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Full text of "The whole works of the Rev. John Howe, M.A., with a memoir of the author"










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Bensley, Bolt Court, Fltet Street. 




From Psalm xxxvii. 4. 


Ctoa parts. 





VOL, II , 







TT is likely that the title of the following treatise will put many of 
you, my dearly esteemed friends, in mind, that sundry sermons 
!*vere preached twenty years ago among you upon this subject. I had 
it indeed in design, to have given you some abstract of those sermons ; 
but searching among my papers, could find none bnt so imperfect 
and broken memorials as would be of little use- for that purpose. 
And yet being desirous to present you with somewhat that might 
both be a testimony of my affection, and an advantage to you : and 
knowing this subject was grateful to many, and affords what may be 
useful to all of you ; I have for your sakes, applied myself to a re 
consideration of it. Few passages or expressions, probably, will oc-r 
cur to you that you heard before; yet you will find the substance of 
the doctrine the same ; as from so plain a text it could not well but 
be, whosoever should have had the handling of it. The Jfirst part is 
even altogether new, except the jntroductive suppositions in the begin 
ning. Nor do I remember 1 then had more than one discourse to you 
on that subject, before the practical application of it. The other part 
contains many things formerly delivered to you, though perhaps not 
in the same order, much less in the same words, whereto the short 
notes in my hands could no way enable me. 

The matter here treated of, is the very substance of religion ; the 
first and the last ; the root and the flower ; both the basis and 
foundation, and the top and perfection of practical godliness ; and 
which runs through the whole of it. Nor knew I therefore what to 
present you with, that could have in it a fitter mixture and tempera 
ment of what might be both useful and pleasant to you. As there is 
therefor no need, so nor do I de*ire you should receive the 


here discoursed of, merely for my sake; there being so great reason 
it should be chiefly acceptable on higher accounts. I do very well 
understand your affection to me ; and could easily be copious in the 
expression of mine to you, if I would open that sluice. But I do herein 
resolvedly, and upon consideration restrain myself; apprehending, 
that in some cases (and I may suppose it possible that in our case) a 
gradual mortification ought to be endeavoured of such affection as is 
often betweeu those so related as you and I have been : which is no 
harder supposition, than that such affection may be excessive and 
swell beyond due bounds. So it would, if it should be accompanied 
with impatient resentments towards any providence or instrument, 
whereby it finds itself crossed, or from whence it meets with what is 
ungrateful to it : if it prove turbulent and disquieting to them in 
whom it is, or any others : or if it occasion a looking back with dis 
tempered lingerings after such former things as could be but means to 
our great end, with the neglect of looking forward to that end itself 
still before us. Far be it from me, to aim at the keeping anything alive 
that ought to die; that is, in that degree wherein it ought so to do. 
But our mutual affection will be both innocent and useful, if it be 
suitable to mortal objects, and to persons not expecting the converse 
we have had together any more in this world ; if also in the mean 
time it preserve to us a mutual interest in each others prayers; if it 
dispose us to such acts and apprehensions of kindness as our present 
circumstances can admit ; and if, particularly, as it hath moved me 
to undertake, it may contribute any thing to your acceptance of this 
small labour, which is now designed for you. The subject and sub 
stance whereof, as they are none of mine, so they ought to be wel 
come to you, for their own sake, and his who is the prime author, 
though they were recommended to you by the hand of a stranger, or 
one whose face you never saw. They aim at the promoting of the 
same end which the course of my poor labours among you did (as he 
thatknoweth all things knoweth)the serious practice of the greatthings 
of religion, which are known and least liable to question ; without 
designing to engage you to or against any party of them that dif 
fer about circumstantial matters. They tend to let you see, that for 
mality in any way of religion unaccompanied with life, will not 
serve your turn, (as it will no man's,) than which, there is nothing 
more empty, sapless, and void both of profit and delight. 

I have reflected and considered with some satisfaction, that this 
hath been my way and the temper of my mind among you. Great 
reason I have to repent, that! have not with greater earnestness pressed 
upon you the known and important things wherein serious Christians 
do generally agree. But I repent not I have been so little engaged 
in the hot contests of our age, about the things wherein they differ. 
For, as I pretend to little light in these things (whence I could not 
have much confidence to fortify me unto such an undertaking ;) so 
I must profess to have little inclination to contend about matters of 
that kind. Nor yet am 1 indifferent as to those smaller things, that 


I cannot discern to be in then own nature so. But though I cannot 
avoid to think that course right which I have deliberately chosen 
therein, I do yet esteem that but a small thing upon which to ground 
an opinion of my excelling them that think otherwise, as if I 
knew more than they. For I have often recounted this seriously with 
myself, that of every differing party, in those circumstantial matters, 
I do particularly know some persons by whom I find myself much 
excelled in far greater things than is the matter of that difference, I 
cannot, it is true, thereupon say and think every thing that they do ; 
which is impossible, since they differ from one another as well as me. 
And I understand well, there are other measures of truth than this 
or that excellent persons opinion. But I thereupon reckon I have 
little reason to be conceited of any advantage I have of such in point 
of knowledge, (even as little as he should have, that can sing or play 
well on a lute, of him that knows how to command armies, or govern 
a kingdom,) and can with the less confidence differ from them, or 
contend with them. Being thereby, though I cannot find that I err 
in these matters, constrained to have some suspicion lest I do ; and to 
admit it possible enough, that some of them who differ from me, hav 
ing much more light in greater matters may have so in these also. 
Besides, that I most seriously think, humility, charity and patience, 
would more contribute to the composing of these lesser differences, 
or to the good estate of the Christian Interest under them, than the 
most fervent disputes and contestations. I have upon such conside 
rations little concerned myself in contending for one way or another, 
-while I was among you ; or in censuring such as have differed from 
me in such notions and practices as might consist with our common 
great end ; or as imported not manifest hostility thereto : content 
ing myself to follow the course that to my preponderating judgment 
seemed best, \uthout stepping out of my way to justle others. 

But I cannot be so patient of their practical disagreement, (not 
only with all serious Christians, but even their own judgments and 
consciences also,) who have no delight in God, and who take no plea 
sure in the very substance of religion. I have been grieved to ob 
serve that the case hath too apparently seemed so, with some among 
you: some have been openly profane and dissolute, and expressed more 
contempt of God (which you know was often insisted on the one part 
of the day | (from Ps. 10. 13) when I had this subject in hand the other) 
than delight in him. I know not how the case may be altered with such 
since I left you ; or what blessing may have followed the endea 
vours of any other hand. Death I am sure will be making alterations 
as I have heard it hath. If these lines may be beforehand with it, 
may they be effectually monitory to any such that yet survive! That 
however this or that external form of godliness may consist with your 
everlasting well-being, real ungodliness and the denial of the power 
never can ; which power stands in nothing more than in love to God 
or delight in him. Therefore seriously bethink yourselves, do you 
delight in God or no ? If you do, methinks you should have some 


perception of it. Surely if you delight in a friend, or some other ont- 
ivard comfort, you can perceive it. But if you do not, what do you 
think alienation from the life of God, will come to at last ? It i& time 
lor you to pray and cry, and strive earnestly far a renewed heart. 
And if any of you do in some degree find this, yet many degrees are 
still lacking. You cannot delight in God, but upon that apprehen 
sion as will give you to see, you do it not enough : therefore reach 
forth to what is still before. I bow my knees for you all, that a liv 
ing, delightful religion may flourish in your hearts and families, in the 
stead of those dry, withered things, worldliness, formality and strife 
about trifles. Which will make Torrington an Heph-zibah, a place 
to be delighted in ; your country a pleasant region : and (if he may 
but hear of it) add not a little to the satisfaction and delight of 

Your affectionate servant in Chiist, 

\Vho most seriously desires your true prosperity, 


Antrim, Sept. 1, Jffli. 




From Psalm xancvii, 4. 

Delight thyself also in the Lord, and lie shall give thcc 
the desires of thine heart., 





I. Introduction: connection of the words: persons to whom this 
direction is given. II. The meaning of the precept more distinctly 
opened. FIRST, The delectable Object of delight considered. 
Fir sty Absolutely. Secondly, Relatively. 1. Asa Lord to be 
obeyed. 2. As a portion to be enjoyed. III. What enjoyment of 
God supposes. First, Some communication from God. Secondly, 
That however God himself is enjoyed, yet this communication is 
also a sort of mediate object of delight as suited to the wants of the 
renewed soul. IV. The nature of divine communication considered . 
It contains, First, An inwardly enlightening revelation of God 
himself to his people; which exceeds the common appearances 
made to all : 1. As it is attributed to the spirit. 2. Spoken of as 
a reward of their love. 3. It is much more distinct and clear. 
4. It is more powerfully assuring. 

I. HPHIS psalm, by the contents of it, seems to suppose an 
afflicted state of good men, by the oppression of such as 
were, in that and other respects, very wicked; the prosperity of 
these wicked ones in their oppressive course ; an aptness in the 
oppressed to impatience under the evils they suffered ; and a 
disposition to behold, with a lingering and an envious eye, the 
good things which their oppressors enjoyed, and themselves 
wanted. Hence the composure c^f it is suck as might be most 


agreeable to these suppositions, and the fortifying of the righteous 
against the sin and trouble which such a state of things might 
prove the occasion of unto them. 

This verse hath a more direct aspect on the last of these 
cases, or on this last mentioned thing considerable in the case, 
of upright men suffering under the oppression of violent and 
prosperous wickedness, namely, that they might hereupon be 
apt both to covet and envy the worldly delights of their enemies; 
to be desirous of their dainties, and grudge they should be theirs, 
who, they knew, deserved worse things : and while themselves 
also felt the pressure of worse, which at their hands they de 
served not. What is here offered to the consideration of the 
sufferers, tends aptly to allay their discontent, to check and 
repress their inordinate desire towards inferior things ; or to di 
vert and turn it another way; as in case of bleeding to excess 
and danger, the way is to open a vein, and stop the course of 
that profusion by altering it. As if it had been said, (S You 
have no such cause to look with displeasure or immoderate de 
sire upon their delicacies ; you may have better ; better belong 
to you, and invite you, ihe Lord himself is your portion: it be 
comes both your state and spirit to apply yourselves to a holy 
delight in him ; to let your souls loose, and set them at liberty, 
to satiate themselves, and feed unto fulness upon those unde- 
filed and satisfying pleasures unto which you have a right ; and 
in which you will find the loss and want of their meaner enjoy 
ments abundantly made up unto you. You have your natural 
desires and cravings as well as other men ; and those may be 
too apt to exceed their just bounds and measures ; but if you 
take this course, they will soon become sober and moderate, 
such as will be satisfied with what is competent, with an indif 
ferent allowance of the good things of this earth. And towards 
the Lord, let them be as vast and large as can be supposed, 
they can never be larger than the rule will allow ; nor than the 
object will satisfy: the direction and obligation of the former 
being indeed proportioned to the immense and boundless 
fulness of the latter." 

We need not operously inquire what sort of persons this 
direction is given unto. It is plain, that it is/ the common duty 
of all to delight in God. But it cannot be the immediate duty 
of all. Men that know not God, and are enemies to him, have 
somewhat else to do first. They to whom the precept is directly 
meant, are the regenerate, the righteous and the upright, as the 
psalm itself doth plainly design them, or his own people. The 
most profitable way of considering these words, will be chiefly 
to insist gn the direction given in the former part of the verse: 


and then to sliew towards the close, how the event promised in 
the latter part, \vill not only by virtue of the .promise, hut even 
naturally follow thereupon. The direction in the former part, 
gives us a plain signification of God's good pleasure, that he him 
self would be the'great object of his people's delight :^ or, it is 
his will, that they principally delight themselves in him. Our 
discourse upon this subject will fall naturally into two parts : the 
former whereof, will concern the import, and theJatter the 
practice of the enjoined delighting in Cod. Under which latter, 
what will be said of the latter part of the verse will fitly fall in. 

II. We proceed to open more distinctly the import and mean 
ing of this precept of delighting in God. In order to this it will 
be necessary to treat, of the delectable object, and of the de 
light to be taken therein. 

FIRST. The delectable Object. The general object of delight is 
some good, or somewhat so conceived of; with the addition ot 
being apprehended some way present. Here it is the chief and 
best goocl, the highest and most perfect excellency. Which 
goodness and excellency considered as residing in God, give us a 
twofold notion or view of the object whereupon this delight may 
have its exercise, namely, absolute and relative. 

First. God may be looked upon in an absolute consideration, 
as he is in himself, the best and most excellent Being; wherein we 
behold the concurrence of all perfections; the most amiable and 
beauteous excellencies, to an intellectual eye, that it can have 
any apprehension of. 

Secondly. In a relative consideration, namely, as his goodness 
and excellency are considered, not merely as they are in himself 
but also as having someway an aspect on his creatures. For consi 
dering him as in himself the most excellent Being; if here we 
give our thoughts liberty of exercising themselves,we shall soon 
fi nd,that hereupon he must be considered also as the first Being, the 
original and author of all other beings ; otherwise he were not the 
most excellent. From whence we shall seej relation doth arise 
between him and his creatures that have their being from him. 
And besides the general relations which he beareth to them all, 
as the common maker, sustainer and disposer of them ; observ 
ing that there are some which by their reasonable natures, are 
capable of government by him (in the proper sense, namely, by a 
law) and of blessedness in him. To these we consider him as 
standing in a twofold reference, in both which we are to eye 
and act towards him, namely, as a Lord to be obeyed, and a 
portion to be enjoyed, and have most delectable excellencies to 
take notice of in hira (that require we should suitably comport 
n f e 


"With them) answerable peculiarly to each of these considera-* 
lions, in respect whereof we are to look upon him. 

1. As the most excellent Lord; most delectably excellent 
(we take not here that title so strictly, as to intend by it mere 
propriety or dominion ; but as to ordinary apprehension it is 
more commonly understood to signify also governing power, or 
authority founded in the other) whom we cannot but esteem 
worthy of all possible honour and glory ; that every knee bow to 
him, and every tongue confess to him, that universal homage, 
subjection and adoration be given him for ever. 

2. As the most excellent Portion, in whom all things that 
may render him such do concur and meet together ; all desira 
ble and imaginable riches and fulness, together with large 
bounty, flowing goodness every way correspondent to the wants 
find cravings of indigent and thirsty souls. 'The former notion 
of him intimates to us our obligation of dnty to him : the latter 
prompts to an expectation of benefit from him. But now be 
cause by the apostacy we have injured his right in us, as our 
lord; forfeited our own right in him, as our Portion ; and tost 
our immediate capacity or disposition, both to serve and enjoy 
him ; this great breach between him and us was not otherwise 
to be made up but by a mediator. Unto which office and un 
dertaking his own son, incarnate, the Word made flesh (being 
Only fit) was designed. By him, dealing between both the dis 
tanced parties, satisfying the justice of God, overcoming the en 
mity of man, the difference (so far as the efficacy of his medi 
ation doth extend) is composed. And to the reconciled, God 
becomes again their acknowledged both Lord and portion. His 
right is vindicated, theirs is restored ; and both are established 
npon new grounds, added to those upon which they stood before. 
And so, as that now our actings towards God, and expectations 
from him, must be through the mediator. Whereupon this 
object of our delight, considered relatively unto us, is entirely 
God in Christ ; being reconciled ; "We joy in God, through, 
our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom we have now received the atone*. 
'iiient. Rom: 5. 1 J . 

In these several ways that have been thus briefly mentioned", 
may God come under our consideration. Nor are they, any of 
them, unapplicable or impertinent to our purpose, when we 
would design him the object of our delight. Yea, and surely 
God considered each of these ways ought to be looked on by us 
as a most delectable object. For it is pleasant to contemplate 
him, even most absolutely considered, as the most excellent 
Being, when we behold his glorious excellencies in themselves; 
that Is (not with t% denial, but) without jke, actual present con- 


sideration of any advantage that may redound to us from them; 
as we are apt to find ourselves pleased'and gratified in viewing 
an excellent ohject (suppose a stately edifice or beautiful flow 
er), from which we expect no other benefit. 

Again, if we consider him relatively ; in the former capa 
city of a Lord, it is grateful to behold him decked with majesty, 
arrayed in glory, clothed with righteousness, armed with power, 
shining in holiness, and guiding himself with wisdom and coun 
sel in all his administrations. Yea, and it is delightful to obey 
him; while we are most fully satisfied of his unexceptionable 
right to command us. For there is a great pleasure naturally 
arising to a well-tempered spirit, from the apprehended ccri- 
gi'uity or fitness of things, as that he should command and that 
we should obey. His right and our obligation being so un 
doubtedly clear and great : especially when we also consider 
what he commands, and find it is no hard bondage ; that they 
are not grievous commands which he requires we be subject to; 
but such in the keeping whereof there is great reward; and that 
his ways are all pleasantness and peace. 

And being considered as a portion, the matter is plain, that 
so rich and abounding fulness, where also there is so commu 
nicative an inclination, cannot but recommend him a most sa 
tisfying object of delight. 

And thus we are more principally to consider hkn, namely 
rather relatively than absolutely;, and that relatedness (which 
the state of the case requires) as now anew settled in Christ. 
And so, though it be very delightful to look upon him, as one 
that may, and is ready to become related to us, (as he 'is to any 
that will consent and agree with him upon the mediator's terms) 
yet it adds Unspeakably to the pleasantness of this object, when 
we can reflect upon such characters in ourselves, as from whence 
we may regularly conclude, that he is actually thus related unto 
us. That is, that we have consented; that our relation to him 
immediately arises from the covenant of life and peace; that he 
hath entered into covenant with us, and so we are become his. 
It is pleasant thus to behold and serve him as our Lord. How 
great is the emphasis of these words, "I count all things but loss 
for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord !" 
To consider not only how well he deserves the acknowledgments 
and subjection of all; but also to find ourselves under the chosen 
and gentle bonds of perpetual service, and devotedness to hinij 
is certainly matter of very high delight and pleasure. 

But how infinitely delightful is it, to view and enjoy him as 
our Portion ! And this seems very pertinent to the design of 
this scripture; which aiming to recall and draw in the hearts of 


godly persons from too earnest, and from envious lingering* 
after the enjoyments of worldly men (their enemies and oppres 
sors,) propounds what may be an over-ballance to the (imagined) 
felicity of their state; and wherein they should more than equal 
them in point of enjoyment. And should we single out this, 
as the object to be considered, God as a portion ; that it might- 
be more distinctly represented, we should have two things to 
take notice of that would render it most delectable, and such as 
wherein holy hearts may acquiese, 'and rest with fullest satis 
faction, -the sufficiency and the communicablcness of it. 

(I.) The sufficiency of it. Which cannot but be every way 
complete and full; it being the all-comprehensive good, which 
is this portion. God all-sufficient. The most eminent and 
known attributes of his Being, wherein by any issues of them 
they can be communicated, having an ingrediencyand concur 
rence to the happiness of his people therein. 

(2.) The communicableness thereof, Which proceeds from 
his bounty, more peculiarly, and his gracious inclination to do 
good, and make his boundless fulness overflow to the replenish 
ing of thirsty, longing souls,whom first it had allured and caused 
so to long. But though the scope and order of the discourse 
in this psalm, did not directly seem to import more than a de 
sign of calling off the persons here spoken to, from one sort of 
enjoyment to another, from a meaner and more empty to a bet 
ter: yet it is to be considered, that true, and the best enjoy 
ment cannot be unaccompanied with duty; and that God is not 
otherwise to be enjoyed than as he is obeyed, nor indeed are 
the notions of him, as a Lord to be obeyed, and as a good to be 
enjoyed, entirely distinct ; but are interwoven and do run into 
one another. We obey him, even in enjoying him ; it being 
part of our enjoined duty, to set our hearts upon him, as our best 
and highest good. And we enjoy him in obeying him ; the 
advantage and benefit of his government, being a real and most 
momentous part of that good which we enjoy from him, and in 
Li in. He is our benefactor even as he is our ruler; and is 
therein our ruler, as he proposes to us benefits, which he there-, 
by binds us to accept; for even his invitations and offers, are 
also laws and formal bonds of duty upon us. Yea, and even 
the act of delight itself pitched upon him, is an act of homage, 
as there will be occasion hereafter to take notice. 

Wherefore it will.be fit to steer a larger course, than merely 
to consider him as a good commensurate to our partial appetites.- 
\Vhich are apt to prescribe to, and limit our apprehensions -to 
this or that particular sort of good, and tincture them with such 
a notion df delight, as which, if it be not false and grossly carnal, 


may yet be much too narrow and unproportionable to the uni 
versal, all-comprehending good. And though we shall not 
here go beyond the compass of delectable good ; yet as there is 
no good; truly so called, which is not in or from the first good 
ness ; so indeed, nor is there any capable of being gathered up 
into that sum which is not delectable. 

Nor therefore can the usual distribution of goodness into pro 
fitable, honest, and pleasant, bear a strict test. Only the false 
relishes of vitiated appetite in this corrupted state of man, have 
given ground for it. Otherwise to a mind and will that is not 
distempered, the account would be much otherwise. To a 
prudent mind, profitable good would be pleasant, even as it is 
profitable. To a just and generous mind, honest, comely good 
would be pleasant, even as it is honest. Nor would there need 
another distinction, but into the goodness of the end, which is 
pleasant for itself, and the goodness of the means, which is 
pleasant as it is honestly and decently profitable, (and otherwise 
it cannot be) thereunto. 

III. That we may here therefore with the more advantage 
tate the delectable good we are now to consider, it will be re 
quisite to premise two things. 

First, That all delightful enjoyment of God, supposes some com 
munication from him. Nothing can delightus, or be enjoyed by 
us; whereof we do not, some way, or by some faculty or other, par 
take somewhat; either by our external sense, sensitive appetite, 
fancy, memory, mind, will; and either in a higher or lower de 
gree, for a longer or a shorter time, according as the delight is 
for kind, degree or continuance which is taken therein. This Is 
plain in itself. And in the present case therefore of delighting iii 
God or enjoying him, some communication, or participation there 
must be one way or other according as the enjoyment of him is. 
And as the case with man now is, it is necessary he do with clear 
est and the most penetrative light and power, come in upon his 
mind and heart, scatter darkness, remove prejudice, abolish for 
mer relishes, and transfuse his own sweet savour through the soul. 
Proportionably therefore, to what is to be done, he communi- 
^ates himself, as the event constantly shews, with all them that 
are ever brought to any real enjoyment of him. For we plainly 
.see, that the same divine communication which being received, 
doth delight and satisfy, doth also procure, tbat it may be desi 
red and received; makes it own way, attempers and frames the 
soul to itself; and gives it the sweet relish and savor thereof, 
wherein God is actually enjoyed. 

Secondly, That however God himself, is truly said to be en^ 
joyed or delighted in by holy souls; yet this coramupicatioo is 


also a sort of mediate object of this delight or enjoyment. These 
things being forelaid, it is now needful to inquire somewhat 
more distinctly, what that communication or communicable 
good is, which is the immediate matter of proper, spiritual en 
joyment unto holy men in this world. Because many have that 
phrase of speech enjoying God often in their mouths, that well 
understand not what they mean by it ; yea even divers of them 
that have real enjoyment of him . Unto whom, therefore though 
they possibly taste the thing which they cannot express or form 
distinct conceptions of ; it might be somewhat to their advantage' 
to have it more cleared up to their apprehension, what it is that 
they immediately enjoy, when they are said to enjoy God; or 
by what he is to be enjoyed. It is not a mere fancy (as too many 
profanely think, and are too apt to speak) that is the thing to 
be enjoyed. There have been those, who, comparing their own 
experience with God's promises and precepts (the rule by 
which he imparts and according whereto men are to expect his 
gracious influence) were capable of avowing it, rationally, to be 
some very substantial thing they have had the enjoyment of. 
The sobriety of their spirits, the regularity of their workings, 
their gracious composure, the meekness, humility, denial of 
self, the sensible refreshing, the mighty strength and vigour 
which hath accompanied such enjoyments, sufficiently proving 
to them that they did not hug an empty cloud, or embrace a 
shadow, under the name of enjoying God. Such expressions as 
we find in the book of Psalms (the 16. and many other) with 
sundry parts of scripture besides, leave us not without instance, 
that import nothing like flashy and flaunting bombast, no ap 
pearance of affectation, no pompous shew of vain-glory, no sem 
blance of swelling words of vanity, but which discover a most 
equal^ orderly, well-poized temper of mind, in conjunction with 
the highest delight and well pleasedness in God. That rich 
and unimitable fulness of living sense, could not but be from 
the apprehension of a real somewhat, and that, of a most excel 
lent nature and kind, whatsoever be the notion, that may be 
most fitly put upon it. Nor yet is it the mere essence of God 
which men can be said to enjoy. For that is not communica 
ted nor communicable. Enjoyment supposes possession. But 
it would be a strange language to say we possess the essence of 
God otherwise than relatively ; which is not enough unto actual 
enjoyment. His mere essential presence is not enough. That 
renders him not enjoyed by any, for that is equally with all and 
every where; but all cannot be said to enjoy him. 

As therefore it is a real, so there must be some special com 
munication, by which, being received, we arc truly said to en- 

. T. -OF DEUfiHTING IN GOD* 1"5 

joy him. A special good it must be, not such as is common to 
all. For there is a communication from him that is of that ex 
tent, In as much as all live and move and have there beings in, 
Jiim and the whole earth is full of his goodness. But this is a 
good peculiar to them that are born of God : and suited to the 
apprehension and sense of that divine creature which is so born. 
What this good is, how fully sufficient it is, and how or which 
way it is communicable, may be the better understood when we 
.have considered what are the wants and cravings of this creature, 
or of them in whom it is formed and wrought. For when we 
have pitched upon the very thing itself, which they most desire; 
(and which they can tell is it, when they hear it named, though 
their thoughts are not so well formed about it, as to give it th-e 
right name before) we shall then understand it to be both what 
will be sufficient to satisfy, and what may be communicated to- 
that purpose. But now before that new birth take place in the 
spirit of man, it wants but knows not what; craves indet^rmi- 
nately (who will shew us any good ?) not fixing upon any par 
ticular one that is sufficient and finite, and labouring at once, 
under an ignorance of the infinite; together with a disaffec 
tion thereunto. Its wants and cravings are beyond the measure, 
of all finite good ; for suppose it to have never so large a share, 
nay could it grasp and engross the whole of it, an unsatisfied- 
ness and desire of more would still remain. But that more is 
somewhat indeterminate and merely imaginary : an infinite 
nothing : an idol of fancy : a God of its own making. God 
it must have, but what a one he is it misapprehends, and wherein 
it rightly apprehends him likes and loves him not; / will by no 
means choose, desire, or take complacency in him. So that an 
urn regenerate soul is, while it is such, necessarily doomed to he 
miserable. It cannot be happy in any inferior good, and in the 
supreme, it will not. What the real wants and just cravings of 
a man's spirit therefore are, are not to be understood by consider 
ing it in that state. And if the work of the new creature were 
perfected in it, it would want and crave no more; but were sa 
tisfied fully and at perfect rest. Nor is that state so known to 
Us as yet. Therefore they are best to be discerned in the state 
wherein that work is begun and hitherto unfinished ; in which 
it therefore desires rightly, and still continnes to desire ; a state 
of intermingled motion and rest ; wherein delight is imperfect, 
and allayed by the continual mixture of yet unsatisfied desire. 
And yet it may be collected what it is that would be sufficient 
to satisfy; because their desire is still determined to one 
thing, (Ps; 27. 4.) is not vagrant, wanders not after things 
b x ut is intent only upon more of the same. 


Now let it be inquired of such a one what that is. We are 
generally told there, " 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, &c. 
And it may be many would more shortly tell you it is God fliey 
desire, whence it would only be concluded it is God they aim 
to enjoy or delight in. But because this brings us but where 
we were; let it be further inquired, what then is your business 
with God, or what would you have of him ? It is not, sure, to 
be God that you expect or seek, or to enjoy God in that sense 
wherein he possesses and enjoys himself. No, not by any means; 
It is then some communication from God, diverse from what all 
men have (for that they do not find apt to satisfy) which they de 
sire and crave. And what is that? It is somewhat, as possible to 
be apprehended, and as distinguishable both from his incommu 
nicable Being, and his so generally communicated bounty to 
wards all. As if the inquiry were, what it is that I desire really 
to enjoy when I desire to enjoy a friend ? (namely as the notion 
of a friend or friendship doth most properly import) . That is 
neither to desire the impossible thing, of possessing his being as 
my own ; nor the unsatisfying thing, the mere partaking some 
part of his external goods and wealth ; whereof it may be he 
daily imparts somewhat to every beggar at his door. But it is 
to have his intimate acquaintance,, his counsel and advice, the 
advantage of improving myself by his converse, and of conform 
ing my self to his example in his imitable perfections; the assu 
rances of his faithful, constant love and friendship, in reference 
to all future emergencies. A friend is really to be enjoyed in 
such things as these. 

And in such-like is God to be enjoyed also. But with this 
difference, that God's communications are more 'immediate, 
more constant, more powerful and efficacious, infinitely more 
delightful and satisfying, in respect both of the good communi 
cated, and the way of communication. In short then, the wants 
and desires of a renewed soul, the supply and satisfaction where 
of it seeks from God, would ye summed up in these things. - 
That it may know him more fully, or have clearer apprehensions 
of him. That it may become like to him, and framed more 
perfectly after his own holy image. That it maybe ascertained 
of his love and good will, that lie hath those favourable inclina 
tions towards it, which shall certainly infer his doing all that 
for it which its real necessities (to be estimated by his in 
finite wisdom) can call for. These are the things in kind 
which would satisfy it. Andanswerably to these we may con 
ceive the. (xaroauaicable S 00 ^ which is the iaamediate object oi 


their enjoyment. So that, as God himself is the object which is 
enjoyed; this is the object by which, or in respect whereof he 
is enjoyable. 

IV. Therefore the divine communication, or that which is 
communicated from God to regenerate souls wherein they are 
to delight themselves is now to be considered. It contains, 

First) An inwardly enlightening 1 revelation of himself to 
them, that they may know him more distinctly. This is a part 
of the one thing, would be so highly satisfying, and delightful. 
Shew us the father and it sufficeth us, (Job. 14. 8.) When 
their desires are towards God only, it is with this aim in the 
first place, that they may know him, which is supposed, when 
that is given as an encouragement to the pursuit of this know 
ledge. We shall know if we follow on to know the Lord, 
(Hos. 6', 3.) As if it had been said ; this is a thing not doubted 
of but taken for granted, that we would fain know the Lord ; 
we shall, if we follow on to know the Lord. This is a dictate 
of pure and primitive nature to covet the knowledge of our own 
original, him from whom we and all things sprang. Men are 
herein become most unnaturally wicked when they like not to 
retain God in their knowledge, (Rom. 1 . 28.) The new and divine 
nature once imparted, that is, primitive nature renewed and 
restored to itself, revives the desire of this knowledge. And in 
compliance with the present exigency of the case hath this in 
clination ingrafted into it, to know him (as he is now only to 
be comfortably known) namely, in the Mediator. I determined 
to know nothing among you (saith S. Paul) but Jesus Christ and 
him crucified, (1 Cor. 2. 2.) that is, to glory in, to make shew 
of, to discover myself taken with no other knowledge than this, 
or with none so much as this. To which purpose, he elsewhere 
professes to count all things loss for the excellency of this 
knowledge, (Phil. 3. 8.) So vehemently did desire work this way. 
And proportionably as it is apprehended desirable, must it bees- 
teemed delightful also. Nor are we here to think that this desir 
ed knowledge was intended finally to terminate in the Mediator, 
for that the very notion of mediator resists. The name Christ is 
the proper name of that office, and the desire of knowing him un 
der that name imports a desire to know him in his office, namely, 
as one that is to lead us to God, and restore our acquaintance 
with him, which was not to be recovered upon other terms. So 
that it is ultimately the knowledge of God that is the so much 
desired thing, and of Christ, as the way and our conductor to 
God. That is, the knowledge of God not absolutely considered 
alone, (though he is, even so, a very delectable object (as hath 

VOL. ii. D 



been said ;) but as he is related to us, and from whom we have 
great expectations, our all being comprehended in him. It 
cannot but be very delightful (answerably to a certain sort of 
delectation of which we sball have occasion to speak in its pro 
per place) to have him before our eyes represented and revealed 
to us, as the all-comprehending good, and that (in the way 
and method whcreinto things are now cast) may, at least, be 
come our portion. He is some way, to be enjoyed even in this 
view. It is a thing apt to infer complacency and delight thus 
to look upon him. They who place felicity* in contemplation, 
especially in the contemplation of God, are not besides the 
mark; if they do not circumscribe and confine it there v so as to 
make it stand in mere contemplation, or in an idle, and vainly 
curious view of so glorious an object, without any further con 
cern about it. They will then be found to speak very agree 
ably to'the language of holy Scripture which so frequently ex 
presses the blessedness of the other state by seeing God, And 
if the act of vision be delicious, the representation of the object 
must have proportionable matter of delight in it. It cannot but 
have so, if we consider the nature of this representation ; which, 
answerably to the sensible want and desire of such as shall be 
delighted there-with, must have somewhat more in it than the 
common appearances of God which offer themselves equally to 
the view of all men. Though it is their own as common fault, 
that they are destitute of the more grateful and necessary addi 
tions. That it hath more in it, is evident from God's own way 
of speaking of it. For we find that his revealing himself in this 
delectable way, 

1. )s attributed to the Spirit. And as a work to be done by 
it when it shall be given (supposing it therefore, yet not given, 
nnd that all have it not) yea that such have it not, in such a mea 
sure as they may have it, unto this purpose ; who yet truly have 
it, in some measure already : even as a thing peculiar to them 
from the unbelieving world. For it is prayed for to such as con 
cerning whom it is said that after they believed (not before) 
they were sealed by the Spirit of promise, that the God of our 
Lord Jesus Christ the Father of glory would give it them ; and 
it is mentioned by a name and title proper to the end and purpose 
foi which it is desired to be given them, namely : as the spirit 
of wisdom and revelation, that end and purpose being immedi 
ately expressed in or as that particle is some time used for the 
knowledge of him, Ephe : 1. 13. 17. 18. The eyes of their 
understanding being enlightened by it (which are supposed 
blind before) for the same purpose. Hy which prayer it is sup 
posed a communicable thing.; Vta and that these had some way 


a right to the communication of it, or that it was a thing proper 
to their state, fit to be prayed for, as some way belonging to 
them, they being in a more immediate capacity of sucli revela 
tion than others. But how incongruous had it been with such 
solemnity of address to make request on their behalf for that 
which they already sufficiently had as a tiling common to all men. 
2. It is spoken of as a' reward of their former love, loy 
alty, and obedience. He that hath my commandments and 
keepeth them, he it is that loveth me'; and he that^ lovcth 
me: shall be loved of my father, and I will love him and 
will manifest myself to him: Job. 14. 21. Therefore is such 
manifestation no more to be accounted common, than the 
love of Christ is and keeping his commandments. It is spoken 
of as given discriminatingly and the grace of God admired upon 
that account. In the next words, Judas saith unto him, (not 
Iscariot, it being well understood how little covetous he was of, 
or qualified for such manifestations) Lord how is it, that thou 
wilt manifest thyself to us, and not unto the world? v. 22. What 
it hath more than common light, external or internal, answera 
ble to the deeply resented wants, and the hearts desires of the 
regenerate, by which it becomes so highly pleasant and delecta 
ble to them, though it is rather to be felt than told (as it is hard 
to describe the very things we have only immediate sensible 
perception of) may yet in some degree be understood by consi 

3. It is much more distinct and clear. They are confused 
and dark glimmerings which other men have of the blessed God, 
so that the light which is in them is darkness. Mat. G. 23. It is 
true that an unregenerate person may possibly have clearer ac 
quired notions of God, and of the things of God, than those may 
be which are of the same kind only in some who are regenerate. 
So that he may, by the advantages he may have above some of 
the other in respect of better natural abilities, more liberal edu 
cation, such circumstances of his condition as may more engage 
him to study and contemplation and befriend him therein, be 
capable of rinding out more, of making fuller discoveries, and 
more evident deductions, and be able to discourse thence, more 
rationally and satisfyingly to others, even concerning God, his 
nature, attributes and works, than some very pious persons des 
titute of those advantages may be able to do. But these, though 
their candle give a dimmer "light, than the other's, have the 
beams of a sun raying in upon them, that much outshines the 
other's candle. And though they know not so many things, 
nor discern the connections of things so thoroughly ; yet as they 
do know what is most necessary to be known, so what they do 
know, they know better,, and with a more excellent sort of know- 


ledge, proportionally as whatsoever is originally and immedi 
ately divine cannot but much excel that which is merely human. ' 
Those do hut blunder in the dark, these in God's own light do 
see light. Psal. 06. 9. And his light puts a brighter hue and 
aspect upon the same things, than any other representation can 
put upon them. Things are by it represented to the life, which to 
others carry with them but a faint and languid appearance, and 
are all covered over with nothing else but a dark and dusky sha 
dow, so as that may be hid from the wise and prudent which is 
revealed to babes. Mat. 11. 25. How bright and glorious 
things, are divine wisdom, love, holiness, to an enlightened 
mind ! which is therefore supposed to have a clearer discovery of 

But it may be said, "Is there any thing apprehensible con 
cerning these or any other matters which may not be expressed 
in some proposition or other ? And what proposition is there 
which a regenerate person can assent to, but one who is not re 
generate may assent to it also ? what definition, so truly expres 
sive of the natures of these things, can be thought of unto which 
a carnal mind may not give its approbation ? what can be said or 
conceived so fully and truly tending to describe and clear them 
up but an unrenewed understanding may have the representa 
tion of the same truth so as to give entertainment to it ? It is 
answered there are many things, to which somewhat may belong 
not capable of description, and whereof we have yet a most cer 
tain perception. As the different relishes of the things we taste. 
There are no words that will express those many peculiarities. 
And as to the present matter : there is somewhat belonging to 
the things of God (those for instance that were mentioned, his 
wisdom, holiness, &c.) besides the trnth of the conceptions that 
may be formed about them; which is more clearly apprehensi 
ble to a divinely enlightened understanding than to one that is 
not so. As, 

(1.) The beauty of those truths ; which it is most delightful 
to behold, their lively sparkling lustre, by which they appear so 
amiable and lovely, to a well-tempered spirit ; as to transport 
it with pleasure and ravish it from itself into union with them. 
There was somewhat else apprehensible no doubt, and appre 
hended by them, the inward sentiments of whose souls those 
words so defectively served to express, " Who is like unto thee 
O Lord, among the Gods, who is like thee, glorious in holiness ! 
&c." besides the mere truth of any propositions that those words 
can be resolved into. And so in those, O the depth of the 
riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God i &c. And 
those, God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten 


son, that, &c.or those: "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of 
all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save 
sinners, whereof I am chief:" or the strains of that rapturous 
prayer, that he would grant you according to the riches of his 
glory, to he strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 
that Christ may dwell in your hear is by faith: that ye being rooted 
and grounded in love, maybe able to comprehend with all saints, 
what is the breadth, and length, and depth and height : and to 
know the love of Christ, that passeth knowledge that ye might be 
filled with all the fulness of God. There is a certain accepta- 
"bleness in some truths, necessary to their being received in the 
love thereof^ which is peculiarly so represented to some, as that 
their apprehension is clear and" vivid, beyond that of other men ; 
who, however they have the representation of the same things, 
yet have not the same representation. Though if they be things 
t>f necessary and common concernment, it is (as was said) their 
own fault that they have it not. Arid to have yet clearer ap 
prehensions of this sort, is what the renewed soul doth most 
earnestly crave, and would be proportionably delighted with. 

(2.) The tendency of such truths, is much more clearly con 
ceivable to a holy soul, than another ; what their scope and aim 
or aspect is, which way they look, and what they drive at or 
lead to. I mean not what other truth they are connected with 
and wonld aptly tend to infer ; but what design God hath upoa 
us in revealing them, and what impression they ought to make 
upon us. To the ignorance or disregard of which tendency and 
design of God's revelation, it is to be attributed, that many have 
long the same notions of things hovering in their jninds, without 
ever reflecting with any displeasure upon the so vastly unsuita 
ble temper of their spirits thereto. They know it may be, such 
things concerning God, the tendency whereof is to draw their 
hearts into union with him, to transform them into his like 
ness, to inflame them with his love. But they still remain not 
withstanding at the greatest distance, most unsuitable, averse, 
coldly affected towards him, yea utterly opposite and disaf 
fected ; and fall not out with themselves upon this account, 
have no quarrel nor dislike, take not any distaste at themselves 
for it. They take no notice of an incongruity and unfitness in 
the ill temper of their own spirits; but seem as if they thought 
all were very well with them, nothing amiss ; and apprehend 
not a repugnancy in their habitual dispositions towards God to 
their notions of him. For a vicious prejudice blinds their eyes; 
their corrupt inclinatious and rotten hearts send up a malignant 
dark and clammy fog and vapour, and cast so black a cloud upon 
these bright things, that their tendency and design are not per- 


ceived : that prejudice not being conceived so much against the 
abstract notions of the things themselves, (whence they are en 
tertained with less reluctancy) but only against the design and 
scope of them. Against which poisonous cloud God's own 
glorious revelation directs its beams, dissolves its gross consis 
tency, scatters its darkness, as to them to whom he by special 
grace affords it. Whereupon, observing any remainders of the 
same distemper in their spirits, though it be in a considerable 
degree abated and lessened, they are ashamed of themselves for 
it, filled with confusion, yea and indignation ; do loath and ab 
hor, and could even be ready, if it were "possible, to run away 
from themselves. And what is the reason of this so great dif 
ference ? Surely somewhat appears discernible to these in God's 
revelation of himself which to the other doth not. They have 
then before their eyes a more clear prospect of the aim and scope 
of it. Which so far as they have it pleases them, for they like 
the design well, only they are displeased at themselves that they 
comport no more wiih it. And as the end therefore aimed at 
is desirable to them, and would be delightful (as will be shewn 
in its proper place) so is it to have that representation immedi 
ately offered to the view of their souls, which hath so apt and 
comely an aspect thereon, not merely for its own sake, but for 
the sake of the end itself. 

Wherefore there is somewhat to be apprehended by God's re 
presentation of himself to the minds of this regenerate people, 
at least more clearly than by other men. Whence the work of 
regenerating or converting them itself, is expressed by opening 
their eyes, (Act. 26, 18.) For the divine communication makes 
its own way and enters at the eye, the soul's seeing faculty, 
which it doth rind (as opening the eyes imports) and not now 
create: but finding it vitiated, and as to any right seeing of God, 
shut and closed up, it heals, opens and restores it as it enters. 
It is expressed, by turning them from darkness, to, light; and 
from t|be power of Satan, (the prince of that darkness, the God 
of this world ; who had blinded their eyes ) unto God. 
Which (because they cannot turn and move towards God blind 
fold, and that this opening their eyes is in order to their turning 
to God) implies, that their eyes were so distempered, blinded 
and sealed up, chiefly towards him. So that, though they could 
see other things, him they could not see; but he was invisible 
to their intellectual, as well as their bodily eyes. Hence also 
is that understanding said to be given (that is, as rectified and 
renewed) by which we know God; which implies it to be (where 
in it is now given) somewhat superadded to the whole natural 
and powers of the human soul, as in its present corrupted 


state, He hath given us an understanding to know him that 
is true, (1 Joh. 5, 20,) And that given recitude of understand 
ing is by such a communication from God, as hath that aptitude 
and power in it to infer so happy a change. The same renew- 
ing-work is also said to be a calling of men out of darkness 
into his marvellous light, (I Pet. 2, 9.) As if they were brought 
by it into a new world, wherein they found themselves beset 
with wonders, and all things were surprising to them. To 
which purpose is that prayer of the Psalmist (out of a just con 
sciousness, that this work was not perfect in him, but might 
yet admit great additional degrees,) open thou mine eyes, that 
I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. Psal. 119, 18. 
He supposed many undiscovered wonders, which eyes more 
open might yet behold in that external revelation of God's 
mind, which was then afforded (and which was wont in those 
days to go under the name of his law, though it contained 
histories, prophecies, and promises, as well as precepts) al 
though he was no stranger to those records, nor little insighted 
into them, he yet apprehended a need of more light and better 
eyes; which he therefore desires. Not that God would cause 
a new revelation to be written, (though that he vouchsafed to 
do, and partly by himself, but that he might learn more out of 
that already extant; and that the wonderful things contained in, 
it might be made more clear to him. Nor can we suppose 
him, herein, to desire to be gratified and delighted by the com 
munication of an incommunicable thing. 

4. It is more powerfully assuring, and such as is apt to beget 
a more certain operative belief of the things revealed. That 
is, being added to the means of faith men may be supposed so 
to have had before, it adds much to their assurance of the same 
things, so as to make it efficacious upon their spirits. And as 
well cures the doubtfulness, irresolution, and way-wardness of 
their minds, and hearts, as the confusion and darkness of them. 
fc It is very possible those things may be distinctly understood, 
which the more we understand, the more we disbelieve them 
'through their apprehended inconsistency with themselves or 
or some certain truth. The delectable things of God, his own 
discovery procures at once, by one and the same radiation of 
light, both to be clearly understood, and effectually believed. 
Othei'3 have the word of faith without the spirit of faith. The 
faith therefore which they have is a carcase ; not a weak only 
.(which imports but diminished power) but a dead thing. And 
which hath no power at all to determine the soul and compose 
it to that delightful rest which such things, duly believed, 
would cejtainly infer. The most delectable truths of God and 


such as most directly tend (in this apostate lapsed state of man) 
to give us the sweet and refreshing relishes of a just and rational 
joy and pleasure, are such are contained in the gospel of Christ; 
the things that concern our reconciliation, friendship and com 
munion with God in him. And which are therefore wholly of 
immediately divine and supernatural revelation, and to be re 
ceived by faith. Therefore one apostle prays for some that 
they might be filled with joy and peace in believing. Rom. 15,3. 
And another says of others that believing they rejoiced with 
joy unspeakable and full of glory. 1 Pet. 1, 8. The external 
revelation in the gospel is an apt means, to beget that faith 
which it is said comes by hearing. But the very notion of 
means importing what intervenes to the effect, between that 
and the principal agent, necessarily supposes such an agent ; 
and that what is only means, cannot work the effect alone. 
That Agent, namely, (in this case) God himself or the Spirit, 
besides the means which he uses and makes effectual, must 
have his own influence whereby he makes them so. If a pen 
"be a fit means or instrument to write with, it doth not therefore 
follow that it can write alone without a hand to move and guide 
it, in order whereto a motive and directive influence is imparted. 
In the present case, the influence is the inward enlightening 
overpowering communication, whereof we speak. The efficacy 
whereof is such, as to give the soul that peaceful rest in believing* 
which is also most pleasant and delightful, according as the 
things are found to be so, which are believed. Nor doth it in 
order hereto work by way of entlmsiastical impulsion, without 
any reference to the external revelation, which is rationally and 
aptly suitable to the working of the effect. ^For then, that 
sliould no way have the place so much as of means. But there 
being sufficient inducement to persuade that this external re 
velation is divine so as to procure a rational assent to the things 
revealed, with any man, that, having that revelation, with the 
account of its first confirmations, shall but use his understanding 
in reference thereto, and is not besotted to a party of sworn 
enemies to the Christian name. This inward revelation then 
falling in, captivates his heart to an entire unitive closure, with 
the great things contained in the outward one ; and principally 
with the son of God himself, unto which union, that whole re 
velation is most directly subservient, Therefore it was, that 
when divers others (of whom it is said, and particularly of Judas, 
that they believed not) forsook Christ, Peter and the other, 
apostles stuck so resolutely to him, because, we believe (say 
they) and are sure thafthou art Christ the son of the living God j 
Joh. 6, 64, G9, which assurance we may then conclude was 


much of another sort than that of Judas ; though we cannot 
suppose him to have wanted a rational certainty of the same 
truth, sufficient to have overcome objections in his judgment : 
but not sufficient to overcome the contrary corrupt inclinations 
of his wicked heart. Therefore as the inward revelation uses 
not to do its work without the outward, (for I suppose we have 
not heard of many Christians where the gospel hath not been,) 
so nor is the outward revelation able, alone to beget that which, 
in the more eminent sense, goes in Scripture under the name 
of faith. It may beget that merely intellectual certainty 
which may prevail against all doubts and objections in a man's 
mind to the contrary; but not the contrary inclinations of his 
corrupt will. Most men's faith is but opinionative, and many 
men's never reaches so high as to a rational opinion ; for that 
proceeds upon having ballanced considerations on both sides, and 
inclines to that part on which there seems to be the most weighty; 
whereas the faith (as they call it) of too many is no other thing 
than a merely blind arid sequacious humour, grounded upon 
nothing but a willingness to be in the fashion ; or the appre 
hension of disgrace with other inconvenicncies, if where that is 
'the common profession one should profess to be any thing but a 
Christian ; or a lazy indifferency easily determinable to that 
}Kirt which is next at hand to be chosen ; or it may be, they 
never having heard of another profession ; which precludes any 
choice at all. 

But admit it did arrive to a rational certainty, as it easily 
might with them that have with the external requisite advan 
tages, competent understanding, patience, diligence, and im 
partiality to consider : that is, suppose it to proceed upon that 
abundant evidence which the case will admit, that the Chris 
tian doctrine hath been testified by God; and that God's testi 
mony cannot deceive : there needs more to win and overcome 
men's hearts ; which must be done before the things revealed in 
the gospel can be apprehended delectable. What can any 
man have greater certainty of, in a mere human way, than ail 
men have that they must die ? And yet how few are there whose 
spirits are formed hereby to any seriousness agreeable to that 
persuasion ? Whatever way a man comes to be certain of any 
thing that hath a contrary tendency to the bent of his habitu 
ally wicked heart, he needs more than the evidence of the thing, 
to make it efficaciously determine his will against his former 
vicious course. If the matter be such as properly falls under 
faith; that faith grounds upon the authority of God appre 
hended as avouching the truth of that revelation to which we 
subscribe our assent. But then it is lively or languid, accord 
ing as the apprehension is which we have of that avouchmerit. 
VOL. ii. B 


.But the apprehension which is only the product of the external 
revelation, even recommended by the most advantageous and 
convincing circumstances, is too faint to command the soul. 
Who amongst all the people of the Jews at Mount Horeb, 
could have any doubt, but the authority that avouched the law 
there given them was divine ? And yet how boldly do they rush 
into idolatry, against the express letter of that law ; while the 
sound of that dreadful voice of words which delivered it, could 
hardly, one would think, be well out of their ears ! And though 
they could riot doubt of God's authority, yet for all that, their 
frequent rebellions are plainly resolved into their infidelity. 
How long will this people provoke me r (Num : 14. 1 1.) And 
how long will it be before they believe me, for all the signs 
which I have shewed among them ? Yea thejr despised the plea 
sant land : they believed not his word. (Psalm 106. '24). Or 
what place could be left for rational doubt, with the multitudes 
that beheld the miracles of our Lord Jesus, but that they were 
(rod's own seal affixed purposely to the doctrine taught by him? 
Yet how few (though we must suppose many convinced) did 
heartily believe in him ? A great many more did so upon a less - 
advantageous-external revelation after his ascension. And the 
reason is plainly told us, the Spirit was not yet given, because 
that Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7- 3.9. And how ex 
pressly have we it from his own mouth, (after he had interpre 
ted coming to him by believing on him. (John 6. 35.) No man 
can come unto me, except the father that hath sent me draw 
him. (ver: 44.) And afterwards having said, it is the Spirit that 
qtfickeneth ; (ver; 63.) he adds, but there are some of you^ 
tiiat believe not, (ver : 6'4 :) So that no loan's professed assent, 
though as forward a professor as Judas was, there referred to, 
will in strict account entitle him a believer, if it be not produ 
ced by the quickening influence of the Spirit. And then re 
peats, therefore 1 said unto you, that no man can come unto 
me, except it were given him of my fiitht-r. ^ver: (>5.) And 
what provocation the father had to wltb-hold that quickening- 
Spirit, so generally, from tUat people, any one may see that reads 
their story. Upon which, by the recess of that Spirit, they are 
hardened to as great a miracle as formerly their Egyptian op- 
gfessors were many ages before ; there being indeed no greater 
mirju'lo as was said of old, than that men should not believe 
up'm the sight of ?u many miracles. And this dreadful dere 
liction, and consequent obd u ration we see. is referred to primi 
tive justice as a vindictive dispensation. But though he had 
done so many miricles before thein s -yet they believed not on him. 
That the saying of Esaias the, prophet might be fulfilled which 
lie spoke* Lorj who htith believed our report ? and. to whom is 


the arm of the Lord, revealed? (John 12. ver: 37- 38. Isai. ~.?>. 
I.) where it is obvious to observe, that the believing of the < s- 
pel-rcport owes itself to the revelation of God's arm ; or requires 
the exerting of his power, agreeable to chat of the apostle, that 
ye may know what is. the exceeding 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, &c'. (Eph. 1. ID.) And Jiow the arm of the Lord 
came riot not to be revealed, or that power not to be put forth, 
is intimated in what follows. Therefore they could not believe 
because (for which Isaiah is again quoted,) he had blinded their 
eyes, and hardened their hearts, &c.(Isa.6.9. 10.) Which shews, 
that as that blinding and hardening of eyes and hearts, in some 
superackknl degrees thereof, is the effect of a penal dereliction 
or retraction of God's arm for former obstinate opposition to 
the external revelation of the gospel ; so that there is a prece 
dent blindness and hardness, not otherwise vincible than by 
the arm of the Lord ; and which, it being penally with-held, 
will naturally grow worse and worse. And certainly that, upon 
the with-holding whereof, such things certainly ensue as are 
inconsistent with believing, must needs itself be. necessary to it. 
All which things considered, do so plainly speak the insufficien 
cy of a mere external revelation, and the necessity of an inter 
nal besides, vmto that faith, which is the immediate spring of 
delight in God ; that it is not needful to insist upon many plain 
texts of scripture besides, that fully say the same thing. As 
that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy 
Ghost. (Cor. 12.5.) And again, whosoever shall confess that 
Jesus is the son of God, God dwellcth in him, and he in God. 
(1 John 4. 15.) And whosoever belie veth that Jesus is the Christ 
is born of God. (eh. 5. 1.) Upon which words with many 
more of like import in the sacred volume, no sense can be put 
which is tolerable, and not the same with what we have above 

In short, faith is a part of homage paid to the authority of 
the great God; which is to be estimated sincere, according as 
it answers the end, for which the things to be believed were re 
vealed. That end is not to beget only the notion of those things, 
as truths that are to be lodged in the mind, and go no further; 
as if they were to be understood true only that they might be 
?o understood ; but that the person might accordingly have his 
spirit formed, and might shape the course of his whole conver 
sation ; therefore is it called the obedience of faith : and the 
same word which is wont to be rendered unbelief, signifies dis 
obedience, obstinacy, unpersuadableness ; being from a theme 
which (as is known) signifies to persuade. So that thi> homage 


is then truly given to the eternal God, when his revelation 
is complied with and submitted to, according to the true 
intent and purpose of it. Which that it may he, requires 
that his Spirit urge the soul with his authority, and overpower it 
into an awful subjection thereto. The soul being so disjointed 
by the apostacy that its own faculties keep not (in reference to 
the things of God) their natural order to one another, further 
than as a holy rectitude is renewed in them by the Holy Ghost. 
Therefore is it necessary, that the enlightening communication 
which he transmits into it, be not only so clear, as to scatter the 
darkness that beclouded the mind, but so penetrating, as to 
strike and pierce the heart, to dissolve and relax its stiff and 
frozen rigour, and render it capable of a new mould and frame. 
In order whereto, " God that (at first) commanded the light to 
shine out of darkness, is said to have sinned into the hearts' J of them, 
namely, whom he renews, "to give the light of the knowledge of 
the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2. Cor. 4. 6.) And 
as they to whom this communication of God is in some degree 
afforded, do hereupon apprehend how necessary it was to them 
that it should be afforded ; and be such as they now find it, 
(which they apprehended not before), so they perceive it to be 
delightful also, as well as necessary. And finding it yet given 
into them but in an imperfect degree, their continual cravings 
are still for more. And having tasted hereby, how gracious the 
Lord is ; as new-born-babes, they desire it, as sincere milk, 
that they may grow thereby. (1. Pet. 2. 2.3.) They hereby 
come to know God and the things of God with savour. And wis 
dom having entered into their hearts, knowledge is pleasant to 
their soul. (Prov. 2. 10.) Whereby, as every renewed taste 
provokes in them new desire, all such renewed desires dispose 
them unto further and more satisfying delight. They sensibly 
discern the difference between their former dry and sapless no 
tions of God, and the lively-spirited apprehensions which they 
now have. They can in some measure understand the reason 
why the apostle should in such a rapture speak of the excel 
lency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord; and why he 
should so triumphingly give thanks to God for the manifesta 
tion of the savour of his knowledge in every place. (2. Cor. 2. 
14.) They can perceive there was good sense in those words, 
as they have a more quick and judicious perception of the fra- 
grancy of that knowledge ; it is to them a refreshing, vital, 
quickening perfume, (v. 16.) as the word there, and before im 
ports, most cheeringly odoriferous, the savour of life to life, lively 
in itself, and to them. So full of life, as to beget and transmit 
it ; and replenish their souls therewith : so as they might feel 


life thence working in all their powers. A revelation of God, 
that is of such a nature, cannot but he highly delectable ; 

(1.) In respect of the matter revealed, God himself especially 
(if not yet testifying himself to be, yet at least willing in Christ 
to become) our God ; in such a way, and upon such terms as is 
expressed in the Gospel. A more particular mention of the 
things (contained in this revelation) that are more apt to beget 
delight and feed it, is puq3osely deferred till we come to press 
and enforce the duty itself. 

(2.) In respect of the immediate way and manner of reve 
lation, with so much facility continually coming in from time 
to time, upon the soul, according as it is found ready by a duti 
ful compliance to admit it, and dotU lie open to it. For other 
wise, a fatherly severity, is most fitly expressed in with-holding 
it at some times. 

(3.) In respect of the life and vigour which it carries with 
it, whereby it is experienced to be a vital light : and that it is 
indeed (as is said) life, which is the light of men. (Joh. 1.4.) 
Dull, sluggish, ineffectual notions of such things can have little, 
comparatively, of delectation in them. 

(4.) In respect of the design and tendency of the revelation, 
discernible at the same time, to draw the soul into union with 
God ; and that there may be a continual intercourse between 
him and it. Not that it might have a transient glance of so lovely 
an object, and no more. When once it apprehends God hath 
made this light shine in upon me, not to amuse me, but here he 
fixes it as a lamp to guide me, in a stated course of communion 
with him. How pleasant is it to think he will be known fo? 
this blessed purpose ! Now^a communication of God including 
i revelation of him apt to beget such a knowledge, ' canjiot be 
without much matter of delight. 



I. The subject of communication from God continued, which is 
shewn to contain in it. Secondly, A transforming impression of 
his Image; by the removal oi' such dispositions as are correct, and 
the settling of such as are gracious. TL This communication of 
his Image shewn to be delightful as it rectifies the sou]. First, 
Towards God himself, and towards Christ, Secondly, Towards 
men. Thirdly, Towards themselves. Fourthly, Towards this 
and the other world. 

I. npHIS communication of God himself to his people shewn 

* to contain in it. 

Secondly, A transforming impression of his image. This 
yet more fully answers the inquiry when a person is said to 
enjoy God ; what doth he immediately enjoy r or whereby is lie 
said to enjoy God? what doth God communicate or transmit, by 
which he may be said to be enjoyed? He communicates his own 
living likeness, the very image of himself; not the idea or like 
ness only by which he is known, though it must be confessed that 
the knowledge of him if he be known to be what he truly is, musf 
suppose a true likeness of him offered to the mind, and formed 
there. Bnt this of which we now speak, is not a merely repre 
sentative but a real image. The product of the former it is, as 
is sufficiently to be collected from what hath been said. For 
that appears to be not a mere airy, spiritless, ineffectual thing, 
as the notion of God, and of all divine matters is with the most, 
but as hath been said, operative, penetrating, efficacious, apt to 
beget suitable impressions upon the heart, and wholly transform 
the soul. The eifect of it then is, this transformative impres 
sion itself; by which the soul becomes another thing than it was; 
a new creature ; old things being done away, and all things made 
new. 2 Cor. 5, 17- In respect of this, it is said to be born of 
God. This is the new man which after God is said to be cre 
ated in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness; the divine 
nature participated ; the seed of God; the tfT#%v}, the prime 
and most excellent part of his creatures. Eph. 5. 2 Pet. 1. l 
Job. 3. Jam. 1. 

Concerning this likeness, and the satisfyingness of it, in its 
perfect state, though much hath been discoursed elsewhere; it 
be requisite to say somewhat here also, that may bear a 


more direct reference to the present imperfect state of the re 
generate in this world. That communication of God which 
must he supposed afforded them, in order to their delighting in 
him, could signify little to that purpose, if with deformed and 
diseased souls they were only to look upon a very lovely object ; 
still themselves remaining what they were. Nor doth it delight 
them only as it is apprehended apt and aiming to work a happy 
change in them ; hut as it doth it or hath in part done it. As 
like an active, quick flame it passes through their souls, searches, 
melts them, burns up their dross, makes them a new lump or 
mass, and forms them for God's own use and converse. 

God is proposed unto our communion and fellowship imdcr 
the name of light. But such a light (it appears) as whereby we 
that were darkness do also become light in the (Lord, 1 Job. 1 ? 
f>, 6,) as elsewhere it is expressed. That, as he is the Father of 
lights, we may appear the children of such a Father, and walk 
accordingly, that is, as children of light. (Eph. 5, 8.) For we are 
presently tokl that if wo say we have fellowship' with him, and 
walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. But if we walk 
in the light as he is in the fight, then we have a mutual fellow 
ship, (1 Job. 1. 6. 7) that is, God and we. It is needful ttypn, that 
wo have that apprehension of him. And he therefore by solemn 
message makes that declaration of himself that he is light, this 
then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare 
unto you, that God is light, and with him is no darkness at all, 
that is, the most pure, holy, excellent, glorious Being. But for 
what purpose are we to have that apprehension? We are told 
by the apostle for what; he there makes that declaration with 
that design, that we might be entered into the same fellowship 
iii which he was already: for that end therefore we are to have 
this apprehension. But inasmuch as he immediately adds, that 
yet while we converse in darkness, we lie, if we pretend to that 
fellowship : it is manifest, that this discovery of God and our 
suitable apprehensiou are no further serviceable to their end, 
than bringing us into fellowship with himj than as by his beams 
in begets us into his own likeness herein : and that, so far as our 
capacity and present state admit, we be truly in a degree made 
pure, bright, shining, excellent creatures, resembling our maker, 
tuid being a second time formed after the image of him that 
created us. 

The gospel is the formative instrument in this work, as it 
was said to be the instrument or means of our intellectual il 
lumination. The new creature is said to be begotten of the 
word or*tlod; and the divine nature to be communicated through 
the exceeding great and precious promises, which discovering 
God's gracious nature and favourable inclination towards us^ 


are an apt means (but no more than a means) to render us well- 
natured (not cross, thwarting, contrary) unto him. Faith ad 
mits the gospel-discovery into the soul, and of an external word 
without, makes it become an ingrafted word; the word of Christ 
dwelling richly in us : and so gives it the advantage of becoming 
thus mightily operative; for unto them only who believe is it 
the power of God to salvation. And being received, not as the 
word of man, but as the word of God, it works effectually in 
them that believe. To them who believe it not, it signifies 
nothing ; it is to them an empty sound, or only as a tale that is 
told. And inasmuch as the gospel-revelation is the instrument 
of this impression; by it the impression must be measured, with 
It must it agree. Which revelation being expressive of the 
nature of God, and of his mind and will in reference to us ; 
the impression cannot but be agreeable to that revelation ; but 
it must also carry in it the resemblance and likeness of God 
himself; for the gospel-revelation is God's seal ; the stamp upon 
it is a model of his image. Whence therefore the soul sealed 
therewith, bears on it at once the signature both of the author 
and the instrument. But because our best and surest way of 
forming true and right apprehensions of God, is to attend and 
guide ourselves by the i epresentation that is there made of him 
(for it were useless and in vain, if letting our thoughts work at 
random without reference to it, we might conceive as fitly of 
God and his mind concerning us, as by the direction and guidc- 
ancc of it;) therefore are we to aim at conformity to God as he 
is there represented. For that is the proper likeness to him we 
are to inquire after (and which only could be impressed by his 
gospel) that is expressed and represented there. We all with 
open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, arc 
changed into the same image from glory to glory. (2 Cor. 3, 18.) 
It is by the glory of the Lord shining through that glass, that 
we are changed. And the image whereinto we are changed is 
the same image that is to be seen in that glass. For there God 
hath provided, that such a representation of himself and of his 
mind should appear, as is most suitable to our case and state, and 
which it most concerned us to have the view and the image of. 
That represents him in his imitable excellencies; and shews what 
lie is towards us, what his counsels, determinations, and con 
stitutions are concerning us, and hereupon shews, what we 
should be, or what temper of spirit becomes us in reference to 
such a revelation. And such, when we receive this his impres 
sive communication, he really makes us thereby become. And 
then is it that it will be found most highly delectable. A 
heart formed according to the revelation of God in Christ, and 
cast into the mould of the gospel (as is tke import of the apostle's 


words, Rom. C, 17, Ye have obeyed from the heart the doct 
rine, into the type or frame whereof ye were delivered) hath a 
spring of pleasure in itself. Not of perfect unmixed pleasure : 
for there is much yet remaining, that cannot but be very dis 
pleasing and offensive to such as have learned no longer to put 
bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter, and have senses exercised 
to discern betwixt good and evil. And indeed by the same- 
vital principle the soul is made capable both of the sweetest de 
lights and the quickest sense of pain ; while it was dead it was 
sensible of neither. 

Nor is it an original spring. Whatever it hath that is good 
and pleasant comes from a higher head and is communicated. 
But the communication remains not in this heart as in a dead 
receptacle, but creates the soul where it is a living spring itself. 
The Lord shall satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy 
bones, and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and as a spring 
of water whose waters fail not. (Isa. 58, 11.) After which it 
follows, then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord, &c. v. 14. 
So though the waters that are so pleasantly refreshing to holy 
souls are given by Christ ; yet he himself tells us, they shall be 
in him to whom they are given a well of water springing up 
into everlasting life. Job; 4. 14. W r hence also the good man 
is said to be satisfied from himself, (Pro. 14, 14.) And the mouth 
of the righteous to be a well of life, (Pro. 10, 11.) that is, to 
others, much more must his heart be so to himself. Nor indeed 
can there be a vainer or more absurd design and expectation, 
than to aim immediately at delights and joys, without ever 
looking after that transforming, purifying, quickening com 
munication from God, in which he is to be enjoyed ; which is 
apparently, the most prejudicial and dangerous mistake, the 
practical error (and so much the worse therefore) of many per 
sons of much pretence to religion, that dream and boast of no 
thing less than raptures and transports, having never yet known 
or felt what the work of regeneration or the new creature 
means. And having only got some notions of God and Christ, 
that tickle their fancies without ever changing their hearts, 
these go for divine enjoyments. Others somewhat awakened 
and convinced but not renewed, though they do not pretend 
already to have, yet do (from the same mistaken apprehension) 
as vainly seek and catch at joys and sweetnesses -, while their 
unsanctified hearts do yet lie steeped in the gall of bitterness. 
And they wonder and complain, that they feel not in them 
selves the delights whereof they find Scripture sometimes make 
mention, while in the mean time they expect and snatch at 
them in that preposterous impossible way, as to abstract them 

VOL. ii. r 


from the things themselves, wherein the pleasure and delight 
lie. They would have delight without the delectable good, 
that must immediately afford and yield it ; or without foregoing 
noisome evils that resist and hinder it ; which therefore makes it 
necessary to treat the more largely of the delightful communi 
cation, by which only intervening souls are capable of delight 
ing in God. 

And as to this branch of it, the vital sanctifying trans 
forming influence, whereby the soul is wrought to a conformity 
to the gospel; if we take a somewhat more distinct view of it, 
we shall find, it cannot but have in it abundant matter of de 
light. In the general, the thing here to be communicated, is 
a universal rectitude of temper and dispositions, including the 
removal of such as are sinful and corrupt; and the settlement 
of such as are holy and gracious ; both to be measured and 
estimated, as to their good or evil, by the gospel of our Lord 
Jesus Christ. Now surely that must be a blessed and delight 
ful state (and it is that towards which this divine communica 
tion gradually tends) wherein a wretched soul, that was lost in 
the impurities of sin, shall be stripped and unclothed of all the 
pravity, perverse inclinations, corrupt affections which the gos 
pel of Christ condemns; and invested with all the parts of that 
purity, that gracious and holy frame which that gospel recom 
mends. For as the former carry in them matter of certain 
vexation and anguish which it is hereby freed from ; so the 
latter manifestly carry in themselves matter of unspeakable 
delight and pleasure, which it hereby partakes. And by the 
same degrees by which this divine communication infers the 
latter of these, it expels the former. By the same degrees by 
which any are made partakers of the divine nature, they escape 
the corruptions \v~hich are in the world through lust. And that 
we may be here a little more particular, without descending 
into the innumerable particulars which might he severally 
spoken of upon this occasion; we shall only consider this heart- 
Tectifying communication, in reference to some of the more 
principal things, towards which the spirit of man may be either 
perversely, or duly and aright inclined; that we may see what 
matter of delight it infers and brings with it. In order whereto 
it must be considered, that wherein it is transforming, it is also 
enlivening; and therefore furnishes the soul, with the power of 
spiritual sensation; whereby it comes to apprehend its former 
temper, as very grievous and detestable; not only being entire 
and undiminished, but even the relics of it which do yet re 
main ; and proportion ably, the holy frame to be introduced as 
highly covetable and to be infinitely desired. 


II. Which being supposed, it must needs be very delightful to 
such a soul, to feel itself in part rectified, and to expect it 
further in its temper and inclinations, 

First 9 Towards God, towards whom it was most disin 
clined: that is, both towards him as its end, and towards Christ 
as its way to him. 

1. As to himself its end. It finds upon reflection, 
it was dead towards God, without motion towards him, with 
out inclination, all its powers bent and set quite another 
way ; so that to persuade it to begin a course of holy motion 
towards God, was a like thing as to persuade a stone to fly up 
wards, It could not trust the original truth, nor love the sover 
eign good, nor obey the supreme authority. Its course was 
nothing else but continual recession from him. towards whom 
it should have been continually pressiug forward with all its 
might. It was wont to say to him, in whom was its life and all 
its hope, " Depart from me, I desire not the knowledge of thy 
ivays;" was utterly alienated from the life of God, and did choose 
to live as without him in the world. And although it still re 
main thus in too great a degree, yet as it abhors this as a hate 
ful way of living, and desires it may be otherwise; so is it sen 
sibly delightful that it doth in some degree perceive a change; 
that now it can find itself returning into its right and natural 
state of subordination to God. Which while it was out of it, 
laid that claim to it, that its dislocation was uneasy, and it 
could have no rest; though it was not aware what the matter 
was with it, and could never thoroughly apprehend, that it 
ought (much less could desire or aim) to return. And if in 
returning, and its continual course afterwards (which ought to 
be but a continuing return and moving back towards God,) 
there be much cause for the exercise of repentance; the dis 
position whereto is a part of that new nature now communi 
cated; yet even such relen tings as are due and suitable upon 
this account are not unpleasant. There is pleasure mingled 
with such tears, and with those mournings which are not with 
out hope, and which flow naturally and without force, from a 
living principle within, as waters from their still-freshly spring 
ing fountain. When the soul finds itself unbound and set at 
liberty; when it can freely pour out itself to God, dissolve 
kindly and melt before him ; it doth it with regret only at what 
it hath done and been, not at what it is now doing, except that 
it can do it no more; affecting even to be infinite herein, while 
it yet sees it must be confined within some bounds. It loves 
to lie in the dust and abase itself; and is pleased with the 
humiliation, contrition and brokenness of heart which repent 
ance towards God includes in it. So that as God is delighted 
with tkis sacrifice, -so it is with the offering of it up to liilh. 


Many men apprehend a certain sweetness in revenge ; such a 
one finds it only in this just revenge upon himself. How un- 
expressible pleasure accompanies its devoting itself to God, 
when bemoaning itself, and returning with weeping and sup 
plication, it says, " Now lo I come to thee, thou art the Lord 
my God. I have hrought thee back thine own, what I had 
sacrilegiously alienated and stolen away, the heart which was 
gone astray, that hath been so long a vagabond and fugitive 
from thy blessed presence, service and communion. Take now 
the soul which thou hast made; possess thy own right; enter 
upon it, stamp it with the entire impression of thine own seal, 
and mark it for thine. Other Lords shall no more have domini 
on. What have I to do any more \vith tl*e idols wherewith I 
was wont to provoke thee to jealousy? I will now make mention 
of thy name, and of thine only. I bind myself to thee in ever 
lasting bonds, in a covenant never to be forgotten." In doing 
this the soul finds great delight, for 

(I.} The self-denial which is included in this transaction, 
hath no little pleasure in it. When the soul freely quits all 
pretence to itself, and by its own consent passes into his, now 
acknowledged right; disclaims itself, and all its own former 
interests, inclinations and ends, and is resolved to be to him 
and to no other. When this is done unreservedly, without 
any intention of retaining or keeping back any thing from him; 
absolutely, and without making any conditions of its own, but 
only agreeing to and thankfully accepting his ; peremptorily 
and without hesitation, and without halting between two opi 
nions, "Shall I? or shall I uoti" (as if it were ready in the 
same breath to retract and undo its own act) how doth it now 
rejoice to feel itself offer willingly ! They that have life and 
sense about them, can tell there is pleasure in all this. And 
the oftner repetition is made hereof (so it be done with life, not 
xvith trifling formality) they so often renew the relishes with 
themselves of the same pleasure. 

(2.) Continued commerce with God, agreeable to the, tenour 
of that league and covenant struck with him, how pleasant and 
delightful is it ! to be a friend of God, an associate of the most 
high, a domestic, no more a stranger, a foreigner, but of his own 
household, to live wholly upon the plentiful provisions, and un 
der the happy order and government of his family, to have a 
heart to seek all from him, and lay out all for him ! How 
great is the pleasure of trust, of living free from care ; that is, 
of any thing, but how to please arid honour him in a cheerful 
uasolicitous dependence, expecting from him our daily bread, 
believing he will not let our souls famish; that while they 
hunger and thirst after righteousness they shall be filled \ tba't 


they shall be sustained with the bread a.vl waters of life ; that 
when they hunger, he will feed them with hidden manna, and 
with the fruits that grow on the tree of life in the midst of the 
paradise of God ; that when they thirst he will give water, and 
add milk and honey without money; wjlthout price. And for 
the body not to doubt, but he that feeds ravens and clothes lil- 
lies will feed and clothe them. To be so taken up in seeking 
his kingdom and righteousness, as freely to leave it to him to 
add the other things as he sees fit 5 to take no thought for to 
morrow ; to have a heart framed herein according to divine 
precept ; not to be encumbered or kept in an anxious suspense 
by the thoughts and fears of what may fall out, by which many 
suffer the same affliction a thousand times over, which God 
would have them suffer but once ; a firm repose on the good 
ness of providence, and its sure and never-erring wisdom ; a 
steady persuasion, that our heavenly Father knows what we have 
need of, and what it is fittest for us to want, to suffer or enjoy ; 
how delightful a life do these make ! and how agreeable to one 
born of God, his own son and heir of all things ; as being joint 
heirs with Christ, and claiming by that large grant, that says all 
things are yours ; only that in minority it is better to have a 
wise father's allowance, than be our own carvers. 

*[!.] To live-in the fear of God, is not without its pleasure. 
It composes the soul, expels the vanity which is not without 
vexation, represses exorbitant motions, checks unruly passions, 
keeps all within in a pleasant peaceful calm ; is health to the 
navel, and marrow to the bones. 

[2.] To live in his love, is delight itself, or a tendency to 
wards it. The disposition whereto being communicated from 
God, and a part of the holy new creature derived from him is 
also part of the (secondary or subservient) delectable object. 
As the light that serves unto vision is partly (as the mediate ob 
ject) somewhat of what I see, and doth partly, as a principle, 
actuate and concur with the faculty in the act of seeing. And 
as the blessed God himself is both the first principle and ulti 
mate object of that and other gracious acts* : therefore it can 
not but be pleasant to the soul, to perceive that powerful influ 

* And how rationally men may be said at the same time to love, 
delight in and enjoy the amiable or delectable object, and therewith 
also love their own love, enjoy their own fruition, or delight in their 
own delight ; enough is said by some school-men. Nor indeed can it 
be conceived how the soul can continue to love or delight in any thing 
but it must be so. For while it perseveres, every latter act justifies 
the former, and takes complacency therein, but all as directed to 
wards snch an 



ence from God stirring in it, by which it is disposed to design 
and pitch upon him as the great object of its highest delight, 
unto whom it laboured under so vile and wicked an aversion 
heretofore. Yea though it yet have no certain persuasion of a 
present interest in him, yet this disposition of heart towards him, 
and that it finds it could satisfyingly rest in him as its best good 
upon supposition it had such an interest, the very strivings and 
contentions of the soul towards him upon this account, are not 
without a present pleasure : as we behold with an intermixed 
desire and delight a grateful object which we would enjoy, but 
do not yet know whether we can compass or not. To be in that 
temper of soul, as to resolve, " Him I will seek and pursue, him 
I will study to please and serve, and spend my strength and life 
in serving him (which is to live in his love) though I yet know 
not whether he will accept, or how he will deal with me ! " this 
cannot but have a certain sensible delectation in it. 

[3.] To live in a stated habitual subjection to him as the 
Lord of our lives, how pleasant is it ! to have learned to obey ; 
to be accustomed to the yoke ; to taste and prove the goodness 
and acceptableness of his will through an effectual transformation 
in the renewal of our minds ; to be by the law of the spirk of 
life made free from the law of sin and death * to be able to 
speak it as the undisguised sense of our hearts, "Because thy law 
is holy, therefore thy servant loveth it ; to reckon it a royal law 
of liberty, so as to account ourselves so much the more free, by 
how much we are the more thus bound 9 when we affect to be 
prescribed to, and are become patient of government, not apt to 
chafe at the bridle, or spurn and kick at the boundaries that 
hem us in : this is a temper that hath not more of duty in it 
than it hath of delight. There is such a thing as delighting in 
the law of God, according to the inward man, when there is yet 
a difficulty in suppressing and keeping under inordinate rebelli 
ous workings of corrupt nature ; unto which there is no desire 
an indulgence should be given, by having the law attempered 
to them, but severity rather used to reduce them to a confor- 
ity to the law : so will it be, if the law become a heart impres 
sion ; when it can once be truly said, thy law is in my heart, it 
will be also with the same sincerity said, I delight to do thy 
will, O God. (Ps. 40.) 

[4.] The continual exercise of good conscience towards God, 
hath great pleasure in it. Hereby our way and course is cou- 
tinually reviewed, and We pass censures upon ourselves, and 
upon that account survey our own works. And by how much 
the more carefully and often this is done, so much the 
more delectable it will be : that is, the more approvable we 
shall find them upoa review, For we sl^ll order our course 


the more warily, as we reckon upon undergoing an inquisition 
and search ; wherein an apprehensive serious heart well under 
stands it is not itself to be the supreme judge. How blessed an 
imitation might there here be of the blessed God himself, who 
we find beheld his six days works, and lo they \vere all very good; 
whereupon follows his delightful day of rest ; so we shall, in 
some degree of conformity to him, finding our works to be in 
that sort good, as that he will by gracious indulgence accept them 
as such, have our own sabbath, a sweet and peaceful rest in our 
own spirits. Though we can pretend no higher than sincerity 
only, yet how sweet are the reflections of a well -instructed con 
science upon that ! when our hearts reproach us not, and we 
resolve they shall not as long as we live; we are conscious to 
Ourselves of no base designs, we propose nothing to ourselves 
wherein we apprehend cause to decline God's eye ; we walk in 
the light, and are seeking no darkness or shadow of death,where 
(as workers of iniquity) we may hide ourselves from him ; can 
implore him as an assistant, and appeal to him as a judge in re 
ference to our daily affairs and wonted course ; is this without 
pleasure ! This is our rejoicing, saith the apostle, the testimony 
of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not 
with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God we have had our 
conversation, Sfc. (2. Cor. 1. 12.) And thus to converse with 
God, and him whom we daily design to glorify and serve, and 
whom we expect daily in some measure, and fully and finally 
before it be long, to enjoy, is certainly throughout a way of 
pleasantness and peace. How delectable then is the soul rectifying 
communication from God,whereby, being before so disaffected, it 
becomes now so well inclined towards him in all these respects. 
But because the exigency of the case did require (by reason of 
sin that had cut of the intercourse) that there should be a media 
tor to open the way and renew the former out- worn friendship ; 
therefore it was also necessary that so the soul might duly move 
towards God, it should be rightly framed and disposed also to 
wards him. 

2 We are therefore to consider too, how delectable this com 
munication must be, as it aright disposes the heart towards 
Christ, our way to God. For towards him we must understand 
it to have been most obstinately and inflexibly averse ; and that, 
therefore a mighty communication of power was necessary to set 
it right here. Unto that part of religion which is natural; there 
was so much of an advantage before-hand, as that there was aa 
old foundation to build upon. There are some notions of God 
left, not only concerning his existence, but his nature and attri 
butes, many of them : and from the apprehension what he was, 
it was in some measure discernible what we should have been, 


and ought yet to be towards him; and from thence many checks 
and rebukes of conscience wherein it was found to be otherwise: 
so that here was somewhat in nature to be wrought upon, as to this 
part of religion. But as to that part which respects the Media 
tor, this .was a frame wholly to be raised up from the ground. 
There were no principles immediately and directly inclining to 
take part with the gospel ; but all to be implanted anew. The 
way that God would take to bring back souls to him being so 
infinitely above all human thought. And therefore, though to 
a considering Pagan it would not sound strangely, that God 
ought to be trusted, feared, loved, &c. yet even to such the gos 
pel of Christ was foolishness. Besides, that this way of dealing 
with men was not only unknown and unimaginable to them, not 
so much as once thought of, or to be guest at ; but the ten 
dency and aspect of it (when it should come to be made known) 
was such as that it could not but find the temper of men's spirits 
most strongly opposite, not merely ignorant, but prejudiced and 
highly disaffected. For this course most directly tended to take 
men quite off from their old bottom ; to stoop and humble, and 
even bring them to nothing; to stain the pride of their glory, 
and lay them down in the dust as abject wretches, in themselves 
fit for nothing, but to be trampled on and crushed by the foot 
of divine revenge. Suppose a man to have admitted a convict 
ion from the light of his own mind or conscience that he was 
a sinner, and had offended his maker, incurred his just displea 
sure, and made himself liable to his punishing justice ; It would 
yet have been a hard matter to make him believe it altogether 
impossible to him, to do any thing to remedy the matter, and 
restore himself to divine favour and acceptance. He would 
naturally be inclined to think 4 why admit the case be so, he 
should easily find out a way to make God amends. He would 
recount with himself all his own natural excellencies, aud think 
himself very capable of doing some great thing, that should more 
than expiate his offence, and make recompence abundantly for 
any wrong that he bad done. But when the gospel shall come 
and tell him he hath deserved eternal wrath, that his sin is inex 
piable, but by everlasting sufferings, or what is of equal value ; 
that here is one (the eternal Son of God) who became a man 
like himself, and thereupon a voluntary sacrifice, to make atone 
ment for the transgression of men ; that God will never accept 
another sacrifice, for the sins of men than his, nor ever any ser 
vice at their hands, but for his sake ; that him now revealed to 
them they must receive, rely upon, and trust to wholly, or pe 
rish without mercy; yea, and that he hath put the government 
over them, into his hands, laid it on his shoulders, and to him 
they must subject themselves as their Ruler and Judge the great 


Arbiter of life and death to them and all men ; that they are to be 
entirely devoted to him as long as they live, as their Redeemer 
and Lord ; in him as they are to have righteousness and strength 
so to him they must pay all possible homage and subjection, to 
him their knees must bow, and their tongues confess ; they must 
receive the law from his mouth; be prescribed to by him, comply 
with his will, though never so much to the crossing of their own ; 
and though notwithstanding, they must know they can deserve 
nothing by it ; that so vile and worthless miscreants they are 
become that God will never have to do with them upon other 

When this shall appear the state of the case, and it comes to 
be apprehended, "Then must I yield myself a greater transgressor 
than ever I thought, and an undone, impotent, helpless wretch ? I 
shall thus make nothing of myself; and what must all my na~ 
tural or acquired excellencies go just for nothing? and a person 
of such worth and accomplishments as I, be thus brought down 
into the dust ? yea and besides, to be brought under such bonds, 
and profess to owe myself so entirely to a Redeemer, that I must 
for ever live after his will and pleasure, and no more at my own; 
and can never hope, if I take a liberty to indulge myself besides 
the allowance of his rules, that I can ever make any amends for 
such transgression by any thing that I can do. So that by taking 
his gift (of my pardon and life) upon such terms, I shall sell my 
liberty, and render myself a perfect slave to his will and plea 
sure for ever." Here now cannot but be a strong stream to be 
striven against and most vehement counter-strivings of the 
haughty and licentious spirit of man. So that it is not strange 
it should be said by our Saviour, no man can come to me except 
my father draw him. And that the exceeding greatness of my pow 
er, according to the workings of the mightiest power in any case, 
should be put forth upon them that believe. Therefore are 
men in Christ by creative power only ; if any man be in Christ, 
he is a new creature. (& Cor. 5. 15.) He is new made, if he 
be in him. And this aversion being so deeply natural, will 
still in a degree remain (while any thing of corrupt nature re 
mains) in the hearts of even the regenerate themselves. 

Therefore a continual exertion of the same power will be ever 
requisite to hold souls to Christ, and retain them in their station 
in him. He that established! us with you in Christ, is God (2. Cor. 
1. 21.) as though he had said it is only a God that can do thb. 
Therefore how is God admired and adored upon this single ac 
count. Now to him that is of power to establish you according 
to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ according to 
the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the 
world began, Rom. 16'. 25. (this was indeed a great secret to 



the lapsed world,) To God only wise.be glory through Jesus 
Christ for ever. Amen. ver. 27 But as the heart-rectifying 
communication from God, in this matter, is such as carries 
mighty power with it, so it doth proportionable pleasure, when 
it hath overcome, and (to the pitch of sincerity) set the soul 
right in this thing. How delectable is it to receive the Sou 
of God, when the heart is made willing in the day of his power! 
when his cords take hold of the soul, and draw it to him ! what 
pleasure is there in the consenting, self-resigning act and dis 
position ! 

(1 .) It is most highly delightful to receive him, and give up 
ourselves to him as our full suitable good, so exactly answering all 
the exigencies of our distressed case ; when sensibly apprehend 
ing the true state of it, the soul cries out, " None but Christ", 
and finds him present, waiting only for consent, readily offering 
himself," Here I am, take me, thy Jesus, thy help, thy life" How 
overcomingly pleasant is this to a soul that feels its distress, and 
perceives itself ready to perish ; yea and that daily sees itself 
perishing, were it not for him. How pleasant, when in the 
time of love he finds the poor soul in its blood, and says to it, 
live ; clothes it, decks it, makes it perfect through his owu 
comeliness tenders himself to it, unto it taken off the dunghill, 
cast out in the most loathsome deplorable plight; and enters the 
marriage covenant with it, (we need not be squeamish or shy to 
to speak after God himself, so representing this matter) over 
comes by his own mercy and goodness, and prevails with a sin 
ful creature to accept him. How gladly doth it throw off every 
thing of its own, that it may entirely possess him and be pos 
sessed by him. Here is the joy of a nuptial solemnity, or the 
joy of espousals. "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine." 
While as yet this transaction is not distinctly reflected on, (as 
when possibly afterwards it is, there may great difficulties and 
doubts arise, whether all were rightly done, or yet be on its ovva 
part, yea or no) if however it be truly done, in the very doing 
itself and the same continuing disposition there is a sensible and 
inseperable delight. I say in the same disposition as often as by 
any repeated acts of the same kind, it expresses and shews itself; 
that is, as often as this covenant is renewed (whether with so 
lemnity or more occasionally) though the relation arising thence 
be not in the same instant considered or reflected on, nor the 
sincerity of the act itself, Wjhich is necessary thereto : yet that 
very consent itself, if it be sincere, hath a secret joy accompa 
nying it ; and the soul feels the gratefulness and pleasure of its 
own act, though it do not for the present examine and take a 
view of it. For it is now from. a principle of life, embracing and 
drawing into union with itself an object that is all life and good- 


ness, and sweetness ; which therefore sheds its own delightful 
savour and fragrancy through the soul, while it is in the mean 
time acting only upon the ohject directly, and not reflecting upon 
its own act, or considering in that very instant what will be con 
sequential thereupon. But if withal it do consider, (as that 
consideration cannot he far off, though it cannot consider every 
4hing at once) that it is receiving him that is to bring it to God, 
who is able to do it, (even to save to the uttermost all that will 
come to God by him) who is intent upon that design, and did 
in the midst of dying agonies breathe forth his soul in the pro 
secution of it, and with whom God requires it to unite for this 
very purpose; this cannot but add unspeakably to the delightful- 
ness of this transaction, and of this effusion of the Holy Ghost, 
in the virtue whereof the thing is done, how often soever it be 
seriously done ; as our case and state require that it be very 

(2.) And to receive him as our Lord, (which is joined with 
that other capacity wherein we receive him, namely, of a Jesus 
or Saviour; as ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, (Col. 2. 
6*.) This also, and the heart subduing influence that disposes 
to it, is most highly delectable. When the soul, that was so 
stoutly averse, and that once said within itself, " I will not have 
him to reign over me," is brought freely to yield : and with sin 
cere, loyal resolutions and affections devotes itself to him, consents 
to his government,, submits its neck and shoulder to his yoke 
and burden; says to him with an ungainsaying heart, as its full 
sense, " Now thou Lord of my life and hope, who hast so long 
striven with me, so often and earnestly pressed me hereto, so 
variously dealt with me, to make me understand thy merciful de 
sign, and who seekest to rule with no other aim or intent, but 
that thou mightest save ; and who hast founded thy dominion in 
thy blood, and didst die and revive and rise again that thou 
mightest be Lord of the living and dead, and therefore my 
Lord: accept now a self-resigning soul; 1 make a free surrender of 
myself, I bow and submit to thy sovereign power, I fall at the 
footstool of thy throne,, thou Prince of the kings of the earth, 
who hast loved sinners, and washed them from their sins in thy 
blood ; glory in thy conquest, thou hast overcome, I will from 
henceforth be no longer mine own, but thine; I am ready to re 
ceive thy commands, to do thy will, to serve thy interests, to sa 
crifice my all to thy name and honour; my whole life and being 
are for ever thine." I say (as before) there is pleasure in the very 
doing this itself, as often as it is sincerely done ; and it adds 
hereto, if it be more distinctly considered, it is no mean or any 
way undeserving person to whom this homage is paid, and 
obligation taken on unto future obedience. "He is the brightness 


of the Fathers glory, the express image of his person, the heir of 
all things, and who sustains all things by the word of his power: 
it is he whose name is Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, 
the everlasting Father, the Prinee of peace : it is he to whom, 
all power is given both in heaven and earth, and (more especi 
ally) power over all flesh, that he might give eternal life to as 
many as were given him ; it is he who spoiled principalities and 
powers and made an open shew of them ; he whom because 
when he was in the form of God, and thought it no robbery to 
be equal with God, he humbled himself, made himself of no 
reputation, took on him the form of a servant, became obedient 
to death, the Father hath therefore highly exalted, and given 
him a name above every name, that at his name every knee 
shonld bow ; and of whom, when he brought him (his first 
born) into the world, he said, " Let all the angels of God wor 
ship him." 

