins ; full of efficacy to the soul that hears it. The power 
of God comes along with this voice of God. You read, Heb. iv. 12. 
" The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any 
" two-edged sword ; piercing even to the dividing asunder of the 
" soul and spirit, of the joints and marrow." 

Now this efficacy is not inherent in the word itself, it works not 
thus as a natural agent ; then all would feel this power, that comes 
within the sound of it. No, this comes from the Spiiit of Christ, 

1T(> r.XGL.\XD's DUTY. 

speaking in it to the sinner's conscience ; when it is the administra- 
tion of the Spirit, then it becomes thus efficacious. You read 
in Psal. xxix. from ver. 3. to 10. of the wonderful efficacy of 
God's providential voice ; " The voice of the Lord is powerful ; 
" the voice of the Lord is full of majesty ; it breaks the cedars, 
" divides the flames of fire, shakes the wilderness, maketh the 
" hinds to calve.'"* This the providential voice of God, in the 
winds, thunders, and lightnings, can do ; but, alas ! what is this 
to the efficacy of his spiritual voice ? What is the breaking of the 
cedars of Lebanon to the breaking of the heart of a sinner? 
What is the shaking of the trees in the wilderness to the fears of 
wrath to come, which shake the souls of convinced sinners, and 
make their very hearts to tremble ? Acts xvi. 30. What is the 
dividing of the flames of fire, to the dividing of a soul from its 
beloved lusts ? " The weapons of our warfare (saith the apostle) 
" are mighty through God, to the pulling down of strong holds, 
'^ casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth 
" itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity 
" every thought to the obedience of Christ," 2 Cor. x. 4, 5. Here 
be the glorious effects of this voice, which plainly discover from 
whom it comes. The voice of God is no less to be admired in its 
magnificent effects in the new creation, than in the first creation, 
with which the apostle compares it, 2 Cor. iv. 6. " God that com- 
'' manded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into our 
" hearts." It was marvellous to see, at the word of Christ, Laza- 
rus, that was dead in his gi-ave, to come forth bound in his grave- 
clothes ; and no less to see a soul dead in sin, bound in the bonds 
of corruption, at a word of Christ, to arise and come forth with 
spiritual life ; John v. 25. " The dead shall hear the voice of the 
" Son of God ; and they that hear it shall live."" 

VL Character. This spiritual voice of Christ is so convictive to 
the conscience of a sinner, that it puts a final end to all shifts and 
evasions : Whilst man only spake, the soul had a thousand shifts to 
evade and put oft' what was spoken ; but now all disputes and de- 
bates are at an end ; no more subterfuges and cunning evasions now. 
The Spirit when he cometh, " he shaU convince the world of sin,'* 
John xvi. 8. The word signifies to convince by demonstration ; 
and that is, to shew a thing impossible to be otherwise than we re- 
present it to be. Formerly, when the terrors of God were threa- 
tened against sin, the shuffling heart was wont to sav, this concerns 
me no more than another ; if it go ill with me, it will go ill with 
thousands as well as me. It is true, this is my evil, and who is with- 
out them ? I have some evils in me, but yet I have some good too. 
But no sooner doth the Spirit speak conviction to the conscience, 
but all these pleas are out of doors. It may be, the state of the 

England's duty. 177 

sinner's soul was doubtful to him before ; but it is not so now : It 
had some fears of hell, but balanced with some vain liopes of hea- 
ven : But now the debate is ended, the great question determined. 
Whatever I am, or have ; Whatever duties I have done, and what- 
soever sins I have avoided, I see I am not regenerated, I am in my 
natural christless state ; and except I be changed, I must be damn- 
ed. This was the effect of Christ's convictive voice unto Paul, Rom. 
vii. 9. " I was alive without the law once, but when the command- 
" ment came, sin revived, and I died/' He had read the law 
many a time, and had the literal knowledge of it : But under these 
things his vain hopes lived and flourished, until the spiritual sense 
of the law came home to his heart, by the teaching voice of the 
Spirit^ and then his vain hopes gave up the ghost, and his sin and 
guilt stared in the face of his conscience. 

VII. Character. The voice of Christ whereof we now speak, is 
generally and ordinarily conveyed to the souls of men through the 
word preached, which is the chosen organ or instrument of its con- 
veyance. We cannot absolutely and universally affirm that Christ 
always speaks to men this way : but certainly this is his standing and 
ordinary course ; 1 Thes. i. 5. " Our gospel came not to you in 
" word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost." Our gospel, 
because preached and ministered by us ; but had that been all, it 
had come to you in word only, as it doth to many thousand others 
in the world, who hear and feel nothing in it more than what is 
human; But unto you it came in power, and in the Holy Ghost; 
that is, our words were the vehicle and organ through which the 
vital power of the Spirit was conveyed into your souls. Providences 
have their voices as well as the word ; and sometimes the voice of 
Christ hath accompanied the voice of Providence, to the conversion 
of men's souls ; but this is more rare and unusual : The established 
and ordinary way of Christ's speaking to the hearts of sinners, is by 
the word, and especially the word preached, which upon that very 
account and consideration, as it is the organ of conveying the voice 
and power of Christ to the soul, is therefore " called the power of 
" God to salvation," Rom. i. 16. This instrument the Lord ge- 
nerally uses and honours for the conveyance of spiritual life into the 
souls of men, though it be despised and contemned in the world. 
" The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but 
" unto us which are saved, it is the power of God," 1 Coi*. i. 18. 
i. e. the chosen instrument by which the saving power of God com- 
municates itself to the souls of men : And although God may exert 
his saving power through providences, yet we seldom or never find 
he doth so where the word may be had, but is despised and neglect- 
ed. And truly herein God consults our peace and satisfaction; 
forj suppose he should make use of another medium, as a voice 

178 England's duty. 

from heaven, &c. and after calling (which is an nsital case) the called 
soul should question all, and say, how do I know but all thig 
may be a delusion ? May not Satan impose u|X)n poor mortals, and 
this voice from heaven be a counterfeit voice ? My eternal estate 
depends upon it, and I had need to be sure it was the very voice of 
God himself. In such a case as this, it would be hard to give such 
cleai- distinguishing characters as might be to the satisfaction of the 
soul, and clearly difference one from the other. But now, when 
God makes the word his instrument in this matter, it yields abun- 
dantly more satisfaction ; " We have a more sure word of prophecy,'^ 
surer than a voice from heaven, 2 Pet. i. 19. And though Paul 
was converted by a voice from heaven, yet the Lord sends him to 
Ananias to preach the gospel to him, Acts ix. 17. The Lord will 
honour his word. Providence may make way, and prepare the 
heai't ; but the word is the instrument by which the Lord puts forth 
his power ordinarily to salvation. 

VIII. Character. The voice of Christ leaves abiding' effects 
and lasting impressions upon the soul that hears it. The words 
of men are scattered into the wind, but the effects of Christ's voice 
are durable and lasting things ; Psal. cxix. 93. " I wiU never forget 
'• thy word, for by it thou hast quickened me."" How many 
hundred sermons have we heard, and all those excellent truths 
vanished away as a dream ? Oh, but if ever thou heardst Christ 
speaking to thy heart in any sermon, or prayer, to be sure that will 
stick by thee for ever ; his words are sealed upon the soul for ever ; 
they are >vritten in the heart, Jer. xxxi. 33. What Job wished, 
concerning his word, that is really performed in the words of Christ, 
*' They are written as in the rock for ever."" We have slippery 
memories, but the weakest memory will, and must retain the words 
of Christ, spoken to the heart by his Spirit ; for they are sealed 
upon it. Job xxxii. 16. " He sealeth their instructions;"" and this 
seciu'es them. Thus you have the innate characters of Christ's 

Fourthly, I siiall next s}:>eak to the personal objects unto whom 
Christ ordinarily directs this liis internal, efficacious, and saving 
voice or call. And although it be true that the Spirit of Christ is 
a free agent, acting with the greatest liberty, and calleth whom he 
will, according to that, John iii. 8. " The \vmA bloweth where it 
" listeth.'" And it is true de facto, that Christ hath made some of 
all sorts and ranks of men to hear his voice ; yet if we consider the 
way he commonly takes, we shall find that it is very true and sel- 
dom, that Christ directs this saving voice or call of his to the great 
and wise of this world : 1 Cor. i. 26. " You see your calling, bre- 
" thren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many 
" mighty, not many noble are called." He saith not any^ but 

England's duty. 179 

not many. Some Clirist doth call ; * lest (as one notes) the world 
' should think that Christians were deceived through their simpli- 
* city and weakness.' One rich Joseph of Arimathea ; one ho- 
nourable Nicodcmus, but not many. Men of the greatest fame and 
renown in the world have been the greatest and fiercest enemies 
against Christ : Galen the chief physician, Porphyry the chief 
Aristotelian, Plotinius the chief Platonist, Lybanus and Lucian the 
chief orators, were all professed enemies of Christ. Two things 
make a great man in the eyes of the world ; the external endow- 
ments of Providence, heaping up riches and honours upon the out- 
ward man ; and internal gifts and endowments of the mind, adorn- 
ing the inward man, as strong reason, sharpness of wit, &c. When 
both these meet (as many times they do) in one and the same per- 
son, they make him great in the eyes of the world, and usually in 
his own eyes too ; yea, too great to stoop to the simplicity of the 
gospel, and the humbling self-denying terms thereof. These the 
Lord usually passes by, and directs his voice to the^ poor : the poor 
receive the gospel ; " God hath chosen the poor of this world, rich 
" in faith, and heirs of the kingdom," James ii. 5. And this 
choice of God, Christ blesseth him for, Matth. xi. 25. " 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 ; even so. Father, for so it seemeth good in thy 
" sight."" And, indeed, the wisdom of God deserves our admi- 
ration in this dispensation : For, 

(1.) Hereby the freeness of his grace is vindicated. None can 
now pretend that any earthly excellency commends any man to 
God, or that the favour of heaven is engaged by the same motived 
that the respects of this world are : For now you see the truth of 
that scripture, Job xxxiv. 19- before your eyes, " He accepteth 
" not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than 
" the poor ; for they are all the work of his hands." Earthly 
riches and honours, as empty things as they are, yet are too much 
idolized by men : What would they be, could they procure our 
favour and acceptance with the Lord .? (2.) By such a choice as 
this the Lord plainly shews us, that religion needs not worldly 
props to support it. As at first it was spread by the power of God 
in the world, by poor contemptible men, so it is still upheld with- 
out human policy or riches. The church is called the Congregation 
ofthepoor^ Psal. Ixxiv. 20. The Lord will have us know, that he 
is able to maintain and carry on his counsels in the world, without 
the wealth of rich men, the authority of great men, or the poli- 
cies of wise men ; he needs them not. (3.) By this choice he pours 
contempt upon those things which are most admired among men : 
So he tells us, 1 Cor. i. 27. " God hath chosen the foohsh things 

Vol. IV. M 

180 England's duty. 

" of the world to confound the wise ; and the weak things of the 
" world to confound the things that are mighty."" And, certain- 
ly, shame and confusion of face will cover the great ones of this 
world in the world to come, when they shall see these poor Chris- 
tians whom they contemned and scorned upon earth, as not worthy 
to come into their presence, to be so infinitely preferred before them 
in the favour of God. In a word, this efficacious spiritual voice bf 
Christ is directed but to a few, even of the many that sit within the 
sound and call of the gospel, Matth. xxii. 14. " Many are called, 
" but few are chosen." Christ's flock is a little flock. There be 
many birds of prey to one h'lrd of paradise : Many coioimon pebbles 
to one sapphh'e or diamond. It is not for Us to dispute the reason^ 
but to adore the sovereignty of God in this matter. And of those 
few whom he calleth, the greatest part is of the lower rank and order 
of men. The glitter and dazzle of this world blinds the eyes of 
the greatest. Extremity of pinching wants diverts the minds of the 
very lowest ; but, betwixt these two extremes there is a third sort 
of persons whom the Lord most usually calls. 

Fifthly^ If it be queried why the voice and call of Christ should 
be directed to this person rather than to that .? Certainly, it is not 
from any dignity or excellency outward or inward, that Christ sees 
in one above another ; for all are shut up under the same common 
sin and misery of the fall ; and therefore the apostle told the 
Ephesians, who had heard and answered the voice of Christ, " that 
*' they were by nature the children of wrath even as others," 
Eph. ii. 3. if it were not so, man would have something to glory 
in before God; but Christ resolves this whole dispensation into 
its proper cause, the good pleasure of the Divine will. Mat. xi. 
26. " Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight." This 
good pleasure of the will of God sometimes orders those to hear 
the voice of his Son, that seem to stand at a far greater distance and 
improbability to hear it than others do. It is said of the Ephesians, 
that they were afar off, Ephes. ii. 13. yet they heard the voice of 
Christ, when that discreet scribe, Mark xii. 34. who was not far 
from the kingdom of God, and Agrlppa, Acts xxvi. 28. who al- 
most, or within a very Httle, was persuaded to be a Christian, never 
heard it; therefore it is said, Matth. viii. 11, 12. " Many shall 
" come from the cast and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, 
" and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven : But the chil- 
" dren of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness." O 
marvellous dispensation ! many a poor soul under the greatest dis- 
advantages, a poor servant that hath but little time, and multitudes 
of incumbrances ; yet such a one is often called effectually by this 
voice of Christ; when those that enjoy multitudes of opportunities, 
and have abundance of time lying upon their hands wliich they 

englaxd's duty. 181 

know not what to do with ; wlio have the choicest books at com- 
mand, yet hear nothing, and feel notliing amidst all these advan-^ 
tages to any purpose ; all this is wholly to be resolved into the good 
pleasure of the will of God; 

Sixthly, In the next place, let us view the effects of this voice of 
Christ upon the souls of men, and we shall find divers remarkable 
effects wrought upon the heart by it. 

I. Efftct: And the first effect of the voice of Christ, is ccmvictiort 
upon the conscience ; conviction both of sin and misery, John xvi. 
9. " The Spirit when he cometh, shall convince the world of sin." 
This is a voice of terror ; it strikes dead the vain hopes of a sinner, 
Rom. vii. 9. Now the soul that was before secure and quiet, be- 
comes the seat of trouble and anxiety. It is true, there was a 
general conviction of sin before, they knew that all are sinners; 
that they denied not. But alas ! this general conviction is quite 
anotlier thing to what the soul feels now ; now it can shift and 
wave the matter no longer. This voice of Christ " shews them 
** their iniquities, and how they have exceeded,'' as the expression 
is. Job xxxvi. 8, 9. exceeded in number, and exceeded in heinous- 
ness of aggravation. A general conviction of sin affects a man no 
more than the sight of a painted lion upon a sign post ; but when 
a particular conviction is set home upon the conscience, by this spe- 
cial inward voice of Christ, sin is then like a living lion, meeting 
a man in the way, and roaring dreadfully upon him. This is the 
first effect of Christ's voice, and is introdftctive unto the, 

II. Effect Which is humiliation, and contrition of heart for sin; 
those threats of scripture against sm and sinners, which were wont 
to be slighted, are now trembled at ; those Jews, Acts ii. 37. to 
whose hearts Christ spake in Peter s sermon, as soon as ever they 
heard his voice, sounding conviction in their consciences, they 
were presently pricA'^cZ at the heart ; no sword or poniard can make 
such a wound, and put a poor creature into such pain, as a sight of 
sin will do ; therefore^ Zech. xii. 10. they are said to mourn for 
Christ, as for an only son. Now this is the glorious prerogative of 
Jesus Christ, to be able to reach and wound the heart with a word : 
The voice of man cannot do it ; but the spirit of a man lies naked 
and open, both to be wounded and healed by a word from the 
mouth of Christ. No sooner hath a poor sinner heard the awful 
voice of conviction spoken to his conscience, by the Lord Jesusj 
but he feels himself sick at heart ; home he goes from that sermon 
by which Christ spake effectual conviction to him, crying, O sick ! 
sick ! my soul is distressed, because of sin ! There is, indeed, a great 
difference in the depth and degrees of this contrition and humilia- 
tion ; it penetrates deeper into some hearts than others, and holds 


182 England's duty. 

them longer under it : But certain it is, who ever hath heard the 
con^dncing voice of Christ, he feels so much sorrow for sin, as for 
ever separates him from the love of it. 

III. Effect. This voice of Christ rouses and awakens the careless 
and sluggish mind to the greatest soHcitude and thoughtfulness after 
deliverance, and escape from the danger that hangs over it ; Acts 
xvi. 30. " Trembhng and astonished, he cried out, Sirs, what 
" must I do to be saved .^" All the powers of the soul run into 
solicitude and care about deliverance. You shall generally observe 
in convinced and humbled sinners, three evident signs of extraor- 
dinary solicitude about salvation. (1.) There is a strong intention 
of their minds and thoughts, they stand night and day like a bow 
at the full bent ; their thoughts are still poring upon this matter, 
their sleep departs, for their sin and danger is ever before them. 
(2.) It appears by their searching inquisitiveness about the way of 
escape ; the question they still carry Avith them from company to 
company, where they meet with any whom they judge .ible to re- 
solve or direct them, is this : What course shall I take ? What 
shall I do .^ Is there any hope for such a one as I ? Did you ever 
know a soul in my condition ? (3.) It appears by the httle notice 
they take at this time of their outward troubles and afflictions ; 
which, it may be, are strong and sharp enough to overwhelm them 
at another time : but now they take little notice of them. Sin lies 
so heavy, that it makes heavy afflictions he light. 

IV. Effect. A fourth effect of the voice of Christ, is encourage- 
ment and hope, putting the soul u}:>on the use of means in order to 
the attainment of Christ and salvation ; for, it is an inviting as well 
as a convicting voice : and this is a remarkable difference betwixt 
the voice of Christ and the voice of Satan, with respect to sin. 
Satan labours to cut off all hope, and strike the soul dead under 
the despair of mercy ; as m ell knowing, that if he can cut off hope, 
all emotions and endeavours of the soul after Christ are effectually 
stopt, and at a dead stand : But how much convincing terrors soever 
there are in the voice of Christ, there is always something left be- 
hind it upon the heart to breed and support hope. And truly the 
soul amidst these sad circumstances, hath gi'eat need of some en- 
couragement ; but the Lord usually, after sharp convictions, sets 
home upon the soul such a word as' that, John vi. 37. " Him that 
'' Cometh to me I will in no wise cast out : For I came down from 
'• heaven not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent 
•' me."' Wherein Christ offers the most rational satisfaction, and 
greatest encouragement imaginable, that a poor convinced sinner, 
if he be made willing, shall certainly find a hearty welcome and 
zurceptation with Christ. For mark how he argues it on purpose 
for the satisfaction of such souls ; " I came not down from heaven 

exglaxd's duty. 183 

*• to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me,'" The 
force of the encouragement lies here, " I and my Father are one,'' 
one in will, and one in design, our wills never did, nor possibly 
can jar and clash one with another ; that would be utterly repug- 
nant to the perfect unity that is betwixt us. Now, saith he, / came 
down from heaven, not only to do mine own will,) which must ne- 
cessarily be supposed to be intently set, and strongly inchned to 
receive and save all convinced and willing sinners, this being the very 
end of my incarnation and death) hut also to do the will of my Fa- 
ther, who hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, and anointed 
me to preach good tidings to the meek, Isa. Ixi. 1. And there- 
fore no such soul can rationally doubt of a welcome reception with 
me. And because the fears and jealousies of a convinced conscience 
are great and many, and the devil sets in with them to aggravate 
them beyond the hopes of mercy ; therefore it is usual with the 
Lord, at such a time as this, to airect the convinced and trembling 
sinner to such a scripture as that, Heb. vii. 25. " Wherefore he is 
" also able to save them to the uttermost, that come unto God by 
" him," &c. Making the fulness of Christ's saving power to shine 
Avith a cheerful beam into the dark and distressed soul of a sinner, 
from such a word as that. 

V. Effect. A fifth effect or consequent of Christ*s powerful voice, 
is an attractive efficacy, or sweet alluring of the soul to Christ by 
that power and efficacy which it communicates to the soul, John vi. 
44, 45. " No man can come unto me, except the Father which 
" hath sent me draw him. Every man, therefore, that hath heard 
" and learned of the Father cometh unto me."" Mark it, this voice 
speedily puts the soul into motion after Christ ; coming follows hear- 
ing ; when once the soul hath heard the voice of God, away it 
comes from all sinful engagements in the world ; all bonds and ties 
betwixt the soul and sin break asunder and give way ; nothing can 
hold it from Christ. There is a strange restlessness in the spirit of 
man, nothing but Christ can centre and quiet it. 

VI. JEffect. And then lastly, the last effect of Christ's voice or 
call is sweet rest and consolation to the inner man. When once the 
soul is come home to Christ by the efficacy of his heavenly call or 
voice, it enters into peace, Heb. iv. 3. " We, which have believed^ 
" do enter into rest ;" not only shall, but do enter into rest. 
As the first effect of Christ's voice was terror and great trouble to 
the soul, so the last effect is peace ; it puts the soul into the most 
excellent position in the world, for comfort and joy ; it nevei* stood 
upon sucli ground before ; for this vocation stands betwixt predes- 
tination and glorification, Rom. viii. 30. " Moreover, whom ho 
" did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called, them 
" he also justified ; and whom he justified, them he also glori- 

M 3 


" fied.*" See here into what a blessed mount of yisionj the voice 
of Christ calleth the souls of sinners ! where, let the soul look 
backward or forward, from eternity, to eternity, there is nothing 
but a vision of peace before its eyes. This call of God points it 
backward to God's eternal choice, which by this very call it is 
now manifest, he made of that soul before the world was ; and it 
also points forward to that eternal glory unto which God is lead- 
ing it. These are the effects of this Almighty voice of Christ, 
and these the special instructions sealed by it upon the hearts of 

But now, this voice of Christ is not heard at all times ; but ii^ 
some special season or hour, as Christ calls it, John v. 25. " The 
" hour coraeth when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of 
*' God.*" And, elsewhere, by the apostle, it is called " the accepted 
" time, the dav of salvation,"" 2 Cor. yi. 2. And the conjunction 
of the Spu^t of Christ with the word, ordinances, or providences 
of God, but especially the w^ord, makes this blessed hour. 
The word alone, though never so excellently preached, conduces 
no more to the conviction and salvation of a sinner than the waters 
of Bethesda did, when the angel came not down to trouble them, 
John V. 4. But when the Lord pours out his Spirit with the word, 
accorchng to that promise, Prov. i. 33. " I wiH pour out my Spirit 
" upon vou, and make known my words unto you,'" then Christ 
speaks to the heart ; this great conjunction of the word and Spirit 
makes that blessed time and season of salvation the time of love, 
the time of hfe. Now the voice of Christ is heard with effect ; 
the ordinances inripregnated with convincing and converting effi- 
cacv. There was an abundant effusion of the Spirit in the first age 
of Cliristiaiiity, and then the voice of Christ was heard by multi- 
tudes of souls at cnce. There hath since been a resti'aint of tlie 
Spuit, comparatively speaking ; whereas three thousand souls were 
then converted at one sermon, possibly three thousand sermons 
have since been preached, and not one soul effectually called. 
This hath made the church like a wilderness; a land of drought; 
and so it is Uke to remain, " until the Spirit be poured upon us 
" from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field ;'" according 
to that prorai.se, Isa. xxxii. 15. And such a time we expect ; 
Lord hasten it, when the waters of the ordinances shall be healed, 
*' and every thing that liveth, which moveth whithersoever the 
" nver shall coa.e, shall live. And fishers shall stand upon it 
" from En-gedi even unto En-eglaim ; they shall be a place to 
^•^ spread forth nets ; their fish shall be according to their kind, as 
" the fish of the gi'eat sea, exceeding many,"' Ezek. xlvii. 9, 10. 
Then ministers shall no longer fish v/ith angles, catching now one, 
a.nd then another ; but shall spread forth their nets, and inclose 


whole shoals, multitudes of converts. In the mean time there are 
some signal periods, and happy seasons, wherein Christ uttereth his 
almighty voice in the word ; but that season is utterly unforeknown 
to man ; we cannot say when it will come, but are to wait for it, 
as the man did at the pool of Bethesda. Ministers must preach in 
hope, wait in hope, if at any time God will give the people repen- 
tance, 2 Tim. ii, 25. We are often mistaken in our conjectures; 
when we have made the best preparations, and find a more than or- 
dinary enlargedness of spirit, we are apt to conclude, certainly this 
is the blessed hour wherein Christ will speak to the heart as we do 
to the ear ; but we oft-times find ourselves mistaken ; yet we must 
wait in hope, and so must our people. Such a happy time may 
come, and when it doth, it will be a day for ever to be remem- 
bered ; because then the first actual appUcation of Christ will be 
made to your souls ; without which all that the Father hath done 
in election, and the Son in his meritorious redemption, had been of 
no benefit or advantage to your souls, And, therefore, you shall 
find that this work of the Spirit stands betwixt both those works, 
and makes them both effectual to our salvation, 1 Pet. i. 2. This 
is that blessed hour upon which our eternal blessedness depends ; 
eternity will be takeri up in blessing God for this hour : it will be 
celebrated for ever in your praises, in the world to come. O what 
an influence hath this hour to all eternity ! The hearing of this 
voice of Christ effectually opens the cabinet-counsels of heaven, and 
brings to light the eternal counsels of God concerning you ; 1 Thes. 
i. 4, 5, " Knowing brethren, beloved, your election of God : for 
'' our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, 
*' and in the Holy Ghost.''' This gives greater assurance of the 
eternal love of God to a man's soul, than the sweetest smile of pro- 
vidence or any oraculous voice from heaven could do. This is the 
time of life, the day of our spiritual resurrection, John v. 25. A 
greater and more glorious resurrection by far than that of your 
bodies at the last day ; so much greater, as the value of your souls 
is above your bodies. As also, because the blessedness of your cor- 
poreal resurrection depends upon this your spiritual resurrection, by 
the voice of Christ. Dreadful will the voice of Christ be at the 
resurrection of your bodies, except you first hear this vital voice of 
Christ quickening your souls on earth with spiritual hfe. To con- 
clude ; this is the great jEra, or head of account, from which you 
are to reckon and date all your spiritual sanctified mercies ; for as 
the Lord said unto the Jews, Hag. ii. 19- " From henceforth will I 
" bless you ;" so saith the Lord to you, from this hour wherein 
you have heard and obeyed the voice of Christ, will I bless ygu fqj: 
ever with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in him. 




I. Use, for Lamentation. 

This point presents us with abundant matter of lamentation and 
mourning ov£r the greatest part of those that sit under the sound 
of the gospel ; but yet as Christ speaks of the Jews, John v. 37. 
" who have not heard the voice of God at any time :"" the minis- 
terial voice of Christ they hear daily ; but this efficacious internal 
voice, which makes the ministerial voice the word of life and power, 
they have not heard. The gospel, to the most pf our hearers, 
is but an empty sound : this is a sad symptom, 2 Cor. iv. 3= " If 
" our gpspel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost : in whom the 
" god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe 
" not," &c. This hiding of the gospel is not opposed to the ex- 
ternal ministration of it, nor yet to the understanding of the true 
sense and meaning of the truths delivered by it ; but only to that 
internal efficacy which is here called the hearing of Christ's voice. 
Our people are generally well satisfied when they have heard a 
sermon, much more if they can remember something of it, though 
the Lord hath not spoken one truth they have heard home to 
their hearts. Now this is a sad case, and God grant it be not that 
very judgment threatened, Isa. vi. 9. " Hear ye indeed, but un- 
" derstand not ; and see ye indeed, but perceive not." So that 
hearing the mere voice of man, without feeling the power of God, 
is all one as if we heard not. Reflect sadly upon this you that sit 
as unconcerned under the word as the seats you sit upon. God 
speaketh once, yea twice, but man perceiveth it not. AVell, the 
eternal decrees and counsels of God are now executing upon the 
souls of men under the gospel. As many as are ordained to eter- 
nal life shall believe and feel the power of God's truths upon their 
hearts. Acts xiii. 48. And methinks it should be of a starthng con- 
sideration, when you shall see others struck to the heart, cast into 
fears and tremblings by the same word that doth not in the least 
touch your hearts. It may be you think this is but fancy and melan- 
choly ; that very thought is an artifice of Satan to blind your eyes. 
I am sure Christ made another use of it, when he told the secure 
and self-righteous Jews, Mat. xxi. 32. "John came unto you in 
" the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not ; but the 
" publicans and harlots believed him : and ye, when ye had seen 
" it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him," q. d. 
What shift did yoi; make to quiet your consciences, when you saw 
other poor sinners so humbled, and brought to faith under John's 
ministry .? It is strange there should be no reflections in your con- 
sciences upon your own state and condition ; but thus it must be, 
one shall be taken and another left ; to some it shall be the savour 
of hfe unto hfe, and to others the savour of death unto death. O 


Tvho can look over so great a part of a congregation without melt- 
ing lK)wels of compassion ! Considering that unto this day the Lord 
hath not given them eyes to see, nor ears to hear: They have 
heard multitudes of sermons; they have heard also what effects 
they have had upon other men's hearts, but none u})on theirs. O 
that such poor souls would cry to the Lord Jesus, in such language 
as that, Cant. viii. 13. " The companions hearken to thy voice, 
" cause me to hear it." Lord, let me not sit under the word any 
longer deaf to the voice of thy Spirit in it. Open and unstop the 
ears of my soul, that I may hear thy voice, and feel thy power ; 
otherwise the external ministerial voice will be ineffectual to my 
salvation ; it will be but a rattle to still and quiet my conscience for 
a little while, and a dreadful aggravation of my misery in the 

II. Use, for Information, 

ScconcUi/^ The point before us presents five other truths with 
equal clearness to our eyes. 

Infer, 1. In the first place, hence it follows, that we have this 
day before our eyes a great seal and confirmation of the truth of 
the scriptures. No miracles can seal it firmer than the events of it 
do, which are visible to all that will observe them. What you 
read in the word you may see every day fulfilled before your eyes. 
You read, 2 Cor. ii. 15, 16. " We are unto God a sweet savour 
^' of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish. 
*' To the one we are the savour of death unto death, and to the 
** other the savour of hfe unto life." And again. Acts xxviii. 24. 
it is observed, that when Paul in his lodgings had expounded and 
testified the kingdom of God to the people, and persuading them to 
believe from morning to evening ; it is observed, I say, that some 
believed the things thai were spolcen^ and some believed not. Here 
you see the different, yea, the contrary events of the preaching of the 
gospel, according to the scripture-account of it ; it quickens some, 
and kills others ; it brings some to faith, and leaves others still 
fixed in unbelief*. Compare this account with Avhat is daily lieforc 
your eyes ; do you not see souls differently influenced to contrary 
effects under the same word? One melting and tender, another 
hardened and wholly unconcerned ? Tell me, you that are apt to 
ascribe all to nature, how comes it to pass that men exercising rea- 
son alike, men that have the same inbred fears and hope of 
things eternal, who have the same passions and affections, and are 
in the self-same condition and state with others ; yet one man s 
heart shall be wounded, and go away trembling from under the 
self-same word, which affects the other no more than if it had 
been preached among the tombs to the dead that lie there ? Sny 

188 ENGLAXl/s DUTY. 

not, some have more courage than others, or clearer understand- 
ings ; for it is most certain the word hath convinced as rational and 
courageous persons as those upon whom it has had no such effect. 
I doubt not but the jailor that was cast into such tremblings and 
astonishment, Acts xvi. 30. was as stout and rugged a person as any 
to whom Paul usually preached : his very office bespake him such a 
man. Wonder not what it is that makes men fright at such a sound, 
which you hear as well as they, but it affects you not : The Lord 
speaks in that voice to their hearts, but not to yours ; and so it must 
be according to the account the scriptures gives us of the contrary 
events of the gospel upon them that hear it ; which is, I say, a fair 
and firm seal of the truth of the scriptures, and highly worth the 
due observation of all men. 

II. Infer. What dignity hath God stamped on gospel-ordinances, 
in making them the organs and medium through and by which 
Christ speaks life to dead souls. This greatly exalts the dignity of 
the gospel, and deservedly endears it to all our souls: I deny not 
but God can convey spiritual life immediately without them ; but 
tJiough he hath not tied up himself, yet he hath tied us up to a 
diligent and constant attendance upon them, and that with the 
deepest respect and reverence to them; Luke x. 16. ^' He that 
" heareth you, heareth me : and he that despiseth you, despiseth 
" me, and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me." Be- 
hold how this sin is graduated and aggravated to the height of 
sinfulness. The contempt of the gospel runs much higher than 
men are aware of We think it no great matter to neglect and 
contemn a messenger of Jesus Christ ; but that contempt flies in 
the very face and authority of Christ, who gave them their com- 
missions ; yea, in the very face of God the Father, who gave Christ 
liis commission. Christ speaks in and by his ministers, they are 
his mouth, Jer. xv. 19. Moreover, the sin strikes at our own 
souls, and we injure them as well as Christ. For the word preach- 
ed is his appointed instrument to convey spiritual life, the best of 
blessings, to our souls. Upon which account \X is called " the 
" word of life,'' Phil. ii. 16. and " the power of God to salva^ 
" tion,"" Rom. i. 16. We then militate against our life and sal- 
vation, when we despise and neglect the ordinances of God. It is 
good for men to lie under them, and continually wait on them ; 
who knows when the Spirit of God will breathe life to your souls 
through them ? What if yet you have found no such benefit from 
them .^ The very next opportunity may be the time of life, the ap- 
pointed season of your salvation. Bring your carnal relations to 
them, as. they did their sick and diseased friends, in tlie days 
when Christ was on earth, laying them in the vvay he was to pass. 
Christ will honour his ordinances ; see that you do not despise them. 

England's crxY. 189 

I think no age was ever deeper drenched in tlie guilt of this sin 
than the present age is. 

III. Infer. What a fearful judgment is the removing the gospel 
from a nation, seeing it is in and by the gospel Christ speaketh life 
to the souls of men ! 

The Spirit of God, and the word of God usually come and go 
together ; when therefore tliese are gone, no more conversions are 
to be expected ; dreadful is the case of that people, Prov. xxix. 18. 
f' Whei'e no vision is, the people perish.'' Those are direful me- 
naces, Isa. viii. 16. " Bind up the law, seal up the testimony among 
" my disciples." And Rev. ii. 5. " I will remove thy candlestick 
f' out of its place." Better the sun were taken out of heaven than 
the gospel out of the church. O England ! provoke not thy God 
to execute upon thee the judgment here threatened. Think not 
God hath made such a settlement of the gospel, that it shall never 
be remqved, however yqu use it. Your Advocate in heaven hath 
obtained it for you for a time upon trial ; if you bring forth fruit, 
well ; you and the generations to come shall be happy in it ; if not, 
this blessed tree, which hath brought forth so many mercies to you 
and yours, must and will be cut down, Luke xiii. 8. Yea, and 
even n(^ " is the ax laid at the root of the tree," Mat. iii. 13. It 
is an allusion to a carpenter that throws down the ax and saw at 
the root of the tree he intends to cut dpwn. The only ground of 
hope which remains with us this day, is, that there are some buds 
appearing, some fruits putting forth ; and if there be a blessing in 
the bud, the Lord will spare it, according to Isa. Ixv. 8. But these 
hopes are balanced with many sad symptoms, which may make 
us tremble to think what God is about tp do with such a sinful 

IV. Infer, Those that have heard Christ's voice and call in the 
gospel, have no reason to be discouraged from going to Christ in 
the way of faith ; Christ's call is a sufficient warrant to believe. 
Many poor souls arc staggered in their work of faith, by the fear of 
presumption ; an ugly objection which they know not how to clear 
themselves of: but certainly, this, above all considerations in the 
>vorld, enervates this objection of presumption. Then men pre- 
sume, Ayhen they act without a call or warrant ; but if Christ have 
spoken to your hearts by the voice of his Spirit, you have the best 
warrant in the world to go to him. What though you know not 
tlie issue "^ yet your obedience is due to his call. " By faith Abra- 
" ham, when he was called to go out into a place, which he 
" should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed ; and he went 
^' out, not knowing whither he went," Heb. xi. 8. So must you. 
It is not neces!<ary to your going to Christ; that you must be ascerr 

190 exglaxd's duty. 

tained before-hand what the event and issue thereof shall be. Your 
believinor is an act of obedience to the voice of Christ that calls 
you. "When therefore Satan shall object, what, such a wretched 
soul as thou go to Christ ! Canst thou imagine to find entertain- 
ment with him, whom thou hast so abused and deeply wronged ? 
Thy answer shall be ready : It is true, I have been a vile wretch, 
and deeply WTonged the Lord Jesus ; but Christ hath spoken ta 
my heart, he hath called me, and therefore it can be no presumption 
in me to go at his call ; but contrariwise, it would be flat rebeUion 
against his Sovereign command to refuse to believe, and come unto 
him ; yea. it would be a greater sin than any of my former sins. 
have been. Besides, had the Lord Jesus no intention of mercy (as 
thou maliciously insinuatest) towards my soul, he would never 
have spoken to my heart by conviction and persuasion, as he hath 

V. Infer. If no soul can open to Christ until it hear his powerful, 
spiritual voice, then the change made upon men by conversion is 
wholly supernatural. 

The rise of faith is from this power of Christ, not fram the nature 
of man, John i. 13. Proud nature arrogates this power and honour 
to itself, but ^nthout any ground ; for though some thing9»may be 
done by men in their natural state, which have a remote tendency ta 
conversion and spiiitual life, yet it can never open to Christ savingly, 
without a power communicated from himself. There is a total im- 
potence in nature to produce such an effect as this. The scripture 
speaks it roundly ; telling us, " The natural man cannot (of himself) 
know the things tliat are of God,"" 1 Cor. ii. 14. Cannot believe ; 
for faith is not of ouvselyes, it is the gift of God, John vi. 44. 
Cannot obey ; Roin. viii. 7. '' The carnal mind is not subject to the 
" law of God, neither indeed can be." Cannot spealc a good rcord. 
Mat. xii. 34. Cannot think a good thought, 9, Cor. iii. 5. What a 
poor impotent thing then is the natural man, who can neither believe, 
nor obey, speak a good word, nor think a good thought, by any 
natural power of his own ? 

Say not it is against reason for God to require men to do what 
tliey cannot, and then damn them for not doing it. For, (1.) 
though man hath lost his abilitv to obey, yet God hath not lost 
his right to command. For at that rate any man might shake off 
the yoke of God's sovereignty by disabling himself through his 
own sin, for the duties of obedience. (2.) Though man hath 
not sufficient power, yet there is in him an intolerable pride, 
which puffs him up with a conceit that he hath what he hath not, 
and can do what he cannot. The command is therefore of great 
use to check this pride, and convince man of his impotency. Rev. 


iii. 17. (3.) Every man can do more than he doth towards his 
own conversion. And therefore it is good for men to be urged by 
the commands to all those duties, in the use and observance 
whereof Christ ordinarily comes into the soul, by a suj)ernatural 

III. Use^Jvr Exhortation. 

This voice gives a loud call to all that are within the sound of 
the gospel, especially to such as begin to feel some power accom- 
panying the word to their hearts, diligently to hearken to the voice 
of Christ, and obey his first call without further delay ; Rev. ii. 
7. " He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear.^"' It is a dreadful 
and dangerous thing to turn away tlie ear from him that speaks 
from heaven ; Heb. xii. 25. " See that ye refuse not him that 
*' speaketh ; for if they escaped not that refused him that spake 
*' on earth, much more shall we not escape, if we turn away from 
*' him that speaks from heaven.'" See that ye refuse not. The 
caution implies the matter to be very weighty, and a neglect or re- 
fusal in this matter, to be highly dangerous. Turn not away your 
ear, be not guilty of the least aversion, slight, or neglect, in so 
great or imjx)rtant a concern. And truly this caution is no more 
than needs ; for Satan is never more busy with the souls of men 
than when Christ gives them their first call to himself 

O what a thick succession of discouragements do impetuously 
assault the soul at this time \ Art thou young ? Then he insinuates 
that it is too soon for thee to mind the serious things of religion. 
This will extinguish all thy pleasure in a dull melancholy ; thou 
mayest have time enough hereafter to mind these matters. This 
temptation Augustine confesseth kept him off many years from 
Christ. But certainly, if thou art old enough to be damned, thou 
art not too young to mind Christ and salvation. There are graves 
just of thy length, and abundance of young sprigs^ as well as old 
logs burning in heU-flames. Besides, all those godly young ones 
which turned to the Lord betimes, as Josiah, Abijah, Timothy and 
many more, will be your judges, and condemn you in tlie great 
rlay. Never any repented that they opened to Christ too soon : 
Thousands have repented that they kept him out so long. Art 
thou old i then he scares thee .with the manifold sins of thy youth, 
and rolls them as blocks in thy way to Christ. And whether 
young or old, he will be sure to present the sufferings, reproaches, 
and persecutions of godliness, to discourage thee from hearkening 
to the voice of Christ:. But what are the sufferings for Christ here, 
to those sufferings from Christ hereafter ? What are the pains of 
mortification to the pains of damnation 't Besides, all the promises 
of Christ, promises of strength, comfort, success, S:c. go along with 

192 England's duty. 

the command of Christ to believe, and shall surely be performed 
to the obedient soul. See therefore that thou refuse not his 

IV. Use, for Trial 

But you will say, all that hear this spiritual voice of Christ are 
said to live, John v. S5. Now I am much in the dark whether 
ever this vital voice of Christ liath sounded into my soul. Alas ! 
I feel little of dny thing of the spiritual hfe in my soul. I am dead 
and dark. 

Quest. By what sig^ns doth the life of Christ discover itself in the 
souls of men? 

Anszv. I answer, there dre diverse signs of spiritual life, and 
blessed is the soul that finds thenl- 

1. There is a spiritual sense and feeling flowing from, and ac- 
companying the spiritual life. I speak not only of the sense and 
feeling of comfort, for many a soul that is in Christ, feels little of 
that ; but certainly, there is a sense and feeling of the burdensome- 
ness of sin, Rom. vli. 24. And it is well that we can feel that ; 
for there are multitudes in the world that are past feeling, Isa. vi. 
9, 10. It is a sign Christ hath spoken to thy heart, if sorrows for 
sin begin to load it: 

2. Spiritual motions towards Clirist are a sign of spiritual life : at 
least, that God is about that quickening work of faith upon thy soul, 
John vi. 45. " Every man that hath heard and learned of th6 
'' Father cometh unto me."" The effectual voice of God sets the 
soul in motion towai'ds Chnst ; the Mall is moving after him ; the 
desires are panting for him. The voice of God makes the soul 
that hears it restless. As for others, their wills are fixed, there is 
no tnoving of them, John v. 40. Now consider how it is with 
thee, reader : Art thou one that art weighing and pondering the 
terms of the gospel, strugghng through discouragements and 
temptations to come to Christ upon his o^^^^ terms, lifting up thy 
heart to him for power to believe, crying with the spouse. Draw 
me, I will run after thee f This is a comfortable sign Christ hath 
spoken to thy heart. 

3. A spirit of prayer is an evidence of spiritual life, as the effect 
of Christ's voice to thy soul. As soon as ever Christ hath spoken 
effectually unto Paul's heart, the first effect that appeared in him as 
a sign of spiritual life, was prayer-breath. Acts ix. 11. Behold he 
prayeth ! God hath no still-born children. Measure thyself by this 
rule : Time was, when thou couldst sav a prayer, and wert very 
well satisfied with it, whether thou hadst anv communion with 
God in it or no; but is it so still .^ Is there not a holy restlessness 
of spirit after God, since the time that his word came home to thy 

exgland''s duty. 193 

Treart ? Surely thou canst remember when it was not with thee as 
it is now. 

4. There is a spiritual relish, a divine gust resulting from the 
spiritual life, which is also evidential of it ; Omnis vita gustu duci- 
tur. If God have spoken life to thy soul, there will be in it an 
agreeable pleasure and delight in spiritual things, Psal. Ixiii. 5. 
" My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,"" &c. Now 
tliy thoughts can feed with pleasure upon spiritual things which 
they nauseated before. 

5. Spiritual aversations as well as spmtual inclinations speak a 
spiritual life. Every creature hath an aversation to that which is 
noxious and destructive to it. Now there is nothing so destructive 
and dangerous to the spiritual life as sin ; that is the deadly poison 
which the renewed soul dreads^ Psal. xix. 13. " Keep back thy 
" servant also from presumptuous sins." It cries out as a man that 
finds himself upon the brink of a pit, or edge of a precipice : Keep 
back thy servant. Such aversations to sin, and tremblings under 
temptations tending thereunto, are a comfortable sign Christ hath 
spoken life Ito thy soul. 

Lastly^ Heavenly tendencies and propensions after God are an 
excellent sign thy soul hath heard his voice, and been quickened 
with spiritual life by it. Sanctification is a well of water springing 
up into everlasting life, John iv. S!4. If thou hast seen the beauty, 
felt the power, and heard the voice of Christ, thy soul like an ur- 
centered body, will be still propending, gravitating, and inclining 
Christward. When thou hast once heard this eiFectual call. Matt, 
xi. 28. Come 2tnto me, thy soul will be continually echoing with the 
spouse. Rev. xxii. 17. " Come Lord Jesus, the Spirit and the bride 
" say come, and let him that heareth say come."" A sweeter 
sign of thy hearing Christ"'s voice can hardly be found in a soul of 
man, than restless longing to be with Christ in the state of perfect 
freedom from sin, and full fruition of the beloved and blessed Je- 


Rev. iii. 20. 
If any man hear my voice ^ [and open the door.] 

A HE powerful voice of Christ is the key that opens the door of 
the soul to receive him. The opening of the heart to receive Christ 
is the main design aimed at in all the external and internal admini- 
strations of the gospel and Spirit. 


Tiie gospel hath two great designs and intentions. One is to 
open the heart of God to men, and to shew them the everlasting 
counsels of grace and peace which were hid in God from ages and 
generations past : that all men may now see what God hath been 
designing and contriving for their happiness in Christ before the 
world was ; Ephes. iii. 9- " To make all men see what is the fel- 
" lov/ship of the mystery which from the beginning of the world 
" hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ, 
" to the intent that now unto the principahties and powers iii 
'^ heavenly places, might be known by the church the manifold 
*' wisdom of God.*"" The next intention and aim of the gospel is, 
to set open the hearts of man to receive Jesus Christ, without which 
all the glorious discoveries of the eternal counsels and gracious con- 
trivances of God for and about us, would signify nothing to our 
real advantage. Christ's standing, knocking, and speaking by his 
Spiiit (of which we have before treated) receive their success, and 
attam their end, when the heart opens itself by faith to receive him, 
aad not till then. Hence note, 

Doct. 9. That tlie opening of the heart to receive Christy hyfaithy 
is the great design and aim of the gospel. 

This is the mark to which all the aiTows in the gospel-quiver are 
levelled; the centre into which those blessed lines are drawn. 
John XX. 31. " These things are written that you might believe, 
" and, believing, miglit have life through his name."*' All those 
precious truths that are written in the scriptures are to bring you 
to faith. The great aim of the Spirit in his illuminations, convic- 
tions, humiliations, &c. are tlie very same thing, John vi. 29. 
" This is the work of God, that you believe.'" It is not only Opn,s 
Deo dig?iii7n, a work worthy of such an author, but it is that on 
which God's eye is fixed in his workings upon us ; the end and 
aim of his work. 

Great persons have great designs. This is the glorious project 
of the great God, and every person in the Godhead is engaged 
and concerned in it. (1.) The Father hath his hand in this work, 
and such a hand as without it no heart could ever open or move in 
the least towards Christ ; John vi. 44. " No man can come unto 
" me (saith Christ) except the Father which hath sent me draw 
" him.'' None but he that raised up Christ from the dead can 
raise up a dead heart unto saving faith in him. (2.) The Son's 
hand is in this work, he is not only the object, but the author of 
our faith, 1 John v. 20. " We know that the Son of God is come, 
'' and hath given us an understanding that we may know him that 
" is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus 

E>?(iLAND^S DUTY. 195 

*' Christ, "this is the true God, and eternal Hfe.'' (3 ) And tliert 
for the Spirit^ he comes from heaven designedly and expressly to 
convince sinners of their need of Christ, and heget faith in them, 
Johri xvi. 9. So that this apjx^ars to he the great design of heaven, 
the drift and level both of the wofd and works of God. Touching 
this design of the gospel, I shall here speak, endeavouring to o}x?ri 
this great and glorious project of heaven in the ensuing properties 
of it ; which are, 

1. The greatness of it. 

2. The difficulty of it. 

3. The instruments employed in it. 

4. The scope and aim of it. And, 

Firsts Of the greatness of this design of God. We little under- 
stand what a marvellous thing is done on the earth, when the heart 
of a sinner is brought to close with Christ by faith. It would 
transport us with admiration, did we thoroughly consider it. Well 
may the apostle place it in the first rank of all the glorious and 
wonderful works of God, as he doth, 1 Tim. iii. 16/ " Great is 
*' the mystery of godhness, God was manifest in the flesh, justified 
" in the Spirit, seen of angels» preached unto the Gentiles, be- 
" lieved on in the world.'' Observe with what works of wonder 
faith is here ranked and associated. It is an astonishing work of 
God that ever God should be manifested in the flesh, that he that 
thunders in the clouds should be heard crying in a cradle ; that he 
who is over all God blessed for ever, should become a man. It is 
astonishing, that when he was taken down dead from the cross^ 
laid in the sepulchre, and the stone sealed upon it, he should rise 
on the third day from the dead by his own power : That ever the 
gospel should be preached to such a miserable and forlorn people as 
the Gentiles were, the scorn and contempt of the Jews. And no 
less marvellous is it to see the hearts of such poor creatures, glued 
so fast to idolatry, so perfectly dead in sin, to open to Christ upon 
such self-denying terms, as to let go all they had in the world for a 
blessed inheritance which they never saw. And were not this a 
marvellous w^ork of God indeed, there would never be such joy and 
triumph in heaven among the holy angels, as there is upon the 
opening of every sinner's heart to Christ, Luke xv. 7. The whole 
city of God is moved with it. Heaven rings again with the joyful 
tidings. As soon as ever the will begins to bow and open to Christ, 
the news is quickly in heaven, and all the angels of God rejoice at 
the tidings. As when a young prince is born, the conduits run 
with wine ; there is joy in every city throughout the kingdom : So 
also there is in heaven, when Christ hath gotten a new habita- 
tion in the soul of any sinner upon earth. Moreover, the great- 
ness of this design appears from the great rewards promised by the 

Vol. IV. N 

196 England's duty. 

Lord to every servant of his, who hath but the least hand to help 
it on. God would never reward the instruments so richly, if the 
success of the work were not of great value in his eyes. The minis- 
ters of Christ may be ill-rewarded by men, persecuted and re- 
proached for their labour ; but God will bountifully repay their 
pains and faithfulness, Dan. xii. 3. " They that turn many unto 
" righteousness, sliall shine as the stars, and as the brightness of 
" the firmament for ever and ever.'" All these things bespeak it a 
very great and important design ; upon which the heart of God is 
much set. 

Secondly, And then, in the next place, as it is an exceeding great 
and imjx)rtant design and work of God, so it is a very liard and 
difficult work in itself; a work whose difficulties surmount the ability 
of angels.^ It is certainly a work carried on by the mighty power 
of God, through the greatest op|X)sitions imaginable : and there- 
fore it is noted. Rev. iii. 7. tJiat it is the peculiar prerogative of 
Jesus Christ, who only hath the key of the house of David, to open 
the heart of a sinner by faith. Men think it is an easy thing to be- 
heve ; but if you consult the scriptures, you will quickly be informed 
how grossly you mistake the nature of this work. In Gal. ii. 12< 
the believing soul is said to " rise with Christ, through the faith of 
" the operation of God, who raised him from the dead." In the 
resurrection of Christ there was a glorious operation of the power 
of God indeed ! you know it astonished the world to hear of it. 
The very same power that wrought that, must also be put forth 
to work this, or else it would never be wrought. So again, Eph. 
ii. 8. " By grace are ye saved througii faith, and that not of your- 
" selves, it is the gift of God ;" not of yourselves. You are no 
more able to believe in Christ, than you were to raise him from the 
dead : no more able to come one step towards him by faith, in your 
own power, than Lazarus was able to unbind himself in the grave, 
and come forth. Yea, in Eph. i. 18, 19, 20. the work of be- 
lieving is ascribed unto the exceeding greatness of the power of 
God. Nothing but power can do it ; no other power but the Al- 
mighty power of God can do it : it exceeds the power of ministers, 
yea, of angels. Three things will evince the difficulty of this 
work, viz. 

1. The nature of it. 

2. The subject of it. 

3. The enemies of it. 

1. The nature of the work of faith, which is wliolly superna^ 
tural ; it is no less than gaining over the hearty and full consent 
of the will to take Jesus Christ with his ypke of obedience, Mat. 
xi. 29. and with his cross of sufferings. Mat. xvl. 24. And how 
£ar these will carry a man into out\s ard dangers, losses, torments, 

i:xglaxd''s duty. 197 

and sufferings, who fcan tell ? and all this upon the account of an 
unseen happiness and glory. Dearest lusts and corruptions must 
be mortified, sweetest pleasures and profits in the world abandoned 
and forsaken : all reproaches, losses, pains and penalties the devil 
and the world can lay u})on us for Christ's sake, must be em- 
braced and welcomed. And can it be supposed that any power 
beneath the almighty power of the Lord, any voice except the 
efficacious voice of Christ, can prevail with the will to give its 
firm explicit consent to such difficult and self-denying terms as 
these ? 

2. Consider the Subject; wrought upon, viz. the dead, hard, ob- 
stinate heart of a blind perverse sinner ; a heart harder by nature 
than the nether mill-stone. It is as easy to melt the most obdurate 
rock into a sweet syrup, as it is to melt the heart of a sinner into 
penitential sorrows for sin. What, to bnng a dead heart to life ! 
to make that man bitterly bewail the sins that were his pleasure 
and delight, more than ever he bewailed the death of his nearest 
and dearest relation in the world ! to make a proud heart renounce 
its own self-righteousness, Avhich it dotes upon, and take all 
shame and reproach to itself upon the account of sin ! this is won- 
derful. You would think it a strange thing to see the course of 
the tide stopped with the breath of a man ; but oli, what a mar- 
vellous thing is here, that at the preaching of the gospel by a poor 
worm, the Lord should turn the tide of the will, and thus work 
about the soul to a ready compliance with his most self-denying 
terms and proposals ! 