And such a one he is-, whose temper is all goodness and 
sweetness. Tell Sion, thy King cometh meek and lowly. He. 
came into this world drawn down only by his own pity and love, 
beholding the desolations and ruins that were wrought in it every 
where. Sin universally reigning, and death by sin, and spread 
ing its dark shadow, and a dreadful cloud over all the earth : In 
which darkness the prince thereof was ruling and leading men 
captive at his will; having drawn them off from the blessed 
God their life, and sunk them into a deep oblivion of their own 
original : and disaffection to their true happiness that could 
only be found there. This great Lord and Prince of life and 
peace came down on purpose to be the Restorer of souls, to re 
pair the desolations and ruins of many generations. He came 
full of grace and truth, and hath scattered blessings over the 
world wheresoever he came; hath infinitely obliged all that ever 
knew him; and is he in whom all the nations of the earth must 
be blessed, Who then, would not with joy swear fealty to him, 
and take pleasure to do him homage ? Who would not recount 
with delight the unexpressihle felicity of living under the go 
verning power of such a one ? 

And if the tenour and scope of all his laws and constitu 
tions be viewed over, what will they be found, but : obli 
gations upon men to be happy ; how easy his yoke, how light 
his burden; what is the frame of his kingdom, or whereof 
doth it consist but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy 
Ghost ? And who would not now say, " This Lord reigneth, let 
the earth rejoice, let the multitude of the isles be glad thereof. 
(Psal. 97.1.) Why should it not be triumphingly said among the 
heathen, that the Lord reigneth, that the world also shall be 
established, that it cannot be moved : let the heavens rejoice, 


and the -earth be glad ; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; 
let the fields rejoice and all that is therein, and all the trees of 
the wood rejoice ! It is plain, that be the matter of joy here what 
it will, be there never so much cause of exultation and glorying 
in him, the righteousness and peace which his kingdom promises, 
never actually take place, nor the joy that is connected there 
with, till the Holy Ghost dispose and form men's spirits there 
to. (Rom. 14. 170 ^ or a ^ * m ' s ls ^ ut mei ' e dream and idle talk 
to those who hear only of these things, and feel not that vital 
influence insinuating itself, that may give the living sense and 
savour of them. And we may rather expect seas and fields^ 
beasts and trees, to sing his triumphant song, and chant his 
praises, than those men whose hearts are not attempered to his 
government, and who are yet under the dominion of another 
Lord, not being yet by the law of .the Spirit of life in Christ 
Jesus, made free from the law of sin and death. (Rom. 8. 2.) 
But where this is effectually done, how large matter of most ra 
tional pleasure do they find here ; while there is nothing in that 
whole system of laws by which he governs, that is either vain, 
unequal or unpleasant, or upon any account grievous ? only 
this is not the estimate of distempered spirits, or of any other 
than them in whose hearts his law is written, and who because 
they love him, keep his commandments. (John 15. 10.) Unto 
love his commands are most connatural; for this is the love of 
God, that we~keep his command in ents ; they are not grievous, 
(John 5. 3.) that is, by the meiosis which some do reasonably 
enough apprehend in those words, they are joyous, delightful., 
pleasant, but to them only who being born of God, have over 
come the world. This holy influence and communication of 
God, is therefore grateful, and contributes not a little to delight 
in this respect, that thereby men's spirits are rectified and set 
right towards God, namely, both towards the Creator and 

Secondly. As hereby they are rectified towards men, having 
the universal law of love wrought deep into their hearts; being 
filled with all goodness, righteousness, meekness, merciful ness; apt 
to do no wrong, to bear any, to pity and help the distressed, to 
love enemies, and as there is opportunity^ to do good to all, es 
pecially to them that are of the household of faith. We must un 
derstand in this, as well as in the other parts of that stamp which 
the spirit of God puts on the souls of men, that the impression 
corresponds and answers to the seal, (as hath been said) the in 
ward communication to the outward revelation of God's will ; 
and so we find the matter is : for as divine precepts require this 
should be the temper of men's spirits, so the very things that 
compose and make up that blessed temper, are said to be the 


fruits of his own Spirit ; the fruit of the Spirit is peace, long 
suffering-, gentleness, goodness, meekness, &c. (Gal. 5. 2'2. 
23.) And again, the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and 
righteousness and truth. (Eph. 5. 9.) Now hath not that 
soul a spring of pleasure within itself, that is in these respects 
as God would have it be ? that is conscious to itself of no 
thing but righteousness, goodness, benignity, candour towards 
any man, and is in all things acted by a spirit of love, that 
suifereth long, and is kind, that envieth not, that vaunteth not 
itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seek- 
eth not its own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, re- 
joiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth, that beareth 
all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all 
things, and never faileth. (1. Cor 13. 4-8.) That so equally 
poises and acts a man's spirit, that he carries seemly and suita 
bly towards all men, takes pleasure in the best; in the saints and 
excellent ones of the earth hath all his delight ; and is no worse 
affected, than to wish them better, even towards the very worst ; 
neither envies the greatest, nor despises the meanest ; neither is 
revengeful towards them that injure him, nor unthankful to 
them that oblige him ; that is apt to learn of good men, and to 
teach the bad, by observing and giving the most imitable exam 
ple; that is not undutiful to superiors, nor morose and uncon* 
versable towards equals ; that lives not to himself ; is a com 
mon good to all within the sphere through which his activity 
can extend itself ; that doth good with inclination, from the 
steady propension of his own will, and an implanted principle 
of goodness. It is evident, God hath formed such a man's spi 
rit unto delight of the purest kind, and the best sort of pleasure ; 
unto which they who are strangers, banish it from their own 
breasts, by the resistance and grief they give his blessed Spirit, 
thereby making it a stranger there ; and by harbouring in their 
own bosoms their own tormentors, the pride, the wrath, the 
envy, the malice, the revengefulness, the bitterness of spirit, 
which as they render them uneasy and intolerable to all that are 
about them, so most of all to themselves ; and which while they 
prey wherever they range abroad, yet still bite most keenly and 
tonnentingly that heart itself wherein they are bred 3 as poiso 
nous vipers gnawing the bowels which inclose them. 

Thirdly. Towards themselves : which also may be consider 
ed distinctly ; for though all the good qualifications we can 
mention or think of, do redound to a man's self, and turn to his 
ovvn advantage, repose and delight, (which it is the design of all 
this discourse to shew,) yet there are some that more directly 
terminate on a man's self, wherein the rectitude we now speak 
of doth in great part consist. When we are obliged to love 
others, as ourselves, it supposes not only an allowable,, but a 


laudable self-love. Men shall praise thee when thou dost well 
to thyself. Before this right spirit be renewed in a man, he 
doth not only wound himself, by blows that are reflected on 
him, and hurt at the rebound, but by many a direct stroke; or 
he lets the wounds fester and corrupt, to the cure whereof he 
should with all diligence directly apply himself. How unpro- 
pitious and cruel to themselves are unholy persons ! what wastes 
and desolations do they commit and make in their own souls, 
by breaking the order God and nature did at tirst set and esta 
blish there ? dethroning their own reason and judgment, which 
ought to bear sway and govern within them. This banishes de 
light, and drives it far away from them. They see what is fit 
test for them to do and seek, and run a quite counter-course. 
What storms do they hereby raise in their own bosoms!. What 
a torture is it, when a man's own light and knowledge bear a 
standing testimony against him, and hold him under a conti 
nual doom ! How ill-disposed are men towards themselves, 
when they wholly neglect themselves in one kind, when they 
too much mind and seek themselves in another ; when they too 
little understand themselves, so as not to put a true value on them 
selves, but do either discsteem themselves, as to their more no 
ble part, in respect of that common excellency which belongs 
to them with all other men ; or do over-magnify themselves, 
and are conceited arid two well opinioned of themselves, in re 
spect of any peculiar excellency wherein they imagine they out 
strip others ? how ill do they treat themselves in their self-in 
dulgence, their gratifying their own sensual inclination, with. 
the greatest danger and damage to their souls : when they care 
not at what expence they make provision lor the flesh, to fulfill 
the lusts thereof; what unkind usage do they find at their own 
hands, when they cherish and countenance desires which they 
cannot gratify and raise to themselves expectations of things not 
within their own power, which being disappointed turn into 
so many furies, and in that shape take a sharp revenge upon 
their own hearts ? when they exercise no authority and dominion 
over themselves, preserve not the liberty due to what should both 
be itselt free, and should command the rest in them ; enslave 
themselves to vile and ignominious lusts and passions, put out 
their own eyes, and grind blindfold to the basest and most ty 
rannical lords, their own sordid humours and base, mean appe 
tites ; when though they serve more rigorous task-masters than 
the Israelites in Egypt did, and are more sorely beaten by them 
when their tale is not fulfilled for want of materials, yet groan 
not because of their hard bondage, nor affect liberty? This gra 
cious communication from God, sets all things in a good degree 
right witliin : so that where there was nothing before, but hoi- 


rid and hellish darkness, disorder and confusion, there now 
shines a mild, pleasant, cheerful light, that infers regularity, 
purity and peace. 

1 . How great is the pleasure that arises from self-denial 
(wherein we do, duly and as we ought, deny ourselves) not only 
as it is an act of duty towards God (of which before) but as it 
is an act of justice and mercy towards our own souls ! That is, 
wherein we make a just and true estimate of ourselves, do esteem 
basely of ourselves ; wherein we are become base and vile : and 
wherein there is any thing of real value and excellency in our 
own beings, we value it only upon that account, and in that su 
bordination wherein it is truly valuable ! How pleasant, when 
we have learned to forsake and abandon ourselves, when we 
are not apt to magnify and applaud, to trust or love, to seek and 
serve ourselves unduly, and are only inclined to own, to cleave 
and stick to ourselves, wherein and so far as we ought! when that 
Idol self is no longer maintained within us, at the dear expence 
of our peace, comfort, safety, and eternal hope ; an idol that 
engrosssed the whole substance of our souls, that exhausted and 
devoured the strength and vigour of our spirits, which it doth 
not maintain, and cannot repair ; which consumes our time, 
which keeps all our powers and faculties in a continual exercise 
and hurry, to make a costly, a vain, an unlawful provision for it ! 
How great is the ease and pleasure which we feel, in being de 
livered from that soul-wasting monster, that was fed and sus 
tained at a dearer rate, and with more costly sacrifices and re 
pasts then can be parallelled by either sacred or other history ; 
that hath made more desolation in the souls of men, than ever 
was made in their towns and cities, where idols were served by 
only human sacrifices, or monstrous creatures satiated with 
only such refections ; or where the lives and safety of the most 
were to be bought out by the constant successive tribute of the 
blood of not a few ! that hath devoured more, and preyed more 
cruelly upon human lives than Moloch, or the Minotaur ! When 
this monstrous idol is destroyed and trodden down, what a ju 
bilee doth it make, what songs of triumph and praise doth it fur 
nish and supply to the poor soul, now delivered and redeemed 
from death and bondage ! How much more easy and reasonable 
a service is it (when dnce the grace of God and their own ex 
perience give men to understand it) to study to please him than 
themselves ? when they feel themselves dead to their former 
Lord and service, and only alive to God, through Jesus Christ! 
when sin no longer reigns in their mortal bodies, that they 
should obey it in ^the lusts thereof; when they no more yield 
their members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but 
have yielded themselves unto God, as those that are alive from 


the dead, &c. when being made free from sin, they are become 
servants unto righteousness! (Rom. 6. 11. 12. 18.) The law of 
the Spirit of life of Christ Jesus having made me free from the 
law ot sin ! (Rom. H. 2.) What an ease is it to the spirit of a 
man, when he hath not himself to seek and serve and care for 
in any unlawful disallowed sense; when he finds not himself 
necessitated or urged by his own imperious fleshly inclinations so 
to do; when he perceives himself by a prevailing better princi 
ple counterpoised, and the weight and bias of his own spirit in 
cline him quite another way; when he finds he hath nothing 
left him to do, but to serve God, to know his will and do it, 
and is disburdened of all unnecessary care for himself: that 
which is necessary being part of his duty, and is therefore done 
on purpose only for God: and that which is unnecessary and 
'forbidden (which part only was burdensome) being supplied by 
(what hath the greatest ease and pleasure in it imaginable) 
trust and self-resignation to his pleasure and will whose we 
wholly are? what life is pleasant, if this be not! surely wherein 
it is attained to, .it is most pleasant; and hither this gracious 
heart-rectifying communication is gradually tending. 

2. How great is the pleasure that arises from self-government! 
when that governs in us which should govern, and that is sub 
ject and obeys which should obey; when a man's mind is com 
pletely furnished with directive practical principles, and his 
heart is so framed that it is capable of being prescribed to, is 
patient of restraints and direction, easily obeys the reign and 
follows the ducture of an enlightened well-instructed mind ; 
when the order is maintained between the superior faculties 
and the inferior, and there are no contentious murmers of un 
governable appetitions and passions against the law of the 
mind. It is true, that where this holy rectitude doth but in a 
degree take place, there will be many conflicts, but those con 
flicts are in order to victory: and how joyful and glorious is the 
triumph upon that victory! when the soul enters upon its 
*T/V?V/OV, its thanksgiving song, " I thank God through Jesus 
Christ our Lord!" how happy a state is that (wherein at some 
times it is here attained) when there are now no tumults within! 
The wicked (which is the very import of their name) are as a 
troubled sea, that cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and 
dirt. Here is no governing principle in any power; no sceptre, 
no trident to check and allay the rage of those waters. But 
when his power goes forth in the soul, whose very word, winds 
and seas obey, how peaceful and pleasant a calm doth ensue ! 
Now is a man restored to himself, and again in his right 
mind. He is truly now said to enjoy himself, and upon the 
best terms ; that is, he enjoys himself in and under God. He 



is (in a due subordination) master of himself. He possesses 
his own soul; that one piece of holy rectitude, patience, en- 
ahles him to do so. In your patience possess ye your souls. 
(Luk. 21. 19.) Patience is a part of fortitude, an ability to 
suffer. He that is in this respect impotent of himself, not 
able to suffer, is a perfect slave; not a slave only to the vicious 
wills and humours of other men, in whose power he apprehends 
it is to befriend or hurt him; but first and chiefly to his own ; 
he is not master of his own judgment, reason, and conscience 
but he prostitutes all in the first place, to his own inordinate 
self-love, his avarice, his fear, and consequently to the pleasure 
of other men, (which upon no other terms and inducements is 
base and vile towards any man, were the matter in itself never 
so right, and the obedience as due to them as can be supposed) 
whereas if he could suffer, he retained his mastery over him- 
self, and were, under God, within his own power. Upon this 
with other grounds, is joyfulness (Col. 1.11.) a companion of 
patience; how much more is it so (if to this one part) to the 
whole frame of that holy rectitude whereby a man's spirit is 
composed to a due order within itself; when there is a univer 
sal sobriety (or soundness of mind, as the word that uses to ex 
press sobriety signifies) acontinency and dominion of one's self; 
and the soul is no longer hurried to and fro, and even outed of 
itself, by undue desires, fears, angers, sorrows, &c. nor vexed 
by the absence of and its perverse inaptitude and indisposition 
to those which it well knows are due; when it finds itself at 
liberty from the exactions of an unsubdued flesh, and for the 
kindly and genuine operations and exercises of the divine life. 
When it is in good measure freed from the rackings and tor- 
tares that naturally accompany the habitual contrariety of an 
ungovernable heart to a convinced judgment and conscience ; 
and is no longer held in pain, by such continual self-upbraid- 
ings; thou art, and affectest to be, what thou knowcst thou 
shouldest not ; and neither art, nor doest, nor canst desire or 
endure to be, or do, what thou very well knowcst thou shouldest. 
In that case the soul is throughout disjointed, and continually 
grating upon itself. And the case and pleasure which it finds 
by this happy change much resembles that which a man's body, 
being in such a case, feels, when every dislocated bone is 
brought back and well settled in its own proper place and order 
again. How resentingly doth the Psalmist acknowledge divine, 
goodness in this! He restoreth my soul: and leadeth me iu 
paths of of righteousness, for his names sake; (Ps. 23. 3.) as if 
he had said, " Now I can walk and act as a soundman, and the 
paths_ of righteousness are become pleasant and delectable to 
jne, which before I declined, or wherein my halt and maimed 


Soul WSLS unable to move a step/' Now is heard the voice of joy 
<md gladness when the bones which were disordered and broken 
rejoice. (Psal. 51. 8.) 

3. How great is the joy and pleasure of self-activity ! when 
the soul is not moved by foreign, improper motives, but finds 
itself to move freely from an implanted principle of life, that 
acts it forward in right and plain paths; when it doth, with 
Its own full consent, what it is convinced it ought without being 
forcibly dragged or violently imposed upon; and is (not a weak* 
ineffectual, or only self-judging, but) a powerful governing 
vital law to itself. 

4. How great pleasure arises from a constant, diligent self- 
inspection ! when a man's spirit dwells within itself, resides at 
home, seeks not itself abroad ; remains within its own bounds, 
is intent upon itself; watches over its own motions as its proper 
charge; is formed to a compliance with that precept, keep thy 
heart with all diligence. (Prov. 4. 23.) And upon that con 
sideration, as seriously weighing that thence are the issues of 
life, all vital acts and operations whatsoever will savour of the 
root and principle from whence they proceed, and be as the; 
heart is; good and pure if that be so; if otherwise corrupt and 
naught. To have a spirit habituated to the business of its own 
province and territory ; its eyes, not with the fools in the ends 
of the earth, but inward upon itself. Hence his own vineyard 
is best kept; when the sluggard's (that neglects himself) is 
wholly over-run with thorns and briars, that cover the face 
thereof. How forlorn and comfortless a spectacle hath such a 
Kuan of his own soul ! The horror whereof is only avoided by 
(the more hopeless course of) turning off his eye; as conscious 
how ill entertainment is there to be met with. Therefore are 
such, strangers at home; and are afraid to converse with them 
selves ; are better acquainted with the affairs of France and 
Spain, or at least of this and that and the other neighbour, than 
those of their own souls. And the more things at home are 
neglected the worse they grow. Poverty and desolation come 
upon them as an armed man; that (in this case) waste and 
make havock without resistance. And herein lies much of the 
heart-rectifying work and power of grace, in disposing and set 
ting the heart so far right towards itself, as that it may first have 
the patience to look inward, and then the pleasure which will 
afterwards arise^ most naturally, thence. The great aversion 
hereto of misgiving hearts is not otherwise overcome. But 
when it is; how do all things flourish under such a one's careful, 
self-reflecting eye! That soul is as a watered garden. Thither 
it can invite his presence who is altogether made up of delights, 
to come and eat his pleasant fruits. And now, retirement and 


solitude become delectable : and a man delightfully associates 
with himself; singles out himself to be his own companion, as 
finding another always stepping in ; so that he is never less 
alone than when alone. How unspeakable a happiness is this, 
when the great Mediator that undertook to reconcile God to 
the soul, shall thus have also reconciled it to itself! When it 
shall be considered, how dreadful the case is, when a man's 
wickedness hath transformed him into a Magor-Missabib, com 
passed him with affrightments, made him a terror to himself; 
it may then be understood how grateful a change it is when he 
is reformed into a son of peace, and made a delight to himself; 
when he can recreate himself, and refresh his tired eye, over 
charged with beholding the sad things that every where come 
in view from a woild lost in wickedness, by looking into God's 
own plantation within himself; aud considering it under that 
notion only, he doth not look upon himself with an eye of 
pride; as he doth not upon others with that of disdain. He be 
holds with a sort of self-complacency what God hath wrought 
and done there, not with self arrogance ; as knowing there is a 
self too, upon which he hath still reason to look with abhorrence 
and self-loathing. And though there be now incorporated 
with him a better self, yet that was not of himself. He well 
understands who made him differ, not only from others but 
from himself; and put him into that capacity of saying that I 
am not I, I am not who or what I was before. And the more 
he is used to such self reflection, the more pleasant it becomes 
to him ; that is, if he confine not his eye too much, to the dark 
side of his own soul; and do look to the more lightsome side 
with that remembrance (as before) that whatsoever he is, that 
is good and grateful to behold, he is by grace. He thus grows 
familiar with himself, and the sight mends as it is of tener beheld; 
and while it is not observed always to do so. Yea, though 
things look many times sadly and sometimes dubiously ; that 
however, doth but occasion the accomplishment of a more 
diligent search, which engages to more earnest labour and 
smugglings with God and with himself, which labour is recom- 
penced with a following fruit and pleasure: yea, and God is invo- 
cated not only for redress, but for further search. When such per 
sons fear lest they have been too indulgent and partial towards 
themselves, and lest they have not made so strict a scrutiny as 
the case may possibly require; then the request is, " Search, 
and try me, O Lord, see if there be any way of wickedness in 
me." And here the sincerity which appears in that self-sus* 
picion, and jealousy, over their own souls, is not without its 
grateful relishes, and a secret delight insinuates and mingles 
frith the appeal which such a soul makes to. him, wlio^e eye is 


a flame of fire, searches hearts and tries reins. Add it is some 
pleasure, however, to find that disposition in their own souls, 
that they are thoroughly willing to know themselves, and desire 
not to shun and decline the search of that fiery flaming eye. 
Thus then upon all accounts this divine communication is 
delectable, as it tends to rectify men's dispositions towards 
themselves, and to set them right in their inclinations and pos 
ture in reference to their own souls. We may add, 

Fourthly. It contributes much to the matter of delight, as it 
sets men's spirits right in their dispositions towards this and the 
other world ; the present and future state of things. How 
great a work is necessary to be done in this respect, wherein, 
tilings are so monstrously out of course ; and men become 
thereby not strangers only to true delight and pleasure, but ever* 
incapable of any such relishes till the matter be redressed 1 
How vitiated and unexercised are men's senses as to these things, 
and unable to discern between good and evil ! The re grosser 
sense is utterly incompetent, and a spiritual more refined sense 
is wanting; therefore do they judge and choose and love, and 
pursue only as that most incompetent and injudicious principle 
doth direct, that is appealed to in all cases : all their measures 
are taken from thence ; and that only is called good, which to 
their sensual imagination, tinctured by the earthliness and car 
nality of their hearts, appears so ; that evil, of which the same 
principle doth so pronounce ; according hereto is the whole 
bent and inclination of their souls. And they are only influ 
enced and governed by the powers of this sensible world ; this 
present evil world, the fashion whereof (yea it and the lusts 
thereof together) are passing away. And the things of the 
world to come have no power with them ; no motives from 
thence signify any thing. They are only steered in their whole 
course by the apprehension they have of advantages or disad* 
vantages in reference to their present secular concernments. 
They love this world, and the things of this world ; mind earth 
ly things, and are not startled when they are so plainly told, 
that men of this character have not the love of the father in 
them, and are enemies to the cross of Christ, and that tjjeir end 
will be destruction. It is a death to them to think oi dying; 
not from the fear of what may ensue (they have atheism 
enough to stifle such fear), but from the love of their earthly 
stations, and that vile earthly body in which they dwell. 

But how delightful a thing is the change which this rectify* 
ing communication makes ! how pleasant to live in this world 
as a pilgrim and stranger, seeking still the better, the heavenly 
country ! to behold the various inticernents which are here 
offered to view, at sometimes without inclination towards 


the frightful aspect and appearance of things at other times 
without commotion ; is not this delectable ? to dwell apart 
from this world in the midst of it ; in the secret of the almighty 
(Psal. 91. 1). under his pavillion, (Psal. 27- 6-) as one of his 
hidden ones, with-drawn from the communion of this world to 
his own communion ; so severed and cut off from this world, 
as not to partake in the spirit of it, or be acted thereby : but by 
another, a greater and more mighty, as well as a purer and 
inore holy Spirit ; greater is he that is in you, than he that is in 
the world. (1. Joh. 4. 4.) And again, we have received not the 
spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might 
know the things which are freely given to us of God. (1. Cor. 
2. 12.) Which things the divine Spirit disposes the soul to, 
and unites it with, when it disinclines and disjoins it from this 
world and the things thereof; and thereby discovers this soul ta 
be quite of another community from that of this world, namely, 
of a heavenly community, unto which those better and more 
excellent things do lie in common, as their portion and inheri 
tance. What matter of joy and glorying is it, when one is 
crucified to this world, and this world to him ; (Gal. 6. 14.) 
when the world appears to him a crucified thing, that is, an ac 
cursed, hateful, detestable thing, (which is one notion of cru 
cified) such a thing as he can despise and hate; which he is as 
little apt to be fond of, as one would be of a loathsome carcase 
hanging upon an ignominious cross : and when he can feel 
"himself crucified towards it, that is dead (another notion 
of it) disinclined without sense, breath, pulse, motion, or 
appetite; not so dead as to be without any kind of life, but with 
out that base, low, sordid kind of life by which he lived to it, 
and in its converses and embraces. So much of delectation doth 
this infer, as even to endear the very cross itself (that hateful 
horrid thing) by which it is effected. But that carries a far 
ther signification with it, to be fetched more expressly from 
other scriptures; the cross is itself rendered amiable, and a 
thing to be gloried in, to be looked on with delight and plea 
sure, upon the account of the design and end of that tragedy 
which was acted thereon ; within which design (being execu 
ted and accomplished) this happy effect is included. We else 
where find the apostle expressing his vehement desire to know 
Christ and the power of his resurrection, and (in order thereto) 
the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his 
death. (Phil. 3. 10.) But what did he lastly aim at in 
this ? the next words more fully speak out (what he first men 
tioned) the power of his resurrection to be the thing chiefly in 
"his eye, and that he desired (what he adds) the fellowship of 
jijs sufferings &c. as a means unto that end, though it seemed a 


sharp and painful means ; if by any means I might attain the 
resurrection of the dead ; (ver. 11.) as if he should say, I care 
not what I undergo, not the sufferings even of a painful 
crucifixion itself, or that my worldly earthly self do suffer 
conformably to the sufferings of my crucified Lord ; I 
matter not by what so severe method the thing be brought 
about, if by any means it may be brought about, that I may 
know the power of his resurrection so feelingly, as to attain 
also the resurrection of the dead. And what was that ? No 
doubt to attain a state (which he confesses he had not yet per 
fectly attained, but was in pursuit of) suitable to his relation 
and union with a risen Jesus : union with him supposes a being 
risen with him ; if ye then be risen with Christ. (Col. 1. 3.) It 
is taken as a granted thing, that they that are his are risen 
with him. And what state and temper of spirit would be suita 
ble to that suppostion, the next words shew, "Seek those things 
that are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God* 
Set your affection (or mind) on the things above, not on the 
things on earth." Then follows the method in which they were 
brought to the capacity of doing so ; for ye are dead. Their 
professed relation to Christ did suppose them risen, and did 
therefore first suppose them dead. Now if they would do suit 
ably to what their profession imported, this was it they had to 
do ; to abstract their minds and hearts from the things of this 
earth, and place them upon the things of a higher region. And 
(as it is afterwards expressed in this same context which we 
were considering before) to have our conversation, or citizen 
ship, in heaven, whence we look for the Saviour, (Phil. 3. 20.) 
This is, as our chief interests and privileges are above, to have 
our thoughts and the powers of our souls chiefly exercised upon 
that blessed and glorious state, which state is the prize (men 
tioned above) of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, (ver. 
14.) It being the scope and import of his call unto us, and 
the very design of his sufferings on the cross, to draw up a peo 
ple from earth to heaven ; whence therefore they that under this 
call do still mind earthly things, are said to be enemies to the 
cross of Christ; (ver. 18. 19.) the great incongruity whereof 
the apostle even resents with tears as he there testifies. And it 
was in this, that he was for his part so willing to comply with 
ths design of the cross, that he made do difficulty to endure all 
the hardship and dolour of it, that he might attain this glo 
rious fruit and gain which he reckoned should accrue to him 
from it ; even more of a raised heavenly mind, which^' signified 
it to be strongly bent that way already; when no mortifications 
were reckoned too severe to be undergone in order thereto. 


And here therefore this, soul-rectifying influence must be un 
derstood to have been proportionately strong. 

Hence also it was that we find him groaning as one under a 
pressure or heavy weight to be clothed upon with the heavenly 
nouse : and to have mortality swallowed up of life. (2. Cor. 5. 
V. 4. 5.) because God had wrought him to this self same thing so 
bent and determined his spirit was towards the blessedness of the 
future state (which seems the most natural contexture of discourse 
here, though some others have understood it otherwise) as that, 
though he could bear patiently the delay, he could not but desire 
most earnestly to be there. And we see how the temper of the 
primitive Christians was, as to this, and the other world, in those 
days when the Spirit was plentifully poured out. They took 
joyfully the spoiling of their goods knowing in themselves, they 
had in heaven a far better and an enduring substance. Heaven 
signified much with them, and this world very little. They 
looked not to the things that were seen and temporal, but to 
the things unseen and eternal. (2. Cor. 4. 18.) as those for 
mer worthies did, whose minds and hearts, being set right by 
faith, which is the substance of the things hoped for, and the 
evidence of things not seen. (Heb. 11.) They lived as pilgrims 
and strangers on earth, despised the pleasures, riches and ho 
nours of it ; endured all manner of hardships and tortures in it, 
not accepting deliverance, because they were taken up in the 
pursuit of the better country ; had respect to the recompence 
of reward ; and expected a part in the better resurreection. 
And is it not a delightful thing to the spirit of a man when 
lie is sensibly disentangled, and at liberty from the cares, de 
sires, griefs and fears that were wont to enwrap his heart ? when 
lie finds his weights and clogs fallen off", that depressed him, the 
fconds and snares loosed which bound him down to this earth ; 
and feels himself ascending and moving upwards ; out of that 
darkness, stupidity and death that possessed his soul, into that 
upper region of light, purity and peace, unto which his spirit is 
still gradually more and more connaturalized day by day? 
When heaven in respect of the pure holiness, the calm serenity 
the rest and blessedness of it, is now grown familiar to him, and 
his very element ? 

We see then, that in all these mentioned respects this gra 
cious communication, wherein it is rectifying, and tends to set 
tle the soul in that frame which it onght to be in, and which 
is most proper and natural to it ; therein it is also most delight 
ful, and carries highest matter of pleasure in it. 



CHAP. Ill 

L The Characters of divine communication ; which are, 

Generative. Secondly, Nutritive. Thirdly, Sanative. Fourthly, 
Corroborative. II. A twofold mistake arising from n<>t knowing 
r n<.t cousideiing this way of enjoying God. III. Doubts or 
objections to which this discourse is liable, considered and an 
swered. IV. The subject resumed, and divine communication 
shewn to contain in it, Thirdly, A manifestion of God's love to 
the soul in particular. 1. What it is not. 2. Remarks on the 
manner of its communication. 3 The necessity of seeking and 
attaining it. 4. The delight which it affords. 5. To be under 
stood with caution. 

I. \J1TE proceed to sum up the whole account of this divine 
communication by shewing what are its peculiar 

First 9 It is generative, and begets the soul to a new, a divine 
life; makes it of a sluggish, stupid, dead thing (as it was towards 
all heavenly and divine matters) living and sprightly, full of 
active life and vigour. Life we say is sweet, it is in itself a 
pleasant thing. This mean, bodily life itself is so; if we do but 
consider it, and allow ourselves to taste and enjoy the pleasure of 
it. As for instance, that this and that limb and member is not 
a dead lump, that we feel life freshly sproughting and springing 
in every part, it not this delightsome ? How much more the 
life of the soul ! especially this so excellent and sublime kind 
of life ! And it is the radical principle of all other consequent 
pleasure, that by which we are capable thereof: every thing is 
sapless and without savour to the dead. How pleasant opera 
tions and fruitions doth the divine life render a person capa 
ble of! 

Secondly, It is nutritive. Souls are nourished by the same 
thing by which they are begotten, by the same divine influence. 
As a generative virtue is wont to be attributed to the sun, so it 
cherishes also its own productions. The beams of that Sun of 
righteousness (Mai. 4. 2.) make them that fear God grow up as 
calves in the stall, fill them with marrow and fatness, cause 
them to flourish as the cedars of Lebanon. And is not that 
delightsome to be increased daily with the increases of God ? 
fed with heavenly hidden manna, angels food; and thereby 



(though we need not here speak distinctly of these) to receive 
at once both nourishment and growth ? 

Thirdly, It is sanative, and virtually contains all the fruits 
in it which are for the healing of the nations; when the soul 
grows distempered, it restores it, and is both sustaining and 
remedying to it. How great is the pleasure of health and 
and soundness ! of ease to broken bones! of relief to a sick and 
.fainting heart! so it is often (for ia the present state the cure 
Is not perfect), and relapses are frequent) with the soul in which 
the life of God Ijath begun to settle and diffuse itself, till his 
Influence repair and renew it; and when it doth so, how 
pleasant is it to find a heart made sound in his statutes ! and to 
perceive a new working in it, the Spirit of love, power and a 
bound mind! (2 Tim. 1, 17.) So pleasant that it occasions a 
triumph (even when the outward man is perishing) if it be 
found that the inward is renewed day by day. 

Fourthly ', It is corroborative and strengthening; confirms 
resolutions, and establishes the heart. Hereby they who have 
felt this quickening, cherishing, healing virtue are also 
strengthened with might (namely, by the Spirit) in the inner 
man; so that they hold on their way, and being of clean hands, 
grow stronger and stronger. (Job 17 9.) They go from 
strength to strength ; (Psal, 84, 7-) and do not so much spend, 
as increase it by going forward. For the way itself of the Lord 
is strength to the\ipright. (Prov. 10.29.) He provides that 
fresh recruits shall still spring up to them in their way. For 
all their supplies are of him, and are acknowledged to be so ; 
in as much as by waiting upon the Lord they renew strength 
and mount up with wings as eagles, run without weariness, and 
walk without fainting. (Isa. 40. 31.) And this increasing 
strength cannot be without a proportionably increasing delight. 
How pleasantly doth the strong man rejoice to run his race ! 
and enterprize even difficult and hazardous things ! By this 
strength doth the regenerate man perform the ordinary duties 
belonging to his holy profession ; by it he encounters difficulties, 
combats and conquers enemies, bears heavy and afflicting pres 
sures, and none of these without some intermingled pleasure. 
For even that exercise of this strength which is likely to be 
least accompanied with pleasure^ the suffering of sharp and 
'smarting afflictions, hath many times much of this grateful 
mixture; and can only be expected to have it in this way of 
gracious communication, as the depending sufferers shall be 
strengthened with all might according to the glorious power of 
God, unto all patience and long suffering with joyfulness. 
.(CoL 1. 11.) 

God is therefore to be enjoyed and delighted in by this 


delectable communication intervening, by which he now frames 
the soul according" to his own image, and gives a heart after 
his own heart, that is, such as is suitable to him, and as he 
would have it be, And this- way only is any one in a possibi 
lity to delight in God, by having a good frame of spirit com 
municated to him, and inwrought in him; I mean never with 
out this, and in a great meaure by it. Then is he in a happy 
state, when God hath by his own Spirit made him what by his: 
word he requires him to be. Now is he composed to delights 
and blessedness, being by the same workmanship created in 
Christ Jesus both to good works and to. the best of enjoyments. 
How happy is that soul in whom the true matter of delight is 
become an implanted thing ! that is what it should be, and 
should be nothing (such is the constitution of gospel-rules and 
precepts) but what most truly makes for its own content, de 
light, and rest ! whose own temper is now in some sort become 
to it both a law and a reward ! Surely this is one great 
part of what an enlightened apprehensive soul would most 
earnestly desire and crave, or would he the genuine breathings 
of a sincerely gracious heart. "O that I were more like God ! 
more perfectly framed according to bis holy will 1 .** And must 
therefore be, in great part, a thing apt to afford it delight and 
rest; as hath been already inculcated before. 

II. But yet this natural consequence is little understood. 
And the common ignorance or inadvertency of this, hath made 
it necessary to insist the more largely (though but little bath 
been said in respect of what might) on this part of the delect 
able communication wherein God offers himself to his people's 
enjoyment. For frorn the not-knowing, OK not considering of 
this way of enjoying him, this twofold mistake (the one of very 
dangerous, the other of uncomfortable importance and tendency) 
hath arisen. 

First, That some have tliought th.ey have enjoyed God 
when they have nqt ; have only hat} their imaginations some 
what gratified, by certuin 3 either false or ineffectual notions of 
him, In which they have rested, and placed the sum of their 
religion and Ixappiness. Never aiming, Jn ihe mean time, 
to have their spirits reformed according' to that pure and 
holy image and exemplar which he hath represented in the 
gospel of his Son ; the impression whereof, is Christ formed 
in us. 

Secondly, That others have thought they have not enjoyed 
God when they have ; supposing there was no enjoyment of 
him, but what consisted in the rapturous transporting appre 
hension and persuasion of his particular love to them ; and 
^lightly overlooking all that work lie hath wrought in their 


souls, as if it were nothing to be accounted of, not allowing 
themselves to reflect on any thing in themselves, but what was 
still amiss ; and vainly seeking with much anxiety and complaint 
what they have, while they will not take notice that they have 
it, nor apply themselves to improve the already implanted 
principles that are, in themselves, apt to yield fruits of sp 
pleasant relish. It was upon this account requisite to discover 
and labour somewhat to magnify the intrinsical delightfulness 
of religion itself; and to put the more of note and rem:irk upon 
a well tempered spirit, even in point of delectableness and the 
matter of pleasure it hath in it, by how much it is with too 
many, on one account or another, a neglected thing. 

III. There is only somewhat of doubt, or objection that may 
possibly lie in the minds of some against the scope and drift of 
this discourse; which it will be needful we endeavour to remove 
before we proceed to what is further contained in this gracious 
communication: As, 

First, It may be said, <e Doth not all this tend to bring us, 
instead of delighting in God, to delight in ourselves? to make 
us become our own center an,d rest? And how can the relish- 
able sweetness of gracious principles and dispositions signify 
God's being to be enjoyed or delighted in ? For what, are 
these things God r" To this 1 only say : 

1. That such holy dispositions as they are not God so nor 
are they, in strictness of speech, ourselves. Arid how absurd 
were it, to call every thing ourselves that is in us ! And how 
self-contradicting then were the very objection ! for that would 
make delighting in God and in ourselves directly all one ; and 
so the fault which it causlesly pretends to find, it would really 
commit. It is true, that improperly holy dispositions are said 
to make up another self in us, a new man, according as corrupt 
and sinful principles and dispositions do make also a self, the 
old man. But then it is also to be remembered that with no 
greater impropriety they are capable of bearing the name of 
God ; as the image of any thing frequently doth the name of 
the thing which it represi nts, or the work of its author : and 
they are expressly called, Christ formed in us ; and is not he 
God ? They are called the Spirit; for when we are cautioned 
not to quench the Spirit, how can that be understood of the 
eternal uncreated Spirit himself ? And the very thing produced 
(not merely the productive influence) in the work of regenera 
tion is expressly called by that name (as it is no such strange 
thing for the effect to carry the name of its cause ;) that which 
is born of the Spirit is Spirit. (Joh. 3. 6.) There is Spirit 
begetting, and spirit begotten. And the spirit begotten, as it 
xnust be distinguished from its cause, the Spirit of God ; so if; 


must from the subject wherein the effect is wrought, our own 
spirits; for they sure are i;ot produced by the regenerating 
work. Yea, and when God is said to dwell in them that dwell 
in Jove, and that are humble and contrite ; somewhat el.se is 
thereby signified to be indwelling there, than the mere being 
of God ; for otherwise the privilege of such were no greater 
than of all other men and things. And what else is it, but 
somewhat commuuicated and imparted immediately from God 
to such ? (else how by dwelling in love, do they dwell in God?) 
which^ because dwelling imports permanency, cannot be a 
transient influence only, but some settled abiding effect, a con 
sistent frame and temper of spirit, maintained by his continu* 
ally renewed influence ; and therefore it would be very unrea 
sonably said, that the representing this as delectable is a calling 
us off from God to delight in ourselves. For if this communi 
cation be not itself, in strict propriety, God, it were as great 
impropriety to say it were^ ourselves. Again, 

2. It hath a great deal more affinity with God than with us. 
We are it is true, the subjects of it ; but it is his immediate pro* 
duction and very likeness, a divine nature, no human thing. 
Therefore if here our delight were to terminate, it were more 
proper to call it delighting in God, than in ourselves ; but 

3. It is neither said nor meant, that here our delight is to 
terminate ; but that hereby we are to delight in God, and so 
that our delight is to terminate in him. 

4. When we are said to enjoy God, I inquire, is any thing 
communicated to us, or no ? If not, we have no enjoyment ; If 
any thing be, what is it ? God's essence ? that is impossible 
and horrid to think, as hath been said. And we need not re 
peat, that when we can tell what it is to eujoy a friend, without 
partaking his essence, whose communications are so incompa 
rably more remote, mediate, resistible ; it is less difficult to 
conceive, how God is to be enjoyed by his communications. 

Secondly. It may be again said ; " But if God be thus to be 
delighted in, how can delighting in him be upon such terms 
our duty ? for is it our duty that he communicate himself in 
this way to us?" Let any that object thus, only study the mean 
ing of those precepts ; Keep yourselves in the love of God. 
Continue in his goodness. Be ye filled with the Spirit. V\ alk 
in the Spirit. And if they can think them to signify anything 
they will not be to seek for an answer. But to this more here 
after ; when from the delightful object, we come to treat of ac 
tual delighting in it. 

Thirdly. But some may say, " It were indeed to be acknow 
ledged, that such a temper of spirit once communicated, were 
indeed very delightful 5 but where is it to be found ? And to 


state the matter of delight so much ir* what is to be sought ia 
ourselves, is to reduce the whole husiness of delighting in God, 
to an impossibility, or to nothing : so little appearing of this 
temper, and so much of the contrary, as gives much eause of 
douht, whether there he any thing to be rejoiced in or no. And 
what then ? Are we to suspend the exercise of this duty till we 
have gotten the difficult ease resolved ! (which may he all our 
time). Is there a real thorough work of God upoa my soul oT 
no ? For how can I rejoice in that whereof I have yet a doubt, 
whether it be what it seems or no >** I answer, 

1. It is plain, they that really have nothing of this communi 
cation from God, cannot take delight in it (otherwise tkan as 
hoped for). But, 

2. Would we therefore have such to please themselves and 
be satisfied without it ; and delight in their distance and es 
trangement from God ; and while there is no intercourse be 
tween him and them ? And shall this be called too delighting 
in God ? Surely somewhat else than delight belongs to their 

3. But for such as really have it, that which hath been de 
signed to be evinced, is, that it is delectable in itself; and 
therefore they cannot be without any taste or relish of pleasure 
therein : while yet some doubt touching the sincerity and truth 
thereof doth yet remain ; though such doubt (bat more their 
imperfect reception of this communication, and neglect to look 
after further degrees of it) cannot hut render their delight com 
paratively little. Nor hath it been designed to speak hitherto 
of what delight the regenerate in this way actually have, but 
what they may have; and what matter of delight God's heart- 
rectifying communication doth in the nature of it contain ; 
that is, supposing it were imparted and received, so as actually 
to have formed the soul according to the gospel-revelation. 
And if it were so in a more eminent measure and degree, 
it were then in itself so delectable, as without the assurance of 
our fiituFe safe and happy state (though that, in thai case, is 
not likely to be in a comfortable degree wanting), that is, not 
by it only, but by itself, without the present constant necessary 
concurrence thereof, to afford unspeakable pleasure to that soul 
in which it hath place. So that the getting of assurance is not 
the only thing to be done in order to a person's delighting in 
God ; of which more hereafter is intended to be said in the di~ 
icctive part. 

IV. But though that be not the only thing, yet it is a very 
great thing ; and being superadded, makes a great addition to 
the matter of delight : therefore we further say, this divine 
comnaunjcation. is delectable as it includes in it, 


Thirdly. The manifestation of God's love to the soul in par 
ticular : but it may be necessary here, 

1 . To inquire what it is not. We do not hereby intend an enthu 
siastic assurance ; or such a testification of the love of God to the 
soul, as excludes any reference to his external revelation and ex 
ercise of our own enlightened reason and judgment thereupon; or 
wherein these are f no use, nor have subservience thereto. But 
as in the other parts of the divine communication, his external 
revelation hath the place of an instrument whereby he effects the 
work inwardly done upon the mind and heart, and of a rule or 
measure whereby we are to judge of it ; so we are to account it 
is, as to this part of it also ; that is, he inwardly testifies and 
manifests the same thing which is virtually contained in his 
gospel -revelation, considered in that reference and aspect 
which it hath on the present state of the soul. For that out 
ward revelation must needs be understood to signify diversly to 
particular persons, as their state may be diverse; as when it says 
the things that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor have en 
tered into the heart of man, God hath prepared for them that 
love him. (1. Cor. 2. 9.) To a person that doth indeed truly love 
God, it virtually says, " All these things are prepared for thee." 
To one that doth not love God, it can only be understood to say, 
" All these things may be thine, that is, if thou shalt love him ; 
if thou do not, thou hast no part in them,'* But in as much as 
a conditional promise when the condition is performed, is equi 
valent to an absolute ; these words do as truly import this sense 
to one that loves God, these things are thine, as if they were 
directed to it in particular : as truly, I say, supposing the per 
son do truly love God, but not so clearly or with that evidence. 
For this truth, (supposing it a truth) I do sincerely love God, 
is not so evident as this, that such preparation is made for them 
that do : for this is expressly contained in the word of God ; 
the other is not so, but to be collected only by self-inspection., 
and observation of the bent and tenour of my spirit and way 
God- ward; yet however, the evidence of truth admits of degrees, 
truth itself doth not. All things that are true, are equally true. 
And therefore, when it is said, so great things are prepared for 
them that love God ; it is as truly said, they are prepared for 
this man who loves God, as this or that particular lover of God 
is contained in the general notion of a lover of him. And 
then, as that public declaration says not to any, these things 
are prepared ibr you, whether you love God or no, or otherwise 
than as they come under that common notion of lovers of God; 
this inward manifestation is also so accommodate to that, as 
that it says not another thing, but the same ; that is, nothing 
tkat contradicts (and indeed no more than is virtually contained 


in) the other ; or it applies what is generally said of the lovers 
of God to this particular lover of him as such ; that is, enabling 
him to discern himself a lover of him, impresses this truth 
powerfully upon the heart, these great preparations belong to 
thee, as thou art such a one. 

We speak not here of what God can do, but what he doth. 
Who can doubt but as God can, if he please, imprint on the 
mind the whole system of necessary truth, and on the heart the 
entire frame of holiness, without the help of an external reve 
lation ; so he can. imprint this particular persuasion also with 
out any outward means ? Nor do we speak of what he more 
rarely doth, but of what he doth ordinarily ; or what his more 
usual course and way of proceedure is, in dealing with the spi* 
rits of men. The supreme power binds not its own hands. 
We may be sure, the inward testimony of the Spirit never is op 
posite to the outward testimony of his gospel (which is the Spi 
rit's testimony also) ; and therefore it never says to an unholy 
man, an enemy to God, thou art in a reconciled and pardoned 
state. But we cannot be sure he never speaks or suggests things 
to the spirits of men but by the external testimony so as to make 
use of that as the means of informing them with what he hath 
to impart ; nay, we know he sometimes hath imparted things 
(as to prophets and the sacred pen-men) without any external 
means, and (no doubt) excited suitable affections in them, to 
the import of the things imparted and made known. Nor do I 
believe it can ever be proved, that he never doth immediately 
testify his own special love to holy souls without the interven 
tion of some part of his external word, made use of as a present 
instrument to that purpose, or that he always doth it, in the way 
of methodical reasoning therefrom. 

Nor do 1 think that the experience of Christians can signify 
much to the deciding of the matter. For besides that this, or 
that, or a third person's experience cannot conclude any thing 
against a fourth's ; and the way of arguing were very infirm, 
what one or two or a thousand, or even the greater part of seri 
ous christians (even such as have attained to some satisfying 
evidence of their own good estate) have not found, that no 
where is to be found: besides that I say, it is likely that few can 
distinctly tell how it hath been with them in this matter; that 
is, what way or method hath been taken with them in beget 
ting a present persuasion at this or that time of God's peculiar 
love to them. His dealings with persons (even the same per 
sons at divers times) may be so various ; his illapses and com 
ing in upon them at some times may have been so sudden and 
surprising ; the motions of thoughts are so quick ; the observa 
tion or animadversion persons usually have of what is trans- 


acted in their own spirits is so indistinct; and they may be so 
much taken up with the thing itself, as less to mind the way 
and order of doing it, that we may suppose little is to be ga 
thered thence towards the settling of a stated rule in this case. 
Nor is the matter of such moment, that we need either be cu 
rious in inquiring or positive in determining about it ; that 
principle being once supposed and firmly stuck to ; that he 
never says any thing in this matter by his Spirit to the hearts of 
men, repugnant to what the same Spirit hath said in his word ; 
or, that he doth not say a new or a diverse thing from what he 
hath said there for their assurance : that is, that he never testi 
fies to any person by his Spirit that he is accepted and beloved 
of him,who may at the same time be concluded by his publickly- 
extant constitutions in his word to be in a state of non-accep 
tance and disfavour ; or Concerning whom the same thing 
(namely, his acceptance) might not be concluded by his word, 
if it were duly applied to his case. Hereby the most momen 
tous danger in this matter is avoided ; fax if that principle be 
forelaid, enough is done to preclude the vain boasts of such as 
may be apt to pretend highly to great manifestations of divine 
love, while they carry with them manifest proofs of an unsanc- 
tified heart, and are under the power of unmortified, reigning 
sin. That principle admitted, will convince that their boasted 
manifestations, do only manifest their own ignorance, p*ide 
and vanity ; or proceed only from their heated imagination, or 
(the worse cause) satanical illusion, designed to lull them asleep 
in sin, and the more easily to lead them blind-fold to perdition. 
And this is the main concernment about which we need to be 
solicitous in this matter : which being provided for; as it is 
difficult, so it is not necessary to determine, whether the Spirit 
do always not only testify according to the external revelation, 
feut by it also ; and so only as to concur in the usual way of rea 
soning from it. 

No doubt but the same truth may be assented to upon divers 
grounds^ sometimes upon rational evidence; sometimes upon 
testimony : and some truths may be seen by immediate mental 
intuition (as being self evident) which also may be capable of 
demonstration. And though this truth of God's particular love 
to such a man, be none of those that have self-evidence: yet 
God's Spirit, as it may by assisting the discursive faculty, help 
us to discern the connexions of some things which otherwise we 
should not perceive ; so it may by assisting the intuitive, make 
things evident to us that of themselves are not. Nor yet, also, 
that it actually doth so, can any I believe certainly tell ; for ad 
mit that at some times some have very transporting apprehen 
sions of the love of God towards themselves, suggested to 



hearts by the holy Spirit ; they having this habitual knowledge 
before that love to him (for instance) or faith in him, or the 
like, are descriptive characters of the persons whom he accepts 
and delightfully loves; how suddenly may the divine light ir 
radiate, or shine upon those proc jnceived notions (which were 
begotten in them by the. interveniency of the external revela 
tion before) and excite those before implanted principles of 
faith, love, &c. so as to give them the lively sense of them now 
stirring and acting in their hearts? and thence also enable them 
unwaveringly to conclude (and with an unexpressible joy and 
pleasure) their own interest in his special love, in this way 
shedding it abroad intheirheartsby the Holy Ghost given to them? 
(Rotn. 5. 5.) This may be so suddenly done that they may 
apprehend tbe testimony to be immediate when indeed it is 
not. Nor are they able to prove from Scripture the immedi- 
atenessofit; for as to what it doth to them in particular, 
Scripture says nothing, they not being so much as mentioned 
there : what it doth or haih done to this or that person there 
mentioned signifies nothing to their case ; if any thing were 
said that must have that import (which will be hard to evince) 
and that it is any where in Scripture signified to be its usnal 
way, in common, towards them on whose hearts it impresses 
this persuasion, to do it immediately ; is much less to be evin 
ced. For what scripture saith so ? and that famous text that 
speaks so directly to this matter : the Spirit of God bearcth wit 
ness with our spirit, that we are the children of God, seemeth 
rather to imply the contrary : in as much as the Spirit of God 
is there expressly said to co- witness with our spirit (as the word 
there used signifies) by which it should seem to take the same 
course in testifying which our spirit or conscience doth, that is, 
pf considering the general characters of his children laid down 
in his word, reflecting upon the same in ourselves, and there 
upon concluding we are his children : which if it were sup* 
posed the only thing the Spirit of God ordinarily doth in this 
matter, we may 

2. With much confidence make the following remarks. 
(1 ) That it doth herein no small thing; for is it a small 
thing to be ascertained of God's fatherly love to us as his own 
philciren f 

(2.) That it doth not a less thing than if it testified the same 
matter in a way altogether immediate. For wherein is it lessj 
Is the matter less important ? that cannot be said ; for the thing 
we are assured of is the same howsoever we be certified thereof. 
Is it less evident ? that can with as little pretence be said ; for 
doth any one account a thing not evident in itself, and that 
eeds to be proved to him some way or other, the less evident; 


for being proved to liim in a discursive way ? What pretence 
can any one have to say or think so ? Is it that reasoning is 
more liable to error and mistake ? but I hope the reasoning of 
God's Spirit is not so, when it enables us to apprehend the ge 
neral truth we should reason from ; to assume to it ; to collect 
and conclude from it, guiding us by its own light : in each of 
these surely we have as much reason to rely upon the certainty 
and infallibility of the Spirit's reasonings as of its most as- 
sertory dictates ; otherwise, we would (most . unreasona 
bly) think the authority of those conclusions laid down in the 
epistle to the Romans, and other parts of scripture, invalidated 
by the Holy Ghost's vouchsafing to reason them out to us, as 
we know it most nervously and strongly doth : or, is it less con 
solatory > that cannot be$ for that depends on the two former, 
the importance and evidence of the thing declared : the for* 
mer whereof is the same; the latter not less. 

(3.) Yea and supposing that the Holy Ghost do manifestly 
concur with our spirits in the several steps of that discursive 
way, so that we can observe it to do so (and there is little doubt 
but it may do so as observably to us, by affording a more than 
ordinary light to assist and guide us in each part of that pro- 
ceedure, as if it did only suggest a sudden dictate to us and no 
more) we may upon that supposition add, that it doth hereby 
more advantageously propose the same thing to us, than if it only 
did it the other way It doth it in no way more suitable to our 
natures, which is not nothing, and it doth it in a way less liable 
to after-suspicion and doubt ; for it is not supposed to be always 
dictating the same thing. And when it ceases to do so, how 
soever consolatory and satisfying the dictate was at that instant 
when it was given, the matter is liable to question afterwards, 
upon what grounds was such a thing said ? and though it can 
not be distrusted, that what the Holy Spirit testifieth is true \ 
yet I may doubt whether it was indeed the Holy Spirit that tes 
tified it or no. Whereas if it proceeded with me upon grounds,, 
they remain, and I have no reason to suspect that which was 
argued out to me, upon grounds which I still find in me, was 
either from an ill suggestor, or with an ill design ; whereas 
there may be soie plausible pretence of doubt in the matter, 
if there was only a transient dictate given in to me, without 
any reference or appeal to that rule by which God hath not 
only directed me to try myself, but also to try spirits whether 
they be of him or no. Nor is there any imaginable necessity 
of assigning quite another method to the Spirit's work as it is a 
Spirit of adoption, from that which it holds as it is a spirit of 
bondage ; for, as to this latter, when it convinces a person and 
binds down the condemning sentence uponhim; this surely is the 


course it follows, to let a person see (for instance) they that 
live after the flesh shall die ; hut thou livcst after the flesh, 
therefore thou shalt die ; or, all that believe not, the wrath of 
ttod abides on them ; but thou belie vest not (as it is we know 
the Spirit's work, to convince of not believing) therefore 
the wrath of God abides on thee. And what need is there of 
apprehending its method to be quite another in its comforting- 
work ? Nor is it surely a matter of less difficulty to persuade 
some that they are unbelievers, and make them apprehend and 
feel the terror suitable to their states : than others, that they 
are believers, and make them apprehend the comfort which is 
proper to theirs. Yea, and is not its course the same in its 
whole sanctify ing- work, to bring home the particular truth, 
whose impression it would leave on the soul, with application 
thereof to it in particular ; which (as generally propounded in 
Scripture) men are so apt to wave and neglect ; for what is 
every one's concern, is commonly thought no one's : and what 
need that its method here should be wholly diverse ? But in 
whichsoever of these ways the Spirit of God doth manifest his 
love, it is not to be doubted, but that 

3. There is such a thing in itself very necessary, and to be 
attained and sought after, as a communicable privilege and fa 
vour to holy souls, this is evident enough from multitudes of 
Scriptures. Those that have been occasionally mentioned in 
speaking (what was thought fit to be said) of the way of his do 
ing it, need not to be repeated, unto which we may add, what 
we find is added to those above-recited words, eye hath not 
seen, c. the things which God hath prepared for them that 
love him, namely, but God hath revealed them to us by his 
Spirit. (1. Cor/:.'. 9. 10.) And that Spirit not only gives 
those lover* of God above-mentioned, a clearer view of the 
things prepared for them, so as that the nature of them might be 
the more distinctly understood, (as is argued in the latter part 
of this, and in the following verse ;} but also of their own pro 
priety and interest in them ; now we have received not the 
spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, that we may 
know the things* that arc freely given us of God. <ver. 12.) 
Whence therefore they are revealed by the S^rit, not as pleas 
ing objects in themselves only, but as gifts, the evidences and 
issues of divine love ; their own proper portion, by the bequest 
of that love to whom they are shewn. Nor is this the work of 
the Spirit only, as inditing the Scriptures, but it is such a work 
as helps to the spiritual discerning of these things ; such as 
whereto the natural man i 5 not competent, who yet is capable 
of reading the Scriptures as well as other men. And what will 
ew make of those words of our saviour, when having told his 


disciples, he -would pray the Father, and he should give them 
another Comforter, even the Spirit of truth, that he might abide 
with them for ever : even the Spirit of truth, 8fc. he 
adds, I will not leave you comfortless, J will come to you ; that 
is, (as is plain) by that Spirit. And then shortly after subjoins, 
he that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is 
that loveth me, and he that loveth me shall be loved of my 
Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him, 
(Joh. 14. 16.-21.) Here is an express promise of this love 
manifestation, whereof we speak, by the Spirit, (the Comforter 
mentioned above ;) not to those particular persons only, unto 
whom he was then directing his speech, or to those only of that 
time and age, but to them indefinitely that should love Christ, 
and keep his commandments. Which is again repeated in 
other words of the same import ; after Judas 's (not Iscariot) 
wondering expostulation touching that, peculiarly of this loving 
manifestation ; Jesus answered and said unto him, if any man 
love me, he will keep my words ; and my Father will love him, 
and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 
(ver. 23.) So that such a manifestation as is most aptly ex 
pressive of love, such converse and cohabitation as imports most 
of kindness and endearedness, they have encouragement to ex 
pect that do love Christ and keep his words ; the same thing 
no doubt with that shedding abroad of the love of God 
in their hearts by the Holy Ghost given to them, mentioned 
before. And whereas we have so plain and repeated mention 
of the seal, the earnest, the first-fruits of the Spirit, what can 
these expressions be understood to import (and they do not sig 
nify nothing) other than confirmation of the love of God, 
or assuring and satisfying evidences and pledges thereof. 

And that there should be such an inward manifestation of 
divine love superadded to the public and external declaration 
of it (which is only made indefinitely to persons so and so cha 
racterised) the exigency of the case did require ; that is,where- 
in it was necessary his love should be distinctly understood and 
apprehended, it was so far necessary this course should be taken 
to make it be so. A mere external revelation was not sufficient 
to that end ; our own unassisted reasonings therefrom were not 
sufficient. As other truths have not their due and proper im 
pression, merely by our rational reception be they never so 
plain without that holy, sanctifying influence before insisted on; 
so this truth also of G'od's love to this person in particular, hath 
not its force and weight, hs efficacy and fruit, answerable to the 
design of its discovery, unless it be applied and urged home on the 
soul by a communicated influence of the Spirit to this purpose : 
many times not so far as to overcome and silence tormenting 


doubts, fears and anguish of spirit in reference hereto, and where 
that is done, not sufficient to work off deadness, drowziness, 
Indisposition to the doing of God cheerful service, not suffici 
ent to excite and stir up, love, gratitude, admiration and praise. 
How many (who have learned not to make light of the love of 
God, as the most do) who reckon in his favour is life, to- whom 
it is not an indifferent thing whether they be accepted or no; 
who cannot be overly in their inquiry, nor trifle with matters of 
everlasting consequence who are not enough atheists and scep 
tics to permit all to a mad hazard, nor easy to be satisfied, walk 
mournfully from day to day with sunk, dejected spirits, full of 
anxiety, even unto agonies under the clear external disco 
very of God's love, to persons of that character, whereof they 
they really are ? such as observe them judge their case plain, 
and every one thinks well of them, but themselves ; yea their 
mouths are sometimes stopped by such as discourse the matter 
with them, but their hearts are not quieted : or, if they some 
time are, in a degree yet the same doubts and fears return with 
the former importunity, the same work is still to be done, and 
it is but rolling the returning stone : and all human endeavours 
to apply and bring home the comforts proper and suitable to 
their case prove fruitless and ineffectual, nothing can be fas 
tened upon them ; they refuse to be comforted, while God 
himself doth not create (that which is the fruit of his own lips) 
peace, peace ; while, as yet, they are not filled with joy and 
peace in believing, and made to abound in hope through the 
power of the Holy Ghost. (Rom. 15. 13.) It is plain there 
needs a more learned tongue than any human one, to speak a 
word in season to such weary ones. (Isa. 50. 4.) How many, 
again, have spirits overcome with deadness and sloth under a 
settled (perhaps not altogether mistaken but mere notional) ap 
prehension of the same love! they have only that assurance which 
arises it may be not from a false but the single testimony of 
their own spirits ; at least unaccompanied with other than the 
ordinary help of the Spirit, not very distinguishable from the 
workings of their own ; have reasoned themselves (perhaps re 
gularly, by observing the rule and the habitual bent of their 
own spirits) into an opinion of their own good estate, so that 
they are not vexed with doubts and fears as some others are. 
But they do not discover to others, nor can discern in them 
selves any degree of life and vigour of hcavenliness and spi 
rituality, of love to God or zeal for him, proportionable to their 
high expectations from him, or the great import of this thing 
to be beloved of God : there is no discernible growth or spi 
ritual improvement to be found with them ; how remote is 
their temper from that of the primitive Christians ! It is appa- 


rent what is yet wanting, they are not edified (as those were) 
walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy 
Ghost. (Acts 9.31.) Wherefore the matter is plain, there is 
such a thing, as an effectual over-powering communication oi 
the Holy Ghost for the manifesting of the love of God, of great 
necessity and importance to Christians ; that may be had and 
ought to he diligently sought after. 

4, And if k be afforded : how infinitely delectable is that ma^ 
nifestation ! the thing itself carries its own reason and evidence 
with it. 

(1.) If we consider the matter represented to us thereby; 
the love of a God! How transporting would the thought of it be 
to an enlightened, apprehensive mind 1 No one whose nature 
is not over-run with barbarism would entertain the discovery of 
the harmless, innocent love (though it were not profitable to us) 
even of a creature like ourselves otherwise than with complacen 
cy; yea, though it were a much inferior (even a brute) creature. 
Men are pleased to behold love expressing itself towards them 
in a child, in a poor neighbour, in an impotent servant ; yea, 
in their horse or their dog. The greatest prince observes with 
delight the aifection of the meanest peasants among his sub 
jects : much more would they please themselves if they have 
occasion to take notice of any remarkable expression of his fa 
vourable respect to them ! But how unspeakably more, if he 
vouchsafe to express it by gracious intimacies, and by conde 
scending familiarities ? How doth that person hug and bless 
himself? How doth his spirit triumph, and his imagination 
luxuriate in delightful thoughts and expectations, who is in his 
own heart assured he hath the favour of his prince ? yea, with 
what complacency are inward friends wont to receive the mu 
tual expressions of each other's love ! And can it be thought 
the love of the great and blessed God should signify less ? How 
great things are comprehended in this, the Lord of heaven and 
earth hath a kinaness towards me and bears me good will? 
How grateful is the relish of this apprehension, both in respect 
of what it, in itself, imports, and what it is the root and cause 

True ingenuity values love for itself. If such a one will think 
of me, if 1 shall have a place in his remembrance, if he will 
count me among his friends ; this we are apt to be pleased with. 
And tokens are sent and interchanged among friends, not only 
to express love, but to preserve and cherish it, and keep up a 
mutual remembrance among them. And as there is a great 
pleasure conceived, in receiving such expressions or pledges of 
love from a friend, not so much for the value of the thing sent, 
as of what it signifies, and is the token oi his love, his kind re* 


membrance ; so is there no less pleasure in giving and sending, 
than in receiving : because that hereby, as we gratify our owa 
love, by giving it a kind of vent this way ; so we foresee how 
we shall thereby excite theirs ; which therefore, we put a value 
upon, even abstracting from any advantage we expect therefrom. 
And this hath a manifest reason in our very natures ; be 
cause we reckon there is an honour put upon us, and somewhat 
is attributed to us, when we are well thought of, and a kind 
ness is placed upon us ; especially by such as have themselves 
any reputation for wisdom and judgment. How dignifying is 
the love of God ! How honourable a thi^g to be his favourite ! 
The apostle seems to put a mighty stress on this, when he ut 
ters those so emphatical words, wherefore we labour (so defec 
tively we read it, we covet, or are ambitious of it as our honour, 
as that word signifies) that whether present or absent we may 
be accepted of him; (2 Cor. 5, 9} as though he had said, 
neither life or death} neither being in the body or out of it, sig 
nify any thing to me, or they are indifferent things in compari 
son of this honour, that he may accept me, that I may be pleas 
ing to him and gracious in his eyes, that I may stand well in his 
thoughts, and he bear a kind aad favourable regard to me. 

Yea and this is a thing in itself delightful not only as it is 
honourable, but as it is strange and wonderful. Things that 
are in themselves grateful, are so much the more so, for their 
being somewhat surprising, and above all our expectation. I 
say, supposing they have an antecedent gratefulness in them, for 
otherwise we know there are also very unwelcome wonders, and 
which are so much the more dreadful, because they are sur- 
prizing arid unexpected^ it is greatly heightened by their being 
out of the road quite of all our tb.ougb.ts, great things that we 
looked not for. And who would have looked for such a thing 
as this, that the Lord ol glory should place his iove on such. ^ 
worm as 1 ! Which is set off with the more advantage, be- 
eause the same light that represents to a soul God's love, doth 
also discover to it, at the same time, its own deformity and un- 
kweliness. And then how taking and overcoming is the thought 
" I impure wretch ! loathsome miscreant ! that lost apostate 
creature, that made one with a race and crew of rebels, was 
confederate with rebellious men against him, yea in a combina 
tion with those revolted creatures the devils, and now taken, I 
know not why, into a state of acceptance and favour with him ! 
and his love is declared to be towards me ! And why towards me? 
in myself so vile ! and such love ! the love of a holy glorious 
God, towards one in whose very nature was such a horror and 
hell of wickedness ! Why towards me rather than others, not 
naturally more vile than I ?" How can this be thought on with- 


out crying out, O wonderful ! O the depths, breadths, lengths 
and heights of this love, that so infinitely passeth knowledge ! 
and here the greater the wonder, the greater is also the 

And now also are the effects of this love great in the eyes of 
the soul, according to the apprehended greatness of their cause. 
If we indeed were to form conceptions of these things our 
selves, by our own light and conduct, our way were to follow 
the ascending order, and go up from the effects till we reach 
the cause. But he can, if he please, in the cause present to us 
the effects and magnify them in our eyes, by giving us to see 
unto how great and magnificent a cause they owe themselves. 
Now shall we know whence all hath proceeded that he hath 
done for us. Wherefore again must the transported soul ad 
miringly cry out, " I now see whence it was that he gave his 
Son, because he so loved the world ! why he came and bled and 
died, who hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his 
blood ! What a lustre doth that love cast upon those sufferings 
and performances ! I see why he sent his gospel to me, why so 
convincing awakening words were often spoken in my ear, (I 
see much in what once I saw but little) why he so earnestly 
strove with me by his Spirit, why he gave not over till he had 
overcome my heart, why he humbled, melted, broke me, why 
he drew so strongly, bound me so fast to himself, in safe and 
happy bonds ; why he shone into my mind with that mild and 
efficacious light, transformed my whole soul, stamped it with 
his holy image, and marked me out for his own. These are 
now great things when I behold their glorious mighty cause ! " 
And now also in this same cause are all the great effects to be 
seen which are yet to be brought about by it. 

They are seen as very great. His continued presence and 
conduct, which he affords to his own through this world : that 
constant fellowship which they expect him to keep with them ; 
the guidance and support they look for ; in his love these ap 
pear great things. And now doth heaven sound no more as an 
empty name, it looks not like a languid faint shadow ; some 
what can be apprehended of it that imports substance, when it 
is understood to be a state of rest and blessedness in the com 
munion of the God of love ; and intended as the last product 
and expression of his love ! 

They are seen as most sure and certain. Such love, now 
manifested and apprehended, leaves no place for doubtful 
thoughts and suspicious misgivings. There is no fear that this 
love intends to impose upon us, or mock us with the repre 
sentation of an imaginary heaven ; or that it will fail to do 
what can be expected from it to bring us to the real one. 



How pleasant is it now to behold the great and sure products of 
this mighty love ! its admirable designs and projects, as they 
appear in the gospel-revelation (now illustrated and shone 
upon by divine light) to lie ready formed in the pregnant womb 
of this great productive cause. It cannot but be an unspeaka 
ble pleasure which sucli a discovery will carry with it ; 
when we thus behold the matter itself that is discovered and 
offered to our view, unto which it must be a very considerable 
additional pleasure that will arise: 

(2.) From the nature and kind of this manifestation. As 

[1.] In the general made by himself. It is a too plain and 
sad truth that men have unhappily learned to diminish God to 
themselves, and make every thing of him seem little. But when 
he represents his love himself (as who but God can represent 
the love of God ? He only can tell the story of his own love) 
that evil is provided, against. He will manifest it so as it 
shall be understood ; and set it off to the best advantage. 
He will make it known how great a thing it is to be 
beloved of him. 'And when he gives that blessed salutation ; 
"Huil thou that art highly favoured! O thou that art greatly be 
loved!'* he will withal bespeak and procure a suitable entertain 
ment of it. And hence particularly it will be, 

[2.] Most incomparably bright and lightsome in respect 
of any representation we have had of the love of God any 
other way. 

[3.] Most immediate, that is, (at least) so as not to be only 
made by some external testimony, given out many an age ago, 
out of which we are left to pick what we can, and to construe 
or misconstrue it as our own judgment serves us; but so, as 
that if he use such an instrument, he animates it, puts a soul 
into it, leaves it not a? a dead spiritless letter : and applies it 
himself, to the purpose he intends by it, and immediately him 
self reaches and touches the heart by it. 

[1.] Most facile and easily sliding in upon us ; so that we are 
put to no more pains, than to behold the light which the sun casts 
about us and upon us. Whatever labour it was necessary for us 
to use before, in our searches arid inquiries into the state of our 
case, there is no more now than in moving, being carried ; or 
in using our own weak hand when another that is sufficiently 
strong lifts and guides it for us. 

[5.] Most efficacious and overcoming : that makes its own 
way, scatters clouds, drives away darkness, admits no disputes, 
makes doubts and misgiving thoughts vanish, pierces with a 
quick and sudden energy like lightning, and strikes through 
the mind into the heart ; there sheds, abroad this love, diffuses 
the sweet refreshing savour of it; actuates spiritual sense, makes 


t he soul taste how gracious the Lord is, and relish the sweet 
ness of his love, puts all its powers into a suitable motion, and 
excites answerable affection, so as to make the soul capable of 
interchanging love with love. In all these respects, this mani 
festation of love cannot but be very delectable ; and they who 
have not found it to to be so, will yet apprehend that it must 
be so, if they have found and experienced the cravings of their 
own hearts directed this way, and can upon inquiry find this 
among the things they would fain have from God ; O that I 
might be satisfied of his love ! that I might know his good will 
towards me ! for to such cravings must this delight at least be 
commensurate (as was formerly said.) But to them that 
are indifferent in this matter and unconcerned, to whom the 
love of God is a fancy or a trifle, no real, or an inconsidera 
ble thing, all this will be as tasteless as the white of an egg. 

5. Concerning which yet (before we pass from this 
head) it is needful to add some few things by way of cau 

(1.) That when we say this is of great necessity, we mean, 
not that it is simply necessary ; we think it not so necessary 
that a Christian cannot be without it ; that is, as a Christian. 
But it is necessary to his well-and more-comfortable-being, 
and his more lively, fruitful walking and acting in his Christian 

(:>.) That therefore the way of God's dealing herein is with 
great latitude and variety; behaving reserved to himself by 
the tenour of his covenant, a liberty to afford or suspend it, to 
give it in a greater or less degree as in absolute sovereignty, 
and infinite wisdom he pleases and sees fit to determine. 

(3.) It may not therefore with so absolute and peremptory 
an expectation be sought after, as those things may that are 
necessary to the holding of souls in life ; bnt with much resig 
nation, submission, and deference of the matter to the divine 
good pleasure ; such as shall neither import disesteem of it, nor 
impatience in the want of it. 

(4.) That it ought to be less esteemed than the heart-recti- 
fying-communication, that is impressive of God's image, and 
whereby we are made partakers of his holiness. This proceeds 
more entirely from pure love to God for himself, that from self- 
love ; this tends more directly to the pleasing of us, than to the 
pleasing of God. This is necessary, as was said, but to our 
well or better being, that simply to our very being in Christ; 
this hath its greatest real value from its subserviency to the 
other. And what hath its value from its reierence to another 
must be of less value than that. 


(5.) That it is a great mistake to think God is not otherwise 
to be enjoyed than in this way of more express testification of 
his love : as if you could have no enjoyment of a friend, other 
wise than hy his often repeating to you ; I love you, I love you., 
indeed I love you. 

((>.) That it is a much greater mistake, to. place the sum of reli 
gion here; and that any should make it the whole of their busi- 
neste, to seek this, or to talk of it; or should think God doth no 
thing for them worth their acknowledgement, and solemn thanks 
giving while he doth not this. 

(7) Most of all, that any should reckon it the first thing 
they have to do when they begin to mind religion, to believe 
God's particular love to them, and that he hath elected them, 
pardoned them, and will certainly save them. So too many, 
most dangerously impose upon themselves; and accordingly 
before any true humiliation, renovation of heart, or transaction 
and stipulation with the Redeemer, do set themselves thus to 
believe, and it may be thus seek help from God more strongly 
to believe it, when as the devil is too ready to help them to this 
faith. And when he hath done it, they cry to themselves peace, 
peace, and think all is well ; take their liberty, and humour 
themselves, live as they list, and say that for so long a time 
they have had assurance of their salvation. The father of lies 
must needs be the author, (or the fautor, or both) of this faith : 
for it is a lie which they believe ; that is, that they are pardoned 
and accepted of God is a downright lie, repugnant to his word 
and the tenourofhis covenant. And for any thing else that 
may import their state to be at present safe, is to them no cre 
dible truth. 

(8.) That for the most part, if christians, upon whom the re 
newing work of the Holy Ghost in that former communication 
hath in some degree taken place, do yet want that degree of this 
also, which is necessary to free them from very afflicting doubts 
and fears, and enable them to a cheerful and lively walking 
with God; it is to be reckoned their own fault; either that they 
put too much upon it (too little minding his public declarations 
in his word,) or do unduly seek it, or unseasonably expect it : 
or that they put too little upon it, and expect or seek it not ; 
or that by their indulged carnality, earthlincss, vanity of spirit, 
they render themselves uncapable of it ; or by their careless 
and too licentious walking, or their either resisting or neglect 
ing holy motions, they grieve that Spirit that would comfort 
them. For though the restraint, of such more pleasant com 
munications may proceed, sometimes, from an unaccountable 
sovereignty, that owes no reason to us of its arbitrary way of 


giving or with-holding favours ; yet withal, we are to know and 
consider, that there is such a thing as paternal and domestic 
justice proper to God's own family, and which as the Head and 
Father of it, he exerciseth therein ; whereby (though he do not 
exercise it alike at all times) it seems meet to his infinite wis 
dom to awaken and rouse the sloth, or rebuke the folly, or 
check the vanity, or chastise the wantonness of his offending 
children ; and that, even in this way, by retiring himself, be 
coming more reserved, withdrawing the more discernabte 
tokens of his presence, and leaving them to the torture some 
times of their own conjectures, what worse thing may ensue. 
And herein he may design, not only reformation to the delin 
quents, but instruction to others, and even vindication of him 
self. For however these his dealings with men's spirits are in. 
themselves (as they must needs be) secret, and such as come 
not under the immediate notice of other men ; yet somewhat 
consequential thereto, doth more openly appear, and becomes 
obvious to the common observation of serious Christians with 
whom such persons converse; that is, not only such as languish 
under the more remarkable terrors of their spirits, and are 
visibly, as it were, consuming in their own flame, (of which 
sort there occur very monitory and instructive examples, at 
some times;) but even such also as are deprived of his quicken 
ing influence, and have only somewhat remaining in them that 
is ready to die, that are pining away in their iniquities, and 
sunk deep into deadness and carnality (for his comforting com 
munication is also quickening, and he doth not use to withold 
it as it is quickening, and continue it as it is comforting, but 
if such have comfort, such as it is, they are their own comforters) 
do carry very discernable tokens of divine pleasure upon them; 
and the evils and distempers under which their spirits lie 
wasting, are both their sin and punishment. Their own 
wickedness corrects them, and their backsliding reproves them. 
And that reproof being observable, doth at the same time warn 
others, yea and do that right to God, as to let it be seen he 
makes a difference, and refuses the intimacies with more neg 
ligent, loose, idle, wanton professors of his name, which he 
vouchsafes to have with some others, that make it more their 
business and study to carry acceptably towards him, and are 
more manifestly serious, humble, diligent, obedient observers 
of his will. If therefore we find not what we have found in 
this kind, however the matter may possibly be resolvable into 
the divine pleasure, (as it is more likely to be in the case of 
such desertions as are accompanied with terror, when no no 
torious apostacy or scandalous wickedness hath gone before,) 


it is both safe and modest, yea and obvious to suspect such 
delinquencies as were before-mentioned, are designed to be 
animadverted upon ; and that the love hath been injured, which 
is now not manifested as heretofore. 

(9.) That yet such a degree of it, as is necessary to a com 
fortable serving of God in our stations being afforded ; such 
superadded degrees, as whereby the soul is in frequent raptures 
and transports, are not to be thought withheld penally, in any 
peculiar or remarkable respect, or otherwise than it may be 
understood some way a penalty, not to be already perfectly 
blessed. For it is certain, that such rapturous sensations, and 
the want of them, are not the distinguishing characters of the 
more grown, strong, and excellent christians, and of them that 
a're more infirm, and of a meaner and lower pitch and stature. 
Yea those extatical emotions, although they have much of a 
sensible delectation in them (as more hereafter may be said to 
that purpose;) and though they may, in part, proceed from tbe 
best and most excellent cause, do yet, if they be frequent 
(which would signify an aptitude thereto,) import somewhat 
of diminution in their subject, and imply what is some way a 
lessening of it, that is, they imply the persons that are more 
disposed this way, to be of a temper not so well fixed and com 
posed, but more volatile and airy; which yet doth not intimate, 
that the chief cause and author of those motions is therefore 
mean and ignoble; nay, it argues nothing to the contrary, but 
that the Holy Spirit itself may be the supreme cause of them. 
For admitting it to be so, it doth not alter men's natural tem 
pers and complexions; but so acts them, as that they retain 
(and express upon occasion) what was peculiar to their temper 
nbtwithstanc^ing. Tbe work and office of the Holy Ghost, in 
his special communications, is to alter and new-mould men in 
respect of their moral dispositions, not those Which are strictly 
and purely natural ; the subject is in this regard the same it was; 
smd whatsoever is received, is received according to the disposition 
of that; and it gives a tincture to what supervenes and is im 
planted thereinto; whence the same degree of such communi 
cated influence will not so discernibly move some tempers, as 
it doth others : as the same quantity of fire will not so soon 
put solid wood into a flame, at it will light straw. That some 
men therefore are less sensibly and passionately moved with the 
great things of God (arid even with the discovery of his love) 
than some others, do not argue them to have less of the Spirit, 
but more of that temper which better comports with deeper 
judgment, and a calm and sober consideration of things. The 
unaptness of some men's affections unto strong and fervent 


motion, doth indeed arise from a stupid inconsiderateness ; of 
some others, from a more profound consideration, by which the 
deeper things sink, and the more they pierce pven into the in 
most center of the soul, the less they move the surface of it. 
And though I do not think the saying of that heathen applicable 
to this case, " Itisa wise man's part to admire nothing;" for here 
is matter enough in this theme, the love of God, to justify the 
highest wonderment possible; and not to admire in such a case, 
is most stupidly irrational ; yet I conceive the admiration (as 
well as other affections) of more considering persons, is more 
inward, calm, sedate, and dispassionate, and is not the less for 
being so, but is the more solid and rational; and the pleasure 
that attends it, is the more deep and lasting. And the fervour 
that ensues upon the apprehended love of God, prompting them 
to such service as is suitable to a state of devotedness to his 
interest, is more intense and durable; of the others, more 
flashy and inconstant. As, though flax set on fire, will flame 
more than iron; yet withall it will smoke more, and will not 
glow so much, nor keep heat so long. 

(10.) But to shut up this discourse. They that have more 
transporting apprehensions of the love of God, should take heed 
of despising them who have them not in just the same kind, 
or do not express them in the same seraphic strains. They 
that have them not, should take heed of censuring those that with 
humble modesty, upon just occasion, discover and own what they 
do experience in this kind : much less should they conclude, that 
because they find them not, there is therefore no such to be found, 
which cynical humour is too habitual to such tempers. If they do 
fancy such to be a weaker sort of persons they may be sincere for 
all that. And it ought to be considered of whom it was said, that 
he would not quench the smoking flax. The grace and Spirit of 
Christ ought to be reverenced in the various appearances there 
of: whether we be sober or beside ourselves the love of 
Christ constraineth us. (2 Cor. 5, 13, 14.) So diversely may 
the apprehensions of that love work in the same person, much 
more in divers. Christians should be shy of making themselves 
standards to one another ; which they that do, discover more 
pride and self-conceit, than acquaintance with God, and more 
admiration of themselves than of his love. 

Thus far we have given some account of the object to be 
delighted in ; wherein, if any think strange that we have spoken 
so much of the delectable divine communication as belonging 
to the object (which how it doth hath been sufficiently shewn ;) 
let them call it, if they please, a preparing or disposing of the 
subject (which it also, making its own way into the soul, as 


hath been said, effectually doth ;) and if the necessity of it be 
acknowledged upon that account, it equally answers the main 
purpose aimed at in all this ; and had it been only so considered, 
would but have inferred some alteration in the frame and 
method of this discourse, but not at all of the substance and de 
sign of it. 


We proceed to what was next proposed in this First Part. That fs, 
SECONDLY, To consider the delight itself to be taken in this 
delectable object, viewed 2;enen)ily as essential to love and specially 
as placed upon God. First, What this delight is, that we are 
called unto. 1. Human delight distinguished into that which is 
natural and that which is holy. 2. Holy delight giore parti 
cularly explained, as either open and explicit, or latent and un 
observed. 3. These two more particularly considered apart. 
(1.) That which is latent. [1.] Its nature explained. [2.] An 
objection answered. ('2.) That which is open and explicit. [1.] 
Its nature [2.] Its modification. Secondly, How it is we are 
called to this delight- 1. As a privilege. 2. As a duty. 

are next to say somewhat briefly of the delight itself to 
be taken therein. Nor shall we be herein so curious as 
to distinguish (which some do) delight and joy. The distinc 
tion wont to be assigned, cannot it is plain, hold here, so as to 
make the former of these signify a brutish affection only; and 
the latter proper to rational nature. Nor is there any such 
propriety belonging to the words, but they may be rendered (as 
indeed they are in Scripture) promiscuously, either in reference 
to the matter of intellectual or sensitive complacency, and 
either of a reasonable being, or an unreasonable. We take 
these therefore to signify substantially the same thing, and here 
delight to be intirely all one with joy : that is, there is not any 
the highest degree of joy which may not be fitly enough com 
prehended under the name of delight, when it is placed (as 
here it is required to be) upon the blessed God; whereof, that 
we may speak the more fully, it will be necessary to preface some 
what concerning its general nature ; and more principally as it 


is found in man, within which compass our principal business 

Delight, in the general, is most intimately essential to love ; 
which imports a well-pleasedness arising from the apprehended 
goodness or congruity of the thing loved ; and it seems to be 
merely by accident, that there is any thing else in love besides 
that complacency of delight : that is, what there is else be 
longing to the nature of love arises from the mixture and va 
riety which is to be found in the present state of things; which 
if it were at present universally and perfectly good, and as 
most rationally it might be wished ; love could have no exer 
cise but in delight. Not being so ; desire that it may be so, in 
reference to ourselves and others whom we love, comes duly to 
have place ; together with other acts ov exercises of love, which 
it belongs not so much to our present purpose to mention. 

For instance, whatsoever we can love, is either things or 
persons ; whatsoever things we love, is for the sake of persons 
either ourselves or others; whom also we love either supremely 
or subordinately. And whomsoever we love supremely, as it 
is certainly either God or ourselves, we love whatsoever else, 
person or thing, either for God's sake or our own. Be it now 
the one or other, or wheresoever we can place our love, we 
find things in reference to any object of it, not yet as we would 
have them, and as they shall be in that settled state which shall 
be permanent and last always ; whereunto this is but prepara 
tory only, and introductive. The creation is indigent, every 
creature wants somewhat even whereof it is capable ; and our 
own wants in many respects, we cannot but feel. Nothing is 
perfect in its own kind, in respect of all possible accesso 
ries thereto ; even the state of glorified spirits above, is 
not yet every way perfect ; much is wanting to their full and 
complete felicity : the body and community whereto they be 
long, the general assembly, is not yet entire and full ; their 
common Ruler and Lord is not acknowledged and had in ho 
nour as lie shall be. In the meanwhile, their consummate 
blessedness (which much depends on these things,) and the 
solemn jubilee to be held at the close and finishing of all God's 
work, is deferred. Yea, and if we g - o higher : the blessed 
God himself, the Author and Original of all things, although 
nothing be wanting to the real perfection of his Being and 
blessedness hath yet much of his right with-held from him by 
liis lapsed and apostate creatures ; so that, which way soever 
we turn ourselves, there remains to us much matter of rational 
(yea and holy) desire; and most just cause that our love (place 
we it as well and duly as we can) have its exercise that way ; 
we have before us many desiderata, according as things yet are. 



Desire is therefore love suited to an imperfect state of things 
wherein it is yet imperfect And because it is suited to such a 
state of things, it cannot therefore but be imperfect love, or 
love tending to perfection. Pure and simple delight is love 
suited to a state of things everyway perfect, and whereto there 
is nothing lacking. Wherefore delight appears to be the per 
fection of love, or desire satisfied. But now because this pre 
sent state is mixed, and not simply evil, or such wherein we 
find no present good ; therefore the love which is suited there 
to, ought consequently to be mixed of these two especially (un 
to which two the present discourse is both extended and con 
fined, because these two affections only are mentioned in the 
text) desire and delight. So far as things are otherwise than 
we practically apprehend, it is fit they should be with ourselves 
or others whom we love ; our love is exercised in desire, 
wherein they are as we would have them, in delight ; for then 
our desire is so far satisfied ; and desire satisfied ceases, though 
love do not cease. Or, it ceases not by vanishing into nothing, 
but by being satisfied ; that is, by being perfected in the de 
light which now takes place. 

The one of these is therefore truly said to be love exercised 
upon a good which we behold at a distance, and are reaching 
at. The other, love solacing itself in a present good, They 
are as the wings and arms of love ; those for pursuits, these for 
embraces. Or the former is Jove in motion ; the latter is love 
in rest. And as in bodily motion and rest, that is in order to 
this, and is perfected in it. Things move, not that they may move 
but that they may rest (whence perpetual progressive motion is 
not to be found); so it is also in the motion and rest of the mind 
or spirit. It moves towards an object with a design and expecta 
tion to rest in it, and (according to the course and order which 
God hath stated and set) can never move forward endlessly towards 
a good in which it shall not at length rest; though yet desire and 
delight have a continual vicissitude, and do (as it were circularly) 
beget one another. And thus bath God himself been pleased 
to express his own delight, or the joy which he takes in his 
people, even by the name of rest, namely, that of love. He 
will rejoice overthee with joy, he will rest in his love. (Zeph, 
3. 17- 18.) Wherefore delight hath not been unfitly defined 
the repose or rest of the desiring faculty of the thing de 

It is true, that love, as such, hath ever somewhat of delecta-i 
tion in it ; for we entertain the first view of any thing we ap 
prehend as good, with some pleasedness therein, (so far as it is 
loved,) it is grateful to us, and we are gratified some way by it ; 
yea, there is goiDewhat of this before any emotion by desire to-* 


wards it ; for we would not desire ir^ if it were not pleasing to 
us ; which desire is then continued (as far as love is in exer 
cise) till it be attained for ourselves or others, according as the 
object of our love, (that is the object for whom as we may call it)^ 
is. Nor is that a difficulty, how yet there may be somewhat of 
delectation, and even of rest in this love of desire. For the soul doth 
in that case, while it is thus desiring, rest from the indetermination 
of desire: that is, if it have placed love upon any one (itself or ano- 
ther)uponwhom therefore it doth with a sort of pleasedness stay 
and rest ; it doth first in the general desire it may be well with 
such a one; and then, if any thing occur to its notice, that it appre 
hends would be an advantage to the person loved ; though it cease 
not desiring it, yet it ceases from those its former hoverings of 
desire being pitched upon this one thing, as satisfied that this would 
be a good to him it loves. The appetite stays and insists upon 
this thing; as the psalmist, one thing have I desired. (Psal. 2? 
4.) It hath here as it were a sort of hypothetical rest ; as if he 
had said, how well pleased should I be if this were compassed 
and brought about ! or it hath an anticipated and pre-apprehen- 
ded rest, a rest in hope (by which the object is some way made 
present) as it is said, " We rejoice in hope of the glory of God." 
For there is no rational desire which is not accompanied with, 
hope. Despair stifles desire. That which appears simply im 
possible, passes for nothing ; and goodness goes not beyond the 
compass of being. But whatsoever appears to us a good (whe 
ther for ourselves or another) that is suitable and possible; that, 
if love stir in reference to it, becomes the object of complacen- 
tial desire ; that is, it pleases us first upon sight, or upon such 
an apprehension of it ; the appetite pitches, centers and rests 
upon it ; and then we pursue it with desire. But then our de 
lectation therein grows, as our hope doth it will be attained; and 
still more(if we find it to answer its first appearance) as by degrees, 
it is attained actually ; till being fully attained our desire (as to 
that thing) ends in all the delight and satisfaction which it can 
afford us. So that the delight and rest which follow desire in 
the actual fruition of a full and satisfying-good, is much more 
intense and pure, than that which either goes before, or doth 
accompany it ; and is indeed the same thing with fruition or 
enjoyment itself; only that this term hath been, by some, more 
appropriated to signify the delectation which is taken in the 
last end, unto which yet it hath no more native designation 
than divers other words. We have then thus far some general 
notion of delight, and also of desire which is taken in here only 
on the bye, and as tending somewhat to illustrate the other, 
Whereof yet what we now say may be of some use hereafter. 
WP are next to speak of this delight in special, which is here 


to be placed upon God. About which we are to consider, both 
What it is we are called to and how we are to reckon our 
selves called to it. And 

First. That we may shew, what we are called to. Having 
in this general account spoken only of human delight, or of de 
light as it is to be found among men ; it will now be neces 

To distinguish this into merely natural and holy. And 
when we thus distinguish, it is to be understood, that by natu 
ral we mean what is within the sphere of nature in its present 
corrupted state ; otherwise, what was natural to man did (taken 
in a larger sense) include holiness in it ; and so the addition of 
holiness doth but make up purely natural delight, as it was at 
first But as the case now is, the distinction is necessary. And 
the latter of these only will be the subject of our following dis 
course ; as being only suitable to the blessed object whereon it 
must terminate, and only capable of being applied thereto. 
When therefore our delight is to be placed and set on God, 
this must be understood as presupposed, that it be purified, 
drained from the pollution and impure tinctures which it hath 
derived from our vitiated natures, and further contracted by 
our converse with impure, mean, and vile things. For only 
that delight is to be placed on God which can be so placed; and 
delighting in God being duly designed, that is, by consequence 
designed which is necessary thereto ; and thereto is necessary, 
not merely the direction of one such particular act towardsGod, 
but a holy principle, as prerequisite to the right doing even of 
that also. Unholy love declines God ; and indeed it is unholy 
in as much as it doth so. Whence therefore it is as impossible 
it should be set on God, remaining unholy, as that it should be 
another thing from itself, and yet be still wholly what it was. Al 
though it cannot be another thing in its general nature (as it is 
not necessary it should) it must be a much altered thing, by 
the accession of holiness thereto. And this coming upon the 
whole soul, even upon all its faculties and powers, doth therein 
spread itself unto its delight also. Delight in God is not the 
work of an unholy heart. And (as may be collected from 
what hath been said) holiness consisting in a right disposition of 
heart towards God, a divine nature, participated from him, 
conformed to him, which works and tends towards him, 
and in itself so delightful a thing ; it may thence be 
seen what holy delight is, or wherein the holiness of it 

It must to this purpose be considered, that this holy delight 
is twofold, according to a twofold consideration of the delec 
table object into which], what was formerly said about it may b'\ 


reduced. All delight in God supposes, has hath been said, 
some -communication from him. 

That communication is either of light, whereby his ^nature 
and attributes are in some measure known ; or of operating in 
fluence, whereby his image is impressed and the soul is framed 
according to his will. And so it is partly mental or notional (I 
mean not merely notional, but that hath with it also an apti 
tude to beget a correspondent-impression on the soul, and not 
engage it in some speculations concerning him only) and partly 
real,^hat actually begets such an impression itself. It is partly 
such as may be understood, and partly such as may be felt ; the 
manifestation of his love partly belongs to the one of these, and 
partly to the other. 

2. Answerably hereto, the delight that is taken in him, is 
here more particularly considered either as open and explicit, 
and wherein a person reflects upon and takes notice of his own act 
and whereupon it is exercised or, more latent, implicit and 
unobserved, when his delight lies folded up in other acts and 
dispositions which have another more principal design, though 
that also is involved in them. The former way, the soul de 
lights in God more directly, applying itself thereto on purpose, 
and bending the mind and heart intentionally thereto ; its pre 
sent views of him having that very design and aim. The loiter 
way, it delights in him rather collaterally when its present ac 
tion (as well as the disposition leading to it) hath another more 
direct scope and aim. And the delight only adheres to the act, 
as being in itself delightful ; as for instance, the acts of repen 
tance, trust, self-denial, &c. which have another end than de 
light, though that insinuates into them. The former of these 
may be called contemplative delight : the soul solacing itself 
in a pleasant meditation of God, whereby its delight in him is 
excited and stirred up. The latter (understanding sense spiri 
tually, as it belongs to the new creature, and is taken Phil. 1. 
9. Heb. 5. 11.) may be called sensitive delight ; whereby the 
soul, as it were, tastes how gracious the Lord is. Which though 
It doth by the other also, yet the distinction holds in respect of 
the way wherein the delight is begotten andJbegun, if not in 
respect of the thing itself, begotten, or wherein the matter ends. 
In the former way, the soul more expressly reflects upon its own 
present exercise, which it directly intends. In the latter, it. 
may not reflect expressly either upon its actual delight which it 
hath, nor actually consider God as the object that yields it that 
pleasure 5 as I may be delighted by the pleasant taste of this or 
that food, without considering what the thing is I am feeding 
on ; nor have distinct reflection on the pleasure I take therein, 
having another and more principal design in eating, the recruit- 
Ing of my strength, and that delight being only accessory and 


accruing oil tlie bye. The former is less durable, and sooner apt 
to vanish upon the cessation of the present act, like the delight 
of the eye. The latter is more permanent, as that of the taste, 
and habitual ; such as is the pleasure of any thing whereof one 
hath a continued possession, as of a confirmed state and habit 
of health, or of the riches, dignities, pleasant accommodations 
which belong to any one's settled condition ; of which he hath 
that continual enjoyment that insensibly forms his spirit, raises 
and keeps it up to a pitch suitable to his condition, though he 
have not every day or hour distinct formed thoughts of them, 
nor is often in that contemplative transport with Nebuchad 
nezzar. Is not this great Babylon which I have built? &c. 

Both these are holy delight, or delight in God. In both 
whereof may be seen, added to the general nature of delight, 
a holy nature as the principle, inferring a powerful steady de* 
termination of the heart towards God, as the object and end 
which it ultimately tends to, and terminates upon. Though in 
the former way of delighting in God, the soul tends towards 
him more directly : in the latter (according as the acts may be 
to which the delight adheres,) more obliquely, and through 
several things that may be intermediate unto that finul and ul 
timate object. 

3. And both these may fitly be understood to be within 
the meaning of this text ; which therefore we shall now 
consider apart and severally ; though both of them very 

(1.) And we begin with the latter of them. For though 
the former hath, in some respect, an excellency in it above the 
latter ; yet as the progress of nature in other creatures is by 
way of ascent, from what is more imperfect to what is perfecter 
and more excellent; so is it with the communicated divine^ 
nature in the new creature, which puts itself forth, first in more 
imperfect operations, the buddings, as it were, of that tree of 
life which hath its more florid blossoms, and at length its ripe 
and fragrant fruit afterwards ; or (to come nearer the case,) 
inasmuch as the latter sort of delight (according to the order 
wherein we before mentioned them) hath more in it of the 
exercise of spiritual sense; the other more of spiritual reason ; 
since human creatures, that have natures capable of both sorts 
of functions, do first exercise sense, and by a slower and more 
gradual process, come on to acts of ratiocination afterwards. 
So it is here, the soul in which the divine life hath taken place, 
doth first exercise itself in spiritual sensations : so that though, 
in the matter of delight, it is not destitute of the grateful 
relishes of things truly and .spiritually delectable ; yet the more 
formed and designed acts of holy delectation, in the highest 


object thereof, distinctly apprehended and pitched upon for 
that purpose, do follow in their season ; and these are pre 
parations, and the essays of the new creature, gradually and 
more indistinctly putting forth itself in order thereto ; the em 
bryos of the other. 

[1.] If therefore it he inquired, wherein the delight of this 
more imperfect sort doth consist? I answer, in the soul's 
sensation and relish of sweetness in the holy, quickening com 
munications of God unto it, hy which he first forms it for him 
self, and in the operations which it is hereby enabled to put 
forth towards him, while it is in the infancy or childhood of its 
Christian state. Nor, while we say the delight of this kind 
doth more properly belong to the younger and more immature 
state of Christianity, do we thereby intend wholly to appropriate 
or confine it to that state. For as when a child is grown up to 
the capacity of exercising reason, it doth not then give over to 
use sense, but continues the exercise of it also in its adult state, 
even as long as the person lives ; only, in its infancy and child 
hood its life is more entirely a life of sense, though there are 
early buddings of reason, that soon come to be intermingled 
therein ; notwithstanding which, the principle that rules and is 
more in exercise, more fitly gives the denomination. So it is 
in this case also ; that is, though there are sensations of delight 
and pleasure in religion (yea, and those more quick, confirmed 
and strong in more grown Christians,) yet these sensations are 
more single and unaccompanied (though not altogether) with 
the exercise of spiritual reason and judgment, and do less come 
in that way with Christians in their minority, than with others 
or themselves afterwards. Therefore that which we are to 
understand ourselves called to under the name of delighting in 
God (thus taken) is, the keeping of our souls open to divine 
influences and communications : thirsting after them, praying 
and waiting for them : endeavouring to improve them and co 
operate with them, and to stir up ourselves unto such exercises 
of religion as they lead to, and are most suitable to our present 
state: together with an allowing, yea, and applying ourselves 
to stay and taste in our progress and course, the sweetness and 
delightfulness of those communications and operations whereof 
we have any present experience. For instance ; when we find 
God at work with us, and graciously dealing with our spirits, to 
Durable them, break and melt them under a sense of sin, in 
cline and turn them towards himself, draw them to a closure 
with his Son the Redeemer, tp a resignation and surrender of 
ourselves to him, upon the terms of his covenant and law of 
grace : yea, and when afterwards we find him framing our 
hearts to a course of holy walking and conversation j to the 


denial of ungodliness and worldly lusts ; to a sober, righteous 
and godly life in this present world ; to the exercises of piety, 
sobriety, righteousness, charity, mercy, &c. And now this or 
the like heavenly dictate occurs to us, " Delight thyself in the 
Lord ;" what doth it import ? what must w r e understand it to say 
or signify to us ? Though this that hath been mentioned, and 
which we are now saying is not all that it signifies (as will be 
shown hereafter;) yet thus much we must understand it doth 
signify and say to us : {( Thy only true delights are to be found 
if a course of religion, they are not to be expected from this 
world, or thy former sinful course; but in exercising thyself unto 
godliness, in receiving and complying with the divine dis 
coveries, recommended to thee in the gospel, and (through 
them) the influences of life and grace, which readily flow in 
upon any soul that hungers arid thirsts after righteousness; and 
by which thou mayest be framed in all things after the good and 
holy and acceptable will of God. Herein thou shalt find such 
pleasures and delights entertaining thy soul, as that thou wilt 
have no cause, to envy wicked men their sensual delights which 
they find in their sinful way ; if thou wilt but observe what 
thou findest, and exercise thy sense, to discern between good 
and evil; and set thyself to consider whether there be not as 
well more satisfying, as purer relishes of pleasure, in mortifying 
the flesh with the affections and lusts thereof, in denying thy 
self, in dying to this world, in living to God, in minding the 
things of another world,in giving up thyself to the several exercises 
of a holy life, watching, praying, meditating^ &c. in trusting 
in the Lord with all thy heart, and in doing all the good thou 
canst in thy place and station, letting so thy light shine before 
men, that they seeing thy good works, may glorify thy father 
which is in heaven ; in contentment with what thou enjoyest,. 
and patience under what thou sufferest in this world, in doing 
justice, loving righteousness, and walking humbly with thy 
God, than ever the vanishing pleasures of sin did or can afford.'" 
Thus into these two things may all be summed up, which de 
lighting in God imports according to this notion of it. The 
applying ourselves to those things by the help of God's own 
communicated influence (which in that case will not be with 
held) wherein the matter of delight lics.and The reflecting upon, 
the things themselves that are so delightful, and setting ourselves 
to discern, and tasting actually the delectableness of them. 
And surely, if such words, " Delight thyself in the Lord,*' do 
say to us all this, they do not say nothing; nor say auy tiling 
impertinent, either to their own native import, or our state and 
condition in this world. 

[2.] But here it may be objected ; if we so interpret d<S 


lighting in God, we shall by this means bring the whole of 
religion, and all sorts of actions that are governed and directed 
by it within the compass of this one thing ; and make delight 
ing in God, swallow up all that belongs to a Christian, and be 
the same thing with repentance, faith, self-denial, humility, 
meekness, patience, &c. which would sure seem too much to 
be comprehended under the name of one particular holy action 
or affection ; especially that they should be called delighting 
in God, when in the exercise of divers of these, God may 
possibly not be in that instant actually so much as thought on. 
To this it may be sufficiently answered : 

First, That these things cannot be hence said with any pretence 
to be made the same thing with delighting in God; but only that 
there is a delight adhering to all these ; no more than it can be 
said, when, at some splendid treat or entertainment, there is a 
great variety of delicious meats and wine, which do therefore 
all agree in this, that they are delectable; that all these dishes 
and liquors are therefore one and the same. Or, if the master 
of the feast call upon his guests to delight themselves with him 
their friend, (as here the particle in the text* which we read 
delight thyself in the Lord, may be read delight thyself with 
him,) and he explains himself, that he means by tasting this and 
that and another sort of his provisions, and eating and drinking 
cheerfully thereof, surely his words could not with more reason, 
than civility be capable of that snarling reply ; that, therefore, 
it seems, he thought the things themselves or their tastes and 
relishes were all one. For though they all afford delight, yet 
each of a different kind. 

Secondly, But are not all these truly delectable ? Is there 
not a real delight to be had in them ? Let any man, that hath 
tried; consult his experience ; yea, let any one that hath not 
besotted his soul, and infatuated his understanding, but seriously 
consider the very .ideas of these things, and revolve the notions 
of them in his mind, and then soberly judge, whether they be 
not delightful ? And if so, when there is an actual sense of 
pleasure and sweetness in the communicated power, and in the 
practise of them, why is not this delighting in God ? Admit 
that he is not actually thought on in some of these exercises ; 
as when 1 freely forgive a wrong, or relieve a distressed person* 
or right a wronged one : if yet I do these things, from the 
radical principle of the love of God deeply settled in my soul, 
and with a sensible delight accompanying my act, and the dis 
position I find in mine heart thereunto : here is not, it is true, 
the very act of delighting in God, formally terminated upon 
him as the Object. But it is he that gives me this delight, and 

vot. ir. 14 


is the material Object (as well as Author) of ft. The communi 
cation is from him, whereby I am delighted, and enabled to do 
the things that are further delightful. As if I converse with an 
excellent person, my intimate friend, who is at this time incog 
nito, and by a disguise conceals himself from me, or I through 
my forgetfulness or inadvertency have no present thoughts of 
this person ; but I hear his pleasant discourse, and am much 
taken with it, and the person on the account of it : it is 
my friend that I delighted in all this while though 1 knew it 

Thirdly, And what fault can I find in the matter that divine 
delight thus runs and spreads itself through the whole business 
of religion, and all the affairs whereon it hath any influence ? Is 
this the worse or the better ? Have I any cause to quarrel at 
this ? Sure I have not. But if 1 have not such actual thoughts 
of God, as may give me the advantage of terminating my 
delight more directly on him, that may be, very much, my own 

Fourthly, And what is that an absurdity that under the name 
of delighting in God, the several acts and exercises of religion 
besides should be comprehended ? How often in scripture are 
other (no-more-eminent) parts of religion put for the whole* 
The knowledge of God, calling upon God, the fear of God, 
&c. How commonly are these things acknowledged to be 
paraphrases of religion ? And shall I not add the love of God? 
that most authentic and owned summary of all practical religion, 
and which ought to influence all our actions. And then how 
far are we from our mark ? What is the difference between 
loving God, and delighting in him ? But I moreover add, 
that delight itself in him, cannot but be so taken in that sharp 
passage, (though misapplied to the person of whom it was 
meant,) for Job hath said, what profit is it that a man should 
delight himself with God, (Job 34. #.) that is, or be religious? 
It fitly enough signifies religion, as thus modified or qualified, 
namely, as having this quality belonging to it, that it is delight 
ful, or is tinctured with delight in God. But this (so large) is 
not the only sense, as we have said, wherein we are to take de 
lighting in God. And when any part of religion casts its name 
upon the whole, it would be very unreasonable to exclude the 
part from which the denomination is taken, or not to make 
that the principal thing there meant. We therefore proceed 
to speak, 

(2.) Of the more explicit delight in God : and shall 
therein consider, the nature and modification of it. 

[1.] Its nature ; which from what hath been said of delight 


in the general, with the addition of holiness thereto, (which is 
the work of God's Spirit, determining the act or faculty to 
which it adheres towards God,) may be conceived thus, That 
it is the acquiesence or rest of the soul in God,by a satisfledness 
of will in him, as the best and most excellent good. That it 
be the rest of the soul, belongs to its general nature. And so 
doth the mentioned kind of rest, more distinguishing^ by the 
will's satisfiedness in him, because the soul may be also said to 
rest satisfied (in respect of another faculty) by the mere know 
ledge of truth ; but this supposes so much of that also as is ne 
cessary. And because the acts of the understanding are sub 
servient and in order to those of the will, in the soul's pursuit 
of a delightful good ; which is so far attained as it actually de 
lights therein ; therefore this may more simply be called the 
rest of the whole soul, whereas that other is its rest but in some 
respect only : especially when we add, as in the best and most 
excellent good ; for this signifies the good wherein it rests to be 
ultimate, and its last end, the very period of its pursuits, beyond 
which it neither needs nor desires to go further, namely, as to 
the kind and nature of the good which it is now intent upon ; 
though it still desire more of the same, till there be no place 
left for further desire, but it wholly cease and end in full satis 
faction. And that we may speak somewhat more particularly 
of this rest in God ; it supposes, 

First, Knowledge of him. That the soul be well furnished 
with such conceptions of his nature and attributes, as that it 
may be truly said to be himself it delights in, and not another 
things not an idol of its own fancy, and which its imagination 
hath created and set up to it instead of God. Therefore his 
own representation of himself must be our measure; which 
being forsaken, or not so diligently attended to, he is either 
by some, misrepresented, (according as their own corrupt 
hearts do suggest impure thoughts) and made altogether such 
a one as themselves, and such as cannot be the object of a pure 
and spiritual delight ; or by others (as their guilt and fear 
do suggest to them black and direful thoughts of him) rendered 
such as that he cannot be the object of any delight at all. 

Secondly, It supposes actual thoughts of him; "My soul shall 
be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, when I remember thee 
upon my bed, and mediate on thee in the night watches.'' (Psal 
63. 5,6.) 

Thirdly, A pleasedness with even the first view or apprehen 
sion of him ; which is most essential to any love to him, and 
which gives rise to any motion of 

Fourthly, Desire directed towards him, upon the apprehen- 


sion that somewhat is absent, either of what is due to him, or 
kicking to ourselves from him. 

Fifthly, It includes the satisfaction or repose itself which 
the soul hath, so far as it finds its desire answered in the one 
kind or the other. Where we must more distinctly know, 
that the delight taken in him, is according as the desire is 
which works towards him, and that as our love to him is : now 
we love him either for himself, or for our ownselves. 

For himself, ultimately, so as that our love periods in him, 
and stays there, namely, on him, as good in himself. 

For ourselves ; as when our love to him returns upon our 
selves, apprehending a goodness in him which is suitable for 
pur enjoyment. Loving him in the former way, we desire all 
may be ascribed and given to him, that possibly may or can. 
And because we know him to be every way perfect and full, 
and that nothing can be added to him of real perfection, and 
therefore nothing can be given him besides external honour and 
acknowledgments, we therefore desire these may be universally 
rendeied him to the very uttermost. And as far as we find 
him worthily glorified, admired, and had in honour, so far we 
have delight in (or in reference to) him ; consisting in the 
gratification of that desire. Loving him in the other way, 
(which also we are not only allowed, but obliged to do, in con 
tradistinction to all creature good,) we desire his nearer presence 
and converse, more full communications of his light, grace, 
and consolations. And are delighted according as we find such 
desire is answered unto us. 

Sixthly, The form of expression used in the text, implies 
also a stirring up ourselves, and the use of endeavours with our 
own hearts, to foment, heighten, and raise ouf own delight. 
The conjugation (as it is thought fit to be called) into which 
the wnrd is put, importing, by a peculiarity of expressiveness 
belonging to the sacred language, action upon one's self 5 
which must also be understood to have the same force, in refer 
ence to that former sense of delighting in God; that is, that we 
put ourselves upon these acts and exercises whereunto such de 
light is adjoined. These things are now more cursorily men 
tioned, because there will be occasion more at large to insist 
pn them in the discourse of the practice of this duty, reserved 
to the Second Part. 

[2.] We now proceed to the modification of this delight in 
God ; or the right manner or measure of it. Concerning which 
it is apparent in the general, it can be no further right than as 
if is agreeable to its object. That our delight should ever be 
adequate, or of a measure equal to it, is plainly impossible : but 
it must be sonie-way suitable; or must bear proportion to it. I 


shall here mention but two (and those very eminent) respects 
wherein it must do so; namely, in respect of the excellency 
and th^ permanency of the good to be delighted in. 

First. The excellency of it. Inasmuch as it is the best and 
highest good ; it plainly challenges our highest delight. That 
is, the highest delight simply, which our natures are capable of, 
is most apparently due to the blessed God, even by the law of 
nature itself, resulting from our natures, referred unto his. And 
as the case stands under the gospel ; the highest delight com 
paratively^ that is, higher than we take in any thing else ; no 
thing must be so much delighted in as he. We do not other 
wise delight in him as God, which is one way of glorifying him. 
And it is part of the apostle's charge upon the Pagan world, that 
knowing him to be God, they did not glorify him as God. 

If we make the comparison between him and all the good things of 
of this world, the matter is out of question. It is the sense of holy 
souls, whom have I in heaven but thee ? and whom can I desire on 
earth besides thee(Psal.73. 25.) When others say,who will shew us 
any good? Theysay, Lord lift thou up the light of thy countenance. 
And thereby he puts gladness into their hearts, more than when 
corn and wine increase. (Psal. 4. 6.) And whosoever love not 
Christ more than father, mother,wife, child ; yea, and their own 
lives, cannot be his disciples. (Mat. 10. 37. Luke 14. 26.) Their 
present worldly life itself, if put in the balance, he must out 

And if we put the comparison between our spiritual, eternal 
life and him ; though he and that can never be in opposition, 
(as there may be often an opposition between him and this pre 
sent life, so that the one is often quitted for the other,) yet 
neither is there a co-ordination, but the less worthy must be 
subordinate to the more worthy. We are to desire the enjoy 
ment of him for his own glory. And yet here is a strange and 
admirable complication of these with one another. For if we 
enjoy him, delight and rest in him as our best and most satisfy 
ing good, we thereby glorify him as God. We give him prac 
tically highest acknowledgments, we confess him the most excel 
lent one. It is his glory to be the last term of all desires, and 
beyond which no reasonable desire can go further. And if we 
seek and desire his glory supremely, sincerely and really beyond 
and above all things ; when he is so glorified to the utter 
most, or we are assured he will be ; our highest desire is so far 
satisfied, and that turns to, or is, our own contentment. So that 
by how much more simply and sincerely we pass from, and go 
out of ourselves, so much the more certainly we find our own 
satisfaction, rest and full blessedness in him. As it is impossi- 


ble the soul that loves him above itself, can be fully happy 
while he hath not his full glory : so it is for the same reason, 
equally impossible, but it must be so when he hath. 

Secondly. Our delight must be suitable to the object, (the 
good to be delighted in,) 

In respect of the permanency of it, this is the most durable 
and lasting good. In this blessed object therefore we are to re 
joice evermore. (1. Thes. 5. 16.) As in the matter of trust,we 
are required to trust in the Lord for ever, because in the Lord 
Jehovah is everlasting strength. (Isa. 26. 4.) Everlasting 
strength gives sufficient ground for everlasting trust. So it is 
in the matter of delight. A permanent, everlasting excellency 
is not Answered, but by a continual and everlasting delight. 
Therefore, is it most justly said, rejoice in the Lord ahvay ; and 
again I say unto you rejoice ; (Phil. 4. 4.) alway, and still on. If 
through a long tract of time you have been constantly ahvay re 
joicing in the Lord, begin again, I, again, say to you rejoice ; 
or rather never give over. The object will warrant and justify 
the act, let it be drawn forth to never so vast a length of time. 
You will still find a continual spring, unexhausted fulness, a 
fountain never to be drawn dry. There will never be cause of 
diversion with this pretence, that now this object will yield no 
more ; it is drained to the uttermost, and is now become an 
empty and gustless thing. With other things it may be so ; 
and therefore our delight doth not answer the natures of such 
things, but when we rejoice in them as if we rejoiced not, (Cor. 
7.30.) they are as if they were not. All the things of this 
world are so. For even the fashion of this world passeth away ; 
as it is afterwards added, (ver. 31.) Therefore no delight can 
fitly be taken in them, but what is volatile and unfixed as they 
are : lest otherwise it over- reach, and run beyond its object. 
And how absurd and vain is it to have our hearts set upon that 
which is not, that takes wing, and leaves us in the dirt? This 
object of delight is the "1 am, yesterday and to day the same, 
and for ever ; without variableness and shadow of change/' 
Therefore the nature of it cannot allow us a reason ; wherefore 
ii we be delighted therein yesterday, we should not to day ; or 
if to day, why not tomorrow, and so on to forever. Whence 
then we may see no one can say he hath answered the import 
of this exhortation, " delight thyself in the Lord," by having 
delighted in him at sometime. It is continual, as well as high 
est delight we are here called to. We see then thus far what 
we are called to when we are here directed to delight ourselves 
hi the Lord. 

, We are riext to shew how we are calkd to it. 


And the matter Itself will answer the inquiry. We are called to 
it, according to what, in itself, it is. Now it is both a privilege 
and a duty. We are therefore called to it and accordingly are 
to understand the words; 

1 . By way of gracious invitation to partake of a privilege 
which our blessed Lord would have us share and be happy in ; 
no longer to spend ourselves in anxious pursuits and vain expec 
tations of rest where it is not to be found; but that we retire our 
selves to him in whom we shall be sure to find it. Pity and mercy 
invite us here to place our delight, and take up our rest. And 
concerning this, there is no question or imaginable doubt. 

2. By way of authoritative command. For we must know, 
that delight in God is to be considered not only under the no 
tion of a privilege unto which we may esteem ourselves 
entitled ; but also of a duty whereto we are most indispensibly 
obliged. This is a thing (not so much not understood, as) not 
considered and seriously thought on, by very many ; and the 
not- considering it proves no small disadvantage to the life of 
religion. It occurs to very many, more familiarly, under the 
notion of a high favour; and a great vouchsafernent (as indeed 
it is,) that God will allow any of the sons of men to place their 
delights in himself: but they (at least seem to) think it is only 
the privilege of some special favourites ; of whom, because they 
perhaps are conscious they have no cause to reckon themselves 
they are therefore very secure in the neglect of it. And thus 
is the pretence of modesty and humility very often made an um 
brage and shelter to the vile carnality of many a heart ; and a 
want of fitness is pretended and cherished at the same time, as 
an excuse. But whereas they do not delight in God, they never 
may ; for he that is unfit to day, and never therewithal applies 
himself with seriousness, to the endeavour of becoming fit, is 
likely to be more unfit to morrow, and so be as much excused 
always as now ; and by the same means at length excuse him 
self from being happy ; but never from having been the author 
of his own misery. But what! is it indeed no duty to love God? 
Is that become no duty which is the very sum and comprehen 
sion of all duties ? or can they be said to love him, that take no 
pleasure in him? that is, to love him without loving him. It is 
indeed, wonderful grace that there should be such a contexture 
of our happiness and duty ; that, by the same thing wherein 
we are obedient, we also become immediately, in the same de 
gree, blessed. And that the law of God in this case hath this 
very import, an obligation upon us to blessedness. But in the 
mean time we should not forget that God's authority and ho 
nour are concerned herein, as it is our duty ; as well as our own 


happiness, as it is our privilege, and that we cannot injure 
ourselves in this matter without also robbing God. 

Delight in God is a great piece of homage to him, a practical 
acknowledgement of his sovereign excellency, and perfect all 
comprehending goodness. When w retire from all the world 
to him, we confess him better than all things besides : that w& 
have none in heaven or earth that we esteem worthy to be com 
pared with him. But when our hearts are averse to him, and 
will not be brought to delight in him, since there is somewhat 
in the meanwhile wherein we do delight, we do as much as say 
(yea, we more significantly express it than by saying) that what 
ever that is, it is better than he ; yea, that such a thing is good, 
and he is not. For as not believing him is a denial of his truth* 
the making him a liar ; not delighting in him is equally, a de 
nial of his goodness, and consequently even of his Godhead it 
self. And since we find the words are here laid down plainly 
in a preceptive form : " delight thyself in the Lord ;" can any 
think themselves after this, at liberty to do so or not ? It is true 
that they who are in no disposition hereto have somewhat else to 
do in order to that (of which hereafter;) but, in the mean time, 
how forlorn is their case, who have nothing to excuse their sin 
by, but sin ; and who, instead of extenuating their guilt do 
double it ! yea, and we are further to consider, that it is not 
only commanded, by a mere simple precept, but that this pre 
cept hath its solemn sanction ; and that not only by promise 
here expressly annexed (of which hereafter;) but also of im 
plied threatening ; that we shall not else have the desires of our 
hearts, but be necessarily unsatisfied, and miserable ; which is 
also in many other places expressed plainly enough. Great 
penalty is due upon not delighting in God, even by the gospel- 
constitution itself ; which is not so unreasonably formed as to 
require more in this matter, than is suitable to the object itself 5 
and is framed so indulgently as to accept much less than is 
proportionable thereto ; and yet within the capacity also of a 
reasonable soul. So that, though the very nature of the thing 
doth plainly dictate a rule, by which this matter is to be 
estimated and judged; yet this other rule gives considerable 
abatement and allowance. That is, It being considered what 
the object claims and challenges, as by its own proper ex 
cellency due to it ; and what the subject is, by its own nature, 
capable of; not only doth it hence appear, that delight in God 
is a duty, but that the soul ought to rise to that highest pitch of 
delight in him, that is, unto the highest the soul is naturally 
capable of. The very law of nature, resulting from the refe 
rence and comparison of our nature unto God's own, requires so 


much- that we love, or delight in him with all our heart, with 
all our mind, with all our might, and with all our strength. 
He deserves from us our very uttermost. Yet this is by the gos 
pel constitution required with indulgence and abatement, not 
as to the matter required but as to the manner of requiring it. 
The matter required is still the same, so as that the purest and 
highest delight in God doth not cease to be a duty, or any gra 
dual defect thereof cease to be a sin. The gospel doth make 
no change of the natures of things ; makes nothing cease to be 
due to God from us, which the law of nature made due ; nor 
renders any defect innocent, which is in its own nature culpa 
ble and faulty. Therefore the same pitch of delight in God is 
still due and required that ever was; but that perfection is not 
(finally and without relief) required in the same manner, and 
on the same terms it was ; that is, it is not by the gospel re 
quired under remediless penalty, as it was. For the law of nature 
(though it made not a remedy simply impossible, yet it) pro 
vided none, but the gospel provides on6. 

Yet not so but the same penalty also remains in itself due 
and deserved, which was before. For as the gospel takes not 
away the dueness of any part or degree of that obedience which 
we did owe to God naturally, so nor doth it take away the natu 
ral dueness of punishment, for disobedience in any kind or de 
gree of it. Only it provides that (upon the very valuable con 
sideration which it makes known) it becomes to us a remissible 
debt, and actually remitted to them who come up to the terms 
of it. Not that it should be in itself no debt, for then nothing 
were remitted; nor yet, when it so provides for the remission 
of defects in this part of our duty, doth it remit the substance 
of the duty itself, or pardon any defects of it to any but such 
who are found sincere in this, as well as the other parts of that 
obedience which we owe. Others, who after so gracious over 
tures, remain at their former distance, and retain their aversion, 
enmity, and disaffection to God, it more grievously (and most 
justly) threatens and punishes as implacable; and who will up 
on no terms return into a state of friendship and amity with their 
Maker, whom they hated without cause, and do now continue 
strangers and enemies to him withont excuse; so that the very 
blood of the reconciling sacrifice cries against them. 

And surely since; (as was formerly said) it is God in Christ 
that is the entire object of this delight or love, it is a fearful 
penalty that is determined upon them that do not so place it ; 
when it is said, if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let 
him be Anathema, Maran-atha. (1 Cor. 16. 22.) And when also 
it is said grace be upon all them that do, (Eph. 6. 24.) it h 

TOL, ii, o 


plainly implied, that the penalty belongs to all them that do not. 
love him in sincerity. Of which sincerity therefore of delight 
in God, (to keep within the compass of our present theme,) it 
is necessary we be well informed; as we may be from what hath 
been said before ; that is that we delight in him supremely ', and 
above all things else, namely with our highest and deepest com 
placency of will. For it is not necessary (nor ordinarily possi 
ble) that our delight in him should be ever accompanied with 
such sensible agitation of the corporeal spirits, as we find in re 
ference to merely sensible objects. Which is not essential 
to such delight, but an accident that follows union with the 
body; and more frequently, and to a greater degree in some 
tempers of body than others. But it is necessary there be that 
practical estimation of him, and propension towards him, as the 
best and most excellent good; as that we be in a preparation of 
mind and heart to forego whatever can come into any competi 
tion with him for his sake. That though we do not thus delight 
in him so much as we should, yet we do more than in any tiling 
else.- That we continue herein: that this be the constant habi 
tual temper of our spirits towards him : that we cleave to him 
with pin-pose of heart, as not only the most excellent, but the 
most permanent object of our delight: having settled the reso 
lution with ourselves, " This God shall be our God for ever and 
ever; he shall be our God and guide even to the death." 
(Psal. 48.) and that there be frequent actual workings of heart 
towards him, agreeable to such a temper, though they are not 
so frequent as they ought. Which account we give of this sin 
cerity of delight in God, not to encourage any to take up with 
the lowest degree of that sincerity; but that none may be en 
couraged, upon their own mistake in this matter, to take up 
with any thing short of it; and that we may see whence to take 
our rise in aiming at the highest pitch thereof. And that we 
may (understanding the highest intenseness and most constant 
exercise of delight in God that our natures are capable of, to 
be our duty) understand also, that in reference to our gradual 
defects and intermissions herein that we ought to be deeply 
humbled, as being faulty; not unconcerned, as though we were 
innocent in this regard, that we need continual pardon upon 
these accounts; that we owe it to the blood of the Redeemer, 
that such things can be pardoned : that we are not to reckon, 
or ever to expect that blood should stand us instead, to obtain 
our pardon for never delighting in God sincerely at all ; but 
only (supposing we do it sincerely) that we do it not perfectly. 
For most certainly, they whose hearts are never turned to him 
as their best knd most sovereign good or portion, and Ruler or 


Lord ; but do still remain alienated in their minds, and enemies 
through wicked works, will perish notwithstanding. And that 
we might the more distinctly, together with the apprehension 
of what we are called to in this matter, understand also how 
we are called to, that is, not hy an invitation only, that leaves 
us at liberty, whether we will or will not, as we think fit : but 
by express command, and that also backed with the severe 
determination of most dreadful penalty in case of omission. 
And thus we have in some measure shewn the import of the 
direction in the text,- that we delight ourselves in the Lord. 






From Psalm xxxvii. 4. 










From Psalm xxxvii, 4. 

Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he shall give thee 
the desires of thine heart. 





I. Introduction. II. The practice or exercise of delight in God 
considered. FIRST. As adherent to the other duties of religion. 
Here it is shewn. First. That we are not to rest in a practice of 
religion which is not naturally and in itself delightful. l.Whafc 
that religion is. (1.) Two cautions suggested. [!.} That even 
sucli a religion as is true arid living and consequently in itself 
delightful may sometimes not appear, or be thought so. [2.] That 
a dead religion may be thought so, through the ill temper of the 
subject. (2.) A twofold general rule premised. [1.] That delight 
is unnatural which is taken in any thing not answering the end to 
which it serves. [2.] Such as is accompanied with a real hurt 
greater than the delight can countervail. Hence it appears, 
(3 ) That, that religion is undelightful which is not chiefly de 
lightful. 2. How unfit that religion is to be chosen and rested 
in. (1.) It is uncapable of growth. (2.) Cannot be a lasting 
thing. (3.) It wants the fruits which should be sought by reli 
gion. (4*.) It is foolish and unworthy of a reasonable creature. 
(5.) It will produce bitter reflections at death. (6.) It is of 
fensive to God. 

I. "\\^E have in the Former Part extended the meaning of the 

words, "Delight thyself in the Lord/' beyond what they 

seem at first sight literally to signify : so as not to understand 

them merely as requiring, that very single act of delight to be 

1(54 0* DELIGHTING Iti GOD. 1PART. I*< 

immediately and directly terminated on God himself; but to 
take them as comprehending also the sum of all holy and reli 
gious converse with God, that is, as it is delightful, or as it is 
seasoned (intermingled, arid as it were besprinkled) with delight; 
and upon the same account, of all our other converse, so far as it 
is influenced by religion. And I doubt not, to such as shall at 
tentively have considered what hath been said, it will be thought 
veiy reasonable to take them in that latitude ; whereof the very 
letter of the text (as maybe alleged for further justificatioa 
hereof) is most fitly capable. For (as was noted upon another 
text where we have the same phrase) the particle which we 
read in the Lord, hath not that signification alone, but signifies 
also with 9 or by, or besides, or before, or in presence of , as- if it 
had been said, "Come and sit down with God, retire thyself to 
him, and solace thyself in the delights which are to be found 
in his presence and converse, in walking with him, and trans 
acting thy course as before him, and in his sight." As a man 
may be said to delight himself with a friend that puts himself 
under his roof; and besides personal converse with himself, 
freely enjoys the pleasure of all the entertainments, accommo 
dations, and provisions which he is freely willing to communi 
cate with him., and hath the satisfaction which a sober person 
would take in observing the rules and order of a well-governed 

II. According to this divers import of the precept enjoining 
this duty, it will be requisite to speak diversly of the practice 
of the duty itself : that is, that we treat of the practice and 
exercise of delight; as a thing adherent to the other duties 
of religion, and as it is a distinct duty of itself. 

FIRST, As to the former, our business will be, to 1 treat of 
the exercise of religion as delightfnl. Now religion is delight 
ful naturally and in itself; and makes a man's other actions, 
even that are not in themselves acts of religion, delightful 
also, so far as they are governed and influenced by it ; if that 
religion be true, that is, if it be living, such as proceeds from 
a principle of divine life. Being therefore now to treat of the 
practice of this duty (whereof the account hath been already 
given,) our discourse must aim at, and endeavour these two 
things, the former as leading and subservient to the latter, 
namely That we may not take up, and rest, or let our practice 
terminate in a religion which is not naturally and in itself de 
lightful, and That we seek after and improve in that which is. 

first, That religion which is not delightful we have great 
reason not to acquiesce in, or be contented with, for it is plainly 
such as will not defray itself, or bear its own charges, as hav 
ing only cumber and burden in it, no use or end; I mean tke,. 


dead formality of religion only. We find it natural and pleasant 
to carry about with us our own living body; but who would en 
dure (how wearisome and loathsome a task were it ?) to lug to 
and fro a dead carcase ? It will be upon this account needful 
to insist in shewing more distinctly, what sort of religion it is, 
that is in itself wholly undelightful, and propound some tilings 
to consideration concerning it, that may tend to beget a dislike 
of it, and so incline us to look further. 

1. That we may know what we are not take up with ; be 
cause our present subject confines us to this one measure of 
religion, that it be delightful, it will be proper to limit oror 
discourse to this character only of the religion we are to pass 
from as vain and worthless, namely, thut which is without de 
light ; which it also will be sufficient to insist on to our present 
purpose. For since (as hath been largely shewn) the delight- 
fulness of the religion which is true and living is intrmsical, 
and most natural to it, it will therefore be certainly conse 
quent, that which is not delightful is dead, and can serve for 

(1.; But here it will be necessary, for caution, to insert two 

[1.] That even such religion as is true and Ii v ing, and con 
sequently in itself delightful, yet may by accident sometimes, 
not appear or be thought so ; because either variety of occasions 
may divert from minding, or some imbittering distemper of 
spirit may hinder the present relishing of that pleasure which 
is truly in it. As a man may eat and feed on that, which is 
very savoury and good ; and yet, though his taste be not vitia 
ted, but because he reflects not, may not every moment have 
that present apprehension that it is so ; much more if the 
organs of taste be under a present distemper. But, if they be 
not so, any one's asking him how he likes that dish, (be 
cause that occasions a more express animadversion,) will 
also draw from him an acknowledgment that it is pleasant and 

[2.] That a dead religion may be thought delightful ; and 
through the ill temper of the subject, a pleasure may be ap 
prehended in it, which doth not naturally arise from it; that is, 
the mere external part of religion may be flexible, and be ac 
cidentally perverted into a subserviency to some purposes which 
religion of itself intends not, in respect whereof n delight may 
injuriously (and as by a rape) be taken in it, as is said by the 
prophet of a hypocritical people : Yet they seek me daily, and 
delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteouseness ; 
they take delight in approaching to God. (Isa. 58. 2.) There 
fore, that which is here intended, is not, that the religion should 

VOL. II. i> 


be rejected, in some present exercises whereof we have not the 
actual relish of a present pleasure (as that should not be em 
braced, wherein upon any whatsoever terms we find it;) but 
that which can rightfully, and upon just terms afford us none ; 
and which upon our utmost inquiry and searchjCannot in reason 
(as it is not unfit that spiritual reason should be employed in 
making a judgment what may) be thought spiritually delect 
able. We shall therefore in some particular heads, give a short 
account of such religion, as rationally cannot but be judged 
undelightful, or which hath not that in it which can yield 
pleasure to a sound and well-complexioned spirit; but that if 
any be taken therein, that very pleasure is so unnatural and 
out of kind, as to be the argument rather of a disease in the 
subject, than of any real goodness in the thing itself. 

(2.) Whereunto we only premise this two-fold general rule, 
whereby an undue and unnatural delight may be estimated and 
judged of. 

[1 .] That such delight may be justly deemed unnatural which 
is taken in any thing besides and with the neglect of the proper 
use and end which it most fitly serves for. 

[2.] Such as is accompanied with a real hurt, greater than 
the delight can countervail, or as is so far from taking in profit 
and benefit in conjunction with it, as that the damage and 
prejudice which it cannot recompence, is inseparable from it; 
which rules will be the more fitly applicable to the present 
case; for that (as hath been formerly observed) the delight 
which accompanies the acts and exercises of religion, or that 
flow from it, though it be natural thereto, yet is not the only or 
chief end of those acts ; but they have another more important 
end, unto the prosecution whereof by such acts delight is only 
adherent: whence the delight cannot but be most preposterous 
and perverse, which is taken in such things as do either not 
serve the more principal design of religion; or much more 
that are repugnant and destructive of it. By these rules we 
may plainly see what delight in the general is to be accounted 
undue. As by the former rule we would justly reckon that an 
undue delight which a man should take in his food, if he only 
please himself with the looking on the handsome garnishing of 
the dishes, which he loaths in the mean time and refuses to 
taste; or which a covetous miser takes in having wealth hoarded 
up, which he is please'd often to view and cannot endure to use. 
And by the latter, that were most irrational delight, which 
in a fever one should take in gratifying his distempered ap 
petite, whereby he doth not so much relieve nature as feed 
his disease. 


(3.) And so we may say, that religion is undelightful, that is 
not duly delightful. 

[1.] Which consists wholly in revolving in one's own mind 
the notions that belong to religion, without either the ex 
perience, or the design and expectation of having the heart 
and conversation formed according to them. So the case is 
with such as content themselves to yield the principles of re 
ligion true, and behold with a notional assent and approbation 
the connexion and agreement of one thing with another 3 but 
do never consider the tendency and aim of the whole : or that 
the truth of the gospel is the doctrine that is according to god 
liness ; (1 Tim. 6. 3.) or such as is pursuant to the design of 
making men godly ; of transforming them into the image of 
God, and framing them to an entire subjection to his holy and 
acceptable, will ; that bethink not themselves the truth is never 
learned as it is in Jesus,except it be to the renewing the spirit of 
the mind, the putting off the old man, and the putting on of 
the new. (Eph. 4. 22.) When this is never considered, but 
men do only know, that they may know ; and are never con 
cerned further about the great things of God, than only to take 
notice that such things there are offered to their view which 
carry with them the appearance of truth, but mind them no 
more than the affairs of Eutopia, or the world in the moon ; 
what delight is taken in this knowledge is surely most perverse. 
There is a pleasure indeed in knowing things, and in appre 
hending the coherence of one truth with another ; but he that 
shall allow himself to speculate only about things wherein his 
life is concerned, and shall entertain himself with delight in. 
agitating in his mind certain curious general notions concern 
ing a disease or a crime that threatens him with present death, 
or what might be a remedy or defence in such a case, without 
any thought of applying such things to his own case, or that 
the case is his own, one may say of such pleasure it is mad ; or 
of this delight, what doth it? or he that only surfeits his eye 
with beholding the food he is to live by, and who in the mean, 
time languishes in the want of appetite, and a sickly loathing 
of his proper nutriment ; surely such a one hath a pleasure that 
no sober man would think worth the having. 

And the more any one doth only notionally know in the 
matters of religion, so as that the temper of his spirit remains 
altogether unsuitable and opposite to the design and tendency 
of the things known ; the more he hath lying ready to come 
in judgment against him; and if therefore he count the 
things excellent which he knows, and only please himself with 
his own knowledge of them, it is but alike case as if a man 
Should be much delighted to behold his own condemnation 


written in a fair and beautiful hand : or, as if one should be 
pleased with the glittering of that sword which is directed 
against his own heart, and must be the present instrument of 
death to him: and so little pleasant is the case of such a person 
in itself, who thus satisfies his own curiosity, with the concern 
ments of eternal life and death, that any serious person would 
tremble on his behalf, at that wherein he takes pleasure, and 
apprehend just horror in that state of the case whence he draws 
matter of delight. 

[2.] It is yet a more insipid and gustless religion which too 
many place in some peculiar opinions, that are either false, and 
contrary to religion, or doubtful and cumbersome to it, or little 
and inconsiderable, and therefore certainly alien to it, and im 
pertinent. For if that religion only be truly delightful which 
hath a vital influence on the heart and practice, as that must 
needs be ifidelectable, which is only so notionally conversant 
alxmt the greatest truths, as that it hath no such influence; 
much more is that so,which is so wholly conversant about mat 
ters either opposite or irrelative hereto, as that it can have none. 
It must here be acknowledged that some doctrines not only 
not revealed in the word of God, but which are contrary there 
to, may (being thought true) occasion the excitation of some 
inward affection, and have an indirect influence to the regula 
ting of practice also, so as to repress some grosser enormities: 
as the false notions of pagans concerning the Deity, which 
have led them to idolatry, nave struck their minds with a cer- 
taii- kind of reverence of invisible powers, and perhaps rendered 
some more sober and less vicious than had they been destitute 
of all religions sentiments. And yet fue good which hath 
lienee ensued, is not to be referred to the particular principles 
of idolatry which were false; but to the more general principles 
of religion, which were true. Yea, and though such false 
principles viewed alone, and by themselves, may possibly infer 
somewhat of good ; yet that is by accident only, and through the 
short-sightedness and ignorance of them with whom they ob 
tain ; who, if they did consider their in-coherence with other 
common notions and principles most certainly true, would re 
ceive by them (if thought the only principles of religion) so 
nch the greater hurt, and becoire so much the more hope 
lessly and incurably wicked. As most manifestly the princi 
ples whieh(looked upon by themselves) while they are reckoned 
true, do lead to idolatry, and consequently, by that mistake 
only, to some religion ; do yet, being really false, lead 
to. atheism, arid of themselves tend to subvert and destroy 
ttlf religion. Therefore such doctrines as cohere not with the 
general frame of truth; whatever their particular aspect may 


be, considered apart and by themselves, are yet in their natural 
tendency opposite and destructive to the true design of religion, 
and the pleasure which they can anyway afford,is only stolen and 
vain ; such as a person takes in swallowing a potion that is 
pleasant, bat which, if it perform what belongs to it, he 
must with many a sickly qualm refund arid disgorge back 

We also acknowledge some truths of less importance, may 
be said to concern practice, though not so immediately Nor is 
it therefore the design of this discourse to derogate from any 
such, that are of apparently divine revelation or institution ; 
which, however they justly be reckoned less than some other 
things, yet for that very reason as they are revealed by God for 
such an end, are by no means to be esteemed little, or incon 
siderable ; be their subserviency to the great design of religion 
never so remote. Upon the account of which subserviency, 
they are also to be esteemed delectable, that is, in proportion 
thereto ; but when they are so esteemed beyond that propor 
tion, and are exalted, into an undue preference to their very 
end itself; so as that, in comparison of them, the great things 
of religion are reckoned low, frigid, sapless things ; when men 
set their hearts upon them abstractly, and without consideration 
of their reference and usefulness to the greater things of reli 
gion ; the delight that is so taken in them, argues but the 
disease of the mind that takes it, and so great a degree of dotage, 
that a serious person would wonder how men can please them 
selves with such matters, without considering, and with the 
neglect of so great things they have relation to. 

p.] Arid hither is to be referred the much less rational 
pleasure which is taken by some in the mere dress wherewith 
such notions and opinions may be artificially clothed by them 
selves or others; rhetorical flourishes, a set of fine words, hand 
some cadences and periods, fanciful representations, little 
tricks and pieces of wit, and (which cannot pretend so hisjh) 
pitifi^l quibbles and gingles, inversions of sentences, the pe 
dantic rhyming of words, yea and an affected tone, or even 
a great noise, things that are neither capable of gratifying the 
Christian nor the man ; without which even the most important 
weighty matters do to so squeamish stomachs seem gustless 
and unsavoury, and are reckoned dull and flat things. And 
most plain it is, (though it is not strange, that so trifling minds 
should impose upon themselves by so thin a sophism,) that such 
are in a great mistake, whose delight being wholly taken up in 
these trifles, do hereupon think they taste the delights of reli 
gion ; for these are nothing of it, are found about it only ac- 
r idently : and by a most unhappy accident too, as ill (for the 


most of those things) agreeing to it and no more becoming it 
than a fboi's coat doth a prudent grave person ; and the best of 
them agreeing to it but in common with any thing else, about 
which such arts may be used ; so that they are no way any 
thing of it, or more peculiarly belonging to it, than to any 
theme or subject besides, unto which such ornaments (as they 
are thought) can be added. How miserably therefore do they 
cheat themselves^ who, because they hear with pleasure a dis 
course upon some head of religion thus garnished, according to 
their idle trifling humour; and because they are taken with the 
contrivance of soine sentences, or affected with the loudness of 
the voice, or have their imagination tickled with some fantasti 
cal illustrations, presently conclude themselves to be in a reli 
gious transport when the things that have pleased them have 
no affinity or alliance with religion, befall to it but by chance, 
and are in themselves things quite of another country ! 

[4.] Of the like strain is the religion that is made up all of 
talk. And such like are that sort of persons, who love to dis 
course of those great things of God wherewith it was never their 
design or aim to have their hearts stamped, or their lives com 
manded and governed : who invert that which was the an 
cient glory of the Christian Church, " We do not speak great 
things, but live them/' And are pleased with only the noise of 
their own (most commonly insignificant senseless) words ; un 
to whom how ungrateful a relish would that precept have, "Be 
swift to hear, slow so speak !" And how much to be regretted a 
thing is it, that the delights of practical living religion should 
be so lost, and vanish into a mere lip-labour ! things of this na 
ture are to be estimated by their end, and the temper of spirit 
which accompanies them ; which unto a serious and prudent 
observer, are commonly very discernible aud easy to be distin 
guished. It is an amiable, lovely thing to behold those that are 
intent upon the great business of religion themselves, provok 
ing others also with serious gravity unto love and good works. 
And it will ever stand as a monumental character of them that 
feared the Lord, that they spake often one to another, (Mai. ^. 
16.) upon this account. But the pretence of this is odious, 
when the thing designed is nothing but self-recommendation, 
and the spirit of the pretenders is visibly vain and empty; and 
when it is apparent they take delight, not in the things they 
speak of, but only in this thing itself, speaking much. No 
breath is then more fulsome ; and the better the things are, the 
worse it is to have no more savour of them. Again 

[5.] The religion is a kin to this, which stands all in hear 
ing. It is as remote (at least) from the heart, when it is wholly 
placed in the ear, as when it is all in the tongue. As it is witk 


them that are hearers only, not doers of the word, deceiving 
their own souls. (Jam. 1 . 22.) When the preacher is to them 
as a very lovely song, of one that can play well on an instru 
ment, and they hear his words, hut do them not. (Exek. 33. 
32.) And it is natural to the same sort of persons to be pleased 
indifferently with either of these,as the Athenians were in hear 
ing or telling some new thing. Only that this difference most 
commonly appears with the persons we intend, that when 
the things they delight to hear, must he ever new, or at least 
new dressed, the things they speak, shall be everlastingly the 
same. How perverse a delight is that ? Whereas it is the glory 
of substantial religion, that the principal things of it can never 
grow old, or be dry. Their ears still itch after novelties ; a 
plain argument that it is not religion itself that pleases them 
(which cannot change) but the variable accessory modes of re 
presenting it. Howeyer, there is certainly very often a dis 
temper appearing among those that profess religion, in coveting 
to hear unto excess, and beyond what is either suitable or de 
signed unto use and profit. When the pleasure of a delightful 
revolving of the ever fresh and fragrant truths of the gospel, and 
reducing them to answerable practice, is lost and stifled, by 
heaping on of more than can be digested. And many a hopeful 
birth of pious and holy dispositions, affections, and good works, 
is suppressed or enfeebled by an untimely superfetation. 

[6.] It is a most undelightful religion, which consists en 
tirely in the external additaments and forms of worship, which 
this or that party have chosen to affix to it. Yea, though those 
forms be never so certainly of divine prescription ; which, how 
ever God hath appointed them, were never appointed or in 
tended by him to be our religion, but to be subservient helps 
and means to it. Being enlivened by it, they are comely and 
delightful ; but severed and cut off from it, or the course of vi 
tal spirit that should flow into them being obstructed and re 
pressed they have no more pleasure in them than a dead arm 
or finger. Such divine appointments themselves, severed from 
the things wherein substantial religion consists, have been an 
abomination to the Lord, your new moons and sabbaths, &c. 
(Isa. 1. 14.) my soul hates, and then sure there is little reason 
they should be a delight to us. If they be, it is as fond and 
trifling a delight, as when one hath the opportunity of convers 
ing with some excellent person, to neglect all his wise sayings^ 
and pleasant instructive discourses, and only to please one's 
self in viewing his handsome apparel ; yea, though I should 
know at the same time, that I thereby greatly displease 
him whom (as is also supposable) I were greatly concerned 
to please. : - Thus it is with them that mind only the solemnity 


of God's worship, not the design. And more gross the matter 
is, with such as by their observance of the external modes of 
religion, think to expiate the badness of their most vicious con 
versation ; that will steal, and murder and commit adultery, 
oppress the stranger, the fatherless and the widow ; and yet pre 
sume to stand before the Lord in his house, and cry, the temple 
of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these, (Jer. 7* 4.) 
This is the pharisaical religion, that is scrupulous in tything 
mint, annise, and cummin, and neglects the weighty things of 
the law, justice, judgment, and truth. These m^n K!J ^ht in 
what not only is dead in itself, but will be mortal unto them. 
And if the divine institution of the things wherewith they so 
vainly please themselves, will not bear them out, much less 
their own ; be their discriminating denomination or profession 
what it will. And now all these tilings (whether severally or 
together) and whatever else of like kind do at the best make 
but a dead, and consequently an undelightful religion, such 
as hath no pleasure in it, because it hath no life ; it remains 

2. To shew, how unfit such a religion is to be chosen or 
rested in. And surely since (as appears from what was formerly 
said) the persuading of men to become religious or godly, is 
but an inviting them to a state and course wherein they may 
delight themselves with God ; or to a life of pure and heavenly 
pleasure ; that is only the vain shew of religion, which affords 
nothing of that pleasure. And how unreasonable and foolish 
is it when religion itself is the thing we pretend, to let our 
selves be mocked (as we mock others, and vainly attempt to 
mock him also, who is not be mocked) with the mere empty 
shew and appearance of it! that we may be here somewhat 
more particular, let it be considered. 

(1.) That the religion which is in itself undelightful, is, for 
the same reason for which it is so, uncapable of growth ; that is, 
because it is a dead thing. For that reason it is without de 
light; and for the same reason admits not of improvement. It 
wants the self-improving principle. He that drinks of that 
water (saith our saviour) which 1 shall give him, it shall be in 
him as a well of water springing up in him unto life eternal. 
(Joh. A. 14.) That only principle of all true religion and 
godliness, the divine nature, the seed of God, is of that heavenly 
tendency, it aims and aspire* upward; and will never cease 
shootimr up till it reach heaven ; and the pleasure and delight- 
fulness of it stand much in its continual springing up towards a per 
fect state, from a grain of mustard-seed to the tallnessofacedar. 
It is pleasant to behold its constant n decaying greenness and 
verdure; such as renders its subject like a tree planted by the 


rivers of water that brings forth fruit in season, whose leaf also 
doth not wither, and whatsoever he doth prospers, (Psal. 1. 3.) 
Or as plants set in the house of the Lord, that flourish in the 
courts of their God : that shall still bring forth fruit even in 
old age, and be fat and flourishing. (Psal. 92, 13, 14.) The 
dead, dry forms, or other appendages of religion, that have no 
communion with a living root, or the religion that is only made 
Up of these, gives no such hope of improvement. A great and 
most considerable prejudice against any thing that pretends 
to the iiame of religion ; which being at first an im 
perfect thing (as that especially which itself is but pre 
tence and shadow cannot but be) if it shall never be ex 
pected to be better, can have little claim or title to any excel 
lency. The value even of true religion, though it be of an ex 
cellent nature and kind, stands much in the hopefulness and 
improveableness of it 5 and is not so much to be considered in 
respect of what it is, as what it shall come to. This lank, spi 
ritless religion as soon as you assume and take it up, you know 
the best of it. It is not of a growing, thriving kind; never expect 
better of it. It is true, the notional knowledge, opinionative- 
iiess, and external observances, which we have spoken of, may 
he so increased, as a heap of sand may be 5 but the religion of 
such grows not as a thing that hath life in it^ by vital self-im* 

(2.) Nor for the same reason can it be a lasting thing. For 
it wants what should maintain it. It will, as a vesture, wear 
and grow old ; or, being as a cloak put on to serve a present 
turn, is when that turn is served, as easily thrown off, that is, 
being found to be more cumbersome than useful. What hath 
living union with a man's own' self, it is neither his ease nor 
convenience ; he neither affects, nor can endure to lay it aside. 
It is given as a character of a hypocrite (one who therefore 
must be understood to carry with him some shew and face of 
religion^ and to want the living root and principle of it) that he 
is inconstant in his religion; Will he at all times call upon God? 
(Job. 27. 10.) or will he be constantly religious ? The interro 
gative form of speech implies more than a mere negative. 
That is, doth not only say that he will not at all times call upon 
God, but that it is absurd to say or think that he will. For it 
Is an appeal to common reason in the case; as if it had been 
said, " Can any man think that such a one's religion will be 
lasting ? It imports a disdain it should be thought so, What ! 
he call upon God at all times ; a likely thing ! no ; the matter 
is plain, his religion is measured by his secular interest, and he 
will only be so long religious as will serve that purpose. And 
the reason is plainly assigned in the foregoing words, " Will he 

VOL. ir. Q 


delight himself in the Almighty?" His religion hath no delight 
with it; It is a languid, faint, spiritless thing, a dead form. If 
it had life, it would have pleasure in it ; and then the same 
vital principle that would make it pleasant, would make it last^ 
ing and permanent also. 

(3.) While it doth last, it wants the fruit and profit, whicli 
should be designed and sought by religion ; even for the same 
reason for which it is without delight, it is also fruitless and 
vain, that is because it hath no life in it. So that all that is 
done in this way of religion is only labour and toil to no pur 
pose. And what do or can we propose to ourselves from reli 
gion, as the proper design of it, but to have our spirits fitted to 
the honouring and enjoying of God, unto service to him, and 
blessedness in him ; and that we may hereupon, actually both 
serve and enjoy him ? both these chiefly depend upon his fa 
vourable acceptance of us. He will neither reckon himself 
served by us, not allow himself to be enjoyed, if he be not 
pleased with us. And how shall we expect to please him with 
that, wherewith, the more our minds come to be rectified and 
made conformable to the rule of righteousness and life, the 
more impossible it is that we can be pleased ourselves ? Can we 
please him by a religion that is in itself unsavoury, spiritless 
end dead; and that affords not to ourselves the least relish of 
true pleasure ? And partly the success of our religion in the 
jnentioned respects, depends upon the due temperament our spi 
rits receive by it; but what good impression can that light, 
chafFv, empty religion that hath been described, ever be hoped 
to make there ? Is it a likely means of refining and bettering 
pur spirits ? Even as it is void of spiritual delight it is also of 
^spiritual benefit; for certainly our spirits are like to embrace 
and retain nothing in which they can take no pleasure. Hovr 
vain then is that religion by which we can neither please God 
nor profit ourselves ? 

(4.) It ought to be considered how foolish a thing it is, and 
i/m worthy of a reasonable creature to do that in a continued 
Bourse and series of actions wherein we can have no design, 
a?id do aim at nothing. Even they that place their religion in 
tilings so remote and alien to the spirit and power of it, do yet; 
spend a considerable part of their life's-time in those things. 
And how becoming is it of a man to have spent so much of his 
time in doing nothing ? and that from week to week, or frorn 
clay to day, the seasons should return, of which he hath con 
stantly this to say, "Now comes the time of doing that whereof 
1 can give no account why I do it ! that there should be so 
constant a defalcation of such portions of time for that which a 
man can neither <&11 business flpr recreation,, which tends to no 


advantage in any kind. For it tends not to promote his secular 
interest but in so indirect and by-a-way, and with so sinister 
and basely-oblique respects, as an honest man would abhor, 
and an ingenuous man be ashamed to profess ; and his spiritual 
and eternal interest much less. This were therefore the same 
thing as to proclaim one's self a fool or a vain trifle r. The 
things that have been instanced in, (considered so abstractly 
from the substance of religion as we have considered them,) 
being such, some of them, as carry not with them so much as 
that very shew of wisdom, (Col. 2. 23.) of which the apostle 
speaks ; and others of them, so faint a shew, as it ill becomes a 
wise man to be pleased with, while they do his better part no 
good, and carry not that shew in any provision (as that word 
T/fcv; sometimes signifies) for the satisfying of the flesh. 

And yet it is to be withal remembered that this (waste 
and lost) time of their life, is all that such persons allot to their 
everlasting concernments ; and that the things which have 
been mentioned (some or other of them ; for all do not always 
concur with the same persons) are not made subservient to; 
but are substituted in the room and stead of the reli 
gion by which those concernments should bj6 provided 
for. And is this a wise provision for eternity ? Wliat man ! A 
few empty unimproved notions ! a by-opinion or two ! the flou 
rishes of a little pedantic art tickling thy toyish fancy ! the mo 
tion of thy only busy and labouring tongue ! or the thirst and 
satisfaction of thy vain ear! the bowing of thy hypocritical knee ! 
Are these all that thou designest, or wilt mind to do for thy 
soul ? Are these like well to supply the place of living religion? 
to serve thee instead of inward acquaintance with God ? of be 
ing really and habitually good and holy ? of doing good and 
walking in the path of life ? What a soul hast thou that can 
live upon chaff and air, and be sustained by the wind ? 
Hast thou no need of quickening influence from God ? no hun 
ger after the heavenly, hidden manna, and the fruits of the 
tree of life ? What use makest thou of thy understanding, or of 
the reason of a man, when thou thinkest such empty vanities as 
thou trustest in can do the office, or attain the ends of true re 
ligion ? How much more rational were it to pretend to no* 
thing of religion at all, than to think such a one will serve the 
turn ! 

(5.) Consider, what reflections are likely to be made upon 
this matter hereafter, when thy short course in this world is run 
out. Will it be a grateful remembrance to thee that thou wast 
so long hovering about the borders of religion ? and wast at the 
very door and wouldest not enter in ? that thou didst so often 
think and speak, and hear of the things wherain religion stood, 


but wouldest never allow thyself to taste the pleasant relishes 
thereof? to have been so nigh to the kingdom of God, and yet 
an alien to it, to the righteousness and peace, and joy in the 
Holy Ghost wherein it consists! That thou didst only please thy 
self with the painted casket (made fine, as thou thoughtest, 
but only with thine own pencil) wherein so rich a jewel was ; 
and retaining that, threwcst away this as thing of nought ! will 
not these be wounding thoughts ? 

(6.) Let it be seriously pondered how offensive it must be to 
the jealous God that any should thus trifie with him and hisr 
holy things, under a shew and pretence of religion and devotion 
to him. Not to please him by the sincerity and truth of our 
religion, loses the end and reward we would expect. . But that 
is not all. To provoke him by the hypocritical pretence and 
abuse of it, cannot but hifer a sharp revenge which it may be 
we expected not. And let us bethink ourselves how high the 
provocation is ! Either we design to please, honour and enjoy 
him by that irrational and undelightful course of religion, or we 
do not. If we do not, this signifies nothing but highest con-? 
tempt and defiance of him ; and that we care not for his favour 
nor fear his displeasure. Yea, inasmuch as such religion is pre 
tended as a homage to him, it is nothing really but most pro 
fane and insolent mockery ; as if we would join in the same 
breath and in the same act, " Hail Jesus and crucify him ; n 
and at once invest him with the purple robe, and spit in his 
face. But if we have such a design^ and do really think to 
please him by such trifling with him ; and that these vain fan 
cies and formality shall make amends for all our neglects of 
him through the whole course of our lives besides ; then how 
vile thoughts have we of him! what do we make of the God 
we serve ? How justly may that be applied to us, ye worship 
ye know not what! (Job. 4. 22.) Who gave us our idea of 
that ever blessed Being ? It is not God, but a despicable idol of 
Our own creating we are thinking to please. We may see how 
well he is pleased with the external shew and the appendages of 
of religion (which being his own appointments would in con 
junction and in subserviency thereto have signified somewhat, 
but disjoined from it, and accompanied with the neglect and 
abandoning of real piety and righteousness, signified nothing 
but an affront to him) in that remonstrance by the prophet ; 
He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man ; he that sacrificeth 
a lamb as if he cut off a dog's neck ; he that offereth an obla 
tion as if he offered swine's blood ; he that burneth incense as if 
he blessed an idol. (Isa. 66". 3.) He is pleased with their reli 
gion, as he would be with murder, profaneness and idolatry. 
A.nd is it strange this should be his estimate, when he is hereby 


practically represented as such a one that will not be displeased 
with real wickedness, and that will be pleased with the thin- 
pest and most superficial shew of devotion) 

They therefore make a fair hand of their religion, who are SQ 
far from pleasing God by it and advantaging themselves, that 
they wound their own souls (as they are most like to do that 
handle so awkwardly such an edged tool) and render God their 
most avowed enemy. The religion then which hath no delight 
in it hath so much of folly, incommodity and mischief, that 
measuring it by the rules which were premised, we may see 
sufficient reason why such a religion should not be chosen or 
jested in : and that we are concerned to look further. 


We proceed to what was next proposed, that is, to inquire, 
Secondly. What religion is fit to be chosen where somewhat is 
offered. 1. By way of direction : and 2, By way of excitation. 

Secondly, ."T^ETE pass on to the other head proposed ; the posi 
tive judgment we are to make, what religion 
is fit to be chosen, and wherein we may safely acquiesce ? 
whereof we shall only give the account which the subject we 
have in hand allows to be here given, that is, that it be such as 
is in itself rationally and justly delectable. And though reli 
gion is not to be chosen only or chiefly, for the delightfulness 
of it ; yet since, as we have seen, only that religion is true which 
is delightful ; that only which is delightful is fit to be chosen. 
So that this is a certain character (though not the chief cause) 
of the eligibleness of religion. And when it is so expressly en 
joined us as a duty, to delight ourselves in the Lord ; if, as 
hath been shewn, this be within the meaning of the precept, 
that, in the general, we delight ourselves in a way and course 
of religion ; it is plain such religion only can be meant or in 
tended, as can afford us matter of delight, or as is itself truly 
and really delectable. And here we shall not need to repeat 
what hath been so largely discoursed in the Former Part, tend 
ing to shew the rich matter of delight which the several exerci* 


ses of true living 1 religion, and all the actions, influenced and 
directed by it, do carry in them. It will only be requisite, to 
offer somewhat partly to direct, partly to -excite unto that de 
lightful pleasant life. 

1 . For direction, let such rules be observed as these which 

(1.) Endeavour to have a mind well instructed in the know 
ledge of such things as more directly concern the common 
practice of a religious man, as such. That is, to be thoroughly 
msighted into practical truths, or into that truth which is after 
godliness. It hath been the merciful vouchsafement of the 
divine goodness, so to order it, that those things are plain and 
but few, which are of more absolute necessity in religion. This 
may be seen by the summary accounts which we find some 
times given thereof, repentance towards God, and faith towards 
our Lord Jesus Christ. (Act. 20. 21.) Which two things (in 
timated to comprehend the whole counsel of God) do mani 
festly suppose the state of apostacy, and express the way of re 
medy; whereinto,when we are brought, how succinct and clear a 
recapitulation of our duty have we in that of our Saviour, "Thou 
shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy 
soul, and with all thy mind : and thou shalt love thy neighbour 
as thyself !'' To a w T ell-complexioned spirit, how comprehensive 
and full, how savoury and acceptable will these things appear ! 
Nor would such a one part with the substantial fulness of these 
few words for all the treasures of both the Indies. How truly 
is it called, that good, that acceptable and perfect will of God I 
(Rom. 12. 2.) And how fitly to be preferred before thousand! 
of gold and silver ! Things of highest value are not bulky; their 
excellency is the greater by being contracted; and that, being 
in themselves precious, they are so conveniently portable. How 
easily are these dictates carried about with us through our whole 
course ! and how universally useful are they for the well-guid- 
ingofit, to such as have a greater mind to do their duty than move 
questions about it ! Two things are both opposite to this rule 
and not a little prejudicial to the delight of religious conversa- 
tion, (by which it will appear, how conducible to it the matter 
here directed is) namely, excessive curiosity in the speculation 
of truths belonging to religion ; without designing to refer them 
to practice ; (which hath been animadverted on before,) and an 
equally excessive scrupulosity about matters of practice. It 
were indeed an argument of a desperate mind, and destitute of 
any fear of God, to be careless what we do, and unconcerned 
whether the way we take, in this or that case, be right or wrong. 
But it is certain, there may be an excess in this matter, and too 
eftenis; that is, there may be a scrupulosity which is both 


causeless and endless. There is surely some medium in travel 
ling between a careless wandering we mind not whither, and a 
perpetual anxiety whether we be in our way or no, with often 
going back to inquire. This would quite destroy both th 
pleasure of the journey, and the progress of it. Some difficul 
ties may occur, which should justly occasion one to make a 
stand and consider. But probably, very many cases that some 
do agitate with much disquiet to themselves and others, would 
soonest be expedited by sincerity, and reducing them to the 
law of love, 

It would however make much for our pleasant, delightful 
walking on in the way of God, to have a mind (informed once 
and established thoroughly in the belief of the principal doc 
trines of Christian religion) well furnished also with the most 
useful practical precepts, which might at every turn be ready at 
hand to be applied upon emergencies ; which they whom pre 
dominant self-interest or corrupt inclination render not difficult 
to the apprehending of their duty, (our way is not usually 
otherwise so very intricate) may cheerfully and innocently 
guide themselves by. " He that walketh uprightly, walketlj 
surely." Though some men's way may, by the circumstances 
of their conditions, be much more perplexed than others, who 
are therefore concerned to be the more wary. But the diffi 
cult toil and tug that some have with themselves, is, how by 
contrived explications they may make their rule bend and yield 
to their self-biassed humours and ends; which because they find it 
not easy to do with full satisfaction to their consciences, (that see 
more than they would have them, and are yet not of authority 
enough with them to govern and command their practice) it is not 
strange, they entangle and even lose themselves amongst thorns 
and briars, and meet with little delight in their way. Where 

(2.) Be principally intent to have your soul become habitu 
ally good and holy, by its own settled temper and complexion 
inclined and made suitable to the way of righteousness and life. 
It was, no doubt, with a very sweet gust and relish of pleasure, 
that the Psalmist utters that gratulatory acknowledgment of 
the divine goodness in this, He restoreth my soul ; he leadeth 
me in paths of righteousness, for his name's sake. (Psal. 23. 3.) 
The paths of righteousness are very agreeable and pleasant to a 
restored, a sound and healthy soul ; to one that is now got into 
a good habit, and a settled state of spiritual strength. You may 
therefore take the meaning and substance of this precept, in the 
apostle's (more authoritative) words, be ye transformed in the 
renewing of your mind, that yc may prove what is that good, 
that acceptable and perfect will of God. (Row, 12, 2.) " You 


can never (as though he had said) have a proof of it, the very 
palate of your soul will be vicious and still disaffected till then/ 
that is, till that transformation and renewing change hath past 
iipon you. Then it will be pleasant to you to know the will 
of God your delight will be in the law of the Lord, and in 
his law you will meditate both day and night. And it will be 
more pleasant to do it. You will esteem the words of his 
mouth as your appointed food, and it will be as your meat and 
drink to do his will. You can easily apprehend how toilsome 
and painful any thing of business and labour, is to a person that 
languishes under some enfeebling lazy disease. A like case it 
is, when you would put one upon doing of anything spiritually 
good, that is listless, indisposed 5 to every good work reprobate,- 
How will the heart recoil and give back ! with how vehement 
a reluctation will it resist the proposal, as if you were urging it 
upon flames or the sword's point ! The carnal mind is enmity 
against God, and is not subject to his law, nor indeed can be. 
(Rom. 8. 7) But when once the law of God is within your 
heart, you will delight to do his will. (Psal. 40. 8.) To one 
that is born of God, and hath therefore overcome the world, 
his commands are not grievous. 1. Joh. 5. 5. Know therefore 
you must be good (really and habitually so) in order to your 
doing good with any delight, in conformity to the blessed God 
himself (your pattern) who therefore exercises loving-kindness 
judgment and righteousness in the earth, as delighting in these 
things. (Jer. 1). 24 .) You must be partaker of a divine nature, 
andliave the heart-rectifying communication before discoursed 
of, and become God's own workmanship, a second time, crea 
ted in Christ Jesus unto good works. Eph. 2. 10. It is not to 
be hoped, it can be delightful to act against inclination ; or that 
a forced imitation of that good whereof you want the implanted 
vital principle, can be any more pleasing to you than it is to 
God, whom you cannot mock or impose upon by your most ela 
borate or specious disguises. Arid therefore, since that holy 1 
heart-rectitude must be had, it must be sought earnestly and 
without rest. Often ought heaven to be visited with such sighs 
and longings sent up thither, O that my ways were directed to 
keep thy righteous judgments. Let my heart be sound in thy 
statutes, that I be not ashamed. (Psal. 119. 80) And it should 
be sought with expectation of good-speed and without despair, 
remembering we are told, if we ask,we shall receive; if we seek 
we shall find ; if we knock, it shall be opened unto us ; yea, 
that our heavenly Father will much more readily give his Holy 
Spirit to them that ask, than you would bread to your child 
that calls for it, rather than a stone. 

(3.) When once you iind your spirit is become in any mea- 


sure well-inclined, and begins to savour that which is truly 
good ; know yet, that it needs your continual inspection and 
care, to cherish good principles and repress evil ones. Your 
work is not done as soon as you begin to live ; as care about an 
infant ceases not as soon as it is born. Let it be therefore your 
constant business, to tend your inward man ; otherwise all 
things will soon be out of course. God hath coupled delight 
with the labour of a Christian, not with the sloth and neglect of 
himself ; the heart must then be kept with all diligence, (Prov. 
4. 23.) or above all keeping, in as much as out of it are the is 
sues of life. All vital principles are lodged there ; and only 
the genuine issues of such as are good and holy, will 
yield you pleasure. The exercises of religion will be pleasant 
when they are natural, and flow easily from their own fountain; 
but great care must be taken that the fountain be kept pure. 
There are other springs besides, which will be apt to intermin 
gle therewith their bitter waters, or a root of bitterness, whose 
fruit is deadly, even that evil thing, and bitter forsaking the. 
Lord. I wonder not, if they taste little of the delights of reli 
gion that take no heed to their spirits. Such a curse is upon 
the nature of man as is upon the ground which was cursed for 
his sake, (till the blessing of Abraham through Jesus Christ do 
take place, even the promise of the Spirit, Gal. 3. 14.) that it 
brings forth naturally thorns and thistles, and mingles sorrows 
with his bread. But that promised blessing, that will enable a 
man to eat with pleasure, comes not all at once ; nor do the in 
creases of it come on, or the pleasant fruits of righteousness 
spring up, but in them that give all diligence^ to add to their 
faith, virtue ; and to virtue, knowledge and to knowledge, tem 
perance ; and to temperance, patience ; and to patience, godli 
ness ; and to godliness, brotherly-kindness ; and to brotherly- 
kindness, charity ; which would make that we be not barren 
nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
(2. Pet. 1. 5-9.) Otherwise, look in upon thy soul when thou 
wilt, and thou wilt have no other than the dismal prospect of 
miserable wastes and desolation. Consider it seriously, wretch 
ed man ! who tillest thy field, but not thy soul ; and lovest to 
see thy garden, neat and flourishing, but lettest thy spirit lie as 
a neglected thing, and as if it were not thine; 

We are directed for the moderating of our care in our earth 
ly concernments to consider the lillies how they grow without 
their own toil, and are beautifully arrayed without their spin 
ning ; but we are taught by no such instances, to divert or re 
mit our care of our inward man. To these concernments, let 
Us then apply and bend ourselves. That is, carefully to observe 
the first stirrings of our thoughts and desires j to animadvert 

VOL. II. * R 


upon our inclinations as soon as they can come in view, upon 
our designs in their very formation ; and inquire concerning 
each, whence is is ? from a good principle or a bad ? whither 
tends itj to good or hurt? will not this design, if prosecuted, 
prove an unjustifiable self-indulgence ? does it not tend to an 
unlawful gratifying of the flesh, and fulfilling some lusts there 
of ? If so, let it be lopt off out of hand, and the axe be laid 
even to the root ; strike at it, favour it not. Think with thyself, 
6C This, if spared, will breed me sorrow; so much as I give to it, I 
take away from the comfort of my life ; and spend of the stock 
of my spiritual delight in God. Shall I let sin, the tormentor 
of my soul, live and be maintained at so costly a rate ?" If any 
good inclination discover itself, cherish it, confirm and strength 
en it. Look up, and pray down a further quickening influ 
ence. Say with thyself, now that heavenly Spirit of life and grace 
begins to breathe, impart more of this pleasant vital breath thou 
blessed and Holy Spirit ! Account this a seed time, now the 
light and gladness are a sowing in thy soul (which are wont to 
be for the righteous and upright in heart) and do promise ere 
long, a joyful harvest. But if thou wilt not observe how 
things go with thy soul, despair that they will ever go 

(4.) Be frequent and impartial in the actual exercise of gra 
cious principles ; or in practising and doing as they direct. 
Your actual delight arises from and accompanies your holy ac 
tions themselves, and is to be perceived and tasted in them ; 
not in the mere inclination to them which is not strong enough 
to go forth into act. And as these principles are more fre 
quently exercised, they grow more lively and vigorous, and will 
thence act more strongly and pleasantly; so that your delight 
in doing good, will grow with the principles it proceeds from. 
But then you must be impartial and even handed herein, as 
well as frequent ; and run the whole compass of that duty 
which belongs to you as a Christian. Exercise yourself (as we 
find the direction is) unto godliness ; (1 Tim. 4. 70 and in such 
acts and parts of godliness chiefly and in the first place, as may 
be the exercise of the mind and spirit, in opposition to the bo 
dily exercise (whether severities imposed upon, or performan 
ces that require the ministry of that grosser part) to which this 
nobler kind of exercise is justly preferred. Turn the powers of 
your soul upon God. Act seasonably the several graces of the 
spirit that terminate directly upon him. Let none grow out of 
use. At sometimes repentance, at others faith, now your love, 
then your fear; none of these are placed in you, or sanctified in 
vain. Retire much with God; learn and habituate yourselves 
unto secret converse with him ' f contemplate his nature, attr. i* 


butes and works for your excitation to holy adoration,, reverence 
and praise. And be much exercised in the open solemnities 
of his worship ; there endeavouring that though your inward 
man bear not the only, it may the principal part. How delight 
ful ''a thing is it, to be paying actual avowed homage to the 
great Lord of heaven and earth before angels and men ! And 
never think your religious and devotional exercises can acquit 
you, or supply the want and excuse the absence of sobriety and 
righteousness. Exercise a just authority over yourselves. Keep 
your imagination, passions, sensitive appetite under a due re 
straint, so as to be moderate in your desires and enjoyments, 
patient as to your wants and sufferings. Do to others as you 
would be done unto : study common good : endeavour, so far 
as your capacity can extend, all about you may be the better 
for you. Forbear and forgive the injurious, relieve the necessi 
tous, delight in good men, pity the bad, be grateful towards 
friends, mild and unrevengeful towards enemies, just towards 
all. Abhor to do not only a dishonest, but even a mean and 
unworthy act, for any self-advantage. And all this out of an 
awful and dutiful respect to God ; by which the ordinary acti 
ons of your life may become as so many acts of religion, or be 
directed and influenced thereby, tinctured as it were with the 
savour of godliness. Pass thus, in your continual practice, 
through the whole circle of Christian duties and graces, with an 
equal respect to all God's commandments, not so partially ad 
dicting yourselves to one sort of exercise, as to disuse and neg 
lect the rest ; which kind of partiality is that which starves re 
ligion, and stifles the delight of it. 

There are those that affect the reputation of being sober, just, 
kind, charitable persons, and do appear such, who yet are great 
strangers to God, and to the more noble exercises of the divine 
life, know not what belongs to communion with God, live not 
in his love and converse, savour not heaven ; have not so much 
as the taste of the great vital powers of the world to come. 
Others, that pretend to much acquaintance with God, and are 
much taken up in discoursing of his love, and of intimacies with 
him, that count justice and charity mean things, and much be 
neath them : can allow themselves to be covetous, oppressive, 
fraudulent, wrathful, malicious, peevish, fretful, discontented, 
proud, censorious,, merciless ; and so glory in a religion 
which no one is the better for, and themselves least of 
all ; and which is quite of another stamp from the pure reli 
gion and undefiled. (Jam. 1. 27.) which the apostle describes 
and recommends. And certainly, their religion hath as little 
of pleasure in it to themselves, as it hath of beauty and orna 
ment in the sight of others. So maimed a religion can be ae- 


companied with little delight. Would it not detract much 
from the natural pleasure of a man's life, if he should lose an 
arm or a leg? or have them useless and unserviceable ? or if he 
should be deprived of some of his sense's, or natural faculties, 
so as to be uncapable of some of the more principal functions 
of life ? And if we should suppose the new creature alike 
maimed and defective, will there not be a proportionable dimi 
nution of its delight ? But the Spirit of God is the Author of no 
such imperfect productions ; and therefore the total absence of 
any holy disposition will not argue the true delight of such a 
pne to be little, but none at all. However, let all the integral 
parts of the new man be supposed formed at first, and existing 
together ; when this creature is thus entirely framed, it is our 
business to see to the due exercise, and thereby to the improve 
ment and growth of the several parts, wherein if one be neg 
lected, it infers a general enfeeblement of the whole. Let pa 
tience have its perfect work (saith that apostle) that ye may be 
perfect, and entire wanting nothing, (Jam. 1. 4.) implying, 
that not only the absence of that one grace, but iis not being 
thoroughly exercised, would render us very defective Christians* 
We may say of the several members of this divine creature, as 
is said of the complex body of Christians, if one suffer, all the 
members suffer with it ; if one be honoured, all rejoice with 
it. Therefore that you may experience the delightfulness of 
religion, see that in the exercise and practice of it you be 
entire, thorough christians. 

(5.) Be ye confirmed in the apprehension, that religion is in 
itself a delightful thing, even universally and in the whole na 
ture of it. Whereby a double practical mistake and error will 
be avoided, that greatly obstructs and hinders the actual relish 
and sensation of that delight. 

[1.] That either religion is in the whole nature of it such 
a thing to which delight must be alien, and banished 
from it; as if nothing did belong to, orj could consist with 
it, "but sour severities, pensiveness and sad thoughts. Or 

[2.] That if any delight did belong to it at all, it must be 
found only in peculiar extraordinary assurances and persuasions 
of God's love ; and be the attainment consequently of none 
but more eminent christians. 

That apprehension being thoroughly admitted, both these, 
misapprehensions fall and vanish. And it will take place, if it 
be duly considered, that there is a delight that will naturally 
arise from the congruity and fitness of actions in themselves, 
and the facility of them, that they flow easily from their proper 
principles. Whereupon, there can be no true vital act of re- 


tigion but will be delightful. And we may appeal herein to 
the judgments of such as shall allow themselves to consider, 
whether the matter do not evidently appear to be so upon a 
serious review and revolving with themselves of the several 
gracious operations that proceed from the holy rectitude men 
tioned in the Former Part; as the acts of even repentance, self- 
abasement, self-denial, self- devoting, (appearing to be in them 
selves most fit and becoming things,) and readily without force 
proceeding (as they cannot but do) from a rectified and well- 
disposed heart, how can they but be pleasant? ^And it is mnch 
in our way to the experiencing of such delight, to be at a 
point with ourselves, and well resolved wherein it is to be sought 
and found. 

(6.) However all the acts and operations of true, and living 
religion be in themselves delightful, yet apply yourselves to the 
doing of them for a higher reason, and with a greater design 
than your own delight. Otherwise you destroy your own work 
therein, and despoil your acts of their substantial, moral good 
ness, and consequently of their delightfulness also. That is 
not a morally good set, which is not referred to God, and done 
out of (at least) an habitual devotedness to him, so as that he be 
the supreme end thereof. You would therefore, by with-draw- 
ing and separating this reference to God, ravish from them 
their very life and soul ; yea and perfectly nullify those of them 
that should be in themselves acts of religion. So as that in 
respect of all your actions, that separation were unjust ; and as 
to those that should be direct acts of religion, impossible. 
Since therefore they are only delightful as they are vital acts, 
proceeding from a principle of divine life ; and that an habitual 
devotedness to God, is that very (comprehensive and most 
radical) principle ; you should, by designing your own delight 
in them supremely, counter-act yourself, and cross your own 
end ; you should make them acts of idolatry, not religion ; and 
set up your own self as the idol of jealousy, that receives the 
homage of them, instead of God: whereby the unlawful pleasure 
which you would engross to yourselves, will turn all to gall and 
wormwood, and be bitterness in the end. That therefore you 
may taste the sweetness and pleasure which belongs to a religious, 
godly life, your way must be, to act on directly forward in the 
simplicity of your heart, doing all that you do to and for God. 
And thus that pleasure, because it is natural to such acts, will 
of its own accord result and arise to you ; and so much the 
more, by how much less you design for yourself in what you 
do. From that uprightness and sincerity of heart towards God 
it can never be separated. But to be a religious epicure, to 
pray, hear, meditate, do acts of justice and chanty, only to 


please and humour yourselves, and that you may derive a kind 
of solace and satisfaction from your own work, is to undo your 
design, and blast the delight which you covet, It follows 
while you seek it not ; it flies from you while you so inordinately 
seek it. 