5. And that which farther increaseth the difficulty of believincr 
is the fierce and obstinate opposition made by the enemies of faith. 
All the powers of hell and earth, devils and men without us, are 
confederate and in league with the corruptions within us, to resist 
and hinder this work of believing. Never is the devil more busy 
than when Christ and the soul are treating about union. Oh, the 
discouragements, objections, and difficulties that are rolled into the 
way of faith ! one while it is the highest presumption ; another 
while it is impossible, and utterly too late : sometimes blasphemous 
injections, like fiery darts, are shot reeking hot out of hell into 
the soul ; other while the invincible difficulties of religion arc ob- 
jected, all losses, torments, &c. opposed unto this work. The 
tempter casts himself into a thousand shapes to hinder the soul's 
passage out of nature unto Christ ; sometimes objecting the great- 
ness of sin, and sometimes the lapse and loss of the proper season 
and opportunity of mercy, together wdth the want of due qual'ifU 
cations^ to come to Christ. Thus, and many other ways, he en- 
deavours to rap off the fingers of faith from taking hold of Christ ; 


198 England's duty. 

And as every devil in hell opposes this work, so every carnal in- 
terest we have in the world, is an enemy to faith. We have 
enemies enough ^nthin us, as well as ^\ithout us, both conspiring 
together to obstruct this work : all things increase the difficulty of 

Thirdly^ We are next to speak of the instruments employed in 
this great design ; and these are, 

1. Principal ; or, 

2. Subordinate. 

1. The pri7icijpal instrument^ by whose efficacy the heart is open- 
ed, is the Spirit of God, without whom it is impossible the design 
should ever prosper : neitlier ordinances, providences, or mini- 
sters can successfully manage it without him. If the Lord will 
make use of anv man for the conversion and salvation of another's 
soul, he mav rejoice in it ; but -withal must say, as Peter to the 
Jews, Acts iii. 12, " Why look ve so eamestlv on us, as though by 
•' our ovm power or holiness we had made this man to walk .'-'''' So 
may the ablest minister in the world say, when God blesses his 
labours to the conversion of any soul ; look not upon me as though 
by the strength of my reason, or power of my gifts, I had opened 
thy soul to Christ : tliis is the work of God's Spirit, in whose 
hand I am an instrument, 1 Cor. iii. 7. " He that plants is nothing, 
" and he that waters is nothing."" Nothing in himself; the very 
first stroke of conviction, which is introductive to the whole work 
of conversion, is justly ascribed to the Spirit; John xvi. 9- " The 
" Spirit^ Avhen he cometh, shall convince the world of sin." He 
is the Lord of all sanctifying and gracious influences. Ordinances 
are but as the sails of a ship ; ministers as the seamen that manage 
those sails : the anchor may be weighed, the sails spread, but when 
all this is done, there is no sailing till a gale come. We preach 
and prav, and vou hear ; but there is no motion Christ-ward, until 
the Spirit of God (compared to the wind, John iii. 8.) blow upon 
them. Until he illuminates the imderstanding with divine light, 
and bows the vs-iU by an almighty power, there can be no spiritual 
motion heaven-ward. Now the Spirit of the Lord is a free agent, 
not tied to means, time or instruments ; but as at a certain time 
an angel came down upon the waters of Bethesda, and put a heal- 
ing virtue into them, so it is here : therefore never come to any 
gospel-ordinance, ^nthout an eye to the Spiiit, on wliom all their 
blessing and efficacy depend. O lift up your hearts for his 
blessing upon the means, as ever you expect saving benefits from 

2. The subordinate instrumental means by which this blessed 
design is effectually managed in the world, is the gospel-ministry, 
1 Cor. iii. 5. " Who then is Paul, and who then is ApoUos, but 

Exr. land's dvty. 19f> 

*^ ministers by whom ye believed ?'^ This is the ordinary stated me- 
thod of begetting faith ; and though God liath not tied himself to 
this or that minister, time, or place, yet he hath tied us to a dili- 
gent and constant attendance upon them; Rom. x. 14. " How 
" then shall they call on him in whom they have not beheved? 
<* and how shall they believe in him of whom they liave not heard ? 
" and how shall they hear w ithout a preacher ?'" I confess, it 
seems a very unlikely means, a weak and foolish method, accord- 
ing to the dictate of corrupt human wisdom ; yet by the foolishness 
of preaching, it pleases God to save them that believe, 1 Cor. i. 
20. That which the wisdom of men derides, God makes efFcctual 
unto salvation. And oh, how many are there that will have cause 
to bless God to all eternity, for gifting and sending such ministers 
among them, whose doctrine the Lord blessed unto the conversion 
of their souls ! 

Fourthltj, In the next place let us consider the scope and inten- 
tion of this great design wherein these instruments are employed : 
there are no great designs in the world but aim at some end to be 
accomplished by them. Now there are two things in the eye and 
intention of this design, which are worthy of it. 

1. The Ejealtatlon of his ok'ii grace, and the riches of his good- 
ness before angels and men to all eternity. The name of God is 
never made so glorious in this world, as it is by bringing over the 
hearts of men and women to believe. God reaps more glory from 
the faith of a poor creature that comes to Christ empty and weary, 
than he doth from the other works of his hands. He hath not the 
like glory from the sun, moon, and stars, as from such poor crea- 
tures whose hearts open to Jesus Christ under the gospel-call. 
Thus they are fitted to manifest the glory of his grace, Eph. i. 5, 
6. " To the praise of the glory of his grace,'' &c. God ^v-ill have 
liis rich and glorious grace praised and admired by angels and men 
for evermore ; and every converted soul is as it were a monument 
erected unto the praise of his grace. Heaven will ring with praises 
for ever, that the great God would humble himself to come irito 
the heart of a vile sinner, and dwell and walk therein, as the ex- 
pression is, 2 Cor. vi, 16. O this is admirable, that the high and 
lofty One, who inhabits eternity, will take up his dwelling-place in 
a poor contrite sinner, that trembles at his word, Isa. Ivii. 15. 

2. The eternal salvation and blessedness of the soul so opened to 
Christ is also the design and aim of this work of opening the heart. 
Luke xix. 9. When the soul of Zaccheus was opened by faitli, 
" This day, saith Christ, is salvation come to thy house.'' You do 
not only believe to the glory of God, but to the salvation of your 
own souls, Heb. x. 39. The opening of our hearts to Christ now, 
is in ordci' to the opening of heaven to us hereafter. This is both 


200 England's duty. 

the Ji?iis operis et operantis^ the end of the work, and intention of 
the worker. 1 Cor. i. 21. " It pleased God by the fooHshness of 
" preaching, to save them that do believe."" It presently puts 
them into a state of salvation, though they be not yet actually 
and completely saved. There is a necessary connection betwixt 
conversion and salvation ; though betwixt conversion and complete 
salvation, there may be many groaning hours, sick and sad days and 
nights ; but full deliverance from sin and misery is secured to the 
soul in the work of faith, Col. i. 27. *' Christ in you is the hope of 
« glory." 

Thus you see this great and glorious design projected and mana- 
ged ; and this is the very scope, aim, and intention of the whole 
gospel, even the opening the hearts of sinners unto Christ by faith, 
will evidently appear by considering the several parts of the gospel 
which have a direct aspect upon this design, and the declared end 
of the Spirit, who is sent forth to make it effectual to this very end 
and purpose. 

1. To this the commands of the gospel look ; it lies full in the 
eye of the preceptive part of the gospel, 1 John iii. 23. " And this 
" is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his 
" Son Jesus Christ."' And it is a very great encouragement (if 
rightly considered) that faith is constituted a duty by a plain gospel- 
precept ; for this cuts off that vain pretence and plea of presump- 
tion ; What ! such a vile wretch as thou (saith Satan) presume to 
believe in Christ t- But this cuts off the plea ; here is a command 
from the highest sovereignty, the contempt whereof men shall an- 
swer at their utmost peril. 

2. This also is the declared end and scope of the go?>^Q\ promises 
and thrcatenmgs^ whereby the souls of sinners are assaulted on both 
sides. As iov promises^ how are all the sacred pages of the Bible 
adorned with them as the firmament with radiant stars ! Amongst 
which that in the text seems to excel in glory. '^ If any man open 
" to me, I will come in to him."" Like unto which is that, John 
vi. 35, 37. " I am the bread of life ; he that cometh to me shall 
" never hunger ; and he that believeth in me shall never thirst ; 
" him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."" Such rich and 
excellent encouragements to faith had never been put into the pro- 
mises^ but for faith's sake. And then for go^^oi-threatemngs^ 
though they have a dreadful sound, yet they have a gracious design. 
What a terrible thunder-clap is that, John iii. 39. " He that be- 
'' lievcth not the Son, shall not see life ; but the wrath of God 
" abideth on him."" To wbieh another threatening echoes with a 
like ten ible voice, Mark xvi. 16. " He that believeth not shall be 
^' damiied."" There be dreadful things, you see, threatened in 
the gospel against unbelievers ; but what is the intention of those 

excland's duty. sol 

thrcatenin^s but to scare men out of tlieir unbelief and carnal secu- 
rity unto Christ ? And thus both the promises and the threatenings, 
though of far different natures, conspire and meet in the self-same 
design, even to open the heart to Christ by faith, 

S. For the sake of this design all gof>p(^] -ordinances and officei^s are 
instituted and appointed, maintained and continued in the world 
unto this day. Why did Christ at his triumphant ascension shed 
forth such variety of gifts upon men, but that God might dwell 
among them ? Psal. Ixviii. 18. " Thou hast ascended on high, thou 
" hast led captivity captive ; thou hast received gifts for men ; yea, 
" for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among 
them." The whole frame of gospel-ordinances is declaredly set up 
for this purpose to bring men to Christ, and build them up in Christ, 
Eph. iv. 1^. 

4. All the scripture-records of converted sinners, whose hearts 
God hath in any age opened, were made for this very purpose to 
encourage other souls by their examples to believe in, or open unto 
Christ as they did. For this purpose that famous and memora- 
ble conversion of Paul was graciously recorded, 1 Tim. i. 16. 
" Howbeit, for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus 
" Christ might shew forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them 
*' that should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting."" Never 
was any man's heart bolted and made fast with stronger preju- 
dices against Christ than this man's was ; yet the Spirit of the Lord 
opened it. O how flexible was his will I ^' Lord, what wilt thou 
^' have me to do.'^" This gives great encouragement to other sin- 
ners to come in to Christ as he did ; and therefore when men shall 
see other sinners receiving Christ, and themselves continue still ob- 
stinate and unbelieving, those very examples which God hath set 
before their eyes put a dreadful aggravation upon their unbelief? 
as you may see. Mat. xxi. 32. " John came unto you in the way of 
" righteousness, and ye believed him not ; but the publicans and 
" harlots believed him ; and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not 
" afterward, that you might believe him." q. d. Though you saw 
publicans^ reputed the worst of men, and harlots the worst oi women, 
convinced, humbled, and brought unto faith ; yet these sights no 
way affected your souls ; you never had one such reflection as this, 
Lord ! have not I as much need to fly from the wrath to come, and 
mind the salvation of my own soul as these ? Avill it not be a dreadful 
aggravation of my misery, that such as these should obtain Christ 
and heaven, and I be shut out ? 

5. To conclude : The opening of the heart to Christ is the very 
end and errand of the Spirit of God ^ upon whose concurrence and 
blessing the success of all ordinances depends ; upon this design ho 
is sent expressly from heaven to open the understanding and con- 

N 4 

S03 jingland's duty. 

sciences of sinners by conviction, John xvi. 9. For it is not in tlie 
power of the word alone tp produce this effect ; thousands of ex- 
cellent sermons may be preaclied, and not one heart opened by 
conviction. He is expressly set to this end and purpose. What 
remains is the application of this point. 

I. Use, for Injwrmation. 

Inf. 1. If the opening of the heart to Christ be the great and di- 
rect intention and end of the gospel, How are tlieij deceived thai 
bless themselves in the attainment of some lesser end and intentions of 
the gospel, whilst the great end (the effectual persuasion of the will 
to Christ) 19 not at all effected upon them. There are some collateral 
strokes, some by-effects as I may call them, which the gospel hath 
upon men. It would pity a wise considerate man to see how poor 
souls hug themselves with a conceited happiness in these lesser things, 
whilst they still stick fast in the state of unregeneracy. I would 
fain undeceive such mistaken wretches who bow down under the 
power of self-deceit, and that in so great and important a point, in 
which their eternal salvation is concerned. There be two things 
which are exceeding apt to deceive men in this matter ; viz. 
1. Partial convictions on the understanding. 
^. Transient motions upon the affections. 

In these two things multitudes deceive themselves, as if the whole 
design of the gospel were accomplished upon them therein. (1.) 
Partial convictions upon the understanding ; light and knowledge 
breaking into the mind, producing orthodoxy of judgment ; this 
seems to be the effectual opening of the understanding to Christ, 
though alas ! to this day they never saw sin in its vileness, much 
less their own special sin ; nor Christ in his suitableness and neces- 
sity. People that live under the gospel can hardly avoid the im- 
provement of their understandings by the light that shines upon 
them : knowledge grows, parts thrive ; these enable them to dis- 
course and defend the points of religion excellently. Yea, it may 
be from the strength of these gifts, they can pray with commend- 
able variety and largeness of expression : these things beget applause 
from men, and confidence in yourselves, whilst all the while no 
saving influences are shed down to quicken, change, and spiritualize 
the heart. (2.) There ai-e transient motions and touches of the 
gospel upon the affections, which give some men their melting pangs 
and moods now and then under the word, though it never settles 
into a spiritual frame, an habitual |ieavenliness of tem}>er ; of such 
the apostle speaks, Heb. vi. 5. And this is the more dangerous, be- 
cause they BOW seejn to have attained all that is essential to religion, 
or necessary to salvation. For when unto the light of their under- 
fctandings there shall be added melting affections, a man now seems 

England's duty, 203 

to l)e complete in all that the gospel requires to the being and con- 
stitution of a Christian, as a great divine speaks * : for thus poor 
souls are apt to reason ; If I had only light in my mind, and never 
found any meltings of my affections, I might suspect myself justly 
to be an hypocrite ; but there are times when my aff'ectionfty as well 
as my understanding, seem to feel the power of the gospel. And 
yet these things may l^ where the heart never effectually opens to 
Christ ; all this may be but a morning dew, an early cloud, that 
vanisheth away ; as is plain in John's hearers, John v. 35. and in 
Paul's hearers. Gal. i. 14, 15. For except the convictions upon 
tlie understanding |je particular and effectual, and the motions 
upon the affections settled to a heavenly habit and temper, the man 
is but where he was before as to the real state and condition of his 
soul. Were thy understanding so convinced of the evil nature and 
dreadful consequences of sin, and thy affections and will thereupon 
so effectually determined to choose and embrace the Lord Jesus, 
upon a considerate and thorough examination of his own terms 
and articles propounded in the gospel; then thou mightest con- 
chide tlie great design of it were accomplished upon thy soul: but 
to rest in general convictions and transient affections without this is 
but to mock and deceive thy own soul. Alas ! this comes not 
home to the main end of the gospel. 

Inf. 2. Leai-n Jh-om hence the i^odi^ous stubbornness and hard^ 
ness of' the hearts of men living daily under the gospel, which still 
resist it,, though it bear upon them in part ofit^ 

You have heard how all its commands, promises, threatenings, and 
examples, bear directly and jointly upon the hearts of sinners to get 
open the will to Christ ; and yet how few are there, comparatively, 
that obey and answer this great design of it ! all these are like hea- 
ven's great artillery planted against the unbelief and stubbornness 
of the hearts of men, to batter down their carnal reasonings, over- 
throw their vain hopes, and open a fair passage for Christ into their 
souls. 2 Cor, X. 4, 5. " For the weapons of our warfare are not 
** carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong- 
" holds, casting down imaginations, and every thing that exalts it- 
'* self against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity 
" every thought to the obedience of Christ.'' If a mount be raised, 
and many cannon planted thereon, and all played against the wall 
of a ^ort, thousands of shots made, and yet no breach, not one 
stone moved out of its place, you will say, that is a strong wall in- 
deed. Beloved, God hath, as I may say, raised a mount in the 
gospel, planted the great ordnance of heaven upon it, discharged 
many dreadful vollies of threatenings ; nay, he hath as it were, 

* Mr. A. Burgess in his Spiritual Refining. 

204 exglaxd's duty. 

come under the wails of the unbelieving soul, with terms of grace 
and mercy, and 3'^et no opening ; O prodigious obstinacy ! " We 
" have piped unto you, but ye have not danced : we have mourn-* 
" ed unto you, but ye have not lamented,'' Matth. xi. 1 7. Nei- 
ther the sweet airs of gospel-grace, nor the dreadful thunders of 
the law, make any impression upon you. O what an obdurate 
rock is the heart by nature ! Certainly, every Christian may see 
enough in others, and find enough in himself, without the help 
of other books to confute the Arminian doctrine, which so extols 
and flatters the nature of man. It is as possible to make an im- 
pression with your finger upon a wall of brass, as for the best ser- 
mon in the world, in its ovm strength, to make an effectual saving 
impression upon a sinner's will. 

I7ifer. 3. It is the great design of the gospel, to open the hearts of 
men to Christ ? Then wonder not that it meets with such strong and 
Jierce opposition from Satan, wherever it is sincerely and powerfully 
preached. As for general and formal preaching, which comes nofi 
to the quick, the devil is not so much concerned about it, he 
knows it will do him no great damage ; nay, it fastens and secures 
his interests in the souls of men. But wherever the gospel comes 
with Spirit and power, laying the axe to the root, shewing men the 
vanity of their ungrounded hopes, pressing the necessity of re- 
generation and faith, this preaching quickly gives an alarm to hell, 
and raises all manner of opposition against it. ' What is it to 
' preach the gospel, (saith Luther) but to drive the rage and fury 
' of the whole world upon us T Satan is the god of this world, all 
men by nature are his born subjects : no prince on earth is more 
jealous of the revolt of his subjects than he ; and it is time for him 
to bestir himself, when the gospel comes to dethrone him, as it 
doth in the faithlul preaching of it, John xii. 81. " Now is the 
*' judgment of this world, now shall the prince of this world be 
" cast out." Now he falls as lightning from heaven, Luke x. 18. 
Now sinners are made sensible of the cruel tyranny and bondage of 
Satan's government, and of the glorious liberty offered to them by 
Jesus Christ. Satan suspecting the issue of these things, bestiri 
himself to purpose. O what showers of calumnies, and storms of 
persecution doth he pour upon the names and persons of Christ's 
faithful ambassadors ! Certainly, he owes Christ's ministers a spite, 
and they shall know and feel it, if ever he get them within the 
compass of his chain. But let this discourage none employed in 
this glorious design ; the Lord is with them to protect their persons 
and reward their diligence. 

Infer. 4. If the openivg cf the heart he the main design of the 
gospel, Christ and faith ought to he the principal subjects that 
ministers should insist on among their people. ■ 

England's dety. 203 

There arc many other useful doctrines which may, and ought 
to be jopened and pressed in their time and place. Moral duties, 
Sfc. have their excellencies; but Christ and JaiiJt are the great 
things we are to preach. Let men be once brought to Christ, and 
the rest will follow; but, to begin and end with moraliti/^ will 
never make men gospel-Christians. Grace teaches morality. Tit. 
ii. 11. but morality without grace saves no man. I doubt not but 
it has been a grand artifice of the devil, to confound grace with 
morality, and make men believe that nothing is more required 
unto men's salvation, but a civil sober conversaticm in the world, and 
so lay by the principal part of the gospel, which opens and presses 
the necessity of regeneration, repentance, and faith in the blood 
of Christ. Such preaching as this answers not the end and de- 
sign of Christ in the conversion of souls ; such kind of preaching 
disturbs not the consciences of men : the Lord help all his aw- 
hassadors to mind the example and charge of their Redeemer, and 
laying aside all carnal interest, to apply themselves faithfully unto 
the souls and consciences of their hearers, " not as men-pleasers, 
^' but as the servants of Christ." 

II. Use, of Conviction. 

In the next place, this doctrine is of excellent use to convince 
men of the dreadful damning nature of the sin of unbelief: a sin 
which defeats and frustrates the main design of the blessed gospel 
of Christ on the unbeliever's soul. 

This is the sin that keeps the heart fast shut against him. As 
faith is the radical grace, so unbelief is the radical sin. What shall 
I say of it .? It is the ti^aiior's gate, through which those souls pass 
that are to perish for ever. The gospel can do you no good, the 
blood of Christ can yield no saving benefit, whilst your souls remain 
under the dominion and power of this sin. When we consider the 
mighty arguments of the gospel, we may wonder that all that hear 
them are not immediately persuaded to Christ by them. And, on 
the other side, when we consider the mighty power of unbelief, 
how strongly it holds the soul in bondage to sin ; we may admire 
that any soul is brought over to Christ by the gospel. It was not 
without cause that the apostle puts faith in Christ among the great 
mysteries and wonders of the gospel, 1 Tim. iii. 16. Now the in- 
trinsic evil and fearful consequences of this sin of unbelief ^vill ap- 
pear in these following particulars : 

1. Unbelief fixes the guilt of all other sins on the person of the 
unbeliever; it binds them all fast upon his soul, John viii. 24. 
>< For if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins."' 
Die in thv sins man.? it were better for thee to die any other death. 


What more terrible can God threaten, or man feel ? This is the 
sin that makes " the death of Christ of none effect to us,*' Gal. v, 
4. There is indeed a sovereign virtue in the blood of Christ to 
pardon sin, but thy soul cannot have the benefit of it, while it re- 
mains under the dominion of this sin. As it was said of the 
miraculous w^orks of Christ, " He could do no mighty works there 
" because of their unbelief,'' Matth. xiii. 58. so none of his spiritual 
works, no ordinances can do thy soul good, until the Lord break 
the power of this sin ; Heb. iv. 2. " The word preached did not 
*' profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.'* 
If a man were dangerously sick, or wounded, the richest cordials 
and most sovereign pla'isters in the world can never recover him, 
unless received and applied. Unbelief spills the most sovereign 
cordials of the gospel as water u|x>n the ground. The greatest sins 
that ever thou committedst might be pardoned, did not this sin lie 
in the way ; were this gone, all the rest were gone too : but whilst 
unbelief remains, they also remain upon thee. 

2. Of all the sins that are upon the souls of men, this is the most 
difficult sin to be removed and cured : other sins lie more open ta 
con^^ction, but tliis hath the most specious pretences to countenance 
and defend it. Men commit this sin out of a fear of sin. They 
wdll not believe, lest they should presume : they dare not believe, 
because they are not qualified. The strength of other sins meets in 
this sin of unbelief: it is the strongest fort wherein Satan trusteth. 
Take an adulterer, or a profane swearer, and you have a fair open 
way to convince him of liis sin ; shew him the command he hath 
violated, and he hath nothing to say in his own defence ; but the 
unbeliever hath a thousand plausible defences. 

3. This is the great damning sin of the world. I do not say but 
all other sins deserve damnation, (for the wages of sin is death) but 
this is the sin in the virtue whereof other sins damn and ruin the 
soul. This is the condemnationy John iii. 19- And as it is a 
damning sin, so it is a sin which damns with aggravated damnation, 
S Thess. i. 8. O then, let us mourn over, and tremble at this 
dreadful sin which opposes and so often frustrates the great design 
and main end of the whole gospel. 

III. Use, for Exhortation. 

Is it the main scope of the gospel to bring men to Christ by 
faith .? then he persuaded heartily to comply with this great design of 
the Father, Son, and Spii'it, ministers, ordinances, and providences, 
in opening your hearts to receive Christ this day by faith unfeigned. 

And, O that I could suitably press this great point, which falls 
in so directly with the main stream and scope of the whole gospel : 
and O that whilst I am pressing it, you would lift up a hearty cry 

i:XtiLAKD\s DUTY. 207 

to heaven, ' Lord give me faith, whatever else thou deny me ; 
' open my heart to Christ under the gospel-calls.' I do not only 
press you to a general and common assent to the truths of the gos- 
pel, * that Christ is come in the flesh, and laid down his hfe for 
' sinners ;' but unto ' a hearty evangelical consent to receive him 
' upon gospel-terms ; to close with him in all his offices, .sub-* 
' jecting heart and life unto his authority, living entirely upon liim 
' for righteousness, and to him by holiness.' The value of such a 
faith as this is above all estimation. For, (1.) this is the grace 
which God hath dignified and crowned with glory and honour 
above all its fellow-graces. Its singular praises and encomiums are 
in all the scriptures. This is called precious faiths 9, Pet. i. 1. 
Soul-searchin^^ faith^ Jam. ii. 5. That is a miserable poor soul 
indeed that is destitute of it, whatever the largesses of providence 
have been to him. And he is truly rich to whom God hath given 
faith, whatever he hath denied him of the comforts of this life. 
This Christ calls the work of God, John vi, 22. " This is the work 
*' of God, that you believe.'" AVhy so, are all other things that 
your eyes behold ; they are the works of God ; the earth, the 
.sea, the sun, moon, and stars, they are his handy- work. True, 
they are so ; but this is the work^ tlie most eminent, glorious, 
and admirable work of God, sine pai'e^ excelling all his other 
works which your eyes behold. And, (2.) that which exalts 
and dignifies it not only above all the works of God's hands, but 
even above its fellow-graces, the work of his Spirit, is that high 
office unto which it is appointed in the justification of a sinner. 
God hath singled out this grace from among all the other graces, 
to be the instrument of receiving and applying the righteousness of 
Christ for the justification of a guilty soul, Rom. v. 1. You are 
never said to be justified by love, hope, or desire, but by faith. 
It is true, all other graces are supposed in the person justified ; but 
none apprehends and applies the righteousness of Christ for justifi- 
cation, but this only. And the justifying act of faith being a re- 
ceiving act, the glory of God is therein secured ; thei^efare it is of 
faith tltat it might be by grace. (3.) The grace of faith, which I 
am recommending to you this day, is not only the instrument of 
your justification, but it is also the bond of your union with Christ, 
Eph. iii. 17. " That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith" 
It is the uniting grace, the marriage-knot ; it is that which gives in- 
terest in, and title to the person and benefits of Christ ; the great 
thing upon which the eyes of all the awakened world are intently 
and solicitously fixed. Whatever apprehensions you have of an 
interest in Christ, and whatever his benefits be worth in your eyes, 
neither himself nor they can ever be obtained without faith. O 
brethren, there is a day coming when they that now slight and 

1^03 EXGLAXj/s DUTY. 

neojlcct this interest and concern of their soulsj would gladly part 
with ten thousand worlds for a good title to Christ, could it be pur- 
chased therewith : but it is faith, and notliing without faith, that 
intitles you to Christ, and to his benefits. (4.) That which should 
yet more endear this grace of faith to you is this, that it is the hand 
which receives your pardon from the hand of Christ, the messen- 
ger that brings a sealed pardon to a trembling sinner. Acts x. 43. 
*' And by him all that believe are justified from all things, frorA 
" which they could not be justified by the law of Moses."" Cleared 
of all those sins from which the law could never clear them, nor 
any repentance, restitution, nor obedience of their own without 
faith. O what a welcome messenger is faith, and what joyful 
tidings doth it bring ! you would say so if ever you had felt the 
efficacy of the law upon your consciences ; if ever you had lain, as 
some sinners have, with a cold sweating horror upon your panting 
bosoms, under the apprehensions of the wrath of God. This fruit 
of faith is rather to be admired than expressed, Psal. xxxii. 1. (5.) 
Faith is not only the messenger that brings you a pardon from 
heaven ; but it is, as I may say, that heavenly herald that publishes 
peace in the soul of a sinner. O peace^ how sweet a word art thou ! 
how welcome to a poor condemned sinner ! " Beautiful upon the 
" mountains are the feet of them that publish peace.*" Now it is faith 
that brings this blessed news and publishes it in the soul, without 
which all the publishers of peace without us, can administer but little 
support, Rom. v. 1. Faith brings the soul out of the storms and 
tempests with which it was tossed, nUo a sweet rest and calm, Heb, 
iv. 3. " We which have believed do enter into rest." Is the 
quiet harbour welcome to poor weather-beaten seamen, after they 
have past furious storms and many fears upon the raging sea ? O 
how welcome then must peace be to that soul that hath been tossed 
upon the tempestuous ocean of its own fears and terrors, bloMn up 
and incenficd by the terrible blasts of the law and conscience ? It 
was a comfortable sight to Noah and his family, to see an olive-leaf' 
in the mouth of the dove, by which they knew the waters were 
abated. But, oh ! what is it to hear such a voice as this from the 
mouth of faith. Fury is not in 7ne, saith the Lord ; his anger is 
turned away, and he comforteth thee ? Fear not thou, poor tem- 
pestuatcd soul, the God of peace is thy God. (6.) Faith doth not 
only bring the tempestuous soul into a calm, but it is the grace also 
which opens to the soul a door of access into the gracious presence 
of God ; without it there is no coming to him acceptably ; Heb, 
xi. 6. " He that cometh unto God must believe." This liberty 
and access to God is indeed the purchase of the blood of Christ ; 
he procured it at a great sum : but faith is the grace that brings 
the soul actually into the presence of God, and there helps it to 

EXGLAXu's DUTT. 209 

open and ease its griefs, and, with liberty of speech, to discover 
all its grievances, fears, and burdens to the Lord. And truly, 
this world were not worth the living in without such a bles- 
sed vent to our troubles as this is. The believer only hath 
gotten the key that opens the door of access unto God ; if he 
have any sins, wants, burdens, afflictions, temptations, &c. here 
he can ease Ciiem. Ah ! Christian, the time may come when 
thy heart may be filled with sorrows to the brim, and there 
may not be found a person of thy acquaintance in all the world 
to whom thou canst turn to ease thy sorrows, or give vent to 
thy troubles. Now, blessed be God for faith; O the ease one 
act of faith gives a troubled soul, which is like bottles full of new 
wine, and must either vent or break ! Well may it be said, The 
just shall live by faith : how can we imagine we should hve 
without it .^ Certainly our afflictions and temptations would 
swallow us up, were it not for the sweet assiduous reliefs that 
come in by faith. (7.) And yet farther to enflame your desires 
after faith, this is the grace that gives you the soul-reviving sights 
of the invisible world, without which this world would be a 
dungeon to us, Heb. xi. 1. It is not only the substance of things 
hoped for, but the evidence of things not seen. O it is a pre- 
cious eye ! how transporting are those visions of faith ! 1 Pet. i. 8. 
" Whom having not seen, we love; whom though now we see 
" him not, yet, l3elieving, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full 
" of glory." We that preach of heaven to you, cannot shew you 
the glorious person of Christ there, nor the thrones, crowns, and 
palms that are above ; but faith can make these things visible. 
That is an eye that can penetrate the clouds, and shew you to 
him that is invisible, Heb. xi. 27. (8.) The grace of faith, which 
I am recommending to you this day, is instrumentally the livelihood 
of your souls in this world, Hab. ii. 4. " The just shall live by his 
" faith.'"* When God gives a soul faith, he gives it him for a 
livelihood, and expects he should keep house upon it while he lives 
in this world ; and God reckons he hath made plentiful provision 
for your souls, when he hath given them faith, and furnished out 
such variety of precious promises for your faith to feed upon. Abra- 
ham, Moses, David, and all the saints, kept house upon no other 
provision but what faith brought in ; and at what a high and ex- 
cellent rate did they live "^ Here man eateth angels food. It is a 
storehouse of provision ; it is a shop of cordials ; " I had fainted 
" unless I had beUeved,'' Psal xxvii. 13. A believer lives the high- 
est life of all men upon earth ; and as the believer's soul is daily fed 
by faith, so all the other graces in his soul are maintained and daily 
supported by the provision faith brings them in. The other graces 
(as one saith) like the young birds in the nest, live u}X)n that provi- 

sion this grace of faith gathers for them, and puts into their mouths. 
Take away faith, and you quickly starve the soul of a Christian. 
Will not all this engage your desires after faith ? Why then (9.) 
consider this is the grace whereby we die safely as well as live com- 
fortably : as you cannot live comfortably without it in this world, 
so neither can you die safely or comfortably without it when you 
go out of this world ; Heb. xi. 13. '^ These all died in faith, not 
" ha\ing received the promises ; but having seen them afar off, 
" and were persuaded of them, and embraced them," Mark here, 
how these excellent persons died ; they all died embracing the pro- 
mises in the arms of their faith. An allusion to two dear friends, 
hugging one another at their parting. O precious promises, saith 
the dying believer ; of what unspeakable use and benefit have you 
been to me all the days of my pilgrimage ! You are they to whom 
I was w^ont to turn in all my troubles and distresses ; but I am now 
going into the life of immediate vision ; farewell blessed promises, 
scriptures, ordinances, and communion of imperfect saints ; I shall 
walk no more by faith, but by sight. (10.) In a word, and that 
a great word too, this is the grace that saves you, Epli. ii. 8. 
" By grace are you saved through faith.'"' Your salvation is the 
fruit of free-grace ; but grace itself will not save you in any other 
method but that of believing. The grace of God runs down 
through the channel of faith ; faith is the grace that espouses your 
soul to Christ here, and accompanies it every step of the way until 
it comes to its full enjoyment in heaven, and then is swallowed 
up in vision. It emhai'ks you wv\\\ Christ, and pilots you through 
the dangerous seas, till you drop anchor in the haven of ever- 
lasting rest and safety ; where you receive the end of your faith, 
the salvation of your souls. O then, in consideration of the 
incomparable worth and absolute necessity of this precious grace, 
make it your great study, make it your constant cry to heaven, 
night and day. Lord give me a believing heart, an opening heart 
to Jesus Christ. If you fail of this, you come short of the great 
end and design of the whole gospel, which is to bring you to 
faith, and by faith to heaven. 

fiXGLANl/s DUtT. Sn 


ReveI. iii. SO. 

wo- if any man hear my voice, and open the door, [I will comi 

in to him, and sup with him.^ 

J.N the former sermons, we have considered Christ^s suit for a 
sinner^s heart : we now come to the powerful arguments and mo* 
tives used by him to obtain his suit, which are two : 

1. Union, " I will come in to him, and sup with him.'* 

2. Communion, " and he with me." 

These are strong and mighty arguments and encouragements^ 
able, one would think, to open any heart in the world to Christ, 
and yet considering how fast the hearts of men are glued to their 
lusts, fixed and riveted in their sins, until the Spirit come upon 
them with powerful convictions ; and when under conviction, what 
mighty discouragements they labour under from their former sin- 
fulness and present unworthiness, all this is little enough to bring 
them to faith ; nay, in itself titterly insufficient, without the al- 
mighty power second and set them home with effect on the heart ; 
for it is not mere moral suasion will do the work. It is true, Christ 
will not make a forcible entrance into the soul, he will come in 
by the consent of the will ; but the will consents not, until it feels 
the power of God ujx)n it, Psal. ex. 3. Almighty power opens 
the heart and determines the will, but still in a way congruous to 
the nature of the will ; Hos. xi. 4. " I drew them with the cords 
" of a man, with the bands of love." When, under the influence 
of this power, the soul opens unto Christ, he will come in, take 
that soul for his everlasting habitation, refresh and feast it with the 
sweetest consolations and privileges purchased by his bloody whence 
the tenth observation is, 

Doct. 10. That Christ will certainly come into the soul that opens 
to him ; and will not come empty-Jutnded, but will bring rich 
entertainment with him. I will come in to him, and sup with 

When the prodigal (the emblem of a convert) returned to his 
father, Luke xv. 22. his father not only received, but adorned and 
feasted him. In opening this point, I shall shew. 

First, What Chrises coming into the soul intends. 

Secondly, How it appears Christ will come in to the opening 

Vol. IV. O 

212 England's duty. 

Thirdly, What thai rich entertainment is he brings 'with him. 

Fourthly, Why he thus entertains the soul that receives him and 
opens to him. 

First, What Chrisfs combing in to the soul intends ; and in gene- 
ral I must say, this is a great mystery, which will not be fully 
Xmderstood till we come to heaven ; John xiv. 20. " At that day 
" you shall know thati am in my Father, and you in me, and I in 
" you." Then the essential union of Christ and his Father, and 
the mystical union between believers and Christ, will be more 
clearly understood than we are capable to understand them in this 
imperfect state : yet for the present so much is discovered, as may 
justly astonish poor sinners at the marvellous condescension of the 
Lord Jesus to them. More particularly, this expression, / will 
come in to hijn, imports no less than his uniting such a soul to him- 
self; for he comes in with a design to dwell in that soul by faith, 
Eph. iii. 17. to make such a man a mystical member of his body, 
flesh and bones, Eph. v. 30. which is the highest honour the soul 
of man is capable of. Indeed this coming of Christ into the soul of 
a sinner, doth not make him one j^^^son with Christ : that is the 
singular honour to which our nature is advanced by the hypostati- 
cal union : But this makes a person mystically one with Christ ; 
and though it be beneatli the hypostatical union^ yet it is more than 
a mere fcederal union. Chrisfs coming into the soul, signifies more 
than his coming into covenant with it, for it is the taking of such a 
person into a mystical union with himself, by the imparting of his 
Spirit unto him. As the vital sap of the stock coming into the graft, 
makes it one with the stock, John xv. 15. so the coming of Christ's 
Spirit into the soul, makes it a member of his mystical body ; and 
this is a glorious supernatural work of God, 1 Cor. i. 30. most 
honourable, most comfortable, and for ever sure and indissoluble ; 
as I have elsewhere * more fully shewed. 

Secondly.^ I shall evidence the truth and certainty of this most 
comfortable point, that Christ will come in, and that with singular 
refreshments and comforts, to every soul that hears his voice and 
opens to him. No present unworthiness, or former rebellions shall 
bar out Christ, or obstruct his entrance into such a soul. What- 
ever thou hast been or done ; all that notwithstanding, Christ will 
come in to thee, and dwell \rith thee, and make thy soul an habita- 
tion for himself through the Spirit, Eph. ii. 22. I say, let thy heart 
be open to him, and he will both fill and feast thee, with a non ob- 
stante ^ as to all thy former miscarriages. 

I know it is the common discouragement that multitudes of 
convinced humbled sinners he under, who seeing so much vileness 

Method of Grace, 

England's duty. 213 

in their natures and practices, cannot be persuaded that ever the 
Lord Jesus will cast an eye of favour on them, much less take up 
his abode in them. What, dwell in such a heart as mine, which 
hath been an liabitation of devils, a sink, a puddle of sin from my 
beginning ! this is hard to be believed ; but, sinner, thou hast the 
word of a King from heaven for it, a word whose credit has never 
failed from the first moment it was spoken, that whatever thy for- 
mer* or present vileness or unworthiness hath been, or is, he will 
not be shy of such a soul as thou art, if tho,u be but willing to open 
to him. Thy great unworthiness shall be no bar to his union with 
thee. " If any man open, I will come in to him," &c. For, 

1. If personal unworthiness were sufficient to bar Christ out of 
thy soul, it would equally bar him out of all the souls in the world : 
for all are unworthy as well as thyself Wherever Christ finds 
sinfulness, he finds unworthiness ; and to be sure he finds this 
wherever he comes. Christ never expected to find worthiness 
in thee, but it highly pleases him to find thee under a becoming 
sense of thy pergonal unworthiness, Jer. iii. 13. " Only acknow* 
" ledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord 
*' thy God," &c. The returning prodigal acknowledged to his 
father, " I am not worthy to be called thy son," Luke xv. 18, 19. 
But this did not bar his access to, or hinder his acceptance by his 
father. All that come to God to be justified, must see and confess 
their own vileness, and come to him as one that justifieth the un- 
godly, Rom. iv. 5. 

2. Thy former vileness and present unworthiness can be no bar 
to Christ's entrance, because it can be no surprise to him. He 
knew thou wast an unworthy soul when he made the first overture 
of grace and reconciliation to thee; and if thy unworthiness 
hindered not the beginning of his treaty with thee, it shall not 
hinder the closing and finisting act thereof in his union with thee. 
*' I knew that thou wast a transgressor from the womb," Isa. 
xlvii. 8. 

3. Christ never yet came into any soul where Satan had not the 
possession before him. Every soul in which Christ now dwells, 
was once in Satan's power and possession. Acts xxvi. 18. " To turn 
" them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to 
" God." So Luke xi. 21, 22. " When a strong man armed keepeth 
" his palace, his goods are in peace : but when a stronger than 
" he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from 
" him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoil." 

4. Thy present vileness and unworthiness can be no bar to 
Christ's entrance into thy soul, because Christ never yet objected 
to any man his unworthiness, but his unwillingness to come unt<r 



him ; John v. 40. " You will not come unto me, that you might 
" have life."" And again, Mat. xxiii. 37. " How oft would I have 
" gatliered thy children, and ye would not ?"" Indeed, you find 
something like a repulse from Christ to that poor Canaanitess, 
Mat. XV. 24, 26. " Lord, help me," said that poor distressed soul ; 
" but he answered and said, it is not meet to take the children's 
" bread, and to cast it to dogs." However harshly and discou- 
ragingly these words sound, yet certainly it was none of Christ's 
intent to damp and discourage her faith, but to draw it forth to 
a more excellent and intense degree: which effect is produced, 
ver. 27. 

. 5. Neither would Christ have made the tenders of mercy so 
large and indefinite, had he intended to have shut out any soul 
upon the single account of personal unworthiness, provided it be 
but willing to come unto him. Cast thine eye, poor discouraged 
soul, upon Christ's invitations and proclamations of grace and mercy 
in the gospel, and see if thou canst find any thing beside unwilling- 
ness as a bar betwixt thee and mercy ; hearken to that voice of 
mercy, Isa. Iv. 1. " Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the 
" waters ; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat ; come 
" buy wine and milk without money, and without price," i. e. 
without personal desert or worthiness. So again, Rev. xxii. 17. 
" The Spirit and the bride say come, and let him that is athirst 
" come ; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." 
Here you see personal vileness and unworthiness is no obstacle in 
the way of Christ. Once more, see John vii. 37. " In the last day, 
" that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying. If any 
" man thirst, let him come to me and drink." Thus you see what 
Christ's coming into the soul is, and what evidences there are, that 
when once the soul is made truly willing, Christ will certainly come 
into it ; and no former vileness or present unworthiness shall be a 
bar to obstruct his entrance. 

Thirdly^ In the next place I shall shew you. That when Christ 
comes into the soul he will not come empty-handed. It is Christ's 
marriage-day, and he will make it a good day, a festival-day ; bring- 
ing such comforts along with him, as the soul never tasted before. 
He spreads as it were a table, furnishes it with the delicates of hea- 
ven : / will sup with him, saith the text. What those spiritual 
mercies are which Christ brings along with him to the opening, 
willing soul, comes next in order to be spoken to. And, 

1. When Christ comes into the soul of a sinner, he brings 3i par- 
don with him, a full, a free, and a final pardon of all the sins that 
ever that soul committed. This is a feast of itself, good cheer in- 
deed : Christ thought it to be so when he told the poor palsy-man, 
Matth. ix. 2. " Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee." 

England's duty. Si 5 

He doth not say, Be of good cheer, thy palsy is cured, thy body re- 
covered from the grave ; but, " be of good cheer, thy sins are par- 
^' doned."" O how sweetly may the pardoned soul feed upon this ! 
And this is not any peculiar mercy designed for some special fa- 
vourites, but what is common to all believers. Acts xiii. 43. " By 
" him all that believe are justified from all things.*" Christ and 
pardon come together ; and without a pardon no mercy would 
relish : no feast, no music, no money, no honour, have any favour 
or comfort with them to a condemned man ; but the comfort of a 
pardon reaches to the very heart, Isa. xl. 1,2. " Comfort ye, com- 
*' fort ye my people, saith the Lord: speak comfortably to Jeru- 
*' salem f' or, as in the Hebrew, speak to the heart of JeruHalem. 
But what are the ingredients of that cordial that will comfort Je- 
rusalem's heart "^ Why, " Say unto her, that her iniquities are 
" pardoned C that carries along with it the spirit of all consola- 

And there are three things in the pardon of sin that makes it the 
sweetest mercy that ever the soul tasted ; comfort which is impossi- 
ble to be communicated to another with the same sense that the 
pardoned soul hath of it. Rev. ii. 17. 

(1.) That which makes the pardon of sin ravishingly sweet, is 
the trouble that went before it. The labourings and restless tossings 
of the troubled soul, which were antecedent to his pardon, make 
the ease and peace that follow it incomparably sweet. As the 
bitterness of hell was tasted in the sorrows of sin, so the sweetness 
of heaven is tasted in the pardon of it. 

(2.) The nature of the mercy itself is incomparably sweet ; for it 
is a mercy of the first rank. Pardon is such a mercy as admits no 
comfort to come before it, nor any just cause of discouragement 
can follow after it. If God hath not spoken pardon to the soul, it 
can have no settled ground for joy, Ezek. xxxiii. 10. And if he 
have, there can be no just ground for dejection, whatever the 
troubles be that lie upon it. Isa. xxxiii. 24. " The inhabitants 
" shall not say, I am sick : the people that dwell therein shall be 
" forgiven their iniquities."" 

(3.) The third thing that makes this mercy delicious and ravisli- 
ingly sweet to the soul, are the properties of it, which are foin*. 
(1.) God writes upon thy pardon, Frank : it is a free mercy whicli 
costs thee nothing, Rom. iii. 24. " Being justified freely by his 
*' grace. Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, yet I, 
" even I am he that blotteth out thy transgression for my own 
" name s sake.'' (2.) God writes upon thy pardon fidl, as well as 
free ; the pardon extends to all the sins that ever thou committedst. 
Acts xiii. 39. " By him all that believe are justified from all things. * 
The sins of tliy nature and practice ; the sins of thy youth and 




riper age ; great sins and lesser sins are all comprehended within 
thy pardon. Thou art acquitted not from one, but from all ! Cer- 
tainly, the joy of heaven must come down in the mercy of remis^ 
sion. O what a feast of fat things with marrow is this single mercy, 
a pardon free without price, full without exception ! And then, 
(3.) it is Jinal, without revocation ; the pardoned soul never more 
comes into condemnation : " Thine iniquities are removed from 
'^ thee as far as the east is from the west." As those two oppo- 
site points of heaven can never meet, so the pardoned soul and its 
pardoned sins can never more meet unto condemnation, Psal. ciii. 
12. (4.) God v'rites upon the pardon another word, as sweet as 
any of the rest, and that is sure. It is a standing mercy never to 
be recalled, vacated or annulled, Rom. viii. 33, 34, 35. The 
challenge is sent to hell and earth, men and devils : " Who shall 
" lay any thing to the charge of God's elect ? It is God that justi- 
" fies, wlio is he that condemneth ? It is Christ tliat died,"' &c. 
Who can arrest when the creditor dischargeth ? Who can sue the 
bond when the debt is paid ? It is Christ that died. The table is 
spread, and the first mercy served in is the pardon of sin. " Eat, 
" O friends, diink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.'"* Now 
the labouring conscience that rolled and tossed upon the waves of a 
thousand fears, may drop anchor, and ride quiet in the pacific sea of 
a pardoned state. What joy must stream through the conscience 
when the sweetness of that scripture, Rom. viii. 1 . shall be pressed 
into thy cup of consolation ! The pardoned soul may speak and think 
of death and judgment without consternation ; yea, may look upon 
it " as a time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord,"" Acts 
iii. 19. This is heavenly manna, the sweetness of it swallows up 
all expressions, all conceptions ; no words, no thoughts can compre- 
hend the riches of this mercy. 

2. And yet this is not all; behold another mercy, in con- 
sequence unto this, brought in to refresh and cheer the consenting 
soul, and that is, peace with God. Pardon and peace go together, 
Rom. v. 1. " Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.'' 
Peace is a word of a vast comprehension ; peace, in the language of 
the Old Testament, comprehends all temporal good things, 1 Sam. 
XXV. 6. And peace in die New Testament comprehends all spiritual 
mercies, 2 Thess. iii. 16. the blessings of heaven and earth are 
wrapt up in this word. The soul that opens to Christ hath peace 
of reconciliation in heaven ; the enmity that was betwixt God and 
that soul is taken away through Jesus Christ, Isa. xii. 1, 2. " O 
^' Lord, I will praise tliee ; though thou wast angry with me, 
" thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortest me." This 
must be an invaluable mtrcy, for the purchase of it cost the blood 
of Christ, Isa. liii. 5. " The chastisement of our peace was upon 

England's duty. 217 

** him/' He made peace by the blood of his cross, Col. i. 20. 
and this peace of reconciliation is settled by Christ upon a firm 
foundation. His blood gives it a more firm and steady basis and 
foundation than that of the hills and mountains, Isa. liv. 10. And 
that which makes it so firm and sure, is the advocateship of Jesus 
Christ in heaven, 1 John ii. 1, 2. " If any man sin, we have an 
** advocate with the Father."" There is also peace in the believer's 
conscience ; peace as it were by proclamation from heaven ; and 
this is built upon the peace of recanciliatiwi. We cannot have the 
sense of peace, till we are brought into a state of peace ; the latter 
is the result of the former. And this is a special part of that supper 
Christ provides to entertain the soul that receives it. How sweet 
this is, is better felt than spoken. A dreadful sound was lately in 
the ears of the law-condemned sinner ; but now his heart is the 
seat of peace. And this peace is, (1.) the souPs guard against all 
inward and outward terrors, Phil. iv. 7. The peace of God shall keep 
(p^npriffsf, or, as the word is, guard your hearts and minds. The 
persons of princes are secured by guards of armed and valiant men, 
who watch while they sleep. Thus Solomon had his royal guard, 
because of fear in the night, Cant. iii. 7, 8. This peace of God, 
Christian, is thy life-guard, and secures thee better than Solomon's 
threescore valiant men that were about him. Time was when thou 
wast afraid to sleep, for fear thou shouldst awake in hell : Now thou 
mayest say with David, " I will both lay me do^vn and sleep, for 
<* thou. Lord, makest me to dwell in safety." Now come hfe, 
come death ; the soul is safe, the peace of God is its royal guard. 
(2.) This peace is ease as well as safety to the soul : it is hearts-ease : 
No sooner doth God speak peace to the conscience, but the soul 
finds itself at ease and rest, Heb. iv. 3. " We which have believed, 
" shall enter into rest." It is with such a soul as it was with the dove 
Noah sent out of the ark ; that poor creature wandered in the air, 
as long as her wings could carry her ; had her strength failed, 
there was nothing but the waters to receive her. O how sweet was 
rest in the ark .? (3.) This peace is news from heaven, and the 
sweetest tidings that ever blest the sinner's ear, next unto Christ ; 
Heb. xii. ^4. " The blood of Christ speaketh better things than 
" that of Abel." And you are come to this blood of sprinkling, 
the same day and hour that Christ is come into your souls. This is 
the voice of that blood, ' Thou hast sinned, I have satisfied ; Thou 
* hast kindled the wrath of God, and I have quenched it.' Hie 
angels of heaven cannot feed higher ; their joys are not more de- 
licious than those prepared for believers are, whereof this is a 
foretaste : Whatever circumstances of trouble a man may l)e in, 
this effectually reheves him. Paul and Silas were in sad circumstances, 
sliut up in the inner prison, their feet made fast in the stocks, their 


218 England's duty. 

cruel keepers at the door, their execution designed in a few days : 
God did but set this dish upon the table before the prisoners, and 
they could not forbear to sing at the feast. Acts xvi. 25. Ai mkU 
night they sang, &c. 

3. After these two royal dishes, pardon and peace, a third will 
come in, viz. Jo?/ in the Holy Ghost. This is somewhat beyond 
peace, it is the very quintessence and spirit of all consolation. The 
kingdom of God is said so consist in it, Rom. xiv. 17. it is some- 
what near to the joy of the glorified, 1 Pet. i. 8. it is heaven upon 
earth. All believers do not immediately attain it, but one time or 
other God usually gives them a taste of it ; and when he doth, it 
is as it were a short salvation. O, who can tell what that is which 
the apostle calls, " The shedding abroad of the love of God in the 
^' heart, by the Holy Ghost, which is given to us !" Rom. v. 5. 
It is a joy that wants an epithet to express the sweetness of it, 1 
Pet. i. 8. '■' Joy unspeakable and full of glory." It hath the very 
scent and taste of heaven in it, and there is but a gradual differ- 
ence betwixt it and the joy of heaven. This joy of the Holy Ghost 
is a spiritual cheerfulness streaming through the soul of a believer 
upon the Spirit's testimony, which clears his interest in Christ, 
and glory. No sooner doth the Spirit shed forth the love of God 
into the believer's heart, but it streams and overflows with joy. 
Joy is no more under that soul's command. And this will evi- 
dently appear, if you consider the matter of it ; it arises from the 
light of God's countenance, Psal. iv. 6, 7. the heavenly glory, 1 
Pet. i. 8. " Whom having not seen we love,"" &c. The soul is 
transported with joy, ravished with the glory and excellency of 
Christ. Didst thou ever see this Christ whom thy soul is so ra- 
vished with ? No, I have not seen him ; yet my soul is transported 
with so much love to him, whom having not seen we love. But if 
thou never sawest him, how comes thy soul to be so delighted and 
ravished with him ? why, though I never saw him by the eye of 
sense, yet I do see him by the eye of faith ; and by that sight my 
soul is flooded with spiritual joy. Believing we rejoice. But what 
manner of joy is that which you taste ^ why, no tongue can ex- 
press that, jfbr it is Joy unspeakable. But how are Christ and hea- 
ven turned into such ravishing joys to the soul ? why, the Spirit of 
the Lord gives the believing soul not only a sight to discern the 
transcendent excellency of these spiritual objects, but a sight of his 
interest in them also. This is my Christ, and this the glory pre- 
pared for me. Without interest, heaven itself cannot be turned 
unto joy, " My soul rejoices in God my Saviour," Luke i. 47. We 
read, Luke xiii. 28. of some that shall have a sight of iVbraham, 
Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, 
?ind yet a sight without joy ; a dreadful sight to them, for want of 


a joint interest with them in that glory. They shall see, and yet 
wail and weep, and gnash their teeth : But an interest sealed, gives 
joy unspeakable. Now, as to the excellency of this joy, it will be 
found to be the pleasant light of the soul. Light and joy are 
siffiwiymous terms in scripture, Psal. xcvii. 11. It is as the cheer- 
ful light of the morning after a sad and dismal night. You that 
have sat in darkness and the shadow of death, you that have sat 
mourning in the dark, without one glimpse of a promise, you that 
have conversed with nothing but dismal thoughts of hell and wrath ; 
Oh ! I shall be cast away for ever ! What will you say, when after 
all this darkness, the day-star shall arise in your hearts, the joy of 
heaven shall beam upon your souls .? Will not this be a glorious 
reward for all your sefedenial for Christ, and fully recompense for 
the frowns of carnal relations for giving entertainment to Christ "^ 
This joy of the Lord, if there were no other heaven, is an abundant 
recomper^ce. This joy of the Lord shall be your strength, Neh. 
viii. 10, Let God but give a person a little of this joy into his 
heart, and he shall presently feel himself strengthened by it, either 
to do or to suflPer the will of God. Now he can pray with enlarge- 
ment, hear with comfort, meditate with delight : and if God call 
him to suffer, this joy shall strengthen him to bear it. This was it 
that made the martyrs go singing to the stake. This therefore 
transcends all the joys of this lower world. There are sinful plea- 
sures men find in fulfilling their lusts. There are sensitive joys 
that men find in the good creatures of God, filling their hearts with 
food and gladness : There are also delusive joys, false comforts that 
hypocrites find in their ungrounded hopes of heaven. The joys of 
the sensualist are brutish, the joys of the hypocrite are ensnaring 
and vanishing ; but the joys of the Holy Ghost are sohd, sweet, 
and leading to the fulness of everlasting joy. This is the third 
heavenly dainty you may expect to feed on, if you open your hearts 
to receive Christ by faith, else you have all the consolation that ever 
you must expect. 