(7) Yet disallow not yourself to taste and enjoy the pleasure 
of well -doing. Yea, and (secondarily and in due subordination) 
to design and endeavour that you may do so. It is in itself, a 
covetable and lawful pleasure ; so that it be not sought and 
entertained out of its own place. It is a promised pleasure, 
the good man (it is said) shall be satisfied from himself. (Pro. 
14, 14.) And it is by particular direction to be testified to 
the righteous, they shall eat the fruit of their own doings. 
Isa. 3. 10. It is God's gracious allowance to them, which it 
is a part of gratitude and dutifulness to esteem and accept ; 
yea, and with great admiration of the divine goodness that 
hath made and settled such a conjunction between their duty 
and their delight; that hath laid such laws upon them, as in 
the keeping whereof there is such reward; (Psal. 19. 11.) when 
as they might have been enjoined a meaner servitude, and by 
the condition and kind of their work, have been kept strangers 
to any thing of delight therein. 

That thankful acknowledgment of the bounty and goodness 
of God to them in the very constitution of his laws and govern 
ment, is become a part of their duty, which cannot be done 
without previous relishes of the sweetness and goodness of their 
other duty. They are required in every thing to give thanks, 
1 Thes. 5. 18. And it is said, they shall go on in their way 
as the redeemed of the Lord, with everlasting joy upon their 
heads; (Isa. 51. 11.) that they shall sing in the ways of the 
Lord ; (Psal. 138. 5.) which cannot be, if they take not notice 
that the ways of the Lord are pleasantness, and all his paths 
peace. Prov. 3. 17. Therefore you should designedly set your 
self to taste the goodness and delightful ness of holy walking. 
And to that end, when you find the blessed cherishing warmth 
and vigour of God's gracious communication let in upon you, 
enlarging your hearts, making your way and work easy to you, 
and helping you to do with an untoilsome facility, what he re 
quires und calls for, and to run the way of his commandments ; 
so that you can do acts of piety, righteousness and mercy as 
natural acts, borne up by the power of a steady3living principle 
acting in you, (as it is said, they that wait upon the Lord shaH 
renew strength and mount up with wings as eagles, run with* 
out weariness, and walk without fainting, Isa. 40. 31.) you 
should now reflect and take notice how good and pleasant is 
this I Make your pauses and deliberate 5 have your seasons of 


respiration and drawing breath; and then bethink yourself, 
commune thus with your own heart, " How do 1 now like ther 
way and service of the Lord ? and a life of pure devotednes* 
to him ? a course of regular walking in thorough subjection to 
his laws and government ? and that the course of my actions 
be as a continual sacrificing; doing all to him, and for him ?" 
What do you not now rejoice that you find yourselves to offer 
willingly ? Can you forbear with gratitude and joy to acknow 
ledge and own it to him, that it is of his own hand that you do 
this ? You should now compare your present with your for 
mer state and temper, and consider how much better is it to 
me to live in his fear, love and communion, than to be, as once 
I wasalienated from the life of God, and as without him in the 
world ! now I can trust and obey, once 1 could not. Now, 
when the opportunity invites, I am in some readiness to serve 
him, created to good works, a vessel fitted to my master's use ; 
some time I was to every good work reprobate. Surely it is 
most becoming to take a free complacency in this blessed 
change. That is, not with a proud, pharisaical gloriation to 
say, " God,I thank thee, I am not as other men ;" or, trusting in 
yourself that you are righteous, to despise others ; but with a 
mean estimation of yourself, and all you can do ; and with that 
deep and constant sense, that when you have done all you can, 
you are an unprofitable servant, you do but your duty. Yet 
blessing God that since he hath made such things your duty, 
he also doth in some measure enable you to do it; that he 
hath reconciled and attempered your heart to your way and 
work, and made it pleasant to you. Not hypocritically arroga 
ting all to yourself, under the formal and false shew of thanks 
giving to him ; or aiming only more colourably to introduce a 
vain boast and ostentation of yourself, in the form of gratula- 
tion to God ; but as having a heart inwardly possessed with the 
humble sense who it is that hath made you differ, not only 
from other men, but from yourself also. 

(8.) And because that disposedness of heart unto such a 
course of holy practice, may not be constantly actual, and 
equally sensible at all times, (that all delight, in the ways of 
God may not hereupon cease, and be broken off, which in 
those sadder intervals cannot but suffer a great diminution,) 
you must take heed, that as to the distempers and indisposi 
tions you now discern in your own spirit, you do neither 
indulge yourself nor despair ; but take the proper course of 

To indulge yourself in them were mortal. Then down you 
go as a dead weight into the mire and dirt, into the depths 
0f the earth, and your swift and pleasant flight ends in a heavy 


lumpish fall. You should therefore bethink yourself, that if 
you yield to a slothful, sluggish temper of spirit, which you' 
now feel coming on upon you, shortly you shall have nothing 
(sensibly) remaining to you of your religion, but the dead and 
empty forms, How waste and desolate a thing will that be ! 
a like thing as if you come into a deserted house where you 
were wont pleasantly to converse with most delectable friends,; 
arid you now find nothing but cold bare walls. How dismal 
will it be when only the same duties j the same external frame 
and acts of worship remain, but the spirit of life and power 
which was wont to breathe in them, is retired and gone ! And 
what, will you take up with that delusive unconversible shadow, 
or be content to embrace the stiff and breathless carcase that 
remains ? You find perhaps your spirit sinking into carnality, 
an earthly temper of mind gradually seizing on you ; worldly 
thoughts, cares, desires, fears, invading your heart : by the 
same degrees that these come on, life retires ; you grow list 
less toward God; your heart is not in your religion as hereto 
fore : you keep up your fashion of praying, and doing other 
duties which were your former wont ; but you languish in them. 
Can you here be content to lie still and die ? and rather choose 
to suffer the pains of death than of labour, by which your soul 
might yet live ? Is this a time to roll yourself upon your sloth 
ful bed, and say, " Soul, take thine ease," even upon the 
pit's brink ? Do not agree the matter so. Think not of mak 
ing a covenant with death. It is not so gentle a thing as your 
slothful temper makes you think. Account the state intolerable 
wherein you are so manifestly tending towards it. Think not 
well of yourself and your present case. What reason soever 
any have to be pleased and delighted with a course of lively 
converse with God, and of walking in the Spirit ; so much 
reason you have to be displeased with yourself as your case now 
is; to dislike and abhor the present temper of your own soul. 
If the life of religion, and its vigorous exercises be delightful, 
by that very reason it appears its faint and sickly languishing? 
are not so. 

Therefore know, that self-indulgence is now most unsuitable 
and dangerous. Labour to awaken in yourselves some sense of 
your condition. Think, " Whither am I going ?" Represent to 
your own soul the terrors of death. Admit the impression 
thereof. Behold its frightful visage, and be startled at it. Re 
count with yourself what you shall be if God who is your life 
quite depart; if this shall never be, yet know that your fear lest 
it should, is the means of your preservation. And let the appre 
hension of the tendency of your distemper excite in you that 
just and seasonable fear. How sure soever you are of the 


principle that God will never utterly forsake thosd that are his 
(as most certainly be never will) yet you cannot be so sure of 
your application of it to yourself, as your case stands, but 
that there will now be room for this fear : therefore let it be 

But though you admit a just and very solicitous fear, be sure 
that you exclude not hope, tho'ugh you apprehend your case 
dangerous, look not upon it as desperate. Your hope must .not 
be in yourself, but in him that raises the dead, and calleth 
things that are not, as though they were ; yea, makes them ex 
ist and be. But if you cast away all hope, you yield yourself to 
perish. This stops your breath ; so that even all smugglings for 
life, and the very gaspings of your fainting heart must immedi 
ately cease and end in perfect death. The danger of your case 
as bad as it is, calls not for this ; nor will the exigency of it 
comport with it^ when once the soul says there is no hope, it 
immediately proceeds to say, I have loved strangers and 
after them will I go. (Jer. 2. 25) Your hope is as necessary to 
your safety as your fear ; we are saved by hope, (Rom. 
8. 24.) that is of the end itself, which therefore animates to all 
the encounters and difficulties of our way, as well from within as 
from without. Great distempers appear in you and often re 
turn ; yea, such as are of a threatening aspect and tendency. 
You should yet consider you are under cure: the prescribed 
means and method whereof are before you. There is balm in 
Gilead, and a physician there : One in whose hands none that 
trusted him ever miscarried. It is well if you find yourself sick. 
The whole need him not, and will not therefore commit them 
selves to his care. He hath relieved many such as you, that 
apprehending their case, have been restored to him ; let them 
despair that know no such way of help. Say within yourself, 
though I am fallen and low, 1 shall rise and stand, renewed by 
thee^ O my God. Was there never such a time with you be 
fore, when in the like case you cried to the Lord and he an 
swered you, and strengthened you with strength in your soul ? 
(Psal. 138. S.) Say, within yourself, "Why art thou cast down, 
O my soul, hope thou in God ; for I shall yet praise him, who 
is the health of my countenance (where health shews itself in 
lively, sprightly, pleasant looks) and my God." (Psal. 42. 11.) 
And this very hope as it preserves life, so it doth the delight and 
pleasure of life from being quite extinct. The joy of hope is 
not to go for nothing, when it can only be said ; not, it is well 
but it shall be. It is pleasant to consider that the state wherein 
saints on earth are, is a state of recovery ; that though it be not 
a state of perfect health, yet it is not (also) a state of death ; 
but wherein they are tending to life in the perfection of it. 

VOL, it. s 


And their frequent (and very faulty) relapses shall he found 
but to magnify the more, the skill and patience of their great 
Physician. Therefore however you are not hence to be secure, 
or imposing upon him ; yet let not your hearts sink into an ab 
ject despair and sullen discontent, that you find a .distempered 
frame sometimes returning. Let there be tender relentings 
after God. if our heart ought often to smite you, that you have 
been no more careful and watchful ; but not admit a thought 
that you will therefore cast off all ; that it is in vain ever to 
strive more, or seek to recover that good frame that you have 
often found is so soon gone. 

Instead of that, apply yourself with so much the more ear 
nestness to the proper course of remedy ; and therein you must 
know your own labour and diligence ; your contentions with 
yourself must have a great place : otherwise it would never 
have been said, be watchful and strengthen the things that re 
main that are ready to die. (Rev. 3. 2.) And give all diligence 
to add to your faith, virtue, &c. (2. Pet. 1.5.) Such things 
would never have been charged, as duty upon you if you had 
nothing to do. You must expect to be dealt with as a sort of 
creatures capable of understanding your own concernments ; 
not to be hewed and hammered as senseless stones that are ig 
norant of the artist's intent, but as living ones to be polished 
and fitted to the spiritual building, by a hand that reasonably 
expects your own compliance and co-operation to its known de 
sign. Unto which design though you must know you are to 
be subservient and must do something; yet you must withal 
consider you can be but subservient and of yourselves alone can 
do just nothing. Therefore, if ever you would know what a 
life of spiritual delight means, you must constantly strive against 
all your spiritual distempers that obstruct it, in the power of the 
Holy Ghost. And do not think that is enjoining you a course 
wholly out of your power ; for though it be true, that the 
power of the Holy Ghost, is not naturally yours, or at your dis 
posal ; yet by gracious vouchsafement and ordination it is. If 
it were not so, what means that exhortation, Be strong in the 
Lord, and in the power of his might; (Eph. 6'. 10.) and that 
if we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit ; (Gal. 5, 
25.) with the foregoing prescription of walking in the Spirit, 
that we might not fulfil the lusts of the flesh, (ver. 1.6.) Doth 
the Holy Ghost himself prescribe to us impertinently, in order 
to our obtaining of his own imparted influences ? Doth not lue 
know the method and way wherein they are to be conveyed ? 
or would he deceive us by misrepresenting it? In short walk 
ing in the Spirit must signify something ; and what can it sig 
nify less than dependence on his power 5 and subjection thereto, 


with the continuance of both these ? These thercfc re are ne 
cessary to the making of that power our own : 

[I.] Dependence and trust : as that like phrase imports, 1 
will go in the strength of the Lord God, &c. (Psal. 71- 16.) 
And that, I will strengthen them in the Lord, and t hey shall 
walk up and down main's name, (Zech. 10. 12) at once shews 
us both the communication of the divine power, " 1 will 
strengthen them in the Lord" and the way wherein it is com 
municated, their walking up and down in his name, namely in 
actual and continued dependence thereon. The blessed God 
hath settled this connexion between our faith and his own ex 
erted power. As the extraordinary works of the Spirit were 
not done, but upon the exercise of the extraordinary faith, 
which by the divine constitution was requisite thereunto; so 
that the- infidelity which stood in the privation of this faith, did 
sometimes (so inviolable had that constitution made that con 
nexion) in a sort bind up the power of God, and he could do 
no mighty works there, and he marvelled because of their unbe 
lief, (Mark 6. 5. 6.) Why could we not cast him out ? Be 
cause of your unbelief. (Mat. 17. 19. 20.) Nor also are the 
works of the Holy Ghost, that are common upon all sincere 
Christians, done, but upon the intervening exercise of that more 
common faith. (Eph. 6. 16) Therefore is this shield to be 
taken above all the other parts of the divine armature, as suf 
ficient to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked ; therefore 
are we said to be kept by the power of God through faith, (I. 
Pet. 1. 5.) And more expressly in terms to our present pur 
pose ; we are to receive the promise of the Spirit (that is the 
Spirit promised) through faith. (Gal. 3. 14.) Hereby we 
draw the power of that Almighty Spirit into a consent and co 
operation with our spirit. So the great God suffers himself, 
his own arm and power to be taken hold of by us. He is en 
gaged when he is trusted ; that trust being now in this case, 
riot a rash and unwarrantable presuming upon him, but such 
whereto he hath given the invitation and encouragement him 
self. So that when we reflect upon the promises wherein the 
the gift of the Spirit is conveyed, or wherein the express grant 
thereof is folded up, we may say, Remember thy word to thy 
servant, wherein thou hast caused me to hope. (Prov. 1. 2. 3. 
E/ek. 36'. 27. Psalm 119.) 

And then surely he will not frustrate the expectation which he 
hath himself been the Author of. He would never have indu- 
duced those to trust in him, whom he intended to disappoint. 
That free Spirit which (as the wind blows where it listeth) now 
permits itself to be brought under bonds, even the bonds of 
God's own covenant, whereof we now take hold by our faith ; 


so that he will not fail to give forth his influence, so far as shall 
be necessary for the maintaining a resolution in us of stedfast ad 
herence to God and his service, and retaining a dominion over 
undue inclinations and affections. How express and peremp* 
tory are those words, this I say, (as though he had said) I know 
what I say, I have well weighed the matter, and speak not at 
random) " Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts 
of the flesh !" And so much as this affords great matter of rati 
onal delight, though more sensible transports (which are not 
so needful to us, and in reference whereto the Spirit therefore 
retains its liberty) be not so frequent. Therefore if we aim at 
the having our spirits placed and settled in the secret of the di 
vine presence, entertained with the delights of it ; if we would 
know and have the sensible proof of that religion which is all 
life and power, and consequently sweetness and pleasure ; our 
direct way is believing on the Spirit. That very trust is his de* 
light, he taketh pleasure in them that hope in his mercy. (Psal. 
147. 11.) It is that whereby we give him divine honour, the 
homage and acknowledgments proper to a Deity ; confessing 
ourselves impotent and insufficient to think any thing as of our 
selves, we rely upon his sustaining hand and own our sufficien 
cy to be of him. (2. Cor. 3. 5.) It is his delight to be depend 
ed on as a Father by his children. He is pleased that title 
should be given him the Father of spirits. (Heb. 12. 9.) To 
have the spirits whicli are his offspring gathering about him 
(especially those who being revolted from him and become sen 
sible of their misery by their revolt, do now upon his invitation 
apply themselves, and say, "Lo, now we come to thee, thou art 
the Lord our God/' ) craving his renewed communications, 
drawing vital influences from him, and the breath of life, 
adoring his boundless fulness that filleth all in all. And when 
we thus give him his delight, we shall riot long want ours. But 
then we must also add, 

[2.] Subjection to our dependence ; a willing, obedient sur 
render and resignation of ourselves to the conduct and guidance 
of that blessed Spirit. A dutiful yielding to his dictates, so as 
that they have actually with us the governing, binding force and 
power of a law, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ as it is 
called (Horn. 8. 3.) Great care must be taken of grieving and 
quenching the Spirit, of rebelling and vexing it, of resisting it, 
and of striving against it (which appears to have been the hor 
rid crime of the old world; his Spirit it is intimated had striven, 
when it is said it should no longer strive; (Eph. 4. 30. l.Thes* 
5. 19. Isa. 3. 10. Acts. 7- 5. Gen. Gen. 6.) and that it had 
striven, implies a counter-striving that was now, by his penal 
retirement permitted to be victorious, but their own sudden ruin 


of despiting the Spirit of grace. (Heb. 10. 29.) A wickedness 
aggravated by the very style and title there given it, the Spirit 
of grace ; and unto which only such a vengeance (as is intima 
ted in what follows) which it peculiarly belonged to God him 
self to inflict could be proportionable. When we permit our 
selves entirely to the government of the Holy Ghost, thereby 
to have our spirits and ways framed and directed according to 
his own rules, his quickening influence, and the pleasure and 
s\veet relishes thereof will not be withheld. And if the expe 
rience of some christians seem not constantly to answer this,j- 
who complain they pray often for the Spirit, and desire earnest-"* 
ly his gracious communications, but find little of them, they are 
concerned seriously to reflect, and bethink themselves whether 
their distrust or disobedience, or both, have not made them de 
solate. Surely we are altogether faulty in this matter : his pro 
mise and faithfulness do not fail, his Spirit is not straitened. 
But we either do not entirely commit and entrust ourselves to 
his guidance, or we obediently comply not with it ; but either 
indulge our sluggishness and neglect, or our contrary inclina 
tions, and resist his dictates ; are intractable and wayward, not 
apt to be led by the Spirit, and hence provoke him to withdraw 
from us. Hereto we are in justice to impute it that we find so 
little of that power moving in us, all the motions whereof are 
accompanied with so much delight. 

2. For excitation. Little one would think should be need- 
full to be said more than only that we would bethink ourselves, 
what all this while we have been directed to and are by this 
text. If that be once understood, hath it not in itself invita 
tion enough ? Do we need further to be invited to a life of de 
light ? Do we need to be pressed with arguments to choose de 
lightful and wholesome food, rather than gall and wormwood, 
or even very poison ? It is a sad argument of the deplorate state 
of man that he should need arguments in such a case ! But 
because (moreover) much is to be said hereafter, to persuade 
tmto delighting in God considered in the stricter notion of it, 
and- that will also be applicable to this purpose ; therefore little 
is intended to be said here. Only it is to be considered, do you 
intend to proceed in any course of religion, or no ? If not, you 
are to be remitted to such discourses as prove to you the rea 
sonableness and necessity of it : which if you think nothing you 
meet with sufficiently proves : think with yourself how well you 
can prove, that there is no God, and that you are no man, but 
a perishing beast. For these things they are concerned not 
fondly to presume and wish, but most clearly and surely to de 
monstrate, who will be of no religion. But if you think that 
horrid; and resolve to own something or other of religion; 


will you here use your understanding, and consider ? Is it in 
deed so horrid a thing to disavow all religion ? And what 
is it better to pretend to it to no purpose ? You find the re 
ligion is all but shew and shadow, mere empty vanity and mock 
ery, which is not delightful. If you will not choose a better, 
because it is delightful, (as you are not advised to do for that 
as your chief reason) yet at least choose that which is so, be 
cause it is in other more considerable respects eligible, as be 
ing most honourable and pleasing to him that made you, and 
only safe and profitable to yourself. And what shall your re 
ligion serve for, that will not answer these purposes r And if 
you be not ashamed to spend so considerable a part of the time 
of your life, as the exercises of your religion will take up, in do- 
rngthat (as was said before) whereof you can give no account ; 
yet, me-thinks you should be afraid to make such things the 
subject of your vanity, as do relate to God, either really or in- 
your opinion. Can you find nothing wherein vainly to trifle, 
but the sacred things of the great God of heaven, and the eter 
nal concernments of your own soul ? And shall the time spent 
#bout these matters be peculiarly marked out as your idle time, 
wherein you shall be doing that only which shall wholly go for 
loss and signify nothing ? The religion which is not delightful 
can turn to no better account. 

If therefore you will have a religion, and you have any rea 
son for that resolution, by the same reason you would have any, 
you must have the pleasant delightful religion we speak of. 
You have no other choice. There is no other will serve your 
turn. And therefore what hath been said to divert you from 
the other, ought to persuade you to the choice of this. And 
"besides, since there is so much of secret delight in true sub 
stantial religion, that ought not to signify nothing with you. If 
we did consider the delightfulness of it alone, upon that single 
account, it surely challenges the preference, before that which 
is neither profitable nor delightful* And that it is in itself so 
delightful, if you had nothing to inform you but the report of 
such as profess to have tried and found it so, methinks that at 
least should provoke you to try also. How sluggish a temper 
doth it argue, not to be desirous to know the utmost that is in 
it ! It were even a laudable curiosity to resolve upon making 
trial; to get into the inmost centre of it; to pierce and press on 
ward till you reach the seat of life, till you have got the secret, 
and the very heart of religion and your heart do meet and join 
in one. Did you never try experiments for your pleasure ? 
Try this one. See what you will find in withdrawing yourself 
from all things else, and becoming entirely devoted to God 
through the Redeemer, to live after his will and in his presence. 


Try the difference between viewing truths to please your genius, 
or using divine ordinances to keep up the custom, to conform 
yourself to those you live among, and help to make a solemn 
shew 5 and doing these things with a serious design to get into 
an acquaintance with God, to have your soul transformed into 
his image, that you may have present and eternal fellowship 
with him. Try how much better it is, to have your lives go 
verned by an awful and dutiful respect to God, than to follow 
your own wild and enormous inclinations ; and whether it be 
not better, what good things soever you do, to do it for the 
Lord's sake, than from base and sordid motives. 

And why should you be of so mean and abject a spirit, as to 
content yourself to be held at the door and in the outer courts 
of religion ; when others enter in and taste the rich provisions 
of God's house ? Why will you distinguish yourselves by so de 
basing a character ? It is a just and commendable ambition, to 
be as forward here as the best. Why will you suffer this and 
that and the other man to enter into the kingdom of God be 
fore you ; even that kingdom which consists in righteousness^ 
peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost ! Think not so meanly of your 
self; impose not on yourself that needless unwarrantable mo 
desty, as to account you are of a lower rank than all that ever 
became intimately acquainted with the hidden delights of * 
godly life. At least you are as capable of being thought worthy 
as any, for his sake upon whose account all must be accepted. 
Therefore think with yourselves, Why should I not labour to 
attain as far in the matter of religion, as this or that neighbour 
of mine ? What should hinder ? Who restrains or forbids me ? 

But you cannot, if you consider, but have somewhat more to 
assure you of the delightful ness of it, than the mere report of 
others ; for your own reason and conscience cannot but so pro 
nounce, if you gc to the particulars that have been instanced 
in. If you acknowledge a God, and consider yourself as a rea 
sonable creature made by him, and depending on him ; you can 
not but see, it is congruous and fit your spirit should be so framed 
and affected towards him, towards your fellow creatures of your 
own order, and all things else that do and shall circumstantiate 
your present and future state, as hath been in some measure 
(though very defectively) represented ; and that it must needs 
be very pleasant, if it were so. You can frame in your mind an 
idea of a life transacted according to such rectified inclinati 
ons. And when you have done so, do but solemnly appeal 
to your own judgment whether that were not a very de 
lectable life and thereupon bethink yourself what your case 
is, if you cannot actually relish a pleasure in what your own 
judgment tells you is so highly pleasurable. Methinks you 

136 O* 1 DfiLIGttTlNG IN feOD. PART II. 

should reflect thus, fc What a monstrous creature am I, that 
confess that delightful wherein yet I can take no delight ! 
How perverse a nature have I ! Surely things are much 
out of order with me ; I am not what I should be ! " And one 
would think, it should he uneasy to you to be as you are ; and 
that your spirit should be restless till you find your temper recti 
fied, and that you are in this respect become what you should be. 
And will you dream and slumber all your days ? How much 
time have you lost, that might have been pleasantly spent in a 
course of godliness ! Do you not aim at a life of eternal delights 
with God ? If you now begin not to live to God,when will you? 
That life which you reckon shall never end with you, must yet 
have a beginning. Will you defer till you die your beginning 
to live ? Have you any hope, God will deal in a peculiar way 
with you from all men, and make the other world the place of 
your first heart-change ? How dismal should it be to you, to 
look in and still find your heart dead towards God, and the 
things of God; so that you have no delight in them. Think 
what the beginnings of the divine life, and the present delights 
of it, must be the earnest of to you, and make sure the ground 
(betime) of so great a hope. But 1 forbear here to insist fur 
ther ; and pass on to the discourse of delighting in God, under 
the other more strict notion of it, namely, as the very act of 
delight hath its direct excercise upon himself, which is the sub 
ject of the following chapter. 



Ilaving considered the practice of delighting in God as adherent 
to the other duties of religion ; we are now to consider it. SE- 
CONDLY. As a distinct duty of itself. In this view of it some 
thing is said, by way of expostulation invitation and excitation. 
First. By way of expostulation. 1. With those who are averse to 
this duty. (1.) Their state shewn to be a state of apostacy. 
(!2.) That their sin is great and horrid. 2. With those who are 
defective in it and dispute it. (1.) The evil included in the neg 
lect of this part of holy practice. (2.) What evil is derived into 
it from its very faulty causes. (3.) What evils follow upon this 
neglect as natural consequents. 

SECONDLY.TI7Eare now to consider this delight, not as a thing 
someway adherent to all other duties of religion; 
but as a distinct duty of itself, that requires a solemn and direct 
application of ourselves thereunto. For though it seems little to 
be doubted, but there is in this precept a part of religion put for 
the whole (as having a real influence, and conferring with its name 
a grateful savour and tincture upon the whole) it wonld yet be 
very unreasonable, not to take special notice of that part from 
whence the intire frame of religion hath its name. And hav 
ing shewn the nature of this duty already in the Former Part, 
what is now to be said, must more directly concern the prac 
tice of it ; and will (as the case requires) fall into two kinds of 
discourse, namely, expostulation concerning the omission and 
disuse of such practice, and invitation thereunto. And in both 
these kinds it is requisite we apply ourselves to two sorts of per 
sons, namely, to such whose spirits are wholly averse and alien 
to it, and such, as though not altogether unpractised, are very 
defective in it, and neglect it too much. 

First. Both sorts are to be expostulated with ; and no doubt 
the great God hath a just quarrel with mankind (whom these 
two sorts do comprehend) upon the one or the other of these 
accounts ; wherein it is n't we should plead with men for his 
sake and their own. 

1 . With those who are altogether disaffected to God aliena 
ted and enemies in their minds through wicked works, and (ex 
cepting such as deny his Being, with whom we shall not here 
concern ourselves) at the utmost distance from delighting in 
him. And as to such, our expostulation should aim at their 

VOL. ir. T 


conviction, both of the matter of fact, that thus the case is with 
them, and of the great iniquity and evil of it. 

(I.) It is needful we endeavour to fasten upon such a con 
viction, that this is the state of their case. For while his Being 
is not flatly denied, men think it generally creditable, to be pro 
fessed lovers of God ; and reckon it so odious a thing not to be 
so, that they who are even most deeply guilty, are not easily 
brought to confess enmity to him; but flatter themselves in their 
own eyes, till their iniquity be found to be hateful. The diffi 
culty of making such apprehend themselves diseased, that their 
minds are under the power of this dreadful distemper, that it is. 
not well with spirits in this respect, is the great obstruction to 
their cure. But I suppose you to whom I now apply myself, 
to acknowledge the Bible to be God's word, and that you pror 
fess reverenge to the truth and authority of that word, and will 
yield to be tried by it, 

[1.] Therefore you must be supposed such as believe the ac 
count true, which that book gives of the common state of man; 
that it is a state of apostacy from God ; that the Lord looking 
down from beaven upon the children of men, to see if any dic| 
understand and seek God, finds they are all gone aside, (Psal. 
14. 2. 3.) that is, (that the return may answer to the meaning 
of the inquiry) gone off from him. Every one of them is gone 
back, (Psal. 53.3.) or revolted, as it is expressed in the parallel 
psalm, there is none that doth good, no not one ; (Rom. 3. 12} 
which is quoted by the apostle to the intent, that every mouth 
may be stopped, and the whole world may become guilty before 
God. (ver. 19.) This is then a common case. And as the 
same apostle charges it upon the Gentiles, that they were haters 
of God ; so doth our Saviour as expressly on the Jews, (who no 
doubt thought themselves as innocent of this crime as you) that 
<' they had both seen and hated both him and his Father.'* 
And when it is said of men, that they were by nature the 
children of wrath, (Eph. 2. 3.) (they to whom he writes even as 
others) do you think that is spoken of any lovers of God, as 
their present state ? Or that when all by nature are children of 
wrath, any are by nature lovers of him, so as to love him, and 
be under his wrath both at once ? It is likely then, that against 
so plain evidence, while you confess yourselves men, you will 
not deny you were sometime haters of God. Well then, is the 
,ease altered with you ? It is a conviction against you, that you 
are of human race, till it can be evidenced you are born from 
above, and are become new creatures ? And what, do you find 
this ? It is not expected, you should be able to tell the very 
moment when you ceased from your enmity against God, and 
became his friends ; or give a punctual account of every turn 


or motion of tho ughts in such a change : but it is to "be suppo 
sed, the work was not done upon you in your sleep, so as that 
you could have no animadversion of what was doing* How 
ever, comparing what you sometime were with what you are, 
what difference do you observe ? What were you, sometime 
haters of God, and are you now come to love and delight in him 
without perceiving in yourselves any difference ? Bethink your 
selves, is riot the temper of your spirits just such Godward as it 
Was always wont to be^ without any remarkable turn or altera 
tion ? That is a shrewd presumption against you, that your 
case is most deplorable. But, 

[.j What is your present temper, in itself considered ? You 
do love God and delight in him, how do you make it appear ? 
wherein doth that friendlv and dutiful affection towards him 
evidence itself? Sure love and hatred are not all one with you. 
Whereby would you discern your hatred towards one you did 
most flatly and peremptorily disaffect ? You would dislike the 
thoughts of him, hate his memory, cast him out of your thoughts. 
Do you not the same way shew your disaffection to God ? Do 
you not find, that so a wicked a man (his enemy) is branded 
and distinguished, God is riot in all his thoughts ? (Psal. 10. 4.) 
Are not they who shall be turned into hell described thus, the 
people that forget God; (Psal. 9. 170 tnat is, who willingly 
and of choice forget him, or from the habitual inclination of 
their hearts ? Arid is not that your case ? What could hinder 
you to remember him, if you were so disposed ? 

Yea, but you often forget youv friends, or those at least td 
whom you are sure you bear no ill will ; and what friends 
Would expect to be always in your thoughts ? It is answered ; 
but you disrelish not the remembrance of a friend. Do you not 
the thoughts of God ? You do not think on your absent friends 
while no present occasion occurs^ to bring them to your remem 
brance : but is Qod absent ? Is he far from any one of us ? Or 
have you not daily before your eyes, things enough to bring 
Kim to mind ; while his glorious works surround you, and you 
live, move, and have f your being in hinij and your breath is in 
his hand ? Have you that dependence on any friend ? Are you 
under so much obligation to any ? You often do not think on 
friends with whom you have no opportunity to converse ; Have 
you no opportunity to converse with him ? Your friends can 
lay no such law upon you, to have them much in your thoughts. 
It argues a depraved inclination, not to do herein what you 
ought and are bound to do. You cannot by the exercise of 
your thoughts obtain the presence of a friend j you might a 
most comfortable divine presence. 

And what though you think not of many to whorn you bear 


no ill will, nor have any converse with many such ; is it enough 
to bear no ill will to God ? Will that suffice you to delighting 
in him ? Are you no more concerned to mind God and con 
verse with him, than with the man you never knew or had to do 
with? Your unconversibleness with God, and unmindfulnese 
of him, can proceed from nothing but ill will, who daily offers 
himself to your converse, who seeks and invites your acquaint 
ance, would have you inwardly know him, and lead your lives 
with him, why is it that you do not so, but that you like riot to 
retain him in your knowledge ? And that this is the sense and 
language of your hearts towards him, "Depart from us, we de 
sire not the knowledge of thy ways ?" It can proceed from no 
thing but ill will and a disagreeable temper, that you shun the 
converse of one that seeks yours ; that you will take no notice 
of one that often offers himself to your view, one that meets 
you at every turn, and aims to draw your eye, and cannot gain 
a. look. When this is your deportment towards God, that he 
passes by you, and you perceive him not ; he compasses you 
about, behind and before and is acquainted with all your ways, 
and with him and his ways you will have no acquaintance, re* 
main alienated from the life of God, and as without him in the 
world; is not this downright enmity ? Or can this deportment 
agree with habitual and the frequent actual delight in God 
which is required. 

Again, would you not be justly taken to disaffect one whose 
temper is ungrateful, whose disposition and way is unpleasing 
to you ? Is it not thus with you Godward ? When you hear 
of the purity and holiness of his nature, his abhorrency of all 
wickedness, and how detestable to him everything is that is im 
pure, and that he will not endure it; do not your hearts regret this 
quality(as we must conceive of it) in the nature of God ? Which 
yet, because it is very nature, doth so much the more certainly in 
fer, that a dislike of it cannot but include disaffection to himself, 
and that habitual and constant, since his whole way of dealing 
with men, and the course of his government over the world, do 
(and shall more discernibly) savour of it- do they not wish 
him hereupon not to be, in this respect, what he is; which is in 
effect, to wish him not to be at all ? The same thing which the 
heart of the fool says,"No God;" that is, this would please such 
a one to the very heart. And doth this import no enmity? 
Can this stand with delight in him. Are you not disaffected to 
him, whom not being able to accuse of falsehood, whom 
having the greatest imaginable assurances of the impossibility 
he should deceive, you will yet by no means be induced to 
trust ? Consider, what doth your trust in God signify, more 
than the sound of the uame ? Doth it quiet your heart, in re- 


fereiice to any affairs you pretend to commit to him ? Doth it 
purify it, and check your ill inclinations, in any thing wherein 
they should he countermanded upon the credit of his word ? 
What doth his testimony concerning the future things you have 
not seen, weigh with you,to the altering of your course, and ren 
dering it such as may comport and square with the belief of 
such things ? Weuld not the word of an ordinary man, premon- 
ishing you of any advantage or danger which you have no other 
knowledge of, he of more value with you ? Constant suspicion 
of any one, without cause or pretence most certainly argues ra 
dicated enmity. You love him not whom you cannot trust. 

Do you love him whom upon all occasions you most causlcssly 
displease; whose offence you reckon nothing of? Is that in 
genuous towards a friend, or dutiful towards a father or a lord ? 
How do you, in this, carry towards the hlessed God ? Are you 
wont to displease yourselves to please him, or cross your own 
will to do his ? Do you take delight in him whom you make 
no difficulty to vex ; whose known declared pleasure, though 
you confess him greater, wiser, and more righteous than your 
self, you have no more regard to, wherein it crosses your own 
inclination, than you would have to that of your child, your 
slave, or a fool ? Have you any thing to except against that 
measure and character of loyal affection to your Redeemer and 
Lord, " If ye love me, keep my commandments 5 ye are my 
friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you ; this is the love 
f God, that we keep his commandments ?" Do you not dis 
obey the known will of God in your ordinary practice without 
regret ? Do you not know it to be his will, that you " strive 
to enter in at the strait gate 5" that you seek first the king 
dom of heaven ;" that you " keep your heart with all dili 
gence 5" that you " deny yourself crucify the flesh/' be 
temperate, just, merciful, patient ? Do you aim at obeying 
him in these things ? Can you say. Lord, for thy sake I re 
frain the things to which my heart inclines ? Hath his pro 
hibition any restraining force upon your hearts ? Do you not 
allow yourself t~o be licentious, earthly, vain, proud, wrathful, 
revengeful, though you know it will offend him ? and is this 
your love to him, or delight in him ? Do you bear goodwill 
to him whose reproach and dishonour you are not concerned 
for, yea, whom you stick not to dishonour and reproach ? whose 
interest among men hath no place in your thoughts, whose 
friends are none of yours, whose enemies are your friends, 
whose favour you care not for, nor regret his frowns, whose 
worship is a burden to you, (that you had rather do any thing 
than pray to him,) and his fellowship an undesired thing? 
Make an estimate by these things of the temper of your hearts 


towards God; and consider whether it hespeak delight in him^ 
or not rather habitual aversion and enmity. 

It may be you will admit these things seem to carry some 
what of conviction with them ; but they concern many that are 
taken for godly persons and lovers of God, as well as ihey do 
you. And it may be many such may take themselves for godly 
persons and lovers of God, and be mistaken as well as you. 
And what will that mend your cause ? If these things will 
prove a person one that hath no delight in God, they equally 
prove it as to you and others, which will make nothing to your 
advantage. But if they who have sincere love to God, are 
in a degree peccant against the laws of such love (as tliat they 
are, they will hear in due time,) they are more ready to accuse 
themselves than other men ; thuy abhor themselves^ that they 
do not more entirely delight in God* and repent in dust and 
ashes. It better becomes you, to imitate their repentance, thar> 
glory in their sinful weakness ; which while they patronize not 
themselves, you should not think it can afford a valuable pa 
tronage unto you. When did you check and contend with your 
own hearts upon these accounts, as they are wont to do ? And 
if these things, in a degree found with them, prove their de 
light in God imperfect, their prevailing contraries will prove it 
(however) sincere. And if you will not now understand the 
difference, God grant you may not hereafter at a more 
costly rate, between the imperfection and the total want of his 
love ; between having your heart and soul imperfectly alive to 
wards Goii and perfectly dead. 

You may further say, God is out of your sight, and therefore 
how can it be expected you should find a sensible delight in 
him ? But is he out of tlie sight of your minds ? If he be, what 
would you infer, that then you cannot delight in him at all> 
and therefore that you do not ; the thing that you are charged 
with all this while. But he is out of sight by the high excel 
lency of his Being ; for which reason he should be delighted in 
the more, that is, with a deeper delight, though not like that 
you take in the things of sense : and he hath been so beyond 
all things, notwithstanding his abode in that light which is in- 5 
accessible. This therefore is confession without excuse ; and 
would never be offered as an excuse by any, but those that are 
lost in flesh and sense, have forgot they have reasonable souls, 
and had rather be numbered with brutes than men ; as if there 
were not many things you have not seen with the eyes of flesh, 
more excellent that those you have ! or as if you had no other 
faculty than eyes of fle:-h to see with ! Which since you have ? 
and the depravation thereof is vicious and sinful ; as your not- 
delighting in God (the matter of fact) seems to be yielded, and 


50 you quit your first post, it will thence appear, that it cannot 
but be sinful too. And since at that you seem to make a stand 
(as at your next post,) either thinking to deny or extenuate 
the evil of it, our expostulation must follow you thither, and be 

(2.) To evince to you the greatness and horridness of that 
sin. Suffer yourselves therefore to be reasoned with to this 

Eurpose, and consider, That you have somewhat of delectation 
i your natures, that is, you have the power naturally inherent 
in you, of taking delight in ope thing or other. You have such 
a, thing as love about you, Are not some things grateful and 
agreeable to you, in which you can and do take complacency } 
Therefore herein an act is not enjoined you which is incom 
petent to your natures, or simply impossible to you. Next 
then, do you not know, your delight or love ought to be placed 
on some good or other that is known to you; and among things 
that you know to be good, proportionably to the goodness which 
you find in them, and supremely on the best ? Further, do 
you not acknowledge the blessed God to be the best and most 
excellent good ? as being the first and fountain-good, the ful 
lest and most comprehensive,the purest and altogether unmixed, 
the most immutable and permanent good ? How plain and 
certain is this ? How manifestly impossible is it, if there were 
not such a good, that otherwise any thing else should ever have 
been good, or been at all ? Is not this as sure and evident as 
any thing your senses could inform you of ? Whence is the 
glorious excellency of this great creation, the beauty, loveliness, 
pleasantness of any creature ? Must not all that, and infinitely 
more, be originally in the great Creator of all. This, if you 
consider, you cannot but see and own. 

While then your own hearts tell you, you delight not in God, 
do not your consciences begin to accuse and judge you, that you 
deal not righteously in this matter ? And ought it not to fill 
your souls with horror, when you consider, you take no delight 
in the best and sovereign good ? Yea, when you look into 
your disaffected hearts and find, that you not only do not de 
light in God, but you cannot ; and not for the want of the 
natural power, but a right inclination ? Should you not with 
astonishment bethink yourselves^every one for himself, " What is 
this that has befallen me; I am convinced, this is the best good, 
every way most worthy of my highest delight and love, and yet 
my heart savours it not !" You can have no pretence to say, 
that because your heart is disinclined, therefore you are ex 
cused, for you only do not what through an invincible disin 
clination you apprehend you cannot do. But you should be 
think yourself, "What a wretch am I, that am so ill-inclined ? 


For is not any one more wicked according as he is more strongly 
inclined to wickedness and averse to what is good ? But how 
vincible or invincible, your disinclination is, you do not yet 
know, not having yet made due trial. That you cannot of 
yourselves overcome, it is out of question : but have you tried 
what help might be got from heaven, in the use of God's own 
prescribed means ? If that course bring you in no help, then 
may you understand how much you have provoked the Lord. 
For though he hath promised, that for such as turn at his re 
proof, he will pour out his Spirit to them ; yet they who when 
he calls refuse, and when he stretches out his hand regard 
not, but set at nought all his counsel, &c. may call and not 
be answered, may seek him early and not find him. (Prov. 1. 
23. 29.) And that wickedness may somewhat be estimated by 
this effect, that thus it makes the Spirit of grace retire, that 
free, benign, merciful Spirit, the Author of all love, sweetness 
and goodness, become to a forlorn soul a resolved stranger. If 
you are so given up, you have first given up yourselves ; you 
have wilfully cast him out of your thoughts, and hardened your 
own hearts against him, who was the Spring of your life and 
being, and in whom is all your hope. Arid whether this mal 
ignity of your hearts shall ever finally be overcome or no (as 
you have no cause to despair but it may be overcome, if appre 
hending your life to lie upon it, you wait and strive, and pray 
and cry, as your case requires ;) yet do you not see it to be a 
fearful pitch of malignity ? and so much the worse and more 
vidous by how much it is more hardly overcome ? 

That we may here be a little more particular: consider, 
[1.] How tumultuous and disorderly a thing this your 
disaffection is ? You are here to consider its direct ten 
dency, its natural aptitude or what it doth of itself, and 
in its own nature lead and tend to. If you may withdraw 
your delight and love from God, then so may all other men as 
well. Therefore now view the tiling itself in the common 
nature of it : and so, is not aversion to delight in God a mani 
fest contrariety to the order of things ? a turning all upside 
down ? a shattering and breaking asunder the bond between 
rational appetite and the First Good ? A disjointing and un 
hinging of the best and nohlest part of God's creation from 
its station and rest, its proper basis and centre ? How fearful 
a rupture doth it make ! How violent and destructive a dis 
location ! If you could break in pieces the orderly contexture 
of the whole universe within itself, reduce the frame of nature 
to utmost confusion, rout all the ranks and orders of creatures, 
tear asunder the heavens, and dissolve the compacted body of 
the earth, mingle heavea and earth together, and resolve the 


world into a mere heap ; you had not done so great a spoil, as 
in breaking the primary and supreme tie and bond between the 
creature and his Maker ; yea, between the Creator of all things 
and his more noble and excellent creature. All the relations, 
aptitudes and inclinations of the creatures to one another^ are 
but inferior and subordinate to those between the creatures and 
their common Author and Lord : and here the corruption of 
the best cannot but be worst of all. Again, 

[2.] What an unnatural wickedness is it ! To hate thy own 
original ! To disaffect the most bountiful Author of thy life V 
and being! What wouldst thou say to it if thy own son did 
hate the very sight of tbee, and abhor thy presence and con 
verse ? especially if thou never gavest him the least cause ? If 
thou hast been always kind and indulgent, full of paternal af 
fection towards him, wonldst thou not think him a vile mis 
creant ? and reckon the earth too good to bear him ? But how 
little, and in how low a capacity, didst thou contribute to his 
being in comparison of what the great God did to thine ? How 
little of natural excellency hast thou above him (it may be in 
many things besides this unhappy temper he much excels thee) 
when thou knowest, in thy Maker is infinite excellency beyond 
what thou canst pretend unto ? And what cause canst thou 
pretend of disaffection towards him ? Many good works hath 
lie done for thee : for which of these dost thou hate him ? 
Whereby hath he ever disobliged thee ? With how sweet and 
gentle allurements hath he sought to win thy heart ! And is 
it not most vilely unnatural that thy spirit should be so sullenly 
averse to him, who is pleased to be stiled the Father of spirits ? 
And in which respect it may fitly be said to thee, dost thou 
thus requite the Lord, O foolish creature, and unwise ? (Deut, 
32. 6.) Is not he thy Father? If thou didst hate thy own 
self (in a sense besides that wherein it is thy dutyj and in 
which kind thou hast, as thy case is, a just and dreadful cause 
of selfcabhorrence ;) if thou didst hate thy very life and being 
and wert laying daily plots of self-destruction, thou wert not so 
wickedly unnatural. He is more intimate to thee than thou 
art to thyself, That natural love which thou owest to thyself, 
and the nature from whence it springs^ is of him, and ought to 
be subordinate to him ; and by a superior law of nature, thy 
very life if he actually require it, ought to be sacrificed and laid 
down for his sake. Thy hatred towards him, therefore is more 
prodigiously unnatural, than if it were most directly and im-^ 
placably bent against tbyself* And yet also in hating him thou 
dost most mischievously hate thyself too ; and all that thou, 
dost, by the instinct of that vile temper of heart towards him 
thou dost it against thy own life and soul. Thou cuttest thy- 
VOL, ii. u 


self off from him who is thy life ; and art laying a train for the 
blowing up of thy eternal hope. All that hate him love death, 
(Prov. 8. 36.) Further, 

[3.] It is the most comprehensive wickedness, and which 
entirely contains all other in it For as the law of love is the 
universal and summary law, comprehending all duty, and even 
as it enjoins love to God (for love to men ought to be resolved 
into that, and must be for his sake ;) so must disaffection to 
( i od be comprehensive of all sin, whereinto every thing of it 
resolves itself. Dost thou not see then how thou cancellest and 
nullifiest the obligation of all laws, while thou liast no delight 
in God? offercst violence to the very knot and juncture, wherein 
they all meet and are infolded together ? Not to delight in 
God therefore, What can it be but the very top of rebellion ? 
What will thy sobiiety, thy justice, thy charity signify, if thou 
hadst these to glory in, while thou art habitually disaffected to 
thy God? Let men value thcc for these, to whom thereby thou 
shcwestsome respect; but shall he, who in the mean time knows 
thou bearest none to him ? 

[4.] It is a most reproachful contemptuous wickedness ! 
To him, I mean, whom it most directly offends against I 
Carries it not in it most horrid contumely and indignity 
to the most high God ? It is a practical denial of all those 
excellencies in him, that render and recommend him the most 
worthy object of our delight ; it is more than saying, He is not 
good, holy, wise, just and true. Things may on the sudden be 
said that are not deliberately thought, and may be retracted the 
next breath ; but a man's stated, constant course and way sig 
nify the apprehension it proceeds from to be fixed, and that it 
is the settled habitual sense of his- soul. Yea, and since, as hath 
been said, Thou del igh test in other things whilst thou delight^- 
est not in him; it plainly imports it to be the constant sense 
of thy very heart, that those things are better than He. What 
is it then that hath thy delight and Iov2 ? Whereon is thy heart 
set ? Commune with thyself. Dost thou not tremble, when 
thou findest this to. be thy very case, that thou mayest truly 
say, 6i I can delight in creatures, but not in God ; can take 
pleasure in my friend, but none in him ; 1 must confess it to be 
the temper of my heart, that I love my father, mother, son or 
daughter more than Christ. (Mat. 10. 37. Luk. 14. 26.) Is it 
not then to be concluded from his own express word, that thou 
art not worthy of him, and canst be none of his disciple ? Nay, 
mayst thou not moreover truly say, that thou loves-t this base 
impure earth more than God ? that thou takest more delight in 
thy companions in wickedness ; canst more solace thyself with 
a druukard on the ale bench, with a lascivious wanton, with a 


prophane scoffer at godliness, than with the blessed God? that 
thou canst allow thyself to riot with the luxurious, and eat and 
drink with the drunken, and not only do such things, but take 
pleasure in them that do them, yea and thyself take pleasure 
to commit iniquity ; but in the glorious holy God thou canst 
take no pleasure ! Then wouldst thou be content to carry 
the plain sense of thy heart written on thy forehead, and pro 
claim it to all the world, as thy resolved practical judgment, 
that thou accountest thy friends, thy relations, this vile and 
vanishing world, thy wicked associates, thine own impure lusts, 
better than God ? And dost thou not yet see the horrid vile- 
ness of thy own heart in all this ? Art thou yet a harm 
less innocent creature, an honest well-meaning man for all 
this ? 

Yea, wilt thou not see, that thine heart goe.s against thy con 
science all this while ? that thou disalfectest him in whom thou 
knowest thou shouldst delight ? that the temper of thy spirit 
js a continual affront to thy profession, through the perfidious 
falsehood and vanity whereof, thou dost but cover hatred with 
lying lips? Is not that an odious thing which thou so seekest 
to hide ; and which, though thou art not loath to be guilty of 
it, thou art so very unwilling should be known ? And 
since thou art so very loath it should be known, how canst 
thou hold up thy head before that eye that is as a flame of 
fire, that searches thy heart and tries thy reins, that observes 
thy wayward spirit, and sees with how obstinate an aversion 
thou declinest his acquaintance and converse ? Wilt thou 
stand before the glorious Majesty of heaven and earth, who 
knows thy disaffected heart, and say, it is but a small transgres 
sion thou hast been guilty of, in not loving him and making 
him thy delight ? Dost thou think this will pass for a little of 
fence in the solemn judgment of the great day that is drawing 
on ? Or will thy heart endure, or thy hands be strong, when 
the secrets of all hearts shall be laid open, thou shalt stand 
convicted before his tribunal in the sight of angels and men 5 
of having borne all thy days a false, disloyal heart, full of mal 
ignity and ill-will to thy Sovereign Lord, whom thou wast so 
many ways obliged to serve and cleave to with delight and 
love ? When the difference shall be visibly put between those 
that delighted in God and them that never did, and thou shalt 
be marked out for one of them that didst in heart depart from 
him all thy days, and be thereupon abandoned to the society 
of that horrid accursed crew, in whom only thou didst de 
light : surely thou wilt not then say, thy transgression was- 

2. But we are also to expostulate with another sort ; who, 


though they are not altogether unacquainted with this heavenly 
exercise of delighting in God, yet too much disuse it, and ap 
ply not themselves to it (as who do ?) with that constancy and 
intention of soul as the matter requires. And these we are tq 
put upon the consideration of such evils, as either are included 
in this neglect, or are allied unto it (and do therefore accom 
pany and aggravate the natural evil of it,) as either causing it, 
or "being caused by it. And, 

(1.) Those whom we now intend are to bethink themselves, 
what evil is included in their neglect of this part pf holy prac 
tice. And you are to judge of the evil of it by its disagreement 
with such known and usual measures, as whereto our practice 
should be suitable, and which in reason and justice it is to be 
estimated and censured by; as for instance, the divine law, con 
science, experience, obligation by kindness, stipulation, relation, 
profession, tendency of the new nature, dictates of God's Spirit, 
the course and drift of his design j with all which it will be 
found to have very ill accord. 

[1.] How directly opposite is it to the law of God! Not 
only to his express written precept, but to that immutable, eter 
nal law which arises from our very natures referred unto his ! 
The obligingness or binding force whereof, doth not so much 
stand in this, That the thing to be done is such as whereto our 
natures were originally inclined, (which yet is of great weight, 
they having been thus inclined and determined by onr Maker 
himself, so that our inclination was in this case expressive of 
his will ;) but (which is indeed the very reason of that, for we 
must conceive the divine wisdom in the blessed God to con 
duct all the determinations of his will,) the natural unchange 
able congruity of the thing itself. And therefore as to the 
things whose constant fitness would render them matter of duty 
to us at all times, it was provided, inclinations suitable to them 
should be planted in our natures from the beginning: but 
things that were to be matter of duty but for a time, having 
only a present fitness unto some present juncture or state of 
affairs, it was sufficient that the divine pleasure should be signi 
fied about them in some way more suitable to their occasional 
and temporary use, and that might not so certainly extend to all 
men and times. 

That great law of love to God (which comprehends this of 
delighting in him) is you may be sure of that former sort, it be 
ing impossible there should be a reasonable creature in being, 
but it will immediately and always be his duty to love God su 
premely and above all things^; yea, that you must know, is the 
most fundamental of all sucli laws. And therefore, when be 
cause original impressions were become so obscure and illegj- 


ble in our natures, it became necessary there should be a new 
and more express edition of them in God's written word : this 
is placed in the very front of them, " Thou shalt have no other 
gods before me ;" Which signifies only the having of a God in 
name and no mere, if it doth not signify loving him before all 
other. Wherefore when our Saviour was to tell which was the 
first and great commandment, he gives it thus, " Thou shalt 
love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul 
and with all thy mind. (Mat. 22. 37,) The thing enjoined by 
this law is most substantial, the life and soul of all other duty, 
and without which all that we can do besides is but mere sha 
dow ; for whatsoever we are enjoined to do else, we must un 
derstand enjoined to be done out of love to God, as the princi 
ple whence it must proceed ; and not proceeding thence, the 
moral goodness of it vanishes as a beam cut off from the sun. 
For on this (with the other which is like unto it, and which 
also hangs upon this) " hang all the law and the prophets." And 
what durst thou who knowest God, or rather art known of him, 
neglect so great and substantial a duty ? This is not like the 
command of wearing fringe on the borders of the garment, or 
of not wearing a garment of linen and woollen ; wherein sure 
they whom it concerned should have been very undutiful to 
have disobeyed : but it is the very greatest among the great 
things of the law : a duty upon which all duty depends, even 
for life and breath ! Should not this have obtained in thy prac 
tice, that ought to run through and animate all the rest? Or was 
it fit it should lie dead,and bound up in the habitual principle 
and not go forth (or very rarely) into act and exercise ? Or 
didst thou do thy duty herein, by being only inclined to do it ? 
Or would not the inclination, if it were right, infer (or other 
wise is it like to last long without) suitable exercise ? Why was 
so express a law neglected, so often enjoined (or the practice 
mentioned with approbation, or the neglect of it animadverted 
upon with abhorrence, in the very terms, or in terms evidently 
enough of the same import) in the Sacred Volume ?* : How could 
you turn over the leaves of that book and not often meet with 
such words, " Rejoice in the Lord ye righteous : rejoice in the 
Lord, and again I say unto you rejoice, &c."f Should not so fre 
quent inculcations of the same thing have been answered by 
the frequency and continuedness of your practice of it f Or wa's 
it enough now and then, as it were casually and by chance to 
hit upon the doing of what is so momentous a part of your re 
ligion, and ought to be the business of your life? Ought it not 

* Isa. 55. 1. 2. 3. Psa. 44. 19. Job. 27. 10. chap. 34. 9. Isa. 58. 
14. t Psal. 33. 1. t)7. 12. Phil. 3. 1. 4. 4. 


to cut your Fieart to find yourself convicted herein of a disobe 
dient omission ? And when the great God exacts that stated ho 
mage from you, a frequent, practical, explicit recognition and 
owning of him as the supreme delight, the great solace, repose 
and rest of your souls, that you have been so little awed with 
the apprehension of his authority and right in this case ? when 
he hath mercifully chosen, to make that the matter of his com 
mand and claim, wherein your own advantage, satisfaction and 
content doth so intirely consist ? That your practice is herein 
disagreeable to a law, speaks it sinful : that it transgresses 
so great a law highly aggravates your sin : a law so impor 
tant, upon which so much depends, so express and plain, le-? 
gible in the very nature of things, and in reference whereto, 
the very excellency of the object would suffice to be a law to 
you, and dictate your duty, if no command had been otherwise 
given in the case. Surely the neglect of such a law cannot 
have been without great transgression. 

[2.] Your own conscience you will acknowledge ought to 
be a rule to you, when it manifestly agrees with that former rule 
the supreme and royal law. Do you not find yourselves herein 
to have offended against that ? It may be your sleeping consci 
ence did not find yourself to offend : but do you not find your 
self to have offended it, now beginning to awake ? This is not 
a doubtful and disputable matter, (perhaps your minding such 
matters too much, hath hindered you in this) surely you will not 
make a scruple of it, a difficult case of conscience, whether you 
should take the Lord of heaven and earth for your God; whether 
you should choose him for your portion, seek rest in him, and 
place upon him your delight and love ? And if in so plain a case 
your conscience hath not expressed itself offended, you have of 
fended against it, in letting it sleep so securely, and not stirring 
it up to its proper office and work. And know that sinning 
against the light of one's own conscience, doth not stand only 
in going against the actual deliberated thoughts which we have 
had, but also in walking contrary to our habitual knowledge, 
and the thoughts and apprehensions which thence we might 
and should actually have had. Inadvertency and disregard of 
known duty, is the most usual way of sinning against consci 
ence. And besides, have you not in this often gone against the 
repeated checks of your own consciences ? Bethink yourselves, 
have you not in your prayers, intermingled frequent confess 
ions of your cold love to God, and that you have taken so little 
delight in him ? And were those only customary forms with 
you, and words of course ? Surely (though it might not be ur 
gently enough) your consciences did at such times accuse you. 
And let that be a dreadful thing in your eyes, to continue a 



course which, if you consider, you cannot but condemn. 

[3.] Ought not your experience to have been instructive to 
you ; as it commonly is to men in other matters ? Have you 
not in this neglect run counter to such instruction ? By this 
means you are supposed to have known the sweetness, as by that 
last mentioned, the equity and fitness of delight in God. Have 
not those been your best hours, wherein you could freely solace 
yourselves in him ? was not one of them better than a thousand 
otherwise spent ! Did you never find it good for you, in this 
way, to draw nigh toGod ? (Psal.73.28)and hereupon pronounce 
them blessed whom he did choose and cause to approach unto 
him ? (PsaL 65. 4) And where is that blessedness of which ye 
spake ? Have ye forgotten, that ye ever thus tasted how. graci 
ous the Lord was ? And it is like, you have by your taste found 
it also an evil thing and bitter to depart from him. Methinks you 
should reckon it a great increase of your sin to have gone a- 
gainst your own sense when especially your superior rule might 
give you assurance it did not deceive you. And doth it not 
expressly oblige you to follow its guidance,while it puts the cha 
racter of perfect, or of being come to full age, upon them, 
who by reason of use (or accustomedness) have senses exercis 
ed to discern between good and evil ? (Heb. 5. 14.) 

[4.] And what will you say to the great obligations which 
the love and kindness of God have laid upon you ? Will you 
not esteem yourselves to have been thereby bound to place your 
love and delight on him ? could you decline doing -so without 
putting a slight upon his love who is infinite in what he is, 
and who is love ? was not his love enough to deserve yours ? the 
love of a God, that of a silly worm ! were you not obliged to 
love him back again, who was so much before hand with you 
in the matter of love ? to love him who had loved you first ? 
(l.Joh.4.19) The first love is therefore perfectly free ; the latter 
is thereby certainly obliged and become bounden duty. How 
variously and with how mighty demonstration hath that love 
expressed and evidenced itself ? * It hath not glanced at you, 
but rested on you, and settled in delight. He hath so stood 
affected towards the people of his choice, and put a name 
on them on purpose to signify his delight in them. (Isa. 62. 4.) 
He rejoices over them with joy, and rests in his love to them, 
(Zeph. 3. 17.) The Lord taketh pleasure in his people. (Psal. 
149. 4.) His delights have from of old been with the sons of 
uiun. (Prov. 8. 31.) Could he delight in such as you, and can 
not you in him ? Be amazed at this i How mean an object had 
lie for his delight ! How glorious an$ enamouring a one have 
you ! excellency and lave in conjunction! whereas- in you were 


met deformity and ill will ! he hath loved you so as to remit to 
you much. To give to you and for you a great deal more 5 
Himself and the Son of his delights. He then (thou shouldst 
recount) did invite thee to delight in him who hath always 
sought thy good, done strange things to effect it, takes pleasure 
in thy prosperity, and exercises loving kindness towards thee with 
delight ; who contrived thy happiness ; wrought out thy peace 
at the expence of blood, even his own ; taught thee the way of 
life, cared for thee all thy days, hath supplied thy wants, home 
thy burdens, eased thy griefs, wiped thy tears. And if now he 
say to thee ; " After all this couldst thou take no pleasure in 
me ?" Will not that confound and shame thee ? He hath ex 
pressed his love by his so earnest (and at last successful) endea 
vours to gain thine. By this, that he hath seemed to put a 
value on it ; and that he desisted not till in some degree he had 
won it ; whereupon there hath been an acquaintance, a friend 
ship) some intimacies between him and thee, according as So 
vereign Majesty hath vouchsafed to descend, and advance sin 
ful dust. And how disingenuous^ unbecoming and unsuitable 
to all this is thy strangeness and distance afterwards ! It is 
more unworthy to cast out of your hearts than not to have ad 
mitted such a guest. 

[5.] How contrary is this omission to what by solemn vow 
and astipulation you have bound yourselves to ? It hath graci 
ously pUased the blessed God in his transactions with men to 
contrive his laws into the form of a covenant, wherein upon 
terms, he binds himself to them, expecting (what he obtains 
from such as become his own) their restipulation. Wonderful 
grace ! that he should article with his creatures, and capitulate 
with the work of his own hands ! And whereas his first and great 
law (and which virtually being submitted to comprehends our 
obedience to all the rest) is as hath been noted, " Thou shalt 
have no other Gods before me." This also he gives forth often, 
as the sum and abridgment of his covenant, " That he will be 
our God, and we shall be his people/' Now this you have 
consented to ; and therein bound yourselves, (as you have heard 
our Saviour expounds the first and great commandment) to love 
him with all your soul, c. And how well doth your neglect 
to delight in him agree and consist with this? What, love him 
with all your so^l in whom you can rarely find yourselves to 
take any pleasure ? Surely your hearts will now misgive and 
admit a conviction you have not dealt truly (as well as not 
kindly) in this. What, not to keep faith with the righteous 
God! To deceive a deceiver some would think not intolerable, 
but what pretence can there be for such dealing with the God 
of truth ?. You have vowed to him, What think you of this; 


drawing back ? Such trifling with him ; the great and terrible 
God who keeps covenant and mercy for ever ! How unbe 
coming is it ! to dally with him as you would with an uncertain 
whiffling man ! To be off and on, to say and unsay, that he 
shall be your God, and that he shall not, (for how is he your 
God if you delight not in him ?) imports little of that solemn 
gravity and stayedness which becomes a transaction with the 
most high God. He takes no pleasure in fools ; wherefore pay 
that which you have vowed. (Eccle. 5. 4 .) 

[(>.] Nor doth it better agree with your relation to him, 
which arises from your covenant. Thence he becomes yours, 
and you his ! " I entered into covenant with thee, and thou be- 
camest mine ;" and the covenant binding on both parts, the 
relation is mutual : so that thereby also he becomes yours. It 
is a most near; represented therefore by the nearest among men, 
even the conjugal relation ; therefore how full is that Song of 
Songs of expressions importing mutual delight suitable thereto J 
And what a bondage (as well as incongruity) were that relation 
without delight ? Have you repented your choice ? If not, why 
take you not pleasure ? Why do you not rejoice and glory in it, 
even as he professes to do over you ? If he should repent, in 
what case were you ? Not to take pleasure in God ! your own 
God ! How strangely uncouth is it ? You are not to consider 
him as a stranger, an unrelated one. If he were such to you, 
his own excellencies challenge to be beheld with delight. JBut 
you are to reckon and say of him, " This is my beloved, and 
this is my friend, &c. I am his and he is mine." And how ill 
do such words become the mouth that utters them not from 
the abundance of the heart, even from a heart abounding and 
overflowing with love and joy 1 

[7-] And how doth the temper of your heart and your prac 
tice, while you take not actual, ordinary delight in God, clash 
and jar with your profession ? For admit you do not then make 
an express verbal profession of actual delight in God at such 
times when you find it not, yet you still avow yourselves, 
and would be accounted and looked upon as related to him: and 
the just challenges of that relation are not any way answered, 
but by a course of ordinary actual delight. So much your pro 
fession manifestly imports. Whilst you profess the Lord to be 
your God,you profess him to he your supreme delight. And how 
is he so, when you seldom have a delightful thought of him, or 
look to him with any pleasure ? And the temper of your spirit 
towards him is usually strange and shy ? And bethink yourselves, 
what would you then be esteemed such as care not for him, 
as value him not ? Would you willingly be taken for such in 
all those long intervals wherein your actual delight in him is 

VOL, u. x 


wholly discontinued ? Would you not be ashamed the disposi 
tion of your heart towards him at such times should be known ? 
Do you not Desire to be better thought of ? What is there then 
at the bottom, and under the covert of your yet continued pro 
fession at such times, but falsehood ? A correspondent affec 
tion there is not. Is not your very profession then mere dissi 
mulation and a lie ? A concealment and disguise of a heart in 
wardly bad and naught ? but which only co-mforts itself tliat it 
is not known; that is all day long full of earth and vanity, and 
wholly taken up with either the contentments, delights and 
hopes, or the cares, fears and discontents that do naturally arise 
from these vile, mean objects, and so are of a kind as mean and. 
vile as they ; only makes a shift to lie hid all the while, and 
lurk under the appearance such a one hath put on of a lover of 
God, and one that above all things delights in him. But is 
this honest dealing ? or was this indeed all that was this while 
to be got of God, the credit of being thought his ? 

Yet it may be you will somewhat relieve yourselves, by say 
ing you suppose for all this your profession was not altogether 
false. For you hope there was still a principle in you by which 
your heart was habitually directed towards God, and whereby 
his interest did still live and was maintained in you, notwith 
standing your many and long diversions from him. And while 
your profession did signify that, it signified some real thing, 
and so was not a false and lying profession. 

But to this I say, was this all that your profession was in itself 
apt, and by you designed to signify ? Surely it was apt and in 
tended co signify more than habitual inclination, it carried the 
appearance of such actings Godward as were suitable to your 
having him for your God ; and you would it is likely have been 
loath it should have been otherwise understood. And surely 
whatsoever it said or imported more than the truth was false. 

And again, can you be confident that so much as you sup 
pose, was true ? Are you sure of this, that because you some 
times found some motions of heart towards God, it is therefore 
habitually inclined to him,when it very rarely puts forth itself in 
any suitable acts, and for the most part works quite another way? 
Whereby are habits to be known but by the frequency of their 
acts ? Do not you know there are many half-inclinations and 
workings of heart with some complacency Godward that prove 
abortive and come to nothing, as that of the stony ground, and 
that of Heb. 6. 4. do more than intimate. Surely your hope 
and safety more depend upon your repentance, your return and 
closer adherence to God thereupon, than the supposition your 
heart is in the main sound and right amidst those more notable 
declinings from him. But we will admit your supposition 


(which the consideration of the persons \ve are now dealing 
with and the design of this present piece of our discourse re- 
quires)and take it for granted, that amidst this your great neglect, 
you have notwithstanding, a principle, a new and holy nature 
in you, \vhose tendency is Godward ; whereupon, we further 
say then, 

[8.] And doth not your unaccustomedness to this blessed ex 
ercise resist the tendency of that new nature ? And so your 
practice while your hearts run a quite contrary course (for they 
are not doing nothing while they are not in this delightful way 
working towards God) doth not only offend against your profes 
sion which it in great part belies; hut against that vital princi 
ple also, which is in you ; and so your very excuse aggravates 
your sin. Is there indeed such a principle in you ? And whither 
tends it? Is it not from God? And doth it not then naturally aim 
at him and ted towards him ? being upon both these accounts 
(as well as that it resembles him, and is his living image) called 
* participation of the divine nature ? Yea, doth it not tend to 
delight in him ? for it tends to him as the soul's last end and 
rest. What good principle can you have in you Godward it" 
you have not love to him? And the property of that, is to work 
towards him by desire, that it may rest in him by delight. Have 
you faith in God ? That works by this love. Faith is that great 
power in the holy soul by which it acts from God as a princi 
ple ; love is that by which it acts towards him as an end; by 
that it draws from him, by this it moves to him, and rests in 
him. The same holy, gracious nature (dependency on its great 
Author and Cause) inclining it both to this motion and rest ; 
and to the former, in order to the latter : so by the work of the 
new creature in the soul formed purposely for blessedness in 
God and devotedness to him ; its aspirations, its motions, its 
very pulse, breathe, tend and beat this way. But you apply not 
your souls to delight in God, You bend your minds and hearts 
another way. What are you doing then ? You are striving a- 
gainst your own life ; you are mortifying all good inclinations 
towards God, stifling and stopping the breath that your panting 
heart would send forth to him ; you are busily crucifying the 
wew creature, instead of the body of sin. There is somewhat 
in you that would work towards God, and you suffer it not; 
And is that well ? that divine thing, born of God, of heavenly 
descent, that hath so much in it of sacredness by its extraction 
and parentage, jou fear not to do violence to ! 

If indeed such a thing (as you seem to hope) be in you ; at 

sometime or other you may perceive which way it beats and 

t ends. The soul in which it hath place is biassed by it God- 

\vard 5 and though often it is not discernible, it sometimes 


shews its inclination. Other men, and meaner creatures, sleep 
sometimes, and then their most rooted dispositions appear not ; 
when they are awake they bewray them, and let them be seen 
in their actions, motions and pursuits. The renewed soul hath 
its sleeping intervals too, and what propensions it hath towards 
God is little discernible, (and yet even then it sometimes dreams 
of him, at least between sleeping and waking ; I sleep, but my 
heart waketh, it is the voice of my beloved, (Cant. 5. 2.) But if 
you seriously commune with yourselves in your more wakeful 
seasons, you may perceive what your hearts seek and crave ; 
some such sense as this may be read in them, the desire of our 
souls is unto thy name, O Lord, and to the remembrance of 
thee. (Isa. 26. 8.) One thing have I desired, that will I seek 
after, to behold the beauty (the delight, as the word signifies) 
of the Lord. (Psal. 27. 4.) And when you observe this disco 
vered inclination, you may see what it is that in your too wont* 
ed course you repress and strive against. That divine birth 
calls for suitable nutriment, more tastes how gracious the Lord 
is. You will have it feed upon ashes, upon wind and vanity ; 
or (although it had the best parent, it hath so ill a nurse) when 
it asks bread, you give it a stone, and let it be stung by a scor 
pion : and the injury strikes higher than at it alone, even (as is 
obvious) at the very Author of this divine production ; which 
therefore we add as a further aggravation of this evil, namely, 

[9.] That it is an offence against the Spirit of grace, whose 
dictates are herein slighted and opposed; for surely with the 
tendencies of the new creature he concurs. It is maintained 
by him as well as produced, continually depends on him as to 
its being, properties, and al! its operations. Nothing therefore 
can be cross to the inclination of a renewed soul as such, which 
is not more principally so to the Holy Ghost himself. And 
particularly the disposing of the soul unto delight is most 
expressly ascribed to him ; that very disposition being itself joy 
in the Holy Ghost; (Rom. 14. 17-) and we find it numbered 
among the fruits of the Spirit. (Gal. 5. 22.) You may possi 
bly be less apprehensive of your sin in this, because you find him 
not dictating to you with that discernible majesty, authority and 
glory that you may think agreeable to so great an Agent. But 
you must know, he applies himself to us in a way much imitat 
ing that of nature. .And as in reference to the conservation of 
our natural beings, we are assured the first cause co-operates 
with inferior causes (for we live, move, and have our being in 
him) though the divine influence is not communicated to this 
purpose with any sensible glory, or so distinguishably, that we 
ran discern what influence is from the superior cause and what 
from subordinate ; our reason and faith certainly assure us of 


what our sense can reach in this matter. So it is here also, the 
divine Spirit accommodates himself very much to the same way 
of working with our own, and acts us suitably to our own na 
tures. And though by very sensible tokens we cannot always 
tell which be the motions that proceed from him ; yet faith 
teaches us from his word, to ascribe to him whatever spiritual 
good we find in ourselves ; inasmuch as we are not of ourselves 
sufficient to think a good thought. And if by that word we 
judge of the various motions that stir in us, we may discern which 
are good and which not ; and so may know what to ascribe to 
the Spirit, and what not. Whereas therefore, that word com 
mands us to delight in God, if we find any motion in our hearts 
tending that way, we are presently to own the finger of God, 
and the touch of his Holy Spirit therein. And what have you 
found no such motions excited, no thoughts cast in that have 
had -this aspect and tendency, which your indulged carnality 
and aversion have repressed and counter-wrought ? Herein you 
have grieved and quenched the Spirit. 

And if it have not over-borne you into what you should have 
understood to have been your duty, but have upon your un- 
tractableness, retired and with-drawn from you; do not 
therefore make the less reckoning of the matter, but the more 
rather ; this carries more in it of awful consideration to you, 
and smarter rebuke that he desisted. You must consider him 
as a free Agent, and who works to will and to do of his good 
pleasure. His influence is retractable, and when it is retracted 
you ought in this case to reckon, it signifies a resentment of 
your undutiful and regardless carriage towards him. And ought 
you not to smite upon the thigh then, and say, "What have I 
done ?" You have striven against the Spirit of the most high 
God ; you have resisted him in the execution of his office,when 
you were committed to his conduct and government ; you have 
fallen out and quarrelled with your merciful guide, and slighted 
at once both his authority and love. This could be no small 
offence. And you are also to consider, that when such a pro 
vince was assigned him in reference to you, and such as you ; 
and the great God set his Spirit to work about you; it was with 
a special end and design, being the determination of most wise 
counsel. And how highly doth this increase the offence ? 

[10.] You have herein directly obstructed the course and 
progress of that design ; which could be no other than the mag 
nifying of his grace in your conduct to blessedness. This is 
that whereon he hath been intent ; and he hath made his de 
sign herein so visible, that they that run might read what it was. 
The very overture to you of placing your delights on him, speaks 


its end ; It is that whereby he should be most highly acknow 
ledged and you blessed both at once. His known design you 
ought to have reckoned did prescribe to you, and give you a 
law. It is a part of civility towards even an ordinary man, not 
to cross his design which I know him earnestly to intend, when 
it tends no way to my prejudice, or any man's; yea, to do 
so would in common interpretation, besides rudeness, argue 
ill nature and a mischievous disposition. Much more would 
duty and just observance towards a superior challenge so much, 
as not to counter-work him, and awe a well-tempered spirit in 
to subjection and compliance ; but a stiff reluctancy to the 
great and known design of the blessed God, meant so directly 
to our own advantage, speaks so very bad a temper ; hath in if. 
such a complication of peevish wilfulness, of undutifulness and 
ingratitude to him, of negligence and disregard of ourselves, 
that it must want a name to express it. 

And now do you see what evil the neglect of delighting in 
God (accompanied as it cannot but be with the having your 
hearts otherwise engaged and vainly busy) doth include and 
carry in it ? Will you pause awhile and deliberate upon it ? Do 
but make your just and sober estimate by the things that have 
been mentioned. Measure it by God's law, and it imports ma 
nifest disobedience in a matter of highest consequence; by the 
judgment of your own conscience, and it imports much boldness 
against light in a very plain case ; by your experience, and it 
speaks an uninstructible stupidity, or a very heedless forgetful 
spirit ; by the obligation laid upon you, by the kindness of this 
very counsel and offer (besides many other ways) and it hath in 
it great ingratitude and insensibleness of the greatest love ; -by 
your covenant, and it imports treachery; by your relation, much 
incongruity and undecency ; by your profession, falsehood and 
hypocrisy ; by the tendency of the new nature in you, unnatu 
ral violence; by the dictates of God's spirit, great untractable- 
ness ; by his known declared design in this matter, a most un* 
dutiful disrespect to him, with a most wretched carelessness of 
yourselves, as to your nearest and most important concern. 
One would think it needless to say more. But why should we 
baulk anything that so obviously occurs, tending to set forth the 
exceeding great sinfulness of this sin ? Therefore know, that 
besides its great faultiness in itself. 

(2.) Much also cannot but be derived into it from its very 
faulty causes. It supposes and argues great evils that flow into 
it, and from which it hath its rise. 

[l.j Great blindness and ignorance of God. For is it possi 
ble any should have known and not have loved him ? or have 
Mield his glory and not have been delighted therewith ? and 


that with such delight and love as should have held a settled 
seat and residence in them. And can your ignorance of God 
be excusable or innocent ? The apostle's words are too applica 
ble ; some have not the knowledge of God, I speak it to your 
shame. (1. Cor. 15. 34.) Do you pretend to him, and know 
him not ? worship him so oft, and worship you know not what? 
held such opportunity of knowing him, and yet be ignoiant ? 
At least it would be thought, In Judah is God known, and that 
his name were great in Israel, (Psal. ?6. ! 2.) where he hath 
had his tabernacle and dwelling place. Here one would think 
his altar should not bear the same inscription as at Athens, <f To- 
the unknown God." How express hath his discovery of himself 
been to you ! and how amiable ! What was there in it not de 
lectable ? or in respect whereof he hath not appeared altoge 
ther lovely ! as it were composed of delights ! You have had op 
portunity to behold him clad with the garments of salvation and 
praise; and as he is in Christ, in that alluring posture, "reconcil 
ing the world to himself/' wherein all his attributes have visibly 
complied to the reconciling design; his boundless fulness of life 
and love not obstructed by any of them, from flowing out in 
rich and liberal communications. If you had not excluded 
that glorious pleasant light wherein he is so to be beheld, you 
would have beheld what had won your hearts fully, and bound 
them to him in everlasting delight and love. And have you not 
reason to be ashamed you have not known him better, and to 
better purpose ! Alienation from the life of God (Eph. 4. 18.) 
proceeds from blindness of heart, that is a chosen affected vo 
luntary blindness. Qr if your knowledge of him be not 

[2.] Your little delight in him argues much unmindfulness 
of him ; at least that you have not minded him duly, and ac 
cording to what you have known. It might here be seasonable 
to suggest to you, how likely it is, that several ways your great 
faultiness in the matter of thinking of God may have contribu 
ted to the withholding of your delight from him. Consider 

First. Have not your thoughts of him been slight and tran 
sient ? Have they not been overly superficial thoughts ? casual 
pnly, and such as have dropped into your minds as it where by 
chance, fluid and roving, fixed neither upon him nor into your 
hearts ? Too much resembling what is said of the wicked man, 
God is not in all his thoughts ; (Psal. 10. 4.) he hath not been 
amidst them. Your thoughts have not united upon him, he 
hath not been situated and centred in them. Was not this the 
<:ase ? You bestowed upon him it may be now and then a hasty 
passant glance, the. careless cast of a wandering eye; and was 


this likely to beget an abiding permanent delight ! have yoifr 
been wont to compose yourselves designedly and on purpose to 
think of him, so as your thoughts might be said to have been 
directed towards him by the desire and inclining bent of your 
heart ; according to that, the desire of our soul is towards thy 
name, and to the remembrance of thee! (isa. 26. 8.) Whence it 
is that it is represented as the usual posture of them whom he rec 
kons among his jewels, and for whom the book of remembrance 
was written, that they thought on his name : a thing that they 
might be known by, and distinguished from other men. Where 
fore it is observable that their remembrance of him, was 
thought worth the remembering, and to be transmitted into 
records never to be forgotten. The evil of your not delight 
ing in God, hath a great accession from your negligent think 
ing of him. 

Secondly. Have not your thoughts of him been low and 
mean, such as have imported light esteem ! Compare them with 
those admiring thoughts, Who is like unto thee, O Lord among 
the gods ! who is like thee, glorious in holiness ! (Deut. 32. 
15.) O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the 
earth! (Psal. 8. 1.) How unlike have yours been to such 
thoughts ? Bethink yourselves how deeply culpable you have 
made your neglect to delight in God, by your unworthy thoughts 
by which you have detracted so unspeakably from the divine 
excellency* hence you have more to account for than 
merely not delighting in God, a rendering him such to your 
selves, as if he were not worthy to be delighted in. How ought 
this to shake your hearts ! 

Thirdly. Have they not been hard thoughts ; full of censure, 
and misjudging of his nature, counsels, ways, and works ? have 
there not been perverse reasonings, with dislike of his me 
thods of government over men in this present state ! as if he 
had too little kindness for such as you would have him favour, 
and too much for others ; judging his love and hatred by false 
measures ! This seems to be much the evil unto which the in 
junction of delight in God is here opposed in this psalm and 
whence it may be estimated, how directly that militates against 
this, and prevailing, excludes it. Perhaps you have delighted 
so little in God because ye have thought (the thing that is so 
wearisome to him,) every one that doth evil is good in the sight 
of the Lord, and he delighteth in them ; and have said in your 
hearts , where is the God of judgment ? Or have you not been 
more peccant in your apprehensions of his rules and resolutions 
for the disposing of men as to their eternal states ? Have you 
not disbelieved the revelation he hath given of his nature, and 
express declarations of his mind aud purpose touching these 


matters ? Was it not enough for you to have known his graci 
ous propensions towards returning sinners, that desire him again 
For their God, and willingly accept the grace, and submit them 
selves to the conduct and government of his Son ? Should not 
this have allured and won your hearts to him, and made you, 
with humble, thankful admiration of his grace, resign and yield 
yourselves to be his for ever ? Have you not measured your ap 
prehensions of him by the suggestions and misgivings of your 
guilty, jealous hearts ; or by your experienced animosity, and 
the implacablenesS of your own spirits towards such as have of 
fended you ; as if he could forgive no more than you are disposed 
to do ? Have you not opposed your own imaginations of him to 
his express testifications of himself,that "He is love; slow to an 
ger, and of great mercy, &c. And that as the heavens are high 
above the earth, so are his ways above your ways, and his thoughts 
above your thoughts r" Have you not (against his plain word) 
thought him irreconcilable, and averse to the accepting of any 
atonement for you ? prescribed and set bounds to him, and 
thought your sin greater than could be forgiven ? And if here 
upon you have not delighted in him, and have found all inge 
nuous affection towards him stifled within you, as your not de 
lighting in him, was a foul evil ; the more sinful injurious 
cause (denying the infinite goodness of his nature* and giving 
the lie to his word) hath made it beyond all expression worse. 
And further at least consider, 

Fourthly. Have not your thoughts of God been few ? Is not 
the meditation of him with you an unwonted thing ? The Psal 
mist, resolving to mind him much, to praise and sing to him as 
long as he lived, and while he had any being ; (Psal. 104. 33.) 
doth as it were prophesy to himself, that his meditation of him 
should be sweet. Frequent right thoughts of God, will surely 
be pleasant delightful thoughts : but your little delight in God 
too plainly argues, you have minded him but seldom* And 
how full of guilt is your not delighting in God upon this ac 
count ! How cheap is the expence of a thought ! What, that 
so much should not be done in order to the delightful rest of 
your soul in God ! 

[3.] It supposes much carnality, a prone inclination and ad- 
dictedness to this earth and the things of it ; arid thereupon 
argues in you a very mean, abject spirit. While you can take 
no pleasure (or do take so little) in God, is there nothing else 
wherein you take pleasure ! And what is it ? God Jiath in this 
matter no other rival than this world. It is its friendship that 
is enmity to him; (Jam. 4. 4.) something or other of it, the lust 
of the flesh, the lust of the eye, or the pride of life prevails far, 
while the love of the Father hath so little place in you* (1, John 

VOL. ir, Y 


2. lf>.) Whither are you sunk? into \\o\v low and vile a tem 
per of spirit, when you can take pleasure in so base things, ra 
ther than in the bfessed God ; and quit so high and pure de 
lights for mire and dirt ? What hath thus carnalized your minds 
that you savour only the things of the flesh, and divine things 
are tasteless and without relish ? Nor are you to think more fa 
vourably of your case, if you take little actual complacency in the 
world also ; probably it is because you have little of it to de 
light in ; it may be you are more acquainted with the cares of 
it than the delights ; or your desire after it is much larger than 
your possession. It is all one for that. But what are your 
hearts most apt to delight in ? or, what is most agreeable to 
your temper ? It is the same thing, what earthly affection pre 
dominates in you, while the temper of your spirit is earthly : 
and it is thereby held off from God. Your not having actual 
earthly delights to put in the balance against heavenly, is only 
by accident. But all your cares, desires and hopes of that vile 
kind, would turn into as vile delights, if you had your wills. In 
the mean time, you are the more excuseless, and your sin is the 
grosser, that even the cares and troubles of this world are of 
more value with you than delight in God. How far are you 
from that temper, Whom have I in heaven but thee, and whom 
do I desire on earth besides thee ? (Psal. 7^- 25.) 

[4.] And How sad an argument is it, of downright aversion 
and disaffectedness to God, in a great degree at least yet re 
maining ! Whence can your not delighting in him proceed, but 
from this, as its most immediate cause ? What could hinder 
you, if your heart were inclined ? Are you not astonished to be 
hold this as the state of your case, that you delight not in him, 
because your heart is against it ; that is, from flat enmity. And 
what doth more naturally import enmity to any thing than to 
turn off from it, as not being able to take pleasure in it. So God 
expresses his detestation of apostates, If any man draw back, 
my soul shall have no pleasure in him. (Heb. 10, 38.) And 
his contempt of Jechohiah is signified by the like manner 01 
speaking. Do you not tremble to think that this should be 
the temper of your spirit towards God, and that your estimate 
of him, as if he were a despised broken idol, and as mean a 
thing, as a vessel wherein is no pleasure ? (Jer. 22. 28.) Rec 
kon then thus with yourself. As your case stands, and things 
do lie between God and .vou, your little delight in God can 
have no more favourable account given of it, nor be resolved in 
to any gentler or milder cause than enmity. And if this seem 
to you not to be a cause, but to be coincident ; and fall in with 
it, so much the worse. By how much less this enmity hath of 
antecedency to your neglect, or the more it seems the same 


with it, so much the more it discovers the evil of the thing it 
self. For hy what worse name can we call any thing than en- 
mitv to God ? But we speak of your habitual temper, as that, 
which is the cause of your actual neglect. And since you have 
a discovery of God as the most delectable object, cannot pre 
tend there is a better, have leave and free permission to place 
your delight on him, ye are earnestly invited and pressed to it, 
It is plain nothing else is in your way to hinder you. There 
fore you delight not in him, because your heart only is averse. 

(3.) We also might insist further to shew the evils that ensue 
and follow upon this neglect. Such I mean, as do not follpw 
casually and by accident, but which have a very inward con 
nexion with it, and are its most natural consequents ; being 
someway caused by it, or which it doth very directly tend to be 
get. And yet these we need not be solicitously curious to dis 
tinguish, as things of a kind altogether diverse from those last 
mentioned under the foregoing head. For it is very apparent^ the 
same things may both cause little delight in God, and be caused 
thereby ; as a person may therefore riot delight in God because 
he knows him not, and may therefore be the less apt to enter 
tain the knowledge of him, because he hath no delight in him. 
And the case is the same as to the other things spoken of as 
causes of this omission, that is ? that it and they may be mutual 
causes of one another. But it however equally serves the de 
sign of aggravating the evil of not taking frequent actual de 
light in God, that hereby sin grows, whether in the same or iu 
different kinds. There is still an increase of sin, though but 
of the same sort that was in being before. You ought to 
consider then, as you take so little delight in God from that 
very bad cause, that you have not entertained the right know 
ledge of him, when you had so great opportunity to get much 
of it, which makes your matter very ill ; do you not also find 
that by your withholding yourselves from delighting in him, 
you have still less disposition to seek his more inward acquain 
tance ? And doth not that make your matter much worse ? If 
you already know somewhat of him, you yet know but in part; 
your object is infinite, and this knowledge so excellent, 
that you cannot fully attain to it, there is still more to be 

'Now therefore if you did delight much in God,would you not be 
pressing hard after him? (Psal. 63. 8.) would you not be following 
on toknowhim? (Hos.6'.3.) And then would his goings forth be 
prepared before you as the morning, and he would be still visit 
ing you with fresh and increasing light ; whereupon your plea 
sure would be renewed and increased by every fresh view, and 
consequently your progress would be from sight to sight, and 
from pleasure to pleasure; whereas now this wheel stands till, or 


you are going back into darkness and desolation, Have you not 
much the more to answer for upon this account ? The like may 
be said as to the rest. The irrectitude and great faultiness of your 
thoughts of God, though that contribute not a little to your not 
delighting in him, yet also if you did delight in him more, 
would not your thoughts of him be more deeply serious, more 
highly raised ? Would you not be very unapt to take up inju-? 
rious hard thoughts of him ? Would not his thoughts (once be 
come precious to you, (Psal. 139. 1J.) be also numerous or in 
numerable rather, as the sands of the sea shore ? Would not 
your earthly temper, your strangeness and averseness to him,va- 
nish and wear off, if you were more exercised in actual delight 
ful converses with him ? Therefore the permanency and in 
crease of those mentioned evils, and that they have got such 
settled rooting in you, is all to be charged upon your not ap 
plying yourselves to more frequent actual delight in God. Be 
sides what may further follow hereupon, the languishment and 
decays of your inward man ; the difficulty you find to trust in 
God, when you are reduced to straits, (as who would commit 
his concernments to one he doth not love ?) your impatience of 
adverse and cross emergencies, that may often befal to you ; 
your aptnes to vexation or despondency ; the easy victory a 
temptation hath over you, (as surely he is sooner drawn away 
from God, or into sin against him, who delights not in him ;) 
your less usefulness in your place and station ; your want of 
courage, resolution, zeal for God, (which are best maintained 
by delight and the relishes of a sweet complacency taken in 
him) your sluggishness in a course of well doing : the sense of 
a toilsome, heavy labour in religion, that it begets you weariness 
without rest, whence you rather affect a rest from it, than in it 
and by it ) and lastly, your continual bondage by the fear of 
death, which one would not dread, apprehending it only a remo 
val into his presence in whom I delight. All these things (which 
might have been distinctly insisted on, and more expressly ac-r 
commodated to the present purpose, but that I would not be 
over-tedious, and that somewhere else some or other of them 
may fall again in our way) do bring in great and weighty addi 
tions to the evil and guiltiness of this sin, and much tend to 
lay load upon it, to fill up its measure, even unto pressing 
down and running over. For how just is it, to impute to it 
what it naturally causes, and lay r its own impure and viperous 
births at its own door ? 

And though this discourse hath been drawn out to a greater 
length than was intended, it will not be lost labour, if by all 
that hath been said, any that fear God shall be brought to ap 
prehend more of the odiousness of this sin; and the self in- 


dulgent thought be banished far from them, that this is either 
an indifferent matter, or at least (if it be somewhat a careless) it 
is one of their more harmless inadvertencies and omissions. 
Which good effect, if through the blessing of God it may ac 
complish, there will be the less need unto such to read on, but 
take their nearer way to the immediate present practice of this 
great duty, and because also it is to be hoped, that the evil of 
this neglect once apprehended, will prompt and quicken serious 
and considering persons to set upon the enjoined duty; it will 
be the less necessary to enlarge much in that other kind of dis 
course which we are now come to ; namely of invitation to this 
holy exercise. 


We pass on to the next thing proposed, which is to say something,, 
Secondly, By way of invitation to this duty : addressee!, 1 To 
those who are less disposed to it. 2. To those who are more 
disposed, or in a nearer capacity, yet are grown strange. 3. To 
those who are desirous of direction how to proceed in this holj 

JJAVING as proposed in the first place expostulated with 
those who are averse to this duty, and with those also who 
are defective in it, we come, 

Secondly, To say something by way of invitation thereunto. 
Wherein yet we have reason to fear it may be too needful to 
place some part of our present labour. For though in matters 
of an infinitely inferior nature and concernment, any practice 
is readily undertaken that is once represented reasonable and s " 
gainful ; in such a business as this, a hundred difficulties are^ 
imagined ; we stand as persons that cannot find their hands ;* 
and all the question is, (even if there be some inclination to it, 
pr conviction at least it should be done,) but how shall we go 
about it ? We are apt to grope as in the dark, even at noon 
day, and cannot find the door or way that leads into a practice 
wherein there is so much both of pleasantness and duty. There 
fore as the case is, the invitation to this exercise ought, if it 
were possible, to be a kind of manuduction ; and it is needful 
we be not only called and pressed, but even led into it. This 


then we are to endeavour, the giving of some plain prescriptions 
that may put us into an easy and direct way of falling expe- 
ditely upon this delightful work. And here; it must be con-* 
sidered, that all (as hath been said} are not in an equal dis 
position to it. Some are more averse, others less,, but all too 
much ) therefore are we to begin as low as their case may re 
quire, who are less disposed \ and so proceeding on in our 
course, somewhat may fall in more suitable to them who are in 
some disposition to it, but do yet need (as who do not ?) some 
help and furtherance in order thereto. 

1. Our invitation is addressed to those who are less disposed 
to this duty. Unto whom we say therefore^ 

(1). It is necessary, that you do deliberately and resolvedly 
design the thing itself. Propose to yourselves delighting in 
God as a business unto which you will designedly and with 
steadfast purpose apply your whole soul. Content not yourr 
selves with light roving thoughts about it, which many have 
about divers matters which they never think fit to engage them 
selves in. Determine the matter fully in your own heart, and 
say, " Many projects I have tried in my time, sundry things I 
have turned my mind unto, to little purpose, I will now see 
what there is of delight to be foun4 in God. The sloth and 
aversion of a backward heart must be overcome by resolution ; 
and that resolution be well-weighed, deliberately taken up, 
deeply fixed, that it may last and overcome. And why should 
you not be resolved in this \ joint ? Is this a matter always to be 
waved ? Know you another way to be happy ? Are you yet to 
learn, that a reasonable soul needs the fulness of God to make, 
it happy, and that there is no other God but one ? Can there, 
be any dispute or doubt in the case, when there is but one thing 
to be done, besides yielding one's self to be miserable for ever ? 
And what need of that, while yet there is one way to avoid it ? 
Surely, that there is but one, is better than if there were a 
thousand. You need not now be long in choosing ; nor do 
you need to deliberate, because of any doubt in the case, but 
that you may more fully comprehend in your own thoughts 
that there is none, and that your resolutions may hereupon 
grew the more peremptory, and secure from the danger of any 

To talk of any difficulty in the matter, is a strange imperti- 
nency ; for who would oppose difficulty to necessity? or allege 
the thing is hard which must be done ? Or must it be done, 
and never be attempted ? or attempted, and not be resolved 
upon ? You have nothing to do to read further, who will not 
digest this first counsel, and here settle your resolution, " I will 
apply myself to a course of delight in feod." If this appear 


not reasonable to you, despair that any thing will that follows; 
It is foolish trifling, to look upon such writings that profess 
their design, and have it in their fronts, that they are meant for 
helps unto Christian practice^ only with a humour of seeing 
what a man can say. And if ever you will be in earnest, you 
must return to this point ; and will but waste time to no pur 
pose, if you will not now set down your resolution ; that is, 
that you will seek a happiness for your soul, (too long already 
neglected !) a happiness that may satisfy and last; and (where 
only it is to he found) in the blessed God ; and in him by set 
ting yourselves to delight in him; since nothing can make you 
liappy wherein you delight not. A nd that you will make use 
of what you further read, according as you find it conducing, 
and apt to serve your purpose herein. Then next, 

(2.) Consider your present state Godward. Must you, do 
you see you must come to this point, of having your delight in 
God ? In what posture then are your aifairs towards him ? 
How do things stand between him and you ? You do well 
know, you were unacceptable to him, and his enemy ; and that 
his justice and holy nature obliged him to hold you as such, 
though he never gave you ground to think him implacable. 
Can you delight in an enemy ? who (as matters in that case 
stand) must be apprehended ready to avenge himself on you, 
and as having whet his glittering sword, and made the arrow 
ready upon the string, directed against your very heart ? Ap 
prehend this to have been your case, and most deservedly, that 
you were an impure, hateful wretch, deformed and loathsome, 
one that could yield the holy God no matter of delight, full of 
enmity and contrariety to him, and in whom he could not but 
find much cause of most just hatred. Remember you were one 
of his revolted creatures, under his most deserved \vrath and 
curse. Know at how vast a distance you were from delighting 
in him, or a state that could admit of it. Consider, is this still 
your case? And do not rashly think it altered; or that you 
have nothing to do, but out of hand to rush upon the business 
of delighting in God. 

(3.) Yet do not think it unalterable. Do not conclude it as 
a determined and undoubted thing, that matters can never be 
taken up between God and you, or you become suitable and 
acceptable to him. Look not upon your vile wicked heart as 
unalterably wicked ; nor upon him therefore as an irreconcila 
ble enemy. Account he waits for your turning to him, as being 
inclined to friendship with you. Otherwise, would vengeance 
have suffered you so long to live ? Have you not been long at 
his mercy ? Hath he not spared you, when it was in his power 
to crush you at pleasure ? Do not think therefore (what you 

Of* DELiGtttING IN 66i>* PAttf II. 

have no pretence for) that he hath a destructive design upon 
you, and will accept of no atonement. 

(4.) Acquaint yourself with the way and terms upon which 
his gospel declares him reconcilable 5 that is, that he will never 
be reconciled to you while you remain wicked, n&r for your own 
sake, become you never so good : that a more costly sacrifice 
than you can either procure or be, must expiate your guilt, and 
make your peace. If this matter could have been effected in a 
less expensive way, the Son of God had not (as you know he 
was) been designed himself, and made that sacrifice ^ nor a 
work have been undertaken by him that might as well have 
been done by common hands. And since he submitted and 
undertook as he did, reckon with yourself, how highly just it is, 
that the entire honour of so merciful condescension, and so 
great a performance, be wholly ascribed to him. But withal 
know, he shed his blood, not in kindness to your sin, but to you : 
and that his design was at once to procure the death of that, 
and your life ; that you need his Spirit as well as his blood ; 
that to recommend and reconcile you to his holiness, as well as 
this to his vindictive justice ; that as you expect ever to ex 
perience and taste the delights of that communion, whereinto 
he calls you, you must not only have the " blood of Christ to 
cleanse you from all sin," but must also " walk in the light, 
as he is in the light ;" that an entire resignation, a betrusting 
and subjecting of yourself to the mercy and governing power 
of the Redeemer, is necessary to the setting of things right be 
tween God and you ; in whom only you may both accept God 
and be accepted of him ; that he must be the centre of union 
between God and you ; and that union the ground of all de 
lightful intercourse. , 

(5.) Make request to him, that he would draw you into that 
union with his Son ; unto whom none can come, but who are 
drawn by himself. (Joh. 6.44) Do not dream and slumber in 
this business ; but know your All depends on it. Consider the 
exigency of your case. Do you find your heart sluggish and 
indisposed to any such transaction with God and Christ ? Doth 
it decline and draw back ? Know, it herein doth but act its 
own nature, and do as it is, or like itself. Therefore stir up 
yourself, to take hold of his strength ; (Isa. 27. 5.) in which 
way, if you have mind to be at peace, you shall make peace. 
Cry- to him earnestly, " Draw a poor wretch out of darkness 
and death, that must otherwise be at eternal distance from thee, 
and be miserable for ever. Join me to him who will bring me 
to thee, and make me one for ever with thee." Hereupon, 

(6.) Accepting Jesus Christ as thy Saviour and thy Lord; ac 
cept in him, with all humble reverence, thankfulness and ad- 


miration of divine mercy and goodness, the blessed God to be 
thy God ; surrendering and yielding up thyself entirely and 
fully to be his for ever. Do this unfeignedly, and with great so 
lemnity ; and let it be to thee for an everlasting memorial ! re 
cord it as a memorable day, wherein thou didst go out of thy 
self, and all finite, narrow, limited good, and pass into union 
with the eternal, immense, incomprehensible and all compre 
hending good, and enter upon it as thine own ! And what ! wilt 
thou delight in a God that is not thine ? Canst thou be content 
to look wistly on him, as one unrelated and a stranger ? Ap 
prehend (and bless God that this is the state of the case) that 
in this way he offers himself most freely to thee. It were asto 
nishing to think of purchasing so great a good ! the matter 
were not to be offered at. But how transporting is it, that no 
thing but acceptance and resignation should be needful to make 
thee one with the great God, and make his fulness thine I 
Therefore make haste to do this, and be not hasty in do 
ing it. Defer not, but do it with great seriousness, deliberation 
and fulness of consent ; considering you are about to enter into 
an everlasting covenant not to be forgotten ; and doing a thing 
never to be again undone. Now if herein your heart be sincere 
and there be a real and vital exercise of your very soul in this 
transaction with God in Christ, so as that you truly take him 
for your God, preferring him in your estimation and choice 
above all things, and giving up yourself absolutely and without 
reservation to him as his, to be governed and disposed of by 
him in all things at his pleasure ; you are hereby brought into 
that state that doth admit of delighting in him. And what re 
mains to be said, will concern you, 

2. As persons in a nearer capacity, and who have a kind of 
fundamental aptitude and disposedness of heart unto this spiri 
tual work 5 and will therefore be directed to you, considered 
according to that supposition. Only it is withal lobe consi 
dered, in the case of many such, that they were arrived hither 
long ago, and been (as was before supposed) hereupon some 
what exercised and versed in this piece of holy practice, have 
had many pleasant turns with God, and tasted often the delights 
of his converse : but have discontinued their course, and are 
grown strange to him who was their delight; have suffered 
themselves by insensible degrees to be drawn and tempted 
away from him ; or there hath been some grosser and more 
violent rupture, by which they have broken themselves off. It 
will be requisite to say somewhat more peculiar to these, for 
the reducing of them again even to this unitive point. After 
which, what shall ensue, may in common concern them, and 
all that are arrived so far, together. For such therefore whose 

VOL. ii. z 


case this is, it will surely both become and concern you to take 
this course : 

. (1.) Make a stand, and bethink yourselves ; Can you justify 
your carnage towards him whom you have taken to be your God? 
Can you approve your own way ? Was this all that you obliged 
yourselves unto in the day of your solemn treaty with him; only 
to take on you the name of a relation to him, and so (except- 
iog that you would now and then compliment him in some 
piece of external heartless homage) take leave till you meet 
again with him in another world ? And that in the mean 
time this present world, or your carnal self (to be gratified and 
served out of it) should really fee your God, and he only bear 
the name ? Was this indeed your meaning ? or if it was, did 
you deal sincerely in that treaty ? or can you think it was his 
meaning, and that lie would expect no more from you ? Can 
you allow yourselves so to interpret his covenant, and give this 
as the summary account of the tenour of it ? How would you 
then expound it to nothing, and make a mere trifle of it, and 
make your religion a fitter service for an inanimate, senseless 
idol, than the living and true God ! Do you not yet know what 
the name of God imports ? Can he be a God to you that is not 
acknowledged by you as your very best, the universal, and ab 
solutely all-comprehending good ) But if you apprehend there 
was really more in the matter ; and that you have been altoge 
ther faulty in this thing. Then, 

(2.) Represent to yourselves as fully as you can the great 
ness of the fault. What have you made God an unneess&ry 
thing to you, while the creature, your very idols, lying vanities, 
were thought necessary? And these were the things upon 
which you thought fit to set your hearts ! which you have 
loved, which you have served, after which you have walked, 
which you have sought, and whom you have worshiped ! 
(Jer. 8. 2.) The heap, of expressions wherewith it seemed 
meet to the Spirit of God to set out the profuse lavishness of 
idolatrous affection. Think how monstrous this is ! Revolve in 
your own minds the several aggravations of your sinful neglect 
before mentioned : and labour to feel the weight of them upon 
your own spirits. Think what time you have lost from plea 
sant delightful walking with God ! what damage you have done 
yourselves ! how far you might have attained ! how much you 
are cast behind in your preparations for a blessed eternity ! 
what wrong you have done him, whom you took for the God 
of your life, to whom you vowed your hearts and souls ! how- 
little kindly and truly you have dealt with him ! 

(3.) Return to him with weeping and supplication. Open 
yourselves freely to him. . Let him hear you bemoaning your- 


selves, pbtir out your souls to liirn, in large acknowledgments 
and confessions of your guiltiness, which, while you keep 
silence, will consume your bones and waste you to nothing. 
"* Remember whence you are fallen,and repent and do your first 
works/' Till then, he hath this against you, that you have left 
your first love. And consider, is it not a grievous thing to you? 
Doth it not pain your hearts, that your Lord and Redeemer 
should have somewhat against you, as it were laid up, noted, 
and put on record, kept in store, arid as himself remarkably 
expresses it, sealed up among his treasures; (Deut. 32. 34) 
somewhat that sticks with him, and which he bears in mind,and 
hath lying in his heart against you ? Is this a small thing with 
you ? when that must be apprehended to be his sense (arid sup 
pose him saying to you) I remember the kindness of thy youth 
the love of thine espousals. Jer. 2. 2.) And now since those 
former days, " What iniquity hast thou found in me, that thou 
art gone far from me, and hast walked after vanity, and art be 
come vain ?" How confounding a thing were it, if he should 
say, as some-time to others in a case resembling yours (and why 
should you not take it as? equally belonging to you?) O my 
people, what'hav I done unto thee ? and wherein have I wea 
ried thee ? testify against me : (Mic. 6. 3.) And while the case 
admits such sharp and cutting rebuke, and that it is the matter of 
rebuke (not rebuke itself abstracted from the matter, that is if it 
were causless) that should smart or wound ; how becoming is it, 
and suitable to the case, to cast down a wounded, bleeding heart 
before the Lord, and be abased in the dust at the foot 
stool of his mercy seat ! And though your sin be great and 
heinous ; 

(4.) Yet apprehend you are before a mercy-seat; that "there 
is forgiveness with him that he may be feared/' How would 
this apprehension promote the humiliation which the case re 
quires ! A sullen despondency that excludes hope of mercy har 
dens the heart; continues the sinful, comfortless distance; 
Therefore apply yourselves to him ; seek his pardon in the 
blood of the Redeemer; know you need it, and that it is only 
upon such terms to be obtained. Yet also take heed lest any 
diminishing thoughts of the evil of your sin return, and make 
you neglect the thing, or wave the known stated way of remis 
sion. We are apt to look upon crimes whereby men are im 
mediately offended, and which therefore arc of worse reputation 
among men, as robbery, murder, &c. as very horrid. This is a 
matter that lies immediately between Spirit and spirit; the God 
of the spirits of all flesh and your spirit. You have had a solemn 
transaction with him, and have dealt falsely. And though the 
matter were secret between God and you, is it the less evil in it- 


self for that ? If you had dealt unworthily, and used base trea 
chery towards a friend, in a matter only known to him and 
yourself; would you not when you have reflected, blush to see 
his face, till matters he composed betwixt you ? And is there 
another way of having them composed, and of restoring delight 
ful friendly converse, than by your seeking his pardon, and his 
granting it ? Could you have the confidence to put yourself 
upon conversing with him as at former times, without such a pre 
face ? or were it not great immodesty and impudence to offer 
at it ? But that when this hath been the case between the bles 
sed God and you, and you now come with deep resentments, 
and serious unfeigned acknowledgments of your most offensive 
neglects of him, to seek forgiveness at his hand, he should be 
easy and facile to forgive ; how should this melt you down be 
fore him ! And this is what his own word obliges you to appre 
hend and believe of him. These words he hath required to be 
proclaimed to you ; Return you backsliding ones, and I will not 
cause mine anger to fall upon you ; for I am merciful, saith the 
Lord, and I will not keep anger for ever. (Jer. 3. 12.) Only 
acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against 
the Lord your God, and have scattered your ways to the stran 
gers under every green tree (your oftence hath been idolatry as 
well as theirs) ; turn, O backsliding children saith the Lord ; 
for I ana married unto you. (ver. 13.) 

What heart would not break and bleed at this overture ! You 
can be recovered to no capacity of delighting in God, as here 
tofore, till you sensibly feel the need of great forgiveness, and 
have a disposition of heart inwardly to relish the sweetness and 
pleasantness of it ; till those words do agree with the sense of 
your hearts, and you can (as in a transport) cry out, O the bles 
sedness of the man (as the expression imports) whose iniquity 
is forgiven, and whose sin is covered I &c. (Psal. 32. 1. And 
now when you are come thus far, if the temper of your spirit be 
right even in this, there will be in conjunction with the de 
sire, hope and value of forgiveness, at leitst an equal dread of 
such future strangenesses and breaches between God and you : 
and that will be very natural to you, which I next add as further 
advice ; 

. (5.) Most earnestly seek and crave a better and more fixed 
temper of spirit ; more fully determined and bent God ward ; 
that your heart may be directed into the love qf God ; that the 
spirit of love, power, and a sound mind may bear rule in you 
(2. Thes. 3- 5.) Be intei^ upon the recovery of that healthy 
soundness, which wheresoever it hath place, will with a certain 
steady power, and a strong inclining bent of love, carry your 
heazt toward God. - And take heed lest you be satisfied in the 
expectation and hope of forgiveness, as to your former neglects 


of God without this ; there is a manifest prejudice daily accru 
ing to the Christian name and profession, hy the unequal esti 
mation which that part of the doctrine of Christ hath, that 
concerns the work of his Spirit upon us, regeneration, the new 
creature, repentance, arid a holy life; in comparison of that which 
concerns his performances and acquisitions for us, expiation of 
sin, satisfaction of divine justice, forgiveness and acceptance 
with God. How sweet, ravishing, transporting, doctrines, and 
how pure gospel are these latter accounted by many, who esteem 
the former cold, sapless, unpleasant notions ! Thence comes 
Christian religion to look with so distorted a face and aspect, 
as if it suffered a convulsion, that hath altered and disguised it 
unto that degree, that it is hardly to he known ; being made to 
seem as if it imported only a design to rescue some persons from 
divine wrath and justice, without ever giving them that dispo 
sition of heart which is necessary both to their serving of God 
and their blessedness in him. This is not to be imputed so 
much to the misrepresentation made of it by them, whose 
business it hath been to instruct others, (though of them 
too many may have been very faulty in almost suppressing 
or insisting less, or very little, upon doctrines of the former 
strain, while the stream of their discourses hath mostly 
run npon the other;) for it must be acknowledged, that by very 
many in our age, the absolute necessity of the great heart change 
hath been both most clearly represented, and as urgently press 
ed as perhaps in most that have gone before. But the matter is 
plainly to be most attributed to that depravedness of man's na 
ture, whence there is a most unequal and partial reception of 
the truth of God ; and that which seems (taken apart by itself) 
to import more of indulgence to sinners is readily caught at, 
that which more directly strikes at the very root of sin, is let 
pass as if it had never been spoken. And so men make up to 
themselves a gospel of this tenour and import, that let the tem 
per of their spirits towards God be what it will, if they rely and 
rest upon the righteousness of Christ, God will be reconciled to 
them. And they think they need take no further care. 
But whatever is said in tke gospel of Christ besides, of the ne 
cessity of being born of God, of partaking a divine nature, of 
putting off the old man, and putting on the new &c. is looked 
upon as if it had been thrown in by chance, and did signify no 
thing. And the other, without this, is thought to be pure gos 
pel ; as if these were impertinent additions and falsifications. 
But will not such men understand that the detracting of any 
thing from the instrument or testament of a man, as well as ad 
ding thereto, makes it another thing, and none of his act or deed? 
And so that their pure gospel, as they call it, is another gospel, 


as they call it, is another gospel, nay (because there cannot be 
another) no gospel ? Or will they not understand, how simply 
impossible it is, in the very nature of the thing, that the end 
should be attained, of bringing men to blessedness, (that is, to 
a delightful rest in God,) without their having a new nature, a 
heart inclined and bent toward God, wrought to a conformity 
and agreement with God's own holy nature and will, unto which 
the offer and hope of forgiveness by the blood of Christ is de 
signed to win and form them ? For can men be happy in him 
in whom they take no delight ? or delight in him to whom the 
very temper, of their spirits is habitually unsuitable and repug 
nant ? How plain are things to them that are not resolved not 
to see ! 

Wherefore beware of contenting yourselves with the mere 
hope, that upon your having admitted a conviction, and felt some 
regret in your spirits for former strangeness to God, you shall be 
pardoned ; so as thereupon never to design a redress, but run on. 
the same course as before : and when you have hereby con-^ 
tracted a new score, and the load of your guilt begins to be sen 
sibly heavy upon you, then betake yourselves to God for a new 
pardon. What presumptuous trifling is this with the Lord of 
heaven and earth ! And what do you mean by it, or seem to ex 
pect ? Is it not, that God should instead of remitting your sin 
to you remit your duty; cancel the obligation of that very su 
preme, universal, fundamental law of nature itself, and excuse you 
quite from ever loving, delighting in him, or setting your heart 
upon him at all? Think not forgiveness alone then will serve your 
turn ; it will signify as much as a pardon will do to a malefac 
tor just ready to die of a mortal disease. He, poor man ! as 
much needs a skilful physician, as a merciful prince ; and so 
do you. And your matter is nothing the worse (sure) that the 
person of each is sustained by the same Jesus, and that both 
parts can be performed by the same hand. And know, that a 
restored rectitude of spirit Godward, a renewed healthiness and 
soundness of heart, with your actual delighting in God there 
upon in your future course, stands in nearer and more imme 
diate connexion with your final, perfect, delightful rest and 
blessedness in him, than your being perpetually forgiven the 
not doing of-it ; if this were supposed possible without that. 
But it is not indeed supposable, for if God would not therefore 
hereafter banish you his presence (as now he does not) you 
would for ever banish yourselves, as now you do. 

(6.) Let there be a solemn recognition and renewal of your en 
gagement and the devoting of yourself to God. Again take hold of 
his covenant, and see that it take faster hold of you. Do it as 
if you: had never done it, as if you were now to begin with him; 


only that your own sin and his grace ought now to appear great 
er in your eyes ; that more odious, that you have added trea 
chery to disaffection ; this mom glorious and admirable, that 
yet he hath left open to you a door of hope, and that there is 
place for repentance, and that he is ready to treat with you agaia 
on a new score. With what humility, shame, fear and trem 
bling, distrust of yourself, resolution of future more diligent 
circumspection and observation of your own spirit, trust and 
dependence on his, ought this transaction now to be managed 
with the holy God ! And when you are thus returned into the 
way and course of your duty : then may what follows concern 
you m common with ail others, that (being entered) desire di 
rection how to proceed and improve in this holy exercise of de 
lighting in God. For there are many such as have been some 
what practised in this course, and being convinced of the equity 
and excellency of it, desire to make progress therein, who yet 
find a difficulty in it ; it goes not easily with them, they are 
easily diverted and can hardly hold on in it. 

3. Therefore somewhat is intended to be said to those who 
are desirous of direction how to proceed in this holy exercise, 
that possibly may, through the Lord's blessing be some use, as 
to that (too common) case. 

(1.) Let it be your great study and endeavour to get a tem 
per of mind actually, ordinarily and more entirely spiritual. We 
suppose the implantation of some holy and spiritual principles 
in you already ; but that is not enough. For as a mind wholly 
carnal, only savours the things of the flesh, will perpetually 
withdraw and recoil, if you offer it any thing tending Godward; 
so, in whatsoever degree it is carnal, it will do thus in a propor 
tionable degree. If you say, let me now apply myself to sortie 
delightful intercourse with God, while an earthly tincture is 
fresh with you, and it was some carnal thing that made- the last 
impression upon your spirit, many excuses will be found out* 
there will be manifold diversions : it will never be thought 
seasonable. Many other things will be judged necessary to be 
minded first. Wherefore fence against the addictedness of your 
hearts to those other things. And whereas, through the great 
advantages that sensible things have upon your senses and im 
agination, you are in continual danger to be over-borne and 
held off from God ; this you must earnestly intend, to watch 
and fortify those inlets, and not to give away your souls to sense 
and the things of sense. Trust not your senses and the things 
of sense. Trust not your senses and their objects to parly, but 
under strict inspection. Never suffer that they should let in 
upon you what is suitable and grateful to them at their own 


You need to have somewhat else than sense, even a spirit of 
might and power, that may countermand and over-rule in every 
of those ports, and turn the battle in the gate. Those used to 
be the places of most strength ; and surely here there needs 
most. Your case and present state cannot admit that you se 
curely give up yourselves to unmixed unsolicitous delight even 
in the best object. If you intermit care and vigilancy, you will 
soon have such things come in upon you, as will make a worse 
mixture in your delight than they can do, and corrupt and spoil all. 
Your delight were better to be mixed with holy care, than with 
sinful vanity ; that tends to preserve, this utterly to destroy it. 
Your state is that of conflict and warfare. You must be content with 
such spiritual delight, as will consist with this state. In a time of 
war and danger, when a city is beset with a surrounding enemy, 
and all the inhabitants are to be intent upon common safety, their 
case will not admit, that they should entirely indulge themselves 
to ease and pleasure. And surely it is better to bear the incon 
venience of watching and guarding themselves, and enjoy the 
comforts which a rational probability of safety by such means 
will allow them, than merely with the mad hope of procuring 
themselves an opportunity and vacancy for freer delights, to 
throw open their gates, and permit themselves and all their de 
lectable things to the rapine and spoil of a merciless enemy. 
Understand this to be your case. Therefore strictly guard all 
the avenues of your inward man. It is better resist there and 
combat vour enemy, than within your walls ; who is more ea 
sily kept than driven out. There cause every occasion and ob 
ject (even tljat importunes and pretends business to you) to 
make a stand,"and diligently examine the errand. Let also for 
this purpose a spirit of wisdom and judgment reside here, (the 
gate was wont to be the place of counsel and judgment as well 
as strength) that may prudently consider what is to be enter 
tained and what not ; and determine and do accordingly. But 
if you will have no rule over your own spirit, but let it be as a 
<Mty broken down and without walls. (Prov. 25. 28 >) If you will 
live careless and at ease, and think in this way to have delight 
in God, your delight will soon find other objects, and grow like 
that of the swine wallowing in the mire, become sensual, im 
pure, and at length turn all to gall and wormwood. 

It may be you have known some of much pretence to piety, 
that would allow themselves the liberty of being otherwise very 
pleasant in their usual conversation; by which you may imagine 
delight in God (which you cannot suppose such persons unac 
quainted with) may fairly consist with another sort of delight. 
Nor indeed is it to be doubted but it may ; for the rules and 
measures which the holy God hath set us import no such rigo- 


rous severity, nor do confine us to so very narrow bounds,but that 
there is scope and latitude enough left unto the satisfaction of 
sober desires and inclinations that are of a nieaner kind. He 
that hath adjoined the inferior faculties we find in ourselves to 
our natures, and at first created a terrestrial paradise for inno 
cent man, never intended to forbid the gratification of those fa 
culties, nor hath given us any reason to doubt but that the lower 
delights that are suitable to them might be innocently enter 
tained : nay, and the very rules themselves of temperance and 
sobriety, which he hath given us, for the guiding and governing 
of sensitive desires, do plainly imply, that they are permitted. 
For that which ought not to be, is not to be regulated, but de 
stroyed. But then, whereas such rules do so limit the inclina 
tions and functions of the low animal life, as that they mhy be 
consistent with our end, and subservient to it ; how perverse 
and wicked an indulgence to them were it, to oppose them at 
once, both to the authority of him that set us those rules, and 
(therein) to our very end itself! That delectation in the 
things of this lower world, which is not by the divine law for 
bidden and declared evil, either in itself* or by the undue mea 
sure, season, or other circumstances thereof, is abundantly suf 
ficient for our entertainment, and the gratification of this gross 
er part, while we are in this our earthly pilgrimage : arid so 
much can never hurt us, nor hinder our higher delights. God 
hath fenced and hedged them in for us (as a garden enclosed) 
by his own rules and laws set about them ; so that we cannot 
prejudice or impair them, but by breaking through his enclo 
sure. Our great care and stud)* therefore must be, to repress 
and mortify all earthly and sensual inclinations, unto that de 
gree as till they be reduced to a conformity and agreement with 
his" rules and measures ; unto which they who have no regard, 
and do yet pretend highly to spirituality, and delight in God, 
it is apparently nothing else but mere hollow pretence ; they 
only put on a good face, and make a fair shew ; look big, and 
speak great swelling words of vanity, as they must be called, 
while their hearts taste nothing of what their tongues utter 
Spiritual delight and joy is a severe thing, separated from vain 
and unbecoming levities, as well as from all earthly impurities ; 
and only grows and flourishes in a soul that is dead to this world 
and alive to God through Jesus Christ. 

See then to the usual temper of your spirit; and do not think 
it enough,that you hope the great renewing change did sometime 
pass upon it ; and that therefore your case is good and safe, 
and you may now take your ease and liberty : but be intent 
upon this, to get into a confirmed growing spirituality, and that 

VOL. II. 2 A 


you may find yduf are in your ordinary course after theSpirit;thcn 
\v] il you savour the things of the Spirit; (Rom. 8. 5.) and then 
especially* will the blessed God himself become your great de 
light, and your exceeding joy. (Psal. 43.4) Retire yourself from 
this vrorld, draw off your mind and heart. This is God's great 
rival. The friendship of this world is enmity to him, (Jam. 4. 
-4.) which is elsewhere said of the carnal mind ; (Rom. 8. 7-) 
that is indeed the same thing, namely, a mind that is overfriendly 
affected towards this world, or not chastely ; wherefore also in 
that foremen tioned scripture, they that are supposed and sus 
pected to have made themselves, in that, undue sense, friends 
of this world, are bespoken under the name* of adulterers and 
adultresses. You must cast off all other lovers^ if you intend 
delighting in God. Get up then into the higher region where 
you may be out of the danger of having your spirit inguiphcd, 
and as it were, sucked up of the spirit of this world ; or of 
being subject to its debasing, stupiiying influence. Bear your 
self as the inhabitant of another country. Make this your 
mark and scope, that the temper of your spirit may be such, 
that the secret of the divine presence may become to yon as 
your very element, wherein you can most freely breathe and 
live, and be most at ease ; and out of which you may perceive 
you cannot enjoy yourself; and that whatever tends to with 
draw you from him, any extravagant motion, the beginnings 
of the excursion, or the least departing step, may be sensibly 
painful and grievous to you. And do not look upon it as a 
hopeless thing you should ever come to this; some have come 
to it; One thing have f 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 inquire in his 
temple. (Psal. 27. 4) 

Xor was this a transient fit only with the Psalmist, but we 
fmd him frequently speaking the same sense, surely goodness 
and mercy shall follow me ail the days of my life, and I will 
ilwclt in the house of the Lord for ever, (Psal. 23. 6.) and 
cL^iiin we have the like strains; How amiable are thy tabernacles, 
< ) Lord God of hosts [ my soul longeth , yea, even fainteth for 
the 'courts of the Lord: blessed are they that dwell in thy house, 
&c. (Psal. 84.1-4.) And what was this house more to him than 
Another house, save that here he reckoned upon enjoying the 
divine presence ? So that here was a heart no naturalized to 
this; presence, as to affect an abode in it, and that he might lead 
his life with God, and dwell with him all his days : he could 
not be content with giving a visit now and then. And why 
this temper of spirit in the clearer light of the gospel be 


iookedupon as an unattainable tiling? A lazy despondency, and 
the mean conceit, that it is modest not to aim so high, starves 
religion, and stifles all truly nol)le and generous desires. Liet 
this then be tbe thing designed with you, and constantly pursue 
and drive the design, that you may get into this disposition of 
spirit towards God. His Spirit will not be restrained,!** it be duly 
sought, and dutifully complied with and obeyed; if you care 
fully reserve yourself for him, as one whom he hath set apart 
for himself. (Psal. 4. 4.) If you will be entirely his, and keep 
your distance, using a holy chaste reservedness as to other 
things ; that is, such things as any way tend to indispose your 
spirit towards him, or render it less suitable to his con 
verse, he will be no stranger to you. And that it may be 
more suitable and fit for him, you should habituate and accustom 
yourself to converse in the general with spiritual things. You 
will be as the things are you converse most with ; they will 
leave their stamp and impress on you ; wandering after vanity, 
you will become vain; minding earthly things, you will become 
earthly. Accordingly, being much taken p with spiritual 
things, you will bear their image, and become spiritual. 

Think how unworthy it is, since you have faculties (and 
those now refined and improved by divine light and grace) that 
are capable of being employed about so much higher objects 
than those of sense, that you should yield to a confinement, in 
eo great part, to so low and mean things; whence it is, that 
when you should mind things of a higher nature, it is a strange 
work with you, and those things seem odd and uncouth to you, 
and are all with you as mere shadow and darkness, that you 
should be most familiar with. Urge on your spirit ; make at 
enter into the invisible world. May you not be assured, if you 
will use your understanding, that there are things you never 
saw, that are unspeakably more excellent and glorious than any 
thing you have seen, or than can be seen by eyes of flesh ? 
Why should your mind and thoughts be limited within the nar 
row bounds of this sublunary world ; so small and minute, and 
(by the apostacy and sin of man) so abject and deformed a part 
of God's creation ? Do not bind down your spirit to the con 
sideration and view of the affairs and concernments only of this 
region of sin and wretchedness ; where few things fall under 
your notice, that can be a comfortable (or so greatly edifying 
and instructive a) prospect to a serious spirit. But consider, 
that as certainly as you behold with your eyes the wickedness 
and miseries of this forlorn world, that hath forsaken God, and 
is in great part forsaken of him ; so certainly, there is a vastly- 
greater world than this, of glorious and innocent creatures, that 
stand in direct and dutiful subordination to their common 


Maker and Lord ; loving, and beloved of him ; delighting to 
do his will, and solacing themselves perpetually in his blessed 
presence, and in the mutual love, communion and felicity of 
one another. Unto which happy number (or innumerable com 
pany rather as they are called) the Redeemer is daily adjoining, 
such as lie recovers and translates out of the ruins and desolation 
of this miserable, accursed part of the universe. 

Reckon yourself as someway appertaining to that blessed 
society. Mind the affairs thereof as those of your own country, 
and that properly belong to you. When we are taught to pray, 
" That the will qf God may be done on earth as it is in heaven," 
can it be supposed, it ought to be a strange thing to our 
thoughts, how affairs go there ? Surely faith and holy reason, 
well used, would furnish us with regular and warrantable notions, 
enough of the state of things above, that we should not need to 
carry it as persons that have no concern therein ; or, when we 
are required to be as strangers on earth, that we should make 
ourselves such to heaven rather. Let your mind be much employed 
in considering the state of things between God and his creatures. 
Design a large field for your thoughts to spread themselves in, 
(and you will also find it a fruitful one ;) let them run backward 
and forward and expatiate on every side. Think how all things 
sprang from God,and among them man, that excellent part of this 
his lower creation j what he was towards God, and what he is now 
become. Think of the admirable person, the glorious excel?; 
lencies, the mighty design, the wonderful achievements and 
performances of the Redeemer ; and the blessed issue he will 
bring things to at length. Think of, and study much the 
nature, parts and accomplishments of the new creature ; get 
your mind well- instructed and furnished with apprehensions of 
the whole entire frame of that holy rectitude wherein the image 
of God upon renewed souls doth consist ; the several lovely or 
naments of the hidden man of the heart, how it is framed and 
habited, when it is as it should be towards God and towards 
men. Cast about, and you will not want matter of spiritual 
employment and exercise for your minds and hearts j nor have 
occasion if any expostulate with you, why you mind this earth 
and the things of sense so much, to say, you know not what else 
to think of; you may sure find many things else. And if you 
would use your thoughts to such converse, and thus daily enter 
tain yourself, in this way you may expect a spiritual frame to 
grow habitual to you ; and then would the rest of your business 
do itself. You would riot need to be pressed and persuaded to 
delight in God, any more than to do the acts of nature, to eat, 
and drink, and move, yea and draw your breath. 

(2.) Endeavour your knowledge or the conception you have 


of God, may be more distinct and clear. For observe whether 
when you would apply yourself to delight in him, this be not 
the next, (or at least one) great obstruction after that of an in 
disposed, carnal heart, that though you would, and you know it 
is fit you should do so, you know not how to go about it ; for 
you are at a loss, what or how to conceive of him. But is it fit 
it should be always thus ? What ever learning and never arrive 
to this knowledge ? It is most true, " we can never search out 
{he Almighty unto perfection ;" and it will always be but a lit 
tle portion we shall know of that glorious incomprehensible^ 
Being. But since there is a knowledge of God, we are required 
to have our souls furnished with, and whereon eternal life de 
pends, with all gracious dispositions of heart towards him, that 
are the beginnings of that life; certainly the whole compass of 
pur duty and blessedness is not all laid upon an impossibility. 
And therefore, if we do not so far know as to love and delight 
in him above all things else, this must be through our own great 
default; and more to be imputed to our carelessness and con- 
tentedness to be ignorant, than that he is unknowable, or hath 
so reserved and shut up himself from us that we cannot know 
him. There are many things belonging to the Being of God which 
we are not concerned to know, and which it would be a vain 
and bold curiosity to pry into : but what is necessary to direct 
our practice, and tends to shew how we should be and cany our 
selves towards him, is not (such hath been his gracious vouch- 
safement) impossible or difficult to be known. We may ap 
prehend him to be the most excellent Being ; and may descend 
to many particular excellencies, wherein we may easily appre 
hend him infinitely to surpass all other beings. 

For we most certainly know, all things were of him, and 
therefore, that whatsoever excellency we can observe in crea 
tures, must be eminently and in highest perfection in him, 
without the want of any thing,but what doth itself import weak 
ness and imperfection ; and hath it not been his errand and bu 
siness into the world, who lay in his bosom to declare him ? 
(Joh. 1. 18.) And hath not he, who at sundry times and in di 
vers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the pro 
phets, in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath 
appointed heir of ail things, by whom also he made the worlds, 
who is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his 
person ? (Heb. 1.1.2.) He hath been on earth the visible represen 
tation of God to men; the divine glory shone in him,the glory of the 
only begotten Son of the Father, full of grace aud truth. Was not 
that divine? Suppose we then,we had seen Christ in the flesh,and 
been the constant observers of his whole conversation on earth, 
(and though we have not seen it, we have the sufficient records 


of his life and actions in our hands ;) let us I say suppose him 
from day to day before our eyes, in all his meek, humble, iovely 
deportments among men -, and withal in the beams of majesty 
that appeared through that veil wherein he was pleased to in- 
wrap himself. Observe him going to and fro, and every where 
doing good, scattering blessings wherever he went ; with what 
compassion and tenderness he healed the sick, instructed the 
ignorant supplied and fed the hungry and necessitous ; how he 
bare with the weak, forgave the injurious (even against his own 
life) and wept over secure and obstinate sinners ; with what 
mighty power he cast out devils, raised the dead, commanded 
winds and seas, and they obeyed him ; with what authority, zeal 
and conviction he contested against a hypocrital generation of 
hardened, impenitent, unbelieving wretches, casting flames of 
holy just displeasure in their faces, and threatening them with 
the damnation of hell. And now suppose the veil laid aside, 
and the lustre of all these excellencies shining forth, without 
the interposition of any obscuring cloud or shadow ; and such 
a one is the blessed God. For this was the express image oi' 
his person; and as he himself tells us, they that have seen him 
have seen the Father. (Job. 14. 9.) And do you not now see 
oe to be delighted in ? 

But yet further. Can you not frame a notion of wisdom, 
goodness, justice, holiness, truth, power, with other known per 
fections, all concurring together in a Being purely spiritual (not 
obvious to our sense) and that was eternally and originally of 
himself, the Author and Original of all things, and who is there 
fore over all and in alljinfinite and unchangeable in all the perfec 
tions before-mentioned ? Surely such conceptions ai?e not im 
possible to you ? And this is he in whom you are to delight. Lift 
up then your minds above, your senses and all sensible things ; 
use your understandings, whereby you are distinguished from 
brute creatures. Consider, this is he from whom you and all 
things sprang, and in whom your life is. Do you perceive life, 
wisdom, power, love in other things ; these must all have some 
or other fountain. Other things have not these of themselves, 
for they are not of themselves, therefore they must derive arid 
partake them from him ; and thence it is evident, they must be 
in him in their highest excellency. Of this, your understand 
ings, duly exercised, will render you as sure, ns if you saw that 
infinite glory, in which all these meet, with your eyes ; and will 
assure you, it is so much more excellent and glorious, for that 
it cannot be seen with your eyes. You sec the external acts 
and expressions of these things from such creatures as you are. 
But life, wisdom, power, love, themselves are invisible things, 
whieh in themselves you cannot see ; yet you are not the less 


certain that there are such things. And do you not find, that 
the certain evidence you have, that these things meet in this or 
that creature, do render it lovely and delightful in your eyes ? 
especially, if you have, or apprehend you may have nearest in 
terest in such a creature ? The blessed God not only hath these 
things in himself, but is these very things himself ; therefore 
must be invisible, as they are. And because he not only hath 
them, but is them, therefore they are in him perfectly unchange 
ably and eternallyj as being his very essence* Think then of 
a Being that is pure, original, substantial, life, wisdom, power, 
love ; and how infinitely amiable and delectable should that 
ever blessed Being be unto you ! 

Converse with the word of God* Read his descriptions of 
himself; and do not content yourselves to have the words and 
expressions before your eyes, or in your mouths, that represent 
to you his nature and attributes ; but make your pauses, and 
consider the tilings themselves signified by them ; that is, when 
you read such passages of his own holy Book, as that which tells 
you his name, that " He is the Lord the Lord God, gracious and 
merciful, c." Or that tell you "He is light,heis love,he is God 
only wise, he is the Almighty, God all-sufficient, he is all in 
all," and that the " Heavens, and heaven of heavens cannot 
contain him ;" Or wherein you find him admired as " glorious 
in holiness ;" or that say, ct he is what he is," that " he is the 
first and the last, the Alpha and Omega, &c." Labour to fix the 
apprehension and true import of all such expressions deep in 
your mind ; that you may have an entire and well-formed re 
presentation of him before you, unto which you may upon all 
occasions have recourse, and not be at a loss every time you 
are to apply yourselves to any converse with him, what or how 
to conceive of him. And because mere words, though they 
may furnish you with a more full and comprehensive notion of 
him, yet it may be not with so lively a one, or that you find so 
powerfully striking your heart, compare with that account his 
word gives you of him, the works which your eyes may daily 
behold, and which you are assured were wrought and done by 
him. To read or hear of his wisdom, power, goodness, &c. and 
then to have the visible effects within your constant view, that 
so fully correspond to what his word hath said of him, and de 
monstrate him to be what you were told he is ; how mighty a 
confirmation doth this cany with it ! You may behold some 
what of him, in every creature. All his works do not only 
represent, but even praise and commend him to you. 

Above all, since he is only to be seen in his own light, pray 
earnestly and continually to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Father of glory, that he would give you the spirit of wisdom 


and revelation in the knowledge of him. (Eph. 1. 17.) From 
such as so desire to know him, he will not conceal himself. 
This is your more direct following on to know the Lord; 
in which case he hath said, you shall know, and that his going 
forth shall be prepared as the morning. (Hos. 6. 3.) By your 
craving looks, and the expecting posture of your waiting eye, 
you draw forth and invite his enlightening communications, 
which do but wait for an invitation. For it is most reasonable 
you should feel your want, and express your desire of what is so 
precious, before you find it. Hereby you put yourselves amidst 
the glorious beams of his vital pleasant light ; or do open your 
souls to admit and let it in upon you. Who when he finds it is 
with you a desired thing and longed for, takes more pleasure in 
imparting, than you can pains in seeking, or pleasure In re 
ceiving it. Nor yet, when you have thus attained to some com 
petent measure of the knowledge of God, are you to satisfy 
yourselves that now you are not altogether ignorant : but to 
employ your knowledge 3 which will be enforced in the follow 
ing chapter. 


I. Invitation to those desirous of direction in this holy exercise con 
tinued. II: The last thing proposed in the head of contents, 
chap. in. which was to say something. Thirdly, By way of 
excitation to this duty. 1. The grace breathing in these words, 
'* Delight thyself in the Lord." 2. The thing desired, " He shall 
give thec the desires of thine heart/' (1.) Spiritual good things, 
(2.) External, of an inferior kind so far satisfying of them. 

I. "Y\7"E proceed with the subject of invitation to those who are 
desirous of direction in this holy exercise and say to 
such ; 

(3.) Employ your knowledge in frequent and solemn think 
ing on him ; which is one (and the next) end of that know 
ledge and a further great means to your delighting in him. 
Your knowledge of God signifies little to this purpose, or any 
other, i as it gives you the advantage of having frequent ac 
tual thoughts of him, it be not used to this end. Not having 
this knowledge when you would set yourselves seriously to 


think on God, you are lost in the dark, and know riot which 
way to turn yourselves ? Arid having it, you will be as rriuch 
strangers to delight in him, if you let your knowledge lie bound 
tip in dead and spiritless notion, and labour not to have it turn 
ed into active life and fervent love, by the agitation of your 
working thoughts. By your musing this fire must be kindled. 
Do you suppose it possible to delight in God and not think of 
him ? If God be the solace and joy of your souls, sufely it 
must be God remembered and minded much, riot neglected 
and forgotten, My soul (saith the Psalmist) shall be satisfied as 
with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise thee with 
joyful lips; when 1 remember thee on my bed, arid meditate on 
thee in the night watches. (Psal. 63. 5. 6.) And he at the 
same time says his irieditation of hirri shall be sweety when he 
says he will be glad in the Lord. (Psal. 104. 34.) 

It is not a brutal delight you are^here invited to. Even such 
creatures have their pleasures also ; and do need thereto, be 
sides a suitable object, only the help and ministry of their senses. 
Your delight in God can find no way into your hearts, but by 
the introduction of your exercised rriinds. There the matter 
must be prepared and formed by which your delight is to be 
nourished and maintained. Hereto then you must apply your 
selves with design, and with serious diligence, and take pains 
with your recoiling thoughts. Do not make that fulsome pre 
tence, to excuse your slothful neglect, that you cannot com 
mand your own thoughts. The thing itself is unquestionably 
tfuej and that you are not of yourselves sufficient to think any 
thing that is good, as of yourselves; and so you may truly 
enough say, that you cannot think any thought at all without 
God, or so much as draw a breath. Only, as besides your na 
tural dependence on God for the support of your natural life 
and being, there must be that course taken, and those things 
done, by which in an orderly course of providence you may 
live ; so for the maintaining of your spiritual life (wr\ich very 
much stands in delight and joy in God) you must join a spiri 
tual dependence for that special influence and concurrence 
which is necessary hereto, with the doing of such things as by 
God's appointment and prescription are to serve this end. They 
who complain therefore they cannot attain to it, to delight in 
God, or their delight in him is faint and languishing ; while 
in the mean time they use no endeavour to bend and direct 
their thoughts towards- him, do make as idle a complaint, as he 
that shall say, he is in a miserable starving condition, and no 
thing nourishes hint, who wanting nothing suitable for him, is 
so wretchedly slothful, that he will be at no pains to prepare, or 
so mucU as eat and chew his own necessary food. You may 

VOL. II. 2 B 


not imagine, you have all that is needful for the well-govern 
ing 1 of your spirits in your own hands and power. Nor ought 
you therefore to think, that what is simply needful is not to 
he had. God is not behind-hand with you ; he is no such 
hard task-master, as to require brick and allow no straw : but 
may most righteously say, ye are idle, and do therefore only 
complain like the sluggard in his bed, whose hands cannot en 
dure to labour. You dare not deliberately go to God, and tell 
him, you do all you can to fix the thoughts of your hearts on 
him, and yet it will not be ; or that he gives you no help. 
Though he can be no way indebted to you, but by his own free 
promise ; he giveth meat to them that fear him, being ever 
mindful of his covenant, (yea he doth it for ravens and sparrows) 
lie will not then famish the souls that cry to him, and wait on 
him; their heart shall live that seek God. It is becoming 
and suitable to the state of things between him and you, that 
lie should put you upon seeking that you may find. Your rea 
sonable nature and faculties (especially being already rectified 
in some measure, and enlivened by his grace and Spirit) do re 
quire to be held to such terms. It is natural to you to think ; 
and there is nothing more suitable to the new creature, than 
that you apply and set yourselves to think on him, and that your 
thoughts be set (and held) on work to inquire and seek him 
out. Know therefore, you do not your parts, unless you make 
this more your business. Therefore to be here more parti 

[1 .] Solemnly set yourselves at chosen times to think on God. 
Meditation is of itself a distinct duty, and must have a conside- 
able time allowed it among the other exercises of the 
Christian life. It challenges a just share and part in the time 
of our lives ; and he in whom we are to place our delight, is 
you know, the prime and chief object of this holy work. Is it. 
reasonable that he who is our life and our all, should never be 
thought on, but now and then, as it were by chance,, and on the 
bye ? " My meditation on him shall he sweet." Doth not 
that imply that it was with the Psalmist a designed thing 
to meditate on God ? that it was a stated course ? whereas it 
was become customary and usual to him, his ordinary practice 
to appoint times for meditating on God. his well-known exer 
cise, (which is supposed) he promises himself satisfaction and 
solace of soul herein. Let your eyes herein therefore prevent 
the night-watches. Reckon you have neglected one of the 
most important businesses of the clay, if you have omitted 
this, and that to such omissions you owe your little delight in 
Gpd. Wherein therefore are you to repair yourselves but by re- 
* I rowing this great neglect ? 


[2 ] Think often of him amidst your other affairs. Every 
one as he is called (he his state or way of living what it will, he 
he bond or free) is required therein to ahide with God. (1. Cor. 
7. 20.) x\nd how is that hut by often thinking of him, as be 
ing a great part (and fundamental to all the rest) of what can be 
meant by this abode ? How grateful a mixture would the 
thoughts of God make with that great variety of other things 
which we are necessarily to be concerned in, while we are in 
this world! If they be serious and right thoughts they will be 
accompanied with some savour and relish of sweetness, and at 
least, tend to keep the heart in a disposition for more delightful, , 
solemn intercourses with God. It is a sad truth (than which 
also nothing is more apparent) that whatsoever there is, either 
of sinfulness or uncomfortablcness in the lives of those who have 
engaged and devoted themselves to God, doth in greatest part 
proceed from their neglect to mind God. A thing, if due heed 
were taken about it, so easy, so little laborious, and the labour 
whereof (so much as it is) were sure to be recompenced with so 
unspeakable pleasure : that they are so often lost in darkness, 
drowned in carnality, buried in earthliness, and over 
whelmed with miseries and desolations of spirit, and all this 
for want of a right employing of their thoughts, is from 
hence only ; they set their thoughts upon things that tend 
either to corrupt and deprave their spirits, or to disquiet and 
alHict them. 

At this in-let, and by the labour of their own thoughts, sins 
and calamities are brought in upon them as a flood ; which very 
thoughteif they were placed and exercised aright, would let in God 
upon them, fill them with his fulness, replenish their souls with 
his light, grace and consolations. And how much more easy 
an exercise were it to keep their thoughts employed upon one 
object that is ever full, delectable and present ; than to divide 
them among many, that either lie remote, and out of their 
power, to be pursued with anxiety, toil, and very often witii 
disappointment ; or being nearer hand, are to be enjoyed (if 
they be things that have an appearance of good in them) with 
much danger and damage to their spirits, and with little satis 
faction ; or (if they appear evil) to be endured with pain and 
sorrow ! So that the labour of their thoughts, among those ma 
ny things, brings them in torture, when their rest (Psal. 25. 
13.) upon God alone, would be all pleasure delight and joy : 
here their souls might dwell at ease or (as those words import) 
rest in goodness (even with that quiet repose which men are 
wont to take by night ; for so the word we read dwell peculiarly 
signifies,)after the weariness which we may suppose to have been 
contracted by the labour of the foregoing day. And if no such 
sweet and pleasant fruit were to be hoped for from the careful 


government and ordering of our thoughts, is the obligation of 
God's law in this matter nothing with us ? whom we are bound 
to fear, and love, to trust and obey above all things, of him are 
we not bound so much as to think ? And what is loving God 
with all our mind, so expressly mentioned in that great summa 
ry of our duty towards him ? Or what can it mean, after the re 
quired love of all the heart, and all the soul, to add so particu 
larly, and with all thy mind, when as the mind we know is not 
the seat of love ? Surely it cannot at least, but imply, that our 
thoughts must be much exercised upon God even by the direction 
of our love, and that our love must be maintained by thoughts 
of him ; that ur minds and hearts must continually correspond 
and concur to the loving of God ; and so our whole soul be ex 
ercised and set on work therein. 

What doth it mean that our youth is challenged to the re 
membrance of him ? (Eccl. 12. 1) What, is our riper age 
more exempt ? Do we as we longer live by him owe him less j 
Doth it signify nothing with us that (as was hinted formerly) 
the wicked bear this brand in the Scriptures, they that forget 
God : (Psal. 9. 16.) that it is a differencing character of his 
own people, that they thought on his name ? Why do we sup-j 
pose our thoughts exempt from his government, or the ohliga-? 
tion of his laws ? Why should it be reckoned less insolent to 
say " Our thoughts, than our tongues are our own, who is Lord 
over us ?" May we do what we will with our thoughts ? Who 
gave us our thinking power, or made us capable of forming a 
thought ? And now, will we assume the confidence to tell God 
we think on him all that we can ? How many idle thoughts in 
the day might we have exchanged for thoughts of God ! and 
every thought have been to us a spring of pleasure, and holy 
delight in him ! Know then that if ever you will do any thing in 
this great matter of delighting in God, you must arrest your 
thoughts for him, and engage them in more constant converse 
with him : and withal mis prayers with those thoughts ; or let 
them often be praying, craving thoughts, such as may carry 
with them annexed desires; or wherein your heart may breathe 
out requests, such as that (for instance) Rejoice the soul of thy 
servant; for unto thee,OLord, do I lift up my soul, (Ps. 86. 4) 
See they be spiritful thoughts that carry life in them, and aim 
to draw more. But now our thoughts may be conversant about 
him under very various considerations, apd all of them very de 
lightful. And this variety may much increase our delight, 
while our minds converse with him, riovy under one notion, then 
under another. They are apt to tire and grow weary, being 
long employed the same way upon the same thing. And it. 
were an injury to the blessed God himself, when he presents 


himself under various aspects and appearances, so to take notice 
of any one, as to overlook and neglect the rest. Therefore, 

(4.) Look often to him according as absolutely considered he 
is in himself the most excellent Being : and as in reference to 
tys creatures, he is the supreme Author and Lord of all. There 
is an unspeakable pleasure to be taken in him so beheld. Too 
many while their distrust, or their carnality and strangeness to 
God holds them in suspcnce concerning their own special re 
lation to him, are apt to fancy themselves excused of delighting 
in him. It belongs not to them they think, but to some familiar 
friends, and great favourites of his to whom he expresses special 
kindness, and on whom he places the marks of his more pecu 
liar good-will. But do you think so to shift and wave the ob 
ligation of a universal law upon mankind, and all reasonable 
nature ? You are to remember (as hath been said) your delight 
in God is not to be considered only as your privilege but as an 
act of homage to him that made you, and put an intelligent 
apprehensive spirit into you, by which you are capable of know 
ing who made you, and of beholding your Maker's excellency 
with admiration and delight. And if now you are become guilty 
and vile ; will you run into darkness and hide youselves from 
him, or close your eyes, and then say, the sun doth not shine, 
and deny the blessed, glorious God to be what most truly and 
unchangeably he is ? Whatever you are or have desired he 
should be towards you, yet do him right. Behold and confess 
his glorious excellency, every way most worthy to be delighted 
in. Nor have you rendered yourselves so vile, nor had so much 
cause of apprehending his displeasure towards you, by any thing 
so much as this, your not Saving taken delight in him all this 
while ; and your neglect to take the ways (spoken of before) 
tending to bring you thereto. If you think you have no special 
relation to him, do you think you ever shall if you continue, in 
the temper of your spirits, strangers to him, and look upon him 
as one in whom you are to take no delight ? Surely it is your 
dutiful affection towards him and complacency in him, that 
must give you ground to hope you are his, and he is yours ; and 
therefore the beginnings and first degrees of that complacency 
and delight must be in you before ; being begotten by the view 
of that excellency which he hath in himself antecedently to his 
being related to you. Yea, and if your relation to him were 
already as sure and evident to you as can be supposed ; yet are 
you to take heed of confining your delight in him to that con 
sideration of him only ; or of making it the chief reason of that 
your delight. For so your delight in him will be more for 
your own sakes, or upon your own account than his. Learn to 
look upon things as they are, an<} not according to their aspect 


upon your affairs. Is it not a greater thing that he is God, than 
that he is yours ? 

It is a purer, a more noble and generous affection to him you 
are to aim at, than what is measured only by your private in 
terest. Is that boundless fulness of life, glory, and all per 
fection (treasured up in the eternal and incomprehensible 
Being) to be all estimated by the capacity and concerns of a 
silly worm ? That consideration, therefore, being sometimes 
laid aside, sit down and contemplate God as he is in himself, 
not disowning (as it is not fit you should) but only wavinec the 
present consideration of anymore comfortable relation, wherein 
you may (though most justly) suppose him to stand to you; and 
see if you cannot take pleasure in this, that he is great and 
glorious, and to have a Being so every way perfect before your 
eyes. Try if it will not be pleasant to you to fall down before 
him, and give him glory ; to join your praises and triumphant 
songs to those of saints and angels : and how much yet also it 
will add to your satisfaction to behold and acknowledge him 
exalted above all blessing and praise. How great delight hath 
been taken in him upon such accounts ! In what transports 
have holy souls been upon the view and contemplation of his 
sovereign power and dominion ; his wise and righteous govern 
ment; his large and flowing goodness, that extends in common 
to all the works of his hands ! Labour to imitate the ingenuous 
and loyal affection of this kind, whereof you find many ex 
pressions in the sacred Volume. For what hath been matter of 
delight to saints of old, ought surely still as much to be ac 
counted so. To give instances: 

You sometimes find them in a most complacential adoration 
of his wonderful wisdom and counsels. O the depths of the 
riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God ! How un 
searchable are his judgments, and his ways pa^t finding out \ 
(Rom. 11. 33.) And again, to God only wise be glory, through 
Jesus Christ for ever. Amen. (ch. 16. 27.) To the King 
eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God be honour and 
glory for ever &c. (I Tim. 1. 17-) To the only wise God our 
Saviour be glory and majesty, dominion and power now and 
ever, &e. (Jude 25.) Elsewhere we have them in transports 
admiring his holiness. Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among 
the gods ! Who is like thee glorious in holiness ! There i* 
none holy as the Lord ; for there is none besides thee, neither 
is there any rock like our God ! (Exod. 15. 11. 1 Sam. 2. 2.) 
And this is recommended and enjoined to his holy ones as the 
special matter of their joy and praise : rejoice in the Lord ye 
righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. 
(Psal. 97. 12.) At other times we have their magnificent 



celebrations of his glorious power, and that by way of triumph 
over the paganish gods ; our God is in the heavens, he hath 
done whatsoever he pleased. (Psal. 1 15.) Their idols are silver 
and gold, &c. Be thou exalted, O God, in thine own strength. 
We will sing and praise thy power. (Psal. 21. 13.) Forsake 
Hie not until 1 have shewed thy strength unto this generation, 
and thy power to every one that is to come, &c. (Psal. 71- 18.) 
This is given out as the song of Moses and the Lamb ; Who shall 
not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name ?" Great and 
marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty, &c. And how 
do they magnify his mercy and goodness both towards his own. 
people, and his creatures in general. O how great is thy goodness 
which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee, that thou hast 
wrought for them that trust in thee before the children of men! 
(Psal. 31. 19.) Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous, for praise 
is comely for the upright : praise the Lord with harp : sing 
unto him with the psaltery, the earth is full of the goodness 
of the Lord. (Psal. 33. J .) I will extol thee my God, O 
King, 1 will bless thy name for ever and ever. Men shall 
speak of the might of thy terrible acts, they shall abundantly 
utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy 
righteousness. The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, 
slow to anger, and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all, 
and his tender mercies are over all his works. (Psal. 145. 1. &c.) 
To insert ail that might be mentioned to this purpose, were to 
transcribe a great part of the Bible. And in what raptures do 
we often find them, in the contemplation of his faithfulness 
and truth, his justice and righteousness, his eternity, the bound 
lessness of his presence, the greatness of his works, the exten- 
siveness of his dominion, the perpetuity of his kingdom, the 
exactness of his government ; Who is a strong God like unto 
thee, and to thy faithfulness, round abound thee ! (Psal6'9.) 
Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens, and thy faithfulness 
reaches unto the clouds. (Psal. 36.) Before the mountains 
were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth, or the 
world, from everlasting to everlasting thou art God. (PsaL 
90. 2.) But will God indeed dwell on the earth ? Behold 
the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee. (1 Kings 
8.) The works of the Lord are great, sought out of them, that, 
have pleasure therein. (Psal. 111.) His work is honourable 
and glorious, &c. All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord, and 
thy saints shall bless thee ; they shall speak of the glory of thy 
kingdom, and talk of thy power, (Psal. 145.) to make known 
to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious Majesty of 
his kingdom. Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, ad 
thy dominion endureth throughout all generations. 


And his glory in the general (which results from his several 
excellencies in conjunction), how loftily is it often celebrated 
with the expression of the most loyal desires that it may be 
every where renowned, and of greatest complacency, in as far it 
is apprehended so to be. The glory of the Lord shall endure 
for ever. They shall sing in the ways of the Lord, for great is 
the glory of the Lord. Be thou exalted above the heavens, let 
thy glory be above all the earth. Let them praise the name of 
the Lord, for his name alone is excellent, his glory is above the 
earth and the heavens. * When you read such passages as these 
(whether they be elogies or commendations of him, or doxo- 
logies and direct attributions of glory to him), you are to be 
think yourselves, with what temper of heart these things were 
uttered ! with how raised and exalted a spirit! what high delight 
and pleasure was conceived in glorifying God, or in beholding 
him glorious ! How large and unbounded a heart, and how full 
of his praise doth still everywhere discover itself in such strains ; 
when all nations, when all creatures, when every- thing that 
hath breath, when heaven and earth are invited together, to 
join in the concert, and bear a part in his praises ! And now 
eye him under the same notions under which you have seen 
him so magnified, that in the same way you may have your 
own heart wrought up to the same pitch and temper towards 
him. Should it not provoke an emulation, and make you 
covet to be amidst the throng of loyal and devoted souls, when 
you see them ascending as if they were all incense ! when 
you behold them dissolving and melting away in delight and 
love, and ready to expire, even fainting that they can do no 
more 5 designing their very last breath shall go forth in the 
close of a song ! I will sing unto the Lord, as long as I live, 
1 will sing praise to my God while I have my being ! (Psal. 
104. 3. 3.) How becoming is it, to resolve, "This shall be my 
aim and ambition, to fly the same, and if it were possible, 
a greater height." Read over such psalmsf as are more espe 
cially designed for the magnifying of God ; and when you see 
what were the things that were most taking to so spiritual and 
j)ious hearts ; thence receive instruction, and aim to have your 
feearts alike affected and transported with the same things. 
Frame the supposition, that you are meant, that the invitation 
is directed to you, " O come let us sing unto the Lord, let us 
come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful 
noise to him with psalms ; for the Lord is a great God, and a 
great king above all Gods, &c. And think with yourselves, is he 

* Psal. 104. 31. 138. 5. 57. 7. ll.-r-H8. 13, 

t Psal. 8. 48, 95. 96'. 97. 98. 99- &c 


not as great as he was ? Is he not as much our Maker as he was 
theirs ? Is it not now as true, that " The Lord reigneth, and is 
high ahove all the earth, and exalted far above all gods." Now 
since these were the considerations upon which so great com 
placency was taken in him, set the same before your own eyes. 
And since these were proposed as the matter of so common a 
joy, and the creation seems designed foi a musical instrument 
of as many strings as there are creatures in heaven and earth ; 
awake, and make haste to get your heart fixed : lest " the hea 
vens rejoice, and the earth be glad, the world and all that dwell 
therein : lest the sea roar, and the fulness thereof, the floods 
clap their hands, the fields and the hills be joyful together, and 
all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord",while you only 
are silent and unconcerned. 

And seriously consider the kind and nature of that joy and 
delight in God wherewith the hearts of holy men did so exceed 
ingly abound : which is to be collected from the expressed 
ground and reasons of it, for the most part, wheresoever you 
have any discovery of that joy itself. This general and princi 
pal character may be given of it, that it was a sincerely devout 
and a loyal joy; not a mean, narrow, selfish pleasure, a hug 
ging of themselves in this apprehension merely, it is well with me 
or I am safe and happy whatsoever becomes of the world. This 
was still the burden of the song ; the Lord is great and glorious 
and excellent; is exalted and most high over all. And it is to 
be observed, that as this was the common and more usual strain 
and temper of holy souls, in the ages whereof the Scriptures 
give us any account; so were doubts and fears, and troubled 
thoughts concerning their own interest in God, a great deal less 
usual and common in those days. So that in proportion to the 
other pious and holy exercises of such as were true fearers of 
God and devoted to him, there is little account given us of any 
thing of that kind in the sacred writings, and especially in the 
new testament of our Lord. An argument, that such as were 
sincerely religious were most taken up about the interest of God 
and Christ in the world, rejoicing either in the observation of its 
growth and increase, or in the hope and confidence that it shall 
grow : and that they were much less concerned about their own 
interest; yea and that this course did thrive best with them, 
while they were most intent upon the affairs of their common 
Lord, their own were well enough provided for. 

We cannot hereupon but note therefore by the way, how al 
tered a thing religion is now become. Almost the whole busi- 
siness of it, even among them that more seriously mind any 
thing belonging to it, is a fear of going to hell ; and hence per 
petual, endless scruples, doubts and inquiries about marks and 

VOL II. 2 C 



signs, and how to know what is the least degree of that grace 
which is necessary to their being saved. As if the intention 
were to beat down the price to the very lowest, and dodge al 
ways, and cheapen heaven to the utmost, it may be feared (as 
too many) with a design not to aim at any tiling higher than 
what is merely necessary to that purpose only, and never to mind 
being excellent, but only being saved. And yet also it were 
well, in a comparative sense, if that itself were minded in good 
earnest by many that profess beyond the common rate ; and 
that whereas their own interest is the thing they most mind, 
it were not their meanest and least considerable interest, even 
that of their sense and flesh, and secular advantage ; and that 
under the pretence too (which makes the matter so much the 
worse) of much love and zeal Godward, and devotedness to his 
interest ; which they supposed involved and wrapt up wholly 
with theirs. Whence also all their delight and joy is measured 
only by the aspect of the world, and of public affairs upon them 
and their private ones. And they are either overwhelmed with 
sorrow, or transported with joy, according as the state of things 
doth either frown upon, or favour their concernments. In the 
days when the interest of Christ lay more entirely and undivi- 
dedly among one sort of men ; and more apparently, their con 
tests being less among themselves, and chiefly with the infidel 
world ; and they had, for the most part, no enemies but those 
in common of the Christian name and cause : so that any com 
mon state of suffering to them, was the visible prejudice of that 
cause and interest : why, what, did they delight and please 
themselves in nothing but a warm sun and halcyon seasons r 
Surely they had matter little enough for that sort of joy. And 
what, did they therefore dejectedly languish and despond, and 
give themselves up to sorrow and despair ? Nor that neither ; 
unless they had all had but one neck, and that also perfectly in 
the enemies power, it had been an impossible thing to stifle and 
extinguish their delight and joy. So fully did Christ make it 
good to them, that their sorrow should be turned into joy, and 
their joy should no man take from them. For even that in 
creased it which aimed at its suppression; and the waters thrown 
upon their flame, became rivers of oil. They had got a secret 
way of "rejoicing in tribulation, of counting it nil joy when they 
fell into divers temptations, or taking pleasure in reproaches for 
the sake of Christ," of turning difficulties and hazards into mat 
ter of triumph, of taking joyfully the spoiling of their goods, 
and glorying to be counted worthy to suffer any thing for so ex 
cellent a name. Insomuch, that though their Hea<l and Lord, 
was in a most ignominious way taken from them, and they left 
as a despised party of men in the midst of an outrageous world^ 


under the (seemingly hopeless) profession of addictedness to 
the interest of a man that died upon a cross among thieves but 
the other day : and though many of ^hem never saw his face, 
but had their knowledge of him by report and hearsay, yet be 
lieving they rejoiced, with ioy unspeakable and full of glory.' 
(1. Pet. 1. 8;) The matter ahd ground of their joy were not so 
uncertain and changeable a thing, nor so light and unsubstan 
tial as the world^ kindness and favour, and the smooth face of 
^a serene sky. These were true lovers of Christ ; and such as 
counted him worthy for whom they should do all that lay in 
their power^ and suffer all which it was in the power of any 
others to do against them upon his account. 

They that rejoice and place their delight in the blessed God 
himself through Jesus Christ, have for the object of their, joy 
the everlasting I AM, him who is the same yesterday, and to day 
and for ever. And whose excellent glory may be clouded in 
deed and eclipsed to the world and tlii eye of sense ; but still 
shines in itself, and td the eye of faith, with the same bright 
and undiminished lustre. That delight will then be continued 
and permanent, and ever springing up in fresh liveliness and 
vigour, which is taken in this blessed object, considered as it is 
in itself; and that hath place in a soul that acts in a steady di 
rect course towards that object, without sinister respects, or any 
selfish ones, of even the highest kind, otherwise than in that 
subordination which will be suitable to the vast disproportion 
and inequality between God's interest and ours ; that is, (look 
ing upon our own external concernments as unworthy to be 
named in the same day) that though we reckon what there is 
delectable in God will make for our eternal advantage ; yet to 
consider that advantage of ours so much less, and to be so much 
more pleased and satisfied, that he is in himself blessed and glo 
rious, as it is in itself a thing more considerable that he be so, 
than it is what becomes of us, or of any creature, or of this whole 
creation. We are not indeed concerned, nor may think it war 
rantable to put ourselves upon any such severe and unnatural 
trials of our love and fidelity to him, as to put the question to 
our own hearts, could we be content to lie in hell, or be in the 
state of the damned for ever for his glory? For it were a most inju 
rious and vile supposition of somewhat inconsistent with his own. 
most blessed nature, and eternal, essential felicity, (for his hap 
piness cannot but be much placed in the benignity of his nature) 
to imagine that he ever can be pleased, or esteem himself glo 
rified by the everlasting miseries of any one that truly loves him 
We ought to abhor the mention or imagination of such a thing 
as a blasphemy against his infinite goodness j the denial where 
of were to deny his Godhead. And it were also an absurd and 


self-contradicting supposition : for none can be in the state of 
the damned, but they must be also in a state of extreme enmity 
to God, and of all wickedness and malignity arrived and grown 
up to its highest pitch ; which indeed is the very horror and in 
most centre of hell : wickedness and eternal misery differing 
(for the most part) but in degree, as grace and glory do. So 
that to put ourselves upon this trial of sincerity towards God, 
were to ask ourselves, whether we would be willing to express 
our sincere love to God, by everlasting hatred of him ; and the 
truth of our grace by being as maliciously wicked as the devil 
and his angels ? The expressions of Moses and Paul so frequently 
alleged can be wiredrawn to no such sense. This is no place 
to discuss the importance of them. But it were certainly most 
imprudent (whatsoever they import) to seek marks of sincere 
love to God thence, which may be fetched from so many plain 
texts of Scripture. But it is out of question that we may and 
ought to mind and take complacency in our own blessedness, in 
a degree inferior and subordinate to that which we take in the 
glory of the blessed God, without making the sinful and absurd 
supposition of their inconsistency: or that we can ever be put 
to choose the absence or privation of the one as a means to 
the other. And such complacency and delight in God as ari 
ses upon such grounds is of the right stamp and kind. 

See then that yours be a well complexioned delight, and such 
as inwardly partakes of the true nature of religion, that is, 
that hath in it entire devotedness to God as the very life, soul, 
spirit of it. And if this be not the thing but merely self-satis 
faction which you chiefly have in pursuit under the name of de 
light in God ; you beat the air, and do but hunt after a shadow. 
For there is no such thing as real, solid delight in God any 
where existing, or ever will be, separately and apart from a su 
preme love and addictedness of heart to him and his interest as 
our chief and utmost end. Which temper of spirit towards 
him,, must be maintained and improved, by our fixed intuition 
and view of his glorious greatness, and absolute excellency and 
perfection ; and the congruity and fitness which we thereupon 
apprehend, that we and all things (as all are of him) should be 
wholly to him, that he alone may have the glory. 

(5.) And though you are not to prefer the consideration of your 
own interest in God as a good suitable to you, or to give it the 
highest place in your delight ; yet also you must take heed of 
neglecting it, or of denying it any place at all. For though we 
in:iy plainly observe, as hath been said ; that it was the usual- 
temper of holy men of old, to be most taken up in admiring 
God upon the account of his own excellency and glory in itself* 
considered j and may thence collect that to be the genuine 


right temper of a gracious heart when it is most itself: yet also 
it is as evident, that they were far from neglecting their own in 
terest in God, and that they counted it not a small matter ; yea 
that it had (though not the principal) a very great influence 
upon their delight and joy in him. No one can read the Bible, 
and not have frequent occasion to take notice of this. For how 
often do we find him spoken of under the names of their por 
tion, heritage, &c. And in what raptures of joy do we often 
find them upon that account! So the Psalmist considers him, 
when he says, the lines are fallen to him in pleasant places, and 
he had a goodly heritage. (Psal. 16. 6.) How often do we find 
them glorying in their relation by covenant, and making their 
boasts of him as their God; I will love thee, O Lord, my 
strength, &c. (Psal IS.) You have my no less than nine times 
repeated in the beginning (the first and second verses) of that 
psalm, my strength, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my 
God, &c. And afterwards how glorious a triumph is there 
raised, and in what exultation do we behold them upon this! 
"Who is God save the Lord, and who is a rock save our God ?" 
And again, "TheLord liveth and blessed be my rock, and letthe 
God of my salvation be exalted." And this was some of the 
last holy breath uttered by that anointed one of the God of Ja 
cob, and the sweet Psalmist of Israel; he hath made with me 
an everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure : and this 
is all my salvation and all my desire. (2. Sam. 23. 5.) With 
this, how well satisfied and pleased did he expire, and go down 
to the grave ! And the people of God are sometime represent 
ed as so taken with this apprehension of their peculiar relation 
to God that they cannot be content to know, but they proclaim 
it ; nor was it enough the present age should know, but they 
must have it told the following generation ; let mount Sion re 
joice, &c. Mark That ye may tell the generation following 
For this is our God. (Psal. 48.) See their ostentation of him, 
this God \, As if he had said, " Behold what a God have we ! 
view him well, and take notice how glorious a God he is/' 
And as they glory in the greatness of the God to whom they 
were related, so they do in the eternity of the relation. This 
God is our God for ever and ever! &c. And how unexpressible 
was the inward pleasure wherewith we may suppose those words- 
to have been uttered, God even our own God shall bless us I 
(Psal. 6J. 6.) How delightful an appropriation ! as if it were 
intended to be said, the blessing itself were less significant, it 
could not have that savour with it if it were not from our own 
God. Not only therefore allow but urge your spirits thus to 
look towards God, that you may both delight in him, as being 
in himself the most excellent one, and also as being yours : for 

OP D'ELfGHTtNG *N GOtf. I'ARf. if. 

know, you are not permitted only, but obliged to eye, accept 
and rejoice in him as such. It is his first and great law, and 
the form of his covenant which he requires you to enter into 
with fcmj to take him for your God. Herein to be shy and de 
cline, is to rebel. And when he offers himself in all his rich 
fulness to be your portion and your God, how vile ingratitude 
were it to neglect and overlook the kindness of the overture. It 
is his glory to have indigent souls satiating themselves in him, 
drawing from him their vital breath, living upon him as their 
all : confessing they cannot live, but by his vouchsafed commu 
nications. And if you should say you love him, but so he b 
ever glorious in himself, you care not to be happy; it would 
sound like a hollow compliment. You are not to deal with a 
God upon such terms. It becomes you not; nor is suitable to him. 
It is fit for you to own it to him, that he is your life, that you 
are a mere nothing in yourself* and must seek your all in him. 
Your song and your prayer must be directed to him as the God 
of your life. (Psal. 42. 8.) You do not own him as God, ex 
cept you own and adore him as your all-sufficient good, and that 
fulness which filleth all in all. You detract from the glory of 
his Godhead, if you attribute not this to him ; and if accord 
ingly, as one that cannot live without him, you do not seek 
union with him, and join yourself to him, and then rejoice and 
solace yourself in that blessed conjunction. 

And if you be not sure as yet that he is yours, your delight 
ing in him is not therefore to be suspended and delayed till you 
be. But in the mean time delight in him as willing to be 
come yours. To disbelieve that he is willing, is to give him 
the lie. It is the great design of his gospel so to represent him 
to you. See that your hearts do embrace and close with that 
as a most delightful and lovely representation : the great and 
glorious Lord of heaven and earth offering himself in all his 
fulness to be thine ! thy portion and thy God for ever ! How 
transporting should this be to you ! Nor, if you suspect the sin 
cerity of your own heart towards him (which is the only thing 
you can have any pretence to suspect, for it were a blasphemy 
to his truth and goodness to intimate a suspicious thought of 
him) may you therefore spend all your time in anxious inqui 
ries, or in lobking only upon your own evil heart : but look 
most, and with a direct and steady eye towards him. Behold 
and view well his glory and his love, that by this means your 
heart may be captivated and more entirely won to him. 

This makes delight in God a strange thing in the hearts and 
practice of many. They find too much cause of complaint con 
cerning their own hearts, that they are disaffected, and disinclined 
Godward.' And what is the course they take hereupon? Their re- 


ligion is nothing but complaint : and all their days are spent in 
beholding that they are bad, without ever taking the way to be 
come better. They conclude their case to be evil and full of dan 
ger, because they find they can take no delight in God and they 
will take no delight in him because they have that apprehension 
of the danger of their case. And so their not delighting in God re 
solves into itself. And they delight not in him because they delight 
not in him. It is strange the absurdity of this is not more re 
flected on. And what now is to be done in this case ? To rest 
here is to be held in a circle of sin and misery all your days : 
and would signify as if delighting in God were a simple impos 
sibility, or as if not to delight in God, were a thing so highly 
rational as to be its own sufficient self justification; and that it 
were reason enough not to delight in him because we do not. 
There can be no other way to be taken but to behold him more 
in that discovery of him which his gospel sets before your eyes 
and in that way seek to have your hearts taken with his amia- 
bleness and love, and allured to delight in him. And labour in 
this way to have that delight increased to that degree, that it 
may cease to be a question or doubt with you, do I delight in 
God or no ? Whence when you reflect and find that you do; 
then shall you have that additional matter of further delight ; 
that whereas you before took delight in him because being in 
himself so excellent a one he hath freely offered himself to you 
to become yours ; you may now delight in him also, because 
you are sure he is so : whereof you cannot have a more satisfy 
ing assurance than from his so express saying, I love them that 
love me ; and we love him because he loved us first. (1 Joh. 4. 
19. Prov. 8. 17.) 

(6.) Take especial heed of more apparent and grosser trans 
gressions. Nor account your security from the danger of them 
so much to stand in your being ordinarily out of the way of 
temptations to them, as in an habitual frame of holiness, and 
the -settled aversion of your heart to them. Endeavour a grow 
ing conformity to God in the temper of your spirit, and to be 
in love with purity ; that your heart may no more endure an im 
pure thought, than you would fire in your bosom. If you be 
herein careless and remiss, and suffer your heart to grow disso 
lute, or more bold and adventurous, in admitting sinful cogita 
tions; or if you have more liking or less dislike of any wicked 
course wherein others take their liberty, you are approaching 
the borders of a dangerous precipice. And if some greater 
breach hereupon ensue between God and you, what becomes 
of your delight in him ? A sad interruption of such pleasant in 
tercourse cannot but follow, both on his part and on yours. On 
bis part, a suspension and restraint of those communications of 


light and grace which are necessary to your delight in him. 
He will be just in his way of dealing towards those of his own 
family, as well as merciful. It appears how much David's de 
light in God was intermitted, upon his great transgression, 
through God's withdrawing from him., when he prays he would 
restore the joy of his salvation. (P^aL51. 12.) And on your 
part, will ensue both less liking of God's presence, and a dread 
of it. Your inclination will not be towards him as before ; 
though the act of sin be soon over, the effect will remain ; even 
a carnal: frame of spirit that disaffects converse with God, and 
cares not to come nigh him. And if that were not, a guilty 
fear would hold you off; so that if you were willing, you would 
not dare to approach him. Your liberty taken to sin would soon 
infer a bondage upon your spirit God-ward, unless conscience be 
wholly asleep ; and you have learned a stupid, insolent confi 
dence to affront God, which surely would signify little to your 
delight in him. Thou shalt put away iniquity from thy taber 
nacles. Then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty ; 
and shalt lift up thy face unto God. (Job. 22.) The consci 
ence of unpurged iniquity, will not let you lift up your face or 
appear in that glorious presence. 

(7.) Cherish the great grace of humility; and be ever 
mean and low in your own eyes. That temper carries in it 
even a natural disposition to delight in God. How sweet com 
placency will such a soul take in him ! His light and glory 
shine with great lustre in the eyes of such a one while there 
is not a nearer, imagined lustre to vie therewith. Stars are seen 
at noon, by them that descend low into a deep pit. They will 
admire God but little that admire themselves much : and take 
little pleasure in him, who are too much pleased with them 
selves. And how sweet a relish have his love and grace to a 
humble, lowly soul,, that esteems itself less than the least of his 
mercies ! With what ravishing delight, will divine mercy be 
entertained, when it is so unexpectedly vouchsafed ; when this 
shall be the sense of the soul now caught into the embraces of 
God's love, What J, vile creature I impure worm ! what, be 
loved of God ! Expectation, grounded especially upon an opi 
nion of merit, would unspeakably lessen a favour, if it were- 
afiorded, as also expected evils saem the less when they come. 
But the lowly soul, that apprehends desert of nothing but hell, 
is surprized and overcome with wonder and delight, when the 
great God expresses kindness towards it. Besides that he more 
freely communicates himself to such : To this man will I look,, 
even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, c. (Isa. 66. 
1.2) And he looks to such with a design of habitation ; 
leaven and earth are not to him so pleasant a dwelling. Dowa 


then into the dust, there you are in the fittest place and pos 
ture for delightful converse with God. 

(8.) Reckon much upon an eternal ahode in that presence 
where is fullness of joy and pleasures for evermore. Enjoy by 
a serious, believing foresight the delights of heaven, labour to 
rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Look beyond this your 
present state. Confine not your eye and delight to what is now 
to be enjoyed, but think of what shall be. Set before your 
eyes the glorious prospect of the blessed God communicating 
himself to that vast assembly of angels and the spirits of just 
men made perfect, in clearest discoveries of his glory, and 
richest effusions of his goodness. The best appearance of things 
in this world, makes but a dull scene in comparison of this. 
If you look towards God according to what now appears of his 
glory in the frame of the universe, and the course of his ad 
ministrations and government over his creatures, he hath not, it 
is true, left himself without witness. And you may behold 
much that would be to you the matter of delightful admiration; 
If your eye be clear, and can pierce through clouds and dark 
ness and a manifold veil. He hath made this world and is every 
where in it, but it knows him not. His light shines in dark 
ness, that doth not comprehend it. Beams of his glory do every 
where break forth, through every creature, providence, law and 
ordinance of his. But much of his glory that shines in the 
creation is hid by a train of second causes, through which few 
look to the first. His laws, men judge of according to their in 
terests arid inclinations, while the holy, glorious majesty that 
enacted them is out of sight. His work in the world is carried 
on in a mystery. His interest lives, but is depressed. They who 
are most devoted to him are supported indeed by his invisible 
hand, but are, in the mean time, low, for the most part, and 
afflicted. If you now limit and confine your apprehensions of 
him to his present appearances, the matter of your delight is 
real, but much diminished. But conceive of him (as your faith 
can behold him at a distance) in that posture wherein having 
settled the eternal state of things he will finally shew himself. 
Conceive him as having now gathered home all that have been 
recovered to him out of the apostacy, and joined them to those 
numberless legions of innocent and pure spirits about his throne 
that never offended. Conceive him as dispensing rewards, 
pouring out blessings upon the loyal heads and hearts of them 
that expressed fidelity and duty to him in the time and state of 
trial and temptation ; letting his glory shine out with bright 
and direct beams, to so many beholding and admiring eyes ; 
giving forth the full and satisfying communications of his love, 
and making rivers of pleasure flow perpetually to the replenish- 

VOL. II. 2 D 


ing the vast enlarged capacities, of so innumerable a multitude 
of grateful adoring spirits, to whom it is now sensibly to be per 
ceived how his fulness filleth all in all. Take this view of him; 
and let your faith and hope thus enter into that which is within 
the veil.* And remember there is only a little time between 
you and that blessed state ; that then you are to enter into the 
joy of your Lord ; so that the very element and region wherein 
you are to live for ever, shall be nothing else but delight and 
joy. In this way of believing foresight, and by this lawful and 
allowed prepossession of future blessedness, much surely would 
be added to your present delight in God. Should not tKe 
thoughts of him be pleasant to you from whom you are expect 
ing so great things ? If your delight in him be any at all, upon 
what you have already found and experienced of his goodness ; 
it should be abundantly the more upon what you are by his 
word encouraged to look for. 

II. And having thus given some account in what way delight in. 
God is to be exercised and improved ; it were a charitable hope 
that there would be little need to propound arguments to per 
suade unto it. But it were a hope not grounded upon com 
mon experience, which too plainly tells us, that though such 
directions as these are plain and obvious, not unknown to chris- 
tians; but only less considered (whence it was not needless here 
to recommend them) yet delight in God obtains little place in 
the practice of the most. There will therefore too probably 
be still much need of saying something, 

Thirdly. By way of excitation to it. And yet because it is 
not a multitude of words that is likely to do the business, but the 
weight of things, urged on by a more powerful hand than that 
of man, and that much may be collected to this purpose from 
what hath been said of the sinfulness of the omission ; 1 shall 
with great brevity, offer these things only to be considered. 

1 . Is it not a merciful vouchsafcinent that the holy God al 
lows you to place your delight on him, and invites you to it > 
How much grace and love breathes in these words, "Delight thy 
self also in the Lord !" Trust in him was recommended before, 
and now this being added also ; how plain is it that your ease 
and rest is the thing designed 1 Is it fit to receive so much kind 
ness with neglect ? Again, he delights in you, I speak to such 
of whom this may be supposed. And it is indefinitely said his 
delights were With the sons of men. (Prov. 8.31.) Think what he 
is, and what you are ; and at once, both wonder and yield. 
Ah what else have you to delight in ? what thing will you name 
that shall supply the place of GOD, or be to you in the stead 
at him ? Moreover, who should delight in him but you ? his 
friends ? his sons ? those of his own -house > Thick what life 


aod vigour it will infuse into you; and that, the joy of die Lord 
will be your strength. (Nehem. 8. 10.) How pleasantly will you 
hold on your course ! and discharge all the other duties of this 
your present state ! You must serve him. Dare you think of 
throwing off his yoke ? How desirable is it then to take delight 
in him whom I must serve! which only makes that service accepta 
ble to him, and easy to myself ! Further, this is a pleasure none 
can rob you of; a joy that cannot be taken from you. Other 
objects of your delight are vanishing daily. Neither men nor 
devils can ever hinder your delighting in God, if your hearts be 
so inclined. And were you never brought to take pleasure in 
any person or thing to which you had a former aversion ? One 
that had wronged you might yet possibly win you by after kind 
ness. Give a reason why you should be more difficult towards 
the blessed God that never wronged you ! and whose way to 
wards you hath constantly imported so much good will 1 

And consider that your condition on earth is such, as exposes 
you to many sufferings and hardships ; which by your not-delight 
ing in him, you can never be sure to avoid, (tor they are things 
common to men) but which, by your delighting in him, you 
may be easily able to endure. Besides all this, seriously con 
sider, that you must die. You can make no shift to avoid 
that. How easily tolerable and pleasant, will it be to think, 
then, of going to him with whom you have lived in a delight 
ful communion before ! And how dreadful to appear before 
him, to whom your own heart shall accuse you to have been 
(against all his importunities and allurements) a disaffected 
stranger ! 