4. We read in scripture of \hQsealings of the Spirit, a choice and 
blessed privilege of believers, consequent upon believing ; Eph. i. 
13. '* In whom after that ye believed, ye were sealed,'"* &c. This 
then may be expected by every soul that opens to Christ, how rich 
soever the comforts of it be. The Spirit indeed seals not before 
faith, for then should he set his seal to a blank : but he usually 
seals after believing, and that as the Spirit of promise. Note here, 
the agent or person sealing, the Spirit, he knows the counsels and 
purposes of God, 1 Cor. ii. 10, 11. He also is authorized to. this 
work ; and being die Spirit of truth, he cannot deceive us. There 
is a two-fokl seal spoken of in scripture; one referring to God's 
eternal foreknowledge and choice of men, 2 Tim. ii. 19. " Never- 

220 England's duty. 

" theless, the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, 
" the Lord knoweth who are his ;*" i. e. The Lord perfectly 
knows every soul that belongs to him through the world. But 
now what comfort is this to a poor believer, that God knows who 
are his ? Therefore there is another sealing referring to the Spirit, 
as his act upon believers, to make them know that they are his. 
The first is general. The Lord knoweth "who are his. But this is 
particular, The Lord knoweth thee to be his. This is joyful news 
indeed. The former makes it sure in itself, the latter makes it sure 
to us. Now this is a most glorious privilege, a work of the Spirit, 
which hath a most ravishing, delicious sweetness in it ; and that 
which makes it so, is, 

(1.) The weigh tiness of the matter sealed to, which is no less 
than Christ, and the eternal inheritance purchased by his blood. 
This seal secures our title to Christ, and to the eternal glory : We 
are sealed to the day of redemption. The sealed believer can say, 
Clirist, how great, how glorious soever he be, is my Christ; the 
covenant of grace, and all the invaluable promises contained in it 
are mine, 

(2.) The rest and quietness which follow it, make it an invalu- 
able mercy. This brings the anxious solicitous mind and conscience 
to rest and peace. O what a mercy is it to have all those knots 
untied, those objections answered, those fears banished, under 
which the doubting soul so long laboured, and which kept it so 
many nights waking and restless ! God only knows at what rate 
some poor creatures live under the scai'ings of their own con- 
sciences, and frequent fears of hell : And what an unconceivable 
mercy would it be to them to be delivered at once from their 
dangers and fears, which hold them under a spirit of bondage ? 
Open to Christ, and thou art in the w^ay to such a deliverance : 
*' Come unto me and I will give you rest,'' saith Christ, Mat. xi. 

(3.) This sealing of the Spirit, which follows upon believing, will 
establish the soul m Christy confirm it and settle it in the ways of 
God, which is an unspeakable privilege ; 2 Cor. i. 22. " Now he 
" which establisheth us with you in Christ is God, who also hath 
** sealed us." Mark how establishment follow^s sealing. Now 
temptations may come, great persecutions and sore afflictions may 
come ; but how well is that soul provided for them all, that hath 
the sealings of the Spirit unto the day of redemption ? Yea, though 
the soul that was sealed should for the present be under new dark- 
ness, new temptations and fears, yet the former sealing will give 
estabhshment and relief, when the thoughts run back to the sealing 
day, and a man remembers how clear God once made his title to 
Chriist. Well then, open to Clirist, if ever you expect to be sealed 

England's duty. 221 

to salvation. If you continue to despise and reject the tenders of 
Christ in the gospel, whilst others that embrace him are sealed to 
the day of redemption ; your unbelief and final rejection of Christ, 
will seal you up to the day of damnation. 

5. And lastly, we read likewise in the Scriptures, of the Earnest 
of the Spirit ; this is three times mentioned in the Scriptures. E})h. 
i. 14. " Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption 
" of the purchased possession." 2 Cor. i. 22. where it is joined 
with the former privilege of sealing, " Who hath also sealed us, 
" and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." And again, 
2 Cor. V. 5. " He that hath wrouoht us for the self-same thinoc is 
" God, who hath also given unto us the earnest of the Spirit." 
The word is a^^aCwi/, originally a Syriac word ; the Greeks are sup- 
posed to get it from the Phcenician merchants, with whom they 
traded, and it notes a part paid in hand, to confirm a bargain for the 
whole. There are two things in an earnest. (1.) It is part of the 
sum, or inheritance ; if it were a contract for a sum of money, then 
it was a small part of a greater parcel : if for an inheritance, then 
the earnest is taking a part of the inheritance, as a twig, or turf, 
part of the whole. Now the Spirit of God chuses this word on 
purpose to signify two great things to his people by it : 

(1.) That those comforts communicated by the Spirit to believers, 
are of the same kind with the joys of heaven, though in afar inferior 
degree. 1 Pet. i. 8. called there, joy unspeakable, and full of glory : 
And Rom. viii. 23. called there. The fust fruits of the Spirit 
The first-fruits, and the crop or harv^est, are one in kind ; surely 
there is something of heaven, as well as hell, tasted by men in this 
world : hell is begun here in the terrors of some men's conscience?, 
and heaven also is begun here in the absolution, peace and comfort, 
of other men's consciences. 

(2.) As an earnest is part of the sum or inheritance, so the use 
and end of it is confirmation and security ; as much as to say, take 
this in part till the whole be paid ; yea, take it for thy security that 
the whole shall be paid. Believers have a double pledge, or earnest 
for heaven, one in the person of Christ, who is entered into that 
glory for them, John xiv. 2, 3. the other in the joys and comforts 
of the Spirit, which they feel, and taste in themselves. These are 
two great securities, and the design of God in giving us these 
earnests, and foretastes of heaven, are not only to settle our minds 
but to whet our industry, that we may long the more earnestly, 
and labour the more dihgently for the full possession. The Lord 
sees how apt we. are to flag in the pursuit of heavenly glory, and 
therefore gives his people a taste, an earnest of it, to excite their 
diligence in the pursuits of it. God deals with his people in this 

222 England's duty. 

?, as ^v-ith Israel ; they had been forty years in the wilderness, 
many sore temptations they had there encountered ; at last they 
were come upon the very borders of Canaan, but then their hearts 
began to faint; there were Anakims, giants in the land, poor 
Israel feared they should not stand before them : but Joshua sends 
spies into the land, who returning, bring the first-fruits of Canaan 
to them, whereby they saw what a goodly country it was ; and 
tlien the fear of the Anakims began to vanish, and a spirit of 
courage to revive in the people. Thus it is, even with the borderers 
upon heaven ; though we be near that blessed land of promise, yet 
our hearts are apt to faint upon a prospect of those great sufferings 
without us, and those conflicts with corruptions we feel within us : 
but one taste of the first-fruits of heaven, like those grapes of 
Eschol, revive our spirits, rouse our zeal, and quicken our piu-suits 
of blessedness. For these reasons, God will not have all of heaven 
reserved till we come thither. And now tell me, you that have 
tasted these first-fruits of the Spirit, (1.) Is there not something of 
that glorified eye^ in faith, by which the pure in heart do see God 
in heaven .^ Mat. v. 8. O that eye of faith ! that precious eye ! 
which comes as near to the glorified eye, as any thing in this im- 
perfect state can come, 1 Pet. i. 8. " Whom having not seen ye 
" love, in whom though now ye see him not, yet beheving, ye 
*' rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.''* (2.) Is there not 
something of that glorified love to be felt in an inferior degree by 
the saints in this world .? What else can we make of that transport 
of the spouse. Cant. ii. 5. " Stay me with flagons, comfort me with 
*' apples, for I am sick of love K^ It is true, our love to God, in 
heaven, is much more fen^ent, pure, and constant; yet these 
high-raised acts of spiritual love have a taste and relish of it. (3.) 
Is there not something here of that heavenly delight wherewith the 
glorified delight in God ? As the visions of God are begun on earth, 
so the heavenly delights are begun here also. Some drops of that 
delight, are let fall here. Psalm xciv. 19. " In the multitude of 
" the thoughts I had A\ithin me, thy comforts delight my soul.'* 
David's heart, it is like, had been full of sorrow and trouble ; a 
sea of gall and wormwood had overflowed his soul : God lets fall 
but a drop or two of heavenly dehght, and all is turned into 
sweetness and comfort. (4.) Is there not something here of that 
transformation of the soul into the image of God, which is complete 
in heaven, and a special part of the glory thereof.^ It is said in 
1 John iii. 2. " We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."" 
This is heaven, this is glory, to have the soul moulded into full 
conformity with God : something thereof is experienced in this 
world : O that we had more ! 2 Cor. iii. 18. " But we all \\nith 
'• open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are 

*' changed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by tlie 
*' Sph-it o( the Lord."" (5.) Is there not something felt here of the 
lavishing sweetness of God's presence in ordinances and duties, 
which is a faint shadow, at least, of the joys of his glorious presence 
in heaven? There is certainly a felt presence of God, a sensible 
nearness unto God at sometimes and in some duties of religion, 
wherein his name is as ointment poured forth. Cant i. 3. some- 
thing that is felt beyond, and above, all the comforts of this world. 
(6.) In a word, the joys of heaven are unspeakable joys, no words 
can make known to others what they are. When Paul was caught 
up into paradise he heard unspeakable words, 2 Con xii. 4. and are 
there not times, even in this life, wherein the saints do feel that 
which no words can express ? 1 Pet. i. 8. Rev. ii. 17. 

Now if such earnests of the Spirit do follow after believing, if 
opening the soul to Christ do bring it unto these suburbs of heaven ; 
who then would not receive Christ into his soul, and such an hea- 
ven upon earth with him ? And thus I have shewed you what some 
of those heavenly rarities are with which Christ entertains believers 
upon earth, the fulness and perfection whereof is reserved for hea- 
ven, and hereby secured to the opening or believing soul : which 
was the third thing to be discovered. 

Fourthly^ Next we shall enquire into the reasons why Christ 
thus entertains, feasts, and refreshes the soul that receives him* 

Reason 1. This he doth to express the great joy and satisfaction 
his soul hath in the faith and obedience of poor sinners. We read, 
Isa. liii. 11. of the hard travail of Christ's soul, and the great satis- 
faction he hath in the fruit and issue thereof: " He shall see of the 
'' travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied." what pleasure and 
satisfaction doth it give him to behold the eternal counsels of God 
and sore travails of his soul brought to such a birth ! there is no 
such pleasure like it to the soul of Christ in this world. As it is 
abundant satisfaction to a man, to behold the accomplishment of a 
design upon which he hath laid out many thoughts and much cost, 
at last happily finished : or as it is to a woman that has had a hard 
labour, a sore travail for a child, to behold the fruit of her womb, 
to embrace and smile upon that child she travailed for ; so, and 
much more than so, it is to Christ ; and therefore, as the Father of 
the prodigal manifested the joy of his heart for the return oi his 
son (who was to him as dead, and lost) by a feast and music, so 
doth Christ here answerably manifest the content and satisfaction 
of his soul by entertaining the believer with these royal dainties of 
heaven : it is the soufs welcome home to Christ. 

Reason 2. This Christ doth to relieve and refresh poor distressed 
souls who have endured so many fears and soirows from the time 

224 exclaxb's dut^ 

of their first conviction until tins day of their union with Christ by 
faith. The way of faith is a very humble way ; there is much cut- 
ting work in antecedent convictions and humiliations, sad nights 
and sick days with many poor souls ; and these things bring them 
very low : they see tlie law broken by sin, wrath hanging over them 
in the threatenings, the bitter taste thereof they have in their con- 
sciences ; they have dealt with fears and horrors a long time, and 
they need succour and support, which the Lord Jesus is now resol- 
ved to give them, lest the spirit fail before him, Isa. Ivii. 16. He 
delights to comfort them that are cast down, 2 Cor. vii. 6. Christ 
is of a compassionate nature, he is as ready as able to succour them 
that are tempted, Heb. ii. 18. That word which w^e render suc- 
cour, signifies to run in by way of help at the cry of one that is in 
distress. ]\Iany emphatical cries have gone up to heaven from the 
distressed, sin-sick soul ; these the compassionate Jesus hears, and 
now comes in seasonably to succour and refresh it ; he hath rich 
cordials for fainting hours ; the soul hath had a bitter hreakfast, and 
therefore Christ will give it a comfortable supper ; " I will come in 
" to him, and sup with him." 

Reason 8. Those that open their hearts to Christ must expect to 
xaeat great troubles, sufferings, and temptations, in that new course 
whereinto they are entered: their way to heaven lies through 
much tribulation ; all our troubles are not over when we are got 
into Christ ; nay, then commonly our greatest outward troubles 
begin. Heb. x. 32. " After ye believed ye endured a great fight 
" of afflictions." Carnal relations now scoff, frown, and cast off; 
the world hates them, and marks them out for persecution. Now 
that poor Cristians may not utterly be discouraged when they meet 
with those troubles in the way of their duty, Christ will cheer and 
hearten them by these spiritual refreshments : this is a stock laid in 
for a rainy day. Christ himself had a voice from heaven, Matth. 
xvii. 5. " This is my beloved Son," a httle before his great com- 
bat ; much more do his poor people need such consolations, to 
support and encourage them. The wise God foresees, and by this 
provision fore-lays the troubles they are to meet with : an hour of 
sealing fortifies the soul for an hour of suffering. It hath been the 
observation of some Christians when they have felt m.ore than or- 
dinary comforts of the Spirit, that some great trial hath been near 
them ; and the event hath confirmed it. Whatever comforts Christ 
gives his people at their first entrance into his service, they will 
have need enough of them all before they finish their course. To 
these first sealings they will need often to run back and have fre- 
quent recourse to them, and all little enough to support them in 

Reason 4. Christ comes in to the opening soul with &uch divine 


cordials and refreshments to defeat and countermine the plot of 
Satan, who hath so often and so lately been discouraginor them by 
representing the ways of Christ as sad, melancholy ways; telling 
them they shall never laugh more, never be merry more after they 
have embraced and espoused the ways of holiness: Spiritus CaU 
vinianus est Spiritus melancholicus. Well, their own experiences 
shall now confute it, for they now taste that pleasure in Christ, 
in faith and obedience, which they never tasted in the ways of 
sin : thus that scandalous libel of the devil is experimentally con- 
futed. They find they were never truly merry till now, Luke 
XV. 24. all true mirth commences from our closing with Christ ; 
" and they began to be merry.'* 

Now these spiritual refreshments are by Christ here called a sup^ 
per, because the supper among the Jews was their best meal, Luke 
xiv. 17. and because it is the last meal. This is not only the best 
meal that ever a believer made, but upon these spiritual comforts 
(though much more refined and perfect) they are to feed for ever 
in heaven. O Christian, well may est thou be contented with thine 
outward lot of providence, however it shall fall in this world with 
respect to thy outward man; will a King from heaven come 
and sup with thee ? Doth he feed thy soul with pardon, peace, and 
joy in the Holy Ghost, seal an earnest of future glory ? Then thou 
livest at a higher and nobler rate than any of thy carnal neighbours 
do. " Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who 
" hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in 
" Christ," Eph. i. 3. The same person that thus blesses God with 
a heart overflowing with joy and comfort, endured as many perse- 
cutions, felt as many wants and straits as any man. What if pro^ 
vidence do but meanly clothe your bodies, so that you cannot ruiHe 
it out in that splendor and gallantry others do ? Yet mayest thou 
say with the church, " I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul 
*' shall be joyful in my God : for he hath clothed me with the 
" garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of 
*' righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, 
" and as a bride adorneth herself with jewels," Isa. Ixi. 10. What 
if thou fare not so deliciously as the great ones of this world do? 
Yet if Christ will give thee to eat of the hidden manna which he 
promiseth. Rev. ii. 17. art thou not better clothed and fed than 
any of the grandees or nobles of the world ? This takes away all 
grounds of complaint. It may be you will say, O but we have bo- 
dies as well as souls ; if God had created us angels, that we could 
live without material food, it were another case. I reply, Christ 
never thus intended to feast thy soul and starve thy body ; he that 
feeds thy soul with bread from heaven will take care for all neces- 
sary provisions on earth, Isa. xli. 17. You have sought and found 

226 JSXCLANli^S Jt)UTY. 

the kingdom of Grod and his righteousness ; fear not but all other 
things shall be added to you. 

I. Use, for Information, 

The point before us is full of uses ; I shall begin with informa- 
tion in the following inferences^ 

Infer. 1. Hence learn, That it is a vile and groundless slander 
upon religion^ to say or insinuate that it deprives men of the cornfort 
and joy of life. 

The devil, in design to discourage men from the ways of God, 
puts a frightful mask upon the beautiful face of religion, pretend- 
ing there is no pleasure or joy to be expected therein ; but this is 
abundantly confuted and refelled in the text, " I will come in to 
" him, and sup with him.'' Solomon tells us, Eccl. x. 19. " A 
'' feast is made for laughter."" I am sure that soul that sits with 
Christ at such a feast as has been described above, has the best rea- 
son of any man in the world to be merry. Religion indeed denies 
us all sinful pleasure, but it abounds with all spiritual pleasure. No 
rational, solid mirth can come before Christ : the unsanctified re- 
joice in things of nought, and their joy will be soon ended ; they 
are hastening to that place where they will find that to be verified 
of the wages of sin, which they now falsely impute to the wages of 
holiness ; they shall never rejoice more, never be merry more : 
But behevers shall find that scripture attested by their daily expe- 
rience, Prov. iii. IT. " Her way are ways of pleasantness, and all 
*' her paths are peace.'' And that there are such pleasures in the 
ways of God, as they never experienced in the ways of sin ; for is 
it a solid ground of comfort to a man to be out of debt and all fears 
of arrests, and is it not much greater to have our debts paid to 
God by Christ our surety H Matth. ix. 2. " Be of good cheer, thy 
^^ sins are forgiven thee." Is it matter of joy to have a sufficiency 
of all things for the supply of every want ? He that is in Christ 
hath so. 1 Cor. iii. 22, 23. " All are yours, and ye are Christ's." 
Is it a joyful life to be a borderer upon heaven, to confine upon bles- 
sedness itself? Then it is a joyful life to be in Christ; for they 
that are so may rejoice in the hopes of glory, Rom. v. 2. Is it 
matter of all joy to have the Comforter himself, who is the Spirit 
of all consolation, taking up his residence in thy heart, cheering, 
comforting, and refreshing it with such cordials as are unknown 
things in all the unbelieving world ? Then, certainly, the life of a 
Christian and the ways of holiness must be most pleasant and com- 
fortable : And therefore let none that are looking towards Christ 
be discouraged in their way by the slanderous reproaches designedly 


cast lipon feligion for that end. Christ and comforts dwell toge- 

Infer, % Hence, in hke mariner it follows^ That Christians usuaU 
ly meet the greatest difficulties at their first entrance into 7'eligicm. 

The first work of religion is cutting work, wounding work, 
groaning and weeping work : Thus religion usually begins, Acts ii. 
87. Acts xvi. 29. Now the soul seems to be struck dead, in the 
giving up of all its former vain hopes, Rom. vii. 9. '* When the 
" commandment came, sin revived, and I died ;"" but afterward 
come pardon, peace, joy in the Holy Ghost. They that go forth 
weeping, bearing precious seed, now come back rejoicing, bringing 
their sheaves with them, Psal. cxxvi. 6. Now that blessing takes 
place vipon the soul. Mat. v. 4. " Blessed are they that moUrn, for 
" they shall be comforted. Light is sown for the righteous, and joy 
*' for the upright in heart." It is quite contrary in the ways of sin; 
all the pleasures of sin come first, the terl'ors and gripes of con- 
science come after. Sin comes with smiles in its face, but a sting m 
its tail. Pleasures lead the van, hell and destruction bring up the 
rear. Job xx. 12, 13, 14. *' Though wickedness be sweet in his 
*' mouth, though he hide it under his tongue ; yet his meat in his 
" bowels is turned into the gall of asps within him." But here con- 
viction and humiliation come first, these prepare the way for Christ; 
and after him come rest and peace. " Then- sorrow is turned into 
*' joy," John xvi. 20. 

Object. But is this always true? Do not the worst things ofrclU 
gion mcmy times come last ? How many Christians go out of the 
world in a bloody winding sheet ? 

Sol. Whatever the after-sufferings of Christians may be, the worst 
is past when they are once in Christ. Great and sharp sufferings 
they may endure, but the Lord sweetens them with answerable con- 
solations, 9, Cor. vii. 4. " I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding 
" joyful in all our tribulation." The lowest ebbs are followed ^vith 
the highest tides ; the greatest troubles need not give an interruption 
to their peace. 

Infer. 3. Hence it follows, that nc man can be owner of any true 
comfort till he be in Christ. 

Comfort and refreshment, in the natural order follow faith ; it 
is the vainest imagination in the world to expect solid, spiritual 
comfort before union with Christ ; you may as well expect an har- 
vest before a seed-time. I do confess there are two sorts of com- 
forts found in the World without Christ. (1.) Men may have sen.^ 
sitive and sinful comforts and delights without Christ ; these are' 
common in the unregenerate world, where you may daily see rich 
men taking comfort in their riches, voluptuous men in their plea- 
sures, James v. 5. " You have lived in pleasure upon earth." But 

Vol, IV. P 

S28 England's duty. 

these are the pleasures common to brutes, and beneath the noble, 
immortal spirit of a man. (2.) Hypocrites have their delights and 
comforts in a false imaginary happiness, which they fancy to them- 
selves ; but this is a vanishing shadow : They take comfort from 
their groundless hope of heaven, wliither they shall never come ; 
it is a feast in a dream, Isa. xliv. 20. Thus they make a bridge of 
their own shadow, and are drowned in the waters. Such sensitive 
and false comforts and pleasures men may have ; but no true, solid, 
spiritual joy takes place in any man's heart l^efore Christ come 
into it. 

Infer. 4. Guess from hence what heaven is, if there be such a 
feast to the soul in the very for etahies of it. 

If a relish, a taste of heaven, in the earnest thereof, be so tran- 
sporting and ravishing, what then is the full fruition of God ! If 
these be unutterable, what must that be ! Give me leave to say, 
whatever the comforts and joys of any behever in this world may 
be, yet heaven will be a surprize to him when he comes thither. 
The joys of God's presence ai'e other maniier of things than our 
present comforts are ; though these be of the same kind with them, 
yet in a far inferior degree. There is a six-fold difference betwixt 
the spiritual comforts of behevers on earth, and the joys that are 
«bove. They differ, 

1. In quantity. 

2. In constancy. 

3. In purity. 

4. In efficacy. 

5. In the society, and 

6. In the durability of them. 

1. They differ in quantity. " Here we know but in part, but 
" when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part 
" shall be done away,"" 1 Cor. xiii. 9, 10. When the scripture speaks 
of the comforts communicated to saints on earth, it usually ex- 
presses them in some diminutive terms or other, calling them first- 
fruits, earnests, and the like ; and indeed it is necessary we should 
receive them here with such allays, and in remiss degrees, because 
the imperfection and weakness of our present state will not bear 
them in their plenitude and perfection. Here the joy of the Lord 
enters into us, but there we are said to enter into that Joy, Mat. xxv. 
21. It is too great to enter into us, therefore we enter into, and 
are swallowed up in it. 

S. They differ in constancy ; the best comforts upon earth are 
found to be intermitting comforts ; a sun-blast and a cloud ; a good 
day and a bad. You know house-keepers feed upon two sorts of 
meat, daily-bread and dainties ; rarities come not every day to the 
table. The daily-bread upon which believers live, is there cum- 

England's duty. 229 

bence and affiance of faitli ; as for assurance and joy, those come 
but now and then. 

5. They differ in purity^ as well as constancy ; here we have the 
comforts of the Spirit, but we mingle sin with them, and usually 
the sin of spiritual pride, which spoils aD. Yea, many times, the 
Lord suffers Satan to mingle his temptations and injections with 
them, lest we should be exalted, 2 Cor. xii. 7., But above, the 
comforts of the saints are as the pure water of iii'e, clear as chrystal, 
Hev. xxii. 1. 

4. They differ in efficacy, as well as in purity. The highest 
comforts of the Spirit here are not perfectly transformative of our 
souls into the image of God, as they are in heaven ; 1 John iii. 3. 
*' We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."' Here, 
after we are comforted by him, we grieve the Comforter himself by 
sin. Neither do the comforts of the Spirit, in this state, produce 
the fruits of obedience in their perfect maturity, as they do above ; 
there is the same difference in point of efficacy as there is betwixt 
the influence of the sun beams in the winter months, and those in 
May and June. 

5. There is a great difference in respect of society. Here, the 
believer, for the most part, eats his pleasant morsels alone ; one 
Christian eats, and another hungers ; but in heaven they all feast 
and feed together at one table, Mat. viii. 11. " They shall sit down 
" with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God.*" O 
what is it to rejoice in the fellowship of patriarchs, prophets, and 
apostles, where the joy of one is the joy of all. 

6. They differ also in durability ; sin here puts a stop to our 
comforts, but in heaven as there is no comma, so there shall never 
be a full point or period. Everlasting joy shall be upon their 
heads. There is an eternal feast, no taking away the cloth, no 
rising from that feast, 2 Thes. ii. 16. It is everlasting consolation ; 
We shall he ever with the Lord. 

II. Use. 

This point puts serious matter of exhortation into my mouth. 
The Lord direct it to the hearts of all, whether they be in Christ, 
or out of Christ. 

First, To those that are out of Christ, and will not yet be per- 
suaded to open their hearts, and consent to his terms. O what a 
spiritual infatuation is here ! What, shut the door of thy heart 
against Christ and all the delights and comforts of this and the 
coming world ! What madness is this ! Hear me, thou poor de- 
luded sinner, that wilt not be persuaded to part with thy sinful, 
sensual delights in exchange for Christ, and the peace, comfort^ 


^30 England's duty. 

and joy that follow him : I have a few things to speak on Christ's 
beKhlf at this time ; O that they might prevail, O that by them the 
Spirit of the Lord might persuade thy spirit, thou poor unregenerate 
creature ! Let me offer four or five considerations or pleas on Christ's 
behalf, if haply they may prevail and make way for his entertain- 
ment in thy soul. And, 

Plea 1. Let me plead tkine own necessity with thee; a mighty 
argument ; which in other cases useth to make its ways througn all 
oppositions, and make all difficulties fly before it ; thou art a poor 
necessitous, pining, famishing soul ; l:ov/ever thy body be accommo- 
dated, thou hast not one bit of spiritual bread for thy famishing soul 
to live upon. Christ is the bread that cometh down from heaven. 
The atarxmg prodigal f Luke xv. 16, 17. is the lively emblem of thy 
soul ; he feeds upon husks, and thou feedest upon that which is not 
bread, Isa. Iv. 2. Thou ai't wretched and miserable, poor, blind, 
and naked, Rev. iii. 1 7. Thy body hath often been filled and re- 
freshed ^vith the good creatures of God, but thy soul never tasted one 
bit of spiritual bread since it came into thy ]3ody ; it never relished 
the sweetness of a pardon, the deliciousness of a promise, the joy and 
comfort of Christ ; the choicest food that ever thou tasted, was such 
as thy soul cannot live upon. 

Plea 2. Christ is at the door of thy soul with plenty and variety 
of heavenly comforts, costly dainties, purchased by his blood ; if thou 
wilt but open to him, " Thou shalt be abundantly satisfied with 
" the fatness of his house, and drink of the rivers of his pleasure,'' 
Psal. xxxvi. 7, 8. " He that believeth," as the scripture hath said, 
" out of his belly shall flow rivers of hving water," John vii. 88. 
meaning the graces and comforts of the Spirit. 

Plea 3. If Christ be put off and refused now, you may never taste 
of those invaluable mercies for ever, Luke xiv. 24. " For I say unto 
'^ you, that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my 
" supper." They were bidden, invited to this feast, and so are you ; 
they refused to come, God grant you may not ; for methinks this 
sentence of Christ, " Those men which were bidden shall not taste of 
" my supper," is like a sentence upon a malefactor that is to be 
hanged in chains, and whom the law permits none to relieve. O, it 
will be dreadful to see the saints sitting at the royal feast in heaven, 
and yourselves shut out as a company of starving beggars standing 
in the streets, and about the doors where the marriage-supper is 
kept; they see the lights, they behold the rich dishes carried up, 
they hear tJie mirth and music of the guests, but not a bit comes to 
their share. 

Plea 4i. The refusal of Christ's invitation, as it is the greatest of 
all sins, so it will be avenged with the sorest wrath and greatest 

England's duty. 231 

punishment ; it is said of those guests that were bidden, Mat. xxii. 
5. that they made hght of it, but it fell heavy upon them, ver. 
7. " He was wroth, and sent forth his armies and destroyed those 
" murderers, and burnt up their city.'' Have a care of making 
hght of Christ. 

Plea 5. Wliat hght and vain things are all those pleasures of 
sin, for the sake wliereof you deprive your souls of the everlasting 
comforts of Jesus Christ ? Deluded soul, it is not the intent of 
Christ to rob thee of thy comfort, but to exchange thy sinful for 
spiritual delights, to thy unspeakable advantage. It is true, you 
sliall have no more pleasure in sin, but instead of that you shall 
have peace with God, joy in die Holy Ghost, and solid comi'orts 
for evermore. What are the sensitive or sinful pleasures of the 
world .^ You have the total sum of them in 1 John ii. 16, 17. 
" All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the 
" eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the 
" world. And the world passeth away, and the lusts thereof; but 
" he that doth the will of God abideth for ever." 

Quest. But how may a poor, unregenerate soul he prevailed w'ltli 
to make such a blessed exchange, to part with the pleasures of' sin in 
exchange for the comforts of Jesus Christ ? 

Answer. Besides all that hath been offered before, let n\e 
briefly add these three following directions and counsels to such a 

1. Labour to see and feel thy need of Christ, and then thou 
wilt quickly be willing to give up all the pleasures of sin for the 
enjoyment of him. What makes men so tenacious of their lusts, 
so hard to be persuaded to give up their sinful pleasures, but this, 
that they never felt the need of a Saviour ! Oh, sinner, didst thou 
but feel thy need of Christ, wert thou but hungry and thirsty for 
him, thou wouldst never stand upon such trifles for the enjoyment 
of him. We read, in the famine of Jerusalem, how they parted 
with their pleasant things for bread to relieve their souls ; jewels, 
rings, bracelets, things which cost dear, and were highly valued 
at another time, now were willingly parted with for bread. Christ 
is more necessary to thee than thy necessary bread. 

2. Consider the spii'itual and immortal nature of thine own 
soul, which cannot live upon material things, and must over-live 
all temporary things. Now if thy soul cannot live upon them, 
and must certainly over-live them ; what a miserable condition will 
it unavoidably fall into, when all these sensual, and sinful enjoy- 
ments are vanished and gone, as thou knowest they shortly will 
be ? 1 John ii. 17. " These things pass away :'' and then hath thy 
soul nothing to live upon to all eternity. 

3. Hearken to the reports and experiences of the saints, who 

r 3 


have tried both sorts of pleasures, which you never did : They 
have tried the pleasures of sin, and they have tasted the pleasures 
of C!irist, and so are best able to make a true judgment upon 
both ; and they have accordingly determined, " That one glimpse 
" of the light of God's countenance, puts more gladness into their 
" hearts, Uian in the time that their corn and their wine in- 
" creased,"' Psal. iv. 7. Nay, the wisest Christians, upon trial of 
both, have rightly determined. That the worst things in religion are 
infimiehj to he preferred to the best things belonging to sin ; the very 
sufferings and afflictions of the people of God, have been pronoun- 
ced better than the pleasures of sin f err a season^ Heb. xi. 25. Could, 
you but see with th>^ir eyes, and were you but capable of making a 
right judgment as they did, there needed not a word more to be 
said to persuade you to let go your most pleasant, and profitable lusts, 
in exchange for Christ and his beneficial, comfortable sufferings. 

SecoiidJy^ The point affords variety of counsels and exhortations 
to the regenerate, who liave opened their wills to Christ, and are 
thereupon admitted into this comfortable state. 

It is found, in experience, a difficult thing for a soul, after 
conversion, to bear and duly manage their own comforts, as it 
v/as to bear and rightly manage their troubles at conversion. My 
business here is to advise souls, under their first comforts and feel- 
ings r.f the Spirit, how to manage and improve their spiritual com- 
forts, that they may abide with them, and be growing things con- 
tinually in their souls. 

Advice 1. And first. See that you humbly admire and adore the 
condescending goodness of God to you, in all the comforts of the 
SjKi it which refresh you. 

O that ever God should comfort such a soul as thine, that hath 
8o often gi'ieved him ! That Christ should be a joy to thee, who 
hast been a sorrow to him ! If you look into Eph. i. 3. you will find 
the spirit of the apostle there filled with the sense and admiration 
of this mercy, which breaks forth into this rapturous expression, 
" Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who 
" hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places (or 
" things in Christ).*" Some there are that never enjoy an ordinary 
degree of earthly comforts. Job xxx. B, 4, 5. others enjoy abun- 
dance of earthly comforts, but no spiritual comforts, Psal. xvii. 
14. Some there are for whom God intends everlasting consolations 
in the world to come ; but they are kept low, as to spiritual com- 
forts in this world, Psal. Ixxxviii. 15. O, what cause have you 
to admire the bounty of God to you, for whom there is not only 
fulness of joys prepared in heaven, but such precious foretastes and 
earnests of it communicated in the way thither. 

-^d\ice 2. Cleave fast to Christ and those sweet and comfortable 

England's dxjty. 233 

duties of religion, wherein you ham founds and tasted the hest com-. 
forts that ever your souls were acquainted with. 

This is one thing God aims at in the communication of these 
spiritual refreshments, to glue your souls fast by them to the ways 
of holiness. The Lord knows temptations will befal you, discourage- 
ments enough you shall be sure to meet with ; but these enjoyments 
of God, wliich you have met with in prayer and hearing, in medita^- 
tion, sacraments, ^c. should engage your hearts for ever to the 
ways of obedience. You never found that sweetness in the ways of 
sin, which you have found in repentance, and faith. When a 
temptation comes baited with sinful pleasures, say as the olive tree 
and the vine, in Jotham's parable, Judg. ix. 9, 10, 11. Shall I 
leave such soul-refreshing comforts as these, for the insipid pleasures 
of sin ? God forbid. 

Advice 3. Be communicative of the spiritual comforts you enjoy, 
for the benefit and refreshment of others. 

The Lord never intended you should engross the comforts of 
his Spirit to yourselves, nor eat your pleasant morsels alone. 2 Cor. 
i. 4. " He comforts us, that we may be able to comfort them that 
" are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are 
^' comforted of God."" It is true, religion lays not all open, nor 
yet doth it conceal, and hide all. There needs a gi'eat deal of 
wisdom, humility, and caution, to secure us from pride, and 
vanity in spirit, whilst we communicate our comforts to others : As 
ostentation, so also impropriatlan of our comforts, are against scrip- 
ture-law ; he may be justly suspected that opens all, and so may he 
too that conceals all. Spiritual comforts are not diminished, but 
improved by a wise, and humble communication. 

Advice 4. Be much in reneiving the acts, and exercises of faith ; 
be frequent in that work. 

Your first faith hath brought in your first comfort ; your renew- 
ing, and repeating those precious acts of faith, will bring you in 
greater stores of comfort, than you yet enjoy. We are not to look 
upon faith as a single, but a continued act, 1 Pet. ii. 4. " To whom 
" coming as unto a living stone."" Thy soul. Christian, is to be 
in a continual motion towards Christ ; the more you believe, the 
more you will rejoice. You see the door through which comfort, 
comes into your souls. Joy is the daughter of faith, Rom. xv. 13. 
your present comfort is the first birth of faith ; but there are many 
comforts more in the womb of faith, which will yet be born to your 
souls, if unbeUef cause not a miscarriage. 

Advice 5. Take heed you be not a grief to Christ, who hath aU 
ready brought so much comfort to you. 

It will be a sad requital, if after he hath given you the joys of 
heaven to drink, you shall give him that which is as wormwood 


234> England's duty. 

and gall ; the Lord write that caution upon thy soul, reader, Eph. 
iv. 30. •'' And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby you are 
^^ sealed to the day. of redemption.'' The argument of the apostle, 
in this place, strongly infei:s caution from comfort. Christ hath been 
all joy, all peace, rest, and comfort to you ; take heed you be not 
a grief and shame to him. The intermission of thy duties, the 
faUing and flatting of thy affections in duties, thy rash adventures 
upon sin, will be a grief to the heart of Christ, who hath filled thy 
heart with so much comfort ; and if you grieve him, you cannot 
expect he should comfort you. A little sin may rob you of a great 
deal of comfort. 

Advice 6. Be not staggered or dejected^ if the first comforts Chrisi 
gives you should qfterwards abate, or be taken away for a time. 

This is a very common thing in the experience of most Chris- 
tians ; you must not think your first comforts are such fixed, settled 
things, that there is no hazard of losing them ; alas ! nothing is 
more volatile than the joys of a Christian. You will be apt to lose 
your first love, Rev. ii. 4. and if you lose your first love, no wonder 
that you lose your first comforts : Yet if it should so fall out, be 
not cast down and discouraged ; Christ is not gone, though comfort 
be gone ; and though comfort be gone, it is not gone for ever ; re- 
new thy repentance, faith, and obedience, and try if God will not 
renew thy comfort. There is a former, and there is a latter spring 
of joy ; God will make thy comforts spring again. Besides, thy 
justification is stedfast, though thy consolation be not so. There are 
two things that belong to a Christian, one to his being, viz. union 
with Christ ; another to his well-being, viz. Comfort from Christ : 
The latter is uncertain and contingent, the former fixed and 

Advice 7. Be filled with compassion to others who want those 
comforts you enjoy, especially such as God hath knit to you in the 
bonds of natural relations. 

Art thou a father, or a mother, to whom God hath given those 
comforts, and soul-refreshments, that have been opened in this 
discourse ? And hast thou no compassion for thy poor children, 
who never yet tasted one drop of these spiritual consolations ; 
Certainly it will do a man little good to be feasted abroad, whilst 
his wife and children are starving at home : Say to them, as Paul 
in another case, " Would to God you were all as I am, except these 
*' corruptions."" Religion breeds bowels of compassion. O tell 
them what sweetness there is in the ways of godliness ; counsel, 
plead, and pray, that those that are yours may also be Christ's. 

Advice 8. As ever you expect the continuaiice or enlargement of 
your comforts, see that you ivalk circumspectly. 

It is as much as all your comfort is worth to give way to a httle 


carelessness: That is a remarkable expression of tlic Psalmist, Psal 
Ixxxv. 1. " I will hearken what God the Lord will speak, for he, 
" will speak peace to his people, and to his saints ; but let them not 
" return again to folly."' Sin, in this text, is fitly called by the 
name oi fhlhj ; for indeed it is the greatest folly and madness i^ 
the world to forfeit and divest ourselves of such sweet peace and 
comfort by returning unto sin, which hath cost us so much sorrow 
and trouble before. Are you willing to be in your former darkness 
and fears, tears and troubles ; to exchange the pleasant light you 
pow enjoy, for the horrors you have formerly felt.'* This you 
must do if you return again to folly. 

Advice 9. Long ^ for heaven, where the fulness of tliose joys isy 
whereof those you taste are hut the earnest andjirstfruits. 

One design of God in giving them, is to set us a longing after 
heaven to help our conceptions, and raise our affections : if these 
be so sweet, what must they be ? Rom. viii. 23. " We which have 
'.' the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within our- 
*' selves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of ouv 
" body.'' We are not to sit down satisfied, and say we have enough 
of these first-fruits ; but they arc given to set us a groaning after 
the fulness of those enjoyments. This answers God's end in giv- 

Advice 10. Lastly, Improve every spiritual comfort ycni have from, 
Christ unto greater cheerfulness in the paths of obedience to Christ. 

This is another end for which God communicates them, that 
our souls being refreshed by them, we might pluck up our feet the 
more nimbly in the paths of duty. Psal. cxix. 32. " Then will I 
^' run the ways of thy commandments when thou shalt enlarge my 
" heart." Now God expects that you pray more frequently, me- 
ditate more delightfully, and perform every duty more cheerfully ; 
and this is the way to perpetuate your comibrts. How many Chris- 
tians go on droopingly in the ways of duty for want of those encou- 
ragements you enjoy ? 


Rev. iii. 20. 
— / will sup with him, and he with me. 

T T E have heard the first encouragement or argument of Christ 
to persuade the hearts of sinners to open to liim, viz. That he 
will come in to them, and that not empty-handed ; He will also 

23G England's duty. 

sup with tliem: And to make the encouragement complete, and 
full, he here adds, And he zcith me. This last clause sets forth 
that spiritual, soul refreshing communion which is betwixt Christ 
and believers ; begun in this world, completed and perfected in the 
world to come. Hence our eleventh observation is, 

Doct. 11. That there i^ a mutual^ sweety and intimate comm^union 
betxvixt Jesus Christ and believers in this world. 

Communnion 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 ridicules it as enthusiasm and fanaticism ; but the 
saints find that reality and incomparable svreetness in it, that they 
would not part with it for ten thousand worlds. When the Ro- 
man soldiers entered the temple pt 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, awful, and sweetest part 
of internal religion as a mere fancy ; but the thing is real, sure, 
and sensible : if there be truth in any thing in the world, there is 
truth in this, that there are real intercourses betwixt the visible 
and invisible world ; betwixt Christ and the souls of believers, 
which we here call communion : 1 John i. 3. " Truly our fellow- 
" ship 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 called his walking 
with God^ Gen. v. 24. O sweet and pleasant walk ! all pleasures, 
ail joys are in that walk with God. " Blessed are the people that 
" hear the joyful sound ; they shall walk, O Lord, in the Kght of 
*' thy countenance,'' Psal. Ixxxix. 15. The joyful sound there 
spoken of was the sound of the trumpet, which called the people 
to the solemn assemblies, w^here they walked in the light of God's 
countenance, the SAveet manifestations of his favour ; and because 
the world is so apt to suspect the reality and certainty of this doc- 
trine, the apostle again asserts it, Phil. iii. 20. " Truly our con- 
" versation is in heaven," We breathe below, but we Hve above ; 
we walk on earth, but our convei^ation is in heaven. To open 
this point, three things must come under consideration. 

1. What communion with Christ is. 

2. That there is such a communion betwixt him and be- 

3. The excellency of this communion. 

Firsts What communion with Christ is, in the general nature of 
it. To open this it must be considered that there is a twofold 

England's duty, 237 

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 communion. This state of conmumion is in scrip- 
ture called TLomua, our fellowsliip or partnership with Christ : such 
a fellowship as merchants l"^ave in one and the same ship and cargo; 
where one hath more and another less, but, however, a joint, 
though unequal 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 shew nothing but this, that Christ and behevers are co- 
partners, or co-heirs in the same inheritance : Hence they are call- 
ed, Psal. xlv. T. his fellows ; " God, even thy God, hath anoint- 
" ed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows -^ And again, 
Rom. viii. 17. " 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 thing purchased by 
him, yea, and the very glory he now enjoys in heaven, John 
xvii. 22. " The glory which thou gavest me, I have given 
<« them.'' 

It is true, there are some things in Christ which are pecuhar to 
himself, and incommunicable to any creature, as his eternity, con- 
substantiality with his father, &c. neither have we fellowship in his 
mediatorial 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 communicate righteousness to others as Christ 
doth to them. But there are other things wherein there is a part- 
nership betwixt Christ and his people ; among others, they partake 
with him in the spirit of sanctification on earth, and glory in hea- 
ven: the same spirit of holiness which dwells in Christ without 
measure, is communicated by him to the saints in measure, 1 John 
iv. 13. " He hath given us of his Spirit.'"' And as Christ com- 
municates his Spirit to the saints, so he communicates 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, 
Eph. ii. 13. and indeed we must be made nigh before we can actually 
draw nigh. We nuist be put into a state of fellowship before ever* 
we can }vd\'d actual communion with God, 

23S exglaxd's bvty. 

2. Beside this state of communion, there is also an actual com- 
inunion which the saints have in this world with the Father and 
the Son in the duties of religion. This is that I am here engaged 
to open : tliis is our supping with Christ, and his with us : and> 
for clearness sake, I shall open it both. 

1. Negatively, what it is not. 

2. Positivel}", what it is. 

1. 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 let it be noted, 

(1.) That communion with God doth not consist in the bare per- 
formance of religious duties. I do not say that men may have 
communion with God in this world without duties, it is a de- 
lusion of Satan to think so ; but this is what I say, that commu- 
nion with God consisteth not in the mere performance of du- 
ties. Communion and duties of religion are two things, sepai-a- 
ble one from the other. Men may multiply duties, and yet be 
strangers to communion ^Aath God in them ; even humiliation and 
fasting days may be kept by souls that are estranged from commu- 
nion with the Lord, Zech. vii. 5. " 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 ?'"' q. d. Had your 
souls pure intentions and respects in those duties to my glory ? 
Had you special communion with me, or I with you in those du- 
ties.'^ Did you ever feel your souls in these days wounded 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, Jer. xii. 2. Religious words may flow out 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 there- 
fore safely depend upon this, Christ rejects this plea, Matth. vii. 
22. Get a better evidence of communion with God than this, or 
you will certainly come vshort of your expectation. / Jcnow you not, 
saith Christ ; there was never any spiritual acquaintance betwixt 
your souls and me ; 1 know you not in a way of approbation. 

(2.) Neither do all stirrings and workings of the affections in du- 
ties infallibly evidence and prove comm.union betwixt Christ and tliat 
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, Ezck. xxxiii. 32. " 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 
prophet's voice was like the skiJful touch of a rare musical instru- 

j:nglaxds Dutv. 5239 

ment, which in a natural way, moved and excited their affections. 
Thus John's hearers rejoiced in Ills ministry for a season; I con- 
fess this is very apt to cast souls into a mistake of their condition. 
They distinguish not betwixt the influences that come upon their 
affections from without, from extrinsic things and those that are 
purely inward, divine, and spiritual. But then, 

2. To shew you positi'vely what communion with God is. Here 
we must consider two things, 

1. What tilings it pre-supposes in us. 

2. Wherein the nature of it consists. 

1. There are divers things pre-required and pre-siipposed unto all 
actual communion with God in duties ; and where these things are 
wanting, men have no communion with God. You may have 
communion with his people, and communion with his ordinances, 
but not communion with God and Christ in them. And these 
pre-requisites are three. 

(1.) Union with Christ is fundamentally necessary to all commu- 
nion 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 Chrisf s,'" 1 Cor. iii. 23. ' 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, Eph. 
iL 13. " We hve without God in the world,"" it is in Christ that 
we are made nigh ; it is in the beloved we are made accepted. 
Whilst we ai'e 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 v/ith the privi- 
leges 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 pre-supposes the habits of grace im- 
planted in the soul by sanctifi cation ; a sound and sincere ch.ange 
of heart No sanctification, no communion ; 1 John i. 6. " If we 
*' say we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, 
" and do not the truth.'' The apostle gives the lie 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 communion unto upright souls. " For an hypocrite shall 
*' not come before him," Job xiii. 16. 

(3.) Communion with God dotli not only suppose grace ini- 

* Dr. Jacotnb on Koiu. viiL page 69. 

240 ' England's duty. 

planted, 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," Psal. xxvii. 8. 
It was in order to actual communion with Christ that the church so 
earnestly begs fresh influences of the Spirit to excite her graces into 
act, Cant. iv. 16. " Awake, O north wind, and come thou south, 
'' blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let 
'' mv 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, Jer. xxx. 21. 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 pre-requisites unto all 
communion with God. 

2. Next let us consider wherein this heavenly privilege of com- 
munion with God doth consist; and more generally it will be 
found to lie in a spiritual correspondency betwixt Christ and the 
soul. God lets forth influences upon our souls, and we, by the 
assistance of his Spirit, make returns again unto God. Commu- 
nion is a mutual action ; so in the text, " I will sup w ith him, and 
*' he with me." We cry to God, and God answers that cry by 
the incomes of spiritual grace upon the soul; Psal. cxxxviii. 3. 
" In the day that I cried, thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst 
*' me with strength in my soul." More particularly, tliere are 
many ways and methods wherein men have this spiritual corres- 
pondence or communion with God, viz. 

1. In the contemplation of his attributes. 

2. In the exercises of our graces in rehgious duties. 

3. In liis various providences. In all these the saints have 
communion with him. 

1. There Is a sweet and sensible communion betwixt God and 
his people, in the contemplation of the Divine attributes^ and the 
impressior.s God makes by them upon our souls, whilst we meditate 
orf them. As for instance, 

(1.) Sometimes the Lord discovers and manifests to the souls of 
his people his immense greatness ; the manifestation of which attri- 

englan'd's duty. Sil 

bute makes an awful, humbling impression upon the soul, make;} 
them seem as nothing to themselves. Thus when Abraham, that 
great believer considered the greatness of that God with whom 
lie had to do ; that siglit of God seems to reduce him to his first 
principles, to crumble him, as it were, into dust and ashes again, 
Gen. xviii. 27. " I that am but dust and ashes have tal^en upf>n me 
*' to speak unto God."" He now looks upon himself as a heap of 
vileness and unworthiness ; so David, Psal. viii. 12. ''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 mind- 
ful of him ?^ q. d. 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 themselves 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 

(2.) The representation and meditations of the puritt/ and holi- 
ness of God, working shame and deep abasement in the soul, for 
the pollutions and sinful filthiness that are in it. This is commu- 
nion with God, and an excellent way of fellowship with him. 
Thus, when a representation of God, in his holiness, was made 
unto the propliet, Isa. vi. 3, 4, 5. there were the seraphims, cover- 
ing 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 
prophet to this manifestation of God in his holiness, was a deep 
abasement of soul for his unsuitableness to so holy a God ; ver. 5. 
" 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, Job xL 
4, 5. " 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 an- 
" swer ; yea, twice, but I will proceed no farther." q. d. I have 
done. Lord, I have done ; I could answer men, but I cannot answer 
thee : Thou art holy, but I am vile. 

2. 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, thank- 
ful admiration of it, and an answerable care of pleasing him in the 
ways of obedience, then have men communion with God in his 

04:2 EXt;LAXD's DUTY. 

goodness. The goodness of God runs down to men in a double 
channel, his goodness to their bodies, in external providences ; his 
goodness to their souls, in spiritual mercies. When the goodness 
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, Gen. xxxii. 9, 10. " 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 ^nth thee. I am not worthy of the least of 
*' all the mercies, and of all the truth Avhich thou hast shewed unto 
" thy servant : for with my staff 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, 1 Chron. xvii. 16, 17. " 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 mer- 
cies useth to produce in sanctified 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 astonishment : as you see in Paul, 1 Tim. i. 16. " The 
*' grace of our Lord was abundant : I was a persecutor, a blas- 
" phemer, yet I obtained mercy." So Mary, that notorious sin- 
ner, 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 I She wept, and washed her Saviour's feet with tears of joy 
and thankfulness, Luke vii. 44. No terrors of the law, no 
frights of hell, thaw the heart like the apprehensions of pardoning 

(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, Heb. xiii, 
5, 6. " I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."' There is a dis- 
covery of the faithfulness of God, and what follows upon this ? 
See ver. 6. " So that we may boldly say, the Lord is our God ; 
" we will not fear what man can do unto us."" Here is faithful- 
liess in God, producing truth and confidence in the believer ; this 
IS that reciprocation, that sweet fellowship and communion betwixt 
God and a behever, with respect to his fidelity. •' Behold, God 
*' is my salvation: I will trust and not be afraid," Isa. xii. % And 
truly, friend, this is what the Lord justly expects from thee, even 


thy truth and confidenee in him^ thy steady dependence on him, 
in return to all the discoveries of his faithfulness to thee both in 
his word and providences. 

(5.) There are manifestations of the anger, and displeasure of 
God, by the hiding of liis face from them, and the frowns of his pro- 
vidence : "When these produce repentance, and deep humiliation for 
sin, an unquietness, a restlessness a^ spirit till he restore his favour, 
and manifest his reconciliation to the soul ; even here, also is a real 
communion betwixt God and the soul Psal. xxx. 7. " 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. Psal, li. 8. 
" Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones wliich thou 
" hast broken may rejoice ; restore unto me the joys of thy salv^ 
*• tion," ver. 12. 

I cannot here omit to detect a great mistake even amongst God's 
own people ; many of them understand 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 produced in them by the manifestations of God's 
displeasure ; I say that even in these things there may be commu- 
nion with God they understand not. But let me tell thee, that 
even such things as these are the choice fruits of the spirit of adop- 
tion, 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, dfter conviction of thy looseness, carelessness, and spi- 
ritual defilements, the consequents of those sins ; saying with him,- 
*' O my God, I am ashamed, and even blush to lift up my face 
" unto thee,"*' Ezra ix. 6. Shame and blushing are as excellent 
signs of communion with God as the sweetest smiles. 

Lastly, There are representations and special contemplations of 
the omniscience of God, producing sincerity, comfort in appeals, and 
recourse to it in doubts of our own uprightness : And this also is SL 
choice and excellent method of communion with God. (1.) 
When the omniscience of God strongly obliges the soul to siiv 
cerity and uprightness, as it did David, Psal. cxxxix. 11, 12. com- 
pared 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, 2 Kings 
XX. 3. " Remember now, O Lord, that I have walked before thee 
" in truth, and with a perfect heart." So Job x. 7. he also ap- 
peals to this attribute, " Thou knowest that I am not wicked^'' 
So did Jeremiah, Jer. xii. 3. " But thou, O Lord, kfiowest 

Vol, IV. Q 

244) England's duty. 

" me, thou hast seen me, and tried my heart towards thee." (2.) 
When we have recourse to it under doubts and fears of our own 
uprightness. Thus did David, Psal. cxxxix. 23. " 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 Spirit of the Lord influences the 
gj^aces of his people, and they return the fruits thereof in some 
measure to him. As God hath planted various graces in regene- 
rate 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 shews itself in the soul of 
a Chiistian, to wit, repentance, and sorrow for sin. In the ex- 
ercise 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. 
Psal. xxxii. 4^ 5. "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 
bet\\ixt God and man in the exercises of repentance. 

(2.) As there are seasons in duty wherein the saints exercise their 
repentance, and the Lord returns peace ; so likewise the Lord 
helps them in their duties to act their Jhith, in return whereunto, 
they find from the Lord inward support, rest, and refreshment. 
Psal. xxvii. 23. " I had fainted unless I had beheved." And oft- 
times an assurance of the. mercies they have acted their faith about, 
1 John V. 14. 

(3.) The Lord many times draws forth eminent degrees of our 
love to him, in the course of our duties ; the heart is filled with 
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. John xiv. 
21. " 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 Chris- 
tians drive this way in their duties and exercises of graces ? 

(4.) To mention no more in the duties of passive obedience, Chris- 
tians are enabled to exercise their patience, meekness, and long- 
&ufFering for Christ, in return to which, the Lord gives them the 
singular consolations of his Spirit, double returns of joy. " The 


" Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon them,'' 1 Pet. iv. 13, 
14. The Lord strengthens them with passive fortitude, with all 
might in the inner man, unto all long-suffering ; but the reward of 
that long-suffering is joy fulness, Col. i. 11. This is the trade they 
drive with heaven. 

3. Beside communion with God in the contemplation of his 
attributes, and graces exercised in the course of duties, there is an- 
other method of communion with God in the way of his provi^ 
dencesy for therein also his people walk with him. To give a taste 
of this, let us consider providence in a fourfold aspect upon the 
people of God. 

(1.) There are afflictive providences, rods and rebukes where- 
with the Lord chastens his children, this is the discipline of his 
house ; in answer whereunto gracious souls return meek and child- 
like submission, a fruit of the Spirit of adoption ; they are brought 
to accept the punishment of their iniquities. And herein lies com- 
munion 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, Heb. xii. 7. but this is the fruit it shall yield ; and when 
it doth, there is real communion between God and the afflicted souF. 
Let not Christians mistake themselves, if when God is smiting, they 
are humbled, searching their hearts, and blessing God for the dis- 
coveries of sin made by their afflictions ; admiring his wisdom in 
timing, moderating, and chusing the rod ; kissing it with a child- 
hke submission, 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 providence straitens the people of God ; 
when the waters of comfort ebb and run very low, wants pinch ; if 
then the soul returns filial dependence upon fatherly care, saying 
with David, Psal. xxiii. 1. " 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 commu- 
nion with God under pinching wants. The wants of the body 
enrich the soul, outward straitenings are the occasions of inward 
enlargements. O see from hence how good it is to have an interest 
in God as a Father, whatever changes of providence may come 
upon you. 

(3.) There 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 re- 
signation to the pleasure of his will, here is communion with God 
in times of distress and difficulty. Thus David, Psal. Ivi. 3. " At 
" what time I am afraid I will trust in thee."" q. d. Father, I see 

Q 2 



a storni rising, thy poor child conies 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 doXibtful providences, 
when the soul resigns and leaves itself to the wise disposal of the 
will of God, as David in 2 Sam. xv. 24, 26. " 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 God. 

Secondly^ In the next place I shall evidence the reality of com- 
munion 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 
manv men will allow nothinor for certain but what falls under the 
cogmzance 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 evidence 
the truth and reality of the saints coimnimion with God divers 

Evidence 1. From the saints' union vA\h. Christ. If there be an 
union betwixt Christ and behevers, then of necessity there must be 
a communion between them also. Now the whole word of God 
which you profess to be the rule of your faith, plainly asserts this 
union betwixt Christ and behevers ; an union hke that betwixt the 
branches and the root, Job xv. 4, 5. or that betwixt the head and 
the members, Eph. iv. 16. 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 spu'its from the root and from the head that the branches 
and members subsist and live. 

Ev'id. 2. There is a co-habitation of Christ with behevers ; he 
dwells with them, yea, he dwells in them, 2 Cor. vi. 16. " I will 
" dwell in them, and walk in them.'' The soul of a believer is the 
temple of Christ : yea, his living temple, 1 Pet. ii. 5. And if 
Christ dwell with them ; yea, if he dwell in them and walk in 
them, then certainly there must be communion betwixt him and 
them; if they live together they mast converse together. A man 
indeed may dwell in his house, and yet cannot be said to have com- 
munion with it ; but the saints are a living house, they are the liv- 
ing temples of Christ ; and he cannot dwell in such temples capa- 
ble of communion with him, and yet have no communion \vith 

Evid. 3. The reality of communion betwixt God and tlie saints 
iB undeniably evinced from all the spuitual relations into which 

EXGLAXl/s DUTY. 217 

God hath taken them. Every beUever is the child of God and 
the spouse of Christ. God is the beUever's Father, and the church 
is tlie LamVs wife. Christ calls the believer 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 behever 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 renounce and deny all such rela- 
tions to him, and therein renounce our Bibles ; or else yield the 
conclusion, that there is a real communion betwixt Christ and 

Evid. 4. The reality of communion with God evidently ap- 
pears from the institution and appointment of so many ordinances 
and duties of religion, on purpose to maintain daily communion 
betwixt Christ and his people. As to instance but in that one in- 
stitution o^ prayer, a duty appointed on purpose for the souPs meet- 
ing with God, and communion with him : James iv. 8. " 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 
souFs drawing nigh to God, and God to it ; if there be no such 
thing as communion to be enjoyed with him ? If communion with 
God were a mere phantom, as the carnal world thinks it to be, 
what encouragement have the saints to bow their knees to the God 
and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ? But surely there is an ac- 
cess to God in prayer, Eph. iii. 12. " In whom we have boldness, 
*' and access with confidence.'"* Access to what ? If God be not 
there, and that there can be no communion v/ith 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," 
Exod. XXV. 22. Certainly duties had never been appointed, 
but for the sake of God's communing with us, and w^e with 

Evid. 5. This is yet further evidenced from the mutual desires 
both of Christ and his people to be in sweet and intimate commu- 
nion one with the other. The scripture speaks much of the saints 
vehement desires after commuion with Christ, and of Christ's de- 
sires after communion with the saints, and of both jointly. Tlie 
saints' desires after communion with him are frequent in all the 
scriptures, see Psal. Ixiii. 1, 2, 3. Psal. xlii. 1. Psal. cxix. 20. and 
the like tliroughout the New Testament. And Christ is no less 
desirous, yea, he is much more desirous of communion with us 
than we are with him. Consider that expression of his to the 
spouse, in Cant. viii. 13. " O thou that dwellest in the gardens^ 


218 England's duty. 

" the companions hearken to thy voice ; cause me to hear it.'^ 
As if he f5hould 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 counte- 
'^ nance, 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, Rev. xxii. 20. Surely (saith Christ) / 
coiue qiicklj, amen : Even so come, Lord Jesus, saith the church. 
Now if there be such vehement mutual desires after communion 
betvvixt Christ and his people in this world ; then certainly there is 
such a thing as real communion between them, pr else both must 
hve a very restless and dissatisfied life. 

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 complain of his people for their estrangements from him, 
a iU the saints complain to God about his silence to them, and the 
hidings of his face from them ; surely then there must be a com- 
munion between them, or else there could be no ground of com- 
plaints for the interruptions of it. But it is manifest God doth 
complain of his people for their estrangements from him, Jer. ii. 
5. " 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 the church of Ephesus ; after 
he had commended many things in her, yet one thing grieves and 
troubles him, Rev. ii. 4. " 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 fi-om his people ; what sad lamentations and moans do they 
make about it, as an affliction they know not how to bear ? Thus 
Heman, Psal. Ixxxviii. 14. " Lord, why castest thou off my soul? 
" Why hidest thou thy face from me .?" So Psal. xxvii. 9- " Hide 
" not thy face from me ? put not thy servant away in anger." This 
is what they cannot bear. 

Evid. 7. The reality of communion with God is made visible tp 
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, 1 Sam. i. 
18. *^ She went away, and her countenance was no more sad." 
You might have read in her Jace that God had spoken peace and 

England's duty. 249 

satisfaction to her heart. Thus, when the disciples liad been with 
Christ, the mark of communion with him was visible to others. 
Acts iv. 13. " 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 cheer- 
fulness and spirituality of thy conversations with men, shall convince 
others that thou hast been with Jesus. 

Evid. 8. We may prove the reahty 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, 
Rom. viii. 26. 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 communion with God. It is true, carnal men have their 
troubles, and those troubles are often too heavy for them. The 
sorroxvs 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 as their outward troubles. And inward 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 frqm, they could never bear them. Psal. xxvii. 13. 
" I had fainted unless I had believed." Paul had sunk under the 
bufFetings of Satan, unless he had gone once and again to his God, 
and received this answer, " My grace is sufficient for thee," 2 Cor. 
xii. 9. 

Evid. 9. We conclude the reality of communion with God, from 
the end of the saints vocation. We read frequently in scripture of 
effectual calling ; now what is that to which God calls his people, 
out of the state of nature, but unto fellowship and communion with 
Jesus Christ ? 1 Cor. i. 9- " 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 
certainly 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, evidently prove their life of com« 
munion with God. The men of this world are manifestly distin- 
guished from the people of God in scripture ; they are called. The 
children of this world ; the saints. The children of lights Luke xvi. 8, 
They are said to be ctfter the fleshy saints to be cifter the Spirit, Rom. 
viii. 5. They mind earthly things^ but the saints conversatioji is in 
heave?!, Phil. iii. 19, 20. By all which it undeniably appears that 
there is a reality in the doctrine of communion betwixt Christ and 


^0 englaxd's duty. 

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 shew 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, 

I. EiXcelUncy. It is the assimilating instrument whereby the soul 
is moulded and fashioned after the image of God. This is the 
excellency of communion with God, to make the soul like him. 
There is a two-fold assiviilation^ or conformity of the soul to God, 
the one perfect and complete, the other inchoate and in part. Per- 
fect assimilation is the privilege of the perfect state, resulting from 
the immediate vision and perfect communion the soul hath with 
God in glory, 1 John iii. 2. '* When he shall appear, we shall be 
*' like him, for we shall see him as he is.'" Perfect vision pro 
duceth perfect assimilation ; but the soufs 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 degree doth our conformity to him advance: 
^ Cor. iii. 18. " 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 com- 
munion among men have an assimilating 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 figures the spirit of a man after the divine 
pattern. That is the first excellency of communion with God, it 
iassimilates them to God. 

II. Excellency. It is the beauty of the soul, in the eyes of God 
and all good men ; it makes the face to shine. No outward splen- 
dor attracts like this ; it makes a man the most desirable compa- 
nion in the whole world : 1 John i. 3. '* 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 apostlo 
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 calL 
ed, and an eminent degree of sanctilication shall be visible in 

England's duty. S51 

them ; and then see the effect of this, \cr. 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- xvith you ; it is the effect 
of communion with God, which makes the righteous more excel- 
lent than his neighbour, Prov. xii. 26. What a vast and visible 
difference doth this make between one man and another ! How 
heavenly, sweet, and desirable are the conversations and company 
of some men ! How frothy, burthensome, and unprofitable is tlie 
company 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. 

III. Excellency. It is the centre which rests the motions of a 
weary soul : it is the rest and refreshment of a man's spirit, PsaL 
cxvi. 7. Return unto thy rest^ O my soul. When we attain perfect 
communion with God in heaven, we attain to perfect rest, and 
all the rest the spirit of man finds on earth, is found in 
communion with God. Take a sanctified person, who hath in- 
termitted for some time his communion with the Lord, and ask 
him. Is your soul at rest and ease ? He will tell you, no ! The mo- 
tions 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 re- 
d uced unto God, and recover 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 for 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 baclv to 

IV. Excellency. It is the desire of all gracious souls throughout 
the world. Where-ever there is a gracious soul, the desires of 
that soul are working after communion with God. As Christ was 
called, The desire of ail nations, so communion with him is the de- 
sire of all nations : and this speaks the excellency of it, Psal. xxvii. 4. 
" 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 tem- 
*'ple;'' i. e. to enjoy communion widi 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 com- 
fortably 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; Psal. xlii. 1. "My soul panteth after thee, Q God;"*' and 
Psal. cxix. 81. " My soul fainteth for thy salvation." Psal. ci. % 
^' When wilt thou come unto me .?" No duties can satisfy without 
it, the soul cannot bear the delays, much less the denials of it. 
They reckon their lives worth nothing without it. Ministers may 
come, ordinances and sabbaths may come; but there is no satis- 
faction to the desires of a gracious heart, till God comes too ; Q 
when Kilt thou come unto me? 

V. Excellency. As it is the desire, so it is the delight of all the 
children of God, both in heaven and earth, As communion with 
the saints is the delight of Christ, Cant. ii. 14. " Let me hear thy 
''voice:" and again. Cant. viii. 13. "The companions hearken 
'' to thy voice ; cause me to hear it :" So communion with Christ 
is the delight of his people. Cant. ii. 3. " I sat under his shadow 
*' with great dehght, and his fruit was sweet unto my taste." It 
is the pleasure of Christ to see the vearning countenances, the blush- 
ing cheeks, the dropping e3'^es 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 Chris- 
tians, you must look for no such delights as these, in any eailhly 
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 delight of all gracious souls. 

VI. Excellency. It is the envy of Satan, 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 fehcity, and 
pleasure of that communion with God, from which he himself is 
fallen, and cut off for ever ! to see the saints imbosomed in dehght- 
ful communion with Christ, whilst himself feels the pangs of horror, 
and despair ! this is what he cannot endure to behold. And there-, 
fore you should find in j'our experience, that times of communion 
with God are usually busy times of temptation from the devil. 
Zech. iii. 1. " And he shewed 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 tliee; otherwise Satan would this way destroy your com- 
munion with God, and make that which is now your delight, to be 
your terror. Many ways doth the devil oppose the saints commu- 
nion 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 cannot 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, S^c. these 
fierce oppositions of hell discover the worth, and excellency of 
communion with God. 

VII. Eioccdlencif. It is the end of all ordinances, and duties of 
religion. God hath instituted every ordinance, and duty, whe- 
ther public or private, to beget, and maintain communion betwixt 
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, 
who is our true rest. When we go into a hoat^ it is not with au 
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 ordinances, 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 disappointment, and returns sad and dissatisfied. 
God appoints ordinances to be meeting-places with himself in this 
world, Exod. xxv, 21, 22. " Thou shalt put the mercy-seat above 
" upon the ark, and in the ark thpu 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 golde^i-chcrubims^ 
or of the arJc overlaid with pure gold, that could have satisfied 
Moses, had not the special presence of God been there, and he had 
had communion 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 sanctuary,'' Psal. Ixiii. 1, 2. Mag- 
nificient structures, artificial ornaments of the places of worship, are 
of little account with a gracious soul ; it is the presence of God, 
and communion with him, which is the beauty and glory the saints 
desire to behold. 

VIII. 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 with him, or our pretensions to it are vain and 
groundless. There be many of you (I wish there were more) en- 

%54i ekglaxd's duty. 

quiring after evidences and signs of your union with Christ ; why, 
here is an evidence that can never fail you : do you hve in commu- 
nion with him ? IMay your life be called a walking with God, as 
Enoch's w^as ? 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. 2 Kin. xx. 2, 
S. '' Remember now, O Lord, (saith Hezekiah) that I have walked 
*' before thee in truth, and in a perfect heart." O 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 they will do at death ; and all upon this account : I 
have been a man of knowledge, I have been frequent 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 cany along with me. That is a remarkable place. Gal. 
V. 25. " If we hve 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 evidence of our union with Christ ; and no gifts or 
performances whatsoever can amount to an evidence of our union 
tvith Christ without it. 

IX. Excelleiicy. It is ease in all pains, sweet and sensible ease to 
a troubled soul. Look, as the bleeding of a vein cools, eases, and 
refreshes a feverish body ; so the opening of the soul by acts of 
communion with God, gives sensible ease to a burdened soul : griefs 
are eased by gi'oans heavenward. Many 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, 
Psal. xxxii. 1, 2, 3. 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 w ine ; he must speak to God that he 
may be refreshed : and so he did, and was refreshed by it, " I said, 
'* I will confess my 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 and 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. 

X. Excellency. It is Jbod to the soul, and the most delicious, 
pleasant, proper, and satisfying food that ever it tasted; it is 
hidden manna. Rev. ii. 17. " By these things, Lord, do men 
*' live, and in them is the life of their soul," Isa. xxviii. 16. 
A regenerate soul cannot live without it \ their bodies can hve as 


"^ell Xvithout bread or breath as their souls without comminiion 
with God : it is more than their necessary food. Here they find 
what they truly call marrow and fatness, Psal. Ixiii. 5, 6. O the 
satisfaction and support they suck out of spiritual things by thoughts 
and meditations upon them ! " To be spiritually minded is lif« 
" and peace,'" Rom. viii* 6. The delicacies upon princes tables 
are husks and chaff to this. Crozas and vultures can live upon the 
carrion of this world, but a renewed soul cannot subsist long with* 
out God. Let such a soul be diverted for a time from its usual re- 
freshments this way, and he shall find something within paining 
him like the sucking and drawing of an empty stomach. It is 
angePs food, it is that your souls must live upon tliroughout eter- 
nity, and most happily too. 

XI, Excellency. It is the guard of the soul against the assaults of 
temptation. It is like a shield advanced against the fiery darts of 
that wicked one. Your safety and security lie in drawing nigh to 
God. Psal Ixxiii. 27, 28. " They that are fai' from thee shall 
" perish : but it is good for me to draw near to God.**' It is good 
indeed ; not only the good of comfort^ but the good of safety is in it. 
Deut. xxxiii. 12. *' The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety 
*' by him." You know the gracious presence of Grod is youif 
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 neaf 
to him in the duties of communion: " For the Lord is with you 
*' whilst you are with him^'' 2 Chron, xv. 2. 

XII. Excellency, It is the Iwnour of the soul, and the gi*eatest 
honour that ever God conferred on any creature. It is the glory 
of the holy angels in heaven, to be always beholding the face of 
God, Matth. xviii. 10. 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 saints. 1 John i. 3. " 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. 

XIII. Excellency. It is the instrument o^ mortification, and the 
most excellent and successful instrument for that purpose in all 
the world. Gal. v. 16. " This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and 
" ye shall not fulfil the works of the flesh." Walkhig in the Spi- 
rit is the same thing with walking in communion with God. Now, ^ 
saith that apostle, if you walk thus in the Spirit, in the actings of 
faith, love, and obedience, 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 sha]] not feel tlie motions of sin in you, or 
temptations to sin assaultino- 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 external means in the world : as a candle that is blown out 
with a puff of breath may be re-kindled 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 exercises 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 beautiful vision of God. This is sure, the more 
communion any man hath \\ath God on earth, the freer he lives 
from the power of his corruptions. 

XIV. Excellency. It is the Icerncl of all duties and ordinances : 
words, gestures, &c. are but the integuments, husks, and shells 
of duties. Communion with God is the sweet hernel, 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, Isa. xliv. 
20. to spend his money for that which is not bread, and his labour 
for that which satisfieth not, Isa. Iv. ^. He feeds but upon husks, 
in which there is but little pleasure or nourishment. What a poor 
house dorh a hypocrite keep ? Words, gestures, ceremonies of re- 
ligion, will never fill the soul; but communion with God is sub- 
stantial nourishment. " My soul (saith David), shall be satisfied 
" as with marrow and fatness, whilst I think and meditate on 
*' thee," Psal. Ixiii. 5, 6. 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 shuffle over 
a few heartless empty duties ; whilst the saints, feeding thus upon 
hidden manna^ are feasted as it were with angefs food. 

XV. Excellency. It is the ligld of the soul in darkness ; 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 ignorance and unbelief, the most dismal of all darkness, except 
that in hell. There are others who are children of light in a state 
of reconcihation, 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 
comipunion with him, that darkness Ls dissipated and scattered ; it 

England's ortY. S57 

is all light within him and round Jlbout him, Psal. xxxiv. 5. " 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, Psal. civ. 20, 21, 22. 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 Germany upon his death-bed, when his eye-sight was 
gone, being asked how it was within ? Why, said he, though all he 
dark about me, yet, pointing as well as he could to his breast, hic sat 
lucis, here is light enough. 

XVI. 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, Psal. cxix. 45. " I will 
" walk at liberty, for I seek thy precepts.'' Wicked men cry out 
of bands and cords in rehgion, they look upon the duties of god- 
hness as the greatest bondage and thraldom in the whole wm-ld, 
Psal. ii. 3. " Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their 
" cords from us." q. d. Away with this strictness and preciseness, 
it extinguishes the joy and pleasure 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 enslaving fears. " The law of the Spirit of life in 
" Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death," 
Rom. viii. 2. And here is freedom indeed; " If the Son make 
" you free, then are ye free indeed,'' John viii. 36. 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. Rom. vi. 20. " 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," 
James i. 25. not liberty to sin ; but liberty from sin. 

XVII. Excellency. 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 
tlie redeemed of the Lord partake of; a mercy which cost thq 

^g EKGLAifD's DUTY. 

blood of Christ to purchase it. I do not deny but there are thou- 
sands of other mercies bestowed upon the unregenerate ; they have 
health, wealth, children, honours, pleasures, and all the delights 
of this Hfe ; but for communion tvith God, and the pleasures that 
result therefrom, they are incapable of these. Na supping with 
Christ, upon such excellent 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, Eph. ii. 13. Heb. 
X. 19, 20, 21, 22. 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 them alL And there is this difference, 
among many others, betwixt 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 mercy. 

XV III. Excellency. It \s natural tx) the new creature; the in- 
clination and instinct of the new creature 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,^ 
1 Pet. iL 2. " 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 na- 
ture ; the sun will rise, and the sea will flow at their appointed times ; 
and the gracious soul will make tov/ards 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 de- 
monstrate communion with God to be co-natural to the regenerate 
part, called the inner-man, and the hidden-man of the heart, viz. 
(1.) The restlessness of a gracious soul without it. Cant. iii. 2, The 
church, in the first verse, had sought her beloved, 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 satis- 
faction and pleasure, the rest and delight which the soul finds and 
feels in the enjoyment of communion with God, plainly shew it 
to be agreeable to the new nature : Psal. Ixiii. 5. " My soul shall 
" be satisfied when I think on thee." And when it is thus, then 
duties become easy and pleasant to the soul : 1 John v. 3. " His 
" commandments are not grievous." Yea, and such a soul will 
be constant and assiduous in those duties. That which is natural^ 

ENGLAis'D's DUTY. 259 

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 agi*eeable to them ? The motives to 
duty lie witliout them, not within them. 

XIX. Excellency. It is the occupation and trade of all sanctified 
persons, and the richest trade that was ever driven 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 pro- 
fitable occupation : Phil. iii. ^0. *' Out conversation is in heaven." 
Our commerce and trade lies that way, so that word signifies. 
There be few Christians that have driven this soul-enriching trade 
any considerable time, but can shew some spiritual treasures which 
tliey have gotten by it, Psal. cxix. 50. " This I had, because I kept 
" thy precepts." As merchants can shew the gold and silver, the 
lands and houses, the rich goods and furniture, which they have 
gotten by their successful adventures 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 com- 
munion with God. Their souls are weak, and by communion 
with God they have gotten strength. Psal. cxxxviii. 3. " I cried^ 
" and thou strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.'' They 
have gotten peace by it, a treasure inestimable. Psal. cxix. 165. 
** Great peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall 
*' offend them."" They have gotten purity by it. Psal. cxix. 3. 
" They do no iniquity that walk in thy ways." O what rich re^ 
turns are here ! nay, they get sometimes 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 iri 
the duties of religion ; In keeping thy commandments there is great 

XX. Flxcellencyi It is oil to the wheels of obedience^ which 
makes the soul go on cheerfully in the ways of the Lord ; Psal* 
cxix. 32. " Then will t run the ways of thy commandments^ 
" when thou shalt enlarge my heart." Non tardat uncta rota. Oiled 
wheels run nimbly. How prompt and ready for any duty of 
obedience, is a soul under the influence of communion with God ! 
Then, as Isaiah^ having gotten a sight of God, " Here am Ij 
" Lord, send me^" Isa. vi. 8. Now the soul can turn its hand ta 
the duties ofj 

1. Active; And 

2. Passive obedience. 

1. Hereby th« soul is prepared and fitted for the duties o^ aetivC^ 
Vol. IV. R 

£60 England's duty. 

obedience, to which it appUes itself with pleasure and delight; Psal. 
xhii, 3, 4. " 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 : Psal. cxix. 14. "I have rejoiced in the way 
" of thy commandments as much as in all riches. 

2. It prepares the soul for passive obedience: makes a man to 
rejoice in his sufferings, Col. i. 24. It will make a Christian stand 
ready to receive any burden or load that God shall lay upon his 
shoulders, and even be thankful to be so employed ; '" This joy of 
" the Lord is theii' strength," Neh. viii. 10. A Christian under 
the cheerful influences of near communion 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 particulars, 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 applica- 
tion of this point, in a double use : 

1. Of information. 

2. Of exhortation. 

Fh'st, For iiiformation 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 i/i 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 tilings 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 religion, 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, 1 John i. 1. 
" 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 
believing Hebrews, the apostle appealed, Heb. x. 34. 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 kno^ving in ourselves is more certain and sweet than all the 
traditional reports we can get from the reports of others, 1 Pet. i. 
8. " Whom having not seen ye love ; whom, though now you see 
" him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and 
" full of glory." Thei-e is more of heaven felt and tasted in this 
Korld than men are aware oi', it is one thing to hear of such 


countries as Spain, Italy, Smyrna, by tlie cliscout-ses and reports 
we heard of them in our chililhood, and another thing to under- 
stand those countries by the rich commodities imported from them, 
in tlie way of our trade and commerce. O did we but know what 
other Christians have felt and tasted j we would 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. 2. If such a height of communion with God be attainable 
on earth, then most Christia?is live below the duties and comforts of 

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 j the joys and comforts of 
assurance ! And will you know the feasons of it ? There are five 
things which usually keep them poor and low as to spiritual 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 morality creep- 
ing into the duties of religion, impoverishes the vital spirit thereof, 
like the wanton embraces of the ivy, which binds and starves \\\q 
tree it clasps about. Religion cannot thrive under formality; and 
it is diflicult to keep out formality in a settled course of duty, and 
much more when duties are intermitted. (3.) The business 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- 
apostasy, inward decays of our first love, is another reason why 
our duties prosper so little. Rev. ii. 14. " Thou hast left thy first 
" love."" You were not wont to serve God with such coldness. 
(5.) In a word, spiritual pride impoverishes our comforts ; the 
*oys of the Spirit, like brisk wines, are too strong for our weak 
eads. For these causes, many Christians are kept low in spiritual 

Infer. 3. How sweet and desirable is the society of the saints! ii 
must needs be desirable to walk with them, who walk with God, 1 John 
i. 3. No such companions as the saints. What benefit or pleasure 



262 exgland\s duty. 

can we find in converses with sensual worldlings ? All we can carry 
away 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 
" excel in virtue," Psal. xvi. 3. 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, Mai. iii. 16. Acts 
ii. 46, 47. the Lord restore it to its primitive glory, and sweetness. 

Infer. 4. What an unspeakable mercy is conversion, 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 ^Axh God. Job xxii. 21. " Ac- 
" quaint now thyself with him, and be at peace, thereby good shall 
" come unto thee." This is your first acquaintance with the Lord, 
which will be a growing thing ; every visit you give him, in prayer 
increaseth your acquaintance, and begets more intimacy, and 
humble, holy familiarity betwixt him and you. And, O what a 
paradise of pleasure doth this let the soul into ! the life of religion 
abounds with pleasures, Psal. xvi. 11. " All his ways are ways of 
" pleasantness, and his paths are peace," Prov. iii. 17. Now you 
know where to go, and unload any trouble that presseth your hearts ; 
whatever prejudices and scandal Satan, and his instruments, 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 

Infer. 5. Lastly, If' there he so much delight, and pleasure in our 
imperfect, and often interrupted communion with God here ; O then 
Tchat is heaven! ivhat are the immediate visions of his face in the 
perfect state ? 1 Cor. ii. 9. " Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nei- 
^' ther 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 perfec- 
ticn and blessedness of that state, that heaven will, and must be a 

EN'GIANd's DT3TY. 263 

great surprise to them that have now the greatest acquaintance witli 
it. Though the present comforts of the saints are sometimes as 
much as they can bear, for they seem to reel, and stagger, under 
the weight of them, Cant. ii. 5. " Stay me with flagons, comfort 
" me with apples, I am sick of love i"" Yet, I say, these high tides 
of pleasant joys, are but shallows to the joys of his immediate 
presence, 1 Cor. xiii. 12. And as they run not so deep, so they 
are not constant and continued, as they shall be above ; 2 Thes. 
iv. uU. " Ever with the Lord."*' And thus much for information. 

II. Use,Jbr Ecvhortation. 

The last improvement of this point will be by way of exhor- 

1. To believers. 

2. To unbelievers. 

First, Is this the privileged state, into which all believers are 
admitted by conversion .'' Then strive to come up to the highest at- 
tainment of communion with God in this world, and be not contented 
with Just so much grace as will secure you from hell ; hut labour 
after such a height of grace and communion with God, in the exer- 
cise thereof as may bring you into the suburbs of heaven an earth. 

Forget the things that are behind you, as to satisfaction in them, 
and press towards 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 t& hearken 
obediently to three or four necessary words of counsel. 

I. Counsel. Make communion with God the very level 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 com- 
munion with God be the thing that draws you to every sermon 
and prayer. . Psal. xviii. " One thing have I desired of the Lord, 
" that will I seek after, that I may see the beavity of the Lord, and 
" enquire q/ier him in his temple." That was the mark David 
amied at ; and men''s success in duties is usually according to the 
spiritual aims and intentions of their hearts in them : both sincerity 
and comfort lie much in men's ends. 

II. Counsel. In all your approaches to God, beg and plead hard 
with him for the manifestations of his love, and further commu- 
nications of his grace. " Heai', 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,'^ Psal. xxvii. 7, 8, 9. How full and thick of pleas and 
arfruraents for communion with God was this prayer of David ? 
Lord, I am come, in obedience to thy command ; thou saidst. Seek 
ye myface^ thou biddest me come to thee, and wilt thou put away 
thy serv-ant in anger ? Thou hast been my help, I have had sweet 
experience of thy sroodness, thou dost not use to put me off, and 
tUiii me away empty. 

III. Counsel. Dosire not comfort for comfort's sake ; but comforts 
and refreshments for service and obedience sake-; that thereby 
you may c: strengthened to go on in the ways of your duty with 
more cheeifulness, Psal. cxix. 32. " Then \^ill 1 run the ways of 
'' thv conpnandm^mts, when thou shalt enlarge my heart."*' As 
if he should say, O Lord, the comforts thou shalt give me, shall 
be returned aga* i in cheerful services to thee. I desire them as oil 
to the wheels of obedience, not food for my pride, 

IV, 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 conversations. It is the 
looscnpss and carelessness of our hearts and lives which impoverishes 
our spiritual comforts. A little pride, a little carelessness, dashes 
and iVustrates a great deal of comfort, which was very near us, al- 
most in oui' hands ; to allude that, Hosea vii. 1. " When I would 
" have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was disco- 
" veied."" 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 sii|S have hid his face from you,'' Isa. lix. 2. The Com- 
forter, the Holy Spirit, is sensible and tender ; he hath quick re- 
sentpients of your unkindnesses and offences. As ever, therefore, 
you expect comfort from him, beware of him, and grieve him 

Secondly, In the last place, this point speaks necessary counsel 
and advice to ircbelievers ; to all that live estranged from the life 
of Gpd, and ha . e done so from the womb, Psal. Iviii. 3. To you 
the voice of the Redeemer sounds a summons once more, " Be- 
" hold, I stand at the door and knock." O that at last you might 
be prevailed with to comply with the merciful terms propounded 
by him. Will you shut out a Saviour bringing salvation, pardon 
and peace with him ! Chnst is thy rightful owner, and demands 
possession o^ tiiy soul : if thou wilt now hear his voice, thy former 
refusals ^hall never be objected. If thou still reject his gracious 
offers, mercy may never more be tendered to thee ; there is a call 
of Christ vi'hich will be the last call, and after that no more. Take 
heed what you do ; if you still demur and delay, your damnation 

T:yGLAXD\s DUTY. 265 

is just, inevitable, and inexcusable. Hear me, therefore, you un- 
reo-enerated 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 con- 
viction in your consciences or not. For however your conditions 
in this world differ from each other at present, there is one com- 
mon misery hanging over you all, if you continue in that state of 
unbehef 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 the agreement be not made betwixt 
Christ and your souls ? Christ is a treasure which only can enrich 
you. Mat. 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 tor- 
ment thy conscience hereafter, than thy estate can yield thee com- 
fort 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 't"^ Mat. xvi. 26. Say not, you have much business under 
your hands, and cannot allow time i you will have space enough 
hereafter to reflect upon your folly. 

2. You that are poor, and mean in the worlds what say you, 
will you have two hells, one here, and another hereafter.? No 
comfort in this world, no^c hope for the next ? Your expectations 
here laid in the dust, and your hopes for heaven built upon tlie 
sand ? O if you were once m 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,'' Jam. ii. 5. O blessed state ! If you had Christ, 
you had then a right to all things, 1 Cor. iii. 22, 23. 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 
m^thinks it should be matter of encouragement that the greatest 



number of Christ's friends, and followers, come out of that rank, 
and order of men, to which you belong. 

3. 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 belong 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. 
yi. 9, 10. " Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor 
^' adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with man- 
" kind,'"* &c. ponder it, I say, and think whether 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, Isa. Iv. 2. The Lord now calls to you 
in a still voice ; if you hear his voice, well ; 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 desolate 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 
^nd 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 eternity. 
Well, now, you are old, and Just upon the borders of it ; will you 
indeed mind it now.? 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 ! delay 
and put off* Christ stil) as you were wont to do ? Poor creatures, 
you are almost gone out of time, you have but a short time to de- 
liberate ; what you do must be done quickly, or it can never be 
done. Your night is even come upon you when no man can 

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 
iaffections ffowmg and impressive, you are not yet entered into the 

England's duty, ^67 

incumbrances 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 speaking) are brought over to Christ after- 
wards. 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-neglecting 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 1 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 conviction as it is in putting iron into 
the fire, and quenching it again, which hardens it the more. You 
have been near the kingdom of God, but the more miserable for that, 
if you be shut out at last. The quickening 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 vile or vain accounts, 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 hfe, and make the heart tremble under it that hath 
scoffed at it. " Be not mockers, lest your bonds be made strong,'^ 
Isa. xxviii. 22. 

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 
regeneration to open the door of salvation to your souls. And 
as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in 





RoM. i. 18. 

JTor the wrath of God is revealed Jrom heatmi against all ungod- 
liness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in un^ 

iN all the foregoing sermons I have been pleading and wooing 
for Christ. And as Abraham's servant, to win the damseVs consent, 
told her what treasures his master's son had, so I have laboured to 
shew you some part of the unsearchable riches of Christ, if by any 
means I might allure your hearts, and be instrumental to close the 
happy match betwixt him and you ; and (as the apostle speaks) 
espouse you to one husband, even to Christ. 

But alas ! How few stir towards him ? The most seem to be im- 
moveably fixed in their natural state, and sinful courses. All our ar- 
guments and entreaties return to us again, and effect nothing. It is 
amazing to think what is the matter, that souls which have in them 
the inbred hopes and fears of the world to come, and self-reflecting 
powers cannot, for all this, be prevailed with to quit the way of sin, 
and to embrace the way of holiness, though their consciences mean 
while stand convinced, that eternal damnation is the issue and re- 
sult of the one ; life, peace, and eternal joys of the other. 

This hath put me upon a serious search what may be the cause and 
reason of this fixed and unreasonable obstinacy ; and in this it seems 
evidently to lie with most that live in an unregenerate state under 
the gospel, that they put a force upon their own consciences, and do 
imprison and hold the truth in unrighteou-sness, though the wrath 
of God be revealed from heaven against all that do so. 

If by this discourse I can but set truth at hberty^ and loose the 


Jjord's prisoners which lie bound in your souls, I shall not doubt 
the value of Christ will quickly rise among you, and free convic- 
tions will make the work of your ministers much more easy and 
successful than they now find it. It is hardly imaginable but the 
things you have heard must leave your souls under convictions : but 
if you suppress and stifle them, they produce nothing but aggrava^ 
tions of sin and misery. Now, in order to the free and effectual 
working of all your convictions, and begetting that reverence 
which is due to them from every soul, as to the voice of God, I 
have chosen this scripture, the scope and sense whereof I shall next 
give you. 

The true scope and aim of- this context is to prove the justifica- 
tion of sinners to be only by the imputed righteousness of Christ in 
the way of faith. To make this evident, he distributes the whole 
world into Gentiles and Jews ; the one seeking righteousness by 
the dim light of nature, or the law written in their hearts ; the 
other, viz. the Jews, by the works of the law, or external confor- 
mity to the law of Moses : But that neither can find what they 
seek, he distinctly and fully proves. He proves it first upon the 
Gentiles from this verse to the 17th verse of the second chapter ; 
and then he proves it upon the Jews also from thence to the end 
of the third chapter. As for the Gentiles, he acknowledges that 
they had inbred notions of God imprinted in their nature ; they 
had also the book of the creatures before them, enough to leave 
them without excuse, ver. 20. they have no pretence of ignorance : 
But these common notices of God, and of good and evil, they did 
not obey and put in practice, but acted against the very light and 
dictates of their natural consciences. For which cause the wrath 
of God was revealed from heaven against them, as the text speaks. 
Wherein note, 

1. A clear and dreadful revelation of Divine wrath. 

2. The object or impulsive cause thereof, ungodliness and un- 

3. The special aggravation of this ungodliness and unrighteous- 
ness, that they held the truth in uni'ighteoiisness. 

1. Here is a clear and dreadful revelation of Divine wrath, the 
" wrath of God (saith the apostle) is revealed from heaven ;" 
ooy7\ 0s», the indignation or vengeance of God. It is a word of 
deep and dreadful signification ; the damned that feel the weight 
of it, have the fullest sense of it. It is said. Psalm xc. 11. " Who 
'' knows the power of thine anger ? According to thy fear, so is 
" thy wrath.'' That is, the fears of an incensed Deity are no 
vain bugbears, nor the effects of ignorance and superstition as 
atheists fancy ; but let men's fears of it be what they will, they shall 


find, except they repent, the wrath of God to be according to, 
yea, and far above their fears of it. If the wrath of a king be as 
the messengers of death, what tl;en is the wrath of the great and 
terrible God ? This wrath is here said to be revealed, AcroxaXjcVjra/^ 
discovered, or made manifest ; and so it is divers ways : It was re- 
vealed to them by the hght of nature, their own consciences gave 
them notice and warning of it. Thus it was revealed to them by 
an internal testimony, a witness ^dtliin them ; and it was also revealed 
to them by the instances and examples of strokes and punishments 
of sin in all ages by the immediate hand of a justly incensed God. 
They came not by chance, but Divine direction : therefore it is added, 
«S7' }£oavii,Jrom heaven y or from God in heaven. 

2. Here is the objeef, or impulsive cause of this revealed and in- 
flicted wrath, it is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and 
unrighteousness of men. Ecr/ 'zaeav aGzZztav -/mi abixiav. The former 
aGiZiia, ungodliness, compriseth all sins against the first table ; the 
irrehgious lives and practices of men, living in the neglect of the 
duties of religion : the other word abma, unrighteousness , compri- 
seth all sins agamst the second table, acts of fraud, uncleanness, 
&:c. against men. And because these two general comprehensive 
words are branched out into many particulars, therefore he saith, 
*' the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrigh- 
" teousness.'^ There is not one of the many sins into which un- 
godliness and unrighteousness are branched out, but incenseth the 
Ix)rd's ^^Tath : and though he only mentions the sins in the abstract, 
we are to understand the abstract put here for the concrete ; the 
sins for the sinners that commit them, or. God'*s punishing these sins 
upon the persons of the sinners. 

3. Lastly, We have here before us the special aggravation of 
these sins, or that which made them much more provoking to 
God than otherwise they had been. And it was this, that whilst 
they committed these sins, or omitted those duties, they held the 
truth in unrighteousness : -/.anyv^rm^ the word signifies to detain, 
stop^ hinder^ or put a Remora in that way of the truth of God, or 
those common notions they had of his being, power, goodness, truth, 
&c. as also of his worship, and the difference between good and 
evil. These truths struggled in their consciences ; conscience in- 
stigated them to duty, and laboured to restrain them from sin ; but 
all in vain, they overbear their own consciences, and keep those senti- 
ments and convictions prisoners, though they struggled for liberty 
to break forth into practice and obedience. Their convictions were 
kept down under the dominion and power of corruptions, as a 
prisoner is shut up by his keeper. Their lusts were too hard for 
their light. Thus you have both the scope and sense of the text. 
The point from it is this^ 


Doct. That the wrath of God is dreadfully incensed against nil 
those that live in any course of sin ^ against the light and dic^ 
tates of their own consciences* 

Sins of ignorance provoke the wrath of God, yet are they not 
of so heinous a nature as sins against Hght and conviction are, nor 
shall they be punished so severely, Luke xii. 47. " That servant 
*' which knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither 
" did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.*" 

It excuses, a tanto^ in some measure, when a man can say. 
Lord, had I known this to be a sin, I would not have done it: 
but when the conscience is convinc'ed, and strives to keep us from 
such an act or course of sinful actions, and we stop our ears against 
its voice and warnings ; here is a high and horrid contempt of God 
and his law, and gives the sin a scarlet dye or tincture. Sins of 
ignorance cannot compare with such sins as these, John iii. 19- 
John xvL S2. To open this point, let me. 
1. Shew you what conscience is. 
% What the light of conscience is, and what its kinds are. 

3. How this light binds the conscience, and makes it strive- 
in us. 

4. Then instance in some cases wherein it doth so. 

5. And, Lastly, how and why the imprisoning of these con- 
victions so dreadfully incenseth the wrath of God. 

First, It will be needful to speak a little to the nature of con- 
science in general. Conscience (as our Divines well express it) is 
the judgment of man upon himself, as he is subject to the judg- 
ment of God. A judgment it is, and a practical judgment too; 
it belongs to the imderstanding faculty, 1 Cor. xi. 13. If we would 
judge ourselves^ t^*c. This self-judgment is the proper office, of the 
conscience, and, to enable it for this its work and office, there are 
(as is generally observed) three things belonging to every mane's 

1. A knowledge of the rule or law, according to which it is to 
judge, called the Synteresis, which is a treasury of rules and prin- 
ciples, without which conscience can no more do its work, than 
an artificer that wants his square or level can do his. 

2. Knowledge of the facts, or matters to be judged, called the 
Syneidesis. The conscience of every man keeps a register of his 
actions, thoughts, and the very secrets of the heart. 

3. An ability or delegated authority to pass judgment on our- 
selves and actions, according to the rule and law of God, called 
Crisis, judgment. Here it sits upon the bench as God's vicegerent, 
absolving or condemning, as it finds the sincerity or hypocrisy of 
the heart upon trial, 1 John iii. 20, .^1. 


Conscience, therefore, is a high and awful power, it is solo Deo 
minor ; next, and immediately under God^ our Judge ; riding, as 
Joseph did in tlie second chariot. And concerning conscience, 
he saith to every man, as he once did to Moses, with respect ta 
Pharaoh, See^ I have made thee a God to Pharaoh, Exod. vii. 1. 
The voice of conscience is the voice of God. What it bindeth or 
looseth on earth, Clave non errante, is accordingly bound or loosed 
in heaven, 1 John iii. 21. the greatest difference and precise obe- 
dience is due to its command. Its consolations are, of all, the 
most sweet, and its condemnations (only excepting those by the 
moi-th of Christ in the last judgment) most terrible. Zuinglius 
spake not without ground, when he said, " What death would I 
' not rather chuse ? What punishment would I not rather bear ? 
' Yea, into what a profound abyss of hell would I not rather enter, 
' than to witness against my conscience ?"" It is like he had felt 
the terrors of it to be more bitter than death* How many have 
chosen strangling, rather than life, under the terrors of conscience ? 
Wherever you go, conscience accompanies you ; whatever you 
say, do, or but think, it registers and records, in order to the day 
of account. AVhen all friends forsake thee, yea, when thy soul 
forsakes thy body, conscience Vv ill not, cannot forsake thee. When 
thy body is weakest and dullest, thy conscience is most vigorous 
and active .^^ Never more life in the conscience than when death 
makes its nearest approach to the body. When it smiles, cheers, 
acquits and comforts, oh, what a heaven doth it create within a 
man ! And when it frowns, condemns, and terrifies, how doth 
it becloud, yea, benight all the pleasures, joy, and delights of this 
world .^ O conscience ! how glad would the damned be to have 
taken their last farewell of thee, when they bid this world and all 
its, inhabitants farewell, at death! And what had become of all 
the sufferers and martyrs, when shut up from friends in dungeons, 
had it not been for the cheering cordials and comforts thou there 
administered to support them ! It is certainly the best of friends, 
or the worst of enemies in the whole creation. This is conscience, 
these are its powers and offices ; which was the first thing. 

Secondhj^ Our next enquiry must be into the hght of conscience, 
and the various kinds of that light. 

The Lord did not frame such an excellent structure as the soul 
of man, without windows to let in light, nor doth he deny the 
benefit of light to any soul ; but there is a twofold light which men 
have to inform and guide their consciences. 

1 . The light of natural reason, which is common. 
S. The light of scripture revelation, which is special. 

1. There is a common light of natural reason, which is connate, 
called by Solomon, Prov. xx. 9.1 " The candle of the Lord. 


** TVie spirit of man is the candle of the Lord." Tliis is affirmed 
by him that had an extraordinary portion of intellectuals, a brighter 
lamp of reason, and wisdom, than other men ; and this is not only 
true of the soul in general, but of that special power of it, which is 
called coiisciencey which is God's spy, and man's overseer. The 
Heathens had this light shining to their minds, and consciences ; 
some of them, by the alone help of this natural light, made 
wonderful discoveries of the mysteries of nature ; yea, they found 
its efficacy and power^ great in their consciences, to raise their 
liopes or fears, according to the good or evil they had done. 
* Cmiscia mens ut cuique sua est, ita concipit intra 
Pectoraprojacto, spemque metumque suo. Ovid. 

And to the shame of many that are called Christians, some 
among them paid great reverence to their own consciences. 

-f- Imprimis reverere teipsum^ 

Turpe quid ausurus, te sine teste time. 

But however, the generality of them did not so, and are taxed 
for it in the text ; and besides, this light can make no discoveries 
of Christ, and of the way of salvation by him. The most eagle- 
eyed pliilosophers among them were in the dark here. And there- 

2. God hath affiarded men a more clear, and excellent hght to 
shine into their minds, and consciences, even the light of the gospel, 
which, compared with the light of natural reason, is as the light 
of the sun to the dim moon-light. Psal. cxlvii. 19, 20. " He 
" sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments 
*' unto Israel : he hath not dealt so with any nation ; and as for 
'• his judgments they have not known them. Praise ye the Lord." 
Every creature hath the name of God engraven on it, but he hath, 
magnified his word above all his name, Psal. cxxxviii. 2. God, 
who best knows the rate and value of his own mercies, accounts 
this a singular favour and privilege to any nation. Without reve- 
lation we could never have known the cause of our misery, the fall 
of Adam, or the only way and means of our recovery by Christ : 
by this a people are lifted up to heaven, Matth. xi. 21. in respect of 
means and advantages of salvation; and consequently the contempt 
or neglect of such light and lov^e, will certainly plunge the guilty 
into proportionable misery. John iii. 19. " This is the condemna- 
" tion, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness 
" rather than light." 

Moreover, God doth not only afford the light of natural rea- 

* As is every man's conscience, so are his hopgs and fears. 

f Principally revere thyself; tempted to any bate action, dread thyself, even when 
there is no other witness. 

ST4 ax appendix to England's duty. 

son and external gospel-revelation to some men in an eminent de- 
gree ; but to both these he super-adds the internal illumination of 
his Spirit, which is the clearest and most glorious light in the whole 
world. " He shineth into their hearts to give the light of the 
'^ knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." 
2 Cor. iv. 6. These are the three sorts of light that God makes to 
shine into the eouls and consciences of men to direct and guide 
them ; the first a common and general light, the two last the most 
clear and transcendent in excellency, especially that of the Spirit 
^nth the gospel : For though the sun be risen, yet men may draw 
the curtains about them, and lie in darkness ; but the Spirit opens 
them, and makes it shine in. 

Thirdly, How this light shining into the consciences of men 
obligeth them to obedience, and how men's lusts struggle against 
the obligations of an enhghtened conscience^ is the next thing to 
be spoken to. 

It is manifest and beyond all controversy, that an enlightened 
conscience lays strong and indispensible obligations and engage- 
ments on the soul to obedience ; for the will of God is the supreme 
law, 1 Tim. vi. 15. it is the will of " the only potentate, the King 
" of kings, and Lords of lords C And the promulgation and ma- 
nifestation of it, so binds the conscience of the creature to obedience, 
as no authority or power on earth can loose those bands ; no man 
can grant a Supersedeas in this case, or relieve the soul so bound by 
a noli prosequi : For conscience, as God's vicegerent, in his name re- 
quireth obedience, and the man that heareth the voice of God from 
the mouth of his own conscience presently thereupon becomes a 
debtor, Rom. i. 14. put vmder a necessity, 1 Cor. ix. 16. 

Now conscience, by reason of the light that shineth into it, feel- 
ing itself under such strong bands and necessities, stimulates and 
urgeth the soul to obedience, warns, commands, and presses the soul 
to its duty against the contrary interest, and inclinations of the 
flesh : and hence arise those combats and conflicts in the bosoms of 
men. Sometimes conscience prevails, and sometimes lusts and 
corruptions prevail, and that with great difliculty ; for it is not alike 
easy to all men to shake off", or burst the bands of their own con- 
sciences, though others can do it easily. What a hard task had 
Saul to conquer his own conscience .^^ I forced my self saith he, 1 Sam. 
xiii. 12. he knew it belonged not to him to offer sacrifice, his con- 
science plainly told him it would be his sin ; but yet the fear of the 
Phihstines being stronger than the fear of God, he adventured upon 
it, renitente consclentia, against the plain dictates of his own con- 
science. Thus Herod gives sentence to put John to death. Mat. 
xiv. 9. " The king was sorry, nevertheless, for his oath's sake, and 
" them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given 


« her.'' His honour weighed up all his fear of sin, his own \vorcl 
weio-hed more with him than God's word ; Nemo ita pcrplexus tene- 
tur inter duo vitia^ quiri exltus patent absque iertio : ' No man is 
* held so perplexed between two vices, but he may find an issue 
< without falhng into a third/ 

Pilate''s conscience was convinced of Christ's innocency, Mattb* 
xxvii. 18, 19. yet the fear o£ Caesar hurries him on to the greatest 
of wickedness, even to give sentence against innocent blood, ye% 
the blood of the Son of God. Darius, in hke manner, Dan, vi. 14?^ 
knew that Daniel was not only an excellent person, but that he was 
entrapt by the nobles^ merely for his conscience, and that to put him 
to death was to sacrifice him to their malice : This he and his con- 
science debated all the day, many encounters he had with it ; for 
tlie text saith, Hq " was sore displeased with himself, arid he set 
" his heart on Daniel to deliver him, and laboured until the going 
" down of the sun to deliver him C but after a day's sharp fight 
betwixt him and his conscience, lust prevails at last against light, and 
returns victor out of the field in the evening. So it was with poor 
Spira ; he seemed to hear^ as it were, an inward voice. Do not write, 
Spira, do not write : but the love of his estate, wife, and children^ 
drew his hand to the paper, though conscience struggled hard to 
hold it back. 

Thus, as the restless sea strives to beat down, or break over it3 
bounds, so do impetuous lusts strive to over-bear light and con- 
viction ; video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor : They know this 
or that to be a sin, and that they hazard their souls by it ; but yet 
they will adventure on it^ and rush into sin as the horse into th^ 

Fourthly^ I promised to give you some instances of the conflicts 
betwixt men's consciences and their corruptions, wherein conscience 
is vanquished and over-borne, and by what weapons the victory 
over conscience is obtained. Now the convictions of men al^e two* 
fold, viZi 

. 1. General^ respecting their state* 
2. Pai-ticularj respecting this or that action. 

\i There are general convictions and notices given to some meil 
and women by their consciences, that their condition, or state of 
soul is neither right nor safe; that they want the main things 
which constitutes a Christian, viz. regeneration, or a gracious changig 
of heart and life : They hear and read the signs and effects of thes^ 
things ; but their consciences plainly tell them it cannot find them 
in them ; that they enjoy the external privileges of the saints^ but 
they belong not to them ; that something is still wanting, and that 
the main thing too. O my soul, thou art not right ; thou hast" 
gifts, thou hast a name to live, but for all that tJhou «rt dead ; 

Vol. IV. S 


some further work must be done upon thee, or thou art undone 
to eternity : thou passest for a good Christian among men, but woe 
to thee if thou die in the state thou art. These, and such as these 
are the whispers of some men's consciences in their ears ; and yet 
they cannot so yield themselves up into the hands of their convictions, 
as to confess and bewail their hypocrisy and gross mistake, and 
seek for a better foundation to build their hope on. Felix's con- 
science gave him such a terrible rouze and monition as this, and 
made him to tremble whilst Paul reasoned with him about righ- 
teousness, and temperance, and judgment to come, Acts xxiv. 25* 
it whispered in his ear such language as this, O poor soul, how 
^hall such an oppressor, such an intemperate wretch as thou art, 
stand before God in this day of judgment, which Paul proves in 
thy face is certainly future ? For, as Tacitus saith of him, He was 
inexplebilis gurges^ an insatiable gulph of covetousness : So it was 
with Agi-ippa, Acts xxvi. 28. he stood at half-bent, dubious, and 
unresolved what to do : he saw the heavenly doctrine of Christi- 
anity evidently confirmed by doctrines and miracles, his con- 
science pleaded hard with him to embrace it, and had almost pre- 
vailed ; almost, or within a little, as the word is, thou persuadest 
me to be a Christian : but Agrippa had too much wealth and ho- 
nours to deny and forsake for Christ; the love of the present 
world overbore both the hopes and fears of the world to come. 
And thus that excellent fisher for souls, who had thoroughly con- 
verted so many to Christ, caught but a piece of Agrippa ; almost is 
a great deal for so great a person. The gospel is a drag-net, and 
brings up all sorts, whole Christians, and half Christians. The 
conscience is caught, and the will begins to incline ; but O the 
power and prevalence of sin ! which, like the rudder, commands all 
to a contrary course. 

If we come a little nearer, and enquire what are those Remora's 
that stop conscience in its course, bind and imprison, stifle and 
suppress its convictions ; that although a man strongly su.spect his 
foundation to be but sand, his hopes for heaven a strong delusion, 
yet will he not throw up his vain hopes, confess his self-deceits, 
and begin all anew. What is it which over-bears conscience in 
this case? Let men impartially examine their hearts, and it will 
be found that these three things bind and imprison these convic- 
tions of conscience, and hold the truth in unrighteousness, viz. 
Shame, fear, and pride of heart. 

(1.) Shame. Men that have been professors, and of good esteem 
in the world, are ashamed the world should know the mistakes 
and errors of all their life past, and what deluded fools and self- 
deceivers they have been : this is a powerful restraint upon con- 
viction ; how shall they look their acquaintance in the face ? what 


Svill men think and say of tlieln ? " How can ye believe whicli re- 
" ceive honour one of another ?" saith Christ, John v. 44. q. d. 
What I you be Christians, and yet not able to endure a censure, or 
a scoff upon your names; that stand more upon your reputation 
than your salvation : how can you believe ? 

what madness and exalted folly appears in this case ! men 
will choose rather to go on, though conscience tells them the end 
of that way will be death, than suffer the shame of a just and ne- 
cessary retraction, which yet indeed is not their shame, but their 
duty and glory* You that are so tender of the shame of men, 
how will you be able to endure the contempt and shame that shall 
be cast on you from God, angels and men, in the great day? 
Luke ix. 26. It is no shame to acknowledge your mistake, but to 
persist in it, after conviction, is shameful madness. 