2. To these I add the consideration in the other part of the 
verse ; " And he shall give thee the desire of thine heart." 
By desire it is plain we are to understand the thing desired 
which is usual. By the thing desired, we must not be so un 
reasonable as to think is meant, any thing whatsoever it be, 
that, even with the greatest extra vagency, we may set our hearts 
upon ; as worldly possessions, riches, honours, &c. For it were 
most unbecoming that delight in God should be so mercenary ; 
or be propounded as the price of so mean things ; yea, and if 
the matter were so to be understood, delight in God were a 
means to the attaining of these things as the end ; which were 
to make the blessed God an inferior good to these. Nor can 
we suppose that one who delights in God should ever esteem 
any reward or recompence of another kind, greater than what 
he finds in this very delight itself. And besides, we are very 
prone to desire things that (as the case may be) would prove 
v ery hurtful to us. If God should gratify us with every thing 


we fancy he would many times please us to our ruin. And do, 
we believe that when he hath won a person to place his delight 
and take pleasure in himself, he will requite him with a mis 
chief ? Since then we may not understand him to mean that 
whatsoever we desire, if we delight in him, we shall have ; we 
are to inquire further. And it is plain the things that can be 
supposed to be desired by such persons as are here spoken to, 
must be of one of these two sorts : either things of a spiritual 
nature, that tend directly to the gratification and advantage of 
of the inward man ; or else external good things, that make for 
the support and comfort of this present life. We will suppose 
it to be the one or the other of these. And shall shew that 
whichsoever sort it be that is desired, delighting in God doth 
naturally infer the satisfaction (some way or other) of such 

(1.) Supposing they be spiritual good things that are desired, 
delight in God is most directly the satisfaction itself of such de 
sire. Whatsoever purely spiritual good we can desire is either 
God himself, or somewhat in order to him. If it be God him 
self we desire, so far as we delight in him we enjoy him, and 
have what we would have ; and can only enjoy him more fully, 
by more entire and composed rest and delight in him. If it be 
somewhat in order to him, he is still supremely and ultimately 
desired in that very desire ; so that in delighting in him, we 
have our end, and that upon which this desire doth lastly ter 
minate. And now should not this be a great inducement to us 
to delight in God, that hereby our desires, the motions of our 
working hearts directed towards him, do immediately find in 
him a peaceful and pleasant rest, and turn into a satisfying 
fruition ; 

(2.) Supposing the things we desire be those of an inferior 
kind -, delight in God doth not a little to the satisfying of them 
also. It doth not, as was said, entitle us to the things them 
selves we desire whatever they be, or how unsuitable soever to 
us. But, 

[1.] It moderates these desires, makes them sober, prudent, 
and rational, and capable of being satisfied with what is fit for 
us. He that is much habituated to delight in God is not apt to 
foolish, extravagant desires. This is the sense of such a one, 
" Not my will Lord, but thine be done." He may desire the 
same thing that others do, yet not with the same peremptory 
and precipitant desire, but with a desire tempered with sub 
mission, and with a reserved deference of the matter to the di 
vine pleasure : " This thing, Lord, I desire if thou see good/ ' 
So that the general object of such a one's desire is only 


which in the divine estimate is fit and good for him. And 
though he desire this or that particular thing, yet not as it is 
this thing, but as supposing it possible this thing may be judg 
ed fit for him by the supreme wisdom, whereto he hath re 
ferred the matter. But if it shall be judged otherwise ; this 
thing falls without the compass of the general object of his de 
sire, and in just construction he desires it not. For he desires 
it not otherwise than on that condition that God sees it meet 
for him ; and not longer than till he find he does not. In which 
case the sobriety and submissiveness of his former desire, ap 
pears in his cheerful, patient want of the thing which he finds 
God hath thought fit to deny him. So that even then, his de 
sire is satisfied, that is, it doth not (as often it is with a carnal 
heart) turn, being pressed, into rage and madness ; but into a 
complacential peace, and rest in the divine will. He is satis 
fied in what God hath thought fit to do. Yea the very thing 
js done which he would have done : God hath given him his 
heart's desire. For let the question be put to such a person, 
Do you desire such a thing though God judge it will be hurt 
ful to you or unfit for you ? And no doubt he will, not in faint 
words that have no sense under them (as almost any other man 
would) but from his very heart and soul say, No. And if he 
deliberate the matter of his own accord, or by any one's inqui 
ry be occasioned to do so, this will be found the sense of his 
heart, (though his desire hath inclined to this or that thing in 
particular,) and this would be his prayer in such a case, 
f f Lord, if thy wisdom, which is infinitely more than mine, see 
this thing not fit, cross me, deny me in this desire of mine." 
And this general desire at least, which is the measure of the 
particular one, is sure to be accomplished to one that hath God 
for his delight. For the promise is express and cannot fail, All 
things shall work together for good, to them that love God. 
Rom. 8. 28. 

And this love to God, or delight in him, as it entitles such to 
that his care and concern for them which is expressed in this 
promise ; so it doth in its own nature dispose their hearts to an 
acquiescence and satisfiedness therein. For love to God, where 
it is true, is supreme, and prevails over all other love to this or 
that particular good. Whence it cannot be, but, if this love be 
in act, (as, the text must be understood to call unto actual and 
excercised delight in God) it must subdue, and keep the heart 
so far subject to the divine good pleasure, as that its desire and 
addictedness to this particular, lesser good (concerning which 
there may also be a just and rational doubt whether it will be 
HOW a good to him yea or no) shall never be a matter of con- 


troversy and quarrel with him who is, unquestionably, the su 
preme and universal Good. How will that one thought over 
come, if such a one shall but apprehend God saying to him, 
" Dost thou love me above all things, and wilt yet contend with 
me for such a trifle !" 

And we may by the way note, that upon this ground of the 
dubious mutability of external good things, (which, by circum 
stances, may become evil to this or that person,) as they are 
not here, so nor can they be anywhere the matter of a general 
absolute promise, to be claimed indefinitely by any one's faith. 
The nature of the thing refuses it. For suppose we, that what 
may, in this or that case, become evil or prejudicial to this or 
that person, doth now actually become so, and is the matter of 
an absolute promise, now claimable by such a person, what 
would follow ? That an evil is now the actual matter of a pro 
mise ! than which what can be said or supposed more absurd ? 
when nothing can further or otherwise be the matter of a pro 
mise, than as it is good. Wherefore that promise would, in 
the supposed case, degenerate (as the matter of it is by the pre^ 
sent circumstances varied) and turn into a threatening. Where 
fore when that condition or proviso is not expressly added to a 
promise concerning a temporal good, the very nature of the 
thing implies, and requires it to be understood. For it is 
not, otherwise than as qualified by that condition, any way a 
promise. Now lie that is in the present exercise of delight in 
God, hath his heart so set upon God and alienated from earthly 
things, as that the present temper of it bears proportion to the 
natural tenour of such promises ; and is not otherwise than by 
the cessation of this delight, liable to the torture of unsatisfied 
desire in reference to these lower things : Although the fig-tree 
shall not blossom yet I will rejoice in the Lord, &c. (Hab. 3. 
17- 18.) And as delight in God doth thus reduce and moderate 
desires in reference to any inferior good ; so that, if it be with 
held, they admit a satisfaction without it, and the want of it is 
easily tolerable : so, 

[2.] If it be granted; delight in God adds a satisfying sweet 
ness to the enjoyment. A lover of God hath another taste and 
relish, even of earthly good things, than an earthly-minded 
man can have. He hath that sweet savour of the love of God 
upon his spirit, that imparts a sweetness to all the enjoyments 
of this world, beyond what such things in their own nature have 
with them. This makes the righteous man's little, better 
than the great revenues of many wicked. (Psal. 37. 16-) 

Upon the whole therefore, this is, if duly weighed, a mighty 
and most persuasive argument to delight in God* For it im- 


ports thus much, which I add for a close to this discourse. If 
you place your delight here ; you are most certainly delivered 
from the vexation and torment of unsatisfied desire. The 
motions of your souls are sure to end in a pleasant rest. Your 
lesser desires will he swallowed up in greater, and all in the 
divine fulness ; so that you will now say, Whom have I in 
heaven but thee ? and there is none on earth I desire besides 
thee. (Psal. 73. 25.) If you take no delight in God, your own 
souls will be a present hell to you. And it may be it is not 
enough considered, how much the future hell stands also in un 
satisfied desire ; which desire (all suitable objects being for ever 
cut off from it) turns wholly to despair, rage and torture. And 
that ravenous appetite, which would be preying upon external 
objects that now fail, turns inward, and as an insatiable vulture, 
gnaws everlastingly the wretched soul itself. And the begin 
nings of this hell you will now have within you, while you re 
fuse to delight in God. The sapless, earthly vanities upon 
which your hearts are set, give you some present content, which 
allays your misery for a little while, and renders it less sensible 
to you : but they have nothing in them to answer the vast 
desires of a reasonable, immortal spirit. Whereby you certainly 
doom yourselves to perpetual disrest. For in these false, 
vanishing shadows of goodness, you cannot have satisfaction, 
and in the blessed God you will not. 






A. PROPOSAL was made to me, by some friends, for publishing of 
these papers ; which I cannot doubt, proceeded from charity, both to 
the reader, whose good they intended in it ; andtothcauthor, that they 
could think so slender a performance \vas capable of serving it. I 
cannot, indeed, think it unseasonable, to take any occasion of recom 
mending charity, though this subject led me only to consider one sin 
gle instance of it. But if the practice of it, in this one, would redress 
so great an evil, what might we not expect from its universal exercise, 
in all cases upon which it might have influence ? Even the tongues of 
men and angels, as (with our apostle) they are insufficient to supply 
its absence; so nor are they more than sufficient, fully to represent 
its worth. We vainly expect, from either eloquence, or disputation, 
the good effects, which charity alone (could it take place) would 
easily bring about without them. How laboriously do we beat our way 
in the dark ! " We grope for the wall, like the blind, and we grope as 
if we had no eyes : we stumble at noon day, as in the night; but 
the way of peace we have not known.'' Human wit is stretched to 
the uttermost; wherein that comes short, the rest is endeavoured to- 
be supplied by anger: and all to bring us under one form, which 
either will not be; or if it were, could be to little purpose; while in 
the mean time, this more excellent way is forgotten of our 
foot, and we arefar rom it. Which shews, it is God that must cure 
us (the God of love and peace) and not. man. 

How soon, and easily would a mutual universal charity redress 
all ? For being on one side only, it could never cement both. And 
limited only to a party, it is not itself, and acts against itself, divides 
what it should unite. But a genuine, equally diffused charity, how 
would it melt down men's minds, mollify their rigours, make high 
things low, crooked straight, and rough places plain ? It would cer 
tainly, either dispose men to agree upon one way of common order, 
or make them feel very little inconvenience or cause of offence ii 

21 2 PREFACE. 

some variety. But without it, how little would the most exquisite 
unexceptionable form (universally complied with, in every punctilio) 
contribute to the churches welfare ? No more to its quiet, and repose, 
than an elegant, well shaped garment, to the ease, and rest of a dis 
jointed, ulcerous body : nor longer preserve it, than the fair skin of 
a dead man's body would do that, from putrefaction and dissolution. 
What piety is to our union with God, that is charity to our union 
with one another. But we are too apt, as to both, to expect from the 
outward form, what only the internal, living principle can give ; to 
covet the one with a sort of fondness, and deny the other. One com 
mon external form in the church of God, wherein all good men 
could agree, were a most amiable thing, very useful to its comely, 
better being, and the want of it hath inferred, and doth threaten evils 
much to be deplored, and deprecated. But this divine principle is most 
simply necessary to its very being. Whatsoever violates it; is the most 
destructive, mortal schism, as much worse than an unwilling breach 
of outward 5 order, as the malicious tearing in pieces a man's living 
body, is worse than accidental renting his cloaths. And indeed, were 
our ecclesiastical contests, about matters that I could think iudiffer- 
ent, as long as there is such a thing, as distinction of parties, I shouM 
readily choose that, where were most of sincere charity (if I new 
where that were.) For since our Saviour himself gives it us, as the 
cognizance of Christians (by this shall all men know ye are my disci 
ples, if ye love one another) I know not how better to judge of Chris 
tianity, than by charity. Nor know I where, among them that pro 
fess, there is less of either, than with them that would confine, and 
engross both to their own several parties ; that say, here is Christ, 
and there he is ; and will have the notions of Christian, of sfcint, of 
church, to extend no further than their own arbitrarily assigned li 
mits, or than, as they are pleased to describe their circle. We know 
to whom the doing so, hath been long imputed ; and it were well, if 
they had fewer sorts of imitators. Nor doth it savour more of un- 
charitableness in any, to think of enclosing the truth, and purity of 
religion, only, within their own precincts, than it doth of pride and 
vanity, to fancy they can exclude thence, every thing of offensive im 
purity. We are never like to want occasions, even in this respect, of 
exercising charity : not to palliate the sins of any, but recover sin 
ners. God grant we may use it mere, to this purpose (when the case 
so requires) and need it less. 





1. Cor. xiii. 6. 

Jlejoiceth not in iniquity. 

subject spoken of, must be supplied from the foregoing 
verses ; where we find the matter all along, in discourse, is 
Chanty : which it is the principal business of the whole chap 
ter to describe, and praise. And this is one of the characters 
that serve (as they all do) to do both these at once. For being 
in itself a thing of so great excellency, to shew its true nature, 
is to praise it. Whatsoever is its real property, is also its com 

Our business here must be, Briefly to explain and give 
some general account of both these, namely, charity, and this 
its negative character, that it rejoices not in iniquity, and To 
demonstrate the one of the other ; or (which is all one) to shew 
the inconsistency between that divine principle, and this horrid 
practice : upon which the use of this piece of Christian doc 
trine will ensue. 

I. We are to give some account both of this principle, the 
charity which the apostle here treats of, and of the practice 
which the text denies of it ; rejoicing in iniquity. 

First. For the former. The chanty or love here spoken of, 
is the root of all that duty which belongs to the second table. 
The whole of the duty contained in both, is summed up by our 
Saviour in love. That of the former in that first and great 
commandment, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy 
heart, &c. Matt. 22, 37. that of the latter in this other which is 


like unto it, " thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.*' Upoa 
which two we are told hang all the law and the prophets. See also 
Rom. 13. 10. The instances which are given in this chapter, 
refer to man as the object, and shew that it is the love of our 
neighbour which is meant. 

But though it be so far human, it is however upon other ac 
counts a real part of divine love ; which we see 1. Joh. 3. 17. 
that apostle speaking; even of love to our brother: whoso 
hath this world's goocls, and seeth his brother hath need, and 
shutteth up the bowels of compassion from him, demands, how 
dwelleth the love of God in that man ? And David called the 
kindness he intended the relicts of Saul's family, the kindness 
of God, 2. Sam. 9. 3. This part of love is divine both in 
respect of its original, and of somewhat considerable in its 

1. In respect of its original. It is a part of the communica 
ted divine nature, from whence they that partake of it, are said 
to be born of God. It is most conjunct with faith in the Mes 
siah, and love to God himself, which are both comprehended in 
that birth. For as it is said in the gospel of John, (chap. 1.12. 
13.) that as many as received him, (namely, Christ) to them he 
gave power to be called the sons of God, even to them that Re 
lieve in his name, who were born not of blood, nor of the 
will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And 
in his 1. Epist. chap. 5. 1. Whosoever believeth that 
Jesus is the Christ, is born of God. So it is in this latter 
place, immediately added as the double property of this di 
vine productiou (not more separable from one anoher than from 
it) and every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also 
that is begotten of him. And hereupon also from the in-being 
and exercise of this love, (though towards an object that seems 
very heterogeneous and of much another kind) we come to bear 
the name of God's children. Love your enemies that you 
may be the children of your Father which is in heaven, Mat. 5. 
44. 45. The law indeed of love to other men, though it oblige 
to love some above others upon a special reason, yet in its ut 
most latitude, comprehends all mankind under the name of 
neighbour or brother, as the particular precepts contained in it 
do sufficiently shew. Which surely leave us not at liberty to 
kill, defile, rob, slander, or covet from others, than the regene 
rate (as we count) or our own friends and relatives. 

Now that principle from which we are called God's children, 
must be of divine original ; for it is notspoken of them casually, 
but as their distinguishing character. So that, in this respect, 
they are said to be of God. It is their very difference from the 
children of another, and the worst of fathers, i Joh. 3/10. In 
this the children of .God are manifest, and the children of the 


devil : whosoever doth not righteousness, is not of God, 
neither he that loveth not his brother. Which also shews it is 
not universally all love, unto which this dignity belongs. 
Some more noble-minded pagans that were wont to ascribe di 
vinity unto love, have also carefully distinguished, and told us 
of a love that was genuine, and another that was spurious ; the 
one akin to virtue, the other to vice ; and have noted it as an 
abusive error of the vulgar, (Max. Tyr. Dissert.) to give the 
same name to God and a disease. The corruption and de 
generacy of love, is indeed less than human ; but the first 
being, and restored rectitude of it, is of an original no less than 

2. And even this love, though placed upon man, is divine 
too in respect of its object, that is, of somewhat we have to con 
sider in it, which is most properly and strictly the object, or 
the inducement and formal reason why we love. God is the 
primum amabile, the Jirst goodness as well as the first Being. 
As therefore there is no being, so nor is there any goodness, a- 
mability, or loveliness, which is not derived from him. We 
love any thing more truly and purely, the more explicitly we 
acknowledge and love God in it. Upon the view of those strokes 
and lineaments of the divine pulchritude, and the characters of 
his glory, which are discernible in all his creatures, our love 
should be someway commensurate with the creation, and com 
prehend the universe in its large and complacential embraces. 
Though as any thing is of higher excellency, and hath more 
lively touches and resemblances of God upon it ; or by the 
disposition of his providence and law, more nearly approaches 
us, and is more immediately presented to our notice, converse, 
use, or enjoyment, so our love is to be exercised towards it 
more explicitly, in a higher degree, or with more frequency. 
As man therefore hath more in him of divine resemblance, of 
God's natural likeness and image ; good men of his moral, holy 
image, we ought to love men more than the inferior creatures ; 
and those that are good and holy, more than other men ; and 
those with whom we are more concerned, with a more definite 
love, and which is required to be more frequent in its exercise. 
But all from the attractive of somewhat divine appearing in the 
object. So that all rational love, or that is capable of being 
regulated and measured by a law, is only so far right in its own 
kind, as we love God in every thing, and every thing upon his 
account, and for his sake. 

The nature and spirit of man is, by the apostacy, become 
disaffected and strange to God, alienated from the divine life, 
addicted to a particular limited good, to the creature for itself, 
apart from God ; whereupon the things men love, are their 


idols, and their love idolatry. But where, by regeneration* a 
due propensition towards God is restored, the universal good 
draws their minds, they become inclined and enlarged towards 
it ; and as that is diffused, their love follows it, and flows to 
wards it every where. They love all things principally in and 
for God ; and therefore such men most, as excel in goodness, 
and in whom the divine image more brightly shines. There 
fore it is, most especially, Christian charity that is here meant, 
that is, which works towards christians as such* For compare 
this with the foregoing chapter, and it will appear that charity 
is treated of in this, which is the vital bond of holy> living union 
in the Christian church supposed in the other* Whereby as 
the body is one, and hath many members, and all the 
members of that body being many, are one body ; so also is 
Christ v. 12. This principle refined, rectified, recovered out 
of its state of degeneracy, and now obtaining in the soul as a 
part of the new creature, or the new man which is after God, 
as it hath man for its object more especially, and more or less 
according to what their appears of divine in him, is the charity 
here spoken of. Now of this divine charity it is said, and which 
we are now to consider. 

Secondly. That it rejoices not in iniquity. Hereof it cannot 
be needful to say much by way of explication. The thing car*- 
ries a prodigious appearance with it ; and it might even amaze 
one to think, that on this side hell, or short of that state,where~ 
in the malignity of wickedness attains its highest pitch, any ap^ 
pearance should be found of it. Yet we cannot think, but 
these elogies of charity, do imply reprehensions, and tacitly 
insinuate too great a proneness to this worst sort of 6iFi%&ipe%xKix 
or rejoicing in evil. The Gnosticks (or the sect afterwards, 
known by that name) gave already too great occasion for many 
more express, and sharp reproofs of this temper ; which were 
not thrown into the air, or meant to nobody. The Scripture 
saith not in vain, the spirit which is in us lusteth to envy. 
With which, what affinity this disposition hath, we shall have 
occasion to note anon. Rejoicing in iniquity, may be taken (if 
we abstract from limiting circumstances) two ways : either in 
reference to our own sins : or to men's. Our own, when we 
take pleasure in the design, or in the commision, or in the re 
view, and after-contemplation of them : converse in that im 
pure region, as in our native element, drink it in like water, 
find it sweet in the mouth, and hide it under the tongue, &c. 
Other men's ; when it is counted a grateful sight, becomes 
matter of mirth and sport, to see another stab at once the Chris 
tian name, and his own soul. The scope and series of the apos 
tle's discourse, doth here plainly determine it this latter way : 


or as charity which is the subject of his whole discourse, re 
spects other men ; so must this contrary disposition also. De 
iniquitate procul dubio alienage, saith Cajetan upon this place: 
It is without doubt, unapt to rejoice in the sins of other men; 
for neither can it endure one's own. And this aptness to rejoice 
in the iniquity of others, may be upon several accounts. It 
may either proceed from an affection to their sins, from an 
undue self-love : or from an excessive disaffection to the per 
sons offending. 

1. From a great affection, and inclination unto the same 
kind of sins, which they observe in others. Whereupon they 
are glad of their patronage ; and do therefore not only do such 
things, but take pleasure in them that do them, Rom. 1. 32. 
Men are too prone to justify themselves by the example 
of others, against their common rule. "Others take their li 
berty, and why may not I ?" And so they go (as Seneca says 
sheep do) non qua eundum est, sed qua itur, the way which 
is trodden, not which ought to be. 

2. Frorh an undue, and over indulgent love of themselves. 
Whence it is, that (as the case may be) they take pleasure to 
think there are some men, that perhaps outdo them in wicked 
ness, and offend in some grosser kind than they have done. 
And so they have, they count, a grateful occasion, not only to 
justify themselves, that they are not worse then other men, but 
to magnify themselves, that they are not so bad ; as the phari- 
see in his pompous, hypocritical devotion, "God, I thank thee 
(that attribution to God, being only made a colour of arrogat 
ing more plausibly to himself) that I am not as other men, ex 
tortioners, unjust, adulterers," &c. Luke 18. 11. whereby the 
hypocrite, while he would extol, doth but the more notoriously 
stigmatize himself. 

3. From a disaffection they bear to the offenders ; whence 
they are glad of an advantage against them : that they have oc 
casion to glory in their flesh, and insult over their weakness, It 
must be that rejoicing in other men's sins, which is most con 
trary to charity, that is here more especially meant. And that 
is manifestly the last of these 5 such as proceeds from ill will to 
the person that offends ; whereupon we are glad of his halting 
(which perhaps we watched for before) and when his foot slip- 
peth, magnify ourselves against him. Now rejoicing at the 
sins of other men, upon this account, may be either secret, 
when only the heart leels an inward complacency, and is sensi 
bly gratified thereby : or open, when that inward pleasure 
breaks forth into external expressions of triumph, and insulta- 
tion, into derision, scoffs and sarcasms. 

VOL II. 2 F 


II. And how inconsistent this is with the charity which our 
apostle so highly magnifies, it is now our next business to shew. 
And it will appear by comparing this rejoicing in other men's 
sins : with charity itself : and with what it is, ever, in most 
certain connexion with. 

First. Witli charity itself; and so we shall consider it, In 
its own nature, abstractly and absolutely : In relation to its 
original, and exemplary cause. And shall compare this rejoic 
ing in the sins of other men, with it both ways. 

1. Consider chanty in its own nature ; and so it is the loving 
one another as myself, so as to desire his welfare and felicity as 
my own : where Sve must note, that love to ourselves, is the 
measure of the love we owe to others. But yet we are also to 
consider, that this measure itself, is to be measured : for we are 
not to measure our love to others, by the love we bear to our 
selves, otherwise, than as that also agrees with our superior rule; 
which obliges us so to love ourselves, as to design, and seek our 
own true felicity, and best good : to (( lay hold on eternal life, 
to work out our own salvation/' If in other instances, we 
were not so to understand the matter (since the particular pre 
cepts extend no farther than the general one) any man might 
without transgression, destroy another man's goods, when he 
hath learned to be prodigal of what he is master of himself : 
and might make himself master of another man's life, whenso - 
ever he cares not for his own- And so by how much more pro 
fligately wicked any man is, he should be so much the less a 

We are not so absolutely ctvlefyfftoii or so much our own, 
that we may do what we will with ourselves. We are account 
able to him that made us, for our usage of ourselves : and in 
making ourselves miserable, make ourselves deeply guilty also. 
We were made with a possibility of being happy. He that 
made us with souls capable of a blessed state, will exact an ac 
count of us, what we have done with his creature. He that 
commits a felony upon his own life, injures his prince and the 
community to which he belongs. The one is robbed of a sub 
ject, the other of a member that might be useful ; wherein 
both had a right. No man is made for himself. And there 
fore the tact is animadverted on, and punished as far as is possi 
ble in what remains of the offender, in his posterity, from whom 
his goods are confiscate; in his name, which bears a mark of 
infamy, and is made a public reproach. How unspeakably 
greater is the wrong doue to the common Ruler of the whole 
world, when a soul destroys itself ! loses ks possibility of prais 
ing and glorifying him eternally in the participation awl com- 

munion of his eternal glory ! how great to the glorious society 
of saints and angels ! from whom he factiously withdraws him 
self, and who (though that loss he recompenced to them by 
their satisfaction in the just vengeance which the offended God 
takes upon the disloyal, apostate wretch) were to have pleased 
and solaced themselves in his joint felicity with their own. So 
that he hath done what in him lay, to make them miserable, 
and even to turn heaven into a place of mourning and lamen 

The supreme, primary law under which we all are, obliges us 
to be happy. For it binds us to take " the Lord only for our 
God; to love him with all our hearts, and minds and souls, and 
strength," And so to love him, is to enjoy him, to delight, and 
acquiesce finally, and ultimately in him ; and satisfy ourselves 
for ever in his fulness. So that every man is rebellious in be 
ing miserable, and that even against the first, and most deeply 
fundamental law of his creation. Nor can he love God in obe 
dience to that law, without loving himself aright. Which love 
to himself, is then to be the measure of the love he is to bear 
to other men : and so most truly it is said, that charity begins 
at home. Every man ought to seek his own true felicity, and 
then to desire another's as his own. 

But now consider, what we are to compare herewith. Re 
joicing in the sins of other men, how contrary is it to the most 
inward nature ! to the pure essence ! how directly doth it strike 
at the very heart and soul, the life and spirit of charity ! For 
sin is the greatest, and highest infelicity of the creature ; de 
praves the soul within itself, vitiates its powers, deforms its 
beauty, extinguisheth its light, corrupts its purity, darkens its 
glory, disturbs its tranquillity, and peace, violates its harmoni 
ous, joyful state and order, and destroys its very life. It disaf- 
fects it to God, severs it from him, engages his justice, and in 
flames his wrath against it. 

What is it now to rejoice in another man's sin ; Think what 
it is, and how impossible it is to be where the love of God hath 
any place. What ! to be glad that such a one is turning a man 
into a devil ! a reasonable, immortal soul, capable of heaven, 
into a fiend of hell ! To be glad that such a soul is tearing it 
self off from God, is blasting its own eternal hopes, and des 
troying all its possibilities of a future well-being ! Blessed God ! 
How repugnant is this to charity ? For let us consider what it 
is that we can set in directest opposition to it. Let charity be 
the loving of another as I ought to do myself; its opposite must 
be, the hating of another, as I should not, -and cannot sustain 
tp do myself. As loving another therefore includes my desire 


of his felicity, and whatsoever is requisite to it, till it be attained, 
and my joy for it when it is ; loathness of his future, and grief 
for his present infelicity, as if the case were my own : so hating 
another must equally and most essentially include aversion to 
his future good, and grief for his present (which is the precise 
notion of envy) the desire of his infelicity, and whatsoever will 
infer it, till it be brought about, and joy when it is, or when I 
behold what is certainly conjunct with it. Which is the very 
wickedness the text animadverts on, as most contrary to charity, 
the sV/%#^ex#x/fiJ which not only the Spirit of God in the^holy 
Scriptures, but the very philosophy of pagans doth most highly 
decry and declaim against : which is of the same family you see 
with envy ; and no other way differs from it than as the objects 
are variously posited. Let the harm and evil of my brother be 
remote from him, and his good be present, I envy it. Let his 
good be remote, and any harm or mischief be present and ur 
gent upon him, I rejoice in it. Both are rooted in hatred, the 
directest violation of the royal law of loving my neighbour as 
myself, Jam. 2. 8. And it is that sort of i f Ki%cti%EY.cty.i& which 
hath most of horror, and the very malignity of hell in it : as 
the sin of another, wherein this joy is taken, is an evil against 
the great God (which there will be occasion more directly to 
consider hereafter), as well as to him that commits it; a wrong 
to the former, and a hurt to the latter : whereas other infe 
licities are evils to him only whom they befal. 

2. Consider charity in relation to its original, and ex- 
amplar. And so it is immediately from God, and his very 
image. God is love, and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in 
God, and God in him, I Joh. 4. 16. And what sort of love 
is this which is made so identical, and the same thing with the 
very Being, and nature of God ; not a turbid, and tumultuous, 
not a mean, and ignoble, not an imprudent, rash, and violent, 
least of all, an impure, polluted passion : but a most calm, wise, 
majestic, holy will to do good to his creatures, upon terms 
truly worthy of God. Good will, most conjunct with the other 
inseparable perfections of the Godhead : whence, with expres 
sions of the most benign propensions towards his creatures, he 
still conjoins declarations of his hatred of sin, upon all occasions: 
that he is not a God that takes pleasure in wickedness, nor can 
evil dwell with him : that sin is the abominable thing which his 
soul loathes, that he is of purer eyes, than to look on iniquity. 
What can now be more contrary to the pure, and holy love, 
which shall resemble, and be the image of his, than to rejoice 
in iniquity ? For as God, while he loves the person, hates the 
sin, men do in this case, love the sin, and hate the person. 



And while this horrid, impure malignity is not from God, or 
like him (far be the thought from us), from whom doth it de 
rive ? Whom doth it resemble ? We read but of two general fa 
thers, whose children are specified and distinguished, even by this 
very thing, or its contrary, in a fore-mentioned text, i. Job. 3. 10. 
where, when both the fathers, and their children, are set in op 
position to one another, this, of not loving one's brother, is 
given at once, both as the separating note of them who are not 
of God's family, and oifspring, not of him as the expression is, 
having nothing of his holy, blessed image and nature in them 
(and who consequently must fetch their pedigree from hell, and 
acknowledge themselves spawned of the devil) and as a summa 
ry of all unrighteousness, as it is being taken (as often) for the 
duty of the second table, or as a very noted part of it, taken in 
its utmost latitude. Agreeably to that of our Saviour, Job. 8. 
44. Ye are of your father the devil he was a murderer from 
the beginning as every one is said to be that hateth his bro 
ther, 1. Job. 2. 15. If therefore we can reconcile God and 
the devil together, heaven and hell, we may also charity, and 
rejoicing at other men's sins. 

Secondly. The inconsistency of these two will further appear 
by comparing this monstrous disaffection of mind, with the in- 
separable concomitants of chanty, or such things as are in con^ 
nexion with it. And the argument thence will be also strong 
and enforcing, if that concomitancy shall be found to be cer 
tain, and the connexion firm, between those things and cha 
rity. I shall only give instance in four things, which every one 
that examines will acknowledge to be so connected ; namely, 
wisdom and prudence : piety and sincere devotedness to God, 
and the Redeemer : purity : and humility. Moralists gene 
rally acknowledge a concatenation of the virtues. Those that 
are truly Christian are not the less connected, but the more 
strongly and surely. Which connexion of these now mention 
ed, with charity, we shall see as to each of them severally ; and 
at the same time, their inconsistency with this vile temper and 

1. For wisdom or prudence, it is so nearly allied to chanty, 
that it is mentioned by the same name. Jam. 3. 17- The wis 
dom that is from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, 
&c. The foregoing words, (v. 16.) shew that love is meant. 
These words represent the heavenly descent, and the true na 
ture of it, both together. That it is called wisdom, shews its 
affinity with it, and that it partakes of its nature ; dwells in a 
calm, sedate mind, void of disquieting passions and perturbations 
which it b the work of wisdom to repress and expel. Indeed 


the name is manifestly intended to express, generally, the tem 
per, the genius, the spirit of one that is horn from ahove, and is 
tending thither. The contrary temper, a disposition to strife, 
envy, or grief for the good of another (which naturally turns 
into joy, for his evil, when his case alters) is called wisdom too, 
hut with sufficiently distinguishing and disgracing additions. It 
is said, (v. 15.) not" to be from above, but earthly, sensual, de 
vilish ; and to have the contrary effects ; where envying and 
strife is, there is confusion emuletguffia (tumult the word signi 
fies, or disorder, unquietness, disagreement of a man with him 
self, as if his soul were plucked asunder, torn from itself) and 
every evil work, v. 16. There can be no charity towards ano 
ther (as hath been noted) where there is not first a true love to 
a man's own soul, which is the immediate measure of it; nor 
that, where there is not prudence to discern his own best good, 
and what means are to be used to attain it. His true good he 
is not to expect apart by himself, but as a member of the Chris^ 
tian community. Not of this or that party, but the whole ani 
mated body of Christ. In which capacity he shares in the com 
mon felicity of the whole, and affects to draw as many as he can 
into the communion and participation of it. So he enjoys, as a 
member of that body, a tranquility and repose within himself. 
But he is undone in himself, while he bears a disaffected mind 
to the true interest and welfare of the body. 

Wherefore to rejoice in what is prejudicial to it, is contrary to 
prudence and charity both at once. Put on, (saith the apostle) 
as the elect of God, holy and beloved bowels of mercies, 
kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, for 
bearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man 
have a quarrel against any : even as Christ forgave you, so also 
do ye. And above all these things, put on charity, which is the 
bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, 
to the which also ye are called in one body. (Col. 3.12.16.) imply 
ing no true peace or satisfaction can be had, but in vital union 
\viththe body. Is he a wise, or is he not a madman, that rejoices 
he hath an unbound hand or foot, or an ulcerated finger, or toe 
rotting off from him ? or that is glad a fire or the plague is bro 
ken out in the neighbourhood, that equally endangers his own 
house and family, yea and his own life ? 

2. Piety and devotedness to God, and the Redeemer, is 
most conjunct with true charity. By this we know that we love 
the children of God, when we love God, &c. i. Joh. 5. 2. 
For the true reason of our love to the one, is fetched from the 
other, as hath been shewn. And how absurd where it to pre 
tend love to a Christian upon Christ's account and for his sake, 


while there is no love to Christ himself? But can it consist 
with such love and devotedness to God, to be glad at his being 
affronted by the sin of any man ? or to Christ, whose design 
it was to redeem us from all iniquity, and to bless us, in tur 
ning us away from our iniquities ; to rejoice in the iniquity that 
obstructs, and tends to frustrate his design ? Do we not know- 
he was for this end manifested, to destroy the works of the 
devil ? And that the works of wickedness are his works ? Do we 
not know, the great God is, in and by our Redeemer, main 
taining a war against the devil, and the subjects of his king 
dom ; in which warfare, what are the weapons, on the devil's 
part, but sins ? Who but sinners his soldiers ? And who is there 
of us, but professes to be on God's part in this war ? Can it 
stand with our duty, and fidelity to him, to be glad that any are 
foiled, who profess to fight under the same banner ? What 
would be thought of him, who, in battle rejoiceth to see those 
of his own side fall, here one, and there one ? He would surely 
be counted either treacherous, or mad. 

3. Charity of the right kind, is most certainly connected 
with purity. The end (or perfection) of the commandment (or 
of all our commanded obedience) is charity, out of a pure heart 
1. Tim. I. 5. Sincere Christians, are such as have purified 
their souls, in obeying the truth through the Spirit, unto un 
feigned love of the brethren ; and must see, that they love one 
another with a pure heart, fervently, 1. Pet. 1. 22. Pagans have 
taught, there is no such thing, as true friendly love, but among 
good men. But how consists it with such purity, to take plea 
sure in other men's impurities, or make their sin the matter of 
jest and raillery ? 

4. A further inseparable concomitant of charity, is deep hu 
mility. We find them joined, and are required to put them on 
together, in the already mentioned context. Put on kindness, 
humbleness of mind ; above all put on charity, (Col. 3.) and do 
find it among these celebrations of charity, that it vaunteth not 
itself, and is not puffed up, v. 4. Nor can we ever, with due 
charity, compassionate the wants, and infirmities of others, if we 
feel not our own which if we do, though we are not, ourselves, 
guilty of heinous wickednesses, we shall so entirely ascribe it 
to divine, preserving mercy, as to be in little disposition to 
rejoice that others are. 

III. We may then, upon the whole, learn hence, how we are 
to demean ourselves in reference to the sins of other men. So, 
no doubt, as charity doth command, and require : at least, so 
as it doth allow, or not forbid. We are manifestly concerned, 
not to offer violence to so sacred a thing ; and shall be secure 
from doing it both these ways. We may therefore under these 


two heads, take direction for our behaviour upon such occasions : 
namely, the actual sins of others, or their more ohservable in 
clinations thereto. We shall then say something to those who not 
withstanding will take the liberty to rejoice in the sins of other 
men or take any, the least pleasure in observing them. 

First. We take direction for our behaviour upon such 

1. We should faithfully practise as to this case, such things 
as charity, and the very law of love doth expressly require 
and oblige us to. As we are, 

(1.) To take heed of tempting their inclinations, and of in 
ducing others to sin, whether by word or example. We are, 
otherwise, obliged to avoid doing so, and this greatly increases 
the obligation. What we are not to rejoice in upon the account 
of charity; we are, upon the same account, much less to pro 
cure. Especially take heed of contributing to other men's sins, 
by the example of your own. The power whereof, though it 
be silent and insensible, is most efficacious in all men's experi 
ence. A man would perhaps hear the verbal proposal of that 
wickedness, with horror and detestation, which he is gradually 
and with little reluctance drawn into, by observing it in other 
men's practice. A downright exhortation to it, would startle 
him. But the conversation of such as familiarly practise it, 
gently insinuates, and by slower degrees alters the habit of his 
mind ; secretly conveys an infection like a pestilential disease ; 
so that the man is mortally seized before he feels, and when he 
suspects no danger. 

Most of all, let them take heed of mischieving others by 
their sins, who are men of more knowledge and pretend to 
more strictness than others. Perhaps some such may think of 
taking their liberty more safely : they understand how to take 
up the business more easily, and compound the matter with 
God. A horrid imagination ! and direct blasphemy against 
the holy gospel of our Lord ! If it were true, and God should 
(do what is so little to be hoped) mercifully give them the 
repentance, whereof they most wickedly presume, who knows 
but others may, by that example^ be hardened in wickedness, 
and never repent ? Yea, If thy greater knowledge should 
prompt thee to do, unnecessarily, that which (really, and ab 
stracting from circumstances) is not a sin ; but which another 
took to T)e so, and thence takes a liberty to do other things that 
are certainly sinful; yet walkest thou not charitably. Through 
thy knowledge shall a weak brother perish and be destroyed, for 
whom Christ died ? Rom. 14. 15. with 1. Cor. 8. 10, 11. Sup 
pose the process be, as from sitting in an idol's temple to ido 
latry so from needless sitting in a tavern, to drunkenness 
or other consequent debaucheries. But if the thing be, in its 

TO OTHER, MEN'S siNr s 225 

first instance, unquestionably sinful, of how horrid consequences 
are the enormities of such as have been taken to be men of 
sanctity, beyond the common rate ? What a stumbling block 
to multitudes ! How much better might it have been for many 
that are of the Christian profession, if such had never been 
Christians ! And most probably for themselves also ! No doubt 
it had been more for the honour of the Christian name. How 
many may be tempted to infidelity and atheism by one such 
instance ! And whereas those scandali/ed persons do often 
afterwards, incur this fearful guilt of rejoicing in the iniquity 
of such, even that also, they have to answer for, with all the 

(2.) Charity requires, not only that we do not procure, but 
that we labour, as much as is possible, to prevent the sin of 
others. What in this kind, we are not to rejoice at, we should 
hinder. And indeed what we do not hinder, if it be in our 
power, we cause. 

(3.) We should not be over-forward to believe ill of others. 
Charity will, while things are doubtful, at least, suspend. See 
how immediately conjunct these two things are. It thinketh 
no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, (v. 5, 6'.) it is not imagina 
tive or surmising. And in the following verse (on the better 
part, it must be understood,) it believeth all things, hopeth all 
things : that is, briefly, it is unapt to believe ill without ground, 
and hopes well, as long as there is any. But it is not so blindly 
partial, as to shut its eyes against apparent truth (of which more 
in its place.) 

(4.) Much less should we report things at random, to the 
prejudice of others. That character of an inhabitant in the 
holy hill, must not be forgotten, that taketh not up a reproach 
against his neighbour. 

(5.) If the matter particularly concern ourselves, and cir 
cumstances comply, we must have recourse first to the supposed 
offender himself, and (as our Saviour directs) tell him his fault 
between him and thee alone, (Mat. 18. 15.) 

(6.) We ought to compassionate his case. Not rejoicing in 
in iniquity, may have in it a /x/&w. More may be meant ; 
we are sure more is elsewhere enjoined, solemn mourning, and 
the omission severely blamed. Ye are puffed up, (1 Cor. 5* 2.) 
(not perhaps so much with pride, as vanity, and lightness of 
spirit, as a bladder swollen with air, which is the significance 
of that word) and have not rather mourned. Perhaps he h 
burdened with grief and shame. A Christian heart cannot bt 
hard towards such a one in that case. We are to bear one 
another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (Gal. 6'. 2.) 

(7.) We should, as our capacity and circumstances invite or 

Mi.. iJ. 2 G 


allow (at least by our prayers) endeavour his recovery. And 
therein use all the gentleness which the case admits, and which 
is suitable to a due sense of common human frailty. Take the 
instruction in the apostle's own words, (Gal. 6. 1.) Brethren, 
if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore 
euch a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest 
thou also be tempted. 

(8.) We must take heed, upon one man's account, of cen 
suring others ; for such as we know to be faulty, those, that for 
ought we know (and therefore ought to hope) are innocent. 
A practise most absurd and unrighteous, contrary to common 
reason and justice, as well as charity. Yet that whereto some 
are apt to assume a license, upon so slender and senseless a 
pretence, that is, 'because some that have under a shew of piety, 
hidden the impurities of a secretly vicious life ; others that are 
openly profane, and lead notoriously lewd and flagitious lives 
(who though bad enough, are so far the honester men) do add 
to all their other wickedness, that folly and madness, as to 
count all men hypocrites that are not as bad as themselves. 
And reckon there is no such thing as real religion in the world. 
A like case as if, because sometimes spectres have appeared in 
human shape, one should conclude there is, therefore, no such 
creature on earth, as a very man. 

2. But there are also other things that ought to come into 
practise, in the case of other men's sinning, very suitable to 
the case, and not unsuitable to charity. Which, though they 
proceed more directly, rather, from some other principle, yet 
are not inconsistent with this, (as the graces of God's Spirit, 
and the duties of Christians never interfere, so as to obstruct or 
hinder one another,) things which, though chanty do not ex 
pressly command, yet are otherwise commanded, and which 
charity doth not foibid. As, 

( ! .) That we labour to avoid the contagion of their ex 
ample : that we take not encouragement to sin from their 
sinning. They are not our rule. We have not so learned 

(2.) That we take warning by it. And endeavour that their 
example may not only not be tempting to us, but that it may be 
monitory. We should reckon such things are our examples, for 
this purpose, (I Cor. 10. 11.) and were not only, heretofore, re 
corded and written, but -they are also, in our own days, per 
mitted to fall out for our admonition. We that think we stand, 
should therefore take heed lest we fall. And must remember 
we are to jstand by faith, and are not to be high minded, but 
fear. It is a costly instruction that is given us in such in 
stances. Consider the dolour and pangs that they may perhaps 


endure, who are our monitors. If they do not cry to us to be 
ware, their ease doth. Reckon (as the Psalmist (ps. /3.) It 
is good for you to draw near to God ; they that are far from him 
shall perish. Labour to be sincere, living cliristians. Let me 
tell you what I have often inculcated. A mere form of godli 
ness will one time or other betray you. And that it is not 
being of this or that party, conjoined with a formal, lifeless 
religion, that will secure you from being public scandals on 
earth, and accursed wretches in hell. Let every one prove his 
own work, and make thorough work of it, so shall he have re 
joicing in himself, and not in another, (Gal. 6. 4.) (yea, though 
he may have much cause of mourning for another,) for every 
one must, at last, bear his own burden and give an account of 
himself to God. 

(3.) Seriously bless God for being kept from gross and 
scandalous enormities. Such w r ords savour well, spoken with 
deep humility, and unfeigned sense of divine favour, not with 
pharisaical ostentation and scorn, " God I thank thee I am not 
as other men." If the poor man was so transported, aiid poured 
out his soul in tears of gratitude to God, upon the sight of a 
toad, that he was not such a creature; how much more cause 
is there for it, upon the sight of a gross sinner ! For, I should 
think, "Who made me differ? Why was not I the example ? 
and reduced to such a condition, before which I would prefer 
the greatest sinless misery in all the world ? " 

There is a threefold degree of mercy in our preservation from 
more heinous and reproachful wickedness. We may owe it to 
nature that less inclines us to some sins, as gluttony, drunken 
ness, &c. to external succedaneous providence that keeps us out 
of the way of temptation : or to victorious grace, able to pre 
vail, both against corrupt inclinations of nature, and whatsoever 
temptations also. God is to be acknowledged in all. He is 
the Author of nature, the Ruler in providence, the Fountain of 
grace. Under the first of these notions, he ought more to be 
eyed and praised, than the most are aware of. I could tell you, 
if it were seasonable, of some (and no despicable) heathen 
philosophy, which speaks of such an zvQvia, or goodness of 
natural temper (though the word hath also another signification,) 
that is said to carry in it, a sort of seminal probity and virtue : 
which, when it shall be observed how some others have the 
seeds of grosser vitiosity, and of all imaginable calamities, 
more plentifully sown in their natures, there is no little reason 
to be thankful for. Though all are bad enough by nature, to 
be children of wrath, and for ever miserable without special 
mercy ; and though again, none have so bad natures, as to be 
thereby excusable in wickedness (they should endeavour, and 


seek relief the more earnestly), yet some are less bad, and their 
case more remediable, by ordinary means ; and therefore the 
difference should be acknowledged with gratitude. And surety 
there is no small mercy, in being kept out of the way of temp 
tation, by the dispensation of a more favourable providence, 
that orders, more advantageously, the circumstances of their 
conditions in the world, so as they are less exposed to occasions 
of sin, than others are. Which providence I called succed- 
aneous, for distinction's sake ; because even the difference of 
natural tempers, is owing to a former providence. But now 
who can tell, what they should be, or do, in such circumstan 
ces as might have befallen them ? It is a singular favour, not 
to be exposed to a dangerous trial, whereof we know not the 
issue. Nor yet should any satisfy themselves without that 
grace, which can stem the tide. Which they that possess, 
how should they adore the God of all grace ? 

(4.) Charity doth not forbid, and the case itself requires, 
that when others do grossly and scandalously sin, we should, 
at length, upon plain evidence, admit a conviction of the mat 
ters of fact. For otherwise, we cannot perform the other 
duty towards them, unto which, charity doth most expressly 
oblige, nor discharge a higher duty, which another love re 
quires, that ought to be superior to all other. No charity can 
oblige me to be blind, partial, unjust, untrue to the interest 
of God and religion. When we are told in the text, it rejoices 
not in iniquity, it is added in the next breath, it rejoices in the 
truth : that is, in equity and righteous dealing. We are not 
to carry alike to good men and bad : and are therefore some 
time to distinguish them, if there be a visible ground for it, or 
to take notice when they manifestly distinguish themselves. 
For it is necessary to what is next to ensue : namely, that 

(5.) We are to decline their society: that is, when their 
heinous guilt appears, and while their repentance appears not. 
Scripture is so plain, and copious to this purpose, that it would 
suppose them very ignorant of the Bible, for whom it should be 
needful to quote texts. We must avoid them for our own sake, 
that vve be not infected, nor be partakers in their sin and guilt. 
For theirs (and so charity requires it), that they may be asha 
med, which may be the means of their reduction and sal 
vation : and (which is most considerable) for the honour of the 
Christina religion, that it may be vindicated, and rescued from 
reproach, as much as in us lies. It ought to be very grievous to 
us, when the reproach of our religion cannot be rolled away 
without being rolled upon this, or that man ; if, especi ally 
otherwise valuable. But what reputation ought to be of that 
value with us, as his that bought us with his blood ? The great 


God is our example, who refuses the fellowship of apostate 
persons, yea and churches : departs, and withdraws his affron 
ted glory. It is pure, and declines all taint. When high in 
dignities are offered, it takes just offence, and with a majestick 
shyness retires. None have been so openly owned by the Lord 
of glory, as that he will countenance them in wickedness* 
Though Coniah (he tells us, expressing a contempt by curtailing 
his name) were the signet on his right hand, yet would he 
pluck him thence. Yea and our Saviour directs, If our right- 
hand itself prove offensive, we must cut it off and cast it from 
us, Mat. 5. 30. And to the same purpose (chap. 18.) in the 
next words after he had said, Woe to the world because of 
offences : it must be that offences will come, but woe to him by 
whom the offence cometh. Wherefore if thy hand offend, &c. 
ver. 7' 8. It must be done as to a hand, a limb of our body, 
with great tenderness, sympathy and sense of smart and pain ; 
but it must be done. Delectionem audio, non communica- 
tioncm; ; / hear of love, not communion) saith an ancient 
upon this occasion. (Tertullian) 

(6.) We must take heed of despondency, by reason of the 
sins of others, or of being discouraged in the way of godliness; 
much more of being diverted from it. Indeed the greatest 
temptation which this case gives hereunto, is (to this purpose) 
very inconsiderable and contemptible, that is, that by 
reason of the lascivious ways of some, acehyeictK;, 2. Pet. 2. 2. 
(as that word signifies, and is fittest to be read ; referred to the 
impurities, of the gnosticks, as they came to be called) the way 
of truth (that is Christianity itself) is evil spoken of. But this 
ought to be heard (in respect of the scoffers themselves with 
great pity, but) in respect of their design to put serious christi- 
ans out of their way, with disdain. And with as little regard, 
or commotion of mind, as would be occasioned (so one will ex 
presses it) to a traveller, intent upon his journey, by the mowes 
and grimaces of monkeys or baboons. Shall 1 be disquieted, 
grow weary, and forsake my way, because an unwary person 
stumbles, and falls in it, and one ten times worse, and more a fool 
than he, laughs at him for it ? We must in such cases mourn 
indeed for both, but not faint. And if we mourn, upon a true 
account, we shall easily apprehend it, in its cause, very separa 
ble from fainting and despondency. It is a discouraging thing 
for any party to be stigmatized, and have an ill mark put upon 
them, from the defection of this or that person among them, 
that was, perhaps, what he seemed not, or was little thought to 
be. But if we be more concerned for the honour of the Chris 
tian name, than of any one party in the world, our mourning 
will not be principally, upon so private an account. All wise 


and good men, that understand the matter, will heartily concur 
with us, and count themselves obliged to do so. None that are 
such, or any man that hath the least pretence to reason, jus* 
tice, or common sense, will ever allow themselves to turn the 
faults of this or that particular person (that are discountenanced 
as soon as they, are known) to the reproach of a party. For 
others, that are aptest to do so, men of debauched minds and 
manners ; with whom, not being of this or that party, but re 
ligion itself, is a reproach. I would advise all serious, and so 
ber minded Christians (of whatsoever way or persuasion) if they 
be twitted with the wickedness of any that seemed to be such 
and were not, to tell the revilers, " They are more akin 
to you than to us, and were more of your party (howsoever they 
disguised themselves) than of any other we know of." 

Secondly. If yet, after all this, any will give themselves the 
liberty to rejoice at the sins of other men, and make them the 
matter of their sport and divertisement, or take any the least 
pleasure in observing them, I have but these two things, in the 
general, to say to them ; You have no reason to rejoice. You 
have great reason for the contrary. 

1. You have no reason to rejoice : for produce your cause, 
let us hear your strong reasons. 

(1.) Is it that such are like you, and as bad men as your 
selves ? But 

[1.] What if they be not like you ? Every one, perhaps, is 
not ; at whose sins (real or supposed) you at a venture take li 
berty to rejoice ; what if your guilt be real, theirs but imagined? 
Sometimes through your too much haste, it may prove so; and 
and then your jest is spoiled, and then you are found to laugh 
only at your own shadow. At least, you cannot, many times 
so certainly know another's guilt, as you may your own ; and so 
run the hazard (which a wise man would not) of making your 
selves the ridicule. And supposing your guess, in any part, hit 
right ; what if those others sin by surprize, you by design ? 
they in an act, you in a course? they in one kind of lewdncss, you 
in every kind, they sin and are penitent, you sin and are obdu 
rate ? they return, you persevere ? they are ashamed, you glory ? 
These are great differences, (if they are really to be found) in 
any such case. But 

[2.] If they be not found, and those others be like you 
throughout, every whit as bad as yourselves, this is sure no great 
matter of glorying, that I am not the very worst thing in all the 
world ! the vilest creature that ever God made ! Should it be a 
solace to me also that there are devils, who may perhaps be 
somewhat worse then they or I ? Nor, though they fall in never 
so entirely with you in all points of wickedness, will that much 


mend your matter ? Can their wit added to yours, prove there 
will be no judgment day ? or that there is no God ? or, if that 
performance fail, can their power and yours, defend you against 
the Almighty ? Though hand join in hand, the wicked will not 
go unpunished. Or again, 

(2.) Suppose you are not of the debauched crew; is this 
your reason why you at least think you may indulge yourself 
some inward pleasure, that wickedness (you observe) breaks out 
among them who are of a distinct party from you, which you 
count may signify somewhat to the better reputation of your 
own ? 

But are you then of a party of which you are sure there are 
no ill men ? There are too many faults among all parties ; but 
God knows it is fitter for us all to mend, than to recriminate. 
Yea, but the party we are of, professes not so much strictness. 
'No ? What party should you be of, that professes less strictness? 
What more lax rule of morals have you than other Christians ? 
Do you not profess subjection to the known rules of the Bible, 
concerning Christian and civil conversation ? You do not sure 
profess rebellion and hostility against the Lord that bought you! 
Doth not your baptismal covenant (which you are supposed to 
avow) bind you to as much strictness as any other Christian ? 
and can there be any other more sacred bond ? 

But if in other things, than matters of civil conversation, such 
delinquent persons were of a stricter profession (suppose it be 
in matters of religion and worship) doth that delinquency 
prove, that in those other things, you are in the right and they 
are in the wrong ? Doth the wickedness of any person, a- 
gainst the rules of the common, as well as his own stricter 
profession, prove the profession he is of, to be false ? Then, 
wherein the profession of protestants is stricter than of other 
Christians, the notorious sins of wicked protestants, will con 
clude against the whole profession. And the wickedness of a 
Christian, because Christianity is a stricter profession than paga 
nism, will prove the Christian religion to be false. Who doubts 
but there may be found,of the Roman communion, better men 
than some protestants and of pagans better men than some 
Christians ? But then, they are better, only in respect of some 
things, wherein all Christians, or all men, do agree in their 
sentiments ; not in respect of the things wherein they dif 
fer. And the others are worse, in things that have no connex 
ion with the matter of difference. Enough is to be found to 
this purpose, in some of the ancients, writing on the behalf of 
Christians, which we need not, in so plain a case. Nor can it 
be thought, that men of any understanding and sobriety, will 
make this any argument, one way or other ; or think them at 
all justifiable, that glory in other men's wickedness, upon this 


or any other account. For such therefore, as are of so ill a 
mind, and think, being of a different party, gives them license, 
they ought to know, they make themselves of the same party ; 
and that upon a worse account, than any difference in the ritu 
als of religion can amount to. Upon the whole, your reason 
then (allege what you will) is no reason, and argues nothing 
but shortness of discourse, and want of reason ; or that you 
would fain say something to excuse an ill practice, when you 
have nothing to say. But I must add, 

2. That you have much reason to the contrary, both upon 
the common account, and your own. 

(1.) Upon the common account. That the Christian world 
should, while it is so barren of serious Christians, be so fertile, 
and productive of such monsters ! made up of the sacred Chris 
tian profession, conjoined with (even worse than) paganish lives! 
And the more of sanctity any pretend to, the more deplorable 
is the case, when the wickedness breaks forth, that was con 
cealed before, under the vizor of that pretence ? Is this no mat* 
ter of lamentation to you? or will you here, again say, your un- 
relatedness to their party, makes you unconcerned ? If it do not 
justify your rejoicing, it will sure (you think) excuse your not 
mourning. Will it so indeed? Who made you of a distinct 
party ? Are you not a Christian ? or are you not a protestant ? 
And what do you account that but reformed, primitive Christi 
anity ? And so, the more it is reformed, the more perfectly it is 
itself. Who put it into your power to make distinguishing ad 
ditions to the Christian religion, by which to sever yourselves 
from the body of other Christians in the world, so as not to be 
concerned in the affairs of the body? If this or that member, say 
" I am not of the body, is it therefore not of the body ?" Is it not 
the Christian name that is dishonoured by the scandalous lives of 
them that bear that name ? whose laws are they that are broken, 
the laws of this or that party ? or are they not the laws of Christ? 
Will you say you are unrelated to him too ? or have no concern 
with him ? Can any party be united within itself, by so sacred 
ties, as all true Christians are with the whole body of Christ ? I 
know no way you have to be unconcerned in such cases, as the 
matter of your humiliation (when they occur within your notice) 
but by renouncing your Christianity. Nor, indeed, would that 
serve the turn. For what will you do with your humanity ? Are 
you not still a man, if you would be no longer a Christian ? And 
even that, methinks, should oblige us to bewail the depraved- 
ness, and dishonour of the nature and order of human creatures! 
that they who were made for the society of angels, yea, and of 
the blessed God himself, should be found delighting, and wallow* 
ing in worse impurities, than those of the dog or swine. 



The more strictness in morals they have (falsely) pretended 
to, the greater is your obligation, to lament their violating those 
sacred rules, (which you also profess to be subject to) and not 
the less. Do I need to tell you, that even among pagans, where 
a profession of greater strictness had once been entered into, an 
apostacy to gross immoralities hath been the matter of very so 
lemn lamentation. As in the school (or church should I call 
it ?) of Pythagoras, where, when any that had obliged them 
selves to the observation of his virtuous precepts, did afterwards 
lapse into a vicious course, a funeral and solemn mourning was 
held for them, as if they were dead. 

(2.) On your own. For when our Saviour saith, woe to that 
man, by whom offence cometh, doth he not also say, woe to the 
world because of offences? And who would not fear, and lamenthis 
slu.re in that woe? Are you proof against all hurt by another's sin, 
what if it encourage you to sin too? What if it harden you in it? 
How many do some men's sin dispose to atheism ? and to think 
there is nothing in religion? And if you felt in yourselves an in 
clination to rejoice in them, that, itself argues the infection hath 
caught upoa you ; seized your spirits, and corrupted your vitals : 
so that you have cause to lament even your having rejoiced ; 
to be afflicted, and mourn and weep ; to turn your laughter 
to mourning, and your joy to heaviness, Jam. 4. 9. One 
would think them indeed but half men and scarce any christi- 
ans, that can allow themselves so inhuman, and unhallowed a 
pleasure, as rejoicing in another's sin ! It is very unworthy of a 
man to take pleasure in seeing his fellow-man turning beast. 
There is little in it of the ingenuity that belongs to human na 
ture, to delight in the harms of others ; much less of the pru 
dence, to make sport of a common mischief. And would a 
Christian rejoice in the disadvantages of his own cause ? and 
in the dishonour, and reproach of the very name which he 
himself bears ? 

To conclude, one would think no more should be needful to 
repress in any, this inclination than to consider, what sin is, 
wherein they rejoice, and what charity is, which is violated by 
their doing so. What to rejoice in sin ! that despites the Crea 
tor, and hath wrought such tragedies in the creation ! that 
turned angels out of heaven ! man out of paradise ! that hath 
made the blessed God so much a stranger to our world, broken 
off the intercourse, in so great part, between heaven and earth ; 
obstructed the pleasant commerce, which had, otherwise, proba 
bly been between angels and men ! so vilely debased the nature 
of man, and provoked the displeasure of his Maker against him! 
that once overwhelmed the world in a deluge of water, and will 
again ruin it by as destructive fire ! To rejoice in so hateful a 

VOL. II. 2 K 


tbing, is to do that mad part, to cast about firebrands, arrows, 
and death, and say, "Am not I in sport?" And to do that which 
so highly offends against charity ! so divine a thing ! the off 
spring of God ! the birth of heaven, as it is here below, among 
us mortals ; the beauty, and glory of it, as it is there above, in 
its natural seat: the eternal bond of living union, among the 
blessed spirits, that inhabit there, and which would make our 
world, did it universally obtain in it, another heaven. Consider 
from whom, and from what region that must proceed, which 
is so contrary to God and heaven. If any will yet, in despight 
of divine love itself, laugh on, at so foul and frightful a thing 
as sin is, it is too likely to prove the Sardonian laughter ; that 
is (as some explain that proverb) of them that die laughing ; 
conclude their lives, and their laughter both together ; and 
only cease to laugh and to live in the same last breath. 










n a tetter, 







THE veneration 1 have long had for your name, could not prr* 
init me to apprehend less obligation than that of a law, in your re 
commending to me this subject. For within the whole compass of 
intellectual employment and affairs, none but who are so unhappy as 
not at all to know you, would dispute your right to prescribe, and 
give law. And taking a nearer view of the province you have as 
signed me, I must esteem it alike both disingenuous and undutiful f 
wholly to have refused it. For the less you could think it possible 
to me to perform in it, the more I might perceive of kindness allay 
ing the authority of the imposition ; and have the apprehension the 
more obvious to me that you rather designed in it mine own advan 
tage, than that you reckoned the cause could receive any, by my un 
dertaking it. 

The doubt,,! well know, was mentioned by you as other men's, 
and not your own ; whose clear mind, and diligent inquiry leave you 
little liable to be encumbered with greater difficulties. Wherefore 
that I so soon divert from you, and no more allow these papers to 
express any regard unto you, till the shutting of the discourse, is only 
a seeming disrespect or indecorum, put in the stead of a real one. For 
after you have given them the countenance, as to let it be understood 
you gave the first rise and occasion to the business and design of 
them ; I had little reason to slur that stamp put upon them, by ad 
ding to their (enough other) faults, that of making them guilty of so 
great a misdemeanor, and impertinency, as to continue a discourse 
of this length, to one that hath so little leisure or occasion to attend 
to any thing can be said by them. 




Sfc fyc. 


I. The proposal of the difficulty to be discussed. disquisition con 
cerning the words prescience or foreknowledge waved. II. Great 
care to be taken lest we ascribe to God inconsistencies under 
the pretence of ascribing all perfections. Equal care lest we deny 
to him any perfection upon the first appearance of its not agree 
ing with somewhat else which we have found is necessary to ascribe. 
Oqr own minds to be suspected : and endeavoured with to the ut 
most before we conclude, what is, or is not to be ascribed to God; 
if we meet with a difficulty. III. Such divine attributes as agree 
to the Deity by the common suffrage of all considering men, to be 
distinguished from those that are only concluded to belong to him 
upon the subtile reasonings of but a few. Yet the danger to be 
carefully avoided, of mistaking any dictate of corrupt affection, 
for a common notion. IV. His own word, therefore our surest 
measure, by which we are to judge what belongs to him, and 
what not: which plainly asserts both his wisdom, and sincerity: 
as our minds do also naturally suggest to us. V. It also seems 
plainly both to assert and prove his universal prescience, particu 
larly of such things from which he dehorts : whence his dehort- 
ing is no proof of his not-foreknowing. VI. These therefore to be 
reconciled, which is not so difficult as to reconcilehiis dehortations 
from Mnful actions, with his predeterminative concurrence thereto. 
This undertaking waved as not manageable. VII. Nor necessary. 
The principal arguments that are brought for it, not concluding 
that every thing of positive being must be from God that other 
wise he could not foreknow such actions. The former considered. 
How we are to satisfy ourselves about the latter. VIII. The un 
dertaken difficulty weighed. Nothing in it of contradiction. No 
thing of indecorum. 

I.Tl/'HAT there is of difficulty in this matter I cannot pretend 
to set down in those most apt expressions wherein it was 


represented to me, and must therefore endeavour to supply a 
bad memory out of a worse invention. So much appears very 
obvious, that ascribing to the ever blessed God, among the 
other attributes which we take to belong to an every way per 
fect Being, a knowledge so perfect as shall admit of no possible 
accession or increase ; and consequently the prescience of all 
future events, as whoreof we doubt him not to have the distinct 
knowledge when they shall have actually come to pass. Since 
many of those events are the sinful actions or omissions of men, 
which he earnestly counsels and warns them against ; this mat 
ter of doubt cannot but arise hereupon, namely, " How it can 
stand with the wisdom and sincerity which our own thoughts do 
by the earliest anticipation challenge to that ever happy Being, 
to use these (or any other means) with a visible design to pre 
vent that, which in the mean time appeal's to that all-seeing 
eye sure to come to pass." So that, by this representation of 
the case, there seems to be committed together, either first 
God's wisdom with this part of his knowledge, for we judge it 
not to consist with the wisdom of a man, to design and persue 
an end, which he foreknows he shall never attain: or secondly 
the same foreknowledge with his sincerity and uprightness, that 
he seems intent upon an end, which indeed he intends not. 
The matter then comes shortly to this sum. Either the holy 
God seriously intends the prevention of such foreseen sinful 
actions and omissions or he doth not intend it. If he do, his 
wisdom seems liable to be impleaded, as above. If he do not, 
his uprightness and truth. 

My purpose is not, in treating of this affair, to move a dis 
pute concerning the fitness of the words prescience or fore 
knowledge or to trouble this discourse with notions I understand 
not, of the indivisibility, and unsuccessiyeness of eternal dura 
tion, whence it would be collected there can be no such thing 
as first or second, fore-or afterknowledge in that duration. But 
be contented to speak as I can understand, and be understood. 
That is, to call that foreknowledge which is the knowledge of 
somewhat that as yet is not, but that shall sometime come to 
pass. For it were a mere piece of legerdemain, only to amuse 
inquirers whom one would pretend to satisfy; or to fly to a cloud 
for refuge from the force of an argument, and avoid an oc- 
t-urring difficulty by the present reliefless shift of involving one 
self in greater. Nor shall I design to myself so large a field as 
a tractate concerning the divine prescience: so as to be ob 
liged to discourse particularly whatsoever may be thought to 
belong to that theological topic. But confine the discourse to 
my enjoined subject. And offer only such considerations as 
may some way tend to expedite or allemtc the present difficulty* 


II. Itwere one of the greatest injuries to religion, a subver 
sion indeed of its very foundations, and than by doing which, 
we could not more highly gratify atheistical minds, instead, 
and under pretence of ascribing perfections to the nature of God, 
to ascribe to it inconsistancies, or to give a self-repugnant no 
tion of that adorable Being, the parts whereof should justle and 
not accord with one another, And yet equal care is to be ta 
ken, lest while we endeavour to frame a consistent notion of 
God, we reject from it any thing that is truly a perfection, and 
so give a maimed one. Whereby we should undo our own de 
sign, and by our over much caution to make our conception of 
him agree with itself, make it disagree to him. For to an ab 
solute perfect Being, no other can agree than that, which not 
only is not made up of contradictions ; but which also compre 
hends in it all real perfections either explicitly, or which leaves 
room for all, by not positively excluding any of them. Which 
to do, and afterward, to assign that as the proper notion of God, 
were itself the greatest contradiction. We need therefore to 
be very wary, lest we pronounce too hastily concerning any 
thing, which to our most sedate thoughts, appears simply a per 
fection in itself, that it carries with it a repugnancy to some 
what else, necessary to be ascribed to him. 

We are first to suspect (as there is greatest cause) and inquire 
whether the ail be not wholly in our own minds. Which in 
this and such like cases, we certainly shall upon due reflection, 
find labouring under the natural defect of that incomprehensive 
narrowness that is in some degree, unavoidably followed with 
confusion and indistinctness of thoughts. And may perhaps 
find cause to accuse them of the more culpable evils, both of 
slothfulness, that withholds them from doing what they can, 
and self-conceit by which they imagine to themselves an ability 
of doing what they cannot. It cannot be unobserved by them 
that have made themselves any part of their own study, that it 
is very incident to our minds, to grasp at more than they can 
compass ; and then, through their own scantiness (like the little 
hand of a child) to throw away one thing that hath pleased us, to 
make room for another,because we cannot comprehend both to 
gether. It is not strange, that our so straltly limited understand 
ings, should not be able to lodge commodiously the immense 
perfections of a Deity ; so as to allow them liberty to spread 
themselves in our thoughts in their entire proportions. And 
because we cannot, we complain, when we feel ourselves a little 
pinched that the things will not consist ; when the matter is, 
that we have unduly crowded and huddled them up together, 
in qur incomprehensive minds, that have not distinctly con* 
ceived them, 

VOL ii. 2 I 


And though this consideration should not be used for the pro 
tection of an usurped liberty of fastening upon God, arbitrarily 
and at random, what we please (as indeed what so gross absur 
dity might not any one give shelter to by such a misapplication of 
it ?) we ought yet to think it seasonably applied, when we find 
ourselves urged with difficulties on one hand and the other ; 
and apprehend it hard, with clearness and satisfaction, to ascribe 
to God, what we also find it not easy not to ascribe. Nor 
would it be less unfit to apply it for the patronage of that sloth- 
fulness wherein our discouraged minds are sometimes too prone 
to indulge themselves. To which purpose I remember some 
what very appositely in Minucius Felix, that many through the 
mere tediousness of finding out the truth, do rather, by a mean 
succumbency, ycild to the first specious shew of any opinion 
whatsoever than be at the trouble,, by a pertinacious diligence, 
of applying themselves to a thorough search. Though the com 
prehension of our minds be not infinite, it might be extended 
much farther than usually it is, if we would allow ourselves 
with patient diligence to consider things at leisure, and so as 
gradually to stretch and enlarge our own understandings. Many 
things have carried the appearance of contradiction and incon 
sistency, to the first view of our straitened minds, which after 
wards, we have, upon repeated consideration and endeavour, 
found room for, and been able to make fairly accord, and lodge 

Especially we should take heed lest it be excluded by over 
much conceitedness, and a self-arrogating pride, that disdains 
to be thought not able to see through every thing, by the first 
and slightest glance of a haughty eye; and peremptorily deter 
mines that to be unintelligible, that an arrogant, uninstructed 
mind hath only not humility enough to acknowledge difficult 
to be understood. Whence it is too possible some may be over- 
prone to detract from God what really belongs to him, lest any 
thing should seem detracted from themselves, and impute im 
perfection to him rather than confess their own. And may be 
so overascribing to themselves, as to reckon it a disparagement 
not to be endured, to seem a little puzzled for the present, to be 
put to pause, and draw breath awhile, and look into the matter 
again and again; which if their humility and patience would 
enable them to do; it is not likely that the Author of our facul 
ties would be unassisting to them, in those our inmuiies which 
concern our duty towards himself. For though in matters of 
mere speculation,we may be encountered with difficulties, where 
of perhaps no mortal can ever be able to find out the solution, 
(which is no great prejudice, and may be gainful and instructive 
to us,) yet as to what concerns the object of our religion,, it is 

otf GOD'S PRESCIENCE, &c. 243 

to be hoped we are not left in unextricable entanglements; nor 
should think we are till we have made utmost trial. The de 
sign being not to gratify our curiosity, but to relieve ourselves 
of uncomfortable doubtfulness in the matter of our worship, 
and (in a dutiful zeal towards the blessed object thereof) to 
vindicate it against the cavils of ill-minded men. 

III. But if the unsuccessfulness of often repeated endeavours 
make us despair of being able, with so full satisfaction, to recon 
cile some things which we have thought were to be attributed to 
God ; it will be some relief to us, if we find the things about 
which the doubt lies, are not of the same order, nor such as 
with equal evidence and necessity are to be affirmed of him. 
And when we makea comparison,we may find ourselves at a cer 
tainty concerning those his attributes which most commonly, and 
at the first view, approve themselves to every man's understand 
ing. Among which we little hesitate, (as we are most concern 
ed not to do,) about those which carry with them the import 
of moral goodness ; and which reader the object of our re 
ligion, at once, both most venerable and lovely. For none do 
more naturally obtain for common notions concerning him ; so 
as even to prevent ratiocination or argument, with whomso 
ever the apprehension of his existence hath place. 

Every man's mind, it being once acknowledged that there is 
a God, refuses to conceive otherwise of him, than that he is 
holy, just, merciful, true, &c. and rejects with abhorrence the 
notion of an impure, unrighteous, cruel, deceitful Deity. As 
for those that, by a long train of .our own uncertain and lu 
bricous reasonings, we endeavour to deduce ; if we find our 
selves constrained any where to admit a diffidence, it were 
rather to be placed here. For it is at first sight evident, since 
God is most certainly willing to be known of them that are 
sincerely willing to know him; that what is a natural impression 
stamped by his own hand on every man's mind, hath more of 
absolute certainty, than what depends on metaphysical subtlety; 
whereof so very few are capable, and whereby divers pretenders 
thereto, do so frequently, (and perhaps very dangerously) en 
snare themselves. And it is of far greater importance, such a 
notion of God be entertained, as whereby he may be rendered 
amiable, and an inviting object of love (the very life and soul 
of all religion) than such as shall be the result, and entertain 
ment, only of scholastic wit. 

Yet also since it is very manifest that man is now become a 
degenerate creature, and in an apostacy from God : he is very 
little to be trusted with the framing his own idea of him ; be 
ing certainly most unapt to allow any thing a place in it, that 
would have an unfavourable aspect upon his vicious inclinations 


and his guilty state. And the contagion of man's sinfulness 
having spread itself as far as he hath propagated his own nature; 
so as no notion in his mind can be more common than the 
perversion and distemper of his mind itself; the possibility and 
danger is very obvious, of mistaking a dictate of depraved nature 
for an authentic common notion. And though these are not 
impossible to be distinguished, and in some cases very easy, 
as when men find it imposed unavoidably upon them, to appre 
hend and acknowledge some things which they are very unwil 
ling should be true (in which case their sentiments have the 
same right to be believed as the testimony of an enemy on 
the opposite party's behalf,) we have yet no reason to neg- 
lect any other means, whereby we may be more certainly di 
rected how to conceive of God^ or what we are to attribute to 
him, and what not, 

IV. Nor can we be at a greater certainty, than in admitting 
such things to belong to the blessed God as he plainly affirms 
of himself; or anyway, by his word, evidently discovers to 
belong to him. For as none knows the things of a man, but 
the spirit of a man that is in him, so the things of God are 
known to none but the Spirit of God. (1 Cor. 2. 11.) Taking 
therefore his own word for our measure in the present case 
(which I will suppose the reader not to think it unreasonable to 
appeal to ; and what is here said, is intended only for those 
that have that estimate of the writings wont to go under that 
name) what it says of him (much more what it proves) will no 
doubt be admitted for certain truth. Though, if it say such 
things, as, to us, seem not so manifestly to agree with one ano 
ther, our endeavour must be the more earnest and solicitous 
(as also it ought to be the more modest) to discuss, and remove 
the fcgvlfo0By$ or whatsoever semblance of disagreement. 
And whosoever concern themselves to peruse that venerable 
book, will find every where, on the one hand proclaimed and 
magnified in it, (what our own minds cannot but have been 
pre-possessed of,) the most exquisite wisdom of God, whereby 
he forms and contrives the methods of all his dispensations, and 
disposes them in the aptest subserviency to his own great and 
most important ends : that " all his ways are judgment," 
(Duet. 32. 4.) and that be worketh all things accord 
ing to the counsel of his will." (Eph. 1. 11.) In sum, 
that all wisdom is appropriated to him, that he is celebrated in 
the stile of "God, only wise," (Rom. 16. 27.) Nor are we 
therefore to think it strange, if, many times, we are not able to 
trace him out, or understand the reason of every thing he thinks 
fit to do. For the paths of the more perfect wisdom, must 
therefore be expected to be the more abstruse, .and remoter 
from common apprehension. 


How often do we find ourselves so far outgone by wise and 
designing men, as that we are sometimes constrained to confess 
and admire their great prudence and conduct (when they have 
effected their purposes) in those managements, which we have 
before beheld, either with silent ignorance, or perhaps, not 
without censure. How much less should the wisest of men re 
gret it, to find all their conjectures exceeded by the infinite 
wisdom. In the contemplation whereof, we find the great 
apostle (notwithstanding the vast capacity of his divinely en 
lightened understanding) exclaiming in a transport, O the 
depths ! Rom. 11.33. And when our eyes tell us, from so 
manifest stupendous effects, how far we are exceeded by him in 
power, it were reasonable to expect he should surpass us pro- 
portionably in the contrivances of his wisdom also. And where 
as the conjunction is rare, among men, of deep political wis 
dom, with integrity and strict righteousness ; this proceeds from 
the imperfection and insufficiency of the former in great part, 
that they know not how to compass their designs, unless often, 
by supplying their want of wisdom, out of the spoil and vio 
lation of their justice and honesty. Otherwise, these are things 
not so altogether out of credit in the world, but that men would 
rather accomplish their purposes by fair and unexceptioable 
means, if they could tell how. Only the respect and deference 
they have for them is less, than what they bear to their own in 
terests and ends. 

But besides the natural,inflexible rectitude of the divine will, 
we are secured, from his all-sufficiency, that we shall never be 
fraudulently imposed upon by any of his declarations unto the 
children of men. For there is nothing to be gained by it : and 
we cannot conceive what inducement he should have, to make use 
of any so mean and pitiful shifts for the governing of his crea 
tures, whom he spontaneously. raised out of nothing, and hath 
so perfectly within his power. Unless we should be so most 
intolerably injurious to him, as to imagine a worse thing of him 
than we would of the worst of men, that he loved falsehood for 
its own sake. And that, against his so constantly professed 
detestation of it, the declared repugnancy of it to his nature, 
and the even tenour of his word (every-where agreeing with it 
self herein) so often describing him by that property, "God that 
cannot lie/' And, with the same positiveness, avowing his 
own uprightness, and requiring it, expressing his great love to 
it, and the high delight he takes to find it in his (intelligent) 
creatures. The righteous God loveth righteousness, and with 
his countenance doth he behold the upright. (Psal. 11. 7.) 
Nor is his testimony the less to be regarded for that it is lauda 
tory, and of himself. Fpr we are to consider the prerogative of 


of him that testifies, and that if he were not vl OK iqos faithful 
to himself he were not God. Besides that his giving us this, or any 
representation of himself (to whom it were enoughto enjoy his own 
perfections) is a vouchsafement, and done of mere grace and fa~ 
vourto us, that we may by it be induced to place with satisfaction, 
our unsuspicious trust and confidence in him. As also, that he says 
in all this, no other thing of himself, than what our own minds, 
considering him as God, must acknowledge most worthy of him, 
and agreeing to him with the most apparent necessity. This 
part, therefore, of the idea of God hath so firm a foundation, 
both in the natural complexion of our own minds, and the report 
which his word makes of him, that on this hand we are hemmed 
in as by a wall of adamant : and cannot have the thought of 
defending his prescience, by intrenching upon his wisdom and 
truth, without offering the highest violence both to him and 

V. On the other hand also, as it cannot but seem to us a 
higher perfection to know all things at once, than gradually to 
arrive to the knowledge of one thing after another ; and so pro 
ceed from the ignorance of some things to the knowledge of 
them ; and that nothing is more certain, than that all possible 
perfection must agree to God ; so we find his own word assert 
ing to him that most perfect knowledge which seems to exclude 
the possibility of increase ; or that any thing should succeed 
into his knowledge. For how plainly is it affirmed of him that 
he knows all things. And even concerning such future things 
as about which our present inquiry is conversant, the affirma 
tion is express and positive. I am God, and there is none like 
me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient 
times the things that are not yet done. Isai. 46. 9. 10. with ch. 
41. 22. 23. Nor is the affirmation naked, and unfortified. For 
in the same sacred records, we have the same thing both affir 
med and proved : inasmuch as we find, in a great part thereof, 
are contained things foretold by most express prophecy, unto 
which the events recorded in other parts (and many of them in 
other unquestioned writings besides) have so punctually corres 
ponded, as to leave no place for doubt or cavil, Instances are 
so plain and well known that they need not be mentioned. And 
surely what was so expressly foretold could not but have been 
foreknown. It seems then an attempt also equally hopeless and 
unrelieving, as it were adventurous and bold, to offer at the 
protection of his wisdom and sincerity, by assaulting his presci 
ence or certain foreknowledge of whatsoever shall come to pass. 
And that their defence is not to be attempted this way, will 
further most evidently appear from hence, that it is not impos 
sible to assign particular instances of some or other most con- 


fcssedly wicked actions ; against which God had directed those 
ordinary means of counselling and dehorting men, and which 
yet it is most certain he did foreknow they would do. As thougli 
it was so punctually determined even (Exod. 12.41.) to a day, 
and was (though not so punctually) Gen. 15. 3. foretold unto 
Abraham, how long, from that time, * his seed should be stran 
gers in a land that was not theirs ; yet how frequent are the 
counsels and warnings sent to Pharoah to dismiss them sooner ; 
yea how often are Moses and Aaron directed to claim their li 
berty, and exhort Pharoah to let them go, and at the same time 
told, he should not hearken to them. Exod. 4. &c. Nor indeed 
is it more seldom said that the Lord hardened pharaoh's heart, 
lest he should. Though it may be a doubt whether those pas 
sages be truly translated ; for the gentler meaning of the he- 
brew idiom being well known, it would seem more agreeable 
to the text, to have expressed only the intended sense, than to 
have strained a word to the very utmost of its literal import, 
an<l manifestly beyond what was intended. After the like man 
ner is the prophet Ezekiel (chap. 3. v. 4.) sent to the revolted 
Israelites. And directed to speak to them with God's own 
words, the sum and purport whereof was to warn and dehort 
them from their wicked ways lest they should die ; when as yet 
it is plainly told him, but the house of Israel will not hearken 
to thee, for they will not hearken to me. Unto which same 
purpose it is more pertinent, than necessary to be added, that 
our Saviour's own plain assertions that he was the Son of God, 
the many miracles by which he confirmed it, and his frequent 
exhortations to the Jews to believe in him thereupon, had a ma 
nifest tendency to make him be known and believed to be so, 
and consequently to prevent that most horrid act of his cru 
cifixion (for it is said, and the matter speaks itself, that, if 
they had known they would not have crucified the Lord of 
glory.) Notwithstanding that it was a thing which God's hand 
and counsel had determined before to be done. (Act. 4. 28.) 
That is, foreseeing wicked hands would be prompt and ready 
for this tragic enterprise, his sovereign power and wise counsel 
concurred with his foreknowledge so only, and not with less 
latitude, to define or determine the bounds and limits of that 
malignity, than to let it proceed unto this execution. And to 
deliver him up (nol by any formal resignation, or surrender, as 
we well know, but permitting him) thereunto. Though the 
same phrase of delivering him, hath elsewhere, another notion 
of assigning or appointing him to be a propitiation for the sins 

9 What there is of difficulty or doubt about this prophecy, see 
fully cleared in the late letter to the Deist, 


of men, by dying ; which was done by mutual agreement be 
tween both the parties, him that was to propitiate, and him 
who was to be propitiated. In which respect our Saviour is al 
so said to have given himself for the same purpose ; (Tit. 2. 14.) 
which purpose it was determined not to hinder prepared hands 
to execute in this way. 

Now if it did appear but in one single instance only, that the 
blessed God did foreknow, and dehort from the same act, it 
will be plainly consequent, that his warning and dehortations 
from wicked actions in the general, can with no pretence be 
alleged as a proof against his universal prescience. For if the 
argument he dehorted from the doing such an action, there 
fore he did not foreknow it would be able to conclude any 
thing, it must be of sufficient force to conclude universally ; 
which it cannot do, if but a single instance can be given, where 
in it is apparent, he did both dehort and foreknow. It can only- 
pretend to raise the doubt which we have in hand to discuss, how 
fitly and with what wisdom and sincerity, he can be understood 
to interpose his counsels and monitions in such a case. 

VI. Wherefore nothing remains but to consider how these 
may be reconciled, and made appear to be no way inconsistant 
with one another. Nor are we to apprehend herein so great 
a difficulty, as it were to reconcile his irrestible p re- determina 
tive concurrence to all actions of the creature, even those that 
are in themselves most malignantly wicked, with the wisdom 
and righteousness of his laws against them, and severest punish 
ments of them according to those laws. Which sentiments 
must, I conceive, to any impartial understanding, leave it no 
way sufficiently explicable, how the influence and concurrence, 
the holy God hath to the worst of actions, is to be distinguished 
from that which he affords to the best; wherein such inherently 
evil actions are less to be imputed to him who forbids them, 
than to the malicious tempter who prompts to them, or the 
actor that does them : or wherein not a great deal more. And 
leave it undeniable, that the matter of all his laws, in reference 
to all such actions that ever have been done in the world, was 
a simple and most strictly natural impossibility. Nothing being 
more apparently so, than either not to do an action whereto the 
agent is determined by an infinite power ; or to separate the 
malignity thereof, from an intrinsically evil action ; and that 
this natural impossibility of not sinning with the inelucta 
ble fate of his (at first) innocent creatures. Who also (as the 
case is to be conceived of with the angels that kept not their 
first station must be understood irreversibly condemned to the 
suffering of eternal punishment, for the not doing of what it 
was (upon these terms) so absolutely impossible to them to avoid. 


This too hard province the present design pretends not 
to intermeddle in, as being neither apprehended manageable, 
for those briefly mentioned considerations, and many more that 
are wont to be insisted on in this argument. 

VII. Nor indeed, is it at all necessary: for though many consi 
derations have been with great subtilty, alleged and urged to this 
purpose, by former and some modern writers, (which it is besides 
the design of these papers severally to discuss) these two, which 
seem the most importunate and enforcing, will, 1 conceive, be 
found of little force ; and then, the less strength which is in 
others, will be nothing formidable: that it necessarily belongs to 
the Original and Fountain Being, to be the first Cause of what 
soever being; and consequently that what there is of positive be 
ing in any the most wicked action, must principally owe itself 
to the determinative productive influence of this first and sove 
reign Cause. Otherwise it would seem there were some being 
that were neither primum, first, nor a primo from the first. 

And again (which we are more concerned to consider, be 
cause it more concerns our present subject) that it were other 
wise impossible God should foreknow the sinful actions of men 
(many whereof, as hath been observed, he hath foretold) if 
their futurition were a mere contingency, and depended on the 
uncertain will of the subordinate agent, not determined by 
the supreme. But neither of these seem able to infer the 
dismal conclusion of God's concurring by a determinative influ 
ence unto wicked actions. Not the former : for it may well be 
thought sufficiently to salve the rights and privileges of the first 
Cause, to assert that no action can be done but by a power de 
rived from it ; which in reference to forbidden actions, intelli 
gent creatures may use or not use as they please, without over- 
asserting, that they must be irresistably determined also, even to 
the worst of actions done by them. Besides that it seems infi 
nitely to detract from the perfection of the ever blessed God, to 
affirm he was not able to make a creature, of such a nature, as, 
being continually sustained by him, and supplied with power 
every moment suitable to its nature, should be capable of acting 
unless whatsoever he thus enables, he determine (that is, for it 
can mean no less thing, impel) it to do also, And except it were 
affirmed impossible to God to have made such a creature, (that 
is, that it implied a contradiction, which certainly can never be 
proved) there is no imaginable pretence why it should not be ad 
mitted he hath done it : rather than so fatally expose the wis 
dom, goodness and righteousness of God, by supposing him to 
have made laws for his reasonable creatures, impossible, 
through his own irresistible counter-action, to be observed : 

VOL. II. 2 K 


and afterwards to express himself displeased, and adjudge his 
creatures to eternal punishments, for not observing them, 

I am not altogether ignorant what attempts have been made 
to prove it impossible, nor again, what hath been done to manifest 
the vanity of those attempts. But I must confess a greater dis 
position to wonder, that ever such a thing should be disputed, 
than Dispute so plain a case. And that a matter whereupon all 
moral government depends, both human and divine, should not 
have been determined at the first sight. It is not hard for a good 
wit to have somewhat to say for anything. But to dispute 
against the common sense of mankind, we know before hand, is 
hut to trifle ; as the essay to prove the impossibility of local mo 
tion. The notion of the goodness and righteousness of God, 
methiuks, should stick so close to our minds, and create such a 
sense in our souls, as should be infinitely dearer to us than all 
our serises and powers. And that we should rather choose to 
have our sight, hearing, and motive power, or what not besides 
disputed, or even torn away from us than ever suffer ourselves 
to be disputed into a belief, that the holy and good God should 
irresistibly determine the wills of men to, and punish, the same 
thing. Nor is it difficult, to urge more puzzling sophisms 
against the former, than for this latter. But the efforts of a so 
phistical wit against sense, and more against the sense of our 
souls, and most of all against the entire sum and substance of 
all morality, and religion, at once, are but like the attempt to 
batter a wall of brass with straws and feathers. Nor is the as 
sault, on this part, more feeble and impotent, than the defence 
is wont to be of the other. For I would appeal to the quick 
refined sense of any sober and pious mind, after serious, inward 
consultation with itself; being closely urged, with the horror of 
so black a conception of God, that he should be supposed irre 
sistibly to determine the will of a man to the hatred of his owa 
most blessed self, and then to exact severest punishments for the 
offence done y what relief it would now be to it, to be only taught 
to reply, that man k under the law, and God above it. A de 
fence that doubles the force of the assault. What ! that God 
should make a law, and necessitate the violation of it ! and yet 
lso punish that violation of it ! And this be thought a sufficient 
salvo, that himself is not subject to any law ! Will a quick-scen 
ted, tender spirit, wounded by so unsufierable indignity, offered 
to the holy God, be any wit eased or relieved, by the thin so 
phistry of only a collusive ambiguity in the word law ? which 
sometirn.cs signifies the declared pleasure of a ruler to a subject, 
in which sense any eye can see God can be under no law, having 
"no superior. But not seldom also, an habitual fixed principle and 


rule of acting after one steady tcnour. In which sense how ma 
nifest is it, that the perfect rectitude of God's own holy graci 
ous nature is an eternal law to him, infinitely more stable, and 
immutable, than the ordinances of day and night I Or what re 
lief is there in that dream of the supposed possibility of God's 
making a reasonable creature with an innocent aversion to 
himself ? For what can be supposed more repugnant ? or what 
more impertinent ? If innocent, how were it punishable ? A law 
already made in the case, how can it be innocent ? 