1 knew an excellent minister, who proved an eminent instru- 
ment in tlie church of God, who in the beginning of his minis- 
terial course was not upon the right foundation of regeneration. 
This man had rare abilities, excellent natural and acquired gifts, 
and could preach of regeneration, faith, and heavenly-mindedness, 
though he felt nothing of these things in his own experience. His 
life was very unblameable, and he had no mean interest and esteem 
among good men. It pleased the Lord, whilst this man was 
studying an excellent spiritual point to preach to others, his con- 
science first preached it in his study to himself, and that with such 
a close and rousing application, as made him to tremble, telling 
him, that though he had gifts above many, and sobriety in his 
conversation, yet one thing, and that the main thing, sanctifying 
grace, was wanting. Hereupon the pangs of the new birth seized 
his soul, and the Lord made him a most inward, searching, experi- 
mental minister, and crowned his labours with unusual success. 
This minister, to his dying day, was not ashamed in all companies 
to acknowledge his mistake, and bless God for his recovery out of 
it ; and in most of his sermons, he would endeavour to convince 
professors of the necessity of a second conversion. 

(2.) Fear is another pull-back, which with-holds men from exe- 
cuting the convictions of their own consciences, and obeying its 
calls in this grand case and concern of the soul. They are pretty 
easy and safe under the external profession, and duties of religion, 
and are afraid of throwing up their vain hopes, and engaging 
themselves heartily and thoroughly in rehgion ; and there be two 
things that scare them. 

1*^. The inward pains and troubles of Spirit attending the new- 
birth ; which they have read and heard of, and seen the effects of 
in others. O it is a dreadful thing to he under the terrors that 



many have felt ! and so it is wltli them as with one that hath a 
bone ill-set, who, if he have any ease, will rather endure a little 
daily pain, and be content to lialt all his life, than undergo the pain 
of another fraction or dislocation in order to a perfect cure. 

9,dly, They are afraid of external sufferings. The form of god* 
liness leaves men a latitude to take or leave, according as the times 
favour or frown upon the ways of religion ; but the power of god- 
liness will engage and put tliem beyond retreat : They must 
then stand to it come what will. But, soul, let me tell thee, if 
the just fears and apprehensions of hell, and the eternal wrath of 
God were upon thee, to which thy hypocrisy and formality will 
expose thee ; all these fears of inward or outward troubles would 
vanish the same hour. 

(3.) Pride of heart suffers not this conviction of conscience to 
work out its effects, but holds this truth in unrighteousness, to the 
hazard and ruin of many souls. Men that live upon their own 
duties and self-righteousness, are not easily brought to renounce all 
this, and live upon the righteousness of Christ alone for justifica- 
tion. Proud nature will rather venture the hazard of damnation 
than such self-denial, Rom. x. 3. As you see it common among 
poor people to live meanly on coarse fare of their own, than upon 
the alms and bounty of another. 

O but if once the day of God's power be come, and a man be- 
gins to feel the commandment come home to his conscience, as 
Paul did, Rom. vii. 9. when he comes to realize the world to come, 
the value of his soul, and the danger it is in ; then all these remora's 
are as easily swept away, as so many straws by the rapid course of 
a mighty torrent. Then let men say or thmk what they please, 
I must not throw away my own soul to maintain a vain estimation 
among men. Let inward or outward sufferings be ever so great, 
it is better for me to feel them, than to suffer the everlasting wrath 
of the great and terrible God. Let my own righteousness be what 
it will, all is but dung and dross to the pure and perfect righteous- 
ness of Christ. 

2. As this general conviction, with respect to men's state and 
condition, is held in unrighteousness, and men and women go 
with grumbling consciences, and frequent inward fears by reason 
of it ; so there are many particular convictions bound and impri- 
soned in men's souls. Particular convictions, I say, both as to sins 
committed, and known duties omitted, against both tables of the 
law of God ; called in the text, ungodliness and unrighteousness. 
Conscience labours and strives to bring men to confess, bewail, and 
reform them, but cannot prevail ; contrary lusts and interests over- 
power them, and detain them in unrighteousness. What these 


arc, ami how they are with-held by tliase kists, I shall give in some 

Instance 1. And first, for convictions of ungodliness. There are 
many that call themselves Christians, whose consciences tell them 
God is to be daily and duly worshipped by them, both in family 
and closet-prayer. It sets before them tJoshua's pious practice, 
Joshua xxiv. 15. " As for me and my house, we will serve the 
" Lord.'' They know God is the founder, the owner, the master 
of their families ; that all family-blessings are from him, and there- 
fore he is to be owned, acknowledged, and sought, in daily family 
prayers and praises. It tells them the curse of God hangs over 
prayerless families, Jer. x. 25. and that they live in the inexcusa- 
ble neglects of these duties, seldom worshipping God with their 
families, or in their closets ; and that therefore they live without 
God in the world. And dreadful will the account and reckoning 
be at the great day, for their own souls, which they have starved 
for want of closet-prayer, and for the souls committed to their 
charge, which perish for want of family-duties. This is the case 
of many, who yet will needs pass for professors of Christianity. 

Lord, how sad a case is here ? How can men possibly hve in 
the daily neglect of so great, so necessary a duty ? Certainly it is 
not for want of light and conviction ; the very light of nature, if 
we had no Bibles, discovers these duties. But three things hold 
this truth of God dictated by men's consciences in unrighteousness, 

1. The love of the world, 

2. Consciousness of inability. 

3. A disinclined heart. 

1. The love of the world chokes this conviction in the souls of 
some : and they think it enough to plead for their excuse, the 
want of opportunities, and many encumbrances they have, which 
will not allow them time for these duties. The world is a severe 
task-master, and fills their heads and hands all the day witli cai'es 
and toils. 

And must the mouth of conscience then be stopped with such a 
plea as this ? No ; God and conscience will not be answered and 
put off so. The greatest number of persons in the world, from 
whom God hath the most spiritual and excellent worship, are of 
the lower and poorer rank, Psal. Ixxiv. 20. James ii. 5. And it 
is highly probable your necessities had been less, if yoiu" prayers had 
been more. And what sweeter outlet and vent to all these trou- 
bles can you find than prayer ? This would sweeten all your la- 
bours and sorrows in the world, 

2. Conscimisness and sense of inability atid want of gifts, restrain 
this conviction m others. Should they attempt such duties before 



others they shall but expose their own ignorance and shame. 

But this is a vain pretence to shake oiF duty. The neglect 
of prayer is a principal cause of that inabihty you complain of; 
gifts, as well as grace, groAv by exercise. To him that hath shall 
be givcin, and he shall have more abundantly. And besides, it is 
the fruit of pride, and argues your eye to be more upon your own 
honour than God's. The Lord regards not oratory in prayer ; 
your broken expressions, yea, your groans and sighs please him 
more than all the eloquence in the world. 

3. But the principal thing that restrains men from obeying their 
convictions as to family and closet prayer, is a disinclined heait ; 
that is the root and true cause of these sinful neglects and omis- 
sions. You savour not the sweetness of these things, and what a 
man rehshes no sweetness in, or finds no necessity of, is easily 
omitted and let pass. 

But woe to you that go from day to day self-condemned for the 
neglect of so known, so sweet, and so necessary a duty ; if our 
hearts condemn us, Goi is greater than our hearts, 1 John iii. 
20. He that lives without prayer is dead whilst he lives ; and let 
men talk what they please of secret communion with God, I am 
sure, if religion did thrive in the closet, it would never be banished 
out of the family. The time is coming also when death will dis- 
band and break up your families, separate the wife from the hus- 
band, the child from the parent, the servant from the master ; and 
then where shall you find relief and comfort, who have spent your 
time together so sinfully and vainly, I cannot tell, nor what account 
you can give to God in the great day. Think sadly on these 
things, they are worth thinking on. 

Instance % A second instance of ungodliness continued in under 
the convictions of conscience, y& formality in all the external duties 
of rehgion and ordinances of God. Have not the consciences of some 
of you often, and plainly told you, that though you be often 
engaged in the public duties of hearing, prayer, &c. yet your 
hearts are not with God in those duties .? They do not work 
after communion and fellowship with him therein. It is no- 
thing but the force of education, custom, and care of reputation 
brings you there. 

Such a conviction as this could it work home, and do its work 
thoroughly, would be the salvation of thy soul ; were power added 
to the i'orm, as conscience would have it, thou wert then a real 
Christian, and out of the danger of hell. The want of this thy 
conscience sees will be thy ruin, and accordingly gives thee plain 
warning of it. O what pity is it such a conviction as this should 
be held in unrighteousness ! But so it is in very many souls, and 
that on several accounts. 


1. Because hypocrisy is so odious and abominable a sin, that men 
are loth to own and acknowledge it, how guilty soever they be of 
it. What, dissemble with God, and play the hypocrite with him ! 
it is so black and foul a crime, that men cannot easily be brought 
to cha)-ge themselves with it. They may have the infirmities 
which rae common to the best of men, but yet they are not hypo. 
crites. Thus pride of heart casts a chain upon conviction, and 
binds it, that it cannot do its work. 

2. It is a cheap and easy way to give God the external service and 
worship of the body, but heart-work is hard work. To sit or kneel 
an hour or two is no great matter : but to search, humble, and 
break the heart for sin ; to work up the dead and earthly affec- 
tions into a spiritual heavenly frame, this will cost many a hard 
tug. It is no severe task to sit before God as his people, whilst the 
fancy and thoughts are left at liberty to wander which way they 
please, as the thoughts of formal hypocrites use to do, Ezek. xxxiii. 
31. but to set a watch upon the heart, to summon in the thoughts 
of God, to retract every wandering thought with a sigh ; this is dif- 
ficult, and the difficulty over-powers conviction of duty, 

3. The atheism of the heart quenches this conviction in men's 
souls. Formality is a secret invisible sin, not discernible by man ; 
the outside of religion looks fair to a man's eye, and so long it is 
well enough, as if there was not a God that trieth the hearts and 
the reins. Thus, when a beam of light and conviction shines 
into the soul, a cloud of natural atheism over-shadows and darkens 

But, poor self-cozening hypocrite, these things must not pass so; 
thy conscience, as well as the word, tells thee that it is not the place 
of worship, but the spirituality of it that God regards, John iv. 
23, 21. That they are hypocrites in scripture-account who have 
God in their mouths, but he is far from their reins, Jer. xii. 2. and 
that hypocrites will have the hottest place in hell, Matth. xxiv. 

distance 3., A third instance of convictions cf ungodliness held in 
unrighteousness, is in declining or denying to coiifess the known 
truths of God, which we ourselves have prpfessed> when the con- 
fession of them infers danger. 

In times of danger, conscience struggles hard with men to ap- 
pear for the truths of God, and upon no account whatsoever to 
dissemble or deny them ; and enforceth its counsels and warnings 
upon us with such awful scriptures as these, Luke ix. 62. " No man 
" having put his hand to the plough,, and looking back, is fit for 
'^ the kingdom of God.'' And Matth. x. 33. " But whosoever 
" shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my F^ 
" ther which is in heaven." In this case conscience useth to 


S8^ Ay APrEXDix TO exgland's duty, 

stpuggle hard with men, yet is many times overborne by the preva- 
lent temptations of the flesh : As, 

1. By carnal fears. The fear of suffering gets the ascendant di 
iMe fear of God ; men choose rather to adventure their souls upon 
Twrath to come, than the present wrath of incensed enemies. 
They vainly hope to find mercy with God, but expect none from 
men. Thus the fear of man brings a snare, Prov. xxix. 25. and so 
the voice of conscience is drowned by the louder clamours and 
threats of adversaries. 

2. As the fear of man^s threatenings, so the distrust of God'*s pro^ 
mises, defeats the design of conscience. If men believed the pro- 
mises, they would never be afraid of their duties ; faith in a pro- 
mise would make men as bold as lions, if such a word as that was 
minded, Isa. Ivii. 11. *' Of whom hast thou been afraid, or feared, 
*^ that thou hast lied, and hast not remembered me.?"" Men 
would say, as Zuinglius in the like case. What death would I not 
rather dioose to die ? What punishment would I not rather under- 
go ? Yea, into what vault of hell would I not rather choose to be 
cast, than to witness against my own conscience .'* 

3. The immoderate and inordinate love of the world, over- 
powers conscience, and drowns its voice in such an hour of temp- 
tation. So Demas found it, 2 Tim. iv. 10. O what a dangerous 
conflict is there in an hour of tenaptation, betwixt an enlightened 
head and a worldly heart ? 

Lastly^ The example of others who comply and embrace the 
sinful terms of liberty to escape the danger, embolden men to fol- 
low their examples, and Satan will not be wanting to improve 
their examples. Do not you see such and such men, beating the 
road before you? Learned men, and prudent men, who, it may 
be, have less heart, but more wisdom than you. Why will you 
be singular, why mil you hazard all for that, for which others will 
hazard nothing ? 

But certainly such sins as these will cost you dear, it is a dreadful 
tiling to betray the truths and honour of God for base, secular 
ends ; and 3^011 will find it so when you and your consciences shall 
debate it together in a calm hour. 

Secondly^ There are also sins oi unrighteousness against the second 
table^ in which many live against the plain dictates and warnings of 
their ov/n consciences, though they know the wrath of God is re- 
vealed from heaven against all unrighteousness of men who hold 
the truth in unrighteousness. To give some instances of this, 

Instance 1. ^nd first, let me instance in that sin of defrauding 
and going beyond others in our civil commerce and dealings with 
them : over-reaching, cozening, and cheating the ignorant or un- 
wary, who, it may be^ would not be so unwary as they are, did 


thev not repose trust and confidence in your deceitful words and 
promises. Conscience cannot but startle at such sins, the very 
light of nature discovers the evil of it, and the sober HeatJiens ab- 
hor it : but we that live under the gospel cannot but feel some ter- 
ror and trembling in our c<)nsciences when we read suclra severe 
and awful prohibition, backed with such a dreadful threatening a£ 
that is in 1 Thess, iv. 6. " That no man defraud, or go beyond his 
'' brother in any matter, because that the Lord is the avenger of all 
^' such."" The word is, to /x?? y-rg^Sa/vs/i/, that no man overtop, viz. 
by power, or by craft and policy. To this sin a dreadful threaten- 
ing is annexed, the Lord is the avenger of all such. The word is, 
i%hrKo;, but once more, that I remember, used in the New Testa- 
ment, Rom, xiii. 4. and is there applied to the civil magistrate, 
who must see execution done upon malefactors ; but here the Lord 
himself v/ill do it, he will be this man's avenger. This rod, or 
rather this ax, conscience shews men, and gives warning of the 
danger, and yet its convictions are over-powered and bound as pri- 
soners, by 

1. The excessive love of gain ; 1 Tim. vi. 9- " But they that 
*' will be rich fall into temptation, and a snare ; and into many 
^' foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men m destruction 
*^ and perdition.*" When a resolution is made for the world, 
men will be rich by right or wrong ; this powerfully arms the temp- 
tation. Set gain before such a man, and he will break through the 
law of God and convictions of conscience, but he will have it ; this 
drowns them in perdition and destruction, that is, it surely, 
thoroughly, and fully ruins them : As he is a dead man that is 
only drowned ; but to be drowned in destruction, yea, in destruc- 
tion and perdition too, this must needs make his ruin sure, as sure 
as words can make it, and so all such persons shall surely find it, 
who persist in such a course. 

2. Pinching necessities and straits over-bear conscience in others ; 
necessity hath no ears to attend the voice of the word and con- 
science. Here conscience and poverty struggle together, and if 
the fear of God be not exalted in the soul, it now falls a prey to 
temptation. This danger wise Agur foresaw, and earnestly en- 
treated the Lord for a competency to avoid the snare of poverty, 
Prov. xxx. 8, 9. Poor wretch ! how much better were it for thee 
to endure the pains of a griping stomacli than these of a griping 
conscience ? Such gains may be sweet in thy mouth, but bitter in 
thy bowels. ^ 

3. The examples of others who daily venture on such sins with- 
out scruple, and laugh at such squeamish consciences as keck at 
such things; this emboldens others to follow them, Psal. 1. 18. 
•and thus the voice of conscience is drowned, and convictions buried 


fcr a time ; but it will thunder at last, and thy buried convictions 
■will have a resurrection, and it shall be out of thy power to silence 
them again. 

Instance 2. The truth of God is held in unrighteousness, when 
men's lusts will not suiFer them to restore what they have sinfully, 
and unjustly gotten into their hands. This sin lies boking in the 
consciences of some men, makes them very uneasy, and yet they 
make a hard shift to rub along under these regrets of conscience. 
Now those things which make a forcible entry into the conscience, 
take the truths of God prisoners, and bind them, that they can- 
not break forth, into the duty of restitution, are, 

1, The shame which attends and follows the duty to which 
God and conscience, call the soul, O it is a shame and re- 
proach, they think, to get the name of a cheat ; loth, loth they 
are, that these works of darkness should come into the open light ; 
men will point, and hiss at them ; and say. There goes a thief, a 
cheat, an oppressor : This keeps many from restitution. 

But dost thou not here commit a greater cheat than the former ? 
Which is the greater shame, thinkest thou, to commit sin, or to 
confess and reform it ? To tie the snare upon thy soul by com- 
mission, or loose it off from thy conscience by repentance and re- 
stitution ? to be the derision of wicked men, (for none else will 
deride thee for th}" duty), or be the contempt and derision of God, 
angels, and all good men for ever ? To attain inward peace at tliis 
hazard, or to He under the continual lashes and wounds of thy 

own conscience : 

2. Poverty, and inability, is sometimes pleaded, to quiet the 
troubled conscience ; and indeed this is a just, and very frequent 
blast of God upon ill-gotten goods ; The curse of God is upon them ; 
they melt away. O what a miserable snare have you now entangled 
your souls in ! Once you could, but would not restore, a worldly 
heart would not part with unjust gains ; now you would, but can- 
not. Thus a worldly heart, and an empty purse, hold you first 
and last, under the guilt of a known sin. A lamentable case ! 

3. Vain purposes do often suppress and silence convictions,: 
My condition may alter, I may be in a capacity hereafter, when I 
can better spare it, than, at present ; or I will do it in my last wUl, 
when I die, and charge my executors with it. Thus do men bribe 
their consciences, to get a httle quiet, whilst they continue under 
known guilt, and cannot tell how soon death shall summon them 
to the awful bar of a just and terrible God. 

Sirs, as you value your peace, and, which is more, your souls ; 
release the Lord's prisoner which lies bound within you with cords 
and chains of Satan's making ; do it, I say, as you hope to see the 
face of God in peace : You know, without repent^ce there can bje 


no salvation ; and without restitution no repentance : For how can 
you repent of a sin you still knowingly continue in ? Repentance is 
the souPs turning from sin, as well as its sorrow for sin. You can- 
not therefore repent of sin, and still continue in it ; " How shall 
" we that are dead to sin, continue any longer therein ?" Rom. 
vi. 2. Trust providence for the supply of your wants, and the 
wants of yours, in the ways of duty, and righteousness. A little 
that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked. 
You will have more comfort in bread and water, with peace of 
conscience, than in full tables with God's curse. You will lie more 
at ease on a burden of straw, than on a bed of down with a 
grumbling conscience. 

Instance 3. How many lie under the condemnations of their own 
consciences, for the lusts of uncleanness in which they live : And 
though they read, and their consciences apply to them such 
scriptures as that, 1 Cor. vi. 9. " Be not deceived, neither forni- 
*' cators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers 
" of themselves with mankind, c^-c. shall inherit the kingdom of 
^' God ;'■■ a dreadful sentence ! And that, Heb. xiii. 4. " Whore- 
'' mongers and adulterers God will judge ;" Yet convictions are 
overborne, and stifled by, 

1. The impetuous violence of carnal lusts, which permit not of 
calm debates, but hurry them on to the sin, and leave them ta 
consider the evil and dangerous consequences afterward. Thus 
they go, " As an ox to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction 
*^ of the stocks," Prov. vii. 22. Lust besots them. To give 
counsel now is but to give physic in a paroxism, or counsel to him 
that is running a race. Lust answers conscience as Antipater did 
one that presented him a book treating of happiness, s g^oXa^M, I 
have no leisure to read such discourses. 

2. Others would fain solve their scruples with the sinful failings 
of good men, as David, Solomon, &c. not considering what bro- 
kenness of heart it cost David, Psal. li. and the other. Sorrow more 
bitter than death, Eccl. vii. 26. Lccta veiiire Venus, tristis abire solet. 
This is a presumptuous way of sinning, and how dreadful that is, 
see Numb. xv. 30. 

Instance 4. Truth is often held in unrighteousness by sinful 
silence, in not reproving other men s sins, and thereby making them 
their own. We are sometimes cast into the company of ungodly 
men, where we hear the name of our God blasphemed, the truth, 
worship, or sevants of God reproached ; and have not so much 
courage to appear for God, as others have to appear against him : 
in such cases conscience useth to instigate men to their duty, and 
chai'ge it home upon them in the authority of such a scrij)ture as 

286 AX APPENrix TO exclaxd''s duty. 

that, Lev. xix. 17. " Thou shall not liate thy brother hi thy heart, 
" thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin 
" u|x>n him."" O, saith conscience, thy silence now will be thy sin. 
This poor wretch may perish for want of a seasonable, plain, and 
faithful rebuke. Thy silence will harden him in his wickedness. 
No sooner doth such a conviction stir in the conscience, but many 
things are ready to lay hold on it. As, 

1. A spirit of cowardice, which makes us afraid to displease men, 
and chuses rather the wrath of God should fall on them, than that 
their wrath should fall on us. We dare not take as much liberty 
to reprove sm as others do to commit it. They glory in their 
shame, and we are ashamed of what is both our glory and our 

2. Dependence on, or near relation to the person sinning. It is 
a father, an husband, a superior, on whose favour I depend ; and 
should I displease him, I may ruin myself; this is the voice of the 
flesh. Hence duty is neglected, and the soul of a friend basely be- 
trayed ; our interest preferred to God's, and thereby frequently 
lost : for there is no better way to secure our own interest in any man's 
heart, than to settle it by our faithfulness in his conscience, and by 
being wilHng to hazard it for God's interest and glory. The Lord 
blesseth men's faithfulness above all their sinful carnal policies, 
Prov. xxviii. 23. " He that rebuketh a m^n, afterwards shall find 
*' more favour than he that flattereth with his lips." 

8. ]\Ien's own guilt stops their mouths and silences them. They 
are ashamed and afraid to reprove other men's sins, lest they should 
hear of theu' own. Fear or retortion keeps them from the duty 
of reprehension. Thus we fall into a new sin for fear of reviving 
an old one. '* He that reproveth a scorner getteth himself shame ; 
" and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot," 
Prov. ix. 7. 

But this is the fruit of our pride and ignorance. What we fear 
might turn to our benefit. The reproof given is duty discharged ; 
and the retortion in return, a fresh call to repentance for sin past, 
and a caution agamst sin to come. 

Instance 5. Another instance of convictions of unrighteousness 
imprisoned in men's souls, is not distributing to the necessities of 
others, especially such as fear God when it is in the power of our 
hands to do it, and conscience as well as scripture calls us to our 

Men cannot be ignorant of that text, Matth. xxv. 40, 41. wheue, 
by a Synecdoche^ charity to the saints is by Christ put for the whole 
of obedience ; and men's eternal states are cast according to their 
observance of this command; though I fear few, very few study 
and believe it as they ought. Thou canst, saith conscience, if thou 


t\llt relieve sUch or sucli a poor Christian, and thcreiii express thy 
love to Christ, yea, refresli tlie bowels of Christ ; do it, God will 
repay it : if thou refiisest, " how dwelleth the love of God in thee ?" 
1 John iii. 17. This is the voice of God and conscience, but divers 
lusts are ready to lay hold on, and bind this conviction also as soon 
as it stirs, viz. 

1. The excessive love of earthly things. The world is got so deep 
in men^s hearts, that they will rather part with their peace, yea, and 
with their souls too, than part with it. Hence come those churlish 
answers, hke that of Nabal, 1 Sam. xxv. 11. " Shall I take my 
" bread, and my water, and my flesh, and give it to men whom I 
*' know not whence they be ?'^ 

2. Unbelief, which denies to give honour and due credit to 
Christ's bills of exchange drawn upon them in scripture^ and pre- 
sented to them by the hands of poor saints. They refuse, I say, to 
credit them, though conscience protest against them for their non- 
comphance. Christ saith, Mark ix. 41. " Whosoever shall give 
" you a cup of cold water to drink in my name, because ye belong 
" to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward."^ 
He shall gain that which he cannot lose, by parting with that which 
he cannot keep. 

S. The want of love to Jesus Clirist. Did we love Christ in 
sincerity, and were that love so fervent as it ought to be, it would 
make thee more ready to lay down thy neck for Christ, than thou 
now art to lay down a shilling for him, 1 John iii. 16. It is our duty, 
in some cases, to spend our blood for the saints. So it Avas in the 
primitive times : behold (said the Christians enemies) how they love 
one another, and are willing to die one for another. But that spirit 
is almost extinguished in these degenerate days. 

Instance 6. How many stand convinced, by their own consciences, 
what a sin it is to spend their precious time so idly and vainly as they 
do ? When a day is lost in vanity, duties neglected, no good done 
or received ; at night conscience reckons with them for it, and asks 
them what account they can give of that day to God, how they are 
able to satisfy themselves to lie down and sleep under so much guilt ? 
And yet when the morrow comes, the vanity of their hearts carries 
them on in the same course again the next day ; and whilst they 
keep themselves in vain company, they are quiet, till conscience finds 
them at leisure to debate it again with them. Now the things which 
master these convictions are, 

1. In some men their ignorance and insensibihty of the precious- 
ness of time. They know it is their sin to spend their time so 
Vainly, but little consider that eternity itself hangs upon this little 
moment of time : and that the great work of their salvation will 
jre^uire all the time they have; and if it be not finished in 


this small allotment of time it can never be finished, Jolin 
ix. 4. 

2. The examples of other vain persons that are as prodigal of 
their precious time as themselves, and entice them to spend it as 
they do. 

3. The charming power of sensual lusts and pleasures. O how 
pleasantly doth time slide away in plays, ale-houses, in relating or 
hearing taking stones, news, &c. 

4. Inconsiderateness of the sharp and teiTible rebukes of con- 
science for this on a death-bed, or the terrors of the Lord in the 
day of judgment. 

In all these instances you see how common this dreadful evil of 
holding tlie truth in unrighteousness is ; yet these ai'e but a few 
selected from among many. 

Fifthly^ In the next place I am obliged to shew, how and why 
the imprisoning of convictions, or holding the truths of God in un- 
righteousness so dreadfully incenseth his wrath. And this it doth 
upon several accounts. 

1. Knowledge and conviction of sin is an excellent mean, or 
choice help to preserve men from falling into sin : There be thou- 
sands of sins committed in the world, which had never been com- 
mitted if men had known them to be sins before they committed 
them. Every sinner durst not make so bold with his conscience as 
you have done. The apostle tells us the reason why the princes of 
this world crucified the Lord of glory, was, because they knew him 
not, 1 Cor. ii. 8. had they known him they would not have dared to 
do as they did. And so it is in multitudes of lower and lesser sins 
than that, Satan blinds their eyes with ignorance, then uses their 
hands and tongues in wickedness ; he is the I'uler of the darkness of 
this world, Eph. vi. 12. But when men do know this or that to be 
sin, and yet venture on it, then an excellent antidote against sin is 
turned into a dreadful aggravation of sin, which highly incenses the 
wrath of God. 

2. Knowledge and conviction going before add presumption to the 
sin that follows after it ; and presumptuous sin is the most provoking 
and daring sin ; from this way of sinning David earnestly beseeches 
God to keep him, " Keep back thy servant (saith he) from pre- 
" sumptuous sins." When a man sees sin, and yet adventures on 
it, in such sinning there is a despising of the law of God : a man 
may break the law whilst he approves, reverences, and honours it in 
his heart, Rom. vii. 12, 13. but here the commandment is despised, 
as God told David, 2 Sam. xii. 9. It is as if a man shall say, I see 
the command of God armed w ith threatening^ in my way, but yet I 
will go on for all that. 

8. Knowledge and conviction leave the conscience of a sinner 

A^ APPENDIX To England's dutYa SS9 

naked and wholly without excuse or apology for his sin : in this case 
there is no plea left to extenuate the offence, Job xv. 22. " Now 
" they have no cloak for theii' sin." If a man sins ignorantly, his 
ignorance is some excuse for his sin, it excuses it at least a tanto, as 
Paul tells us, thus and thus I did, but I did it ignorantly : here is a 
cloak or covering, an excuse or extenuation of the sin : but know- 
ledge takes away this cloak, and makes the sin appear naked in all 
the odious deformity of it, nothing left to hide it. 

4. Light or knowledge of the law and Mali of God, is a very 
choice and excellent mercy ; it is a choice and singular favour, for 
God to make the light of knowledge to shine into a man's mind 
or understanding; it is a mercy with-held from multitudes, Psal. 
cxlvii* 19. and those that enjoy it are under special engagements 
to bless God for it, and to improve it diligently and thankfully to 
his service and glory ; but for a man to arm such a mercy as this 
against God, to fight against him Avith one of his choicest mercies, 
this must be highly provoking to the Lord ; it is therefore men- 
tioned as a high aggravation of Solomon's sin, in 1 Kings xi. 9* 
that he sinned against the Lord, " after the Lord had appeared 
'' unto him twice." 

5. This way of sinning argues an extraordinary degree of hard- 
ness of heart : it is a sign of little tenderness, or sense of the evil 
of sin. Some men, when God shews them the evil of sin in the 
glass of the law, they tremble at the sight of it : so did Paul, Rom. 
vii. 13. " When the commandment came, sin revived, and I 
" died ;" he sunk down at the sight of it. But God shews thee 
the evil of sin in the glass of his law, and thou makest nothing of 
it : O obdurate heart ! When the rod was turned into a serpent 
Moses fled from it, was afraid to touch it ; but though God turn 
the rod into a serpent, and discovers the venomous nature of sin 
in his word, thou canst handle and play with that serpent, and 
put it into thy bosom : this shews thy heart to be of a strange com- 

6. To go against the convincing, warning voice of conscience, 
violates and wounds a man's conscience more than any other way 
of sinning doth; and when conscience is so wounded, who, or 
what shall then comfort thee ? it is a true rule, maxima violatio ccm- 
sciential, est maximum peccatum : the more any sin violates a man's 
conscience, the greater that sin is : the sin of devils is the most 
dreadful sin, and what makes it so, but the hoiTid violation of 
their consciences, and malicious rebellion against their own light 
and clear knowledge ; Jam. ii. 19. They know and sin, they be- 
lieve and tremble ; (j^^nscagi^ they roar under the tortures of con- 
science like the roar of the sea, or the noise of the rocks before a 

£90 A:^J appendix to esglaj^d's duty. 

O thcn^ if there be any degres of sense and tenderness left ih you, 
if any fear of God or regard of salvation ; let go all God's prisoners 
which lie bound and are imprisoned in the souls of any of you this day. 
Blesssd be God some have done so, and are at ease and rest in their 
spirits by so doing : they could have no ease till they unbound them, 
and yielded obedience to them. It is said, Acts xvi. 38. That 
when the magistrates at Philippi understood that those men whom 
thev had bound and imprisoned were Romans, they feared ; and 
well they might, for the punishment was great for any man that 
inj ured a citizen or freeman of Rome : but every conviction you 
imprison is a messenger of heaven, a commissioned-officer of God, . 
and woe to him that binds or abuseth it Do you know what you 
do ? Are you aware of the danger ? Wast thou not afraid (saith 
David to the Amalekite) to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the 
Lord's anointed ? So say T, Art thou not afraid to destroy the im- 
mediate messenger of Godj sent to thy soul for good ? Conviction 
is a kind of embryo of conversion ; the conversion and salvation of 
thy soul would be the fruit of it, were it obeyed : thy striving with 
it causes it to miscarry, renders it abortive, and thy life must go for 
it, except God revive and recover it again ; as you know the law is 
for striking a pregnant woman, Exod. xxi< 22, 23. Loose then 
every man the Lord's prisoners, I mean your restrained, stifled con- 
\ictions, stifle them no longer ; you see what a dreadful aggravation 
cff sin it is, and that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven 
against all ungodliness and um*ighteousness of men, that hold the 
truth in unrighteousness. 

I. Vse,Jvr Injbrmation. 

Lifer. 1. This will prove a fruitful doctrine to inform us, Pirst^ 
That knoxcUdge in itself Is not enough to secure the soul of any man 
from hell. 

No gifts, no knowledge, but that only which is operative an^ 
influential upon the heart and life, and to which we pay obedience, 
can secure any man from wrath, John xiii. 17. " If you know these 
•' things, happy are ye if you do them." The greatest sins may be 
foimd in conjunction with the greatest knowledge, as you see in the 
fallen angels : light is then only a blessing, when it guides the soul 
into the way of dutv and obedience : there is many a knowing head 
in hell. Yet from hence let no man indulge himself in ignorance, 
or shun the means of knowledge, that he may sin more freely and 
less dangerously ; for you must account with God for all that know- 
ledge you might have had, as well as for that you had ; for the 
means of knowledge he gave you, as well as for that knowledge you 
did actually attain by them. 

Ak APPENDIX TO England's duty. S91 

Infer. 2. What a singular and choice mercy is a tender con- 
science ! A conscience yielding obedience to conviction ! A drop 
of such tenderness in the conscience is better than a sea of specu- 
lative knowledge in the head, 1 Cor. xii. 31. Many poor Chris- 
tians are ashamed to see themselves so out-stripped and excelled by 
others in gifts, and apt to be discouraged ; but if God has blessed 
thee with a tender and obediential heart to the will of God, so far 
as he is pleased to manifest it to thee, thou hast no reason to be 
discouraged for want of those excellent gifts and parts others do 
enjoy. You cannot discourse ^ori(%, or dispute suhtilely ; but can 
you obey conscientiously, and comply with the manifested will of 
God tenderly ? Then happy art thou. Oh ! it is far better to feel 
a trutli, than merely to know it. It was the high commendation 
of the Romans, that they obeyed from the heart that form of gos- 
pel-docti'ine which was delivered them, Rom. vi. 17*. or rather 
mto which they were delivered, as melted metals into the 
moulds. Two learned divines travelling to the Council of Con- 
stance, were affected, even to tears, at the sight of a shepherd in 
the fields, mourning and melting at the sight of a toad, and bles- 
sing God that he had not made him such a loathsome creature ; 
whereupon they applied Austin''s words to themselves, surgunt in" 
docti, (^c. The unlearned will rise and take heaven from the learn- 
ed. Thy little knowledge made effectual by obedience, is more 
sanctified, more sweet, and more saving- than other men's ; and 
therefore of much greater value. It is more sanctified ; for the bles- 
sing of God is upon it, Gal. iv. 16. It is more sweet ; for you re* 
lish the goodness f as well as discern the truth of gospel-doctrines, 
Psal. cxix. 103. It is not an insipid, dry speculation. And then 
it is more saving, being one of those better things that accompany 
salvation, as it is, Heb. vi. 9. 

Irifer. 3. Learn hence, in the third place, What an uncomfortable 
life, hnowing, hut unregenerate men and women do live : They are 
J'requently in wars and combats with their own consciences. Isa. xlvi. 
22. " There is no peace to the wicked, saith my God." They and 
their consciences are ever and anon at daggers drawing, they have 
little pleasure in sin, and none at all in religion ; they have none 
in religion, because they obey not its rules ; and littJe in sin, be- 
cause their consciences are still galling and terrifying them for im- 
prisoning their convictions. 

It is true, some men's consciences are seared as with an hot iron, 
1 Tim. iv. 2. but most have grumbling, and some have raging, and 
roaring consciences ; they seldom come under the word, or rod, 
but their consciences lash them : And when death approaches, the 

Vol. IV, T 


terrors of the Almighty do shake and terrify tliem. Altogether 
to neglect duty, they dare not, and how to escape a lash from their 
consciences, they know not : Fain they would have the pleasures 
of sin, but then, like Balaam, they meet a sword in the way ; they 
plunge themselves into earthly diversions, like Cain, to be rid of a 
fury within them, but all will not do. Is this a life for thee, 
reader, to live ? No peace with God, nor any with thyself? No ; 
expect no peace whilst thy convictions lie bound, and imprisoned 
in thy conscience. Sin for a moment is sweet in thy mouth, but it is 
presently turned into the gall of asps within thee, Job xx. 14. O 
that you did but know the pleasures of a pure, peaceable conscience, 
and how much it excels all the delights of sense and sin ! 

Infer. 4. Ministers had need often to repeat, and inculcate the 
same truths to their hearers ; for the worli is not half done, when 
truth is got into the, minds and consciences of men. 

Our work sticks at the heart, more than at the head; the luider- 
standing is many times opened, when the heart and will are locked, 
and fast barred against it : To open the passages betwixt the head 
and heart is the greatest difficulty ; this is the work of Almighty 
power. There is knowledge enough in some men's heads to save 
them, but it hath not its liberty ; restrained truth cannot do its 
office. It is much easier to convince the mind than to change the 
heart, or bow the will. The hardest part of the ministerial work 
is to preach truths into the hearts and lives of men. This makes 
the frequent inculcations of the same truths necessary and safe to 
the people's souls. Phil. iii. 1. "To write the same things unto 
" you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. 

Infer. 5. How astonishing and wonderful is the power and strength 
of sin, which can hold men fast after their eyes are opened to see the 
misery aiid danger it hath involved them in. 

One would think, if a man's eyes were but once opened to see 
the moral evil that is in sin, and the everlasting train o^ penal evils 
that follow sin, together with a way of escape from both ; it should 
be impossible to hold that sinner a day longer in such a state of 
bondage : the work were then as good as done : But, alas ! we 
are mistaken ; sin can hold those men and women fast that see all 
this. They know it is an horrid violation of God's just and holy 
laws ; they know it brings them under his wrath and curse, and 
will damn them to all eternity if they continue in it ; they know 
Christ is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by 
him, and that he is as willing as he is able ; and yet no arguments 
can prevail with them to part with sin. Shew but a beast a flame 
of fire, and you cannot drive him into it, if he see any way to es- 
cape it. Tell a man this is rank poison, and will kill him ; and you 
cannot make him swallow it, though wrapt up in sugar, or put into 


tlie most pleasant vehicle. But let a sinner see death and destruc- 
tion before him, and sin can make him rush on, *' as a horse into 
" the battle,'" Jer. viii. 9. He goes as an ox to the slaughter; 
his heart is fully set in him to do evil, Eccl. viii. 11. as one said, 
when his yliys'tc'ian told him, ' If he followed such a course of sin 
* he would in a little time lose his eyes ; then, saith he. Vale lumen 
' amicum.i P'arewell, sweet light; I cannot part wi;h this practice:' So 
it is with others, rather than forego their pleasures, and break their 
customs in sin, farewell heaven, Christ, and all. O the enchanting 
efficacy of sin ! Jer. xviii. 11, 12. " And they said, there is no 
" hope, but we will walk after our own devices."* When a man 
considers what visions of misery and wrath convictions give men, he 
may wonder that all convinced men are not converted ; and, on 
the other side, when he considers the strong holds sin hath gotten 
upon the hearts of sinners, it may justly seem as great a wonder 
that any are converted. 

Infer. 6. How dreadful is the state and case of apostates, who 
have their eyes opened., their consciences awakened., their resolutions 
Jhr Christ seemingly fixed ; and yet , after all this, return again to 
their ^former course of sin ! 

You see, brethren, sin hath not only power to hold men in 
bondage to its lusts after their eyes have been opened, but it hath 
power to recover and fetch back those that seemed to have clean 
escaped out of its hands, 2 Pet. ii. 18, 19- The unclean spirit 
may depart for a time, and make his re-entry into the same soul 
with seven spirits worse than himself, Matth. xii. 43. Restraints 
by conviction and formality do not wholly dispossess Satan, he still 
keeps liis propriety in the soul, for he calls it my house ; and that 
propriety he keeps under all those convictions, and partial refor- 
mations, opens to him and all his hellish retinue a door for his re- 
turn. But oh how doleful will the end of such men be ! and how 
just is that martial lazv of heaven that dooms the apostate to eternal 
wrath ! Heb. x. 38. Such are twice dead, and will be plucked up 
y the root, Jude, ver. 12. 

Infer. 7. To conclude this use, How sure and dreadful will he the 
condemnation of all those, in the day of the Lord, who obstinately per- 
sist and continue in sin, under the convictions and condemnatioris of 
their otvn consciences ! 

Poor wretches, you are condemned already, John iii. 18. con- 
demned by the law of God, and by the sentence of your own con- 
sciences. What thy own conscience saith according to God's law, 
God will confirm and make it good, 1 John iii. 20. " If our hearts 
*' condemn us, God is greater than our heai'ts, and knoweth all 
" things."*" His sentence will be as clear as it will be terrible ; for 

T 2 


in the last day the books will be opened, the book of God''s omnu 
science, and the book of thine own co^iscience. Now the book of con* 
science is as it were a ti-anscj-ipt or counterpart of God's book for 
thee to keep in thine own bosom. Now when God's book and thy 
own book shall be compared, and found exactly to agree, there cart 
be no farther dispute of the equity of the account. O when God 
shall charge thee, saying, Thou knewest this and that to be sin, 
and yet thy lusts hurried thee on to commit it ; Is it not so ? Look 
sinner into thine own book, and see if thy conscience has not so 
charged it to thy account. Thou knewest prayer was thy duty 
when thou neglectedst it ; and over-reaching the ignorant, credu- 
lous, and unwary, was thy sin, when the love of gain tempted thee 
to it. You knew I had plainly told you, theft, uncleanness, 
drunkenness, and extortion, would bar you out of the kingdom of 
Christ, and of God, 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. and yet putting that to the 
venture, you have lived in those sins ; is it not so .? Examine the 
book in your own bosom, and see. The Lord make men sensible 
of coming wrath for those sins they live in under light ; for the 
MTath of God is revealed from heaven against them. 

11. Use. 

Is the wrath of God revealed from heaven against all that hold 
the truth in unrighteousness.? Then let me exhort and persuade 
you by all the regard and love you have for your souls, by all the 
fears you have of the incensed wrath of the great and terrible God ; 
that you forthwith set your convictions at hberty, and loose all the 
Lord's prisoners that lie bound within you : Because there is wrath, 
beware, Job xxxvi. 18. O stifle the voices of your consciences no 
more, slight not the softest whisper, or least intimation of con- 
science ; reverence and obey its voice. Motives pressing and per- 
suading this are many, yet estimate them by weight rather than by 

Motive 1. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against 
them that hold the truth in unrighteousness ; and because there 
is wrath, beware. Are you truly informed what the wrath of God 
is ! " Who knoweth the power of thine anger 't According to thy 
<* fear, so is thy wrath," Psal. xc. 11 . O, if the wrath of a king, 
(who in all his glory is but a mortal worm) be as the roaring of a 
lion, and as the messengers of death, Prov. xx. 2. Prov. xvi. 14 
What then is the power of his wrath, at w^hose frowns tlie kings of 
the earth tremble, the captains and the mighty men shrink like 
woniis into their holes ? If the lesser executions of it by providence 
in this world be so dreadful, that men, yea, good men have desired 
an hiding-place in the grave till it be past. Job xiv. 13. then what 
Is the full execution thereof upon the ungodly in the place of tor« 


ments ? If the threats and denunciations of it against others liave 
made an Habakkuk, though assured of personal safety, to quiver 
with his lips, and tremble in his bowels, as you see it did, Hab. 
iii. 16. how much more should those tremble and quiver who are 
to be the subjects of it, and not the mere heralds of it as he was ? 
And, (which is more than all) if Jesus Christ, who was to feel it 
but a few hours, and had the power of the Godhead to support him 
under it, did, notwithstanding, sweat as it had been great drops of 
blood, and was sore amazed ; think with thyself, poor wretch how 
shall thy heart endure, or thy hands be strong, when thou hast to do 
with an incensed Deity ? 

Motive 2. Till you let your convictions go, Satan will not let you 
go ; he binds you whilst you bind them : Here is the command 
of God, and the command of Satan, in competition. Let go my 
truths, saith God, which thou boldest in unrighteousness; bind, 
and suppress them, saith Satan, or they will deprive thee of the 
liberty and pleasure of thy life. Now, whilst thou slightest the 
voice of God and conscience, (for the voice of conscience is the voice 
of God) dost thou not avowedly declare thyself the bond-slave of 
Satan.? "His servants ye are to whom you obey,'' Rom. vi. 16. 
Dai'e not to make one step further in the way of known sin, saith 
conscience ; continue not, at thy peril, in such a dangerous state, 
after I have so clearly convinced and warned thee of it : Fear not, 
saith Satan, if it be bad with thee, it will be as bad with millions : 
God will wound the heads of such as go on in their trespasses, saith 
the scripture, Psal. Ixviii. 21. Tush, others do so, and escape as 
well as the most nice, and tender, saith Satan. Now, I say, thy 
obedience to Satan's commands plainly declares thee, all this while, 
to be a poor enslaved captive to him, acted and carried according to 
the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in 
the children of disobedience. 

Motive 3. Nay, further, until you obey your convictions, you 
are confederates with the devil in a desperate plot against your own 
«ouls; you join with Christ's great and avowed enemy to dishonour 
him, and damn yourselves. 

Two things make you confederates with the devil against your own 
souls : (1.) Your consent to this project for your damnation ; 
for so your own consciences out of the scriptures inform you it is : 
consent makes you a party. (2.) Your concealment of this plot brings 
you in as a party with him. Confess thy sin, and bewail it, saith 
conscience ; not so, saith pride and shame, how shall I look men 
in tlie face if* I do so ? Do not you, in all this, believe Satan, and 
make God a liar ? Do not you act as men that hate your own 
souls, and love death ? Prov. viii. 36. O it is a dreadful thing for 
men to be accessory to their own eternal ruin, and that after fair 



warning and notice given them by their own consciences. Satan 
(be his power what it will) cannot destroy you without your own 

Motive 4. Whilst you go on stifling your own convictions, and 
turning away your ears from its calls to repentance and reforma- 
tion, you cannot be pardoned ; you are in your sins, and the guilt of 
them all lies at your door. You may see what the terms of remission 
are, Isa. Iv. 7. " Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous 
'* nian his thoughts, and let him turn unto the Lord, and he will 
" have mercy on him ; and to our God, and he will abundantly 
*' pardon."" So agrai\, Prov. xxviii, 13. " He that hardeneth his 
*' neck shall not prosper, but he that confesseth and forsaketh shall 
<* ihi?. moi-cy." You see by these, and may see by many more plain 
scripture-testimonies, there can be no hope of remission whilst you 
go on in this path of rebellion ; concealing, yea, and persisting in 
your known wickedness. There is a necessary and inseparable con- 
ne-'tion betwixt repentance and remission. Acts v. 31. and Luke 
x:> iv. 47. and can you endure guilt to be your bed-fellow during 
lil'., and your grave-fellow after death ? 

Motive 5. You can never have peace with your OAvn consciences 
wlVilst you keep comdctions prisoners. Now a man's conscience is 
his best friend, or his worst enemy : thence are the sweetest com- 
forts, and thence are the bitterest sorrows. It is a dreadful thing for 
a man to he with a cold sweating horror upon his panting bosom. 
Turn palV'da mens e-'it criminihus, tacita sudant prcecordia culpa. 
And this (or which is worse) obduration and stupidity must be the 
case of them that hold the truth in unrighteousness. There can be 
no sounding a retreat to these terrors till Sheba's head be thrown 
over the walls ; I mean, till that sin your conscience convinceth you 
of, be delivered up. As Israel could have no peace till Achan was 
destroyed ; so thou shalt have no peace whijst thy sin is covered and 
hid. Men may cry peace, peace, to themselves whilst they continue 
in sin, Deut. xxix. 18, 19. but the sharpest troubles of conscience 
are better than such peace. Deliver up thyself, man, if thou love 
peace, into the hands of thy own convictions, and thou art in the 
true way to peace. Thy rejoicing must be in the testimony of thine 
own conscience, as the apostle speaks, 2 Cor. i. 12. or thou rejoicest 
in a dream, in a delusion, in a thmg of nought. 

Motive 6. What dreadful charges are you like to meet with 
upon your death-beds, on the account of those sins you have lived 
in, against knowledge and conviction ! conscience is never more 
active aad vigoious than in the last hours and moments of hfe. 
N )'iv it will be stifled and over-ruled no longer. It whispered 
before, bat now it thunders. If a man have a clear and quiet con- 
Bcience, his evening is clear, and his sun sets without clouds. See 

AN APPEXDix TO England's duty. 297 

Psal. xxxvii. 37. The end of that man is peace. In contemplation of 
this felicity it was that Balaam uttered that wish, Let my last end be 
like his. This peace is the result of a man's integrity and obedience 
to the voice of conscience, this being the evidence we can most safely 
rely upon of our uprightness and interest in Christ ; but the result 
of such violations and abuses to thy conscience, cannot be peace to 
thy soul. It is true, some wicked men die in seeming peace, and 
some good men in trouble, but both the one and the other are 
mistalcen : the first, as to the good estate he fancies himself in, and 
the other as to his bad estate ; and a few moments will clear up the 
mistake of both. 

Motive 7. Obedience to conviction will not only produce peace 
at death, but it will give you present ease, present relief and re- 
freshment in hand. No sooner did David resolve to obey the voice 
of conscience, in confessing his sin, but he had sensible ease in his 
own spirit, Psal. xxxii. 5. So Isa. xxxii. 17. " The fruit of righte- 
" ousness is peace, quietness, and assiu'ance for ever." On the 
contrary, you find in Job xx. 20. wicked men have no rest in their 
bellies, that is, in their consciences : for guilt lies boking there as a 
thorn in the flesh. And what is life worth without ease ? To live 
ever in pain, to live upon the rack, is not worth while to live. If 
then you love ease and quietness, obey your consciences ; pull out 
that thorn, I mean that sin that sticks fast in thy soul, and aches 
in thy conscience. Who would endure so mqch anguish for all th^ 
flattering pleasures of sin ?■ 

Motive 8. Convictions followed home and obeyed, are the inlets 
to Christ, and eternal salvation by him ; they are the first lead- 
ing work of the Spirit, in order to union with Christ, John xvi. 
8. Till you obey and yield up yourselves to them, Christ is shut 
out of your souls ; he knocks, but finds no entrance. At your 
peril therefore be obedient to their calls : all the while you parley 
with your convictions, and demur to their demands, Christ stands 
without, offering himself graciously to you, but not admitted ; so 
that no less than your eternal happiness or misery depends on your 
obedience or disobedience to the voices and calls of your convic- 

Motive 9. Obey your convictions, honour their voices, and re- 
strain them not; then shall your consciences give a fair testimony 
for you at the judgment-seat of Christ. You read, 1 Pet. iii. 21. 
" Of the answer of a good conscience towards God ;"" than which 
nothing can be more comfortable : this gives a man boldness in 
the day of judgment, 1 John iv. 17. Believe it, sirs, it is not 
your baptism, your church privileges, the opinion men have of 
you ; but the testimony of your ccmsciences that must be your 
comfort. I know men are not justified at God's bar by their own 

T 4 


obedience, nor any exactness of life, it is only Christ's righteous- 
ness that is the sinner's plea ; but yet your obedience to the calls 
and voices of God and conscience, are your evidence that you are 
in Christ. 

Motive 10. Lastly, consider what a choice mercy it is to be under 
such calls and convictions of conscience as are yet capable of being 
obeyed : it is not so with men's convictions after this life. Conscience 
convinceth in hell as well as here, but all its convictions there are 
for torment, not recovery. O it is a choice mercy your convictions 
are yet medicinal, not pwely pe?ial ; that you are not malo objirmati, 
so fixed in the state of sin and misery as the damned are, but yet 
enjoy the saving benefit of your convictions ; but this you mil not 
enjoy long, therefore I beseech you, by all that is dear and valuable 
in your eyes, reverence your consciences, and let go the Lord's pri- 
soners that lie bound within you. 

III. Use, 

I next come to expostulate the matter with your consciences, and 
propound a few convictive queries to your souls this day : I cannot 
but look upon this assembly with fear, jealousy, and compassion. 
I am afraid there be many of you in this wretched case, men and 
women, that hold the truths of God in unrighteousness, though 
the wrath of God be revealed from heaven against all them that do 
so. Let me demand. 

Demand 1. Do not some of you stand convinced by your own 
consciences this day, that your hearts and lives, your principles and 
practices, are vastly different from the people of God among whom 
you live, and whose characters you read in Scripture.'^ Do not 
your own consciences tell you, that you never took that pains for 
your salvation you see them daily take ; that there be some it may 
be in your families, nay, possibly in your bosoms, that are serious 
and heavenly, whilst you are vain and earthly ; that are in their 
chambers upon their knees, wrestling with God, whilst you are in 
your beds, or about the things of the world ? And doth not con- 
science sometimes whisper thus into thine ear, Soul, thou art not 
right ; something is wanting to make thee a Christian ; thou want- 
est that which others have ; and except something further be done 
upon thee, thou wilt be undone for ever ? If it be so, let me 
advise thee to hearken diligently to this voice of conscience : do not 
dare to venture to the judgment-seat of God in such a case : ponder 
that text, Mat. xxi. 32. and let the disparity your conscience shews 
you betwixt your own course and that of others, awaken you to 
more diligence and seritjusness about your own salvation : how canst 
thou come from the alehouse, or thy vain recreations, and find a 
>vife or child in prayer, and thy conscience not smite thee ? It may 


be they have been mourning for thy sins, whilst thou hast been 
committing them. It may be there hves not far from thee a godly, 
poor man, who out of his hard and pressing labours redeems more 
time for his soul in a week, than ever thou didst in thy life. O 
hearken to the voice of thy conscience ! else thou art he that 
boldest truth in unrighteousness. 

Demand 2. Did thy conscience never meet thee in the way of 
sin, as the angel of the Lord met Balaam, with a drawn sword, 
brandishing the threatenings of God against thee ? Did it not say 
to thee, as a captain once said to his soldiers about to retreat, he 
cast himself down in their way, saying. If you go this way, you 
shall go over your captain, you shall trample him first under your 
feet .'' Stop, soul, stop, said thy conscience ; this and that word 
of God is against thee : if thou proceed, thou must trample upon 
the sovereign authority of God, in this or that command ; yet thy 
impetuous lusts have hurried thee forward : thou wouldst not fairly 
debate the case with thy conscience ; and then did not thy con- 
science say to thee, as Reuben spake to his brethren, Gen. xlii. 
22. " Spake I not i.mto you saying, Do not sin against the child, 
" but you would not hear ; therefore also his blood is required of 
" you .''"" If this has been your course of sinning, verily you are 
the persons that have held the truths of God in unrighteousness, 
and against you the wrath of God is revealed from heaven. 

Demand 3. Have you not seen the wrath of God revealed from 
heaven against other sinners that have gone before you in the very 
same track and course of sin in which you now go, and yet 3^ou 
persist in it, notwithstanding such dreadful warnings ? Thus did 
Belteshazzar, though he saw all that the God of heaven had done 
to his father, Dan. v. 20, 21, 22. You have seen great estates 
scattered, and their owners that got them by fraud and oppression 
reduced to beggary ; and yet when a temptation is before you, 
you cannot forbear to take the advantage (as you call it) to get the 
gain of oppression. You have seen drunkards clothed with rags, 
and brought to miserable ends : adulterers severely punished, their 
names and estates, souls and bodies blasted, and wasted by a secret, 
but just stroke of God. Have you taken warning by these strokes 
of God, and hearkened to the monitions and cautions your con- 
sciences have thereupon given you ? If not, thou art the man that 
boldest the truth of God in unrighteousness. 

Demand 4. Do not you inwardly hate, and do not your hearts 
rise against necessary and due reproofs given you by those that 
love your souls better than yourselves ? If you hate a faithful re^ 
prover, though you know you justly deserve the reproof, and are 
guilty of the sin he reproves ; if you recriminate, or deny in such 


cases, yoii arc certainly so far confederates with Satan against your 
own souls, and imprison your own convictions. 

Demand 5. Have not some of you apostatized from your first pro- 
fession, and are not those hopeful blossoms that once appeared upon 
your souls blasted and gone? You had quick convictions, and 
melting affections, tenderness in your consciences, and zeal for duties: 
but all is now vanished ; your aifections are grown cold, your duties 
pmitted, though conscience often bids you remember from whence 
you are fallen, and do your first works. You are the persons guilty 
of this sin. 

Demand 6. Do none of you presume upon future repentance, and 
so make bold with your consciences for present, thinking to compound 
that way vAth it? This argues thee to be a self-condemned man, 
^nd one that boldest truth in unrighteousness : thy sin is present and 
certain, thy repentance but a peradventure, 2 Tim. ii. 25. This is 
an high and a daring way of presumptuous sinning. 

Demand 7. Lastly, Have none of you taken the vows of God 
upon you, to reform your course, and break off your iniquities by 
repentance, when you have been under dangerous sickness on 
shore, or dreadful tempests at sea ? Have you not said. Lord, if 
thou wilt but spare and save me this once, I will never live at the 
rate I have hved any more : try me, O Lord, this once ; and yet 
when that affliction hath vanished, your purposes and promises to 
God have vanished with it: you are the persons that hold the 
known truths of God prisoners in j^our souls ; and to all these seven 
sorts of sinners, this text may justly be as the hand-writing upon 
the wall once was, even a Alene Tekel, that may make thy very 
loins to shake. 

IV. Use. 

This doctrine winds up and finishes in directions for the preven- 
tion of such presumptuous sins in men for time to come, that truth 
may have its free course through your souls. 

Direction 1. And to this end my first counsel and direction is, 
that you fail not to put every conviction into speedy execution. Do 
not delay, it is a very critical hour, and delays are exceeding ha- 
zardous : convictions are fixed and secured in men's souls four ways. 
1. By deep and serious consideration, Psal. cxix. 59. " I thought 
" upon my ways, and turned my feet to thy testimonies." 2. By 
earnest prayer; thus Saul, under his first convictions, fell presently 
on his knees. Acts ix. 11. Behold, he prayeih : The warm breath 
of prayer foments and nourishes the sparks of conviction, that they be 
not extinct. 3. By diligent attendance on the word. The word 
begets it, and the word can, through God's blessing preserve it. 


James i. 23, 24. 4. Present execution, falling, witliout delay, on 
the duty thou art convinced of. James i. 24. " Be not forgetful 
" hearers, but doers of the word ; otherwise a man is as one that 
^' looks into a glass, and straightway forgets what manner of man 
" he was.'^ Take the sense thus, a man looks into the glass in 
the morning, and there perhaps he sees a spot on his face, a dis- 
order in his hair or clothes ; and thinks with himself, well, I will 
rectify it anon ; but being gone from the place, one thing or other 
diverts his mind, he forgets what he saw, and goes all the day 
with the spot on his face, never minding it any more. O brethren, 
delays are dangerous, sin is deceitful, Heb. iii. 13. Satan is subtle, 
2 Cor. xi. 3. and this way gains his point. This motto may be 
written on the tomb of most that perish, Here lies one that zms de- 
stroi/ed by delays. Your life is immediately uncertain, so are the 
strivings of the Spirit also. Besides, there is a mighty advantage 
in t\\e 2Jr'i'tnus impetus^ the first heat of the soul. When thy heart 
is once up in warm affections and resolutions, the work may be 
easily done ; as a hclU if once up, goes easily, but is hard to raise 
when down. See 2 Chron. xxix. 36. what advantage there is in 
a present warm frame ! Beside, the nature of these things is too 
serious and weighty to be postponed and delayed. You cannot get 
out of the danger of hell, or into Christ too soon. Moreover, 
every repetition of sin after conviction greatly aggravates it. For 
it is in sinning as it is in numbering, if the first be one, the second 
is ten, the third a hundred, and the fourth a thousand. And to 
conclude, think what you will, you can never have a fitter season 
than the present : the same difficulties you have to-day, you will 
have to-morrow, and it may be greater. Fall on presently, therefore, 
to execute your convictions. 

Direct. 2. If you would be clear from this great wickedness of 
holding the truth in unrighteousness, then see that you reverence 
the voice, and stand in awe of the authority of your own con- 
sciences ; and resolve with Job, " My heart shall not reproach me 
" as long as I live,'** Job xxvii. 6. There are two considerations 
apt to beget reverence in men to the voice of their own con- 

1. It is our best friend when pure and unviolated. 

2. It is our worst enemy, when wounded and affronted. 

1. Conscience obeyed, and kept pure and inviolate, is thy 
best friend on earth. 2 Cor. 1. 12. " This is our rejoicing, 
" the testimony of our consciences." The very Heathens could 


* Nil conscire iibi, nulla paUescere culjya, 
Hie murus aheneus esto. 

What comforted Hezekiah on his supposed death-bed but the 
fair testimonial his conscience gaA'e in of his integrity ? 2 Kings ii, 
S. " A good man (saith Solomon) shall be satisfied from himself; 
^* but the backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways.'" 
Mark the opposition, conscience gives the backslider his belly full of 
sorrov,^, and tJie upright man his heart full of peace. He is satis- 
iie<l from himself, that is, from his own conscience, which though 
it be not the original spring, yet it is the conduit at which he drinks 
peace, joy, and encouragement. 

2. Conscience wounded and abused, will be our worst enemy ; 
no poniards so mortal as the wounds of conscience. " A wounded 
''spirit who can bear?'' Prov. xviii. 14. Could Judas bear it, 
or could Spira bear it.? What is the torment of hell, but the 
worm that dies not ? and what is that worm but the remorse of 
conscience ? ]\iark ix. 44. Oh, what is that fearful expectation 
mentioned, Heb. x. 27. See how you hke that life described, 
Deut. xxviii. Q5^ 66. The primitive Christians chose rather to be 
cast to the lions than into the paws of an enraged conscience ; ad 
Iccmes^ potius quam ad lenones. Every Uttle trouble will be insup- 
portable to a sick and wounded conscience, as a quart of water 
would be to your shoulder in a great leaden yessel. 

O, if men did but fear their own consciences, if they did re- 
verence themselves, as the moi^alisf speaks, if they did herein ex- 
ercise themselves to have always a conscience void of offence, as 
Paul did, Acts xxiv. 16. then would you be ciear of this great sin 
of holding the truth in unrighteousness. 

Direct. 3. If you would escape the guilt, and danger of holding 
God's truths in unrighteousness, then keep your hearts under the 
awful sense of the day of judgment, when every secret thing must 
come into judgment, and conscience like a register-book, is to be 
opened and examined. The consideration of that day gives your 
consciences a seven-fold defensative against sin. 1. It provokes 
every man to get real, solid grace, and not rest in an empty pro- 
fession, Matth. XXV. and this secures us from formal hypocrisy, 
that we be not found foolish virgins. S. It excites us to the 
diligent improvement of our talents, that we be not found slothful 
servants, neglecting any duty God and conscience calls us to, 
Matth. XXV. 21. 3. It confirms, and estabhshes us in the ways 
of God, that we wound not conscience by apostasy, 1 John ii. 28. 
4. It is a loud call to avery man to repentance, and not to lie 

* A good conscience is a wall of brass. 

AN APPEXDix TO England's duty. SO^ 

stupid, and senseless, under guilt, Acts xvii. 30, 31. 5. It is si 
powerful antidote against formality in religion, the general, and 
dangerous disease of professors. Mat. vii. gS, 23. 6. It excites 
holy fear and watchfulness, in the whole course of life, 1 Pet. 
i. 17. 7. It puts us not only to our watch^ but to our knees in 
fervent prayer, 1 Pet iv. 7. 

And he that feels such effects as these, from the consideration of 
that day, is fortified against that sin my text warns of, and dares 
never hold the truths of God in unrighteousness. It is our re- 
gardlessness of judgment to come, and ignorance of the nature of 
it which so emboldens us to neglect known duties, and commit 
known sins, Amos vi. 3, 2 Pet iii. 3, 4. If our thoughts and 
meditations were engaged more frequently, and seriously, on such 
an awful subject, you would rather choose to die than to do violence 
to your consciences. 

Direct 4. Get right and true apprehensions of the moral evil that 
is in sin, and of the penal evil that follows sin ; then no teraptatioa 
shall prevail with you to commit a sin, to escape a present trouble, 
or neglect a known duty, to accommodate any earthly interest, and 
consequently to hold no truth of God in unrighteousness. It is 
fear of loss and sufferings that so often overbears conscience ; but if 
men were once made thoroughly sensible that the least sin is worse 
for them than the greatest affliction or suffering, the peace of con- 
science would be well secured. And that this is really so, appears 
thus : 1. Afflictions do not make a man vile in the eyes of God. 
A man may be under manifold afflictions, and yet very dear, and 
precious, in God's account, Heb. xi. 36, 37, 38. but sin makes 
man vile in the eyes of God, Dan. xi. 2. 2. Afflictions do not put 
men under the curse of God, blessings and afflictions may go to- 
gether, Psal. xciv. 12. but sin brings the soul under the curse. 
Gal. iii. 10. 3. Afflictions make men more like unto God, Heb. 
xii. 10. but sin makes us more like the devil, 1 John iii. 8. John 
viii. 34. 4. Afflictions for conscience sake are but the creature^'a 
wrath inflamed against us ; but sin is the inflamer of God's wrath 
against us, as in the text. 5. Afflictions are but outward evils 
upon the body, but sin is an internal evil upon the soul, Prov. viii, 
36. 6. Afflictions for duties sake have many sweet promises an- 
nexed to them. Mat. v. 10. but sin hath none. 7. The effects of 
sufferings for Christ are sweet to the soul, 2 Cor. vii. 4. but the 
fruits of sin are bitter; it yields nothing but shame and fear. 
8. Afflictions for Christ are the way to heaven, but sin is the broad- 
way to hell, Rom. vi. ult 9. Sufferings for duty are but for a 
moment, 2 Cor. iv. 17. but sufferings for sin will be eternal, Mark 
ix. 44. 

If such thoughts might be suffered to dwell with us, now would 


they guard the conscience against temptations, and secure their 
peace and purity ? 

Direct. 5. Be thoroughly persuaded of this great truth, that God 
takes great pleasure in uprightness, and will own and honour inte- 
grity amidst all the dangers that befal it, Psal. xi. 7. Prov. xi. 20. 
When he would encourage Abraham to a life of integrity, he en- 
gages his almighty power for the protection of him in that way. 
Gen. xvii. 1. " I am God Almighty, walk thou before me, and be 
^' perfect." So Psal. Ixxxiv. 11. " The Lord God is a sun and a 
" shield ; he will give grace and glory, and no good thing will he 
" \\ithhold from them that walk uprightly."" 

An upright man is the boast of heaven, Job i. 8. he is God's dar- 
ling ; and the reason is, because he bears the image of God. Psal. 
xi. 7. " The upright Lord loveth uprightness ;" yea, and if inte- 
grity brings them into trouble, they may be sure the Lord will bring 
them out. Psal. xxxiv. 19. " Many are the afflictions of the righ- 
•' teous, but the Lord delivereth them out of them all.'' How 
safely then may they leave themselves in the hands of his infinite 
wisdom, power, and fatherly care ? Nay, God is not only the pro- 
tectoi\ but he is also the rewarder of conscientious integrity, Psal. 
xviii. 20. and that four v/ays. 1. In the inward peace it yields 
them; Isa. xxxii. 17. " The work of righteousness shall be peace, 
'' and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever." 
But the effect of sinful shifts and carnal policies are shame and sor- 
row. 2. In the success and issue of it ; it not only turns to God's 
glory, but it answers and accom.modates our own designs and ends far 
better than our sinful projects can do, Prov. xxviii. 23. 3. Great is 
the joy and encouragement resulting from it in the day of death, 
2 Kings XX. 3. Psal. xxxvii. 37. 4. In the world to come, Psal. 
xlix. 14. Were this duly considered and thoroughly believed, men 
would choose i-ather to part with life than the purity and peace of 
their own consciences. They would suffer all wrongs and injuries 
rather than do conscience the least injury. 

Direct. 6. Do not idolize the world, nor over-value the trifles 
of this life ; it is the love of the world that makes men warp 
from the rules of their own consciences, 2 Tim. iv. 10. it is this 
that makes men strain hard to get loose from the ties and bonds 
of their own consciences. The young man was convinced, but 
the world was too hard for his convictions, Luke xviii. 23. the 
degree of his sorrow was according to the degree of his love to 
the creature. It is not the having, but the over-loving of the 
world that ruins us ; it is a worldly heart which makes men twist 
and turn, shuffle and dissemble at that rate they do, in time of 
temptation. Could you once dethrone this idol, how secure and 
safe would your consciences be! The church is described. Rev. 


jcii. 1. as clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet ; tlie 
most zealous age of the church was the ao;e of poverty- Try these 
few considerations upon your hearts to loose them from the inor- 
dinate love of the world. 1. What good will the world do when 
you have lost your integrity for its sake, and peace is taken away 
from the inner man ? What joy of the world had Judas, and what 
comfort had Spira ? If you part with your integrity for it, God will 
blast it, and it shall yield you no joy. 2. Except you renounce 
the world, you are renounced by Christ : disclaim it, or he will dis- 
claim you, Luke xiv. 33. No man can be admitted into Christ's 
service, but by sealing those indentures with him. 3. Whatever 
loss or damage you shall sustain for Christ and conscience sake, he 
stands obliged to repair it to you, and that with an infinite overplus, 
Mark x. 29, 30. 4. In a word, all the riches, pleasures, honours, 
and liberties in the world are not able to give you that joy and 
heart-refreshing comfort that the acquitting and cheering voice of 
your own consciences can do. Settle these things in your hearts aa 
defensatives against this danger. 

Direct. 7. Lastly, Beg of God, and labour to get more Christian 
courage and magnanimity ; for want of this, conscience is oft over- 
borne against its own light and conviction ; Christian magnanimity 
is conscience's security. It is excellent and becoming a Christian 
to be able to face any thing but the frowns of God and his own 
conscience. All the famous champions of truth and witnesses for 
God, that came victorious out of the field with temptation, with 
safe and unwounded consciences, were men of courage and resolu- 
tion : See Dan. iii. 16. Heb. xi. 27. Acts xxi, 13. And what is 
this Christian courage but the fixed resolution of the soul to en- 
counter all dangers, all sufferings, all reproaches, pains and losses 
in the strength of assisting grace, that shall assault us in the ways 
of our duty ; and so it stands opposed in scripture to the spirit of 
Jear^ Heb. xi. 27. to shame, Mark viii. 38. to apostasy, Heb. x. 39. 
He must neither be afraid nor ashamed, nor lose one inch of ground 
for the sake of whatsoever dangers he meets with, and that because 
he hath embraced Christianity upon those terms, and was told of 
all this before, John xvi. 1. because there is no retreating, but to 
our own ruin, Heb. x. 38. because he owes all this, and much 
more than this, to Christ, Phil. i. 29. because he understands the 
value of his soul above his body, and of eternals above and beyond 
all tem}X)rals, Matth. x. 28. and, in a word, because he believes the 
promises of God's assistance and rewards, Heb. xi. 25, 26, 27. 

O my friends, were our fears thus subdued, and our faith thus 
exalted, how free, and safe, would truth be in our consciences ! he 
that owns any truth to live upon it, or accommodate a carnal inte- 
rest by it, will disown that truth when it comes to live upon him, 


let conscience plead and say what it will : but he that hath agi'eed 
with Christ upon these terms, to be content to be miserable for 
ever if there be not enough in Christ to make him happy, this man 
will be a steady Christian, and will rather lie in the worst of pri-i 
sons, than imprison God's known truths in unrighteousness. 


I have now done my message. I have set before you the Lord 
Jesus in the glory of his free grace and condescending love to sin- 
ners, O that 1 had skill and ability to have done it better ! I have 
wooed and expostulated with you on Christ's behalf: I have la- 
boured according to my little measure of strength, to cast up and 
prepare the way by removing the stumbling blocks and discou- 
ragements out of it. This hath been a time of conviction to many 
of you, some have not been able to hold their convictions any longer 
under restraints, but many, I fear, do so ; and therefore I have in the 
close of all handled this startling and awakening scripture among 
you, to shew you what an homd evil it is to detain God's truths in 
unrighteousness. I have also, in the name and authority of God, 
demanded all the Lord's prisoners, his suppressed and restrained 
truths at your hands : if you will unbind your convictions this day, 
cut asunder the bonds of carnal fear, shame, &c. with which you 
restrain them ; those truths you shall so make free, will make you 
free : if not, but you will still go on stifling and suppressing them 
in your own bosoms, remember that there are so many witnesses 
prepared to give evidence against you in the great day. And O 
that whilst you delay this duty, the sound of this text may never be 
out of your ears, nor suffer you to rest : " For the wrath of God is 
" revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness 
*' of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness." 



Preached at the Public Thanksgiving, Feh. 14th, 
1688-9, for England's Deliverance from Popery &c. 

Upon Deut. iii. 24, 25. 


*¥o the Right Honourable George Earl of Southerland^ Lord 
Strathnaver^ Heritable Lord of Regality, and Sheriff in the 
Shire of Southerland, 


JIt was a sweet refreshment to me In the days of our late exile, 
to be providentially cast into your Lordship's company and ac^ 
quaintance. I savoured in yourself and your most accomplished 
Lady, those things which are rarely found in persons of your emi- 
nent station and quality in the world. 

I have neither forgotten youf tender sympathy with poor dis- 
tressed Sion, nor my weak endeavours to prop up your faith, 
with respect to a more cheerful aspect of providence upon the 

And now, my lord, we that mourned for, and 'suffered with Sion^ 
are this day called to rejoice with her. Yea, you are called to re- 
joice with a joy above the common joy, inasmuch as your Lordship 
is not only a partaker of the common mercy with others, but God 
hath honoured you in accompanying arid assisting the glorious in- 
strument of our deliverance. 

My lord, it is a greater honour to be serviceable to the interest of 
Christ, than to descend from the blood of nobles. It is the ho- 
nour of angels that they are ministering Spirits for the church's 
good. What my apprehensions of, and expectations from this 
providence are, your lordship will measure from the following dis- 

Let England rejoice to behold a Protestant king upon her throng; 
a king that gives more honour to the throne than it is capable to 
reflect on him that sits thereon. His soundness in Protestant prin* 

Vol. IV. U 


ciples his prudence and equity in government, his zeal for the 
interest of Christ at the lowest ebb, speak him such a blessing to 
this nation as for ages past it hath not enjojed : And now, my 
lord, we may expect, if ever, to find that glorious description of a 
just and holy king answered in him, that " he shall be to us as the 
light of the morning, when the sun ariseth, even a morning without 
clouds," 2 Sam. xxiii. 4. 

My lord, having in my place performed the duty of thanksgiv- 
ing to God, enjoined by public authority ^vith the same alacrity that 
Moses' mother obeyed the command of Pharaoh's daughter to 
nurse her own child; I am bold (notwithstanding the imperfec- 
tions that attend it) to offer it in all humility to your lordship''s 
hands ; being confident the design of it will be agreeable to your 
spirit, though there be nothing of external ornament to commend 
it to your fancy. So heartily congratulating your lordship's safe 
and happy return, with your pious and ingenuous lady, in the 
memorable year of England's deliverance from the Romish 
yoke, I beg your honour's pardon for this presumption, and 

Your Honour's most obliged 

Servcmt to command, 



Deut. iii. 24, 25. 

O Lord God, thou liaH begun to shew thy servant thy gi-eatness^ and 
thy mighty hand ; for what God is there in heaven, or in earth 
that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might f 
I pray thee let me go over and see the good land that is beyond Jor^ 
dan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon. 

J.T is the observation of a learned -t* man, that the revolution of 
a hundred years hath produced (especially in these latter times) 
new motions and alterations in the church, like unto those that fell 
out a hundred years before. So it was in Germany and Bohemia ; 

5 •^'' Goodwin, in Apoc. p. 189. 

MOUNT PiSGAir. 309 

John Huss, at the stake, about the year 1417, Uttered this re- 
iflarkable speech, Aflcr an hundred year s^ you Papists shall he call- 
ed to an account. The Bohemians caused post centum annos to be 
stampt upon their coin for the preservation of so memorable a pre- 
diction ; and accordingly irt a hundred years, 1517, Luther arose, 
and with him the reformation. It hath been so in England*. Our 
fathers deservedly set a signal remembrance upon the year 1588j 
Annus octogeshnus octavus est annus mirabilis ; the year eighty- 
eight is a wonderful year ; and it was so indeed, for then the Lord 
defeated the formidable enemies of his cause and people with a 
mighty hand, ahd an outstretched arm upon the great waters; 
Then did England sing his praises, saying, " Who is like unto 
" thee, O Lord, among the gods ? Who is like unto thee, 
*' glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders ?'^ Exod; 
XV. 11. 

A full century is now run out since that year of wonders, wherein 
we have reaped the precious and inestimable fruits of that year's 
mercy. And notwithstanding the great ingratitude of this na- 
tion tor all the civil and spiritual mercies it hath enjoyed in con- 
sequence of that mercy, whereby God hath been nighly pro- 
voked to say to England as he did to Israel, Judg. x. 13. I ic'dl de-i. 
liver you no more ; yet, behold ! another eighty-eight cro\v-ned and 
enriched with mercies, no less admirable and glorious than the for- 
mer; a year for which the children yet unborn shall praise the 

You are called this day to rejoice ; I am not only called to re- 
joice with you in the public mercies of this day, but also to direct 
you to the best way of improving the mercies you rejoice in, that 
they may prove introductive to greater mercies than themselves. 
To that end I chose this scripturcj which contains both parts of 
the Work and duty of the day. The text contaiils the sum of 
Moses' prayer at Edrei, after the signal victory God there gave him 
over the last enemy that forbade his passage to the confines of Ca- 
naan. This Edrei was a to^vn on this side Jordan^ situate in the 
fruitful country of Bashan, near unto that famous river by which it 
was divided from the land of promise, and afterwards fell to the 
lot of Manasseh. Hither Moses had led the people, and now it 
was but one remove morcj (their passage over Jordan) and they 
should finish their wearisome peregrination, and arrive at the de- 
sire of their hearts^ even rest and settlement iri that good land the 
Lord had promised them. And here you may see how swift and 
strong the motions of Moses' spirit in prayer were, now it was come 
so nigh the centre^ almost in sight of that pleasant land where God 
intended to settle his worship, and record his name. " O Lord^ 

U 2 

310 Mount pisgah» 

" thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness,^"* &c. 1 pray 
^* thee let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jor* 
•* dan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon." Wherein note, 

1. The mercy prayed for. 

2. The argument pleaded to obtain it. 

1. The mercy Moses prays for, that he might go over and see 
the good land, &c. The good land was Canaan, called the glory 
of all lands, Ezek. xx. 6. It was a glorious land in respect of its 
natural fertility and amenity ; but much more glorious in respect 
of the presence of God in his ordinances. And therefore above all 
the pleasant sights of Canaan, he desires to see that goodly moun^ 
tain, that is, Mount Moriah, on which Abraham offered up his 
only son Isaac, and whereon, by the spirit of prophecy, Moses fore- 
saw the glorious temple was to be built, whither the tribes should 
go up to worship, even the tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony 
of Israel. There were to be the symbols of his presence, and the 
house of prayer for all people. There the ark was to rest, and all 
the promises made to Abraham and his seed to be fulfilled. This 
inflames the desires of Moses (now upon the very borders) to have 
a sight of that goodly mountain, and Lebanon, that famous forest 
so renowned in scripture, of whose stately cedars the glorious tem- 
ple was to be built, 1 Kings v. 5, 9. This desire of Moses was 
not from any superstitious opinion he had of the holiness of the 
place, in respect of the patriarchs whose bones were laid in that 
land, (as some Popish glosses would have it) but he earnestly de- 
sired to see the accomplishment of the promises, now so nigh the 
birth, by the actual possession of that good land. This was the 
mercy he prayed for. 

Objection. But how could Moses desire to go over Jordan into 
this good land, when God had before so expressly told him he 
should not ? Numb. xx. 12. " And the Lord spake unto Moses 
^' and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the 
** eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this 
" congregation into the land which I have given them." Did this 
holy man suffer his desires to transport him beyond his duty, to go 
further than God would have him ? 

Sol. No, he did not ; not being sure the threatening was ab- 
solute, but might be such a one as was made of Hezekiah's death, 
2 Kings x^x. 1. or of Nineveh's destruction, Jonah iii. 4. there was 
room for prayer. You see the mercy Moses prayed for. 

2. Let us next consider the argument by him pleaded for the 
obtaining of his suit, and that is taken from the whole series of 
former mercies, which were all introductive to this remaining and 
(completing mercy, the planting of them in the land of promise. 


<^ O Lord fiod, tliou hast begun to shew thy servant thy great- 
** ness, and thy mighty hand," &c. Where note, 

1. His most thankful acknowledgment and magnifying of past 
and present mercies. His eyes were not so dazzled with the splen- 
dor of mercy to come, and in a near expectation, as to overlook 
the former or present mercies as small and inconsiderable. No, he 
lifts up the name of God in his praises for them, and tells him, he 
had begun to shew him his greatness in them. They are great in 
Moses' eye, and he expresses a suitable sense of them. He well 
knew the way to engage further mercies, is thankfully to acknow- 
ledge and magnify past and present ones. But, 

2. He rests not there, but improves these beginnings of mercies, 
and pk'ads them in his argumentative prayer for the consummating 
and perfecting mercies yet to come ; q. d. Lord, thy works are 
perfect, thou dost not use to begin and not finish as men do ; to 
bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth ; the gods of the 
heathen are a lie and vanity, but thou art the true God, and thy 
promises are truth itself. Now, Lord, in pursuance of thy pro- 
mises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, thou hast begun to fulfil the 
mercy promised ; Israel is brought with signs and wonders, and a 
mighty hand out of Egypt, and upon the very borders of the land.? 
Lord, complete the work now, in giving them the possession of it ; 
and for me. Lord, I pray thee (if it be thy will) let me enter with 
them ; and as I have had my part in the troubles of Egypt, 
straits and trials these forty years in the desart, let me take my part 
also in the joy, rest, and comfort of that blessed land to which I am 
now come so nigh. This seems to be the sense and meaning of 
Moses' prayer. Divers excellent points of doctrine naturally offer 
tbemselves from the text, as, 

Doct. 1. TJmt the rest and prosperity of the church is a very de- 
sirable mercy in the eyes of the saints. 

If any thing will make a Christian desirous to abide on earth, 
next to the finishing of the works of grace on him, and the work 
of obedience by him, this is the thing : Psal. cvi. 4, 5. " Remenv- 
" ber me, O Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy 
" people ; O visit me with thy salvation : that I may see the good 
" of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladi^ess of thy nation : 
** that I may glory with thine inheritance."" 

Doct. 2. IJqw desirable soever it be to see the chtrch^s ghry and 
prosperity on earth, yet the gi-eatest and best of saints may be 
denied it. 

Moses, the saint of God, the favourite of heaven, earnestly de* 



sired the sight of this mercy, and was denied it. Get* thee tip to 
mourt Nebo, saith God, and die there, thou shalt not go over 
Jordan ; and yet Moses was no loser by it. Though God shut 
him out of Canaan, he took him into heaven. We read. Mat. 
xiii. 17. of that blessed day when Christ was among men in the 
flesh, preaching, praying, and working miracles, that many pro- 
pliets and righteous men desired to see those things which they saw 
(aiTiQng whom he Avalked) and saw them not, and to hear the things 
which they heard, but did not hear them. Demarathus of Co- 
rinth, was wont to say, that those Grecians lost a great part of 
the comfort of their lives, that had not seen great Alexander sitting, 
upon Darius' throne. St. Augustine wished to have seen three 
things, Rome in its glory, Paul to the face, and Christ in the flesh. 
But we must not be our ohti chusers, it shall be given to them for 
"whom it is appointed. But I stay not upon either of these, there 
are two other points in the text which invite my thoughts and dis- 
course this day ; viz, 

Doct. 3. That great mercies received (though there be yet greater 
than they to he expected) call for an answerable sense and 
acknowledgment in the saints. 

Doct. 4. That the beginnings of mercy and deliverance to the 
church are convertible into some pleas and arguments in prayer 
for the perfection and consummation thereof. I begin with 
the former, viz. 

Doct. 3. That great mercies received (though there be yet greater 
than they to be expected) call for an answerable sense and ac- 
Tcnowledgment in the saints, 

Moses magnifies the mercies received in Egypt, and in the wil- 
derness^ at the 7'ed sea, and at Edrei ; as things wherein God had 
begun to shew him his greatness, and his mighty hand, things on 
which God had visibly stamped and impressed his greatness ; though 
he still expected greater things to come. It was Elihu's counsel to 
Job, with respect to God's providential proceedings with him. Job 
xxxvi. S4. " Remember that thou magnify his work which men 
" behold." Elihu thought it to be Job's duty (and doubtless it 
was so) to magnify or lift up the name of God, even under 
afflicted providences, to exalt God when God cast him down ; but 
you are called this day to magnify the work of God in comfortable 
providences, and to lift up his name, whilst he is lifting you up in 
deliverances and cheerful providences. It is true we cannot mag- 
Jiify any work of God by making any addition to it, or making it 


wreater than it is ; but we should magnify every work of God by 
giving it its full dimensions in our considerations of it, and suitable 
affections to it. " The works of the Lord are great, sought out 
" of all them that have pleasure therein,'' Psal. cxi. 2. We then 
magnify them, when we search them out, ponder and weigh them 
in all their circumstances ; and this must needs afford singular 
pleasure to a sanctified soul. O it is sweet to trace the footstepai 
of God along these pleasant paths of mercy and salvation, where-' 
in he hath walked towards his church, or ourselves in particular. 
Two things invite our thoughts to dwell upon them at this time. 

1. What makes a work of mercy truly great. 

2. What is that suitable sense we should have of such h orks. 
1. What are the things that make any work of mercy truly 


Now there are seven considerations or properties of a work of 
mercy, which make it great indeed. If but one or two of these 
be found upon such a work, it deserves the name of great ; but 
if there be a concurrence of them all in any work of God, as there 
is in that work which we celebrate this day, O how great will it 
then appear * 

(1.) Then doth a work of mercy or deliverance deserve the name 
of great and magnificent, when it involves our spiritual, as well as 
our civil and natural comforts and enjoyments in it, and rescues our 
souls as well as our bodies from ruin arid misery. 

Temporal mercies have their value, it is no small mercy to have 
our estates, liberties, and lives secured from rapine and violence. 
Deborah celebrated this mercy in her song of praise. Judges v. 6, 
7, 11. "In the days of Shamgar the son o£ Anatb, in the days of 
*' Jael, the high-ways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked 
^' through by-ways. The inhabitants of the villages ceased in Israel^ 
'-' until that I, Deborah, arose, that I arose a mother in Israel. 
^* They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places 
" of drawing water ; tliere shall they rehearse the righteous acts 
" of the Lord, even the righteous acts towards the inhabitants of 
" his villages in Israel : then shall the people of the Lord go down 
"to the gates." It was a sad time in Israel, when they were 
barred from their fountains, and forced to creep through by-way» 
and woods by night, for fear of the enemy ; when the course of 
justice was stopt, and there were no judges in the gates : Therefore 
the people are here excited to praise the Lord for their deliverance 
from these calamities. 

But it is a far grcater misery to be cut off from the wells of sal- 
vation, bari^d from the springs of ordinances; forced to creep 
thj-ough hy and obscure ways to get bread to relieve our souls ; to 
have, our teachers driven, inta coi-ners ; whiclx hath, been- the case of 



God's people for many years in England. Now to be delivered 
from such miseries, is a mercy above all value. 

Liberty to serve the Lord \vithout fear, liberty without a snarQ 
or hook in it, and a well settled durable hberty, for such is^ that we 
raay now (if ever) promise ourselves ; what soul can dilate itself 
wide enough, to take in the adequate sense of such a mercy ? We 
were glad of liberty from our enemies, when we sought it not ; we 
peaceably and thankfully improved it, though just fears and jealou- 
sies much darkened the lustre of it : But the Lord in this dispensa- 
tion of his providence will, I hope, so establish the just hberties of hi§ 
people, that it shall never be in the power of violent and wicked 
rnen any more to oppress them. There was a time when the 
witnesses of Christ lay dead, and their enemies rejoiced over them ; 
the Lord hath begun to revive them, and the time (I trust) even 
the appointed time is at hand, when they shall hear a great voice 
from heaven jussu supremi mag'istratus^ saith learned Mede) say- 
ing, come up hither ; and both England and France shall rejoice 
together in their spiritual, as well as civil liberties and mercies. 
What soul that loves Jesus Christ in sincerity, doth not feel itself 
cheered and raised in proportion to the hopes and evidences it liath 
of the approach of so great and desirable a mercy ? 

(i2.) Then is any work of mercy and deliverance to the church 
deservedly stiled^?*^a^ ; when it is wrought out in an extraordinary^ 
way^ and the finger of God evidently seen therein. Thus it was 
with Israel in their introduction into the land of promiscj Psalm 
xliv. 3. " For they got not the land in possession by their own 
" swordj neither did their o^^Ti arm save them ; but thy right 
" hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance ; be^ 
'' cause thou hadst a favour unto them. "' It was not by the 
strength of their own arm, or the length of their own sword, that 
they subdued and conquered ; no, it was a smile of providence that 
did the work. The finger of God in providence appears in the 
secret influences of God upon the spu'its of men, infusing courage 
into the hearts of some, and sending faintness into the spirits of 
others; so that the feeble become as David, while the men of might 
cannot find their hands. This lifts up the wheels above the 
earth, as Ezek, i. 19. 

(3.) The sudden production of mercy magnifies it. Mercies are 
highly to be prized, how long soever we wait for them ; but when 
the^ come surprisingly, they come with great advantage upon us, 
and have for that the more ravishing sweetness in them, Psalm 
exxvi. 1, 2, 3. " When the Lord turned again the captivity of Sion, 
*•• we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled 
" with laughter, and our tongue with singing; then said they 
*' among the heathen^ the Lord hath done great things for us. 

MOUNT riSGAH, 315 

^f whereof we are glad/' The change was so great, so sudden, 
that it amazed tlieni ; they took it rather for a phantom that delud- 
ed their senses than for a reahty. The deliverance was incredible, 
tliey could not believe themselves to be delivered, when they really 
were delivered. They fancied when they came to Jerusalem, 
that it was rather a pleasing dream of Jerusalem in Babylon, thaw 
so indeed. Are we indeed set at liberty to worship God at Jeru- 
salem ? Or are we mocked with a dream, and deluded with a 
pleasant fancy of such a mercy ? So again we read, Isa. Ixvi. 8, 9. 
*' Who hath heard such a thing.? Who hath seen such things.^ 
" shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day ? Or shall a 
^' nation be born at once ? For as soon as Sion travailed, she 
*« brought forth her children." What, sow and reap in the same 
day ! The birth to anticipate the pangs of travail ! Who hath 
seen or heard such things, saith the prophet ? Surely England hath 
seen it this day. Cardinal Pool once abused this scripture in his 
leter to pope Julius the third, applying it to the sudden change of 
^England Xo popery in the beginning of queen Mary's reign. But 
we are called this day to sanctify the name of God in a work oF 
providence, wherein the Lord hath indeed fulfilled it before our 
eyes ! So great and sudden ! " Great and marvellous are thy 
*' works, O Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, O 
^'^ thou King of saints." Generations to come will tliink we do 
but hyperbolize, when they shall read the one half of the wonders 
ef our days. 

(4.) When one mercy is an introdiictive leading mercy to many 
more that are greater than itself; that mercy which is so, though 
in itself it were never so small, well deserves the title of a great 
niercy, and may we not judge the present mercy to be such ? In the 
rending off these kingdoms from Antichrist, the tenth part of tlie 
great city is visibly fallen. Rome hath paid her tenths to Christ 
already, and that as an earnest of the whole, which is shortly to 
fall into his hands. Rome's glass was turned up by Christ more 
tlian 1200 years past, and in the judgment of very learned and 
searching men, is now almost run down. Antichrist hath lately 
had a triumph, and said, / sit as a queen^ and shall not see widow^ 
hood^ or loss of childre7i any mcyre. The kings of the earth hath 
given h-jvaiLiv Kcci i^adtav^ their force of arms, and power of laws unto 
the beast. But the Lord hath begun to shake heaven and earth, 
that the things whioli are made may be shaken down, and so to 
ruin him by the same means he first arose. He is taking to himself 
his power and reign, that the kingdom and dominion under the 
whole heavens may be the Lord's ; and that the work of provi- 
dence which we celebrate this day appears to me a great step U>- 
wards it. Call it Gad, for a troop follows it. Tlie world hath 


found, and shall still find much truth in that observation of the 
learned * Dr. More : ' I am not ashamed (saith he) to profess 

* that I think it clear, out of the Apocalypse, that the scene of 

* things in Christendom will in a short time be very much changed 

* for the better; the time of the church s appearing, that is truly 
*- apostolical both in life and doctrine, appears by the computation 

< of prophesies to be very near at hand, when the witnesses shall 

< arise, and the woman come out of the wilderness, and the king- 

* doms of the -world shall be the kingdoms of the Lord, and his 

* Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever. There is no sta^ 
^ bility to be expected in the kingdom of men (but vengeance will 

* ever and anon flow in upon them) till that city be raised, whose 

* foundation is not only laid in twelve, but whose gates, tribes, an- 

* gels, the breadth and height of the wall, and the solid continent 
^ of the whole city, are nothing else but a replication still of twelve 
^ throughout ; That is to say, till that church appear which i§ 

* purely apostolical in doctrine and worship.' 

England is said to be the nrst kingdom that received the gospel 
with the countenance of supreme authority. This was its honour ; 
and to be the first that breaks off from Antichrist, will be as great 
an honour as the former. The rest are to follow in their order. 
O what a leading mercy is the mercy of this day ! 

(5.) Then may a work of God be stiled great and magnificent, 
when the Lord carries it on through great difficulties and seeming- 
imjx)ssibilities. The greater the difficulties in the way, the greater 
must the mercy be when it arrives to us through them all. Thus 
came the Israelites into the land of promise, Psal. Ixvi. 12. " Thou 
*' causedst men to ride over our heads ; we went through fire, 
*' and through water ; but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy 
*' place."" To pass through fire and water is a proverbial speech, 
noting the greatest difficulties, and deadly dangers : such was that 
at the Red Sea. A deliverance out of such dangers may be called 
life out of death, and such have our deliverances been. Our ene- 
mies had grasped all power into their hands, and were full c^ con- 
fidence ; they were folded together as thorns, and drunk as drunk- 
ards, as the prophet expresses it, Nah. i. lO. Strong combinations^ 
and answerable confidence, and security of the event ; but when 
the time of mercy was come, armies, navies, counsels, foreign con^ 
federates, and all give way to the design of mercy. And what ara 
all the mountains before Zerubbabel ?■ ' 

(6.) That which exceedingly greatens a merey or. deliverance is 
the seasonahlencss thereof, when it nicks the proper season, comes 
in the most opportune time. Deut. xxxii. 36. " The Lord sliall 

* Tke Mystery of Godliness, 1. 5. c. 17. printed 1660k 


"judge his people, and repent himself for his servants; when he 
" seeth that their power is gone, and that there is none shut up or 
« left." The Lord suffers the danger to come to an extremity, and 
then in the mount of difficulties and straits he appears ; if deliver- 
ance should come sooner, it would be less valued ; and if later, itj 
would come too late for our comfort. He is a God of judgment, 
and all liis works are made beautiful by their seasonableness. How 
the case stood with the protestant interest in Europe when God be- 
gan to stir up the spirits of the princes to commiserate and relieve 
it, we all know : our enemies looked upon us as their sure prey, and 
\ye could not but look upon ourselves in great hazard. The Lord 
suffered the mischief conceived to go to the parturient fulness of its 
time, and then gave it a miscarrying womb. "VVho is like unto the 
Lord ? And what works are like his works ? 

(7.) In a word, then is a work of mercy truly great, when it 
brings forth invaluable blessings at a cheap rate, when enjoyments 
and comforts, more worth than our lives, come at easy rates to our 

You read, Isa. ix. 5. " Every battle of the warrior is ^vith con- 
^' fused noise, and garments rolled in blood."" War is terrible and 
costly, especially civil wars. When a nation, like a candle lighted 
at both ends, quickly consumes dnd melts down in the middle. 
There are confused noises in battles, terrible to hear; the thunder,, 
ing of drums, and sound of trumpets ; the neighing of horses, and 
shouts of armies ; the roaring of cannons, and shrieks and groans of 
dying men ; these are confused noises indeed : and yet it is worth 
enduring all this, to hear the joyful sound of the gospel, and pre- 
serve the pure reformed religion in the midst of us : it were better 
to part with our blood, than the gospel ; exhaust our treasure, and 
kave our children poor, than divest them of the best of blessings, 
and leave them to be trained up in idolatry, and stretch out their 
hands to a strange god. 

But lo, what hath God wrought for England ! you have those 
mercies that have cost others dear, and they have cost you nothing ; 
you have sold yourselves for nothing, and are redeemed without 
price : your God hath been liberal in mercy, but sparing of blood. 
Such mercies, so many mercies without a stroke ! according to this 
time, it shall be said. What hath God wrought. 

Thus you see what these mercies are wherein God shews his 

Secondly^ In the next place, let us consider what that suitable 
sense, or those answerable impressions are, which such great mer- 
cies call for. Moses, in the text, expresses a very becoming sense 
of the great things God had begun to do fqr him aad his people ; 


O that there were such a heart in us this day. Now there are five 
tilings wherein the comely behaviour of our souls towards God, 
under great mercies, doth consist. 

(1.) In our eyeing the hand of God in the mercy, and thankful 
ascriptions of all the glory and praise to his name. So doth Moses 
in the text, ^' Thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, 
*' and thy mighty hand."" The Israelites were a great host, six 
hundred thousand men that marched out of Egypt, an army suffi- 
cient to invade and subdue a far greater country than Canaan was ; 
but Moses looks off from them, and ascribes a)\ their successes 
and victories to the hand of God : not my might?/ host, but thTf 
mighty hand. God affects not social glory ; the dividing of the 
praise forfeits the mercy. He that doth all in us and for us., ex- 
pects justly the praise and glory of all from us. Psal. cxv. 1. " Not 
'' unto us, not unto us, but unto thy name, give glory." Here 
is a double negative, and no more than need ; for there is double 
danger of the creature^s invading the rights of heaven and sacri- 
legious usurpation of God's peculiar praise. Let us therefore look 
off from armies and navies, from the prudent conduct and courage 
of men, and see the hand of God in all the great and marvellous 
things wrought in the midst of us this day. 

(2.) It is decorous, and suitable to great mercies, to have 
our hearts filled with joy and cheerfulness answerable to them : 
praise is comely for the upright. As it would be our sin to mourn 
when God smites and rebukes us ; so will it also, not to rejoice 
when he cheers and comforts us. It is not our liberty only, but 
our duty to rejoice in such works of mercy as these are. Isa. Ixv. 
18. " But be ye glad, and rejoice for ever in that which I create ; 
" for behold I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy." 
Methinks joy should not be under a Christianas command, when 
he sees what God is creating for Jerusalem. As the morning-stars 
sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy at the 
creation of the world ; so should all his sons and daughters sing, 
and shout at this new creation of the new heavens, and the new 

Mistake not here, I call you not to rejoice in the miseries or ca- 
lamities that are upon any this day, much less at the calamities c^ 
our late sovereign. He that searcheth my heart, knows I commi- 
serate his condition, and from my soul desire the Lord to bless his 
afflictions to his illumination and eternal salvation. But that whioh 
you are to rejoice in this day, is the advancement of Christ's interest 
in the world, and the salvation of his church from the imminent 
dangers it was so lately under ; and the prospect the Lord now 
gives you of far greater mercies to his people, than ever yet they 
enjoyed. These are the proper objects of our rejoicing. 

(3.) Then have ^e a becoming sense of great mercies, when 
those mercies kindly thaw^ and melt our hearts into repentance fot' 
sinj and a sense of our great unworthiness of them ; when we abase 
ourselves under exalting providences. We greatly mistake our- 
selves, if we think England hath obliged God to be thus peculiarly 
favourable to it. It is astonishing to think, that a nation so swarm- 
ing with drunkards^ persecutors^ Jbrmalists in religion, yea, atheists 
and scoffers at all practical and serious piety, should nevertheless be 
thus favoured, delivered, and exalted in mercy above all the na- 
tions round about us. I know God hath a great number of pre- 
cious and upright-hearted ones in England, that have sighed and 
cried for the abominations committed m the midst thereof; but so 
far are they from arrogating, that they are every where admiring 
the goodness of God in unexpected mercies. They think, if he had 
given them their lives for a prey in some obscure corner of the 
world, he had done more for them than they could justly have ex- 
pected ; or if he had furnished them with a sufficient stock of faith 
and patience to stand quietly at the stake, and have glorified him 
in the midst of the flames, he had done more than they had de- 
served at his hands : but to be delivered from all those fears, to sit 
down in peace amidst pure gospel-ordinances, and to look on all 
these but as the beginnings of mercy, the dawning of a more bright 
and glorious day than ever yet this nation enjoyed ; this, I say, is 
melting and humbling indeed to all gracious spirits. It is a lovely- 
sight to see the tears of repentance overtaking the tears of joy and 
thankfulness ; sighs and blushes for sin, mixed with smiles and re- 
joicings in mercies. 

(4.) Then do we answer the voice of mercy, and discover a 
suitable sense of it, when it strongly obliges us to new obedience, 
and more exactness in walking with God, for the time to come. 
AVe find an excellent example of both these effects of mercy, viz. 
repentance for past sins, and resolutions for new obedience, in 
Psal. Ixxix. 8, 13. " Remember not against us former iniquities," 
saith Asaph ; that was the frame of his heart as to past sins ; and 
then, ver. 13. as to the future, if he would let " the sighing of 
*' the prisoners come before him, and deliver those that are ap- 
" pointed to die,"" as he speaks ver. 11. then, saith he, " We 
" thy people, and the sheep of thy pasture, will give thee thanks 
*' for ever, we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.'" O 
England ! England ! thy God this day calls thee to thy knees, 
thoun;h it be thy day of thanksgiving and rejoicing : he expects to 
see thy tears upon thy cheeks this day for thy former iniquities, 
and that thou bind thyself to thy God with these bonds of 
ifnercy, never to return any more to folly. It is not bells and bon* 

MouKT piscah; 

fires, but rcpentance for tliy past follies, and new obedietice, thy 
God looks for at thy hands. 

(5.) Lastly, Then do we act becomingly to the mercies of God^ 
when mercies already brought forth, do encourage and strengthen 
our faith for those that remain still in the womb of the promises; 
So it was with Moses in my text, and oh that it might be so with 
us all ! our greatest and best mercies are yet to comcj but those we 
bless God for this day, are pledges and earnests of them : You see 
them not, neither did you see these you are now praising him for^ 
six months ago ; hath he caused these mercies to be brought forth, 
and will he shut up the womb ? hath he done things we looked 
not for, and shall he not be trusted farther than we can see? 
Look as the head of Leviathan was served into the Israelites' table 
in the wilderness, garnished about with rich experiences of the 
goodness and faithfulness of Godj that it might be food to their 
faith in the wilderness : so, much so are the mercies and deliverances 
of this day to be improved, for the encouragement of faith for fur- 
ther and future mercies. 

Use, The point before us is full of useful instructions, cautions, 
and counsels. Time will permit me to do little more than note them 
to you ; because I have noted to you another point of doctrine^ 
which, should I omit, I should be wanting to the duties of the 
day, and your just expectations. Well then, have the mercies of 
God already performed such great things ? And do they require 
such a sense and improvement of them from us If Then, 

(1.) Take heed of slighting and despising the mercies of God 
which are fresh and new before your eyes this day. There are two 
special duties incumbent on ail the saints under such mercies as 
these, viz. to observe the Lord's providences, and to resound his 
praises ; and the lattei* depends upon the former. God can have 
no praise, we can have no comfort from unobserved or slighted 
mercies, " Whoso is wise, and -vvill observe those things, even they 
" shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord/' Psal. cvii. 
43. A due observation of mercies will beget a due valuation of 
them ; and a due valuation of mercies is fundamental to all your 
praises of God for them. Look upon the other side of these pro- 
vidences, and think what your condition had been, if the Lord 
had left your estates, hberties, and lives, to the wills and mercies of 
your enemies. 

(2.) Check all atheistical thoughts from this experiment of th^ 
hand of God so seasonably interposing betwixt his people and their 
destruction. " Verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth," 
Psal. Iviii. 11. Great and notorious is tlie atheism of these times : 
all serious piety is hissed and ridiculed ; the very existence of a 
Deity, and Divine providence is denied by some. But would men 


open their eyes, and observe what it is before them this day, they 
would see enough to stop the mouth of atheism for ever. Are these 
fortuitous hits and accidents, or the effects and prcxluctions of the 
wise and steady counsels of heaven ? " The Lord is known by the 
"judgments that he executeth." But when his hand is lifted up 
men will not see. It is convincingly clear, the hand of God, not 
the power or policy of men hath done this. There was no power 
in the prevailing part, but what might, with far greater probability 
have lieen repelled by the other ; no policy in the one, but as great 
to countermine it in the other. But you see the race is not to the 
swift, nor the battle to the strong ; it is the hand of God that dis- 
poseth these great events. 

(3.) Be not staggered if you should see new difficulties arise in 
the way of mercy, after God hath begun to do great things for his 
people. Moses and his people encountered many such difficulties 
after God had lifted up his hand in great signs and wonders for 
them in Egypt : And so may we, even when we are come upon the 
borders of our expected mercies. Let us not say we shall never 
be moved more; there is a great deal of filthiness in England yet 
unpurged, many corruptions to be removed ; and let us not ex- 
pect much tranquillity till God hath refined and reformed us. 
When the morbific matter is not well purged out of the body na- 
tural, or politic, there is danger of a recidivation, or relapse into 
the old disease, which God in mercy prevent. Former sins and 
follies will cast us back into former straits and miseries. O let us 
not return again to folly. We are now upon trial once more how 
we will carry it under mercies and liberties : God forbid so great 
an opportunity as this for setting the church and state upon the 
true foundations of liberty and prosperity, should be lost. Take 
heed of a discontented spirit under gracious providences, lest you 
provoke the Lord to turn his hand of judgment again upon you* 
Who could have thought that Jonah, who was so lately in the 
whale's belly^ called the belly of hell^ and was so greatly humbled 
there, and so miraculously and graciously delivered thence, should 
presently fall into a great pet of discontent with God, and that for 
a trifle, the withering of a gourd ? Yea, and which was worse, for 
liis mercy to others. O we know not what manner of spirits we 
are of The greatest mercies and deliverances do not long please 
us unless our little by-interest be gratified. 

(4.) Let England now study to do great things for God, who 
hath impressed his greatness upon the mercies it enjoys this day, 
O England, God hath done great things for thee, saved thee with 
sl great salvation ; and he expects returns from thee suitable to thy 
great mercies and obligations. Let me say to thee as Ehhu to Job, 


chap. xxvi. 2. " Suffer me a little, and I will shew thee that I hate 
*' yet to speak on God's behalf." 

(1.) A national refoTmation is now expected by the Lord ; he 
hath strongly obliged us to it this day by so glorious and unparal- 
leled a national salvation. It is our reproach, that a land of mini- 
sters, a land of bibles, a land of peculiar mercies, should be a land 
swarming in every part of it with profane swearers^ filthy adulterers^ 
beastly drunkards, and heaven-daring atheists. Do we thus requite 
the Lord, O foolish people and un^vise ? Thy Godj O EnglSnd, is 
pleading with thee this day by the voice of mercy, drawing thee 
out of these puddles and pollutions by the cords of love, whilst he 
is pleading against the same sins in the nations round about thee by 
fire and sword. He hath now set upon tliy throne a great example 
of virtue to correct thy lewdness, and effect thy reformation. O 
England, wilt thou not be made clean.? When shall it once 
be .^ When, if not now, under such strong inducements and signal 
advantages ? 

(2.) The loosing of every yoke and undoing of every heavy bur- 
den is now expected from thee. God hath loosed the yoke of 
Popery from our necks, which neither we nor our fathers could 
bear: and, God forbid we should lay any other yoke upon our 
brethren's neck, than what Jesus Christ hath laid, by his plain 
commands, upon all his disciples, or make any thing a term or 
condition of communion which himself hath not made so. 

O let the groans and cri5s of oppressed consciences be heard no 
more from henceforth in England. Did not the Lord lately shake 
the rod of our common enemies over us all ? Had we not an 
ecclesiastical co?irt erected among us, which made those to tremble^ 
at whose bars others had trembled ? If our God hath been so good 
to us, beyond all examples or expectations, to deliver us from our 
feai's and danger ; surely he expects that those who have found 
mercy should be ready to shew mercy ; else we must expect he 
w^ill make good his threatening against us, James ii. 1 3. " He shall 
" have judgment without mercy that shewed no mercy ;" or im- 
nnerciful judgment, as xp/c/j av/Xs^;? maybe rendered; and the in- 
struments and executioners of his judgments are not so far off, but 
he can quickly hiss for them again, if we answer not to the voice and 
call of mercy. 