But whatsoever strength there may be in arguments, and re 
plies, to and fro, in this matter : that which hath too apparently 
had greatest actual effieacy,with many, hath been the authority 
and name of this or that man of reputation ; and the force of 
that art of imputing a doctrine, already under a prejudicial 
doom, to some or other ill-reputed former writer. I profess 
not to be skilled in the use of that sort of \veapons. And what 
reputation ought to be of so great value with us, as that of God 
and religion ! Though if one would take that invidious course^ 
it were easy to evince, that such a predeterminative influx to the 
production of all whatsoever actions, is the dearly espoused no 
tion of one, of as deservedly an ill character, as ever had the 
name of a Christian writer. And whether Jie would not take 
that name for a dishonour to him, I pretend not to know. But 
let us take this sober account of the present case, that in this 
temporary state of trial, the efficacious grace of God is necessa 
ry to actions sincerely good and holy 5 which therefore all ought 
undespairingly to seek and pray for. But that in reference to 
other actions, he doth only supply men with such a power, as 
whereby, they are enabled, either to act, or, in many instances 
(and especially when they attempt anything that is evil) to sus 
pend their own action. And surely it carries so unexceptiona 
ble a face and aspect with it, that no man, that is himself sober, 
will think the worst name, of whosoever shall have said the same 
thing, were a prejudice to it ; or should more oblige him to re 
ject it, than we would think ourselves obliged to throw away 
gold, oi* diamonds, because an impure hand hath touched them; 
or to deny Christ, because the devils confessed him. Though 
also, if any should impute the so stating of this matter, to any 
author, that hath been wont to go under an ill name and cha 
racter, in the Christian church ; there were a great oversight 
committed ; to say no harder thing of it. For the writers whose 
names would be supposed a prejudice, have neither said the 
same thing, nor with the same design. They would have this 
indeterjnination of the power afforded to the creature, to be so 
universal, as to extend equally to evil actions and to good. And 
have asserted it with a manifest design to exclude efficacious 


grace, in reference to the best actions. Whereas this account 
would make it not of so large extent : (as it. were very unrea 
sonable any should :) for though it may well be supposed ex- 
tendible to many actions, besides those that are intrinsically evil 
or to any that are not spiritually good, yet nothing enforces (nor 
can it be admitted) that it should actually, and always extend 
so far. For who can doubt but God can overrule the inclinati 
ons and actions of his creature, when he pleases ; and, as 
shall best consist with his wisdom, and the purity of his nature, 
either lay on, or take off his determining hand. Nor is it 
here asserted with any other design, than to exempt the blessed 
God, as far as is possible; from a participation in the evil acti 
ons of his creatures -, in the mean time entitling him most en 
tirely to those that are sincerely good. Though it must be left 
imputable to men themselves (it being through their own great 
default) if they have not the grace, which might effectually 
enable them, to do such also. And as for the latter. This 
supposed indeterm ination of the human will, in reference, es^ 
pecially, to wicked actions, is far from being capable of infer 
ring, that God cannot therefore foreknow them ; or anything 
more, than that we are left ignorant of the way? how he fore 
knows them. And how small is the inconvenience of acknow 
ledging that, yea, and how manifest the absurdity of not acknow 
ledging the like, in many cases ? since nothing is more certain, 
than that God doth many things besides, whereof the manner, 
how he does them, we can neither explicate nor understand! for 
neither is it difficult to assign instances more than enough of 
actions done by ourselves of the manner whereof we can give no 
distinct account,as those of vision, intellection, with sundry other. 
Some have been at great pains we well know to explain the 
manner of God's foreknowledge of these futurities, otherwise 
than by laying the foundation thereof in his (supposed) effica 
cious will or decree of them. They that can satisfy themselves 
with what Thomas and Scotus have attempted, and the followers 
of them both ; that can understand what it is, with the one, for 
all things to be eternally present to the divine intellect in 
esse really and not understand by it, the world to have been eter 
nal. Or, what with the other, that they be all present only in 
esse rc])rescntatwo,and not understand by it,barely that they are all 
known, and no more, (which seems like the explication of the word 
invasion by invasion) let them enjoy their own satisfaction. For 
my own part I can more easily be satisfied to be ignorant of the 
modus or medium of his knowledge, while I am sure of the 
thing 5 and I know not why any sober-minded man might not 
be so too. While we must all be content to be ignorant of the 
manner, yea, and nature too, of a thousand things besides,wheu 


that such things there are, we have no doubt. And when there 
are few things, about which we can,with less disadvantage, suffer 
our being ignorant ; or with less disreputation, profess to be so. 
It cannot therefore be so affrightful a thing, to suppose God's 
foreknowledge of the most contingent future actions, well to 
consist with our ignorance, how he foreknows them, as that \vi; 
should think it necessary, to overturn and mingle heaven and 
earth, rather than admit it. 

VIII. Wherefore waving that unfeasible, unnecessary, and 
unenjoined task, of defending God's predeterminative con 
currence unto sinful actions; our encounter must only be of the 
more superable difficulty, to reconcile his prescience of them, with 
his provisions against them, that is, how fitly the wise and holy 
God can have interposed his precautions and dissuasions, in 
their own nature, aptly tending to withhold and divert men, 
from those evil actions, which he yet foresees they will do. 
And it is, in the first place, evident, there can be no pretence 
to allege that there is any such repugnancy in the matter, as 
shall amount to a contradiction, so much as virtual, or which 
the things signified, on the one part and the other, can be un 
derstood any way to import, tha indeed there should be a direct 
and explicate contradiction between foreknowing and dehorting, 
we may, at first sight, perceive the terms cannot admit; for 
there is nothing cnuntiated (affirmed or denied) in either. But 
let the sense of both be resolved into propositions, capable of 
being confronted to one another, and all that can be made of 
the former,will only come to this ; "You will do such a thing," 
and of the latter, no more but this ; " You ought not to do it;'* 
these are at as great distance, as can be imagined, from grating 
upon, or jarring with one another. And wherein is the inde 
corum of it, that both these effata propositions should pro 
ceed from the same mouth, namely, of a governor, or one 
that hath authority over others. 

We will, for discourse sake, suppose a prince endowed with 
the gift or spirit of prophecy. This, most will acknowledge 
a great perfection, added to whatsoever other his accomplish 
ments. And suppose we this his prophetic ability so large, as 
to extend to most events that shall fall out within his dominions. 
Is it hereby become unfit for him to govern his subjects by laws ? 
or any way admonish them of their duty ? hath this perfection 
so much diminished him as to depose him from his government? 
It is not indeed to be dissembled, that it were a difficulty to de 
termine, whether such foresight were, for himself, better or 
worse. Boundless knowledge seeins only in a fit conjunction 
with as unbounded power. But it is altogether unimaginable 
that it should destroy his relation to his subjects. As what of it 


were left, if it should despoil him of his legislative power, and 
capacity of governing- according to laws made by it ? And to 
bring back the matter to the supreme Ruler : Let it for the pre 
sent be supposed only, that the blessed God hath, belonging to 
his nature, the universal prescience whereof we are discoursing ; 
we will, surely, upon that supposition, acknowledge it to be 
long to him as a perfection. And were it reasonable to affirm 
that by a perfection he is disabled for government ; or were it 
a good consequence, " He foreknows all things, he is therefore 
unfit to govern the world/' 


t. God's supposed foreknowledge of contingent actions, alters not 
the natural goodness or evil of them. II. How God may be said 
to act for any end > his public declarations to men have a more 
principal end, than their obedience, and felicity. Which is attain 
ed, though this fail. The difficulty, therefore, concerning the di 
vine wisdom vanishes. III. That, concerning the sincerity of God 
considered. That other end, man's obedient compliance, attained 
in great part. IV. God not obliged to procure his published 
edicts should reach every individual person. It is owing to the 
wickedness of the world that they generally do not so. V. He shews 
special favour to some nations herein, without being injurious to 
others ; yea expresses much clemency and mercy to all. VI. 
Where his gracious methods succeed not; to be considered he 
only applies himself to them in common with the resh VII. Pro 
posed to be inquired ; what can be alleged out of his word, that 
seems less consistent with sincerity, towards them with whom 
things do not finally issue well ? What fit course could be thought 
rf more consistent therewith.? As to the former, what appearance 
such alleged passages can be justly said to have ? Propounded 
to be (afterwards) shewn \ that the truth of the thing corresponds 
to that appearance. VHI.Whathis declarations to men amount un 
to? What they are, by them, encouraged to expect? IX. Expres 
sions of passionate earnestness how to be understood ? X. The 
ends to be brought about by God's own action only ; and those 
which should be brought to pass by the intervenient action of man 
to be distinguished.- God's word represents him not us so willing 
the salvation of all men, as that it shall be effected whatsoever 
course they take. 

ND, that we may consider the matter more narrowly would 
the supposition of such foreknowledge in God, make 


that cease to be man's duty, which had otherwise been so ? and 
take away the differences of good and evil? Would it nullity the 
obligation of God's law, and make man's own inclination hia 
only rule ? or, if it be said, because it is foreknown, man will 
do such a thing, therefore he may, where is the connection ? 
For what influence can foreknowledge have, to alter or effect any 
way, either the nature of the thing foreknown, or the temper 
of the person that shall do it } any more than the present know 
ledge of the same thing, now in doing ? which knowledge none 
would deny to God : and which, when it occurs to a man, is 
no more understood to make an evil action innocent, than the 
action makes the eye guilty, of him that beholds it only, and 
detests it at once. Surely what is, in its own nature, whether, 
good or evil, can never not be so, be it foreknown or not fore 

But if what was otherwise man's duty, be still his duty, what 
can make it unfit that it be declared, and made known to him 
to be so ? and how is that otherwise to be done, than by these 
disputed means ? yea (for this is the case) what can make it less 
fit, than it would be that God should cease to rule over the 
world? and quit the right of his government to his revolted 
creatures, upon no other reason, than only that he foresees they 
have a mind to invade it ? It may now perhaps be said, all 
this reasoning tends indeed to establish the contrary assertion, 
that notwithstanding God do foreknow man's sin, it is however 
necessary he forewarn him of it but it answers not the objected 
difficulty, namely, how reasonably any such means arc used 
for an unattainable end. As it is manifest, the end, man's 
obedience, cannot be attained when it is foreknown he will not 

II. It may here, before we proceed further, not be unsea 
sonable to consider, (a matter, as is known, wont to be much 
vexed in the schools) how God may be said to act for any end 
at all. And it appears very certain, that he who is so every 
way absolutely perfect and happy, cannot be thought to intend 
and pursue an end, after the same manner as we are wont to do, 
We being conscious to ourselves of indigency, or, at the best, 
of obligation to the Author of our being, are wont to design 
this or that end for the relieving of ourselves, or the appro 
ving ourselves to him. And, our satisfaction depending upon 
the attainment of it, we solicitously deliberate about the fittest 
means to attain it ? and are tossed with various passions, of de 
sire and hope and fear and joy and grief according as the end 
is apprehended more or less excellent, or likely to be attained ; 
varying often our course upon new emergencies, as this or Unit 


may probably promote, or hinder the success of our pursuit, 
In short, we pursue ends, as being both impatient of disap 
pointment, and uncertain of their attainment. 

The blessed God, being indigent of nothing, nor under obli 
gation to any one, cannot be supposed to propound an end to 
himself as that whereupon his satisfaction depends, which were 
inconsistent with his already complete felicity, and would ar 
gue him but potentially happy. But acting always from an im 
mense self-sufficient fulness of life, and of all perfections, doth 
ever satisfy himself in himself, and take highest complacency in 
the perfect goodness, congruity and rectitude of his own most 
holy will and way. And again, as he doth not seek a yet unat- 
tained satisfaction, in any end he can be supposed to propound 
to himself; so nor can he be thought to deliberate, as we are 
wont to do, concerning the means of effecting any. For deli 
beration would imply doubtfulness and uncertainty, which his 
absolute perfection cannot admit ; nor doth need, the whole 
frame and compass of things intended by him, in their distinct 
references and tendencies, being, at once, present to his all- 
comprehending view ; so that there can be no place for any in 
termediate knowledge with him, or for any new resolves there 
upon. Known to the Lord are all his works from the begin 
ning of the world. Acts 15. 18. 

This being premised ; it is now further to be consider 
ed, that howsoever one end oftentimes is not attained, unto 
which the publicly extant declarations of the divine will have a 
visible aptitude, namely, the obedient compliance of men with 
them; another, more noble end was, however, attainable, not 
unbecoming the designment of the divine wisdom, arid which 
it was every way most worthy of God to be more principally in 
tent upon. It is fit the mention of this be prefaced with an 
obvious remark; that the misapprehension of the state of 
things between God and man doth, in great part, owe itself, to 
our aptness to compare unduly, the divine government with 
that of secular rulers ; and our expectation to find them in all 
things agreeing with each other. Whereas their cannot but be 
a vast difference, between the constitution and end of God's go 
vernment over his creatures, and more especially mankind, and 
that of man over his fellow Creatures of the same kind. The 
government of secular, human rulers, can never be, in the con 
stitution of it, altogether absolute, nor ought, in the design of 
it, primarily to intend the personal advantage of the ruler him 
self, who as much depends upon his subjects, and hath (at 
least) as great need of them, as they can be understood to have 
of him. But as to the blessed God the matter is apparent and 


hath its own triumphant evidence, that since he is the original 
and root of all being, that all things are mere dependencies 
upon his absolute pleasure, and entirely of him, and by him, all 
ought to be to him that he alone might have the glory. 

Wherefore, it must be asserted, and cannot fail of obtaining 
to be acknowledged, by every impartial, and sober considerer of 
things, that there is a much more noble and important end, 
that all God's public edicts and declarations to men, (the in 
struments of his government over them) do more principally 
aim at, than their advantage, namely, the dignity and decorum 
of his government itself: and that he may be found in every 
thing to have done as became him, and was most worthy of himself. 
And what could be more so, than that he should testify the 
aversion of his own pure and holy nature, to whatsoever was 
unholy and impure, his love of righteousness and complacency 
to be imitated herein, together with his steady, gracious propen- 
sion to receive all them into the communion of his own felicity 
or blessedness (for the Redeemer's sake)who should herein com 
ply with him ? Nor are we to understand that he herein so de 
signs the reputation of his government, as men are often wont 
to do things out of design for their interest in that kind, that 
are otherwise, against their (over ruled) inclination. But we 
are to account these his declarations (although they are acts of 
an intelligent Agent, and the products of wisdom and counsel-, 
yet also) the spontaneous emanations of his own holy, and gra 
cious nature, such as wherein he most fully agrees, and consents 
with himself. And is it now to be expected, that because he 
foresees men will be wicked, and do what shall be unworthy of 
them, he must therefore lay aside his nature, and omit to do 
what shall be worthy of himself ? 

III. And hereupon it may be expected, the more ingenuous 
and candid, will allow themselves to think the matter tolerably 
clear, in reference to the former part of the proposed difficulty; 
that is, will apprehend this way of dealing with men not im 
prudent, or inconsistent with the divine wisdom, since, though 
one end, in a great part, fail, yet another, more valuable, is at 
tained. But yet, as to the latter part, the difficulty may still urge, 
namely, how it can stand with sincerity ; whereas that end also 
which fails, seems to have been most directly intended, that the 
blessed God should seem so earnestly intent upon it : since it 
is hardly conceivable, that the same thing should be, at once, 
seriously intended as an end, and yet, at the same time, give 
the eye, which seems to design it, no other prospect than 
of a thing never to be brought to pass. 

Wherefore we are next to consider, that we may proceed- 
gradually, and not omit to say what is in itself considerable 

VOL. U. 2 L 


though it is not all (which cannot he said at once) that is to he 
said ; that the public declarations of the divine will, touching 
man's duty, do attain that very end, his obedient compliance 
therewith, in great part, and, as to many (although it be fore 
known they will prove ineffectual with the most) and are the 
no less successful, than the apt means of attaining it. Nor, 
certainly, if it were foreknown the world would he so divided, 
as that some would obey, and others not obey, was it therefore 
the fittest course, that these two sorts should, by some extraor 
dinary act of providence, be carefully severed from each other ; 
and those be dealt withal apart from the rest. But rather, that 
the divine edicts should be of a universal tenour, and be direct 
ed to all as they are ; the matter of them being of universal 
concernment, and equally suitable to the common case of all 

IV. Neither yet was it necessary, that effectual care should 
be taken, they should actually reach all, and be applied to eve 
ry individual person. Since it is apparently to be resolved into 
the wickedness of the world, that they do not so; and that there 
is not a universal diffusion of the gospel into every part. For it 
being evident to any one's reflection, that men are in a state of 
apostacy and defection from their Maker and common Lord, 
and therefore subject to his displeasure. Whereas the merci 
ful God hath done his own part, and so much beyond what was 
to be expected from him ; issued out his proclamations of peace 
and pardon, upon so easy and indulgent terms, as are expressed 
in his gospel j if, hereupon, men also did their part, behaved 
themselves suitably to the exigency of their case, and as did be 
come reasonable creatures, fallen under the displeasure of their 
Maker, (whereof their common condition affords so innumera 
ble, so pregnant proofs) the gospel wheresoever it should arrive, 
would have been entertained with so great a transport of joy, 
and so ready and universal acceptance, as very soon to have 
made a great noise in the world : and being found to be of a 
uniVersal tenour and concernment, arid that what it says to one 
nation, it equally says the same to every one ; it could not but 
be, that messengers would interchangeably have run from na 
tion to nation ; some to communicate, others to inquire after 
those strange tidings of great joy unto all people, lately sent 
from heaven ; concerning the Emmanuel, God with us ; 
God, again upon his return to man, and now in Christ 
reconciling the worki to himself. Arid thus how easily, 
and even naturally, would the gospel soon have spread itself 
through the world ? especially the merciful God having so pro 
vided, that there should be an office constituted, and set up ; a 
sort of men, whose, whole business it should be, to propagate 


and publish those happy tidings. But that men should so in 
dulge their sensual, terrene inclination, as not at all to use their 
understandings, and considering power, about other matters 
than only what are within the sight of their eye, when by so 
easy and quick a turn of thoughts they might feel and find out 
who made them, and was the Original of their life and being, 
and that things are not right, and as they should be, between 
him and them ; and so by what is within the compass of natu 
ral revelation, be prepared for what is supernatural. And not 
that only, but to that stupidity, by which they are unapt to in 
quire after and receive, to add that obstinate malignity by which 
they are apt to reject and oppose the merciful discoveries and 
overtures of their offended, reconcileable Creator and Lord. 
How manifestly doth this devolve the whole business of the lit 
tle, slow progress of the gospel in the world, upon themselves 
only ! As suppose we a prince of the greatest clemency, benig 
nity, and goodness, from whom a whole country of his subjects 
have made a most causeless defection ; hereupon to send to the 
whole body of the rebels, a gracious proclamation of free pardon 
upon their return to their allegiance, and duty ; and it only 
from hence comes to pass, that every individual person of them, 
distinctly understands not what the message from their prince 
did import ; because, they that heard it would not, many of 
them, allow themselves to consider and regard it ; and others 
of them, with despiteful violence, fell upon the heralds, barba 
rously butchering some of them, and ignominiously repulsing 
the rest. Who would not say, that prince had fully done his 
part, and acquitted himself auswerably to the best character, 
though he should send to the rebels no further overtures. Much 
more,, if through a long tract of time, he continue the same a- 
micable endeavours for their reclucement; notwithstanding the 
constant experience of the same ill success ? Who would not 
east the whole business of the continued ill understanding, be 
tween him and the revolters, upon themselves. And reckon 
it impossible, any should be ignorant, of his kind and benign 
inclinations aijd intentions, if an implacable enmity, and disaf 
fection to him and Uis government, were not their common 
temper ? 

Though so infinitely dq the mercies of God, exceed those of 
the most merciful prince on earth, as well as his knowledge and 
power ; that wheresoever there are any exempt cases, we must 
conceive him equally able and inclined to consider them dis 
tinctly. And so vastly different, may we well suppose the degrees 
of happiness and misery to be, in the other world ; as that there 
may be latitude enough, of punishing and rewarding men, pro- 
ponionably to the degrees of light they have had, and the more 


or less malignity, or propension to reconciliation, was found 
with them thereupon. 

V. Nor again was it at all incongruous, or unbecoming, that 
the blessed God, this being the common temper and disposition 
of all men, to reject his gracious tenders, should provide, by 
some extraordinary means, that they might not be finally re 
jected by all. For what can be more appropriate to sovereign 
ty (even where it is infinitely less absolute) than arbitrarily, to 
design the objects of special favour ? Who blames a prince, for 
placing special marks of his royal bounty, or clemency here 
and there as he thinks fit ? or that he hath some peculiar fa 
vourites, with whom he familiarly converses, whom he hath 
won, by some or other not-common inducements, and assured 
their loyal affection : though there be thousands of persons in 
his dominions besides, of as good parts, dispositions and deserts 
as they ? It belongs to sovereignty, only so to be favourable to 
some, as, in the mean time, to be just towards all. Yea and it 
must be acknowledged, such are the dispensations of the holy 
God towards the whole community of mankind, as import, not 
only strict righteousness, but great clemency and mercy also. 
Though they might easily understand themselves to be offend 
ers, and liable to the severities of his justice, they are spared by 
his patience, sustained by his bounty, protected by his power : 
their lives and properties are fenced by his own laws. And 
whereas they are become very dangerous enemies to one ano 
ther : and each one his own greatest enemy ; it is provided by 
those laws, even for the worst of men, that none shall injure 
them, that all love them, and seek their good. He interposes 
his authority on their behalf; and, if any wrong them, he takes 
it for an affront done to himself. By the same laws, they are di 
rected to industry, frugality, sobriety, temperance, to exercise 
a government over themselves, to bridle and subdue their own 
exorbitant lusts and passions, their more immediate tormentors 
and the sources of all the calamities and miseries, which befal 
them in this world. By all which evidences of his great care, 
and concern for their welfare, they might understand him to 
have favourable propensions towards them, and that though 
they have offended him, he is not their implacable enemy; and 
might, by his goodness, be led to repentance. 

Yea and moreover ; he hath sent them a Redeemer, his own 
Son, an incarnate Deity, who came down into this world, full of 
grace and truth, upon the most merciful errand. And they 
have some of them been in transports, when they have but fan 
cied such a descent, for the doing them, only, some lighter 
good turn ; as upon the cure of the cripple. The gods (say 
they) are. come down in the likeness of men ! Act. 14,11. " He 


being filled with the glorious fulness of the Godhead, hath heen 
a voluntary sacrifice for the sins of men ; and if they would be 
lieve and obey him, they would find that sacrifice is accepted, 
and available for them. And though they are disabled to do so, 
only by their own wicked inclination, even against that also they 
have no cause to despair of being relieved, if they would (which 
they might) admit the thoughts of their impotency, and the ex 
igency of their case, and did seriously implore divine help. 

VI. Now with whom these methods succeed well, there is no 
suspicion of insincerity. Let us see what pretence there can 
be for it, with the rest. It is to be considered, that, as to them 
he doth not apply himself to every, or to any person immedi 
ately, and severally, after some such tenour of speech as this, 
" I know thee to be a profligate, hopeless wretch, and that thou 
wilt finally disregard whatsoever I say to thee, and consequent 
ly perish and become miserable. But however (though I fore 
see most certainly thou wilt not, yet) I entreat thee to hear, and 
obey, and live." Indeed sending a prophet to a promiscuous 
people, he foretells him of such ill success. Ezek. 3. 7 But 
it is not told him he should succeed so ill universally, and it is 
implied, he should not. v. 21. 

But the course the great God takes, is only to apply himself 
to these (as hath been said) in common with the rest. For if 
it be said he also applies himself to them by the private dic 
tates of his Spirit ; he doth not by it, make formed speeches to 
men. But as to those its common motions, whereby it applies 
itself unto them, doth only solicit, in a stated manner of opera 
tion, in and by their own reason and consciences (as he con 
curs with our inferior faculties, and with the inferior creatures, 
suitably to their natures and capacities) speaking no other, than 
their own language, as they are instructed out of his word, or 
by other means. Which he usually continues to do, till by 
their resistencies, they have sealed up their own consciences, and 
consequently (according to its more ordinary fixed course, and 
laws of access and recess)shut out the Holy Spirit both at once. 
Nor is it more to be expected, he should universally alter that 
course ; than that he should alter the courses of the sun, moon, 
and stars, and innovate upon universal nature. So that what 
is endeavoured for the inducement of such, as finally refuse to 
return, by particular applications to this or that person, and be 
yond what is contained in the public declarations of his written 
word, is by substituted ministers and inferior agents, that know 
no more of the event, than they do themselves. And that this 
was the fittest way of dealing with reasonable creatures, who, 
that will use his own reason, sees not ? 

TJiat our disquisition may be here a little more strict 


we shall inquire both, What may be supposed possible to be 
alleged out of God's word, in reference to them that persist in 
wickedness till they finally perish, which it can be thought not 
consistent with sincerity, to have inserted, upon the supposed 
foresight of so dismal an issue. And what more convenient course 
we can think of, which sincerity (as we apprehend) would 
have required. 

As to the former. It may, perhaps, be alleged, that lie pro 
fesses to will the salvation of all men. 1 . Tim. 2.4. Not to desire 
the death of him that dieth. Ezek. 18. 32. Yea and professes 
himself grieved that any perish. Ps. 81. 12. 13. Now these 
things, compared with his public declarations and tenders, di 
rected, in a universal tenour, to all men, carry that appearance 
and shew with them, as if he would have it believed, his end were 
to save all. Wherewith his foresight of the perdition of so many 
seems ill to agree. For how can that end be seriously intended 
which it is foreseen will not be brought about ? And how can 
it be thought to consist with sincerity, that there should be an 
appearance of his having such an end,unto which, a serious real 
intention of it doth not correspond ? Wherefore we shall here 
examine, what appearance such expressions as those above re 
cited, can, by just interpretation be understood to amount unto. 
And then shew that there is really with the blessed God, what 
doth truly and fully correspond to that appearance ; and 
very agreeably too, with the hypotheses of his foreseeing how 
things will finally issue, with very many. 

And first, that we may understand the true import of the 
expressions which we have mentioned, and others of like sound 
and meaning. We are to consider, that though being taken se 
verally and apart, they are not capable of a sense, prejudicial to 
the cause, the defence whereof we have undertaken, which we 
shall afterwards more distinctly evince, yet) it were very injuri- 
ons, to go about to affix a sense unto a single expression, with 
out weighing the general design of the writings, whereof it is 
a part. It were quite to frustrate the use of words, when a mat 
ter is to be represented, that is copious, and consists of many 
parts and branches ; which cannot be comprehended in one, or 
a few sentences, if we will pretend to estimate, and make a 
judgment of the speaker's full meaning, by this or that single 
passage only, because we have not patience or leisure to 
hear the rest ; or perhaps have a greater disposition to cavil his 
words, than understand his meaning. If a course resembling 
this should be taken, in interpreting the edicts or laws of prin 
ces and states (suppose it were a proclamation of pardon to de 
linquent subjects) and only this or that favourable clause be 


fastened upon, without regard to the inserted provisos and con 
ditions ; the (concerned) interpreters might do a slight, tem 
porary, and easily remediable wrong to the prince, but are in 
danger, more fatally, to wrong themselves. 

The edicts of the great God, that are publicly extant to man 
kind (the universal publication whereof, they partly withstand, 
and which they too commonly deprave, and perversely mis-inter 
pret, where they do obtain) carry no such appearance with 
them, as if he had ever proposed it to himself, for his end, to 
save all men, or any man, let them do what they please, or 
bow destructive a course soever they take, and shall finally per 
sist in. If that were supposed his design, his so seemingly se 
rious counsels and exhortations, were as ludicrous, as they 
could be thought, if it were as peremptorily determined all 
should perish. For what God will, by almighty power, im 
mediately work, without the subordinate concurrence of any 
second cause, must be necessarily. And it is equally vain, so 
licitously to endeavour the engaging of subordinate agents, to 
do that which without them is absolutely necessary, as it were 
to endeavour that, by them, whirli is absolutely impossible. 

VIII. That which his declarations to men do amount unto, is, 
in sum, thus inuch, that, whereas they have, by their de 
fection and revolt from him, made themselves liable to his 
justice, and very great consequent miseries ; he is willing to 
pardon, save and restore them to a blessed state, upon such 
terms as shall be agreeable (the recompence due to his injured 
law, being otherwise provided for, at no expence of theirs) 
to the nature of that blessedness they are to enjoy, the purity of 
his own nature, and the order and dignity of his government. 
That is, that they seriously repent and turn to him, love him 
as the Lord their God, with all their heart and soul, and might 
and mind ; and one another as themselves, (being to make to 
gether one happy community, in the participation of the same 
Tolessedness,) commit themselves by entire trust, subjection and 
devotedness to their great and merciful Redeemer, according to 
the measure of light, wherewith he shall have been revealed 
and made known to them ; submit to the motions and dictates 
of his blessed Spirit, whereby the impression of his own holy 
image is to be renewed in them, and a divine nature imparted to 
them : aud carefully attend to his word as the means, the im 
pressive instrument or seal, by which, understood and consi 
dered, that impression shall be made, and the very seeds out of 
which that holy nature, and the entire frame of the new crea 
ture shall result and spring up in them ; so as to make them r.pt 
xirito the obedience that is expected from them, and capable of 
the blessedness they are to expeet: that if they neglect te attend 


to those external discoveries, and refuse the ordinary aids and 
assistances of his good Spirit, and offer violence to their own 
consciences, they are not to expect he should over-power them, 
by a strong hand, and save them against the continuing dis 
inclination of their own wills. Nor (whatsoever extraordinary 
acts he may do upon some, to make them willing) is there any 
universal promise in his word ; or other encouragement, upon 
which any may reasonably promise themselves that; in the neg 
lect and disuse of all ordinary means, such power shall be used 
with them, as shall finally overcome their averse, disaffected 

IX. It is true that he frequently uses much importunity 
with men, and enforces his laws with that earnestness, as if it 
were his own great interest to have them obeyed ; wherein, 
having to do with men, he doth like a man, solicitously intent 
upon an end which he cannot be satisfied till he attain. Yet 
withal, he hath interspersed, every where in his word, so fre 
quent, God-like expressions of his own greatness, all-sufficien 
cy and independency upon his creatures, as that if we attend to 
these his public declarations, and manifests of himself entirely ; 
so as to compare one thing with another, we shall find the mat 
ter not at all dissembled ; but might collect this to be the state 
of things between him and us ; that he makes no overtures 
f o us, as thinking us considerable, or as if any thing were to 
accrue to him from us. But that, as he takes pleasure in the 
diffusion of his own goodness, so it is our interest to behave our 
selves suitably thereunto, and, according as we comply with 
it, and continue in it, or do not, so we may expect the delec 
table communications if it, or taste otherwise, his just severity. 
That, therefore, when he exhorts, obtests, entreats, beseeches 
that we would obey and live ; speaks as if he were grieved at 
our disobedience, and what is like to ensue to us therefrom ; 
these are merciful condescensions, and the efforts of that good 
ness, which chooseth the fittest ways of moving us, rather than 
that he is moved himself, by any such passions, as we are wont ' 
to feel in ourselves, when we are pursuing our own designs. 
And that he vouchsafeth to speak in such a way as is less suita 
ble to himself, that it may be more suitable to us, and might 
teach us, while he so far complies with us, how becoming it is 
that we answerably bend ourselves to a compliance with him. 
He speaks, sometimes, as if he did suffer somewhat human, as 
an apt means (and which to many proves effectual) to bring us 
to enjoy, at length, what is truly divine. We may, if we con 
sider, and lay things together, understand these to be gracious 
insinuations ; whereby, as he hath not left the matter liable to 
be so mis-understood, as if he were really affected with solid- 


tude, or any perturbation concerning us, (which he hath suffi 
ciently given us to understand his blessed nature cannot admit 
of,) so nor can they be thought to be disguises of himself, or 
misrepresentations, that have nothing in him corresponding, to 
them. For they really signify the obedience and blessedness, 
of those his creatures that are capable thereof, to be more plea 
sing and agreeable to his nature and will ; than that they 
should disobey and perish ; (which is the utmost that can be un 
derstood to be meant, by those words, God will have all men to 
be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth,) but withal, 
that he so apprehends the indignity done to his government, by 
their disobedience, that if they obey not (as the indulgent con 
stitution and temper of his law, and government now are, in 
and by the Redeemer) they must perish. And that he hath also 
such respect to the congruity and order of things, as that it shall 
not be the ordinary method of his government over reasonable 
creatures, to over-power them into that obedience, by which it 
may come to pass that they perish not. All which may be col 
lected from those his own plain words, in that other recited 
text, and many besides of like import. When, with so awful 
solemnity, he professes, that as he lives he takes no pleasure in 
the death of sinners, but that they may turn and live ; and adds 
turn ye, turnye,why will you die? (Ezek.33.11)that is, that their 
repentance, and consequent welfare, would be more grateful to him 
than their perdition, upon their persevering in destructive ways. 
But yet, that if they were not moved to repent, by these his plead 
ings and expostulations used with them, they should die, and 
were therefore concerned, to attend and hearken, to such his 
reasonings and warnings, as the apt means to work their good; 
not expecting he should take extraordinary courses with them, 
in order to it. And that the real respect he had thereunto, 
should never induce him, to use any indecorous course, to bring 
it about 5 but that he had a more principal respect to the rules 
of justice, and the order of his government, than to their con 
cernments. And that he, notwithstanding, expresses himself 
aggrieved that any finally perish ; if we consider and recollect, 
what notices he hath furnished our minds with, of the perfec 
tions of a Deity, and what he hath remonstrated to us of his own 
nature, so plainly in his word; we cannot understand more by 
it, than the calm dispassionate resentment and dislike, which 
most perfect purity and goodness have, of the, sinfulness 
and miserable ruin of his own creatures. 

In all which we have a most unexceptionable idea of God, 
and may behold the comely conjuncture of his large goodness, 
strict righteousness and most accurate wisdom all together : as 
we are also concerned, in making our estimate of his ways, to 

VOL. n. 2 M 


consider them : and not to take our measure of what is suitable 
to God, by considering him according to one single attribute 
only; but as they all are united, in his most perfect Being. And 
in that biessed harmony, as not to infer with him a difficulty 
what to do, or what not. Which sometimes falls out with men, 
where there is an imperfect resemblance of those divine excel 
lencies, not so exactly contempered together. As it was with 
that Spartan prince and general in Plutarch, when finding a ne 
cessity to march his army, and taking notice of one, for whom 
he had a peculiar kindness, that through extreme weakness,wa& 
not possibly to be, removed, he looked back upon him, express 
ing his sense of that exigency, in those emphatical words, Hovr 
hardamatteris it at once sXeeiv xaifyovew, to exercise pity an( 
be wise ! God's own word misrepresents him not, but gives a 
true account of htm, if we allow ourselves to confer it with itself, 
one part of it with another. Nor doth any part of it, taken a- 
k>ne, import him so to have willed the happiness of men, for 
any end of his, that he resolved he would, by whatsover means 
certainly effect it : as we are wont, many times, with such ea 
gerness to pursue ends upon which we are intent, as not to con 
sider of right or wrong, fit or unfit in our pursuit of them, and 
so let the cost of our means, not seldom, eat up our end. Nor 
did that belong to him, or was his part as our most benign, 
wise, and righteous Governor, to provide that we should cer 
tainly not transgress, or not suffer prejudice thereby ; but thaf 
we should not do so, through his omission of any thing, which 
it became him to do to prevent it. 

X. It may therefore be of some use further to take notice, 
that a very diverse consideration must be had, of the ends which 
shall be effected by God's own action only, and of those which 
are to be brought about (in concurrence, and subordination to 
his own) by the intervenient action of his creatures. Especially 
(which is more to our purpose) such of them as are intelligent, 
and capable of being governed by laws. As to the former sort 
of these ends, we may be confident they were all most absolutely 
intended, and can never fail of being accomplished. For the 
latter, it cannot be universally said so. For these being not en 
tirely his ends ; but partly his, and partly prescribed by him, 
to his reasonable creatures, to be theirs. We are to conceive 
he always, most absolutely, intends to do, what he righteously 
esteems congruous should be his own part which he extends and 
and limits, as seems good unto him. And sometimes, of his 
own good pleasure, assumes to himself the doing of so much, 
as shall ascertain the end ; effectually procuring, that his crea- 
iure shall do his part also. That is, not only enacts his law, 
and adds exhortations, warnings, promises, to enforce it, but 


also emits that effectual influence, whereby the inferior wheels 
-shall be put into motion, the powers and faculties of his govern 
ed creature excited and assisted, and (by a spirit in the wheels) 
made as the chariots of a willing people. At other times and 
in other instances, lie doth less, and meeting with resistance, 
sooner retires ; follows not his external edicts and declarations, 
with so potent and determinative an influence ; but that the 
creature, through his own great default, may omit to do his part, 
and so that end be not effected. 

That the course of his economy towards men on earth is, dc 
facto, in fact ordered with this diversity, seems out of ques 
tion. Manifest experience shews it. Some do sensibly 
perceive that motive influence, which others do not. The same 
persons, at sometimes, find not that, which at other times they 
do. His own word plainly asserts it. (e He works in us to will 
and to do, of his own good pleasure." Where he will, he, in 
this respect, shews mercy ; where he will, he hardeneth, or doth 
not prevent but that men be hardened.. And indeed,we should be 
constrained to rase out a great part of the Sacred Volume, if we 
should not admit it to be so. And as the equity and fitness of 
his making such difference (when it appears he doth make it) 
cannot without profaneness be doubted, so it is evident, from 
what was before said, they are far removed from the reach and 
confines of any reasonable doubt ; since he forsakes none, but 
being first forsaken. Nor have men any pretence to complain 
of subdolous dealing, or tbat they are surprisingly disappointed, 
and lurched of such help, as they might have expected ; inas 
much as this is so plainly extant in God's open manifests to the 
world, that he uses a certain arbitrariness, especially in the more 
exuberant dispensation of his grace ; and is inserted to that pur 
pose, that they may be cautioned not to neglect lower assistances; 
and warned, because he works to will and to do of his own plea 
sure, therefore to work out their own salvation with fear and 
trembling. Phil. 2. 12. 13. Whereupon, elsewhere, after the 
most persuasive alluring invitations : Turn ye at my reproof, I 
will pour out my Spirit to you, I will make known my words to 
you, it is presently subjoined, because I called and ye refused, 
I stretched out my hand and no man regarded. But ye have 
set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof; I 
also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear 
come-th. Prov. 1. 23. 26. 

From #.11 which it is plainly to be understood, that the gene 
ral strain and drift of God's external revelation of his mind to 
man, in his word, and the aspect of even those passages, that 
can, with most colour ; be thought to signify any thing further, 


do amount to nothing more than this, that he doth so far really 
will the salvation of all, as not to omit the doing that which 
may effect it, if they be not neglectful of themselves, hut not so 
as to effect it by that extraordinary exertion of power, which 
he thinks fit to employ upon some others. 


I. Such a will as the word of God represents him to have of man's 
welfare we ought to believe is in him. The distinction of his will 
of good pleasure, and of the sign : of his secret will, and revealed 
(as applied to this matter) animadverted on. II. God truly wills 
the matter of his own laws, and their welfare for whom he made 
them. III. Is not made liable to disappointment hereby. Nor 
can hence an imperfect will be ascribed to him. IV. The second 
head (proposed Ch. II. p. 262.) discussed ; that no other fit course 
could be taken, that can be pretended more agreeable to sincerity. 
Two only to bethought on : to have published no written word, 
or to have overpowered all by strong hand into compliance therewith. 
The former not fit. The latter unfit also. The congruity of things 
makes them necessary, with God. The incongruity, impossible. V. 
Innumerable congruities obvious to the divine understanding not 
perceivable by ours. Two things manifestly congruous, to our ap 
prehension ; that the course of God's government, be for the most 
part, steady, and uniform : that he sometimes vary. VI. Both 
these, many ways represented congruous, In reference to matters 
within the sphere of nature, and policy. VII. Equally congruous, 
that matters be in some degree correspondently managed within 
the sphere of grace. VIII.The congruity of both these in the mat 
ters of grace more distinctly expressed. IX. The conclusion. 

I. "ftkTOR is it reasonably to be doubted, (such a will being all 
that can be pretended to be the visible meaning of the 
passages before noted) whether there be such a will in God or 
no: and so somewhat really corresponding (the next thing pnx- 
mised to be discoursed) to the aspect and appearance hereof, 
which is offered to our view. For what should be the reason 
of the doubt ? Hey who best understands his own nature, bar- 


ipg said of himself what imports no less : why should we make 
a difficulty to believe him ? Nor indeed can any notices we have 
of the perfections of the divine nature be less liable urcloubt, 
than what we have of his unchangeable veracity ; whence, as 
it is impossible to him to lie, it must be necessary, that he be 
really what he hath represented himself so to be. I must 
here profess my dislike of the terms of that common distinc 
tion the voluntas beneplaciti, et signi, between the will of good 
pleasure and qf the sign, in this present case. Under which, 
such as coined, and those that have much used it, have only rather, 
I doubt not, concealed a good meaning, than expressed by it an 
ill one. It seems, I confess, by its more obvious aspect, too 
much to countenance the ignominious slander, which profane 
and atheistical dispositions would fasten upon God, and the 
course of his proceedure towards men ; and which it is the de 
sign of these papers to evince of as much absurdity and folly, as 
it is guilty of impiety and wickedness : as though he only in 
tended to seem willing of what he really was not ; that there 
was an appearance to which nothing did subesse, exist 
as a foundation. And then why is the latter called voluntas f 
the will unless the meaning be he did only will the sign,whichis 
false and impious; and if it were true, did he not will it with 
the will of good pleasure? And then the members of the distinc 
tion are confounded. Or, as if the evil actions of men were, 
more truly, the objects of his good pleasure, than their forbear 
ance of them. And of these faults the application of the distinc 
tion of God's secret will, and revealed, unto this case, though 
it be useful in many, is as guilty. 

II. The truth is (unto which we must esteem ourselves, 
obliged to adhere, both by our assent, and defence) that God 
doth really and complacentially will (and therefore doth, with 
most unexceptionable sincerity declare himself to will) that to 
be done and enjoyed by many men, which he doth not, univer 
sally, will to make them do, or irresistibly procure that they shall 
enjoy. Which is no harder assertion, than that the impure 
will of degenerate, sinful man is opposite to the holy will of God; 
and the malignity of man's will to the benignity of his. No 
harder than that there is sin and misery in the world, which 
how can we conceive otherwise, than as a repugnancy to the 
good and acceptable will of God ? Methinks it should not be 
difficult to us to acknowledge, that God doth truly, and with 
complacency, will, whatsoever is the holy, righteous matter of 
his own laws. And if it should be with any, a difficulty, I would 
only make this supposition. What if all the world were yet in 
innocency, yielding entire universal obedience to all the now 
extant laws of God, which have not reference to man as now 
fallen (as those of repentance, faith in a Mediator, &c.) 


would it now be a doubt with any, whether God did truly and 
really will, and were pleased with the holiness and righteous 
ness which were every where to be found in the world ? Surely 
we would not, in this case, imagine the creature's will more 
pure and holy than the divine ; or that he were displeased with 
men for their being righteous and holy. Now again suppose 
the world revolted, what then is that holy will of God 
changed ? will we not say it remains the same holy will still ? 
and stands the same rule of righteousness and duty that it was ? 
Doth the change of his rebel creatures infer any with him ? or 
do only the declarations of his former will remain to be their 
rule, and keep them still obliged, his will itself being be 
come another from what it was ? Surely he might as easily 
have changed his laws. 

And if we say his will is changed, how should we know it to 
be so? If we know it not, surely such a thing should 
not be said or thought. If we knew it, how should those yet- 
extant laws and declarations continue to oblige, against the 
Law-giver's known will ? and then the easy expedient to nulli 
fy the obligation of a law, that were thought too restrictive, 
were to disobey it. And men might, by sinning once, license 
themselves to do the same thing (though then we could not call 
k sinning) always. And so the creature's should be the supreme, 
and ruling will. Nor had it been a false suggestion, but a real 
truth, that man, by becoming a sinner, might make himself 
a God. Or, if it shall be thought fit to say, that the divine 
will would not, in that supposed case, be said to be changed ; 
but only, that now the event makes it appear not to have been, 
what we thought it was ; that were to impute both impurity 
and dissimulation to the holy, blessed God, as his fixed attri 
butes. And what we thought unfit, and should abhor, to 
imagine might have place with him one moment, to affix to him 
for perpetuity. 

III. And whereas it may be thought to follow hence, that 
hereby we ascribe to God a liablenes to frustration, and disap 
pointment. That is without pretence. The resolve of the di 
vine will, in this matter, being not concerning the event what 
man shall do, but concerning his duty what he should, and 
concerning the connection between his duty, and his happiness. 
Which we say he doth not only seem to will, but wills it really 
and truly. Nor would his prescience of the event, which we 
all this while assert, let frustration be so much as possible to 
him. Especially, it being at once foreseen, that his will, be 
ing crossed in this, would he fulfilled in so important a thing, as 
the preserving the decorum of his own government. Which had 
teen most apparently blemished, beyond what could consist 


with the perfections of the Deity, if either his will concerning 
man's duty, or the declarations of that will, had not been sub 
stantially, the same that they are. We are, therefore, in as 
signing the object of this or that act of the divine will, to do it 
entirely, and to take the whole object together, without divi 
ding it, as if the will of God did wholly terminate upon what in 
deed is but a part (and especially if that be but a less considera 
ble part) of the thing willed. In the present case, we are not 
to conceive that God, only wills either man's duty or felicity, 
or that herein his will doth solely and ultimately terminate. 
But, in the whole, the determination of God's will is, that man 
shall be duly governed, that is, congruously both to himself, 
and him. That such and such things, most congruous to both, 
shall be man's duty, by his doing whereof, the dignity and 
honour of God's own government might be preserved, which 
was the thing principally to be designed ; and in the first place. 
And, as what was secondarily thereto, that hereby man's felicity 
should be provided for. Therefore, it being foreseen a viola 
tion would be done to the sacred rights of the divine govern 
ment, by man's disobedience, it is resolved, they shall be re 
paired and maintained by other means. So that the divine will 
hath its effect ; as to what was its more noble and principal de 
sign, the other part failing, only, by his default, whose is the 

And if yet it should be insisted, that in asserting God to will 
what by his laws he hath made become man's duty, even where 
it is not done we shall herein ascribe to him, at least, an inef 
fectual and an imperfect will, as which doth not bring to pass 
the thing willed. It is answered, that imperfection were with 
no pretence imputable to the divine will, merely for its not ef 
fecting every thing, whereto it may have a real propension. 
But it would be more liable to that imputation, if it should ef 
fect any thing, which it were less fit for him to effect, than not 
to effect it. The absolute perfection of his will stands in the 
proportion, which every act of it bears, to the importance of 
the things, about which it is conversant. Even as, with men, 
the perfection of any act of will is to be estimated, not by the 
mere peremptory sturdiness of it, but; by its proportion to the 
goodness of the thing willed. Upon which account, a mere 
velleity (as many love to speak) when the degree of goodness in 
the object claims no more, hath unconceivably greater perfec 
tion in it, than the most obstinate volition. And since the 
event forbids us to admit that God did ever will the obedience 
and felicity of all, with such a will as should be effective there 
of; if yet his plain word shall be acknowledged the measure of 
eur belief, in this matter, which so plainly asserts him some- 


way to will the salvation of all men, it is strange if, hereupon, 
we shall not admit rather of a will not-effective of the thing wil 
led, than none at all. 

The will of God is sufficiently to be vindicated from all im 
perfection, if he have sufficient reason for all the propensions, 
and determinations of it, whether from the value of the things 
willed, or from his own sovereignty who wills them. In the 
present case, we need not doubt to affirm, that the obedience 
and felicity of all men, is of that value, as whereunto a pro- 
pension of will, by only simple complacency is proportionable. 
Yet, that his riot procuring, as to all (by such courses as he 
more extraordinarily takes with some) that they shall, in event, 
obey and be happy, is upon so much more valuable reasons (as 
there will be further occasion to shew ere long) as that, not to 
do it was more eligible, with the higher complacency, of a de 
terminative will. And since the public declarations of his good 
will, towards all men, import no more than the former, and do 
plainly import so much; their correspondency to the matter de 
clared is sufficiently apparent. And so is the congruity of both 
with his prescience of the event. For though, when God ur 
ges and incites men, by exhortations, promises, and threats, 
to the doing of their own part (which it is most agreeable to his 
holy, gracious nature to do) he foresee, many will not be moved 
thereby ; but persist in wilful neglect, and rebellions till they 
perish : he at the same time, sees that they might do other 
wise, and that, if they would comply with his methods, things 
would otherwise issue with them. His prescience, noway, 
imposing upon them a necessity to transgress. For they do it 
not because he foreknew it, but he only foreknew it because 
they would do so. And hence he had, as it was necessary he 
should have, not only this for the object of his foreknowledge 
that they would do amiss and perish: but the whole case in its 
circumstances, that they would do so, not through his omission, 
but their own. And there had been no place left for this state 
of the case, if his public edicts and manifests, had not gone' 
forth, in this tenour as they have. So that the consideration of 
his prescience, being taken in, gives us only, in the whole, this 
state of the case, that he foresaw men would not take that course 
wbich he truly declared himself willing they should (and was 
graciously ready to assist them in it) in, order to their own well- 
being. Whence all complaint of insincere dealing is left with 
out pretence. 

IV. Nor(as we also undertook to shew P. 262) could any course 
(within our prospect) have been taken, that was fit, in itself, 
and more agreeable to sincerity. There are only these two 
ways to be thought on besides; either, that God should wholly 


have forborne to make overtures to men in common : or, that 
he should efficaciously have overpowered all into a compliance 
with them. And there is little doubt, but upon sober con 
sideration, both of these will be judged altogether unfit. The 
former ; inasmuch as it had been most disagreeable to the 
exact measures of his government, to let a race of sinful crea 
tures persist, through many successive ages, in apostacy and 
rebellion, when the characters of that law, first written in 
man's heart, were in so great measure outworn, and become 
illegible ; without renewing the impression, in another way ; 
and re-asserting his right and authority, as their Ruler and Lord ; 
to the holiness of his nature, not to send into the world such 
a declaration of his will, as might be a standing testimony 
against the impurity, whereinto it was lapsed ; to the good 
ness of it, not to make known upon what terms, and for whose 
sake, he was reconcileable ; and to the truth of the thing, 
since he really had such kind propensions towards men in com 
mon not to make them known : that it had, itself, been more 
liable to the charge of insincerity, to have concealed from men 
what was real truth, and of so much concernment to them. 
And he did, in revealing them, but act his own nature ; the 
goodness whereof is no more lessened, by men's refusal of its 
offers, than his truth can be made of none effect by their dis 
belief of its assertions: besides the great use such an extant re 
velation of the way of recovery, was to be of, to those that should 
obediently comply with it, even after they should be won so to do. 
And the latter we may also apprehend very unfit too ; though, 
because that is less obvious, it requires to be more largely insist 
ed on. For it would seem that if we do not effect any thing 
which we have a real will unto, it must proceed -from im- 
potency, and that we cannot do it, which, who would say of the 
great God ? Herein therefore, we shall proceed by steps. And 
gradually offer the things that follow to consideration. 

As, that it were indeed, most repugnant to the notion of a 
Deity, to suppose any thing, which includes in it no contradic 
tion impossible to God, considered according to that single at 
tribute of power only. But yet we must add, that this were a 
Very unequal way of estimating what God can do, that is to 
consider him as a mere Being of power. For the notion of God 
so conceived, were very inadequate to him, which taken en 
tirely, imports the comprehension of all perfections. So that 
they are two very distant questions, What the power of God 
alone could do? and What God can do? And whereas to the 
former the answer would be, whatsoever is not in itself re 
pugnant to be done. To the latter, it must only be, what- 

VOL. ii. 2 N 


soever it becomes or is agreeable to a Being every way perfect t& 
do. And so it is to be attributed to the excellency of bis na 
ture, if amongst all tilings not simply impossible, there be any, 
which it may be truly said he cannot do. Or, it proceeds not 
from the imperfection of his power, but from the concurrence of 
all other perfections in him. Hence his own word plainly 
affirms of him that he cannot lie. And by common consent 
it will be acknowledged, that he cannot do any unjust act what 

To this I doubt not we may with as common suffrage (when 
the matter is considered) subjoin, that his wisdom doth as much 
limit the exercise of his power, as his righteousness or his truth 
doth. And that it may with as much confidence, and clearness, 
be said and understood, that he cannot do an unwise, or im 
prudent act as an unjust. Further, that^-as his righteousness 
corresponds to the justice of things, to be done or not done, 
so doth his wisdom to the congruity or fitness. So that he can 
not do what it is unfit for him to do, because he is wise ; and 
because he is most perfectly and infinitely wise, therefore no 
thing that is less-fit. But whatsoever is fittest, when a com 
parison is made between doing this or that, or between doing? 
and not doing, that the perfection of his nature renders neces 
sary to him, and the opposite part impossible. Again, that 
this measure must be understood to have a very large and mostf 
general extent unto all the affairs of his government, the object 
it concerns being so very large. We, in our observation, may 
take notice, that fewer questions can occur concerning what is 
Bright or wrong, than what is fit, or unfit. And whereas any 
man may in a moment be honest, if he have a mind to it ; very 
few (and that by long experience) can ever attain to be wise., 
The things about which justice is conversant being reducible to 
certain rules, but wisdom supposes very general knowledge of 
things scarcely capable of such reduction. And is, besides, the 
primary requisite, in any one that bears rule over others : and. 
must therefore most eminently influence all the managements 
of the Supreme Ruler. 

V. It is moreover to be considered, that innumerable con- 
gruities lie open to the infinite wisdom, which are never obvious 
to our view or thought. As to a well-studied scholar, thousands 
of coherent notions, which an illiterate person never thought of 
to a practiced courtier, or well-educated gentleman, many 
decencies and indecencies, in the matter of civil behaviour 
and conversation, which an unbred rustic knows nothing of; 
'and to an experienced states-man, those importancies, which 
never occur to the thoughts of him who daily follows the plough. 
What government is there that hath not its arcana, profound 


mysteries and reasons of state that a vulgar wit cannot dive into? 
And from whence, the account to be given, why this or that is 
done or not done, is not, always, that it would have been unjust 
it should be otherwise, but it had been imprudent. And many 
tilings are, hereupon, judged necessary not from the exigency of 
justice, but reason of state. Whereupon, men of modest and so 
ber minds, that have had experience of the wisdom of their gover 
nors and their happy conduct, through a considerable tract of time ; 
when they see things done by them, the leading reasons whereof 
they do not understand, and the effect and success come not yet 
in view, suspend their censure ; while as yet all seems to them 
obscure, and wrapt up in clouds and darkness. Yea though the 
course that is taken have, to their apprehension, an ill aspect. Ac 
counting it becomes them not, to make a judgment of things so 
far above their reach, and confiding in the tried wisdom of their 
rulers, who they believe, see reasons for what they do, into which 
they find themselves unable to penetrate. With how 7 much 
more submiss, and humble veneration, ought the methods of 
the divine government to be beheld and adored, upon the cer 
tain assurance we have, that all things therein, are managed by 
that wisdom, which could never in any thing mistake its way? 
Whereas, there was never any continued administration of hu 
man government, so accurate and exact, but that after some 
tract of time, some or other errors might be reflected on 

Again, it may further be said, without presuming beyond due 
bounds, that though infinite congruities must be supposed to lie 
open to the divine understanding, which are concealed from 
ours, yet that these two things in the general are very manifest 
ly congruous to any sober attentive mind, that directly concern, 
or may be applied to the case under our present consideration, 
namely, that the course of God's government over the world, 
be, for the most part, steady, and uniform : not interrupted by 
very frequent, extraordinary and anomalous actions. And again, 
that he use a royal liberty, of stepping out of his usual course, 
sometimes, as he sees meet. 

VI. It cannot but appear to such as attend, highly incongru 
ous, should we affirm the antithesis to either of these ; or lay 
down counter-positions to them, and suppose the course of the 
divine government to be managed agreeably thereunto. For, 
as to the former ; what confusion would it make in the world, 
if there should be perpetual innovations upon nature ; continual 
or exceeding frequent impeditions, and restraints of second 
causes. In the sphere of nature, the virtues and proper quali 
ties of things, being never certain, could never be understood, 
or known. In that of policy, no measures, so much a,s proba- 


\)\e, could ever be taken. How much better is it, in both, that 
second cause?, ordinarily follow their inclinations ? And why is 
it not to be thought congruous, that, in some degree,* things 
should be proportionably so, in the sphere of grace ? (whereto 
by and by we shall speak more directly.) We pray when our 
friends are sick for their recovery. What can be the sober 
meaning and design of such prayers ? Not that God would work 
a miracle for their restitution, (for then we might as well pray 
for their revival after death) but, that God would be pleased sq 
to co-operate, in the still and silent way of nature^ with second 
causes, and so bless means, that they may be recovered, if he 
see good. Otherwise that they, and we may be prepared tq 
undergo his pleasure. And agreeable hereto ought to be the in 
tent of our prayers, in reference to the public affairs, and better 
posture of the world. And we may take notice, the divine wis 
dom lays a very great stress upon this matter, the preserving of 
the common order of things ; and cannot but observe a certain 
iuflexibleness of providence, herein. And that it is very little 
apt to divert from its wonted course. At which weak minds 
are apt to take offence : to wonder, that against so many prayers 
and tears, God will let a good man die ; or one whom they love; 
or that a miracle is not wrought to prevent their own being wronged 
at any time; or, that the earth doth not open and swallow up the 
person that hath done them wrong : are apt to call for fire from 
heaven, upon them that are otherwise minded, and do otherwise 
than they would have them. But a judicious person would 
consider, if it be so highly reasonable that my desires should be 
complied with so extraordinarily, than why not all men's ? And 
then were the world filled with prodigies and confusion. The 
inconveniencies would soon be to all, equally discernable and 
intolerable (as the heathen poet takes notice, should Jupiter's 
ear be over-easy) yea and the impossibility were obvious of gra 
tifying all, because of their many counter-desires. 

And for the other > it were no less incongruous, if the Supreme 
Power should so tie its own hands, and be so astricted to rules 
and methods, as never to do any thing extraordinary, upon never 
so important occasion. How ill could the world have wanted 
such an effort of ommpotency, as the restriction upon the flames 
from destroying Shadrach, Meshacfe, and Abednego ? or the 
miracles wrought in our Saviour's and the next following days ? 
Such things are never done ; but when the all-comprehending 
wisdom sees it most congruous : and that the cause will over- 
recompense the deflection from the common course. If no 
such thing did ever fall out, what a temptation were it to man 
kind, to introduce into their belief an unintelligent fate instead 
of a Deity ? Besides that the convincing testimony were want* 


ing, which we see is so necessary for the confirmation of any 
particular revelation from God, which comes not within the 
compass of nature's discovery, (upon which account also, it is as 
apparently necessary such extraordinary works should not he 
over-frequent, for then they become ordinary, and useless to 
that special end,) so that here the exertions both of the ordinate 
and absolute power of God (as some distinguish) have their so ap 
propriate, and so visibly apt and congruous uses, that they are 
discernible to a very ordinary understanding, how much more 
to the infinite wisdom of God ! 

VJI. Now hereupon we say further, there is the like congru- 
ity, upon as valuable (though not altogether the same) reasons 
that, in the affairs of grace, there be somewhat correspondent : 
that, ordinarily, it be sought and expected, in the use of ordi 
nary means. And that, sometimes, its sovereignty shew itself 
in preventing exertions : and in working so heroically, as none 
have, before hand, in the neglect of its ordinary methods, any 
reason to expect. And we may fitly add, that where sovereign 
ty is pleased thus to have its exercise and demonstrate itself, it 
is sufficient that there be a general congruity, that it do so some 
times, as an antecedent reason to the doing of some such ex 
traordinary things, but that there should be a particular, leading 
congruity or antecedent reason, to invite these extraordinary 
operations of grace, to one person more than another, is not ne 
cessary. But it is most congruous, that, herein, it be most arbi 
trary ; most agreeable to the supremacy of God; to the state of 
sinful man, who hath infinitely disobliged him, and can deserve 
nothing from him ; yea, and even to the nature of the thing. 
For, where there is a parity, in any objects of our own choice, 
there can be no leading reason to this, rather than that. The 
most prudent man, that is wont to guide himself by never so ex 
quisite wisdom, in his daily actions, where there is a perfect in- 
differency, between doing this thing or that, is not liable to cen 
sure, that he is not able to give a reason why he did that, not 
the other. Wisdom hath no exercise in that case. 

But that the blessed God doth ordinarily proceed in these af 
fairs, by a steady rule, and sometimes, shew his liberty of de 
parting from it, is to be resolved into his infinite wisdom, it be 
ing, in itself, most fit, he should do both the one and the other; 
and therefore to him most necessary. Whereupon, the great 
apostle Saint Paul, discoursing upon this subject, doth not re 
solve the matter into strict justice, nor absolute sovereignty 
(both which have their place too, in his proceedings with men, 
as the sacred writings do abundantly testify) but we find him in 
a transport, in the contemplation of the divine wisdom, that, 
herein f o eminently shines forth. O the depths of the rich- 


es both of the wisdom and knowledge of God ! how unsearcha 
ble are his judgments, and his ways past finding out 1* 

VIII. To sum up all, we conclude it obvious to the apprehen 
sion of such as consider, that it was more congruous the general 
course of God's government, over man, should be by moral in 
struments. And, howsoever it were very unreasonable, to ima 
gine, that God cannot in any case, extraordinarily oversway the 
inclinations, aud determine the will of such a creature, in a way 
agreeable enough to its nature, (though we particularly know 
not, as we are not concerned to know, or curiously to inquire 
in what way) and highly reasonable to admit that in many cases 
he doth. It is notwithstanding manifest, to any sober reason, 
that it were very incongruous, this should be the ordinary course 
of his conduct towards mankind, or the same persons at all times. 
That is, that a whole order of intelligent creatures should be 
moved, only by inward impulses j that God's precepts, promi 
ses and comminations, whereof their nature is capable, should 
be all made impertinencies, through his constant overpowering 
4hose that should neglect them ; that the faculties, whereby 
men are capable of moral goveroment, should be rendered, to 
this purpose, useless and vain ; and that they should be tempted 
to expect, to be constantly managed as mere machines, that 
know not their own use. 

Nor is it less apprehensible, how incongruous it were also, on 
the other hand, to suppose that the exterior frame of God's go 
vernment, should be totally unaccompanied with an internal vi 
tal energy ; or exclude the inward motions, operations and in 
fluences, whereof such a creature is also fitly capable ; or that 
God should have barred out himself, from all inward access to 
the spirits of men, or commerce with them : that the supreme 
universal, paternal mind (as a heathen called it) should have no 
\vay for efficacious communications, to his own offspring, when 
he pleases ; that (so unsuitably to sovereignty) he shoulti have 
*io objects of special favour, or no peculiar ways of expressing 
it. It is manifestly congruous that the divine government, over 
anan, should be (as it is) mixed or composed of an external 
frame of laws, with their proper sanctions, and enforcements, 
and an internal effusion of power and vital influence, corres 
pondent to the several parts of that frame ; and which might 
animate the whole, and use it, as instrumental, to the begetting 
of correspondent impressions on men's spirits : that this power 
be put forth, not (like that of a natural agent) ad vltimum to 
its utmost (which if we would suppose the divine power to be, 

* Rom. 11, 33. Sec to the same purpose, ch. 16, S5, 2G, 27. And 
Ep,h. 1, 5. 6, 1, with ihe 8. 


new worlds must be springing up every moment) but gradually, 
and with an apt contemperation to the subject, upon which it is 
designed, to have its operations, and withal, arbitrarily, as is be 
coming the great Agent from whom it proceeds, and to whom 
it, therefore, belongs, to measure its exertions, as seems meet 
unto him : that it be constantly put forth (though most gratui 
tously, especially the disobligation of the apostacy being consi 
dered) upon all, to that degree, as that they be enabled to do 
much good, to which they are not impelled by it . that it be 
ever ready (since it is the power of grace) to go forth in a fur 
ther degree than it had yet done, wheresoever any former issues 
of it nave been duly complied with. Though it be so little 
supposable that man should hereby have obliged God thereto, 
that he hath not any way obliged himself; otherwise, than that 
he hath implied a readiness to impart unto man what shall be 
necessary to enable him to obey, so far as, upon the apostacy, 
is requisite to his relief: if he seriously endeavour to do his own 
part, by the power he already hath received. Agreeably to the 
common saying, hornlni facienti quod in se est. &c. That, ac 
cording to the royal liberty wherewith it works it go forth, as to 
some, with that efficacy, as notwithstanding whatever resistance, 
yet to overcome, and make them captives to the authority and 
love of Christ. 

IX. The universal, continued rectitude of all intelligent crea 
tures had, we may be sure, been willed with a peremptory, 
efficacious will if it had been best. That is, if it had not been 
less congruous than to keep them, some time (under the ex 
pectation of future confirmation and reward) upon trial of their 
fidelity, and in a state wherein it might not be impossible to 
them to make a defection. And so it had easily been preven 
ted, that ever there should have been an apostacy from God, 
or any sin in the world. Nor was it either less easy, by a 
mighty irresistible hand, universally to expel sin, than prevent 
it ; or more necessary or more to be expected from him. But 
if God's taking no such course, tended to render his govern 
ment over the world more august and awful for the present, 
and the result and final issue of all things more glorious at 
length, and were consequently, more congruous; that could 
not be so willed, as to be effectually procured by him. For 
whatsoever obligation strict justice hath upon us, that congiuity 
cannot but have upon him. And whereas it would be con 
cluded, that whatsoever any one truly wills, they would effect 
if they could, we admit it for true, and to be applied in the 
present case. But add, That as we rightly esteem that im 
possible to us, which we cannot justly do, so is that to him, 
not only, which he cuuuot do justly, but which, upon the 


whole matter he cannot do, most wisely also. That is, which 
his infinite wisdom doth not dictate, is most congruous and fit 
to be done. 

Things cohere, and are held together, in the course of his 
dispensation, by congruities as by adamantine bands, and can 
not be otherwise. This is, comparing and taking^ things to 
gether, especially the most important. For otherwise, to have 
been nicely curious about every minute thing, singly consid 
ered, that it might not possibly have been better (as in the 
frame of this or that individual animal or the like) had been 
needlessly to interrupt the course of nature, and therefore, its- 
self, to him an incongruity. And doth, in them that expect 
it, import more of a trifling disposition than of true wisdom. 
But to him whose being is most absolutely perfect ; to do that, 
which, all things considered, would be simply best, which is 
most becoming him, most honourable and God-like, is ab 
solutely necessary. And consequently, it is to be attributed to 
his infinite perfection, that, unto him, to do otherwise, is ab 
solutely impossible. And if we yet see not all these congruities 
which, to him, are more than a law ; it is enough that they are 
obvious to his own eye, who is the only competent Judge. 
Yet, moreover, it is finally to be considered, that the methods 
of the divine government, are, besides his, to be exposed to 
the view, and judgment of other intellects than our own, and 
we expect they should to our own, in another state. What 
conception thereof is, already, received and formed in our 
minds, is but an embryo, no less imperfect than our present 
state is. 

It were very unreasonable to expect, since this world shall 
continue but a little while, that all God's managements, and 
ways of procedure, in ordering the great affairs of it, should be 
attempered, and fitted to the judgment, that shall be made 
of them in this temporary state, that will so soon be over ; and 
to the present apprehension and capacity of our (now so muddied 
and distempered) minds. A vast and stable eternity remains, 
wherein, the whole celestial chorus shall entertain themselves, 
with the grateful contemplation, and applause, of his deep 
counsels. Such things as now seem perplex, and intricate to 
us, will appear most irreprehensibly fair, and comely to ange 
lical minds, and our own, when we shall be vouchsafed a place 
amongst that happy community. What discovery God affords 
of his own glorious excellencies, and perfections is principally 
intended to recommend him, in that state ; wherein he, and all 
his ways and works, are to be beheld with everlasting, and most 
complacential approbation. Therefore though now we should 
covet the clearest and most satisfying account of things, that 


can be had , we are yet to exercise patience, and not pre 
cipitate our judgment of them before the time : as knowing 
our present conceptions will differ more, from what they will be 
hereafter, than those of a child from the maturer thoughts of 
the wisest man. And that many of our conceits, which we 
thought wise, we shall then see cause to put away as child 
ish things. 


The disorder, Sir, of this heap, rather than frame of thoughts and 
discourse, as it cannot be thought more unsuitable to the subject, 
than suitable to the author ; and the less displease, by how much it 
could less be expected to be otherwise, from him, even in the best cir 
cumstances ; so it may lay some claim to your easier pardon, as 
having been, mostly, huddled up in the intervals of a troublesome, 
longjourney. Wherein he was rather willing to take what opportu 
nity the inconveniencies and hurry of it could allow him : than neg 
lect any, of using the earliest endeavour to approve himself (as he is 
your great admirer) 

Most honoured Sir, 

Your most obedient humble servant, 

H. W. 

VOL. ii. 2 a 







Co e letter 


"C1INDING that this discourse of the reconcileableness of 
Gotl's prescience of the sins of men, with the wisdom and 
sincerity of his counsels, exhortations, tyc. hath been misur^r 
derstood and misrepresented ; I think it requisite to say some 
what briefly in reference thereto. I wrote it upon the motion 
of that honourable gentleman to whom it is inscribed ; who ap 
prehended somewhat of that kind might be of use to tender our 
religion less exceptionable to some persons of an inquiring dis 
position, that might perhaps be too sceptical and pendulous, if 
not prejudiced. Having finished it, I thought it best the au 
thor's name should pass under some disguise, supposing it might 
so, better serve its end : for knowing my name could not give 
the cause an advantage, I was not willing it should be in a pos 
sibility of making it incur any disadvantage. And therefore, as 
I have observed some, in such cases, to make use only of the 
two last letters, I imitated some other, in the choice of the pe 
nultimate, the last but one. But perceiving that discourse now 
to fall under animadversion, I reckon it becoming to be no lon 
ger concealed. It was unavoidable to me, if I would, upon 
reasonable terms, apply myself to the consideration of the mat 
ter I had undertaken, of shewing the consistency of God's pre 
science of the sins of men, with the preventive methods we find 
him to have used against them, to express somewhat of my sense 
of (what I well knew to have been asserted by divers schoolmen) 


God's predeterminative concurrence to the sins of men also. 
For it had heen (any one may see) very idle, and ludicrous tri 
fling, to offer at reconciling those methods with God's prescience 
and have waved that (manifestly) greater difficulty of reconcil 
ing them with his predeterminative concourse, if I had thought 
there had been such a thing-. And were a like case, as if a 
ehirurgeon, undertaking a wounded person, should apply him 
self, with a great deal of diligence and address, to the cure of a 
finger slightly scratched ; and totally neglect a wound (feared 
to be mortal) in his breast. 

And whereas I reckoned God's prescience of all whatsoever 
futurities, and consequently of the sins of men, most certain 
and demonstrable (though it was not the business of this dis 
course to demonstrate it, but, supposing it, to shew its recon- 
cileableness with what it seemed not so well to agree) if I had 
believed his predeterminative concurrence to the sias of men to 
be as certain ; perfect despair of being able to say any thing to 
purpose in this case, had made me resolve to say nothing in ei 
ther. For, to shew how it might stand with the wisdom and 
sincerity of the blessed God, to counsel men not to sin, to pro 
fess his hatred and detestation of it, to remonstrate to men the 
great danger they should incur by it ; with so great appearance 
-of seriousness to exhort, warn, expostulate with them concerning 
it, express his great displeasure and grief for their sinning, and 
consequent miseries ; and yet all the while act them on there 
to,, by a secret, but mighty and irresistible influence, seemed to 
me an utterly hopeless and impossible undertaking. The other, 
without this (supposing, as to this, the case to have been as some 
Iiave thought it) a very vain one. But being well assured, that 
what seemed the greater difficulty, and to carry most of terror 
and affright in the face of it, was only a chimera. I reckoned 
the other very superable, and therefore directed my discourse 
thither, according to the first design of it, which was in effect 
but to justify God's making such a creature as man, and govern 
ing him agreeably to his nature. 

Now judging it requisite, that he who should read that dis 
course concerning this designed subject, with any advantage, 
should have the same thoughts of the other, which was waved, 
that I had : I apprehended it necessary to communicate those 
thoughts concerning that, as I did. Not operously, and as my 
business, but only on the bye, and as was fit in reference to a 
thing that was to be waved, and not insisted on. Now 1 per 
ceive that some persons, who had formerly entertained that 
.- trange opinion of God's predeterminative concurrence to the 
wickedest actions, and not purged their minds of it, have been 
offended with that letter, for not expressing more respect unto 


it. And yet offered nothing, themselves (which to me seems 
exceeding strange) for the solving of that great difficulty and 
incumbrance, which it infers upon our religion. Nor do I much 
wonder, that this opinion of predeterminative concourse, to 
sinful actions, should have some stiff adherents among ourselves. 
For having been entertained by certain dominicans, that were 
apprehended, in some things to approach nearer us, than others 
of the Roman church ; it came to receive favour and counte 
nance from some of our own, of considerable note for piety and 
learning, whose name and authority cannot but be expected to 
have much influence, on the minds of many. But I somewhat 
wonder, that they who have had no kindness for this letter, upon 
the account of its dissent from them, in this particular, should 
not allow it common justice. For because it hath not said every 
thing they would have had it say, and that would have been 
grateful to themselves, they impute to it the having said what it, 
said not, and what they apprehended would be most ungrateful 
to all pious and sober men. The sum is, they give out con 
cerning it, that it denies the providence of God about sin,which 
all good men ought to abhor from ; and insinuate that it falls in, 
with the sentiments of Durandus, which they know many think 
not well of. 

All that I intend to do, for the present, upon this occasion^ 
shall be to shew wherein the letter is mis-represented, and char 
ged with what it hath not in it. To remark what is said against 
that supposed sense of it, and give the true sense of what it says 
touching this matter ; with a further account of the author's 
mind herein than it was thought fit to insert into so tran 
sient and occasional a discourse as that part of the letter was. 
Whereby it may be seen, wherein he agrees with those of that 
opposite persuasion, and what the very point of difference is. 
Further than this, I yet intend not to go, till I see further need. 
There have two discourses come to my view that have referred 
to that letter. The one in manuscript only ; which, because 
it is uncertain to me, whether the reputed author of it will own 
it or no ;, and, because it says little or nothing, by way of ar 
gument, against the true sense of the letter, I shall take no 
further present notice of. The other is printed, and offers at 
somewhat of argument, which therefore I shall more attentive 
ly consider. It doth this letter an honour, whereof its author 
never had the least ambition or expectation, to insert the men 
tion of it into the close of a very learned, elaborate work* ; witli 
which it might, yet, easily be imagined, its simplicity, and re 
moteness from any pretence to learning, would so ill agree, that 

* Court of tbe Gentiles, part C, page $22 


a quarrel could not but ensue* It is from one, who having spent 
a great part of his time in travelling through some regions of 
literature, and been peaceable, as far as I have understood, in 
his travels; it might have been hoped would have let this pamph 
let alone, when, for what I can observe, he finds no fault with 
it but what he makes ; and is fain to accuse it of what is no 
where to be found in it, lest it should be innocent. 

It is an unaccountable pleasure which men of some humours 
take, in depraving what is done by others, when there is no 
thing attempted that doth interfere with them ; nothing that 
can, righteously, be understood to cross any good end, which 
they more openly pretend to, nor the more concealed end (if 
they have any such) of their own glory. Common edification 
seems less designed, when every thing must be thrown down, 
which is not built by their own hands, or by their own line and 
Treasure. I plead nothing of merit in this little essay, only I 
say for it, that I know not what it can be guilty of towards this 
learned man, that can have occasioned this assault upon it by 
his pen. By how much the less it keeps his road, the more I 
might have thought it out of the way of his notice. I am sure 
it meant him no harm, nor had any design to pilfer from him 
any part of his collections. But he says, he may not let it pass. 
Then there is no remedy. But I wonder what he should mean 
by he may not. It must either mean, that he thought it unlaw 
ful to let it pass, or that he had a mighty strong and irresistible 
inclination to squabble a little with it. The former cannot be 
imagined. For then, for the same reason, he would have at 
tempted sundry others of former and latter days, that have said 
much to the purpose, which this letter doth but touch obiter, 
and on the bye, in its way to another design. But those were 
giants, whom it was not so safe to meddle with. Therefore he 
could very wisely let them pass, though they have wounded his 
beloved cause, beyond all that it is in the power of his, (or any) 
art to cure. Whence it is consequent, that the whole business 
must be resolved into the latter. And this inclination cannot 
but owe itself to some peculiar aspect and reference he had to 
the author. Whom, though he was in incognito, unknown, yet 
(as I have been informed) he professes to have discoursed with 
upon the same subject many times. And so, therefore, he 
might once more before this public rencounter, if he had 
thought fit, and nature could have been repelled awhile. 

It is true, he hath found me not facile to entertain his senti* 
ments in this matter. And indeed I have deeply dreaded the 
portentous imaginations which I found had more lightly tinctured 
his^mind, as to this thing, concerning the blessed God. Than 
which, upon deliberation, I do believe, no human wit can ever 


Revise worse. As I have often freely told diveis of my friends, 
and it is very likely, among them, himself. Though I do not 
suspect the contagion to have infected his vitals 5 by a privilege, 
vouchsafe to some, that they may possibly drink some deadly 
thing that shall not hurt them. But why must an impatiency 
of this dissent break out into so vindictive an hostility ? I will 
not say I expected more friendly dealing. For, as I do well 
know it was very possible such a public contest might have been 
managed with that candour and fairness, as not at all to intrench 
upon friendship. So > as it is, I need not own so much weak 
ness, as upon many years experience, not to be able to dis 
tinguish and understand there are some tempers less capable of 
the ingenuities that belong to that pleasant relation. But it was 
only a charitable error of which I repent not, that I expected a 
more righteous dealing. 

He pretends to give my sense, in other words, and then 
gravely falls to combating his own man of straw which he will 
have represent me, and so I am to be tortured in effigy. " It 
can never be proved, that it implies a contradiction, for God to 
make a creature, which should be capable of acting without im 
mediate concourse." This he puts in a different character, as if 
I had said so much. And why might not my own words be al 
lowed to speak my own sense ? But that his understanding and 
eyes, must then have conspired to tell him, that the sense would 
have been quite another ? It is only a predeterminative concur 
rence to all actions, even those that are most malignantly wicked 
(p. 24 8) and again, God's concurring by a determinative influence 
unto wicked actions, (p.,249.) which is the only thing I speak of; 
as what I cannot reconcile with the wisdom and sincerity, of his 
counsels and exhortations, against such actions. And if he had 
designed to serve any common good end, in this undertaking of 
his, why did he not attempt to reconcile them himself? But 
the wisdom and sincerity of God are thought fit, (as it would 
seem) to be sacrificed to the reputation of his more peculiarly 
admired schoolmen. If there be such a universal determina 
tion, by an irresistible divine influence, to all even the wicked 
est actions (which God forbid !) methinks such a difficulty 
should not be so easily past over. And surely the reconciling 
such a determinative influence, with the divine wisdom and 
sincerity, had been a performance worth all his learned labours 
besides, and of greater service to the Christian name and honour. 

But it seems the denying concurrence by such predetermining 
influence, is the denying of all immediate concurrence. And I 
am sent to the Tho'nists, Scotists, Jesuits, and Suarez, more 
especially to be taught otherwise. As if all these were for de 
terminative concourse. Which is very pleasant, when the very 
VOL. ii. 2 P 


heads of the two first-mentioned sects were against it> as vtesnalt 
see further presently, the third generally, and by Suarez particu 
larly, whom he names, have so industriously and strongly op 
posed it. Yea and because I assent not to the doctrine of pre- 
01 etermSiiative concourse, 1 am- represented (which was the last 
spite that was to he done me) as a favourer of the hypotheses of 
J&urandus. And he might as truly, have said of Henry Nicho 
las, but not so prudently, because he knows whose opinions 
have a nearer alliance to that family. Now I heartily wish I 
had a ground for so much chanty towards him, as to suppose 
him ignorant that immediate concourse, and determinative, are 
not wont to be used by the schoolmen, in this controversy, as 
terms of the same signification. If he do Mmself, think them 
to be all one, what warrant is that to him to give the same for 
my sense ? When it is so well known they are not commonly so 
taken, and that determinative concourse is so voluminously 
written against, where immediate is expressly asserted. 
Let him but soberly tell me, what his design was, to dash 
out the word determining from what he recites of that let 
ter, and put in immediate, which he knows is not to be found 
in any of the places he refers to in it. Or what was the spring- 
of that confidence that made him intimate the Scotists, Tho- 
mists, the Jesuits, and particularly Suarez, to be against what 
is said in the letter, In this thing ? If he could procure all the 
books in the world to be burnt, besides those in his own library, 
he would yet have a hard task to make it be believed in the next 
age, that all these were for God's efficacious determination of the 
wills of men unto wicked actions. 

I need not, after all this, concern myself, as to what he says 
about the no medium between the extremes of his disjunctive 
proposition. Either the human will must depend upon the di 
vine independent will of God. &c. (as he phrases it in the ex 
cess of his caution, lest any should think the will of God was 
not a divine will) or God must depend on the human will, &c^ 
Unless he can shew that the human will cannot be sadd to de- 
pend^on the divine, as being enabled by it, except it be also de-^ 
termined and impelled by it, to every wicked action* A cre 
ated being that was entirely from God, with all the powers and 
faculties which belong to it ; that hath its continual subsistence 
in him, and all those powers continued* and maintained by his 
influence every moment ; that hath those powers made habile, 
and apt for whatsoever its most natural motions and operations, 
by a suitable influence, whensoever it moves or operates. Can 
this creature be said not to depend, as to all its motions and 
operations, unless it be also unavoidably impelled to do every 
thing to which it is thus sufficiently enabled ? 


'I again say, was it possible to God to make such a creature 
>t'hat can, in this case, act or not act ? It is here oddly enough 
said, that the author gives no demonstration hereof. Of what? 
Why that it can never be proved (as the reference to the fore 
going wqrd shews) that it implies a contradiction, &c. It seems 
it was expected that author should have proved by demonstra 
tion, tha.tit.ean never be proved, that it implies a contradiction 
for God to m#ke a creature, which should be capable of acting 
(as he feigns -him :to have said) .without immediate concourse. 
$y what rule of reasoning was -he obliged to do so ? But if the 
proving there is such a creature, as in the case before expressed 
:Can act without determinative concourse, will serve turn to 
-prove, that it cannot be proved, it implies a contradiction there 
should be such a one : I may think the thing was done. And 
may .think it sufficiently proved, that there is such a, creature; 
if it appear (whereof there is too much proof) that there are such 
actions done by creatures, as for the reasons that were 'before 
alleged, it cquld nqtstand with the, nature of Gqd to determine 
them unto. And was nothing said tending to prove -this, that 
it could not consist with .the nature of God, to determine mon 
unto all the wicked actions they commit ? It seems unless it 
\vere put into mood and figure, it is no proof. Nor was it the 
design of those papers -to insist .upon that subject ; but there are 
things suggested iu transitu, in passing as such a discourse 
could admit, th^t ;( whether t^ey are demonstrative or no) would 
puzzle a considering person. That God should have as much 
influence, and concurrence to the worst actions, as to the best. 
As much or more than the Dinner or the tempter. That the 
matter of his laws to Adam, and his posterity, should be a na 
tural impossibility. And I now add, the irreconcileableness of 
that determination, with God's wisdom and sincerity, &c. These 
I shall reckon demonstrations, till I see them well answered. 

However if mine were a bad opinion, why was it not as con- 
fu table without the mention of Durandus? But that was, with 
him, an odious name ; and fit, therefore, to impress the brand, 
.which he desired I should wear for his sake. This is a likely way 
-to clear the truth. Yet if it serve not one design, it will ano 
ther, he thinks, upon which he was more intent. Are all for 
Durandus's way that are against a predeterminative influence to 
wicked actions ? I could tell him who have shewn more strength 
in arguing against Durandus, than I find in all his arguments : 
who yet have written, too, against determinative concourse to 
such actions, more than ever he will be able to answer, or any 
man. The truth is, when I wrote that letter, I had never seen 
Durandus. Nor indeed did I consult any book for the writing 
of it, (as I had not opportunity, if I had been so inclined) ex- 


cept, upon some occasions, the Bible. Not apprehending it ne 
cessary, to number votes, and consider how many men's thoughts 
were one way, and of how many the other, before 1 would 
adventure to think any of my own : but I have this day, upon 
the view of his animadversions, taken a view of Durandus too. 
And, really, cannot yet guess, what should tempt him to paral 
lel my conceptions with Durandus's, but that he took his, for 
somewhat an ill-favoured name.* Durandus, flatly, in several 
places denies God's immediate concourse to the actions of the 
creatures. Which I never said nor thought. But do really 
believe his immediate concourse, to all actions of his creatures 
(both immediatione virtutis, and suppositi, that I may more 
comply with his scholastic humour, in the use of such terms, 
than gratify my own) yet not determinative unto wicked ac 

Again, Durandus denies immediate concourse, universally, 
and upon such a ground, as whereupon, the denial must equally 
extend to good actions as to bad ;f namely, that it is impossible 
the same numerical action should be from two or more agents 
mediately and perfectly, except the same numerical virtue 
should be in each. But (he says) the same numerical virtue 
cannot be in God and in the creature, &c. Whereas he well 
knows the concourse or influence (for I here affect not the cu 
riosity to distinguish these two terms, as some do) which I de 
ny not to be immediate to any actions, I only deny to be deter 
minative, as to those that are wicked. Yea and the authors he 
quotes (sect. 1 1 .) Aquinas and Scotus, though every body may 
know they are against what was the notion of Durandus, 
yet are as much against himself, if he will directly oppose 
that letter, and assert determinative concourse, to wicked 
actions. They held immediate concourse, not determina 
tive. The former, though he supposes divine help in re 
ference to the elections of the human will, yet asserts the elec 
tions themselves to be in man's own power, and only says that 
in the executions of those elections men can be hindered. That 
(whatsoever influence he asserts of the first cause) men still, 
habent se indifferenter ad bene vel male eligendum, have 
to choose indifferently good or evil. The other, though he al 
so excludes not the immediate efficiency of God in reference to 
the actions of men, yet is so far from making it determinative, 
that the reason he gives why, in evil actions, man sins, and God 
doth not, is that the one of those causes posset rectitudinem 
dare actui quam tenetur dare : et tamen non dat. Alia au- 
tem, licet non tencatur earn dare: tamen quantum est ex sc 

* L. 2. Dist- 1. Q. 5- D. 34. Q. 1. |Dist. 1. Q- 5. ut. supr- 


daret, si voluntas creata cooperaretur ; it could give the rec 
titude to an act, which it is bound to give and yet does 
not give it. But the other, though it is not bound to give 
it yet as far as it can, would give it if the created luill, would 
co-operate, in the very place which himself refers to. Wherein 
they differ from this author toto coelo entirely ; and from me 
that they make not determinative influence necessary in refe 
rence to good actions, which I expressly do. 

Thus far it may be seen what pretence or colour he had to 
make my opinion the same with Durandus's, or, his own, the 
same with that of Thomas and Scotus. But if he knew in what 
esteem I have the schoolmen, he would hardly believe me likely 
to step one foot out of my way, either to gain the reputation of 
any of their names, or avoid the disreputation. He notwith 
standing, supposed his own reputation to be so good (and I know 
no reason why he might not suppose so) as to make it be be 
lieved I was any thing he pleased to call me, by such as had not 
opportunity to be otherwise informed. And thus I would take 
leave of him, and permit him to use his own reflections upon 
his usage of me, at his own leisure. But that civility bids me 
(since he is pleased to be at the pains of catechising me) first to 
give some answer to the questions wherein he thus expostulates 
with me. 

Question. 1 . Whether there be any action of man on earth 
so good, which hath not some mixture of sin in it ? And if 
God concur to the substrate matter of it as good, must he not 
necessarily concur to the substrate matter as sinful ? For is not 
the substrate matter of the act, both as good and sinful the 
same ? To which I answer, 

1. It seems then, that God doth concur to the matter of an 
action as sinful. Which is honestly acknowledged, since by his 
principles, it cannot be denied; though most, of his way, mince 
the business, and say the concurrence is only to the action which 
is sinful, not as sinful. 