(3.) A hearty and lasting union amongst all that fear God, is 
now justly expected from us. I never expect union and coalition 
betwixt the godly and ungodly, it will be as much as I can 
expect to see the wickedness of men restrained and curbed by 
good laws that they persecute not ; but renewing grace must 
change their hearts, and destroy their inbred enmity before 
they close with the people of God in love. Nor do I think 


supercilums pharisees, or superstitious bigots, will inwardly and 
heartily affect the sincere and spiritual servants of Christ : it will be 
a mercy that they cannot afflict whom they do not fiffect : But I 
should hope that, in such a time as this, all that love the Lord Jesus 
in sincerity, and are animated by the same Spirit of grace and adop- 
tion, should now every where depose their wrath, compose their little 
differences ; and that their hearts be now melted in the sense of 
these great and common salvations into more love and union than 
ever. Such returns as these will be pleasing to the Lord, and the 
only methods of lengthening out England's tranquillity. And though 
my infirmities, as well as age, cut off my expectations of being much 
longer serviceable, or of enjoying long the mercies God is preparing 
for his people ; yet I should account it an extraordinary mercy to 
see these beginnings of mercy well improved, in order to those 
greater and better ones. Which brings me to the last observation 
which next comes to be opened and applied, viz. 

Observation. That the beginnings of mercy and deliverance to the 
church, are convertible into so many aiguments and pleas in, 
prayer, Jor the perfection and consummation thereof. 

The point lies clear and obvious in the text : To open it let us 

1. What the mercies were which are here called the begin* 
nings of mercv ? 

2. What the greater mercies were, he expected beyond Jor* 
dan ? 

3. How the former strengthen faith in prayer for the latter ? 

4. Why the completing of mercies begun is so desirable to the 
saints ? 

1. What those mercies were which are here called the beginnings 
of mercy ? And they were great and manifold : In this catalogue 
are to be placed all the mercies they had received for forty years, 
from the day they came out of Egypt, unto this great deliverance 
at Edrei inclusively. 

(1.) God began to shew his great power in their wonderful de- 
liverance out of Egypt with mighty signs and an out-stretched arm* 
This deliverance from Egypt was a pattern or model of the future 
deliverances of his churches in New-Testament days, Mic. viL 
15. " According to the days of thy coming out of the land of 
" Egypt, vn\{ I shew unto him marvellous things.'' Which 
seemeth to have relation to the time of the restitution, and saving 
of all Israel. After the manner of Egypt also hatli God begun to 
save the Gentile churches from Rome, which is spiritually called 
Egypt, Rev. xi. 8. And this begun deliverance from the mysticah 

Vol. IV. i ^ 


is greater tlian that from literal Egiipt, and so much greater, by- 
how much spiritual bondage and slavery of men's souls, is worse 
that that on their bodies. The hand of God was evidently seen 
in that, and is no less admirable in this. The wonders of the re-^ 
Jbrmation are, hke those in Egypt, wrought out by the mighty hand 
and power of God. 

(2.) The hand and power of God Was seen in making provision 
for them in all their wilderness-straits after they came out of 
Egypt. There were no tilled fields or barns, no store-houses in the 
Tsilderness, nor shops to furnish them with clothes for forty years 
in the desert ; yet God took care to sustain them. It is said, Neh. 
ix. 21. " Forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, 
" so that they lacked nothing, their clothes waxed not old, and 
" their feet swelled not."" And certainly it would furnish an ad- 
mirable history of Providence, if the instances of God's care over 
his poor^ scattered, persecuted saints were collected, and how the 
Lord hath sustained them from the beginning of the reformation, 
though none were suffered to buy or sell that received not the 
mark of the beast in their foreheads, or right-hand. Rev. xiii. IT. 
Their enemies would have starved them, but their God hath won- 
derfully provided for them. 

(3.) The Lord frustrated all the plots of their enemies to destroy 
them, and there was no enchantment against Jacob, nor divination 
against Israel : " Remember, O my people (saith God) what Ba- 
" lak, king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor 
^' answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal ; that ye may know the 
^' righteousness of the Lord." They built many altars^ and offered 
many sacrifices ; what would they not have done to have gotten but 
a word or two out of God's mouth against his people ? But their 
God was true and faithful to them, and would not hearken to 
Balaam's insinuations against them. There have been plots upon 
plots to destroy the begun reformation. Rome and hell have con- 
sulted our destruction, as they did theirs, but to no purpose. 

(4.) The Lord discomfited and defeated the open force, as well 
as the great treachery of their enemies, and no weapon formed 
against them ever prospered; The kings, several kings, by whose 
lands they travelled towards Canaan, fell upon them in their way, 
but still to their own cost, they forfeited their lives and lands by 
their quarrel with Israel. And now the last of those kings and 
kingdoms that opposed their passage is fallen into the hands of Is- 
rael : These were the mercies wherein God had begun to shew his 
greatness to Moses and his people ; and, after the manner of Egypt, 
unto us also. 

2. But what were the greater mercies he expected beyond Jor- 
4iin^ which he so vehemently desires to see, and in comparisoa 


wherewith he stiles all these great things but the be^nnlngs of 
mercy F Certainly Moses expected better things than these, as great 
and glorious as they were : And these were, 

(1.) The full and free enjoyment of all God's ordinances, which 
the people had not enjoyed for forty years before. All that were 
born by the way were not circumcised, Josh. v. 5. and for the 
passover we find but three of them celebrated all that space, the 
first in Egypt, Exod. xii. the second at mount Sinai, Numb. ix. 
the third at Gilgal in Joshua's time. Josh. v. 10. and as for their 
other sacrifices and offerings appointed by the Lord, they were 
either omitted, or very disorderly performed, which, because of 
their many troubles, and frequent removes, they could not enjoy : 
and when they did, they were not performed as he required, which 
the Lord smartly rebuked them for, Amos v. 25. " Have ye ofFer- 
" ed unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, 
** O house of Israel ?" No, they had not, at least not in the due 
order as God required. But when they should arrive to a settled 
condition in Canaan, then the ordinances of God should be more 
frequently enjoyed, and that after the due order, for so Moses had 
told them, Deut. xii. 8, 9. " Ye shall not do after all the things 
" that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his 
" own eyes ; for ye are not as yet come to the rest, and to the 
*' inheritance which the Lord your God giveth you." When they 
should be settled in Canaan, and the ark find rest, Moses knew 
that all things should then be reduced to the rule and pattern God 
had given them. And truly nothing is more beautiful, more 
desirable in the eyes of the saints. For so much of God's order as 
is found in his worship, so much of his presence and blessing may 
be expected, and no more. And as he expected more purity in 
ordinances, so, 

(2.) Rest and peace were expected in Canaan, mercies the people 
had long wanted. The arh had been ambulatory a long time, re- 
moving now here, now there: but in the temple it was to find 
rest. Therefore you read in Psal. cxxxii. 8. the temple called the 
place of rest : " Arise, O Lord, into thy rest, thou and the ark of 
" thy strength," because there it was to have a fixed abode. And 
as the ark was there to find a place of rest, so the people also, who 
instead of tents, should now be placed in towns and cities. 

(8.) But especially that which Moses desired to see in Canaan, 
was the fulfilling and accomplishment of the promises of God made 
to the patriarchs, in the faith and comfort whereof they lived and 
died. This privilege Joshua enjoyed, chap, xxiii. 14. Not ons 
thing hath Jailed, all are come to pass. O what a lovely and desir* 
able sight was this ? 


But ill these latter days, we, for whom better things are provided, 
look for greater mercies than Moses and the people could expect in 
Canaan. For we, according to the promises, expect, 

(1.) An abundant increase of the church, both extensively, in 
the number of converts ; and intensively, in the power of religion. 
The best ministers every where complain with the prophet, that 
they labour in vain, and spend their strength for nought. They 
now and then, at best, hear but of a single soul wrought upon : 
but the time will come, when they shall not fish with angle-rods, 
but spread out their nets, and inclose multitudes, according to that 
glorious promise, Ezek. xlvii. 10. And as to the intensive increase 
of the church in the spirit, and power of godliness, we expect to 
see a generation of more spiritual, active, and lively Christians to 
spring up, such as shall far excel those of this drowsy, lukewarm 
generation, according to that promise, Isa. Ix. 21. " Thy people 
'* also shall be all righteous." 

(2.) Greater peace and quietness, from persecuting enemies, is yet 
to be expected. The poor church hath been afflicted, and tossed 
with tempests ; persecutors have broken in, ever and anon, upon it, 
and made havock of it ; a tender conscience hath cast men upon 
great difficulties to preserve it ; but the days are coming, when God 
will give his church rest, either by the conversion or restraint of all 
its enemies ; The loolf shall lie down ivith the lamb. Antipathies 
shall be deposed, Isa. xi. 6. not a pricking briar, or grieving thorn, 
that shall not be rooted up, Ezek. xxviii. 24. Surely this is a 
sweet, and desirable mercy to the weary saints ; and yet a far sweeter 
mercy than that is to be expected, viz. 

(3.) The pouring out of the Spirit of unity on the people of God, 
to consolidate, and strengthen the poor dilacerated church. For 
the divisions of Reuben there have been great thoughts of heart ; 
our divisions have darkened the lustre of religion, imbittered, and 
spoiled the communion of saints, prejudiced the world, and ob- 
structed conversion. But God vA\\ melt the hearts a? the saints 
into one, Jer. xxxii. 39. they shall have one heart, and one way, 
and serve the Lord with one consent. Then shall religion shine in 
its native glory. One reason of our justlings one against another, 
hath been the darkness that hath been upon us all ; but this darkness 
shall break up. For, 

(4.) We expect a more spiritual, and excellent ministry than the 
church for many years hath enjoyed, Jer. iii. 15. " I mil give you 
*' pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with 
*' knowledge, and understanding." It is a sore plague, and 
judgment upon the world, when men shall be set over the people, 
that are ignorant of regeneration, strangers and enemies to practical 
holiness, men that break their profane jests upon the very Spirit of 


prayer; but these unclean spirits sh;ill pass out of the land, Zeeh. 
xiii. 2. O what a gootl riddance will this be ! when God shall set 
up, in their room, laborious, faithful and godly ministers, full of 
experimental knowledge of Christ ; watchmen that shall see eye to 
eye, as he speaks, Isa. lii. 8. Then shall we see another most 
desirable and inestimable mercy performed to the church, beyond 
all it hath enjoyed since the primitive days ; namely, 

(5.) The purity of ordinances, and officers in the church, the 
whole worship, and wconomy of the church measured by the 
scripture-reed, according to Rev. xi. 1, 2. and Ezek. xliii. 11. all 
reduced to the pure, primitive rule and standard, which will dis- 
cover and correct the oblique and corruptive super-additions of 
men ; things under which men of tender consciences, and such as 
tremble at the word, in all ages have groaned. And then will the 
ordinances of God shine forth in their beauty, and be mighty in 
power and efficacy ; especially when, 

(G.) There shall be a more eminent presence of God among his 
people ; for so it is promised, Ezek. xlviii. iilt. And the name of 
the city (viz. the measured regulated church) from that day shall 
be. The Lord is there. This is the true glory of the church, this 
makes the new heavens, and the new earth, which according to his 
promise, we look for, and the great and marvellous things our 
eyes behold this day are the b'eginnings and introduction to it: 
Which brings us to the third general head, namely, 

(3.) What influence these begun works of God have to 
strengthen and encourage our souls in prayer for these greater, 
and more perfect mercies: And this they do upon a three^fold 

(1.) As these begun introductive works of mercy, are indications 
and signs that the time of mercy, even the set time, is come. 

There is an appointed, or set time for the church's deliverance 
now, as wtII as for theirs out of Egypt ; that was called " the time 
<* of the promise," Acts vii. 17. Deliverance can neither come 
before it, nor will it linger when that time is fully come. Pro- 
mises, like a pregnant woman, have their appointed months, Hab. 
ii. 3. their set and appointed time, Psal. cii. 13. Now, when we 
behold such things done, and doing in the world, as are at this 
day before our eyes ; we may rationally conclude the time of n^ercy, 
even the set time is near ; as our Saviour speaks. Mat. x: iv. 32, 
33. " Learn a parable of the fig-tree ; when his branch is yet 
« tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh : 
" so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it 
" is near, even at the doors." 

Now, it is a singular encouragement in prayer, when we kno^'.v, 
or can but probably conjecture that the time is neai' for the accom- 



plishment and performance of those very promised mercies we pray 
for; as we see in Dan. ix. 2, 3. when Daniel understood, by 
searching and studying the sacred records, such prophecies as that, 
Jer. XXV. 11, 12. that the time fore-set was near at an end, then 
he set himself with extraordinary fervency to prayer. And do not 
the generahty of learned and good men agree, that the set time 
for Rome's destruction is now near, even at the door ? It is near 
1260 years since Christ turned up her glass, and you see this day 
all things working towards the accomplishment of the written 
word. This cannot but be a strong encouragement to seek God 
by prayer for the full accomplishment of what is so near us. 

(2.) God hath ordered the deliverances and mercies of his church 
to be birthed out by the cries and prayers of his people. When, 
therefore, mercies are come to the birth, it is a special season, and 
singular encouragement to prayer. Ezek. xxxvi. 36, 37. " I the 
*' Lord plant that that was destroyed, I have spoken it, and I will 
" do it : Thus saith the Lord God, Yet for this will I be enquired 
*^ of by the house of Israel to do it for them." So again, in Jer. 
xxix. 11, 12. "I know the thoughts that I think towards you, 
'' saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil ; to give you 
^' an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall 
<' go and pray unto me ; and I will hearken unto you.'' In both 
these places, you see God will have prayer to assist the birth of mer- 
cy, and never is any mercy so sweet, as when prayer comes be- 
twixt our dangers and deliverances, our wants and supplies. Hence 
it was that Hezekiah sent that seasonable message to the prophet 
Isaiah, 2 Kings xix. 3. " Lift up a cry for the remnant that is left, 
*« for the children are come to the birth, and there is no strength 
^' to bring forth." If ever men ^vill strive with God to purpose in 
prayer, it is when they perceive the greatest mercies are at the 
birth, and prayer is the midwife to bring it forth. 

(3.) When God hath begun a work of mercy, it gives singular 
encouragement to prayer, because that time is the time of finding 
a proper and acceptable season ; as it is Psal. xxxii. 6. " For this 
*' shall every one that is godly pray unto thee, in a time when thou 
*' mayest be found ;" or in a time of finding. Courtiers, who have 
great requests to make to kings, do carefully observe their ynolissima 
Jandi Um'pora^ as they call them ; their convenient seasons when 
they find the king most propense, and inclinable to acts of grace. 
That which is in motion, is the more easily moved. God is now 
in the way of mercy, his goodness is moving spontaneously towards 
us ; and if ever prayer be like to speed and prevail, now is the 
time. And in the last place, 

(4.) Manifold and weighty are the reasons and motives, that 
should fully engage the most fervent desires and prayers of all the 


saints to see the full deliverance of Zion ; and to pass over Jordan 
to behold that goodly mountain, and Lebanon, I mean those six 
glorious mercies and privileges before-mentioned. 

First, The saints' love to Christ makes it above measure desire- 
able to them ; nothing is more dear and precious to a Christian, than 
the glory and interest of Christ, and answerable to the strength 
of their love, is the fervour of their desires. It is said, Psal. cii. 
16. " When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his 
« glory ."^ 

Whilst the church groans under Antichrist, the gloiy of Jesus 
Christ is darkened and much eclipsed in the world. It hath 
been the chief part of the saints sufferings, to see his ordinances 
polluted, and the rights of heaven invaded by the usurpations of 
men ; this is it that hath cost them more sorrow of heart, than 
their personal sufferings have done. But to see the accomplish- 
ment of that prophecy. Rev. xi. 19. what will it be but as life from 
the dead ? <^ And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and 
*•' there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament,'^ &c. As 
it was an exceeding joy to the godly in Israel, when good Josiah 
came to the crown, to see tl^e temple opened, which had been 
neglected in the days of his predecessors, Manasseh and Ammon, 
in whose reigns the book of the law had lain in the rubbish, but 
now the worship of God was restored ; so it cannot but ravish a 
gracious heart with singular delight and joy, to see the pure, pri- 
jnitive worship of God restored to its first purity and glory. And 
the more any man is sanctified, the more he is inflamed with de- 
sires after it, becai^s^ the glory of Christ is so much interested and 
concerned therein, 

Secondly^ Their Ipve to the church, of which they are members, 
makes this greatly desirable. Moses was a man who excelled in 
love to the church, witness that transcendent rapture of his, Exod. 
xxxii. 32. but though he be scarcely imitable therein, yet every 
real Christian doth, in his right frame, prefer Jerusalem to his 
chief joy, I'sal. pxxxvii. 5, 6. and^ accordingly, their love to 
Zion is evidenced iu thei^r prayers for, and desires of its prosperity, 
Isa. Ixii. 1. <« For Zion'*s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Je- 
*' rusalem's sake I will not rest until the righteousness thereof go 
<* forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that 
" burneth.'' So again, Psal. cxxii. 8. For my brethren, my 
" companions' sake, I will now say. Peace be within thee.'' For 
when the church shall be delivered from the Antichi'istian yoke, 
and settled in peace and purity, great will its increase be. Her 
children shall say again in her ears, the place is too strait, give 
room that we may dwell. She will look fortli as the morning an4 
her glory he fresh in her. 



Thirdly^ The pity and compassion the saints have for the poor, 
miserable, perishing world, cannot but make this, a desirable thing 
in their eyes. For whilst the gospel is restrained in its full liberty, 
or the ordinances corrupted by the mixture of human inventions 
and traditions; it is not to be expected that the church should 
be much enlarged by an addition of converts. 

The kingdom of our Lord Jesus is for the present confined within 
strait and narrow limits, and it is just matter of sorrow to consider 
how small a part of the habitable world is in subjection to him : 
So many millions bowing down to idols, the dark places of the 
earth are full of the habitations of cruelty, Psal. Ixxiv. 20. The 
sight of precious souls perishing for v/ant of the word, made the 
bowels of the compassionate Redeemer to yearn >vithin him, Matth. 
ix. 36. and the same consideration and occasion cannot but affect 
and melt every soul in which is the Spirit of Christ : proportionably 
to the compassions men have for the miseries of the perishing world, 
will their desires be for the enlarging and perfecting of the gospel- 
privileges and mercies. 

Fourthly^ Love to ourselves will make us long for such a sight 
as this : for what is there in this world more pleasant to a Chris- 
tian than to see Christ walking amidst the golden candlesticks ^ 
The peaceful and sweet enjoyment of God in his pure ordinances, 
Psal. xxvii. 4. " One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I 
" seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days 
" of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in 
" his temple." This was David's hoc unicum, one thing above all 
other things in this world in his eye, and so it is to all that see 
things with such an eye as David had ; and next to that is the 
sweet and comfortable communion of saints with one heart and 
mouth glorifying God, and serving him with one consent. These 
are the things which make it worth while to live on earth ; the 
pleasure of life doth consist in them. Now all these desirable 
things cannot be enjoyed in any eminent degree on this side Jor- 
dan, I mean till the great promises now near their birth be accom- 


The point before us frowns upon, and severely reprehends two 
sorts of persons, viz. 

1. Wicked. ^^ 

2. The godly. 9m'- 
(1.) It administers just reprehension to wicked men, who insfeSft 

of thankful acknowledgments of the beginnings of mercies, and 
impro\ang them in prayer for the obtaining of greater, do inward- 
ly repine and fret at the work of mercy begun, and are afraid of 


Tiothing more than a full and complete reformation. Are there 
not such wretched creatures to be found this day in England, that 
would be better pleased to be at their old persecutinor work again, 
and see good men destroyed, than to enjoy a due liberty to wor- 
ship God according to the dictates of their consciences, after they 
have seriously studied and prayed for reformation ? Some there 
are who call themselves Protestants^ but (blush O heavens at this, 
and be astonished) they have not been ashamed to say, rather 
popery than presbytery : And Haman-likc, take no comfort in their 
own liberty, because those they hate enjoy theirs. 

Thus it was with the ungodly murmurers in Israel, when God 
had brought them out c^f Egypt with signs and wonders, and a 
mighty hand ; yet, their lusts being crossed, they would needs 
make them a captain^ and return back to Egypt, Num. xiv. 4. 
What madness was here ? Could they think God would divide the 
red-sea for them in their return to Egypt as he did at their depar- 
ture thence ? Or that they should find such welcome in Egypt, 
which they had deserted, disobhged, and brought so much ruin 
upon ? What stupendous madness was here ! 

(9.) It justly rebukes the dcad-heartedness and ingratitude of 
good men, among many of whom is neither found that fervency of 
prayer, nor sense of present mercies which God expects, and the 
present dispensations of his providences call for. 

How inexcusable at this time is a flat, discouraged, and dull spirit 
in prayer ? To be found under such a temper as this, when the 
morning of so glorious a day is sprung up, and opened upon us, 
and such encouragements to enliven faith and hope are before our 
eyes, this is sad. The saints that are gone to heaven under the late 
and former troubles, were mighty wrestlers with God in prayer : 
They fasted and wept ; they pleaded our cause heartily with God ; 
wept and made supplication for the mercies w^e now enjoy, though 
it was not their lot to see them : And shall we that are entered into 
the fruits and mercies they prayed for, and are under such signal 
encouragements, be now remiss and cold ? 

Or shall we ungratefully overlook the beginning of mercy as 
small and inconsiderable things ? Shall we say, all this is nothing, 
because we have not yet all that we would have ? God forbid ! 
When Israel was in Egypt, then a little straw would have been 
esteemed as a great mercy ; but afterwards quails and manna were 
despised and slighted. Brethren, three or four years ago, you 
would have accounted it a special mercy to have enjoyed an hour 
or two together in prayer, or to have had a little spiritual bread 
handed to you behind your enemies backs : and is it nothing in 
your eyes this day to behold the worship of God at liberty ? Yea, 
to see the success of the gospel in the bringing home of many souls 


to Christ, the fears of Popery vanished, the witnesses risen, the 
tenth part of the city fallen, and such a prospect of far greater and 
more glorious things before your eyes ? O let not the consolations 
of the Almighty seem small ! 

If wicked men envy and grudge at our mercies, and we ourselves 
undei-value and shght them, then is there a grievous provocation 
given to the Lord to turn his hand, and bring all our former 
iniserjes back again upon us. 

Use II. 

Hath God brought us by a mighty hand out of spiritual Egypt 
by the reformation, and hath now led us so many years through 
the wilderness until he hath brought us at last almost in sight of 
the good things he hath promised ? Then let us be exhorted to 
the duties, and warned of the dangers of our present state. 

(1.) Take heed of provoking God in the way : Moses did so, and 
for that was shut out of the good land, Numb. xx. 12. his heed- 
lessness of the command deprived him of the good of the promise. 
Unbelief, murmuring, and idolatry shut out many thousands of 
them that came out of Egypt, and for those sins their carcases fell 
in the wilderness, 1 Cor. x. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. And these are our ex- 
amples, not for imitation, but caution, When seamen sail along the 
coast where abundance of wreck is floating, they sail the more warily. 
You are not yet so secure and safe, but that you may quickly 
fall into as great dangers and miseries as ever, if you provoke the 
Lord in the way of mercies. In the miscarriage of others we may get 
experience at a cheap rate. After great deliverances, the greatest 
judgments are to be feared if God be provoked by the abuse of 
them. So Joshua tells them. Josh. xxiv. 20. " He will turn again 
<' and do you hurt after he hath done you good ;"' for one mercy 
can never be pleaded as an argument to obtain another, if it be 
abused and trampled under feet. So Josh, xxiii. 15. and Jude \% 

(2.) Be not discouraged if you should meet with some difficulties, 
even on the borders of the land of promise. After all their wil- 
derness straits, deliverance at the red-sea, and encounters with the 
neighbouring kings, there was a swelhng Jordan at last betwixt 
them and the place of rest and mercy ; and so it may fall out with 
us : But let not our faith be staggered ; for look, as the an-k of the 
covenant stood in the midst of Jordan, to secure the tribes in their 
passage through it. Josh. iii. 8. so doth the promise stand this day 
in the midst of mystical Jordan ; I mean the dangers and troubles 
of the church, to secure its passage through them all. Brethren, 
follow ye the Lord in the way of duty, and you shall assuredly find 
that Jordan shall divide when you come to it ^ and that ^1 trou- 

HOUNT P16GAH. 333 

bles, all fears, all difficulties do owe you a safe passage through 
them : The covenant, yea, Christ, the Mediator of the covenant, 
stands in the midst of them all to secure you. 

(3.) Bless God for casting the lot of your nativity upon such a 
happy and extraordinary period of time as this is. Many saintg 
have desired to see the days you are likely to see in a little time, 
and have not seen them. The whole space of time, from the first 
to the second coming of Christ, is by the prophets called one day, 
Zech. xiv. 7. and the greatest part of this long day very doubtful 
and changeable ; neither light, nor dark, nor day, nor night ; peace 
and trouble, truth and error taking all along their alternate course?. 
Bui at evening-time it shall he light. And as the greatest darkness 
is a little before the dawning of the morning, so here the blackest 
and gloomiest part of the whole day is to be expected before this 
lightsome glorious evening : such tribulation, immediately before 
the fall and ruin of Antichrist, as ages past never saw. Lactantius 
speaking of this very time, says, ' That a little before it, the state 

* of human affairs must necessarily be changed, and all things grow 

* worse and worse ; so that these times of ours (saith he) in which 

* iniquity is grown, as one would think, to the height, yet in com- 

* parison with those days, may even be called golden times : The 

* godly shall be every where distressed by the wicked, they shall 
' flourish, and the righteous be in contempt : All right and law shall 
' perish and be confounded ; no man shall possess any thing but 

* what is ill gotten, or valiantly defended ; there shall be no faith- 

* fulness in men ; no peace, humanity, shame, or truth left : Wars 

* shall rage every where ; all nations shall be in arms ; neighbour- 
' ing cities shall make war upon each other ; then shall slaughters be 
^ in all the world, mowing down all like an harvest ; of which con- 
' fusions and destruction this shall be the cause : I tremble to speak 
*• it, (but it must be spoken, for it shall surely come to pass) that 
^ the Roman name, by which the world is now ruled, shall be 
^ taken away from the earth. 

These things, in themselves, are exceeding dreadful, and yet I 
say, let the saints rejoice in that God hath cast their lot upon these 
times. For, 

1. These are the last troubles the church is like to feel from the 
hands of that enemy ; and there is much comfort in that. God 
never exercised so great patience and long-suffering towards any 
enemy of his church as he hath towards this. But the day is come 
to avenge the blood of the saints upon Babylon, and destructions 
are come, even come to a perpetual end. 

2. The Lord will take care of his people in all these calamities 
and ijational confusions : They shall be reserved as a seed to con- 


tinue and enlarge the church, which is to be the subject of all the 
promised liberty and glory. 

(4<.) Labour to get suitable frames of spirit to those good times 
you expect. Carnal hearts will not suit them, or find any pleasure 
in them. We look, according to the promise, for new heavens 
and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness ; and seeing we 
look for such things, O what manner of persons ought we to be ! 
2 Pet. iii. 11. You that are parents, how are you concerned not 
only for yourselves, but for the religious education of your chil- 
dren : If you hve not to see those good days, in all probability they 
will ; the hopes of the next generation depends much upon your 
religious and zealous care and diligence. Never were children 
born in a more happy and encouraging time than yours is. 

And for you young ones, I would leave one word of counsel this 
day. Get principles of grace implanted in your hearts betime : For 
the cars are coming in which the world will be no place of pleasure 
for profane and carnal persons. As serious piety has been hissed at, 
and ridiculed ia these late debauched times, so will profaneness in 
future times. " Holiness to the Lord shall be upon the bells of the 
<' horses,'" Zech. xiv. 20. that is, husbandmen shall have their hearts 
in heaven, wliilst their hands are on the plow. Merchants and 
seamen shall drive a trade for heaven as well as earth, Isa. xxiii. 18. 
Isa. Ix. o. It you be profane and ungodly you shall at once be the 
contempt of heaven and earth. 

(5.) Lastly, Bless God for those instruments by which you are 
brought out of spiritual Egypt to the borders of Canaan. 

You must not ascribe more to instruments than is due to them, 
nor lean and depend too much on them. Many benumb their own 
arms by leaning on them. But on the other side, beware of ingra- 
titude to the instruments by which God works out your deliver- 
ances, and conveys to you such excellent mercies. Some know no 
other way of expressing their joy, but by drunken healths and 
Tiiizzas, a sacrifice suitable enough to Bacchus, but such as God 
abhors, and his vicegerent will not thank you for. There are other 
"ways of expressing your joy in the mercy which will be highly 
acceptable both to God and the king ; viz. 

(1.) Pray for your rulers, that God would make kings to be 
nursing fathers, and queens nursing mothers to the church, ac- 
cording to that promise, Isa. xlix. 23. That he would preserve and 
secure the heart of the king by his wisdom and fear, from those 
dangerous temptations and snares that surround the throne : " That 
" he may be just, ruling in the fear of God, and so be as the light 
" of the morning when the sun riseth, even a morning without 
" clouds ; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear 
" shilling after rain," 2 Sam. xxiii. 3, 4. That the zeal of God 


may inflame his soul, and that he may be a second Hezekiah in 
restoring and reforming the worship of God : That God would 
leno-then the days of his life upon the throne for tlie peace and pros- 
perity of his church. In this you will answer the great things God 
hath done for you and his church at this time. 

(2.) Be loyal, peaceable, and obedient subjects. Convince the 
world that rehgion breeds the best subjects : " Render to Cae- 
" sar tlie things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are 
" God's,"" Mark xii. 17. Where you enjoy protection, you owe 
allegiance. Be not murmurerf}^ as the ungrateful Israelites were, 
1 Cor. X. 10. Understand and value the mercies you enjov under 
the government, and bless God for them ; lest he teach you by sad 
experience the difference betwixt his service and the service of the 
kingdoms of the countries, as he did them, 2 Chron. xii. 8. Be- 
ware you exchange not the golden yoke of Christ for the iron yoke 
of Antichrist. 

(3.) Take heed to order your conversation aright ; let not your 
irrehgious lives make the solemn religious duties of this day to 
blush, " AVhoso offereth praise, glorifieth me ; and to him that 
" ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of 
*' God,"' Psal. 1. ult. And thus your present mercies, how great 
and glorious soever they be in themselves, shall be but as the dawnirg 
light of a much more glorious day springing up upon these nation^, 
and all the churches of Christ, after so long and gloomy a night of 
afflictions and sorrows ; which the Father of mercies grant, for the 
sake of Jesus Christ. Amen* 




Opened in a Trkatise upon Psal. Ivii. 2. 
-«« !»»» 


To the Right Honourable William, Duke of Bedford, Lord 
RussEL of Thornehaugh, and Knight of the Most Noble Order 

of the Garter. 

My Loed, 

XT was a weighty and savoury speech which * a pious pen once 
saved from your lordship's lips, viz. That you accounted the prayers 
ofGocVs ministers a?id people the best walls about your house. He 
that so accounts, doubtless understands that prayer engageth 
Providence, Isa. xlv. 11. And Pro-sddence so engaged is the surest 
munition, Job i. 10. 

Many great men enclose their dwelling with an high wall ; but 
the foundation (as the wisest of men observes) is laid in their own 
conceits, Prov. xviii. 11. yea, in sin; and crying sin too, Hab. 
ii. 12. Of such walls we may say, as the oracle to Phocas, iav 
tz-vl/o/; rot, rir/j, su; asavn, s^dov ro xa'/.ov. " If the building emulate the 
skies, yet sin being at the bottom, all will totter. 

It is a fond vanity, to think of ensuring a destiny that can con- 
trol the stars, and endure the assaults of fortune (as they love to 
speak) while Providence is not engaged for them ; no, not so much 
as by a bare acknowledgment. 

My Lord, it is not the vast bulk of an estate, nor the best hu- 
man security in the world, but the vigilant care of Divine Provi- 
dence, that guards both it and its owners from the stroke of ruin. 
It is the fear of God vdthin us, and the Providence of God round 
about us, which makes the firm and solid basis of all sanctified and 
durable prosperity. It is beyond all debate, that there is a Pro- 
vidence of God always enfolding those in everlasting arms, that 
bear his image. The impress of that image upon you, and the 

* Mr. Isaac Ambrose} Epistle to his Ultima. 


embtaces of those arms about yoti, 'w^ill advance you higher, and 
secure you better than your noble birth or estate could ever do. 

My Lord^ Providence hath moulded you, e meliori lufo, made 
you both the offspring and head of an illustrious family, planted 
you in a rich and pleasant soil, caused many noble branches to 
spring from you, drawm your life even to old age, through the de- 
lights and honours of this world. And now, that you have tried 
all those things that make the fairest pretensions to happiness, 
what have you found in all these painted beauties and false glos- 
sing excellencies, which have successively courted you ? Which of 
them all can you pronounce self-desirable.'^ Which can you call 
ohjectum par amori f What is it to have the flesh indulged, sense 
gratified, fancy tickled.'^ What have you found in meats and 
drinks, in stately houses and pleasant gardens, in gold and silver, 
in honour and applause, to match the appetite of your nobler 
soul ? Surely, (My Lord) to turn from them all with a generous 
disdain, as one that knows where to find better entertainment, is 
much more nohle^ than wholly to immerse and lose our spirits in 
those sensual fruitions as many do, alas ! too many in our days ! 

We are fallen into the dregs of time ; sensuality runs every- where 
into atheism. Providentia peperit divitias, sedjilia devoravit ma- 
trem. The largesses of Providence have so blinded, and perfectly stu- 
pified the minds of some, that they neither own a Providence, nor a 
God, who do (fcc^Tiorroisiv rov olv^^u-ttov okov, '/.at ri\v '^vy^r^v raig m cw/xaroj 
Tihovaig xa7a<ruCw7£/i/, as Plutarch both wittily and judiciously replied 
upon Colotes the Epicurean. 

But, blessed be God, there is a sincere part, both of the nobles 
and commons of England, which this gangrene hath not yet touched, 
and, I hope, never shall. 

My Lord, It is both your honour and interest^ to be o?.&;j m 
zoeirrovogy the entire and devoted servant of Providence. It was 
once the wish of a good man, optarem id me esse Deo, quod est mihi 
manus inea *. This is the most noble and divine life that can be 
to live and act in this world upon eternal designs : To look upon 
ourselves, and what we have, as things devoted to God ; not to 
be content that Providence should serve itself of us, (for so it doth 
even of those things which understand nothing of it) but to study 
wherein we may serve Providence, and be instrumental in its hand 
for the good of many ; this is to be truly honourable ; Quo inagis 
quis Deo vivit, eo evadit nobilior clarior, divinior. 

How much God hath honoured you in this respect, the world 

* I could wish I were that to God, which mine own hand i« to me. 
t The more any li?« to God, the naore noble, illustrious and divine they be- 


will understand better, when your Lordship shall be gathered to 
your fathers, and sleep in the dust ; then he that praiseth cannot 
be suspected of flattery ; nor he that is praised, be moved with vain 
glory : But the approbation of God is infinitely better than the 
most glorious name among men, before or after death. 

And, as it is most honourable to serve^ so you will find it most 
comfortable to observe, the ways of God in his providence : To 
compose ourselves to think of the conduct of providence through 
all the stages of life we have hitherto passed i To note the results 
of its profound wisdom, the effects of its tender care, the distin- 
guishing fruits of its special bounty : To mark how providences 
have gone a long step by step with the promises, and both with uSj 
until they have now brought us near to our everlasting rest. Oh ! 
how delectable ! how transporting are such meditations as these ! 

My Lord, It is the design of this manual, to assert the being SivA 
efficacy of providence against the atheism of the times, and to display 
the wisdom and care of the providence of God in all the concerns 
of that people who are really his. It is probable, if your lordship 
will stoop to such a vulgar composure, somewhat may occur of a 
grateful relish to your pious mind. I confess, it is not accommo- 
dated, either in exactness of method, or elegance of style, to gratify 
the curious ; nor yet is it destitute of what may please and profit 
the truly gracious. 

Should I here recite the pleasures and advantages resulting from 
an humble and heedful eyeing of the methods of Providence, it 
would look more like a booh in an epistle, than an epistle in a book. 
One taste of spiritual sense will satisfy you better than all the ac- 
curate descriptions and high encomiums that the most elegant pen 
can bestow upon it. 

My Lord, It is not that eminent station that some persons retain 
(in civil respects) above the vulgar, that will enable them to pene- 
trate the mysteries, and relish the sweetness of Providence better 
than others, (for, doubtless, many that live immediately upon Pro- 
vidence for daily bread, do thereby gain a nearer acquaintance ^vith 
it, than those vrhose outv/ard enjoyments flow to them in a more 
plentiful and stated course) but those that excel in grace and expe- 
rience ; those that walk and converse with God, in all his dispen- 
sations towards them, these are the persons who are most fully and 
immediately capable of these high pleasures of the Christian life. 
The daily flow and increase whereof in your lordship's noble per- 
son and family, is the hearty desire of 

,. ^ , Your Lordship's most 

Irom my Study, "^ ^ 

at Dartmouth, C HumbU ScTVant, 

^"^•"'""•^ JOHNFLAVEL, 

( 339 ) 



To the ingenuous Readeus, those especially who are the 
heedful Observers of the Ways of Providence. 


M. HERE are two ways whereby the blessed God condescends 
to manifest himself to men, liis zvo7'(l, and his xvorhs. Of the 
written word we must say, No words like these were ever written 
since the beginning of time, which can (as one speaks) take life 
and root in the soul, yea, doth it as really as the seed doth in the 
ground ; and are fitted to be engraffed and naturalized there, so as 
no coalition in nature can be more real than this, James i. 21. This 
is the most transcendent and glorious medium of manifestation : 
" God hath magnified his word above all his name," Psal. cxxxviii. 2- 
However, the manifestation of God by his works, whether of 
creation or providence, have their value and glory : But the prime 
glory and excellency of his providential zvorls consists in this, that 
they are the very fulfillings and real accomphshments of his writ- 
ten word. By a wise and heedful attendance hereunto, we might 
learn that excellent art, which is (not unfitly called by some sci&ntia 
architectonica) an art to clear the mysterious occurrences of Pro- 
vidence, by reducing them to the written word, and thei^e lodge 
them as effectsin their proper causes. And, doubtless, this is one 
of the rarest essays men could pursue against atheism, to shew, not 
only how providences concur in a most obvious tendency to con- 
firm this great conclusion, T7i2/ word is truth ; but how it some- 
times extorts also the confession of a God, and the truth of his 
loord, from those very tongues which have boldly denied it* 
yEschyles *, the Persian, relating their discomfiture by the Gre- 
cian army, makes this notable observation : " When the Grecian 
" forces hotly pursued us, (saith he) and we must needs venture 
*' over tile gi-eat water, Strymon, then frozen, but beginning to 
*' thaw, when a hundred to one we had all died for it ; with mine 
*' eyes I then saw many of those gallants whom I had heard before 
" so boldly maintain, there was no God, every one upon their 
" knees, with eyes and hands lifted up, begging hard for help and 
" mercy, and entreating that the ice might hold until they got 

* ^schylee in Tragced. 

Vol. IV. y 


•* over.'*' INiany thousand seals liath Providence forced the very 
enemies of God to set to his truth, which greatly tends to our con- 
firmation therein ; but especially to see how the xcord and provi- 
dences of God do enlighten each other ; and how the scriptures 
contain all those events, both great and small, which are disposed 
by Providence in their seasons : And how n(^t only the promises of 
the word, are, in the general, faithfully fulfilled to the church, 
in all her exigencies and distresses, but, in particular, to every 
member of it ; they being all furnished by Providence with mul- 
titudes of experiences to this use and end. O how useful are such 
observations ! 

And as the profit and use, so the delight and pleasure result- 
ing from the observations of Providences, are exceeding great. 
It vnW doubtless be a part of our entertainment in heaver,^ to view 
with transporting delight how the designs and methods w^re laid 
to bring us hither : And what will be a part of our blessedness in 
heaven may be well allowed to have a prime ingrediency into our 
heaven upon earth. To search for pleasure among the due obser- 
vations of Providence is to search for water in the ocean : For Pro- 
vidence doth not only ultimately design to bring you to heaven, 
but (as intermediate thereunto) to bring (by this means) much of 
heaven into your souls in the way thither. 

How great a pleasure is it to discern how the most wise God is 
providentially steering all to the port of his own praise and his peo- 
ple's happiness, whilst the whole world is busily employed in ma- 
naging the sails and tugging at the oars with a quite opposite de- 
isign and purpose .'' To see how \\\^^ jyromote his design by opposing 
it, a.T\d JlcIJil his will by resisting it, enlarge his church by scattering 
it, and make their rest come the more sweet to their souls by ma- 
king their condition so restless in the world. This is pleasant to 
observe in general : But to record and note its particular designs 
upon ourselves ; with what profound wisdom, infinite tenderness, 
and incessant vigilancy it hath managed all that concerns us from 
first to last is ravishing and transporting. 

O vrhat an history might we compile of our o^mi experiences, 
whilst with a melting heart we trace the footsteps of providence all 
along the way it hath led us to this day : and set our remarks upon 
its more eminent performances for us in the several stages of our 
lives ! 

Here it prevented^ and there it deUvc-rd. Here it directed, and 
there it corrected. In this it grieved, and in that it relieved. Here 
was the poison, and there the antidote. This providence raised a 
dismal cloud, and that dispelled'it again. This straitened, and that 
enlarged. Here a want, and there a supply. This relation K'ithered, 
and that springing up in its room. Words cannot express the 


)iigli delights and gratifications a gracious heart mqy find in si ch 
employment as this. 

O what a world oP rarities are to be found in providence ! The 
blind, heedless world makes nothing of them : They cannot find 
one sicccf hit where a gracious soul would make aricfi fea.Hf. Plu- 
tarch relates very exactly, how Timoleon was miraculously deli- 
vered from the conspiracy of two murderers, by their meeting in the 
very nick of time a certain person, who, to revenge the death of liis 
father, killed one of them, just as they were ready to give Timoleon 
the fatal blow, though he knew nothing of the business, and so Ti- 
moleon escaped the danger. And what did this wonderful work 
of Providence, think you, yield the relator ? Why, though he was 
one of the most learned and ingenious among the Heathen Sages, 
yet all he made of it was only this ; TJte spectators (smth he) won^ 
dered greatly at the artifice and contrivance which Jbrtm^e uses ; 
This is all he could see in it. Had a spiritual and wise Christian 
had the dissecting and anatomizing of such a work of Providence, 
wliat glory would it have yielded to God ! what comfort and en- 
couragement to the soul ! The bee makes a sweeter meal upon one 
single flower, than the ox doth upon the whole meadow where thou- 
eands of them grow. 

O reader ! if thy heart be spiritual, and well stocked with expe-* 
rience, if thou hast recorded the ways of Providence towards thee, 
and wilt but allow thyself time to reflect upon them ; what a lifis 
of pleasure mayest thou live ! what an heaven upon earth doth this 
way lead thee into ! I will not here tell thee what I have met 
with in this path, lest it should seem to savour of too much vanity ; 
non est religio ubi omnia patent. There are some delights and 
enjoyments in the Christian life, which are, and must be enclosed. 
But try it thyself, taste and see, and thou wilt need no other in- 
ducement ; thine own experience will be the most powerful oratory 
to persuade thee to the study and search of Providence. 

Histories are usually read with delight : When once the fancy 
is catched, a man knows not how to disengage himself from it. I 
am greatly mistaken if the history of our own lives, if it were well 
drawn up, and distinctly perused, would not be the pleasantest his- 
tory that ever we read in our lives. 

The ensuing treatise is an essay to that purpose, in which thou 
wilt find some remarks set upon Providence in its passage through 
the several stages of our lives. But, reader, thou only art able to 
compile the history of Providence for thyself, because the memorials 
that furnish it are only in thine own hands. However, here 
thou mayest find a pattern, and general rules to direct thee ia 

Y 2 


tfeat gi-eat and difficult work which is the very end and design of 
this manual. 

I Jiave not had much regard to the dress and ornament into 
which this discourse is to go abroad, for I am debtor both to the 
strong and weak, the mse and foohsh : And, in all my observation, 
I have not found, that ever God hath made much use of laboured 
periods, rhetorical flowers, and elegancies, to improve the power of 
religion in the world : Yea, I have observed how Providence hath 
sometimes rebuked good men, when, upon other subjects they have 
too much affected those pedantic fooleries, in withdrawing from 
them its usual aids, and exposing them to shame ; and much more 
may it do so, when itself is the subject. 

Reader, if thy stomach be nice and squeasie, and nothing 
will relish with thee, but what is spruce and elegant, there are 
Store of such composures in the world, upon which thou mayest 
even surfeit thy curious fancy : mean time, there will be found some 
that will bless God for what thou despisest, and make many a 
sweet meal upon what thou loathest. 

I will add no more, but my hearty prayers that providence will 
direct this treatise to such hands in such seasons, and so bless and 
prosper its design, that God may have glory, thou mayest have be- 
nefit, and myself comfort in the success thereof, who am. 

Thine and the church's servant. 

In the liand of Providence, 


PsAL. Ivii. % 

I icill ci^ unio God most high^ unto God that performeth all things 

for me. 

JL HE greatness of God is a glorious and unsearchable mystery : 
«' The Lord most high is terrible ; he is a great King over all the 
«« earth,' Psal. Ixvii. % The condescension of the most high God 
to men is also a profound mystery : " Though the Lord be high, 
** yet hath he respect unto the lowly," Psal. cxxxviii. 6. But 
when both these meet together (as they do in this scripture) they 
make up a matchless mystery. Here we find the most high God 
j)erforming all things for a poor distressed creature. 

It is the great support and solace of the saints in all the distresses 


tliat befal therti here, that tliere is a wise spirit sitting in all the 
wheels of motion, and governing the most excentrical creatures, 
and their most pernicious designs to blessed and happy issues. And 
indeed it were not worth while to live in a world xtvca eta xai zr^ovoiagy 
devoid of God and providence. 

How deeply we are concerned in this matter will appear by that 
great instance, which this jjsalm presents us with. 

It was composed (as the title notes) by David prayer- wise, when 
he hid himself from Saul in the cave ; and is inscribed with a dou- 
ble title *Al iaschith, Michtam of David. Al taschith refers to the 
scope, and Michtam to the dignity of the subject-matter. 

The former signifies destroy not, or let there be no slaughter, and 
may either refer to Saul, concerning whom he gave charge to his 
servants not to destroy him ; or rather, it hath reference to God, to 
whom, in this great exigence, he poured out his soul in this pathe- 
tical ejaculation, Al taschith, destroy not. 

The latter title, Michtam, signifies a golden ornament, and so is 
suited to the choice and excellent matter of the j^salm ; which 
much more deserves such a title than Pythagoras' golden verses 

Three things are remarkable in the former part of the p>salm ; 
viz. (1.) His extreme danger. (2.) His earnest address to God 
in that extremity. (3.) The arguments he pleads with God in that 

1. His extreme danger expressed both in the title and body of 
the psahn. The title tells us, this psalm was composed by him 
when he hid himself from Saul in the cave f. This cave was in the 
wilderness of Engedi, among the broken rocks where the wild goats 
inhabited, an obscure and desolate hole ; yet even thither the 
envy of Saul pursued him, 1 Sam. xxiv, 1, 2. And now he that 
had been so long hunted as a partridge upon the mountains, seems 
to be enclosed in the net ; for the place was begirt with his ene- 
mies, and having in this place no out-let another ^ay, and Said 
himself entering into the mouth of this cave, in the sides and creeks 

* Al taschith signifies, do not destroy, referring, 1 . Either to Saul, whom David 
kept his servants from destroying, though they would have had him to have cut 
him off. Or, 2. It may refer to David himself, destroy not (me), O God, Gerius 
on the place. Michtam signifies a golden ornament, or golden song, from Oni> 
which signifies choice gold, unto which this precious psalm may be compared. 

f But when he saw the place where he was hiding himself surrounded with 
Saul's army, and that there seemed to be no way of escape, he now likewise flees 
to God for relief, which he had always done formerly in the like dangers. Muk 
on the ]>lace, 



whereof he and his men lay hid, and saw him ; judge to how great 
s^ extremity, and to what a desperate state things were now 
brought ; well might he say, as it is verse 4. " My soul is among 
*' lions, and I lie even among them that are set on fire." What 
hope now remained? what but immediate destruction could be 
expected ? 

2. Yet this frights him not out of his faith and duty, but betwixt 
the jaws of 'death he prays, and earnestly addresses himself to God 
for mercy, ver. 5. " Be merciful to me, O God ! be merciful to 
" me r This excellent psalm was composed by him when there was 
enough to discompose the best man in the world. The repetition 
notes bo*h the extremity of the danger, and the ardency of the 
supplicant. Mercy ! mercy ! nothing but mercy, and that ex- 
erting iiself in an extraordinary way, can now save him from 

3. The arguments he pleads for obtaining mercy in this distress, 
are verv considerable, 

(1.) He pleads his reliance upon God as an argument to move 
inercy. " Be mer-itul to me, O God ! be merciful unto me! for 
*' my soul trusteth in thee ; yea? in the shadow of thy wings will 
<' I make my refuge, until these sad calamities be overpast,'* ver. 
1. This his trust and dependence on God, though it be not argu- 
mentative in res})ect of the dignity of the act ; yet it is so in re- 
spect both of the nature of the object, a compassionate God, who 
will not expose any that take sheltef under his wings ; and in re- 
spect of the promise, whereby protection is assured to them that 
fly to him for sanctuary ; Isa. xxvi. 3. " Thou wilt keep him in 
*' perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth 
*' in thee."" Thus he encourages himself from the consideration of 
•|that God to whom he betakes himself. 

(2.) He pleads form.er experiences of his help in past distresses, 
as an argument encouraging hope under the present strait, ver. % 
*' I will cry unto God most high, unto God that perforraeth all 
f things for me." 

In- which words I shall consider two things, 

■ 1. The duty resolved upon. 

2. The encouragement to that resolution. 

1. The duty resolved upon ; / will cry unto God. Crying unto 
God, is an expression that doth not only denote prai/er, but intense 
giud fervent prayer. 

To cry, is to pray in a holy passion ; and such are usually speed- 
ing prayers, Psal. xviii. 6. and Heb. v. 7. 

2. The encouragements to this resolution, and these are two- 

J. Objective, taken from the sovereignty of God. 


2. Subjective, taken from the experience he had of his pro^ 

1. The sovereignty of God, Izdll cry unto God most high. Upon 
this he acts his faith in extremity of danger. Saul is high, but 
God tlie Most High ; and, without his permission, he is assured 
Saul cannot touch him. He had none to help ; and if he had, 
he knew God must first help the helpers, or they cannot help him. 
He had no means of defence or escape before him, but the Most 
High is not limited by means. This is a singular prop to faith, 
Psal. lix. 9. 

2. The experience of his ^ro<y^^7^cf hitherto: Unto God that per- 
formeih all things for me. 

The word which we translate \perforraeiK\ comes from a root, 
that signifies both " to perfect ., and to desist or cease*/' For when 
a business is performed and perfected, the agent then ceases and 
desists from working : he puts to the last hand when he finishes 
the work. To such an happy issue the Lord hath brought all his 
doubtful and difficult matters before ; and this gives him encourage- 
ment, ths-t he will still be gracious, and perfect that which concerneth 
him now, as he speaks, Psal. cxxxviii. 8, Tlie Lord will perfect that 
ivhich concerneth me. 

The Septuagint reads it by rov iuioyzmffoyra fn, who prqfiteth, or 
hcncfiteth me. And it is a certain truth, that all the results and 
issues of providence are profitable and beneficial to the saints. But 
the supplement, in our translation, well receives the importance 
of the place. Who performeth all things, and involves the most 
strict and proper notion o^ providence, which is nothing else but the 
performance of God's gracious purposes and promises to his people. 
And therefore, Vatabulus and Muis supply and fill up the room 
which the conciseness of the original leaves, with quce promisit, J 
will cry unto God most high, unto God that performeth the things 
which he hath promised. Payment is the performance of promises. 
Grace makes the promise, and providence the payment. 

Piscator fills it with benignitatem et misericordiam suam, unto God 
that performeth his Mndness and mercij. But still it supposes the 
mercy performed, to be contained in the promise. Mercy is sweet 
in the promise, and much more so in \\\q providential performance 
of it to us. 

Castalio's supplement comes nearer tooui*s, rerum mearum trans- 
actorem. I will cry unto God most high, unto God the ti-ansactor 
of my affairs. 

But our English, making out the sense by an universal particle, 
is most fully agreeable to the scope of the text ; for it cannot bi^t 

* 1133 PafccUi defecit^ d^siit, Paguin, BuxtorC 

Y 4> 


be a great encouragement to his faith, that God had transatjted all 
things, or performed all things for him ; this provide?ice, that never 
failed him in any of the straits that ever he met with, (and his hfe 
ivas a hfe of many straits), he might well hope it would not now 
fail him, though this were an extraordinary and matchless one. 

Bring we then our thoughts a little closer to this scripture, and 
it will give us a fair and lovely prospect oi providence. 

In its, 1. Universal, 2. Effectual, 3. Beneficial, 4. Encouraging 
influences upon the affairs and concerns of the saints. 

1. Tlie expression imports the universal interest and influence of 
providence in, and upon all the concerns and interests of the saints. 
It hath not only its hand in this or that, but in all that concerns 
them : it hath its eyes upon every thing that relates to them 
througliout their lives, from first to last ; not only great and more 
important, but the most minute and ordinary affairs of our lives are 
transacted and managed by it : it touches all things that touch us, 
whether more nearly or remotely. 

2. It displays the efficacy o£ p)'0vidential influences ; Providence 
doth not only undertake, but [performeth] and perfects what con- 
cerns us : it goes through with its designs, and accomplishes what 
it begins : no difficulty so clogs it, no cross accidents so falls in its 
way, but it carries its design through it ; its motions are irresistible 
and uncontroulable, he performs it for us. 

3- And (which is sweet to consider) all its products and issues 
are exceeding beneficial to the saints : it performs all things [for 
them] : It is true, we often prejudice its works, and unjustly cen- 
sure its designs; and under many of our straits and troubles, we 
say, all these things are against us. But, indeed, providence neither 
doth, nor can do any thing that is really against the true interest 
and good of the saints : for what are the works of providence, but 
the execution of God's decree, and the fulfilling of his word ? 
And there can be no more in providence than is in them. Now 
there is nothing but good to the saints in God's purposes and pro-^ 
fiiises ; and therefore whatever providence doth in their concern- 
ments, it must be (as the text speaks) the performance of all things 
for them. 

4. And if so, how cheering, supporting, and encouraging, must 
the consideration of these things be, in a day of distress and trou- 
ble.'' What life and hope will it inspire our hearts and pravers 
■withal, when great pressures lie upon us ? It had such a cheering 
influence upon the Psalmist at this time, when the state of his 
affaii's was, to the eye of sense and reason, forlorn and desperate : 
there was now but a hair's breadth (as we say) betwixt him and 

A potent, enraged, and implacable enemy had driven him into 

THE mysterV of PROVIDENCK. 34t 

the hole of a rock, and was come after him into that hole ; yet now 
whilst Ms sold is among- I'wns, whilst he lies in a cranny of the rocJc^ 
expecting every moment to be drawn out to death, tlie reflections 
he had upon the gracious performances of the Most High for him, 
from the beginning to that moment, support liis soul, and inspire 
hope and life into his prayers, " I will cry unto God most high, 
** unto God that performetli all things for me,"" 

The amount of all you have in this doctrinal conclusion, 

Doct. That it is the duty of the saints, especially in times of 
straits, to reflect upon tlie performnnces of providence for them 
in all the states, and through all the stages of their lives. 

The church, in all the works of mercy, owns the hand of God; 
Isa. xxvi. 12. " Lord thou hast wrought all our works in (or for) 
*' us.'*' And still it hath been the pious, and constant practice of 
the saints in all generations, to preserve the memory of tlie more 
famous, and rcmaxkaSAQ providences that have befallen them in tlieir 
times as a precious treasure. ' If thou be a Christian indeed, I 

* know thou hast, if not in thy book, yet certainly in tliy heart, a 

* great many precious favours upon record ; the very remembrance 
' and rehearsal of them is sweet. How much more sweet was tlie 

* actual enjoyment?' Baxter'' s Sainfs Rest, p. 1Q\. Thus Moses, 
by divine direction, wrote a memorial of that victory obtained over 
Amalek, as the fruit and return of prayer, and built there an altar 
with this inscription, " Jehovah-Nissi, The Lord my banner," 
iSxod. xvii. 14, 15. Thus Mordecai and Esther took all care to 
jxiriietuate the memory of that signal deliverance from the plot of 
Haman, by ordaining the feast of Purim, as an " anniversary 
'' throughout every generation, every family, every province, and 
*' every city, tiiat those days of Purim should not fail from among 
'' the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed,'* 
Esther ix. 28. For this end you find psalms indited, to bring to 
remembrance, Psal. Ixx. the title. Parents giving suitable names 
to their children, that every time they looked upon them, they 
might refresh the memory of God's mercies, 1 Sam. i. 20. The 
very places where eminent providences have appeai'ed, new named, 
upon no other design, but to per|x;tuate the memorial of those 
sweet providences which so refreshed them there: tlience Bethel 
took its name. Gen. xxviii. 19- And tWbt well of water where 
Hagar was seasonably refreshed by the angel in her distress, Beer- 
lahai-roi, the well of him that liveth and looketli on me. Gen. xvi. 14. 
Yea, the saints have given, and God hath assumed to himself, new 
titles upon this very score and account; Abraliam's Jehovah- 
JiuEH, and Gideon's Jehovah-Siiallu^i were ascribed to him 

S48 DIVINE conduct; or, 

upon this reason. And sometimes you find the Lord stiles himself^ 
" the God that brought Abraham from Urof the Chaldees;" then 
*' the Lord God that brought them out of Egypt ;"" then " the Lord 
" that gathered them out of the north country ;'* still minding 
them of thiC gracious providences which in all those places he had 
wrought for tlicrn, 

Now there is a twofold reflection upon the providential zcorJcs of 

1. One entire and full, in the whole complex and perfect frame 
thereof. * This blessed sight is reserved for the perfect state : It 
is in that mount of G^od, where we shall see both the wilderr.ess and 
Canaan : The glor"'ous kingdom into which we arc to come, and 
the way through wliich v/e v.ere led into it : There the saints shall 
have a ravisliing view of that beautiful frame; and every part shall 
be distinctly discerned, as it had its particular use, and as it was con- 
nected wich tlie other parts; and how effectually and orderly they 
all wrought to bring about that blessed design of their salvation, 
according to the promise, Kom. viii. 28. " And we know that all 
*' things work together for good to them that love God,"" 4'C. 
For it is certain, no ship at sea keeps more exactly by the compass 
which directs its course, than provide^ice doth by that promise^ 
which is its Cyr.osiira and PQle-star. 

9,. The other partial and imperfect in the way to glory, where 
we only view it in its single acts, or, at most, in some branches and 
more observable c.Airse of actions. 

Ectwixt these two is the same difference as betwixt the sight of 
the disjointed wheels, and scattered pins of a watch, and the sight 
of the whole united in one frame, and working in one orderly mo- 
tion ; or betwixt an ignorant spectator s \nev/ing some more ob- 
servable vessel or joint of a dissected body, and the accurate AnatOr 
mist'^s discerning the course of all the veins and arteries of the body, 
as he follows the several branches of them through the whole, and 
plainly sees the proper places, figure, and use of each, with their 
nmtual respect to one another. 

O hpw ravishing and delightful a sight is that ! to behold, at 
one view the whole design of providence, and the proper place 
and use of every single act, which we could not understand in this 
world : For what Christ said to Peter, John xiii. 7. is as applicable 
to some proviilences in which we are now concerned, as it was to 
that particular action ; ^ What I do, thou knowest not now ; but 

f When the records of eternity shall be exposed to view, all the counsels and 
results of the profound wisdom looked into: how will it transport, when it shall be 
discerned ! Lo, thus were the designs laid ; here were the apt junctures and 
admirable dependencies of things, which when acted upon the stage Qf time, setna-f 
ipd io perplexed ar.u iutricatf. Howe's blcssedii-jsa, }>, 1.G, 


^' hereafter thou shalt know it.'" All the dark, intricate, puzzling 
providences at which we were vsometimes so stui.iblcd, and sometimes 
amazed, which we could neither reconcile with the promise, nor 
witli each other, nay, which we so unjustly censured and bitterly 
bewailed as if they had fallen out quite cross to our happiness, 
we shall then see to be unto us, as the difficult passage through the 
wilderness was unto Israel, •' the right way to a city of habitation,"* 
Psal. cvii. 7. 

And though our present views and reflections upon Provi- 
dence be so short and imperfect, in comparison of that in heaven ; 
yet such as it is, under all its present disadvantages, it hath so much 
excellency and sweetness in it, that I may call it a little heaven, or, 
as Jacob called his Bethel, the gate of heaven. It is certainly an high- 
way of walking with God in this world ; and as sweet communion 
may a soul.enjoy with him in his providences^ as in any of his ordi- 
nances'*. How often have the hearts of its observers been melted 
into tears of joy at the beholding of its wise and unexpected pro- 
ductions? How often hath it convinced them upon a sober recol- 
lection of the events of their lives, that if the Lord had left them to 
their own counsels, they had as often been their own tormentors, if 
not executioners ? Into what, and how many fatal mischiefs had 
they precipitated themselves, if Providence had been as short sight- 
ed as they ? They have given it their hearty thanks for considering 
their interest more than their importunity^ and not suffering them 
to perish by their own desires. 

The h^nefits of adverting to the works of providence are manifold 
and unspeakable ; as in its place we shall shew you. But not to 
entangle the thread of the discourse, I shall cast it into this 

Firsts I shall prove, that the concernments of the saints in t}ii:i 
world are certainly conducted by the wisdom and care of special 

Secondly^ I will shew you in what particular concernments of 
theirs this providential care is evidently discovered. 

Thirdly., That it is the duty of saints to advert to, and heedfully 
observe these performances of providence for them in all their con- 

Fourthly., In what manner this duty is to be performed by 

Fifthly., What singular benefits result to them from such obser- 

* I.uther was bold to prescribe to God, but at last said, Surely the Lord deepised 
this arrogance of mine, and said, I am God, and not to be ruled by you. 

855 DivivE coxct'ot; on, 

And then apply the v/liole in sucli uses as offer themselves from 
the point. 

The first general head. 

First, I shall undertake the proof and defence of tliis great truth, 
That the affairs of the saints in this world are certainly conducted b?/ 
the K'isdom and care of special providence. 

And herein I address myself with cheerfulness to perform (as I 
am able) a service for that providence, which hath throughout my 
life performed all things for me, as the text speaks. 

There is a twofold consideration of providence, according to its 
twofold object and manner of dispensation ; the one is general, ex« 
ercised about all creatures, rational and irrational, animate and in- 
animate ; the other special and peculiar. Christ hath an uiBversal 
empire over all things, Eph. i. 9.9.. The head of the whole world 
by way of dominion ; but an head to the church by way of union 
and special i7ifluence, John xvii. 9. " The Saviour of all men, but 
" especially of tliem that believe," 1 Tim. iv. 10. The church is 
his special care and charge ; he rules the world for her good, as an 
head consulting the welfare of the body. 

Heathens generally deny Providence: and no wonder, since 
they denied a God ; For the same arguments that prove one, will 
prove the other. Aristotle, the prince of heathen philosophej's, 
coukl not, by the utmost search of reason, find out the world^s 
original, and therefore concludes, it was from eternity. The Epi- 
cureans did, in a sort, acknowledge a God, but yet denied a pro- 
vidence, and wholly excluded him from any interest or concern in 
the affairs of the world, as being inconsistent with the felicity and 
tranquilHty of the Divine Being, to be diverted and cumbered with 
the care and labour of government. This assertion is so repugnant 
to reason, that it is a wonder themselves blush not at its absurdity : 
But I guess at the design, and one of them speaks it out in broad 
language. Itaque imposuistis cervicihus nosti'is sempiternum domi- 
vum, quern dies et nodes timeremus. Quis enim non timeat omnia 
proTiclentemo et cogitantem, et animadvertentem, et omnia ad se 
pcrtbiere putantcm., curiosum et plenum negotii Deum ? Veil, apud 
Cicer. de natura deorum. They foresaw that the concession of a 
providence would imj)ose an eternal yoke upon their necks, by 
making them accountable for all they did to an higher tribunal; 
and that they must necessarily pass the time of their sojourning 
liere in fear, wliilst all their thoughts.^ zcords, and u^'ai/s were strictly 
noted and recorded, in order to an account by an all-seeing and 
righteous God: And therefore laboured to persuade themselves 
that was not, which they had no mind should be. But these athe- 


istical and foolish conceits flill flat before the tindeniable evidence 
of this so great and clear a truth. Now, 

My business here is not so much to deal with professed atheists, 
who deny tlie existence of God ; and consequently, deride all evi- 
dences brought from scripture, of the extraordinary events that 
fall out in lavour of that people that are called his ; but rather to 
convince those that professedly own all this ; yet never having tasted 
religion by experience, suspect, at least, that all these things which 
\ve call special providences to th^ saints, are but natural cve?Us, or 
mere contingencies : and thus, wliilst they profess to owh a God and; 
a providence, (which profession is but the effect of their education) 
they do, in the mean time, live like atheists : and both tliink and 
act as if there were no such things : and really I doubt this is the 
case of the far greatest part of men of this generation. 

But if it were indeed so, that the affairs of the world in general, 
and more especially those of the saints, were not conducted by divine 
providence, but (as they would persuade us) by the steady course of 
natural causes, besides which, if at any time we observe any event to 
fall out, it is merely casual and contingent, or that which proceeds 
from some hidden and secret cause in nature ; if this indeetl v/ere so, 
let them that are tempted to believe it, rationally satisfy the follow- 
ing demands. 

First Demand. 

How conies it to pass that so many signal mercies and deliver- 
ances have befallen the people of God, above the power, and 
against the course of natural causes : to make way for which, 
there hath been a sensible suspension and stop put to the course of 
nature ? It is most evident, that no natural effect can exceed the 
power of its natural cause. Nothing can give to another more 
than it hath in itself: aad it is as clear, that whatsoever acts natu- 
rally, acts necessarily : fire burns ad idtimmn sui posse, to the utter- 
most of its power : waters overflow and drown all that they can : 
lions and other rapacious and cruel beasts, especially when hungry, 
tear and devour theu* prey ; and for arbitrary/ and rational agents, 
they also act according to the principles and laws of their natures. 
A wicked man, when his heart is fully set in him, and his will 
stands in a full bent of resolution, will certainly (if he have power 
in his hand, and opportunity to execute his conceived mischief) give 
it vent, and perpetrate the wicked devices of his heart : for having 
once conceived mischief, and travailing in pain with it (according 
to the course of nature) he must bring itjbrth, as it is Psal. vii. 14. 
But if any of these inanimate, brutal, or rational agents, when there 
is no natural obstacle or remora, have their power suspended, and 
that when tlie effect is near the birth, and the design at the very 
article of execution, so that though they wguld, yet cannot hurt, 

S52 DiViXE COKDUCT ; Olt, 

to what, think you, is this to be assicrned and referred ? Yet so it 
liath often been seen, where God's interest hath been immediately 
concerned in the danger and evil of the event. The sea divided 
itself in its own channel, and made a wall of water on each side toi 
give God's distressed Israel a safe passage, and that not in a calm, 
but when the waves thereof roared * : as it is Isa. li. 15. The fire 
when blown up to the most intense and vehement flame, had no 
power to singe one hair of God's faithful witnesses, when at the 
ifeame instant it had power to destroy their intended executioners at 
a greater distance, Dan. iii. 22. Yea, we find it hath some time 
been sufficient to consume, but not to torment the body ; as in that 
known instance of blessed B^neham, who told his enemies, the 
flames were to him as a bed of roses. The hungry lions put off 
their natural fierceness, and became gentle and harmless when Ua^ 
niel was cast among them for a prey. The like account of the church 
story gives us of Polycarp and Dionysius Areopagita, whom the fire 
would not touch, but stood after the manner of a ship's sail, filled 
with the wind about them. 

Are these things according to the course and law of nature .'' To 
what secret and natural cause can they be ascribed.? In like man- 
ner, we find the vilest and fiercest of wicked men have been with- 
held by an invisible hand of restraint, from injuring the Lord's 
people. By what secret cause in nature was Jeroboam's hand dried 
up, and made inflexible at the same instant it was stretched out 
against the man of God ? 1 Kings xiii. 4. No wild beasts rend and 
devour their prey more greedily, than wicked men would destroy 
the people of God that dwell among them, were it not for this 
providential restraint u}x>n them. So the Psalmist expresses his 
case in the words following my text, " My soul is among lions, and 
" I lie among them that are set on fire." The disciples were sent 
forth as sheep in the midst of zivlves, Mat. x. 16. It will not 
avail, in this case, to ol)ject those miraculous events depend only 
upon scripture-testimony, which the atheist is not concluded by : 
For besides all that may be alledged for the authority of that testi- 
mony, (which is needless to produce to men that own it) what is 
it less than every eye sees, or may see at this day ? Do we not be- 
hold a weak, defenceless handful of men, wondenully and (except 
this way) unaccountably preserved from ruin in the midst of potent, 
em-aged, and turbulent enemies, that fain would, but cannot, 
destroy them ; when as yet, no natural impediment can be assigned 
why they cannot ? 

* How hard was rojpliyn,' put to it, ^^hcn, instead of a better, this pretence must 
serre the turn, that Moses, taking the advantage of a lower water, unknown to the 
l^gyptians, passed over the people thereat. As if Moses, a stranger, were better ac- 
(iuaiated there thau the Egyptian natives. Acts and Mon. VoL I. p. 55, 


And if this pose us, what shall wc say, when wc see event;? pro^ 
duccd in the world for the good of God's chosen, by those vtrj 
hands and means which were intentionally employed for their ruin ? 
These things are as much beside the intentions of their enemies, a3 
they are above their own expectations ; yet, such tilings are no 
rarities in the world. AVas not the envy of Joseph's brethren, the 
cursed plot of Haman, and the decree procured by the envy of the 
princes against Daniel, with many more of the like nature, all 
turned, by a secret and strange hand of providence, to their gi'eater 
advancement and benefit ? Their enemies lifted them up to all that 
lionour and preferment they had. 

Second Demand. 

How is it (if the saints' concerns are not ordered by a special 
divine providence) that natural causes unite and associate them" 
selves for their relief and benefit, in so strange a manner as they 
are found to do P It is undeniably evident, that there are marvellous 
co-incidences of providence, confederating and agreeing as it were 
to meet and unite themselves to bring about the good of God':? 
chosen. There is a like face of things shewing itself in divers places 
at that time when any work for the good of the church is come 
upon the stage of the world. As when the Messiah, the capital 
mercy, came to the temple, then Simeon and Anna were brought 
thitber by providence, as witnesses to it. So in reformation-work, 
when the images were pulled down in Holland, one and the same 
spirit of zeal possessed them in every city and town, that the work 
was done in a night. He that heedfully reads the history of Jo- 
seph's advancement to be lord of Egypt, may number in that story 
twelve remarkable acts or steps of providence, by which he ascended 
to that honour and authority : If but one of them had failed, in all 
likelihood the event had done so too ; but every one fell in its or- 
der, exactly keeping its own time and place. So in the church'?* 
deliverance from the plot of Haman, we find no less than seven 
acts of providence concurring strangely to produce it, as if they 
had all met by appointment and consent to break that snare for 
them ; one thing so aptly suiting with and making way for another, 
that every heedful observer must needs conclude, this cannot be 
the effect of casualty, but wise counsel. Even as in viewing the 
accurate structure of the body of a man, the figure, position, and 
mutual respects of the several members and vessels, have convinced 
some (and is sufficient to convince all) that it was the effect of 
divine wisdom and power. In like manner, if the admirable 
adapting of the means and instruments employed for mercy to the 
people of God be lieedfuily considered, who can but confess, that 
as there are tools of all sorts and sizes in tlie shop of providence, so 


there is a most skilful hand that uses them ; and that they could 
no more produce such effects of themselves, than the axe, saw, or 
chisel can cut or carve a rude log into a beautiful figure, Avithout 
the hand of a skilful artificer. 

We find by manifold instances, that there certainly are strong 
combinations and predispositions of persons and things, to bring 
about some issue and design for the benefit of the church, which 
themselves never thought of: They hold no intelligence, commu- 
nicate not their counsels to each ether, yet meet together and 
work together as if they did : Which is, as if ten men should all 
meet together at one place, and in one hour, about one and the same 
business, and that without any fore-ap|X)intment betv.ixt them- 
selves : Can any question, but such a meeting of means and instru- 
ments is certainly, though secretly, over-ruled by som-e wise in- 
visible agent. 

Tliivd Demund. 

If the concerns of God's people be not governed by a special 
providence, Whence is it, that the most apt and poicerful meaiiSj 
employed to destroy them, are rendered ineffectual ; and ivealc, con- 
ienqjtible means eraploijed for their defence and con fort, crowned 
^itii success ? This could never be, if things were wholly swayed by 
the course of nature. If we judge by that rule, we must conclude 
the more apt and poAverful the means are, the more successful and 
prosperous thev must needs be ; and where they are inept, weak, 
and contemptible, nothing can be expected from them. Thus rea- 
son lays it according to the rules of nature ; but providence crosses 
its hands, as Jacob did in blessing the sons of Joseph, and orders 
quite contrary issues and events. Such was the mighty power and 
deep policy used by Pharaoh to destroy God's Israel, that to the 
eye of reason it was as impossible to survive it, as for crackling thorns 
to abide unconsumed amidst devouring flames ; by which emblem, 
their miraculous preservation is exprest, Exod. iii. 2. the bush was 
all in a flame, but no consumption of it. The heathen Roman 
emperors, who made the world tremble, and subdued the nations 
under them, have employed all their power and policy against the 
}K)or, naked, defenceless church to ruin it ; yet could not accom- 
phsh it, Rev. xii. 3, 4. O the seas of blood that heathen Rome shed 
in the ten persecutions ! Yet the church lives ! and when the dra- 
gon gave his power to the beast, Rev. xiii. 2. i. e. the state of 
Rome became anti-christian, what slaughters have been made 
by the beast in all his dominions ! so that the Holy Ghost repre- 
sents him as drunken with the l)lood of tlie saints. Rev. xvii. 6. 
And yet all will not do : The gates, i. e. the powers and }X)licies 
of hell cami,ot prevail agitinst it. How manifest is the care and 


toWer of* providence lierein ? Had half that power been employed 
against any other people, it had certainly swallowed them up im- 
mediately, or in the hundredth part of the time worn them out*. 
How soon was tlie Persian monarchy swallowed up by the Gre- 
cian, and that again by the Roman ? Dioclesian and Maximine^ 
in the height of their persecution, found themselves so baffled by 
providence, that they both resigned the government j and lived as 
private men. But in this wonderful preservation, God makes 
good that promise, Jer. xxx. 11. " Though I make a full end of 
** all nations, yet will I not make a full end of thee." And that 
in Isa. liv. 17. " No weapon formed against thee shall prosper .'^ 

On the contrary, how successful have weak and contemptible 
means been made for the good of the church ? Thus in the first 
planting of Christianity in the world, by what weak contemptible 
instruments was it done ? Christ did not chuse the eloquent orators^ 
or men of authority in the courts of kings and emperors^ but twelve 
poor mechanics, and fishermen 5 and these not sent together in a 
troopj but some to take one country to conquer it, and some 
another : The most ridiculous course (in appearance) for such a de- 
sign as could be imagined ; and yet in how short a time was the 
gospel spread, and the churches planted by them in the several 
kingdoms of the world ? This the Psalmist foresaw by the spirit of 
prophecy, when he said, ** Out of the mouth of babes and suck- 
*' lings hast thou ordained strength, to still the enemy and the 
** avenger,'' Psalm viii. S. At the sound of rams horns Jericho 
is delivered into the hands of Israel ; See Josh. vi. 20. By three 
hundred men with their pitchers and lamps, the huge host of 
Midian is discomfited, Judg. vi. 19. The protestants^he^iegedm 
Beziers in France, are delivered by a drunken drummer^ who, going 
to his quarters at midnight, ,rang the alarm-bell of the town, not 
knowing what he did ; and just then were their enemies making 
the assault. And as weak and improbable means have been blessed 
with success to the church in general, so to the preservation of its 
particular members also. A spider by weaving her web over the 
mouth of an oven, shall hide a servant of Christ, Du Moulin, fromi 
his enemies, who took refuge there in the bloody Parisian massacre. 
A hen shall sustain another many days at the same time, by lodging 
her egg every day in the place where he had hid himself from the 
cut-throats. Examples might be easily multiplied in the case ; but 
the truth is too plain and obvious to the observation of all ages, to 
need them. And, can we but acknowledge a divine and special 
providence over-ruling these matters, when we see the most apt 
and potent means for the church's ruin frustrated, and tlie most 

— ■ . i . — ■ ■« ■»■ ■ ■ «*> 

• Acts and Mon. Vol III. p. 974. 

Vol. IV. Z 


silly, and contemptible means succeeded and prospered for its good ? 

Fourth Demaiid. 

If all things be governed by the course of nature, and force of 
natural causes, How then comes it to pass that men are turned (like 
a howl hy a ruh) out of the way of'ev'il^ unto which they were driving 
on with full .speed ? Good men have been engaged in the way to 
their own ruin, and knew it not ; but providence hath met them in 
the way, and preserved them by strange diversions ; the meaning of 
which they understood not, until the event discovered it. Paul 
lay bound at Cnesarea ; the high priest and chief of the Jews request 
Festus, that he might be brought bound to Jerusalem, having laid 
wait in the way to kill him : But Festus (though ignorant of the 
plot) utterly refuses it, but chooses rather to go with him to Caesarea, 
and judge him there. By this rub, their bloody design is frustrated, 
Acts XXV. 3, 4. 

* Possidonius, in the hfe of Augustine, tells ua, that the good 
father going to teach the people of a certain to^Mi, took a guide 
with him, to shew him the way : The guide mistook the usual road, 
and ignorantly fell into a by-path, by which means he escaped ruin 
by the hands of the bloody Donatist, who, knowing his intention, 
way-laid him, to kill him in the road. 

And as memorable and wonderful are these rubs and diversions 
■wicked men have met with in the way of perpetrating the evils con- 
ceived and intended in their own hearts, f Laban and Esau come 
against Jacob with mischievous purposes ; but no sooner are they 
come nigh him, but the shackles of restraint are inunediately clapt 
upon them both, so that their hands cannot perform their enter- 
prizes. Balaam runs greedily, for reward, to curse Israel ; but 
meets with an unexpected check at his very out-set, and though 
that stopt him not, but he essayed every way to do them mischief, 
yet he still finds himself fettered by an effectual bond of restraint, 
that he can no way shake off. Num. xxii. 25, — 88. Saul, the high 
priest's blood-hound, breathes out threatenings against the church, 
and goes with a bloody commission towards Damascus, to hale the 
poor flock of Christ to the slaughter ; but when he comes nigh the 
place, he meets an unexpected stop in the way, by which the 
mischief is not only diverted, but himself converted to Christ, Acts 
ix. 1, 2, 3, 4. Who can but see the finger of God in these 
things ! 

Fifth Demand. 

If there be not an over-ruling providence, ordering all things for 

* Possid. in vit. Aug, 7, cap, 15, 
f Gen. xxxi. 24. 


the good of God's people, How comes it to pass, that the good and 
evil which is done to them in this world, is accordingly repaid into 
the bosoms of them that are instrumental therein ? 

1. How clear, is it to every man's observation, that the kindnesses 
and benefits any have done to the Lord's people, have been re- 
warded with full measure into their bosoms ? The Egi/ptian mid-- 
reives refused to obey Pharaoh's inhuman command, and saved the 
male-children of Israel ; for this the Lord dealt well with thenr, 
and built them houses, Exod. i. 2L The Shunamite was hospitable 
and careful for Elisha, and God recompensed it with the desirable 
enjoyment of a son, 2 Kings iv. 9, 17, 31. Rahab hid the spies, 
and was exempted from the common destruction for it, Heb. xi. 31. 
PubliUs, the chief man of the island Melita, courteously received 
and lodged Paul after his shipwreck ; the Lord speedily repayed 
him for that kindness, and healed his father, who lay sick at that 
time of a bloody flux and fever. Acts xxviii. 7, 8. 

In like manner, we find the evils done to God's people have 
been repaid, by a just retribution, to their enemies*. 

Pharaoh and the Egyptians were cruel enemies to God's Israel, 
and designed the ruin of their poor innocent babes ; and God re- 
paid it, in smiting all the first-born of Egypt in one night, Exod. 
xii. 19. 

Haman erected a gallows, fifty cubits high, for good Mordecai; 
and God so ordered it, that he himself and his ten sons were 
hanged on it ; and, indeed, it was but meet that he should eat the 
fruit of that tree which he himself had planted, Esth. vii. 10. 

Ahithophel plots against David, and gives counsel like an oracle^ 
how to procure his fall ; and that very counsel, like a surcliarged 
guri, recoils upon himself, and procures his ruin : for, seeing his 
good counsel rejected (good politically, not morally) it was now 
easy for him to guess at the issue, and so at his own fate, 2 Sam. 
xvii. 23. 

Charles the ninth, most inhumanely made the very canals of Paris 
to stream with Protestant blood; and soon after he died miserably, 
his blood streaming from all parts of his body. 

Stephen Gardiner^ that burnt so many of God's dear servants 
to ashes^ was himself so scorched up by a terrible inflammation, that 
his very tongue was black, and hung out of his mouth ; and, in 
dreadful torments, ended his wretched days. 

Maximinus, that cruel emperor, who set forth his proclama- 

If we examine the history of the world, from the beginning of it dowa to our 
limes, we shall meet with remarkable instances of God's judgment upon ainneWj 
xilsted, Xat. The^l. p. 196. 


tion, engraven in brass, for the utter abolishing of the Christian 
^religion was speedily smitten, like Herod, with a dreadful judg- 
ment; swarms of lice preying upon his entrails, and causing sUch 
a stench, that his physicians could not endure to .come nigh him, 
and, for refusing it, were slain. Hundreds of like instances might 
easily be produced, to confirm this observation. And who can but 
see by these things, that " verily there is a God that judgeth in the 
« earth ?^' 

Yea, so exact have been the retr'ibutioiis of providence to the 
enemies of the church, that not only the same persons, but the 
same members tliat have been the mstrtiments o£ mischief, have been 
made the subjects of wrath. 

The same arm wliich Jeroboam stretched out to smite the Pro- 
|>het, God smites. The emperor Aurelian, when he was ready to 
subscribe the edict for the persecution of the Christians, was sud- 
denly crampt in his knuckles, that he could not write*. 

Mr. Greenhill, in his exposition upon Ezek. xi. 13. tells his au- 
ditory, that there was one then present in the congregation, who 
was an eye-witness of a woman scoffing at another for purity and 
holy walking, who had her tongue stricken immediately with the 
palsy, and died thereof within two days. 

Henry the second of France, in a great rage against a Protestant 
counsellor, committed him to the hands of one of his nobles, to be 
imprisoned ; and that with these words, that ?ie would see him burnt 
tvith his own eyes : but mark the righteous providence of God ! 
within a few days after, the same nobleman, with a lance put into 
his hands by the king, did, at a tilting' match, run the said king 
into one of bis eyes, whereof he died. 

Yea, providence hath made the very place of sinning the place 
of punishment ; 1 Kings xxi. 19. " In the place where the dogs 
*^ licked the blood of Naboth, shall dogs lick thy blood :"" and it 
was exactly fulfilled, 2 Kings ix. 26. Thus Tophet is made a 
burying place for the Jews, until there is no room to bury ; and 
that was the place where they had offered up their sons to Moloch, 
Jer. vii. SI, 32. The story of Nightingale is generally known, 
which Mr. Fox relates, how he fell out of the pulpit, and brake 
fiis neck whilst he was abusing that scripture, 1 John i. 10. 

And thus the scriptures are made good b}^ providence, " Whoso 
<« diggeth a pit shall fall therein ; and he that rolleth a stone, it 
" shall return upon him," Prov. xxvi. ST. and Mat. vii. S. " With 
^^ what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again." 

Objection. If any yet say. These things may fall out casually: that 

• Eiiseb, I. 7. cap. 29. 


tnnmj thousands of the church's enemies have died in peace, and their 
end been like that of other men. 

Solution. We answer with Augustine ; If no sin were punished 
here, no providence would be believed ; and if every sin should 
be punished here, no judgment would be expected. But that none 
may think these events to be merely casual and accidental, we yet 
farther demand. 

Sixth Demand. 

If these things be merely casual, How is it that they square and 
agree so exactly with the scriptures in all particulars ? 

We read, Amos iii. 3. " Can two walk together except they be 
" agreed ?" If two men travel in one road, it is hkely they are 
agreed to go to the same place. Providences and scriptures go all 
one way : and if they seem at any time to go divers or contrary 
ways, be sure they will meet at the journey's end : there is an 
agreement betwixt them so to do. 

Doth God miraculously suspend the power of natural causes, as 
in ihe first demand was opened ? Why, this is no accidental thing, 
but what harmonizeth with the word ; Isa. xliii. 2. " When thou 
" passest through the waters I will be with thee ; and through the 
" rivers, they shall not overflow thee. When thou walkest through 
" the fire thou shalt not be burnt, neither shall the flame kindle 
" upon thee." 

Do natural causes unite and associate themselves for the good of 
God's people ? W^hy, this is no more than what is contained in the 
promises, and is but the fulfilling of that scripture, 1 Cor. iii. 22. 
" All is yours, for ye are Christ's ;" i. e. the use, benefit, and 
service of all the creatures are for you, as your need shall re^ 

Are the most apt and powerful means employed for their ruin 
frustrated ? Who can but see the scriptures fulfilled in, and ex- 
pounded by such providences ? See Isa. xlv. 15, 16, 17. and viiL 
7, 8, 9, 10. expounded by 2 Kings xviii. 17, et seq. 

See you at any time a rub of providence diverting the course of 
good men from falling into evil, or wicked men from committing 
evil : how loudly do such providences proclaim the truth and cer- 
tainty of the scriptures, which tell us, " That the way of man is 
" not in himself, neither is it in him that walks to direct his steps ?* 
Jcr. X. 23. and that in Prov. xvi. 9. " A man'a heart deviseth his 
** way ; but the Lord directeth his steps." 

Do you see adequate retributions made to those that injure or 
befriend the people of God ? Why, when you see all the kindness 
and love they have shewn the saints, returiied with an overplus into 
their bosoms ? How is it possible but you must see the accoiii'^ 

Z 3 


plisbment of those scriptures in such providences, Isa. xxxii. 8. 
2 Cor. ix. 6. "The Uberal soul deviseth Hberal things, and by Hberal 
'^ things he shall stand."*' 

And when you see the evils men have done, or intended to do 
to the Lord's people, recoiling upon themselves; he is perfectly 
blind that sees not the harmony such providences bear with these 
scriptures, Psal. cxl. 11, 12. and vii. 14, 15, 16. and ix. 16. 

O what exact proportions do providences and scriptures hold ! 
Little do men take notice of it. Why did Cyrus, contrary to all 
rules of state-policy, freely dismiss the captives, but to fulfil that 
scripture, Isa. xlv. 13. So that it was well observed by one. That 
as God hath stretched out the expajisum or firmament over the na- 
tural, so he hath stretched out his word over the rational world. 
And as the creatures on earth are influenced by those heavenly 
bodies, so are all creatures in the world influenced by the word, and 
do infallibly fulfil it when they design to cross it, 

Seventh Demand. 

If these things be contingent, Hoxv is it that they fall out in suck 
remarkable nicks and junctures oftime, which makes them so greatly 
observable to all that consider them. 

We find a multitude of providences so timed to a minute, 
that had they fallen out never so little sooner, or later, they had 
signified but little to what now they do. Certainly it cannot be 
casualty, but counsel that so exactly nicks the opportunity : contin- 
gencies keep to no rules *. 

How remarkable to this purpose was the tidings brought to Saul, 
that the Philistines had invaded the land ? 1 Sam. xxiii. 27. just 
as he was ready to grasp the prey. The angel calls to Abraham, 
and shews him another sacrifice, just when his hand was giving 
the fatal stroke to Isaac, Gen. xxii. 10, 11. A well of water is dis- 
covered to Hagar just when she had left the child, as not able to 
see his death, Gen. xxix. 16, 19. Rabshakeh meets with a blast- 
ing providence, hears a rumour that frustrated his design, just 
when ready to give the shock against Jerusalem, Isa. xxxvii. 7, 8. 
So when Haman's plot against the Jews was ripe, and all things 
ready for execution ; " on that night could not the king sleep,'" 
Esther vi. 1. When the horns are ready to gore Judah, imme- 
diately carpenters are prepared to fray them away, Zech. i. 18, 
19, 20, 21. How remarkable was the relief of Rochel, by a 
shoal of fish that came into the harbour, when they were ready to 

* Contingencies are to be estimated from their immediate, second, and particular 
cAuses, and not from the first and universal cause, in respect of whom nothing is cun- 
tingent ; but all things necessary by the necessity of immutability, not of chance- 
Vendel. TheoLp. 15. 


perish with famine, such as they never observed before, nor after 
that time. Mr. Dod could not go to bed one night, but had a 
strong impulse to visit, though unseasonably, a neighbour gentle- 
man; and just as he came he meets him at his door with an halter 
in his pocket just going to hang himself. Dr. Tate and his wife, in 
the Irish rebellion^ flying through the woods with a sucking child, 
which was just ready to expire ; the mother going to rest it upon a 
rock, puts her hand upon a bottle of warm milk, by which it was 
preserved. A good woman (from whose mouth I received it) 
being driven to a great extremity, all supplies failing, was exceed- 
ingly plunged into unbelieving doubts and fears, not seeing whence 
supplies could come ; when lo ! at that very time, by turning some 
things in a chest, unexpectedly lights upon a piece of gold, which 
supplied her present wants, till God opened another door of supply. 
If these things fall out casually, how is it they observe time so very 
exactly? As that is become proverbial in scripture, Gen. xxii. 14. 
" In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen." 

Eighth Demand, 

Lasili/, Were these things casual and contingent, how can it be, 
that they should fall out so immediately upon, and consonantly to 
the prayers of the saints ^ So that, in many providences, they are 
able to discern a very clear answer to their prayers, and are sure 
they have the petitions they asked of him, 1 John v. 15. 

Thus when the sea divided itself just upon Israefs cry to heaven, 
Exod. xiv. 10. When so signal a victory is given to Asa, immedi- 
ately upon that patlietical cry to heaven, " Help us, O Lord our 
" God!" 2 Chron. xiv. 11, 12. When Ahithophel shall go and 
hang himself, just upon that prayer of distressed David, 2 Sam. 
XV. 31. When Haman shall fall, and his plot be broken, just upon 
the fast kept by Mordecai and Esther, Esther iv. 16. Our own 
Speed, in his history of Britain tells us, that Richard I. besieged 
a castle with his army; they offered to surrender, if he would 
save their lives : he refuses, and threatens to hang them all ; upon 
this an Arabalaster charged his bow with a square arrow, making 
first his prayer to God that he would direct the shot, and deliver 
the innocent from oppression ; it struck the king himself, whereof 
he died, and they were delivered, Abrahams servant prayed 
for success ; and see how it was answered. Gen. xxiv. 45. Peter 
was cast into prison, and prayer was made for him by the church, 
and see the event, Acts xii. 5, 6, 7, 12. I could easily add 
to these the wonderful examples of the return of prayers which 
was observed in Luther and Dr. Winter in Ireland, and many 
more ; ])ut I judge it needless, because most Christians have a stock 
of experience of their own, and are well assured that many of tli^ 


362 I)IVI^^: conduct ; ok, 

providences that befal them are, and can be no other than the re- 
turn of their prayers. 

And now who can be dissatisfied in this point that wisely consider 
these things ? Must we not conclude as it is Job xxxvi. 7. " He 
*•' withdraweth not his eye from the righteous :'' And as 2 Chron. 
xvi. 9. " The eyes of the Lord run to and fro through the whole 
*' earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart 
*^ is perfect towards him :'' His providences proclaim him to be a 
God hearing prayers. 

The second general head. 

Having proved, That the concernments of the saints in this 
world are certainly conducted by the wisdom and care of a special 
providence ; my next work is to shew you, In what affairs and con^ 
cerns of theirs the providence of God doth more especially appear ; 
or what are the most remarkable performances of providence Jbr 
them in this world. 

And here I am not led, du-ectly by my text, to speak of the most 
internal and spiritual performances of providence, immediately re- 
lating to the souls of his people ; though they all relate to their 
souls mediately and eventually ; but of the more visible and exter- 
nal performances of providence for them : And it is not to be sup- 
posed I should touch all these neither; they are more than the 
sands ; but that which I aim at is to discourse to you some more 
special and more observable performances of providence for you. 
And we shall begin at the beginning. 

The first performance of providence. 

I. And, Firsts Let us consider how well providence hath per-i 
formed the first work that ever it did for us in our formation and 
protection in the womb. Certainly this is a very glorious and admi- 
rable performance ; it is what the Psalmist admires, Psal. cxxxix. 
15. " My substance was not hid from thee when I was made in 
*' secret, and curiously wrought in the lower parts of the eafth.'* 
The womb is so called upon this account, because as curious artists, 
when they have some choice piece in hand, perfect it in private, 
and then bring it into the light for all to gaze at ; so it was here. 
And there are two things admirable in this performance of provi- 
dence for us. 

1. * The rare structure and exceUent composition of the body ; 
I am wonderfully made ; that word ti Dp n is very full. The vulgar 
renders it, painted as with a needle^ i. e. richly embroidered with 

* A metaphor from those that work in curious needle-work. The Lord hath mad* 
«11 things in number, weight, and measure. 


nerves and veins. O the curious workmanship that is in that one 
part, the eye ! how hath it forced some to acknowledge a God 
upon the examination of it ! Providence, when it went about this 
work, had its model or pattern before it, according to which it 
moulded every part, as it is, ver. 16. In thy hook were all mij mem- 
hers written. Hast thou an integral perfection and fulness of 
members ? It is because he wrote them all in his book, or limned out 
thy body, according to that exact model which he drew of thee in 
his own gracious purpose, before thou hadst a being: had an eye, 
an ear, a hand, a foot been wanting in the platform, thou hadst 
now been sadly sensible of the defect : this world had been but a 
dungeon to thee, without those windows: thou hadst lived, as 
many do, an object of pity to others : If thou hast low thoughts of 
this mercy, ask the blind, the deaf, the lame, and the dumb, the 
value and worth of those mercies, and they will tell thee. There 
is a world of cost bestowed upon thy very body. Thou mightest 
have been cast into another mould, and created a worm or a toad. 
I remember Luther * tells us of two cardinals, riding in great pomp 
to the council of Constance, and by the way they heard a man in 
the fields bitterly weeping and wailing: when they came to him, 
they found him intently viewing an ugly toad ; and, asking him 
why he wept so bitterly ? he told them his heart was melted with 
this consideration, that God had not made him such a loathsome 
and deformed creature. Hoc est quod amare Jleo^ said he. Where- 
upon one of them cries out. Well said the father, Surgent indocti^ 
4* rapient caelum^ the unlearned will rise and take heaven, and we, 
with all our learning, shall be cast into hell. No part of the coirir' 
mon lump was so figured and polished as man is. Galen -|- gave 
Epicurus an hundred years time to imagine a more commodious 
situation, configuration, or composition of any one member of a 
human body. And if all the angels had studied to this day, they 
could not have cast the body of man into a more curious mould. 

2. And yet all this is but the enamelling of the case, or polish- 
ing the casket wherein the rare jewel lies. Providence hath not 
only built the house, but brought the inhabitant (I mean the soul) 
into the possession of it. A glorious piece it is, that bears the very- 
image of God upon it, being all in all, and all in every part. How- 
noble are its faculties and affections ! How nimble, various, and 

* Liither in tei-tium precept. 

f There are some members that are radical, as the liver, heart, and brain ; in these 
are placed the natural, vital, and animal spirits ; these spirits are carried by the veins, 
arteries, and nerves. The veins carry the natural spirits from the liver, the arteries the 
vital spirits from the heart ; the nerves the animal spi' its from the brain. Other mem- 
bers are official, as the hands and feet ; the superior rule the inferior, and tlxe inferior 
support the superior. Jn vDvsdorn hast thou made tham alL 


indefatigable are its motions ! How comprehensive is its capacity I 
It is a companion for angels, nay, capable of espousals to Christy 
and eternal communion with God. It is the wonder of earth, and 
the envy of hell. 

Suppose now (and why should you not suppose what you so fre- 
quently behold in the world ?) that providence had so permitted 
and ordered it, that thy soul had entered into thy body with one 
or t^vo of its faculties wounded and defective : suppose its under- 
standing had been cracked, what a miserable life hadst thou lived 
in this world ? neither capable of service nor comfort. And, truly, 
when I have considered those works of providence, in bringing^ 
into the world, in all countries, and ages, some such spectacles 
of pity; some deprived of the use of reason, and differing from 
beasts in little more than shape and figure ; and others, though 
sound in their understandings, yet deformed or defective in their 
bodies, monstrous, mishapen, and loathsome creatures ; I can resolve 
the design of this providence into nothing beside a demonstration of 
his Sovereign power ; except they be designed as foils, to set off the 
beauty of other rare and exquisite pieces, and intending to stand 
before your eyes, as monitors of God's mercy to you, that your hearts. 
(as oft as you beheld them) may be melted into thankfulness for sot 
distinguishing a favour to you. 

Look then (but not proudly) upon thy out-side and inside ; see 
and admire what providence hath done for thee, and how well it 
hath performed the first service that ever it did for thee in this 
world. And yet, tliis was not all it did for thee before thou sawest 
this world : it preserved thee as well as formed thee in the 
womb ; else thou hadst been as those emhijros Job speaks of. Job 
iii. 16. iliat never saw the light. Abortives go for nothing in 
the world ; and there are multitudes of them, some that never 
had a reasonable soul breathed into them ; but only the rudiments 
and rough draught of the body : these come not into the account 
of men, but perish as the beast doth. Others that die in, or shortly 
after they come out of the womb ; and though their life was but 
for a moment, yet that moment entails an eternity upon them. 
And had this been your case, as it is the case of millions, then 
(supposing your salvation) yet had you been utterly unserviceable 
to God in the world : none had been the better for you, nor you 
the better for any in the world : you had been utterly incapable for 
all that good, which, throughout your life, you have either done to 
others, or received from others. 

And if we consider the nature of that obscure life we lived in 
tlie womb ; how small an accident (had it been permitted by pro- 
vidence) had extinguished our life, like a bird in the shell : we 
caimot therefore but admire the tender care of providence over 


US, and say with the Psalmist, Psal. cxxxix. 13. TJiou hast covered 
me in my another's womb : and not only so, but as it is, Psal. xxii. 9. 
Thou art he that took me out of my mother's icomb. He preserved 
thee there to the fulness of time ; and, when that time was come, 
brought thee safely through manifold hazards, into that place in the 
world, which he from eternity espied for thee. Which leads us to 
the second performance. 

The second perjbrmance of providence, 

II. The second great performance of providence, for the people 
of God, respects the place and time in which it ordered their nativity 
to fall. And, truly, this is no small concernment to every one of 
us ; but of vast consequence, either to our good or evil, though it be 
little minded by most men. I am persuaded, the thoughts of few 
Christians penetrate deep enough into this providence ; but slide too 
slightly and superficially over an abyss of much mercy, rich and 
manifold mercy, wrapt up in this gracious performance of provi- 
dence for them. 

Ah, friends ! Can you think it an indifferent thing, into what 
part of the world the womb of nature had cast you out ? Is there 
no odds, upon what spot of the creation, or what age of the world 
your lot had fallen ? It may be, you have not seriously bethought 
yourselves about this matter. And because this point is so seldom 
touched, I will therefore dive a little more particularly and distinctly 
into it, and endeavour to warm your affections with a representation 
of the many and rich benefits you owe to this one performance of 
providence for you. 

And we will consider it under a double respect or relation, as it 
respects your present comfort in this world, and as it relates to your 
eternal happiness in the world to come. 

1. This performance of providence for you doth very much 
concern your present comfort in this world. All the rooms in this 
great house are not alike pleasant and commodious for the inha- 
bitants of it. You read, Psal. Ixxiv. 20. of " the dark places of 
♦' the earth which are full of the habitations of cruelty ;" and many 
sush dismal places are found in the habitable earth. What a vast 
tract of the world lies as a waste wilderness ! 

Suppose your mothers had brought you forth in America, 
among the savage Indians, who herd together as brute beasts ; are 
scorched with heat, and starved with cold ; being naked, destitute, 
and defenceless. How poor, miserable, and unprovided of earthly 
comforts and accommodation, are many millions of the inha- 
bitants of this world ? What mercies do you enjoy, in respect of 
the amenity, fertility, temperature, and civility of the place of your 


habitation ? What is it but a garden enclosed out of a wilderness ? 
I may, without partiality or vanity, say, God hath (even upon 
temporal accounts) provided you with one of the healthfuUest, 
pleasantest, and, in all respects, the best furnished room in all the 
great house of this world. Hear what our own * Chronicler saith 
of it ; ' It is the fortunate island, the paradise of pleasure, the garden 
' of God ; whose vallies are like Eden, whose hills are as Lebanon, 

* whose springs are as Pisgah, whose rivers are as Jordan, whose 

* wall is the ocean, and whose defence is the Lord Jehovah.* 

You are here provided of necessary and comfortable accommoda- 
tions for your bodies, that a great part of the world are unaquainted 
^^ith. It is not with the poorest amongst us, as it is said to be with 
the poor Russians, whose poverty pinches, and bites with such sharp 
teeth, that their poor cry at their doors, ' Give me, and cut me ; 

* give me, and kill me."* 

Say not. The barbarous nations in this excel you ; that they 
possess the mines of silver and gold, which it may be, you think 
enough to salve all other inconveniencies of life. Alas poor crea- 
tures ! better had it been for them, if their country had brought 
forth briers and thorns^ instead of gold, silver, a.nd jprecions stones ; 
for this hath been the occasion of ruining all their other comforts 
in this world : this hath invited their cruel, avaricious enemies among 
them, under whose servitude they groan, and die without mercy : 
and thousands of them have chosen death, rather than life on the 
terms they enjoyed it. And why might not your lot have fallen 
there as well as where it is ? Are not they made of the same clay, 
and endowed with as good a nature as yourselves ? O what a dis- 
tinction hath divine mercy made where nature made none I Consider^ 
ungrateful man ! thou mightest have fallen into some of those regions, 
where a tainted air frequently cloys the jaws of death : where the 
inhabitants differ very little from the beasts in the manner of their 
living: but God hath provided for thee, and given the poorest 
among us far better accommodations of life, than the greatest among 
them are ordinarily provided with. O what hath providence done 
for you ! 

But all that I have said is very inconsiderable in comparison with 
the spiritual mercies and advantages you here enjoy for your souls. 
O this is such an advantageous cast of providence for you as obliges 
you to a thankful acknowledgment of it to all eternity. For let u« 
here make but a few suppositions in the case before us, and the 
glory of providence will shine, like a sun-beam full in your 

(1.) Suppose it had been your lot to have fallen into any of those 

* Speed's Chron. 


vast continents possessed by Pagans and Heathens at this day, Vvho 
bow down to the stock of a tree, and worship the host of heaven. 
This is the case of milHons and millions of millions : For Pagan 
idotaters (as tliat searching scholar Mr. * Berewood informs us) do 
not only fill the circumference of nine hundred miles in Europe, but 
almost the one half of Africa, more than the half of Asia, and al- 
most the whole of America, 

O how deplorable had thy case been if a Pagan idolatress had 
brought thee forth, and idolatry had been sucked in with thy 
mother s milk ! Then, in all probability, thou hadst been at this 
day worshipping devils, and posting with full speed in the direct 
road to damnation : for these are the people of God^s wrath, Jer. x. 
25. " Pour out thy fury upon the Heathen that know thee not, and 
" upon the families that call not upon thy name." How dreadful 
is that imprecation against them ? Psal. xcvii. 7. which takes hold of 
them and all that is theirs, " Confounded be all they that serve 
*' graven images, that boast themselves of idols." 

(2.) Or suppose your lot had fallen among Mahometans, who, 
next to Pagans, spread over the greatest tract of the earth : for 
though Arabia bred that unclean bird, yet it was not that cage 
that could long contain him ; for not only the Arabians, but the 
Persians, Turks, and Tartars, do all bow down their backs under 
that grand impostor. This poison hath dispersed itself through the 
veins of Asia, over a great part of Africa, even the circumference 
of seven thousand miles, and stops not there, but hath tainted a 
considerable part of Europe also. 

Had your lot fallen here, O what unhappy men and women had 
you been, notwithstanding the natural amenity and pleasantness of 
your native soil ! You had then adored a grand impostor, and died 
in a fool's pai'adise : instead of God's lively oracles, you had been 
(as they now are) deceived to your eternal ruin with such fond, 
mad, and wild dreams, as whoso considers would think, the authors 
had more need of manacles and fetters than arguments or sober 

(3.) Or if neither of these had been your lot, but you had been 
emptied by the womb of nature into this little spot of the earth 
which is christianized by profession ; but, nevertheless, for the most 
part over-run by Popish idolatry, and Antichristian delusions; 
what unhappy men and women had you been, had you sucked a 
Popish breast ! for this people are to be the subjects of the vials of 
God's wrath to be poured out successively upon them, as you may 
read, Rev. xvi. and the scriptures in round and plain language tell 

• Bcrewood's Enquiries, chap. liii. p. US, Wk 

368 DIVINE CO!n'D0CT ; 6R, • 

us what their fate must be, 2 Thess. ii. 11, 12, And for this 
" cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they shall be- 
<* lieve a lie, that they all might be damned who believed not the 
" truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.'"* 

Nay, you might have fallen into the same land in which your 
habitation now is, and vet have had no advantage by it as to salva- 
tion, if he that chose the bounds of your habitations, had not also 
graciously determined the times for you. Acts xvii. 26. For, 

(4.) Suppose your lot had fallen where it is during the Pagan 
state of England, who for many hundred years Avere gross and vile 
idolaters : Thick darkness over-spread the people of this island^ and 
as in other countries, the devil was worshipped, and his lying 
oracles zealously attended upon. 

The shaking of the top of Jupiter's oak in Dodona, the caldron 
smitten with tlie rod in the hand of Jupiter s image, the laurel and 
fountain in Daphne * : these were the ordinances on which the 
poor deluded wretches waited. So, in this nation they worships 
ped idols also : the sun and moon were adored for gods, mth 
many other abominable idols which our ancestors worshipped, and 
whose memorials are not to this day quite obliterated among 

(5.) Or Suppose our lot had fallen in those latter miserable days, 
in which queen Mary sent so many hundreds to heaven in a fierj 
chariot, and the poor Protestants skulked up and down in holes 
and woods to preserve them from Popish inquisitors^ who, like 
blood-hounds, hunted up and down through all the cities, towns^ 
and villages of the nation, to seek out the poor sheep of Christ for 
a prey. 

But such hath the special care of providence towards us been, 
that our turn to be brought upon the stage of this v/orld was gra- 
ciously reserved for better days : So that if we had had our own 
option, we could not have chosen for ourselves as providence hath. 
We are not only furnished with the best room in this great house ; 
but before we are put into it, it was swept with the besom of na- 
tional reformation from idolatry^ yea, and washed by the blood of 
martyrs from Popish fllthiness ; and adorned with gospel-lights 
shining in as great lustre in our days as ever they did since the 
apostWs days. You might have been born in England for many 
ages and not have found a Chinstian in it ; yea, and since Christi- 
anity was here owned, and not have met a protcstant in it. O 
what an obligation hath providence laid you under by such a mer* 
ciful performance as this for you ! 

* Vide Verstegan's British Antiquities* 


Object. If you say, All this indeed is true ; hut rcJiat is this to 
eternal salvation : do not multiiudes that enjoy these privileges eter^ 
nally perish^ notwithstanding them f Yea, and perish with an ag-^ 
gravatioii of sin and misery beyond other sinners ? 

Sol. True, they do so ; and it is of very sad consideration that it 
should be so ; but yet we cannot deny this to be a very choice and 
45ingular mercy to be born in such a land, and at such a time : for 
let us consider what helps for salvation men here enjov, beyond 
what they could enjoy, had their lot fallen according to the fore- 
mentioned suppositions. 

(1.) Here we enjoy the ordinary means of salvation, which else- 
where men are denied and cut off from. So that if any among the 
Heathens be saved and brought to Christ, it must be in some mira- 
culous or extraordinary way : for, " How shall they believe in him 
" of whom they have not heard ? and how shall they hear without 
*' a preacher.?'' Rom. x, 14. Alas ! were there a desire awakened 
in any of their hearts after a gospel-discovery of salvation (which 
ordinarily is not, nor can be rationally supposed) ; yet, poor crea- 
tures ! they might travel from sea to sea to hear the word, and not 
find it ? Whereas you can hardly miss the opportunities of hearing 
the gospel : sermons meet you frequently, so that you can scarcely 
shun or avoid the ordinances and instruments of your salvation. 
And is this nothing ? Christ even forces himself upon us. 

(S.) Here, in this age of the world, the common prejudices against 
Christianity are removed by the advantage it hath of a pubHc pro* 
fession among the people, and protection by the laws of the coun- 
try. Whereas, were your habitation among Jews, Mahometans, 
or Heathen Idolaters, you would find Christ and Christianity the 
common odium of the country ; every one defying and deriding 
both name and thing : and such yourselves likely had been if your 
birth and education had been among them. For you may observe, 
that whatever is Turoorapadorov, traditionally delivered down from 
father to son, every one is fond of, and zealous in its defence. 
The Jews, Heathens, and Mahometans are, at this day, so tena- 
cious of their errors, that with spitting, hissing, and clapping of 
hands, and all other signs of indignation and abhorrence, they chace 
away all others from among them. 

Is it not then a special mercy to you to be cast into such a coun- 
try and age, where (as a learned divine * observes) the true religion 
hath the same advantages over every false one, as in other coun- 
tries they have over it ? Here you have the presence of precious 
means, and the absence of soul-destroying prej udices, two singular