2. This I am to consider as an argument for God's predeter- 
minative concurrence to wicked actions. And thus it must be 
conceived. That if God concur by determinative influence to 
the imperfectly good actions of faith, repentance, love to him 
self, prayer : therefore to the acts of enmity against himself, 
cursing, idolatry, blasphemy, &c. And is it not a mighty con 
sequence ? If to actions that are good quoad substantiam, as 
to the substance therefore to such as are in the substance of 
them evil ? We ourselves can, in a remoter kind, concur to 
the actions of others ; because you may afford, yourself, your 
leading concurrence to actions imperfectly good, therefore may 
you to them that are downright evil ? because to prayer, there 
fore to cursing and swearing ? and then ruin men for the actions 


you induced them to ? You will say God may rather, but SUIT 
he can much less do so than you. How could you be serious in 
the proposal of this question ? 

We are at a loss how it should consist with the divine wisdom, 
justice, goodness, and truth to design the punishing man,yet in- 
nocent 3 with everlasting torments, for actions which God, himself, 
would irresistibly move him to; whereas his making a covenant 
with Adam in reference to himself and his posterity, implied 
there was a possibility it might be kept ; .at least that he would 
not make the keeping of it, by his own positive influence im 
possible. And you say, if he might concur to the substrate 
matter of an action as good, (which tends to man's salvation 
and blessedness) he must necessarily concur (and that by an ir 
resistible determinative influence, else you say nothing to me) 
to the substrate matter of all their evil actions, as evil, which 
tend to their ruin and misery, brought upon them by the actions 
which God makes them do. I suppose St. Luke 6. 9. withHos. 
13. 9. shew a difference. If you therefore ask me, why I should 
not admit this consequence ? I say it needs no other answer, 
than that I take wisdom, righteousness, goodness, and truth, to 
belong more to the idea of God, than their contraries. 

Question 2. Is there any action so sinful that hath not some 
natural good as the substrate matter thereof ? 

Answ. True. And what shall be inferred ? That therefore 
God by a determinative influence produce every such action 
whatsoever reason there be against it ? You might better argue 
thence the necessity of his producing, every hour, a new world; 
in which there would be a great deal more of positive entity, 
and natural goodness. Certainly the natural goodness that is in 
the entity of an action, is no such invitation to the holy God 
by determinative influence to produce it, as that he should offer 
violence to his own nature, and stain the justice and honour of 
his government, by making it be done, and then punish it, 
being done. 

Question 3. Do we not cut off the most illustrious part of divine 
providence in governing the lower world, &c.? 

Answ. What! by denying .that it is the stated way of God's 
government, to urge men, irresistibly, to all that wickedness, 
for which he will afterwards punish them with everlasting tor 
ments ? I should least of all ever have expected such a ques 
tion to this purpose, and am ashamed further to answer it. Only 
name any act of providence, I hereby deny, if you can. In tlje 
next place, that my sense may appear, in my own words; and 
that I may shew how far I am of the same mind with those that 
apprehend me at so vast a distance from them ; and where, if 
go further, our parting point : must be ; I shall set dowa 


the particulars of my agreement with them and do it in no other 
heads than they might have collected, if they had pleased, out 
of that letter, as 

1. That God exerciseth a universal providence about all his 
creatures, both in sustaining and governing them. 

2. That, more particularly, he exerciseth such a providence 
about man. 

3. That this providence about man extends to all the actions 
cf all men. 

4. That it consists not alone in beholding the actions of 
men, as if he were a mere spectator of them only, but is posi 
tively active about them. 

5. That this active providence of God about all the actions of 
men consists not merely in giving them the natural powers, 
whereby they can work of themselves, but in a real influence 
upon those powers. 

6. That this influence is in reference to holy and spiritual ac 
tions (whereto since the apostacy, the nature of man is become 
viciously dis-inclined) necessary to be efficaciously determina 
tive ; such as shall overcome that dis-inclination, and reduce 
those powers into act, 

7. That the ordinary, appointed way for the communication of this 
determinative influence, is by our intervening consideration of the 
inducements which God represents to us in his word, namely, the 
precepts, promises and comminations,which are the moral instru 
ments of his government. No doubt but he may (as is intimated in 
the letter, p. 278.) extraordinarily act men, in some rarer cases, 
by inward impulse, without the help of such external means, 
(as he did prophets or inspired persons) and when he hath done 
so, we were not to think he treated them unagreeably to their 
natures, or so as their natures could not, without violence, ad 
mit. But it hath been the care and designment of the divi-ne 
wisdom, so to order the way of dispensation towards the several 
sorts of creatures, as not only not, ordinarily, to impose upon 
them, what they could not conveniently be patient of, but so 
as that their powers and faculties might be put upon the exer 
cises whereof they were capable, and to provide that neither 
their passive capacity should be overcharged, nor their active 
be unemployed. And whereas the reasonable nature of maiji 
renders him not only susceptible of unexpected internal impres 
sion, but also capable of being governed by laws, which requires 
the use of his own endeavour to understand and obey them 5 
and whereas we also fihcl such laws are actually made for him, 
and propounded to him with their proper enforcements If it 
should be the fixed course of God's government over him, only 
to guide him by inward impulses ; this (as is said, p. 278 ) 

to iiJB 

would render those laws and their sanctions impertinencies, his 
faculties whereby he is capable of moral government so far, and 
to this purpose, useless and vain. And would be an occasion, 
which the depraved nature of men, would be very apt to abuse 
into a temptation to them, never to bend their powers to the 
endeavour of doing any thing that were of a holy and spiritual 
tendency (from which their aversion would be always prompting 
them to devise excuses) more than a mere machine would apply 
itself to the uses which it was made for, and doth not under 

Therefore, lest any should be so unreasonable, as to expect 
God should only surprise them, while they resolvedly sit still 
and sleep ; he hath, in his infinite wisdom,withheld from them 
the occasion hereof; and left them destitute of any encourage 
ment (whatsoever his extraordinary dealings may have been 
with some) to expect his influences, in the neglect of his ordin* 
ary methods, as is discoursed p. 264. and at large in the following 
pages. And which is the plain sense of that admonition, (Phil. 
2. 12. 13.) Yea, and though there be never so many instances 
of merciful surprisals, preventive of all our own consideration 
and care, yet those are still to be accounted the ordinary me 
thods which are so dc jure, which would actually be so, if 
men did their duty, and which God hath obliged us to observe 
and attend unto as such. 

8. That in reference to all other actions which are not sin 
ful, though there be not a sinful disinclination to them, yet be 
cause there may be a sluggishness, and inaptitude to some pur 
poses God intends to serve by them, this influence is also al 
ways determinative thereunto ; whensoever to the immense 
wisdom of God shall seem meet, and conducing to his owa, 
great and holy ends. 

9. That, in reference to sinful actions; by this influence 
God doth not only sustain men who do them, and continue to 
them their natural faculties and powers, whereby they are done, 
but also, as the first mover, so far excite and actuate those 
powers, as that they are apt and habile for any congenerous act 
ion, to which they have a natural designation; and whereto 
they are not sinfully dis-inclined. 

10. That, if men do then employ them to the doing of any 
sinful action ; by that same influence, he doth, as to him seems 
meet, limit, moderate, and, against the inclination and design 
of the sinful agent, over-rule and dispose it to good. But now, 
if, besides all this, they will also assert ; that God doth, by an 
efficacious influence, move and determine men to wicked actions. 
This is that which I most resolvedly deny. That is, in this 1 
shall differ with them, that I do riot suppose God to have, by 


internal influence, as far, a hand, in the worst and wickedest 
actions> as in the best. I assert more to be necessary to actions 
to which men are wickedly disinclined ; but that less will suffice 
for their doing of actions to which they have inclination more 
than enough. I reckon it sufficient to the production of this latter 
sort of actions, that their powers be actually habile, and apt for 
any such action, in the general, as is connatural to them ; sup 
posing there be not a peccant aversion, as there is to all those 
actions that are holy and spiritual; which aversion a more po 
tent (even a determinative) influence is necessary to overcome. 
I explain myself by instance. 

A man hath from God the powers belonging to his nature, 
by which he is capable of loving or hating an apprehended good 
or evil. These powers, being, by a present divine influence, 
rendered habile, and apt for action : he can now love a good 
name, health, ease, life, and hate disgrace, sickness, pain,death. 
But he doth also by these powers, thus habilitated for action, 
love wickedness, and hate God. I say, now, that to those former 
acts God should over and besides determine him, is not abso 
lutely and always necessary ; and, to the latter, is impossible. 
But that, to hate wickedness universally, and as such, and to 
love God, the depravedness of his nature, by the apostacy, hath 
made the determinative influence of efficacious grace necessary. 
Which therefore, he hath indispensable obligation (nor is 
destitute of encouragement) earnestly to implore and pray for. 
My meaning is now plain to such as have a mind to understand 

Having thus given an account wherein I agree with them, 
and wherein, if they please, I must differ. It may perhaps be 
expected I should add further reasons of that difference on my 
part. But I shall for the present forbear to do it. I know it 
may be alleged, that some very pious as well as learned men 
have been of their opinion. And I seriously believe it. But 
that signifies nothing to the goodness of the opinion. Nor 
doth the badness of it extinguish my charity, nor reverence to 
wards the men. For I consider, that as many hold the most 
important truths, and which most directly tend to impress the 
image of God upon their souls, that yet are never stamped with 
any such impression thereby ; so, it is not impossible some may 
have held very dangerous opinions, with a notional judgment, 
the pernicious influence whereof hath never distilled upon their 
hearts. Neither shall I be willing without necessity to detect 
other men's infirmities. Yet if I find myself any way obliged 
further to intermeddle in this matter, I reckon the time I have 
to spend in this world, can never be spent to better purpose, 
than in discovering the fearful consequences of that rejected 
opinion, the vanity of the subterfuges whereby its assertors think 
VOL. ii. 2o 


to hide the malignity of it ; and the inefficacy of the arguments 
brought for it. Especially those two which the letter takes 
notice of. For as so ill-coloured an opinion ought never to be 
admitted without the most apparent necessity, so do I think it 
most apparent there is no necessity it should be admitted upon 
those grounds or any other. And doubt not but that both the 
governing providence of God in reference to all events whatso 
ever ; and his most certain foreknowledge of them all, may be 
defended, against all opposers, without it. But I had rather 
my preparations to these purposes, should be buried in dust and 
silence ; than I should ever see the occasion which should carry 
the signification with it of their being at all needful. And I 
shall take it for a just and most deplorable occasion, if I shall 
find any to assert against me the contradictory to this proposi 
tion, That God doth not by an efficacious influence, univer 
sally move and determine men to all their actions ; even those 
that are most wicked. Which is the only true, and plain mean 
ing of what was said, about this business, in the before-men 
tioned letter. 



Jar t!;e 









TTT was, madam, the character an ancient worthy in the Christian 
church gave of a noble person of your sex, that, in reference to 
the matters of religion she was not only a learner, but a judge. And 
accordingly, he incribes to her divers of his writings (even such as 
did require a very accurate judgment in the reading of them ;) which 
remain, unto this day, dispersedly, in several parts of his works, dig 
nified with her (often prefixed) name. A greater indeed than he 
mentions it as an ill character, to be not a doer of the law, but a 
judge. It makes a great difference in the exercise of the same facul 
ty, and in doing the same thing, with what mind and design it is done. 
There is a judging, that we may learn, and a judging, that we may 
not. A judgment subservient to our duty, and a judgment opposite 
to it. Without a degree of the former no one can ever be a serious 
Christian : by means of the latter, many never are. The world 
through wisdom knew not God. A cavilling litigious wit, in the 
confidence whereof any set themselves above their rule, and make it 
their business only to censure it, as if they would rather find faults 
in it, than themselves, is as inconsistent with sincere piety, as a hum 
bly judicious discerning mind is necessary to it. This proceeds from 
a due savour, and relish of divine things, peculiar to them, in whom 
a heavenly spirit and principle have the possession, and a governing 
power. They that are after the Spirit, do savour the things of the 
Spirit. The other from the prepossession q,nd prejudice of a disaf 
fected carnal mind. They that are after the flesh, do only savour^ 
the things of the flesh. 

The ability God hath endowed your ladyship with to judge of the 
truth that is after godliness, is that you are better pleased to use, 
than hear of. I shall therefore be silent herein, and rather displease 


many of them that know you, who will be apt to think a copious 
subject is neglected, than say anything that may offend either against 
your ladyship's inclination or my own. Here is nothing abstruse 
and difficult for you to exercise a profound judgment upon : nor 
anything curious to gratify a pleasant wit. But plain things, suit 
able to you, upon accounts common to the generality of Christians, 
not that are peculiar to yourself. It is easy to a well-tempered mind, 
(of how high intellectual excellencies soever) to descend to the same 
level with the rest; when for them to reach up to the others pitch, 
is not so much as possible. Our heavenly Father keeps not fas to 
the substantiate of our nutriment distinct tables for his children, but 
all must eat the same spiritual meat, and drink the same spiritual 
drink. He hath not one gospel for great wits, and another for plain 
er people : but as all that are born of him must meet at length in 
one end, so they must all walk by the same rule, and in the same 
way, thither. And when I had first mentioned this text of scripture 
in your hearing, the savour you expressed to me of the subject, easi 
ly induced me, when, afterwards, I' reckoned a discourse upon it 
might be of common use, to address that also (such as it is) in this 
way, to your ladyship. Accounting the mention of your name 
might draw the eyes of some to it, that have no reason to regard the 
authors, and that by this means, if it be capable of proving benefi 
cial to any, the benefit might be diffused so much the further. 

The aptness of the materials and subject, here discoursed of, to 
do good generally, I cannot doubt. Neither our present duty nor 
peace ; nor our future safety or felicity can be provided for as they 
ought, till our minds be more abstracted from time, and taken up 
about the unseen, eternal world. While our thoughts are too ear 
nestly engaged about the events of future time, they are vain, bitter, 
impure, and diverted from our nobler, and most necessary pursuits. 
They follow much the temper and bent of our spirits, which are of 
ten too intent upon what is uncertain, and perhaps, impossible. All 
good and holy persons cannot live in good times. For who should 
bear up the name of God in bad, and transmit-it to succeeding times? 
especially when good men are not of the same mind, it is impossi 
ble. And more especially ,when they have not learned, as yet, to bear 
one another's differences. The same time, and state of things which 
please some, must displease others. For some, that will think them 
selves much injured if they be not thought very pious persons, will 
be pleased with nothing less, than the destruction of them that differ 
from them. So that while this is designed and attempted only ; ge 
nerally, neither sort is pleased, The one because it is not done, The 
other because it is in doing. 

It must be a marvellous alteration of men's minds that must make 
the times please us all ; while, upon supposition of their remaining 
unaltered, there is nothing will please one sort, but to see the other 
pagans or beggars, who in the mean time are not enough mortified ei 
ther to their religion, or the necessary accommodations of human 
life, as to be well pleased with either. 
To trust God cheerfully with the government of this woj/c/, ace? 


to live in the joyful hope and expectation of a better, are the only 
means to relieve and ease us; and give us a vacancy for the proper work 
and business of our present time. This is the design of the following 
discourses. The former whereof is directed against the careful 
thoughts, which are apt to arise in our minds concerning the events 
of future time, upon a fear what they may be. The other, which 
by way of appendix is added to the former, tends to repress the im 
moderate desire of knowing what they shall be. Which latter I 
thought, in respect of its affinity to the other, fit to be added to it ; 
and in respect of the commonness, and ill tendency of this distemper 
very necessary. And indeed both the extremes in this matter are 
very unchristian, and pernicious. A stupid neglect of the Christian 
interest, and of God's providence about it on the one hand ; and an 
enthusiastic phrenzy carrying men to expect they well know not 
what ? Or why ? on the other. 

Our great care should be to serve that interest faithfully in our 
own stations, for our little time, that will soon be over. Your 
ladyship hath been called to serve it in a family wherein it hatht 
long nourished. And which it hath dignified, beyond all the splen 
dour that antiquity and secular greatness could confer upon it. The 
Lord grant it may long continue to flourish there, under the joint- 
influence of your noble consort, and your own; and, afterwards, 
in a posterity, that may imitate their ancestors in substantial piety, 
and solid goodness. Which is a glory that will not fade, nor vary; 
nor change with times, but equally recommend itself, to sober and 
good men in all times. Whereas that which arises from the esteem 
of a party can neither be diffusive, nor lasting. It is true that I 
cannot but reckon it a part of any one's piaise in a time wherein 
here are different sentiments and ways, in circumstantial matters re 
lating to religion, to incline most to that which I take to come 
nearest the truth and our common rule. But, as was said by one 
that was a great and early light in the Christian church ; "That is 
not philosophy, which is professed by this or that sect, but that 
which is true in all sects." So nor do I take that to be religion, 
which is peculiar to this or that party of Christians (many of whom 
are too apt to say here is Christ, and there is Christ, as if he were 
divided) but that which is according to the mind of God among 
them all. And I must profess to have that honour for your Lady 
ship, which I sincerely bear, and most justly owe unto you, chief 
ly upon the account not of the things wherein you differ from many 
other serious Christians (though therein you agree also with myself) 
as for those things wherein you agree with them all. Under which 
notion (and under the sensible obligation of your many singular fa 
vours) I am 


Your Ladyship's very humble 

And devoted servant in the Gospel, 






Matthew, 6. 34. 

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow 

.shall take thought for the things of itself : sufficient 

for the day is the evil thereof. 

'J'HE negative precept, or the prohibition, in the first words 
of this verse, I shall take for the principal ground of the 
intended discourse. But shall make use of the following words, 
for the same purpose for which they are here subjoined by our 
Lord, namely, the enforcement of it, 

1. For our better understanding the import of the precept, 
two things in it require explication. How we are to understand 
the morrow ; and what is meant by the thoughtfulness we are 
to abstain from in reference thereto. 

FIRST. By the morrow must be meant : some measure of time 
or other : and such occurrences, as it may be supposed shall 
fall within the compass of that time. We are therefore to con 

First. What portion or measure of time may be here signi 
fied by to-morroiv, for some time it must signify, in the first 
place, as fundamental to the further meaning. Nor abstractly, 
or for itself, but as it is the continent of such or such things as 
may fall within that time. And so that measure of time may, 

1. Admit, no doubt, to be taken strictly for the very next 
day, according to the literal import of the word to-morrow* 

2. It is also to be taken in a much larger sense, for the whole 
of our remaining time, all our futurity in this world. IndeedL 
the whole time of our life on earth is spoken of in the 

VOL. u, !2 R 


tures, but as a day. Let him alone that he may accomplish 
as a hireling his day. (Job. 14. 6.) We are a sort of ^e^ioi 

short-lived creatures, we live but a day, take the whole of our 
time together. Much less strange is it that the little residue, 
the future time that is before us, which we do not know how 
little it may be, should be spoken of but as a day. Experience 
hath taught even sensual epicures so to account their remaining 
time : " Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die." 
that is very shortly. They were right in their computation, but 
very wrong in their inference. It should have been, let us 
watch and pray to-day, we are to die to-morrow, let us labour 
for eternity because time is so short. But say they, "Let us 
eat and drink to-day, for to-morrow we shall die." A day to 
cat and drink was, it seems, a great gain. And if the phrase 
were not so used, to signify all the residue of our future time, 
yet by consequence it must be so understood. For if we take 
to-morrow in the strictest sense for the very next day; they that 
are not permitted, with solicitude, to look forward so far 
as the very next day ; much less may they to a remoter and 
more distant time. Yea and we may in some sense ex 
tend it not only to all our future time, but simply to all fu 
ture time as that measures the concernments and affairs, 
not of this world only, but, which is more considerable, even 
of that lesser select community, the kingdom of God in it, 
mentioned in the foregoing verse. Which kingdom, beside 
its future eternal state, lies also spread and stretched through 
out all time unto the end of the world. And as to its present 
and temporal state, or as it falls under the measure of time, it 
is not unsupposable that it may be within the compass of our 
Saviour's design, to forbid unto his disciples (who were not only 
to pursue the blessedness of that kingdom in the other world, 
but to intend the service of it in this) an intemperate and vex 
atious solicitude about the success of their endeavours, for the 
promoting its present interest. * That is, after he had more di 
rectly forbidden their undue carefulness about their own little 
concernments, what they should eat, drink or put on ; and 
directed them rather and more principally to seek the kingdom 
of God and his righteousness, with an assurance that those other 
things should be added to them. It seems not improbable he 
might in conclusion, give this general direction, as with a more 
especial reference to the private concernments of human life, 
about which common frailty might make them more apt to be 
unduly thoughtful : so with some oblique and secondary re 
ference to the aitairs of that kingdom too, which they were here 
to serve as well as hereafter to partake and enjoy. And about 
fhe success of which service (being once engaged in it, and the 


difficulties they were to encounter, appearing- great and dis 
couraging to so inconsiderable persons as they must reckon 
themselves) they might he somewhat over solicitous also. 

Nor though they might not as yet understand their own work, 
nor (consequently) have the prospect of its difficulties as yet in 
view, are we to think our Saviour intended to limit the useful 
ness of the instructions he now gave them, to the present time,, 
but meant them to he of future use to them as occasions should 
afterwards occur. As we also find that they did recollect some 
other sayings of his, and understand better the meaning of them, 
when particular occasions brought them to mind, and discovered 
how apposite and applicable they then were. Luke 24. 8. 
John 2. 22. So that we may fitly understand this prohibition 
to intend, universally, a repressing of that too great aptitude 
and proneness in the minds of men, unto undue excursions into 
futurity, their intemperate and extravagant rangings and roam- 
ings into that unknoivn country, that terra incognita^ in 
which we can but bewilder and lose ourselves to no purpose. 

Secondly. And more principally, by to-morrow we are to 
understand the things that may fall within that compass of fu 
ture time. For time can only be the object of our care, in that 
relative sense, as it refers unto such and such occurrences and 
emergencies that may fall into it. And so our Saviour explains 
himself in the very next words, that by to-morrow he means the 
things of to-morrow. To-morrow shall take care for the things 
of itself. And yet here we must carefully distinguish, as to 
those things of to-morrow, matters of event and of duty. We 
are not to think these the equally prohibited objects of our 
thoughts and care. Duty belongs to us, it falls within our pro 
vince, and there are (no doubt) thoughts to be employed, howl 
may continue on in a course of duty, unto which I am, by all 
the most sacred obligations tied for a stated course, that may 
lie before me, let it be never so long, and be there never so ma 
ny to-morrows in it. There ought to be thoughts used, of this 
sort, concerning the duties of the morrow, and of all my future 
time. If it please God to give me such additional time I will 
love him to-morrow, I will serve him to-morrow, I will trust 
him to-morrow,! will walk with him to-morrow. I will, through 
the grace of God, live in his fear, service and communion, even 
as long as I have a day to live. Upon such terms doth every sin 
cere Christian bind himself to God, even for always, as God binds 
himself to them on the same terms. This God shall be our 
God for ever and ever, he shall be our guide even unto death. 
Psalm 48. 14. The case can never alter with us in this regard, 
but as the worthiest object of all our thoughts is yesterday, and 


today the same, and for ever, so should the course of our 
thoughts be too, in reference to that blessed object. Every day 
will I bless thee, and praise thy name for ever and ever. Psalm 
145. 2. I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live ; I will 
sing praise to my God while I have my being. Psal. 104. 33. 
The thoughts of our hearts should be much exercised this way, 
how it may be thus with us, in all future time ; that to-morrow, 
in this respect may be as this day, and much more abundant, as 
is spoken on a much another account, (Isai. 56. 12.) To-mor 
row shall be as this day, God assisting, and much more abundant 
as to my love to him, serving of him, conversing with him, 
doing and designing for him, which are to run through all my 

But now for the events of to-morrow, they are things quite of 
another consideration. They do not belong to us, they are not 
of the roc, <?>' vjpirv, none of the things within our compass. To 
employ ourselves with excessive intention of thoughts and cares 
concerning them, is to meddle without our sphere, beyond what 
we have any warrant for, farther than as it is in some cases sup- 
posable there may be some connexion, and dependance, be 
tween such and such events, and my own either sin, or duty. 
Now events that may occur to us to-morrow, or in our future 
time, you know are distinguishable into good or bad, grateful 
and ungrateful, pleasing to us or displeasing. Good or grateful 
events, you easily apprehend, are not here intended. We do 
not use to perplex ourselves about good things, otherwise than 
as they may be wanting, and as we may be deprived of them, 
which privation or want is an evil. And under that notion 
our Saviour considers the object of the prohibited thoughtful- 
ness, as his after words shew. Sufficient for the day is the evil 
of it. And therefore gives caution not equally against all fore 
thoughts, about the events of future time ; of which some may 
be both rational, and pleasant. But against forebodings, and 
presages of evil and direful things. As lest such thoughts 
should slide into our minds, or impose and obtrude themselves 
upon us. Alas ! what shall I do to live to-morrow ? I am 
afraid I shall want bread for to-morrow, or for my future time. " 
This our Saviour says is paganish, after these things do the 
Gentiles seek, that (as is intimated) have no father to take care 
of them. Your heavenly Father knows you have need of these 
things, (v. 32.) And directs his disciples to a nobler object 
of their thoughts and care, (v. 33.) Seek you first the kingdom 
of God : wherein, as their future reward, so their present work 
and business was to lie. And then adds, Take no thought for 
to-morrow, as if he had said ; it would be indeed an ill thing 
if you should want bread to-morrow, and it would be worse if 


the affairs of God's kingdom should miscarry, or you be 
excluded it. But mind you your own present work, and be not 
unduly concerned about these surmised bad events, God will 
provide. This is then, in short, the object of this prohibited 
thoughtfulness future time including whatsoever ungrateful 
events, we suppose, and pre-apprehend in it. 

SECONDLY. We are to inquire about the thoughtfulness pro 
hibited in reference hereto. It cannot be that all use of thoughts 
about future events, even such, as, when they occur, may prove 
afflictive, is intended to be forbidden. Which indeed -may be 
collected from the import of the word in the text that signifies 
another, peculiar sort of thinking, as we shall hereafter have 
more occasion to take notice. We were made and are naturally, 
thinking creatures ; yea and forethinking, or capable of prosm'- 
ciency and foresight. It is that by which in part man is dis 
tinguished from beast.* Without disputing as some do how 
far nature, in this, or that man, doth contribute to divination 
and prophecy ; we may say of man indefinitely, he is a sort 
of divining creature, and of human nature in common, that it 
much excels the brutal, in this, that, whereas sense is limited 
to the present; reason hath dignified our nature by adding to 
it a sagacity, and enabling us to use prospection in reference to 
what yet lies more remotely before us. And though we are too 
apt to a faulty excess herein, and to be over-presaging (which it 
is the design of this discourse to shew) yet we are not to think 
that all use of any natural faculty can be a fault ; for that would 
be to charge a fault on the Author of nature, The faculties 
will be active. To plant them therefore in our natures, and 
forbid their use, were not consistent with the wisdom, righte 
ousness, and goodness by which they are implanted. It must 
therefore be our business to shew what thoughtfulness is not : 
and then, what is within the compass of this prohibition. 

First. What is riot. There is, in the general, & prudent, 
and there is a Christian use of forethought, about matters of 
that nature already specified; which we cannot understand it 
was our Saviour's meaning to forbid. 

A prudent thoughtfulness which imports reference to an end. 
Our actions are so far said to be governed by prudence, and to pro 
ceed from it as they do designedly and aptly serve a valuable end. 

I. The foresight of evils probable, yea even possible, to be* 
fall us, is useful, upon a prudential account, to several very 
considerable ends, and purposes ; either to put us upon doing 
the more good in the mean time, or upon the endeavour (within 
moderate bounds, and as more may be needful) of possessing 

* Maimond. Mor. Nev. D. Mer. Casaubon. Enthuf, 


more, or that we may avert or avoid imminent evils ; or that 
what cannot be avoided, we may be the better able to bear. 

(1.) That we may be incited hereupon to do all the good we 
can in the world, in the mean time, before such evils overtake 
and prevent s. For prudence itself will teach a man to account 
(and hath taught even heathens) that he doth not live in this 
world, merely, that he may live ; that he is not to live wholly 
to himself; his friends claim a part in him, his neighbours a 
part, his country a part ; the world a part. He lives not at 
the rate of a prudent man - that thinks of living only to indulge 
and gratify himself, and consult his own ease and pleasure, and 
upon this consideration, his prudence should instruct him to do 
all the present good he can, because there are evils in view that 
may narrow his capacity, and snatch from him the opportunity 
of doing much. The evil day (as it is more eminently called) 
is not far off. He should therefore bethink himself of doing 
good to his friend (as the son of Syrach speaks) before he die. 
And there are other evils that may anticipate that day : unto 
which the preacher hath reference, (Eccle. 11. 2.) when he 
directs, to give a portion to seven and also to eight, because we 
know not what evil shall be upon the earth. We cannot tell 
how soon we may have neither power nor time left to do it 

(2.) And that we may be provided (as far as it lies within 
the compass of regular endeavour) of such needful good things, 
as are requisite for our support in this our pilgrimage ; and es 
pecially, upon occasion of a foreseen calamity approaching. 
This, as prudence doth require, so we cannot suppose our Saviour 
doth by a constant rule forbid, who sometime enjoined his dis 
ciples to carry a scrip with them, though at another time (that 
they might, once for all, be convinced of the sufficient care of 
providence, when or howsoever they should be precluded from 
using their own) he did, extraordinarily, forbid it. And it is 
evident that, in common cases, it is more especially incumbent 
on the master of a family to make provision for his household, 
for the future ; to provide in the more convenient season of the 
year, as in summer, for the following winter. A document 
which the slothful are sent to learn from a very despicable in 
structor. Go to the ant thou sluggard. Prov. 6. 6. &c. And 

(3.) That the approaching evil may, if avoidable, be de 
clined, the prudent man foresees the evil and hides himself, 
when the simple pass on and are punished, Prov. 22. 3. And, 
perhaps, for this their simplicity ; that they regardlessly go on 
with a stupid negligence of all warnings, till the stroke and 
storm fall. Which, whereas there may be one event to the 


wise man and the fool, (as Eccle. 2. 14.) will prove to the one a 
mere affliction, to the other (upon this as well as other accounts) 
a proper and most deserved punishment. Because (as is there 
said) the wise man's eyes are in his head, prompt and ready for 
their present use, the fool walks in darkness, which must be 
understood of a voluntary self-created darkness, as if he had 
plucked out his own eyes. Which is the wickedness of folly, 
as the same Ecclesiastes's phrase is, eh. *J. v. 25. 

(4.) That what cannot be avoided may be the more easily 
borne. Every man counts it desirable, not to be surprized by 
evils that are unavoidable and no way to be averted. Prudence 
will, in such a case, use forethoughts to better purpose, than 
only to anticipate and multiply an affliction, or consequently, 
to increase its weight ; but much to alleviate and lessen it. By 
learning to bear it; gradually, and by gentle essays to acquaint 
the shoulder with the burden. To inure and compose the mind 
and reconcile it to the several circumstances (so far as they are 
foreseen) of that less-pleasing state we are next to pass into. Which 
advantage might be one reason why Solomon in the above men 
tioned place (though according to the genius of that reasoning 
book he variously discourses things on the one hand and the 
other) prefers wisdom to folly as much as light to darkness, 
(Eccles. 2. 13.) though one event may happen to both. It is an 
uncomfortable thing to walk in darkness ; and (supposing there 
be that wisdom that can make due use of a prospect) not to see 
an evil till we meet, and feel it. Unexpected evils carry, as 
such, a more peculiar sting and pungency with them. When 
any shall say peace, peace, till sudden destruction comes upon 
them as travail on a woman with child, 1. Thes. 5. 3. Nor can 
we reasonably think it was any part of our Saviour's intendment, 
to advise his disciples unto such a self-revenging security who 
so often enjoins them watchfulness, because of what should 
come to pass. Or that he should counsel them to the same 
thing, for which he blames and upbraids the pharisees and sad- 
ducees, their riot discerning the signs of the times. Upon all 
these prudential accounts there is a use of forethoughts about 
future approaching evils. 

2. And there is a further use to be made of them upon an 
account more purely Christian. I would tempt none, under 
pretence of distinguishing these, heads, to think they should op 
pose them. Christianity must be understood in reference to 
common prudence to be cumulative not privative. It adds to it 
therefore : opposes it not, but supposes it rather. And indeed 
it adds that, upon the account whereof we are far the more lia 
ble to afflicting evils, and so are the more concerned to use fore 
thoughts about them. For, whereas there are much rarer in- . 


stances of suffering merely for the duties of natural religion, % 
which the Common reason of man acknowledges equal and un 
exceptionable, we are plainly told that all that will live godly 
in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution, (2.Tim.3.1 2.) though 
not in all times alike. Here therefore it is necessary we have 
serious forethoughts, of the evils which seem likely to befall us, 
for the Christian interest, upon several accounts. 

(1.) That we may espouse it sincerely. And enter ourselves 
the disciples of Christ with a true heart. Which we are not 
likely to do if we understand not his terms, and do not consider 
the state of the case. What is done without judgment, or upon 
mistake, is not like to be done in truth. If we fall in with Christ 
and Christianity upon supposition of only halcyon days, in our 
time, and that we shall never be called to suffer for him ; we 
shall most probably, deceive ourselves ; and prove false to him. 
It will appear our bargain was void in the making, as to any tie 
we can have upon him. We are to reckon, when we take on 
the yoke of Christ, of bearing, also, his cross ; and be in a pre 
paration of mind to lose and suffer all things for him. And to 
use forethoughts of this kind is what he enjoins us, (Luke 14. 
2S.) under the expression of counting the cost, what it may a- 
mount unto to be a resolved sincere Christian. And he tells 
us withal, what the cost is to forsake all, (v. 83.) to abandon 
father, mother, wife, children, brethren, sisters, and one's own 
life, v. 2G. And all this (as is often inculcated) as that with 
out which a man cannot be his disciple, that is, not become 
one, as there the phrase must signify ! So that though he have 
come to him, that is, have begun to treat (if a man come to me) 
and do not so, in his previous resolution, nothing is concluded 
between Christ and him. 

(2.) That, upon this constant prospect of the state of our case 
we may endeavour our own confirmation, from time to time, in 
our fidelity to him. For new, and unforethought occasions, 
that we have not comprehended in their particulars, or in equiva 
lence, may beget new impressions, and dispositions to revolt. 
Besides all that had come upon those faithful confessors, (ps.44) 
that they were sore broken in the place of dragons, and covered 
with the shadow of death, (v 19.) notwithstanding which they 
appeal to God, that their heart was not turned back, and that 
their steps had not declined from his way : and offer themselves 
to his search, whether they had forgotten him, or stretched out 
their hands to a strange God. They add, yea for thy sake we 
are killed all the day long. They reckon npon nothing but 
suffering, and that to utmost extremity, all the rest of their day r 
and yet are still of the same mind. Patience must be laid in, 
that may be drawn forth unto long-suffering. And we are to 


endure to the end, that we may be saved. And therefore suf 
fering to the last, is to be forethought of, through the whole 
course of which state of suffering we must resolve, through the 
grace of Christ, never to desert his interest. Otherwise we are 
so deceived, as he that goes to build a tower, without counting 
what his expence will be, before-hand ; or he that is to meet an 
enemy in the field, without making a computation of the equa 
lity or inequality of the forces on the one side and the other ; 
as our Saviour further discourses in the above-mentioned con 

(3.) That we may cast with ourselves how, not only not to 
desert the Christian interest, but most advantageously to serve 
it. Suppositions ought to be made of whatsoever difficulties 
seem not unlikely to be in our case, that we may bethink our 
selves how we may be of most use to the interest of our great 
Master and Lord, upon such, and such emergencies. For such 
a supposition he himself suggests Mat. 10. 23. If they perse 
cute you in this city, flee ye into another. And it is likely he 
gives this direction not with respect merely to their being safe, 
but serviceable, as the following words seem to intimate, for ve 
rily I say unto you, ye shall not have gone over the cities of Is 
rael, till the son of man be come. As though he had said, "You 
will have work to do whither ever you come, and will scarce 
have done all within that allotment of time you will have for it, 
before the vengeance determined upon this people prevent you 
of further opportunity among them :" as Teitullian discourses 
at large, and not irrationally, upon this subject and Augustine 
to the like purpose.* 

(4.) That we may be the more excited to pray for the pre 
servation and prosperity of the Christian interest. Those we 
should always reckon the worst days, that are of worst abode un 
to it, though we expect our own share in the calamities of such 
days. When his interest declines, and there are phenomena in, 
providence, appearances and aspects very threatning to it, there 
ought to be the more earnest and importunate praying. And 
^hat there may be so, our eye should look forward, and be di 
rected towards the events as from whence we are to take 
arguments and motives to prayer. And we should reckon there 
fore they are presignified that we may be excited. And a duti- 

Expos, in Evang. Johan. c. 10. If they persecute you in one 
city, fly, &c. Yet Lord, thou sayst, the hireling fleeth, who is this 
hireling ? He that flies seeking his own things, not the things of Jesus 
Christ. Thou hast fled (though present) because thou wast silent, 
wast silent, because thou wast afraid, fear is the flight of the mind 

VOL. II. 2S 


ful love to his great name be awakened in us. What shall be 
done to thy great name ? What shall become of thy kingdom, 
among men? Nor can we ever pray "thy kingdom come" without 
a prospect to futurity. Yea and all prayer hath reference to 
somewhat yet future. If therefore all forethoughts about the 
concernments of future time were simply few-bidden, there were 
no place left for prayer at all. Hitherto then we see how far 
taking thought about the future is not forbidden. 

Secondly. We are next therefore to shew wherein it is. And 
it appears from what hath been said, it is not evil in itself, for 
then it must be universally so, and no circumstance could makq 
it good or allowable in any kind. Therefore it must be evil 
only either by participation or by redundancy. And so it may 
be, either as, proceeding from evil, or, as tending to evil : 
that is in respect either of the evil causes from which it conies, 
or of the ill effects to which it tends. Under these two heads 
we shall comprehend what is to be said for opening the sense 
wherein it may be understood to fall under the present prohi 

1. All such thoughtfulness must be understood to be evil and 
forbidden as hath an ill root and original. As, before, our Sa 
viour, in this sermon of his, forbids somewhat else under this 
notion because it cometh of evil. What cloth so, partakes from 
thence an ill savour. Those are evil thoughts that participate 
and as it were, taste of an evil cause which may be manifold* 

(1.) It may proceed from a groundless and too confident pre 
sumption that we shall live to-morrow, and that ouYto-morrour 
shall be a long day, or that we have much time before us in the 
world ; which as it really is a great uncertainty, ought always to 
be so esteemed, Men presume first, and take somewhat for 
granted which they ought not, and make that their hypothesis, 
upon which they lay a frame of iniquity of this kind, and make 
it the ground of much forbidden thoughtfulness and care. They 
forget in whose hands their breath is, assume to themselves the 
measuring of their own time, as if they were lords of it, take it 
for granted, they shall live so long ; and accordingly form their 
projects, lay designs, and then grow very solicitous how they 
will succeed and take effect. By breaking another former law, 
they lead themselves into the transgression of this, that is, first 
boast of to-morrow against the prohibition, (Prov. 2/ . '1 ) and 
then proceed unduly to take thought for to-morrow. The case 
which we find falls under animadversion, Jam. 4. 19, c. To 
morrow we will go to such a city, and buy and sell, and get gain; 
when as (saith that apostle) you do not know what shall be on 
the morrow $ for what is your life, is it not a vapour ? 


Would we learn to die daily, and consider that, for ought 
we know, to-morrow in the strictest sense, may prove the day 
of our death, and that then, in that very day must our thoughts 
perish, we should think less intensely on the less fruitful sub 
jects. Our thoughts would take a higher flight, not flutter in 
the dust, and fill our souls with gravel, as is our wont ; and less 
no doubt offend against the true meaning of this interdict of our 
Saviour in the text. 

(2.) There may be an undue forbidden thoughtfulness about 
to-morrow, proceeding from a too curious inquisitiveness, and 
affectation of prying into futurity. Men have nothing here but 
gloom, and cloudy darkness before them. Fain they would 
with their weak and feeble beam pierce the cloud, and cannot; 
it is retorted and doth not enter. They think to re-enforce it by 
.a throng, and thick succession of thoughts, but do only think 
themselves into the more confusion ; cannot see what is next 
before them. What new scene shall first open upon them, 
they cannot tell. And (as is natural to them that converse in 
dubious darkness) their thoughts turn all to fear. And they 
therefore think the more, and as their thoughts multiply, in 
crease their fear. Whereas they should retire, and abstain from 
conversing in so disconsolate a region, among shades and 
spectres, which are their own creatures, perhaps, for the most 
part; and wherewith they first cheat, and then fright them 
selves. They should choose rather to converse in the light, of 
former, and present things, which they know; and of such 
greater and more considerable futurities as God hath thought 
fit plainly to reveaL And be contented there should be arcana, 
and that such future things remain so, as God hath reserved 
and locked up from us. It is not for you to know the times 
and seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power, saith 
our Saviour (departing) unto his disciples, (Act. 1. 7-) when 
he was now going up into glory. Fain they would have known 
how it should speed afterwards with them, and his interest. 
Wilt thou now (say they) restore the kingdom to Israel ? - It is 
not for you (says he) to know, -&c. If God should any way 
give us light into futurity it is to be accepted, if we are sure it 
is from him ; and be regarded according to what proofs there 
are that it is so. As, sometimes, he doth premonish of very 
considerable events, that are coming on ; and, according to 
what of evidence there is in any such monition, ought the im 
pressions to be upon our spiiits. But when out of our own 
fancies we will supply the want of such a discovery, and curiously 
busy (much more if we hereupon torment) ourselves to no pur 
pose -, this we cannot doubt is forbidden us. But we shall say 


more of it hereafter apart by itself. And with this we may most 
fitly connect, 

(3.) That such thoughtfulness about the future is to be con 
cluded undue and forbidden, as proceeds from a too conceited 
self indulgent opinion of our own wisdom, and ability to foresee 
what shall happen. For from our very earnest desire to fore 
know, may easily arise a belief that we do, or can do so. As 
a dream cometh from multitude of business, the over-busy 
agitation, and exercise of our minds about what shall be, makes 
us dream, and in our dream we seem to ourselves to see visions ; 
and have before us very accurate schemes and prospects of 
things. How inventive are men and ingenious in contriving 
their frames and models either direful and dismal, or pleasant 
and entertaining, as the disposition of their minds is, compared 
with the present aspect of affairs, which variously impresses 
them this way or that ! If they be terrible and dismal, but 
raised only upon a conceited opinion of our own great skill and 
faculty in foreseeing, they have their afflicting evil in themselves 
our own creature (of itself ravenous) tears and torments us. 
If they be pleasant and delectable, yet they may become afflict 
ing by accident. For some one unthought of thing, falling out 
contrary to our expectation, may overturn our whole model and 
fabric, as a touch doth a house of cards, and then we play the 
child's part in deploring, as we did in erecting it : fret and 
despair that things can ever be brought to so good a posture 
again. But whether they be the one or the other, their sinful 
evil (which we are now considering) they owe to one and the 
same culpable cause, that we are so overwise, and take upon us 
with such confidence to conclude of what shall be : as if our 
wisdom were the measure of things, or could give laws to pro* 
vidence from which it can never vary. It is not in itself a fault 
to be afraid of what is formidable, or pleased with what is 
pleasant (except it be with excess.) But it is our fault to be 
either frighted with shadows, or to surfeit ourselves with a tem 
porary short pleasure drawn out from them that may, afterward, 
revenge itself upon us with the sharper torture. When as all 
their power to hurt us they receive from ourselves. And have 
no mare of reality or existence, than a strong imagination, and 
confidence of our own undeceivable wit, and sagacity gives 
them, Who in all the world have minds so vexed with sudden 
passions of fear and hope, joy and sorrow, anger and despair, 
as your smattering pedants in policy, such as set up for dons ; 
and who fancy themselves men of great reach, able to foretel 
remote changes, and see things whose distance makes them 
invisible to all but themselves ? that hold a continual council- 

ri- ^i^' ** 


table .in their own divining heads, think themselves to compre 
hend all reasons of state. Are as busy as princes and emperors, 
or their greatest ministers ; mightily taken up in all affairs, but 
those of their own private stations. And thereby qualified to 
be state weather-glasses, but prove no better for the use they 
pretend for, than a common almanack, where you may write 
wet for dry throughout the year, and as much hit the truth. 
They that shall consider the abstruseness of designs and trans 
actions that relate to the public, and how much resolutions 
about them depend upon what it is fit should be commonly un 
known ; so that they that judge without doors must think and 
talk at random : and withal that shall consider the uncertainty 
of human affairs, and that they who manage them are liable to 
ignorances, mistakes, incogitancies, and to the hurry of various 
passions as well as other men ; especially that shall consider 
the many surprising interpositions of an over -ruling hand, and 
what innumerable varieties of paths lie open to the view, and 
choice of an infinite mind, which we can have no apprehension 
of; might easily, before-hand, apprehend the vanity of attempt 
ing much in this kind, as common experience daily shews it, 
afterwards. So that multitudes of presaging thoughts, and 
agitations of mind, which proceed from the supposition of the 
contrary, cannot be without much sin against this precept of 
our Lord. And which would mostly be avoided, would we 
once learn to lay no great stress of expectation upon anything 
that may be otherwise; and to reckon (with that modesty which 
would well become us) that we can foresee nothing in the 
course of ordinary human affairs upon more certain terms. 

(4.) Here is especially forbidden such though tfulness as 
proceeds from a secret distrust of providence, from a latent, 
lurking atheism, or (which comes all to one as to the matter of 
religion) an only epicurean theism that excludes the divine pre 
sence and government, that is, call it by the one of these names 
or the other ; whatsoever thoughtfulness proceeds from our not 
having a fixed, steady, actual belief of the wise, holy, righteous, 
and powerful providence that governs all affairs in the world, 
and particularly all our own affairs, no doubt highly offends 
against this law. When we have thought God out of the 
world, what a horrid darkness do we turn it into to ourselves ! 
what a dismal waste and wilderness do we make it ! We can 
have no prospect but of darkness and desolation alway before 
us. Did we apprehend God as every- where present and active; 
(Deum-ire per omnes terrasque tractusque marts ) that 
heavens, earth and seas are replenished iviih a divine power 
ful presence ; were our minds possessed with the belief of his 
fulness filling all in all, and of his governing power and wisdom, 


extending to all times as well as places ; there were neither 
time nor place left for undue thoughtfulness of what is, or shall 
be But by a secret disbelief of providence, or our not having 
a serious fixed lively practical belief of it, we put ourselves into 
the condition of the more stapid pagans, and are not only as 
strangers to the common-wealth of Israel, and the covenants of 
promise, and without Christ arid hope, but even as without God 
in the world, or atheists in it, as the word there signifies, Ephes. 
2. 12. And when we have thus by our own disbelief shut out 
God, how over-officiously do we offer ourselves so succeed into 
his place ! And now how immense a charge have we taken upon 
us ! We will govern the world and order affairs, and times 
and seasons. A province for which we are as fit as he whom 
the poetic fable places in the chariot of the sun. And so, were 
it in our power, we should put all things into a combustion. 
But it is too much for us, that our impotency serves us to scorch 
ourselves, and set our own souls on fire. How do our own 
thoughts ferment, and glow within us, when we feel our in 
ability to dispose of things, and counterwork cross events, or 
even shift for ourselves ? For what are we to fill up the room 
cf God ! or supply the place of an excluded deity ! No wonder 
if troublous thoughts multiply upon us, till we cannot sustain 
the cumbersome burden. The context shews this to be the 
design of our Lord, to possess the minds of his disciples, when 
he prohibits them thoughtfulness, with a serious believing ap 
prehension of providence such a providence as reacheth to all 
things ; even the most minute, and inconsiderable ; to the birds 
that fly in the air, the flowers that grow in men's gardens, the 
grass in their fields, and (elsewhere) the hairs on their own 
heads. And certainly if we could but carry with us apprehen 
sive minds of such a providence every-where acting, and which 
nothing escapes; it must exclude the thoughtfulness here 
intended to be forbidden. 

(5.) Such as proceeds from ari ungovernable spirit, a heart 
not enough subdued to the ruling power of God over the world. 
Not only distrustfulness of providence but rebellion against it, 
may be the (very-abundant) spring of undue thoughtful nes. A 
temper of spirit impatient of government, self-willed, indo 
mitable; that says, I must have my own will and way, and things 
must be after my mind, and manner, can never be unaccompa 
nied with a solicitude that they may do so, as undutiful and sin 
ful as its cause. A mind unretractably set, and pre-engaged one 
way, cannot but be filled with tumult, and mutinous thoughts 
upon any appearing probability that things may fall out other 
wise. In reference to an afflicted suffering condition (how un 
grateful soever it be to our flesh) a filial subjection to the Father 


of our spirits^ required under highest penalty. Shall we not 
be subject to the Father of spirits and live? Heb. 12. 9. TQ 
mutiny is mortal, as though he had said, you must be subject,, 
your life lies on it. The title which the sacred penman there 
fixes on God, the Father of spirits is observable, and ought to 
be both instructive, and grateful to us. He is the great Pater 
nal Spirit. We (in respect of our spirits) are his off-spring (as 
the apostle elsewhere from a heathen poet urges, Act. 17-) In 
this context the fathers of our flesh, and the Father of spirits are 
studiously contradistinguished to one another. The relation 
God bears to us as our Father terminates on our spirits. And hi^ 
paternal care and love cannot but follow the relation, and prin 
cipally terminate there too. He must be chiefly concerned a- 
bout our spirits, that they be preserved in a good and healthful 
state. If therefore it be requisite for the advantage of our 
spirits, that our flesh do suffer, we are not to think he will 
stand upon that, or oppose the gratification of our flesh to the 
necessity of our spirits. And in this case shall not the wisdom 
and authority of the Father, judge and rule, and the duty of the 
son oblige him to submit and obey ? And whereas it is added 
(and live ?) it implies we are not, upon other terms, to expect a 
livelihood, to subsist and be maintained. A son in a plentiful, 
well-governed family, as long as he can be content to keep to 
the orders, and rule of the family, and live under the care of a 
wise and kind father, he may live without care, or taking 
thought ; but if he will go into rebellion he puts himself into a 
condition thoughtful enough. He is brought to the condition 
of the prodigal that knew not what shift to make to live, till he 
advises with himself, and comes to that wise resolution of re 
turning. I will arise and go to my father If we speak of the 

life of our spirits, in the moral sense (which in the natural sense 
we know are always immortal) it consists, as our bodily life doth 
in an &ftf*T/4, in that holy order, and temperament, which de 
pends upon our continued union with God, and keeping in with 
him (as the bodily crasis is preserved as long 'as the soul holds 
it united with itself.) A holy rectitude, composure, and tran 
quillity is our life, carries with it a lively sprightly vigour. To 
be spiritually minded is life and peace, Rom. 8. 6. But if 
we refuse to submit to the order of God, and offer to break 
ourselves off from him, this hath a deadly tendency. It tends 
to dissolve the whole frame, and would end in death if sovereign 
victorious grace, did not prevent. To be sure an attempt to 
rebel gradually discomposes our whole soul, and brings in a 
crowd of thoughts that will be as uncomfortable to ourselves, as 
they axe umlutiful towards God ; and consequently impair and 


enfeeble life : which our Saviour implies to consist in a good 
healthy, comfortahle internal habit of mind and spirit, when 
he denies it to stand in externals. A man's life consists not in 
the abundance of the things which he possesses, Luk. 12. 15. 
All which inward composure and tranquillity depend upon our 
willing submitting to be governed. What a blessed repose and 
rest! how pleasant a vacancy of disasing vexatious thoughts doth 
that soul enjoy that hath resigned itself, and gives a constant 
unintermitted consent to the divine government ! when it is an 
agreed undisputed thing, that God shall always lead and pre 
scribe, and it follow and obey. 

Some heathens have given us documents about following God 
that might both instruct and shame us at once. It would save 
us many a vain and troublesome range, and excursion of mind, 
and thoughts, could we once learn constantly to do so. If upon a 
journey, in an intricate way full of various turnings and windings, 
a man have a good and sure guide before him; as long as he follows 
he needs not be thoughtful or make trials here and there. But 
if he will outrun his guide, and take this or that by way because 
it seems pleasant, he puts himself to the needless labour of com 
ing so far back, unless he will err continually. As long as 
we are content that God govern the world and us, all is 

(6.) All such thoughtfulness is undue as proceeds from a dis 
like of God's former methods in what he hath heretofore done. 
When, because things have not gone so as to please us formerly 
therefore we are thoughtful and afraid they may as little please 
us hereafter. Here the peccant cause is an aptness to censure 
and correct providence : as they Mai. 2. 17. Where is the God* 
of judgment? (we may reckon it a branch from that former 
root, an unsubject spirit, only shooting backward :) a disposition 
to find fault with the paths God hath taken, as if he had made 
some wrong steps, or in this or that instance, had mistaken his 
way. But he that reproveth God, let him answer it, Job 40. 
2. Men are apt to fancy that things might have been better so 
or so. Hereupon how do thoughts flutter and fly out to futu- 
lity ! " What if he should do to-morrow, as he did yesterday ; 
in future, as in former time, what a world should we have of 
it? ' ' There had been some rough unpleasant passages even to 
Moses himself in the course of God's dispensation towards Is 
rael, while they were under his conduct. J3ut in the review of 
all, when he was now to leave them, how calm and pacate is his 
spirit ! When in that most seraphic valedictory song of his, 
(Deut. 32.) his sentence upon the whole matter is, his works are 
perfect, for all his ways are judgment, (v. 4.) Judgment is 


'(with us who must argue and debate things before we deter 
mine) the most exquisite reason, or rather the perfection, and 
final result of many foregoing reasonings. So that Moses's tes 
timony concerning all God's ways is that they were always cho 
sen with that exact judgment, as if he had long reasoned with 
himself concerning every step he took : that certainly he had a 
very good reason for whatever he did) all as perfectly seen by 
him at one view, as if (like us) he considered long, before he 
judged what was to be done. 

Could we once learn to sing tunably the song of Moses and 
the Lamb, Great and marvellous are thy works, O Lord God Al 
mighty, just and true are all thy ways, O King of Saints : to 
like well all his former methods, to admire the amiableness and 
beauty of providence in everything, or generally to approve 
and applaud all things he hitherto hath done, to account he 
hath ever gone the best way that could have been gone, in all 
that hath past ; we should never have dubious thoughts about 
what he will do hereafter. And this is no more than what the 
truth of the matter challenges from us, to esteem he hath some 
valuable reason for everything he hath done. For sometimes 
we can see the reason, and are to judge so explicitly upon what 
we see. And when we cannot, it is highly reasonable it should 
be with us the matter of an implicit belief that so it is. For 
though to pretend to pay that observance to fallible man, must 
argue either insincerity, or folly; the known perfection of the 
nature of God, makes it not only safe, but our duty to hold al 
ways that peremptory fixed conclusion concerning all his dis 
pensations. Indeed concerning some men of known reputed 
wisdom, it is not only mannerly but prudent, to account they 
may see good reason for some doubtful actions of theirs, when 
we cannot be sure they do. Much more may we confidently 
conclude that God ever doth and must do so. It is not a blind 
obsequiousness but a manifest duty, which the plain reason of 
the thing exacts from us. And he justly takes himself affronted 
and counts it an impious insolence when things look not well to 
our judgments, then to question his, as he complains in that 
mentioned place, Mai. 2. 17 Ye have wearied me with your 
words, yet ye say, wherein have we wearied thee ? In that ye 
say, every one that doth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, 
and he delighteth in them, and where is the God of judgment ? 
But how free is that happy soul from sinful, anxious thoughts, 
wildi whom that conclusion neither is notionally denied, nor 
doth obtain merely as a notion, but is a settled practical and vi 
tal principle, He hath done all things well. 

(7.) Such as proceeds from an over addictedness to this world, 

VOL. U. 2 T 


and little relish of the tilings of the world to come. All that 
ariseth from a terrene mind, that savours not heavenly things. 
The heart is the fountain of thoughts. From thence they arise, 
and receive their distinguishing tincture. Tiiey are as the tem 
per of the heart is. If that be evil, thence are evil thoughts, 
(Mat. 15. 19.) if it be earthly, they run upon earthly things, 
and savour both of it, and the things they are taken up about. 
This was the case of the disciples, Mat. 16. 22. 23. When our 
Saviour had immediately before, inquired the common opinion 
concerning him, and approved theirs, and confirmed them in 
it, that he was Christ the son of the living God ; they draw all 
to the favouring the too-cavnal imagination and inclination of 
their own terrene hearts. They think he cannot want power, 
being the son of the living God, to do great things in the world, 
and make them great men. And reckon his love and kindness 
to them must engage the divine power which they saw was with 
him for these purposes. And it is likely when he directs his 
speech to Peter, and speaks of giving him the keys, which he 
might know had theretofore been the insignia of great autho 
rity in a prince's court, he understood all of some secular great 
ness ; and that there were dignities of the like kind, which the 
rest might proportion ably share in, as it appears others of them 
were not without such expectations when elsewhere they become 
petitioners to sit at his right and left hand in his kingdom (the 
places or thrones of those phylarchs, or princes of tribes that 
sat next to the royal throne.) Now hereupon when our Saviour 
tells them what was first coming, and was nearer at hand, that 
he must be taken from them, suffer many things, be delivered 
over unto death, &c. Peter very gravely takes on him to re 
buke him, Master favour thyself, this shall not be unto thee: 
no by no means! Full of thoughts, no doubt his mind was at 
what was said. And whence did they proceed but from a ter 
rene spirit ? and that the notion of worldly dignity had formed 
his mind, and made it intent upon a secular kingdom. It was 
not abstractly, his care for Christ himself he was so much trou 
bled at; as what would become of his own great designs and 
hopes. Therefore our Saviour calls him satan, the name of 
that arch-enemy, the usurping God of this world, who had as 
yet too much power over him, and tells him, "Thou savourest 
not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men," 
us though he had said a satan icat spirit hath possessed thee, get 
thee behind me. And so seeks to repress that unsavoury steam 
oi fuliginous earth-sprung thoughts,which he perceived arose in 
his mind. 

It .were a great felicity to be able to pass through this present 


state with that temper of mind as not to he liable to vexatious 
disappointments. And whereas the things that compose and 
make up this state are both little and uncertain, so that we may 
as well be disappointed in having, as in not having- them. Our 
way were, here, not to expect, but to have our minds taken up 
with the things that are both sure arid great, that is, heavenly, 
eternal things : where we are liable to disappointment neither 
way. For these are things that we may upon serious diligent 
seeking both most surely obtain and possess, and most satisfyingly 
enjoy. And the more our minds are employed this way, the 
less will they incline the other. As no man that hath tasted old 
wine presently desireth new, for he saith the old is better. The 
foretastes of heaven are mortifying towards all terrene things. 
No one that looks over that 11. to the Hebrews would think 
those worthies, those great heroes there reckoned up, troubled 
themselves much with thoughts of what they were to enjoy or 
suffer in this world. To see at what rate they lived, and acted, 
it is easy to collect they were not much concerned about tem 
porary futurities. Whence was it? they lived by that faith that 
was the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things 
not seen, that exalted, raised, and refined their spirits, and 
carried them above an empty, unsatisfying, vain world. And 

(8.) All such thoughtfulness is forbidden as proceeds from 
want of self-denial, patience and preparedness for a suffering 
state. A heart fortified and well postured for suffering is no sus 
ceptible subject of those ill impressions. They fall into weak 
minds, tender, soft, and delicate, that reckon themselves cre 
ated, and embodied in flesh, only to taste and enjoy sensible de 
lights : and that they came into this world to be entertained, 
and divert themselves with its still -fresh, and various rarities. 
We are deeply thoughtful because we cannot deny ourselves, 
and bear the cross ; and have not learned to endure hardship, as 
goodsoldiers of Christ Jesus. Our shoulders are not yet fitted 
to their burden. Some perhaps think themselves too conside 
rable, and persons of too great value to be sufferers. I am too 
good, my rank too high, my circumstances too-little vulgar. 
Hence, contempt, disgrace and other more sensibly pinching 
hardships are reckoned unsuitable for them, and only to be en 
dured by persons of lower quality ; so that the very thoughts of 
suffering are themselves unsufferable. Whereupon, when the 
exigency of the case urges, and they can no way decline, they 
cannot but think strange of the fiery trial, and count a strange 
thing is happened to them. The matter was very unfamiliar un 
to their thoughts, and they are as heifers wholly unaccustomed 


to this yoke. And now upon the near prospect of so frightful a 
spectacle, as unavoidable suffering ; a mighty resistless torrent 
of most turbid thoughts, breaks in upon them at once. And 
they are (as a surprised camp) all in confusion. Sorrowful, 
fearful, discontentful, repining, amazed thoughts do even over 
whelm and deluge their souls. And all these thoughts do even 
proceed from want of thinking. They think too much now, 
because, before they thought too little. Whereas did we la 
bour by degrees to frame our spirits to it, to reconcile our minds 
to a sufFering state, (as they do horses intended for war, by a 
drum beaten under their nose, a pistol discharged or trumpet 
sounded at their very ear,) did we inure ourselves much to 
think of sufFering, but yet to think little and diminishingly of 
it, and little of ourselves, who may be the sufferers ; I am 
(sure) not better than those that have suffered before me in for 
mer times, such as "of whom the world was not worthy ;" we 
should be in a good measure prepared for whatever can come, 
and so not be very thoughtful about anything that shall. 

2. That thoughtfulness is forbidden too which tends to evil, 
such as hath an evil tendency. 

( I .) Such as tends to evil negatively, that is to no good ; all 
that is to purpose. For we are apt when we see things go 
otherwise than we would have them, to exercise our contriving 
thoughts as deeply as if we were at the head of affairs, and had 
them in our own hand and power, and could at length turn the 
stream this way or that. But do we not busy our ourselves about 
matters all the while wherein we can do nothing ? when things 
are out of our power, are not of the rot, e$' vj/xry, belong not to 
us, are without our reach, and we can have no influence upon 
them this way or that, yet we are prone over-earnestly to con 
cern ourselves. And as men (in that bodily exercise) when 
the bowl is out of their hands variously writhe and distort their 
bodies, as if they could govern its motion by those odd and ri 
diculous motions of theirs ; so are we apt to distort our minds 
into uncouth shapes and postures, to as little purpose, more 
pernicious, and upon a true account not less ridiculous. As our 
Saviour warns us to beware of idle words, such as can do no 
work (as the greek imports) so we should count it disallowed us 
too (for the same reason) to think idle thoughts. The thought- 
fulness our Saviour intends to forbid, you see how he charac 
terizes, such as will not add a cubit, not alter the case one way 
or other, that is, that is every way useless to valuable or good 
purposes. The thinking power is not given us to be used in 
vain ; especially, whereas it might be employed about matters 
of great importance to us at the same time. Which serves 


to introduce a further character of undue thoughtiulness, 

(2.) Such as tends, to divert us from our present duty. Our 
minds are not infinite, and cannot comprehend all things at 
once. We are wont so to excuse our not having attended to 
what another was saying to us, that truly we were thinking on 
somewhat else. Which is a good excuse, if neither the person 
nor thing deserved more regard from us. But if what was pro 
pounded were somewhat we ought to attend to, it is plain we 
were diverted hy thinking on what, at that time, we ought not. 
When men are so amused with their own thoughts that they are 
put into a state of suspence, and interruption from the proper 
business of their calling, as Christians, or men, or when their 
thoughts run into confusion, and are lost as to their present 
work, such are, certainly, forbidden thoughts. When they 
think of everything but what they should think of. A few pas 
sant thoughts would surely serve turn for what is not my business. 
I have business of my own that is constant and must be mind 
ed at all times, be they what they will. But when the times 
generally do not please us, upon every less grateful emergency 
we overdo it in thinking ! It is rational and manly to behave 
ourselves in the world as those that have a concern in it, under the 
common Ruler of it, and for him : and not to be negligent ob 
servers how things go in reference to his great and all-compre 
hending interest. But the fault is, that our thoughts are apt to 
be too intense, and run into excess, that we crowd and throng 
ourselves with thoughts, and think too much to think well, 
consider so much what others do or do not, that we allow no 
place nor room for thoughts what we are to do ourselves, 
even in the way of that our constant duty, which no times, nor 
state of things can alter or make dispensable : that is, to pray 
continually with cheerful trust : to live in the love, fear, and 
service of God : to work out our own salvation : to seek the 
things that are above : to govern and cultivate our own spirits : 
to keep our hearts with all diligence : to do all the good we can 
to others, &c. As to these things we stand astonished, and a 
men that cannot find their hands. We should endeavour to 
range, and methodize our thoughts, to reduce them into some 
order (which a crowd admits not) that we may have them dis 
tinctly applicable to the several occasions of the human and 
Christian life. And with which useful order whatever consists 
not, we should reckon is sinful and forbidden. 

(3.) Such as not only confounds, but torments the mind 
within itself, gives it inward torture, distracts and racks it, as the 
word in the text more peculiarly signifies ((** ftvTv) to pluck 


and rend a thing in pieces, part from part, one piece from an 
other. Such a thoughtful ness as doth tear a man's soul, and 
sever it from itself. There is another word of very emphatical 
import too which is used in forbidding the same evil,(Luk. i 2.29} 
ju,vj f*6feaft(*f$if j be not in suspence, do not hover as meteors, 
do not let your minds hang as in the air, in a pendulous, un 
certain, unquiet posture; or be not of an inconsistent mind as a 
critical writer phrases it, (Heinsius,) or as we may add, that 
agrees not, that falls out and fights with itself, that with its own 
agitations sets itself on fire, as meteors are said to do. Thoughts 
there are that prove as fire-brands to a man's soul, or as darts 
and arrows to his heart, that serve to no other purpose but to in 
flame and wound him. And when they are about such things 
(those less-considerable e vents of to-morrow) that all this might 
as well have been spared, and when we disquiet ourselves in 
vain, it cannot be without great iniquity. God who hath greater 
dominion over us than we have over ourselves, though he dis 
quiet our spirits for great and important ends; put us to undergo 
much smart and torture in our own minds, cause us to be 
pricked to the heart, and wounded, in order to our cure, and 
have appointed a state of torment for the incurable; yet he doth 
not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. It is a 
thing he wills not for itself. Those greater ends make it ne 
cessary, and put it without the compass of an indifferent choice. 
Much less should we choose our own torment as it were for 
torments sake, or admit thoughts which serve for no other pur 
pose. It is undutiful ; because we are not our own ; we violate, 
and discompose the temples of the Holy Ghost, where since he 
vouchsafes to dwell, we should as much as in us is provide he 
may have an entirely peaceful and undisturbed dwelling. It is 
unnatural, because it is done to ourselves. A felony de se. 
Whoever hated his own flesh ? No man cuts and wounds and 
mangles himself; but a mad-man, who is then not himself, is 
outed and divested of himself. He must be another thing from 
himself, before he can do such acts of violence even to the 
bodily part, how much more valuable, and nearer us, and more 
ourself is our mind and spirit ? But this is the case in the mat 
ter of inordinate thoughts and care. We breed the worms that 
gnaw and corrode our hearts. Worms ? yea the serpents, the 
vultures, the bears and lions. Our own fancies are creators of 
what doth thus raven, and prey upon ourselves. Our own 
creature rents and devours us. 

(1.) Such as excludes divine consolation, so that we cannot 
relish the comforts God affords us, to make our duties pleasant, 
*nd our afflictions tolerable ; or is ready to afford. In the mul- 


titude of my thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul, 
Ps. 94. 19. Those thoughts, if they were afflicting and trou 
blesome, they were not so without some due measure or limit, 
while they did not so fill the whole soul as to exclude so need 
ful a mixture. But how intolerably sinful a state is it when 
the soul is so filled, and taken up, prepossessed already, with its 
own black thoughts, that there is no room for better ! And its 
self-created cloud is so thick and dark that it resists the heavenly 
beams, and admits them not in the ordinary way to enter and 
insinuate. When the disease defies the remedy, and the soul 
refuses to be comforted, as Ps. JJ. 2. This seems to have been 
the Psalmist's case, not that he took up an explicit, formed re 
solution against being comforted ; but that the present habit of 
his mind and spirit was such that it did not enter with him - 9 
and that the usual course did not succeed in order to it, for it 
follows, "I thought on God and was troubled/' which needs 
not to be understood so, as if the thoughts of God troubled him, 
but though he did think of God he was yet troubled. The 
thoughts of God were not the cause of his trouble, but the in 
effectual means of his relief. Still he was troubled notwith 
standing he thought of God, not because. For you see he was 
otherwise troubled, and says, " In the day of my trouble I 
sought the Lord." He took the course which was wont not to 
fail, but his mind was so full of troublous thoughts before, that 
when he remembered God, it proved but a weak essay. The 
strength of his soul was pre-engaged the other way, and the 
stream was too violent to be checked by that feebler breath 
which he now only had to oppose it. Though God can ar 
bitrarily, and often doth, put forth that power as to break and 
scatter the cloud, and make all clear up on a sudden ; yet also, 
often, he withholds in some displeasure that more potent influ 
ence, and leaves things to follow, with us, their own natural 
course, lets our own sin correct us, and suffers us to feel the 
smart of our own rod. For we should have withstood begin 
nings, and have been more early in applying the remedy before 
things had come to this ill pass. Because we did not when we. 
better could, set ourselves to consider, and strive and pray ef 
fectually, the distemper of our spirits is now grown to that 
height that we would and cannot. In that great distress which 
befel David at Ziglag, when he finds his goods rifled, his near 
est relatives made captives, that city itself the place of his re 
pose, the solace of his exile, reduced to a ruinous heap ; his 
guard, his friends, the companions of his flight, and partakers 
of all his troubles and dangers, become his most dangerous 
enemies, for they mutiny and conspire against him, and speak 


of stoning him : the common calamity imbitters their spirits, 
and they are ready to fly upon him, as if he had done the Ama- 
lekites part, been the common enemy, and the author of all 
that mischief; in this most perplexing case he was quicker in 
taking the proper course, immediately turns his thoughts up 
wards while they were flexible, and capable of being directed, 
and comforted himself in the Lord his God. All that afflicting 
thoughfulpess which is the consequent of our neglecting sea 
sonable endeavours to keep our minds under government and 
restraint, while they are yet governable ; and which hereupon 
renders the consolations of God small, and tasteless to Us 3 is cer 
tainly of the prohibited sort. 

(5.) Such as tends to put us on a sinful course for the avoid 
ing dangers that threaten us. When we think of sinning to 
day, lest we should suffer to-inorrow. If it be but one particu 
lar act of sin by which we would free ourselves from a present 
danger, or much more if our thoughts tempt and solicit us to a 
course of apostacy, which (Ps. 85. 8.) is a returning to folly. 
The thing now speaks itself, the thought of foolishness is sin, 
(Prov. 24. 9.) When upon viewing the state of affairs a man's 
thoughts shall suggest to him, I can never be safe I perceive in 
this way; great calamities threaten the profession,! have hither 
to been of. And hence he begins to project the changing his 
religion, to meditate a revolt. In this case deliberate est 
descivisse, to deliberate is to revolt. A disloyal thought hath 
in it the nature of the formed evil to which it tends. Here is 
seminal apostacy. The cockatrice egg, long enough hatched, 
becomes a serpent ; and therefore ought to be crushed betime. 
A man's heart now begins sinfully to tempt him, (as he is never 
tempted with effect, till he be led away by his own heart and 
enticed Jam. 1. 14.) And now is the conception of that sin, 
which, being finished, is eventually mortal, and brings forth 
death, v. 15. 

(6.) Such as tends unto visible dejection and despondency, 
such as in the course of our walking shall make a shew, and ex 
press itself to the discouragement of the friends of religion or 
the triumph of its enemies. It may be read in a man's coun 
tenance many times when he is unduly thoughtful. Cares fur 
row his face and form his deportments. His looks, his mien, his 
behaviour shew a thoughtful sadness. 

Now when such appearances exceed our remaining constant 
cause of visible cheerfulness, the thoughtfulness whence they 
proceed cannot but be undue and sinful. As when the ill 
aspect of affairs on our interests clothes our faces with fear and 
sorrow ; our countenances are fallen, and speak our hearts sunk, 


so that we even tell the world we despair of our cause, and our 
God. This, besides the distrust, which is the internal, evil 
cause spoken of before, tends to a very pernicious effect ; to con 
firm the atheistical world, to give them the day, to say with them 
the same thing, and yield them the matter of their impious 
boast, there is no help for them in God. And all this, when 
there is a true, unchangeable reason for the contrary temper a*id 
deportment. For still that one thing " the Lord reigns," hath 
more in it to fortify and strengthen our hearts and compose us 
to cheerfulness, and ought to signify more with us to this pur 
pose, than all the ill appearances of things in this world can do 
to our rational dejection. The Psalmist, (Ps. 96, 11, 12, 
13) reckons all the world should ring of it, that the whole crea 
tion should partake from it a diffusive joy. Let the heavens re 
joice, and let the earth be glad : let the sea roar and the fulness 
thereof; let the field be joyful, and all that is therein : then 
shall all the trees of the wood rejoice, before the Lord, for he 
cometh, he cometh to judge the earth, &c. He accounts all 
the universe should even be clothed hereupon with a smiling 
verdure. And what ? are we only to except ourselves, and be 
an anomalous sort of creatures ? shall we not partake in that 
common dutiful joy, and fall into concert with the adoring loyal 
chorus ? Will we cut ourselves off from this gladsome obsequi 
ous throng ? And what should put a pleasant face and aspect 
upon the whole world, shall it only leave our faces covered 
with clouds, and a mournful sadness ? 

Briefly, that we may sum up the evil of this prohibited 
thoughtfulness, as it is to be estimated from its ill effects to which 
it tends, whatsoever, in that kind, hath a tendency either dis 
honourable and injurious to God, or hurtful to ourselves, we are 
to reckon into this class, and count it forbidden us. Where 
fore it remains that we go on to the other part of the intended 
discourse, namely, 

II. The enforcement of the prohibition. For which purpose 
we shall take into consideration the following part of the verse ; 
" To-morrow shall take thought for the things of itself, suffici 
ent for the day is the evil thereof." The evil forbidden is care 
fulness about the future, as we read it, taking thought, which 
is a more general expression than the greek word doth amount to. 
AH thinking is not caring. This is one special sort of thoughts 
that is here forbidden, careful thoughts, and one special sort of 
care, not about duty but event, and about event wherein it doth 
not depend upon our duty, that ia, considered abstractly from it, 
and so the thing intended is, that doing all that lies within the 
compass of our duty to promote any good event, or to hinder 

VOL. ii. 2 u 


bad, that then we should cease from solicitude about the suc 
cess. From such solicitude, most especially, as shall be either 
distrustful, or disquieting, or more generally, that shall be, any 
way, either injurious to God, or prejudicial to ourselves. 

Now for the pressing of this matter upon our practice, these 
subjoined words may be apprehended to carry, either but one 
and the same argument, in both the clauses ; or else two distinct 
ones; according asthe former shall be diversly understood. For, 
these words, "To-morrow shall take care for the things of itself," 
are understood by some to carry, but this sense with them, as though 
he had said, " To-morrow will bring its own cares with it, and 
those perhaps afflicting enough, and which will give you suffi 
cient trouble when the day comes. To-morrow will oblige you 
to be careful about the things thereof, and find you business and 
molestation enough." Which is but the same thing in sense 
with what is imported in the following words : " sufficient for 
the day is the evil thereof." Or else those former words may 
be understood thus, " to-morrow shall take care for the things 
of itself ;" that is," to-morrow and the things of to- morrow shall 
be sufficiently cared for otherwise, without your previous care. 
There is one that can do it sufficiently, do not you impertinently 
and to no purpose concern yourselves." It is implied there is 
some one else to take that care,whose proper business it is. The 
great God himself is meant, though that is not expressly said, 
the design being but to exclude us ; and to say who should not 
take care, not who should. That is therefore left at large, and 
expressed with that indifferency, as if it were intended to signi 
fy to us, that it was no matter who took care so we did not. 
That we should rather leave it to the morrow to put on a person 
and take care ; than be ourselves concerned 5 that whose part 
soever it is, it was none of ours. A form of speech not unex 
ampled elsewhere in Scripture. " Let the dead bury their dead" 
only follow thou me ; as if he said : sure somebody will per 
form that part. It will be done by one or other, more properly 
than by you, who have devoted yourself to me, and are become 
a sacred person (not permitted by the law to meddle with a dead 
body, as a learned person glosses upon that place.) And, in 
common speech, especially of superiors to inferiors, such anta- 
naclasesy (as the figure is called) are frequent. And the same 
word used over again, when in the repetition (though here it be 
otherwise) we intend not any certain sense ; more than that we 
would, with the more smartness and pungency, repress an in 
clination we observe in them to somewhat we would not have 
them do, or more earnestly press the thing we would have done, 


80 that we need not in that expression trouble ourselves to ima 
gine any such mystical meaning, as, let them that are dead in 
sin bury them that are dead for sin ; or that it intends more, 
than, be not concerned about that matter. And to shew the ab 
soluteness of the command, it is given in that form of words 
that it might be understood he should not concern himself about 
that business in any case whatsoever, as if he had said, suppose, 
what is not likely, that there were none else that would take 
care ; or none but the dead to bury the dead; yet know, that at 
this time I have somewhat else to do for you : when it is, in the 
mean time tacitly supposed, and concealed, that the matter 
might well enough be left to the care of others. So here, while 
it is silently intimated that the things of the morrow shall be 
otherwise sufficiently cared for, by that wise and mighty provi 
dence that governs all things, and runs through all time, yet 
our intemperate solicitude is, in the mean time, so absolutely 
forbidden, that we are not to be allowed in it, though there 
were none, but the feigned person of the morrow, to take care 
for what should then occur. Yet the main stress is laid upon the 
concealed intimation all the while, as a thing whereof he was 
secure, and would have his disciples be too, that the business of 
providing for the morrow would be done sufficiently without 
them. And now according to this sense of those words, there 
are two distinct considerations, contained in this latter part of 
the verse, both which we shall severally make use of, for the 
purpose for which they are propounded by our Saviour, namely, 
the pressing of what he had enjoined In the former part of the 
verse. And we may thus distinctly entitle them, the unprofita 
bleness and the hurtfulness of this forbidden care. 

First. The former may well bear that title ; the inutility or 
unprofitableness of our care. To-morrow shall take care for the 
things of itself, that is, they shall be sufficiently cared for with 
out you. Now under that head of unprofitableness, we may 
conceive these two things to be comprehended : that we do 
not need to attempt any thing : and that we can effect nothing 
by that prohibited care of ours : that we neither need, nor (to 
any purpose) can concern ourselves about such matters. 

1. That we do not need. They are under the direction of 
his providence who can manage them well enough himself. 
And unto this head several things do belong, which if they be 
distinctly considered, will both discover and highly aggravate 
that offence of immoderate thoughtfulness. As, 

(1.) That, through that needless care of ours, we shall but \ 
neglect (as was formerly said) our most constant indispensable 
duty. That will not be done as it ought. We should study to / 


be quiet, and do our own business, as is elsewhere enjoined, 
upon another account. We have a duty incumbent, which, 
\vhat it is we are told, in the general, and at the same time en 
couraged against interrupting care, Psal. 37- 3. Trust in the 
Lord and do good, and you shall dwell in the land, and verily 
you shall be fed. Some perhaps are apt to have many a care 
ful thought of this sort. " Alas ! We are afraid the condition 
of the land maybe such as we shall not be able to live in it." 
No, (it is said) never trouble your thoughts about that. Only 
neglect not your own part. Trust in the Lord, and do good, 
and it will be well enough. You shall dwell in the land, and 
verily you shall be fed. 

(2.) We shall make ourselves busybodies in the matters of 
another,(l. Pet. 4, 15.) as it were,play the bishops in another's 
diocese, as the word there imports. We shall but be over officious, 
and undecently pragmatical in intermeddling. Our great care 
should be, when we count upon suffering, that we may not suf 
fer indecently, or with disreputation (in their account who are 
fittest to judge) much less injuriously to a good cause, and a 
good conscience. Which we cannot fail to do, if we suffer out 
of our own place and station, and having intruded ourselves into 
the affairs and concerns that belong to the management of ano 
ther hand. And, 

(3.) It is to be considered who it is that we shall affront, and 
whose province we invade in so doing, namely, of one that can 
well enough manage all the affairs of to-morrow, and of all fu 
ture time, the Lord of all time, in whose hands all our times 
are, and all time. A province in the administration whereof 
there is no danger of defect or error. And, 

(4.) It is to be considered that we shall do so, not only with 
out a call, but against a prohibition. It is reckoned, among 
men, a rudeness, to intrude into the affairs of another uninvited^ 
how much more if forbidden ? It gives distaste and offence : and 
the reason is plain, for it implies a supposition of their weakness 
and that they are not able to manage their own affairs them 
selves. And as we thereby cast contempt upon another, so, at 
the same time, we unduly exalt and magnify ourselves, as if 
we understood better. Such a comparison cannot but be 
thought odious. But now take this as an addition to the former 
consideration, and the matter rises high, and carries the same 
intimation with it in reference to the All-wise and Almighty 
God. No ? Is not he likely to bring matters to any good pass 
without us ? And are we therefore so concernedly looking over 
the shoulder ; thrusting in our eye, and sending forth our cares 
to run and range into his affairs and business ? This is a vveari^ 
some impertinence. A prudent man would not endureJt. 


Nor are those words ^inapplicable to this purpose, "seems it 
a small thing to you to weary men, but you will weary my God 
also?" Isa. 7 13. They were spoken to a purpose not unlike. 
For observe the occasion. There were at that time the two 
kings with their combined power, of Syria and Israel come up 
against Jerusalem and the house of David, meaning the king 
Ahaz. It is said hereupon of him,and the people with him,"Their 
hearts were moved as the trees of the wood are moved with the 
wind.'' Full of thoughts, of cares and fears they were, no 
doubt. O ! what will become of this matter ? what will be the 
event ? And the prophet comes with a comfortable message to 
them from God. But their hearts were so pre-possessed with 
their own fears, it signifies nothing. A confirmation is offered, 
and refused. The pretence was, he would not tempt God by 
asking a sign even when he was bidden. A hypocritical pre 
tence, made only to cover a latent distrust. Thereupon, saith 
the prophet, is it a small thing to weary men (meaning himself 
who was but the messenger) but that you will weary my God 
also ? that is who sent him ; and who went not about to put 
the affrighted prince, and his people, upon anything, but to 
trust him and be quiet : no agitation of whose minds was requi 
red to their safety. They are not directed, as if all lay upon 
them, to hold a council, and contrive, themselves, (at this 
time) the means of their preservation. Nor should they, with 
disturbed minds. Neither are we (in the sense that hath been 
given) required or allowed to use our care in reference to the 
things of to-morrow. The stress of affairs lies not upon us. 
The events that belong to to-morrow, or the future time, what 
ever it be, will be brought about, whether we so care or care 
not. Our anxiety is needless in the case. What will not to 
morrow come and carry all its events in it that belong to it, 
without us ? will not the heavens roll without us ? and the sun 
rise and set ? the evening come and also the morn ? the days, 
and all that belongs to the several days of succeeding time ? 
will not all be brought about without our care think we ? how 
was it before we were born ? 

2. There is also comprehended besides, under that head of 
unprofitableness, our impotency to effect anything by our care, 
As we do not need, so nor are we able. That is unprofitable, 
which willnot serve our turn, nor do our business. This forbidden 
care leaves things but as we found them. It is true, that may 
be some way useful, that is not absolutely necessary, but if be 
sides that no necessity there be also an absolute uselessness, the 
argument is much stronger. All this prohibited care of ours 
contribute anything, to the hindering of bad events or 


promoting of good. And that, neither as to our own private 
affairs nor, much less as to those that are of public concern 

(1.) Not as to our own private affairs, which the series of om 
Saviour's discourse hath directer reference unto, what we shall 
cat, and drink, and how be clothed. How' to maintain and 
support life,and add to our days and the comfort of them. We 
cannot add (it is said) so much as one cubit (v. 27-) to our 
stature. So we read that word, which perhaps (by the way) as 
a noted expositor observes, may better be read age. The word 
signifies both. It would seem indeed something an enormous 
addition to have a cubit added to the stature of a grown man, 
but the same word (fyXiX/*) signifying also age, that seems 
here the fitter translation. It is therefore as if he had said, 
"Which of you by taking thought can make the least addition 
to his own time ? Nor is it unusual to speak of measures of that 
kind, in relation to time, as a span, a hand-breath, and the 
like. And so is cubit as capable of the same application. 
Our anxiety can neither add more nor less. 

(2.) Much less can it influence the common and public af 
fairs. Our solicitude, what will become of these things ? how 
shall the Christian or protestant interest subsist ? much more 
how shall it ever come to thrive and prosper in the world ? so 
low, so depressed and despised as it may seem ? how will it be 
with it to-morrow ? or hereafter in future time ? what doth it 
contribute ? I speak not to the exclusion of prayer, nor of a 
dutiful, affectionate concernedness, that excludes not a cheer 
ful, submissive trust ; and what will more than this avail? If 
we add more, will that addition mend the matter ; or do we in 
deed think, when the doing of our duty prevails not, that our 
anxiety and care beyond our duty shall ? Can that change times 
and seasons, andjnend the state of things to-morrow or the next 
day? Will to-morrow become, by means of it, a fairer or a calm 
er day, or be without it a more stormy one ? We might as well 
think by our care, to order the celestial motions, to govern the 
tides, and retard or hasten the ebbs and floods ; or by our breath 
check and countermand the course of the greatest rivers. We, 
indeed and all things that time contains and measures, are car 
ried as in a swift stream, or on rapid floods. And a man, at sea, 
might as well attempt, by thrusting or pulling the sides of the 
ship that carries him, to hasten or slacken its motion, as we by 
our vexatious care to check or alter the motions of providence 
this way or that. Do we think to posture things otherwise than 
God hath done ? Will we move the earth from its centre ? 
Where will we find another earth whereon to set our foe; t 


Secondly. We have to consider not only the unprofitableness 
bwt hurtfulness of this forbidden care. It not only doth no good* 
butitis sure to do us a great deal of harm. That is the con 
sideration intimated in the latter words, " sufficient for the day 
is the evil thereof." We shall but accumulate evils unto our 
selves by it, to no purpose. Our undue solicitude cannot add 
to our time or comforts (as was said) but it may much diminish, 
and detract from them. Whereas every several day that pass- 
eth, may have enough in it, and be of itself sufficiently fraught 
with perplexity, trouble, and sorrow. All that, added to the 
foregoing burden of excessively careful forethoughts, may over 
whelm and sink us. There are sundry particular considerations 
tkat fall in here also. 

1. That by this means we shall suffer the same thing over 
and over, which we needed not suffer more than once. It ob 
tained for a proverb among the f Arabians, " An affliction is 
but one to him that suffers it, but to him that with fear expects 
it, double." I shall suffer the evil of to-morrow this day and 
to-morrow too. Yea, and by this course, I may bring all the 
evil of all my future time, into each several day, and may suffer 
the same affliction a thousand times over, which the benignity 
of providence meant, only, for my present exercise, when he 
should think it most fit and seasonable to lay it on. 

2. I may, by this means, suffer, in my own foreboding ima 
gination, many things that really, I shall never suffer at all, 
for the events may never happen, the forethoughts whereof do 
now afflict me. And what a foolish thing it is to be troubled 
before-hand at that which for ought I know will never be, and 
to make a certain evil of an uncertain ! 

3. And it is further to be considered, that all the trouble I 
surfer in this kind is self trouble. We therein but afflict our 
selves. And it adds a great sting to affliction that I am the author 
of it to myself. For besides the unnaturalness of being a self- 
tormentor (which was formerly noted) it is the more afflicting, 
upon review, by how much more easily it was avoidable. We 
are stung with the reflection on our own folly,as any man is apt 
to be, when he considers his having run himself into trouble, 
which, by an ordinary prudence he might have escaped. ', With 
what regret may one look back, upon many by-past days, 
wherein I might have served God with cheerfulness in my 
calling, " walking in the light of the Lord," which I have 
turned into days of pensive darkness, to myself, by only my own 

f The collection of Arabian proverbs illustrated by the notes of 
Jo$ Scalig. and Erpen. 


and rend a thing in pieces, part from part, one piece from an 
other. Such a thoughtfulness as doth tear a man's soul, and 
sever it from itself. There is another word of very emphatical 
import too which is used in forbidding the same evil,(Luk. i 2.29} 
IA,YI i^eleugt&a^ey be not in suspence, do not hover as meteors, 
do not let your minds hang as in the air, in a pendulous, un 
certain, unquiet posture ; or be not of an inconsistent mind as a 
critical writer phrases it, (Heinsius,) or as we may add, that 
agrees not, that falls out and rights with itself, that with its own 
agitations sets itself on fire, as meteors are said to do. Thoughts 
there are that prove as fire-brands to a man's soul, or as darts 
and arrows to his heart, that serve to no other purpose but to in 
flame and wound him. And when they are about such things 
(those less-considerable events of to-morrow) that all this might 
as well have been spared, and when we disquiet ourselves in 
vain, it cannot be without great iniquity. God who hath greater 
dominion over us than we have over ourselves, though he dis 
quiet our spirits for great and important ends; put us to undergo 
much smart and torture in our own minds, cause us to be 
pricked to the heart, and wounded, in order to our cure, and 
have appointed a state of torment for the incurable; yet he doth 
not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. It is a 
thing he wills not for itself. Those greater ends make it ne 
cessary, and put it without the compass of an indifferent choice. 
Much less should we choose our own torment as it were for 
torments sake, or admit thoughts which serve for no other pur 
pose. It is undutiful ; because we are not our own ; we violate, 
and discompose the temples of the Holy Ghost, where since he 
vouchsafes to dwell, we should as much as in us is provide he 
may have an entirely peaceful and undisturbed dwelling. It is 
unnatural, because it is done to ourselves. A felony de se. 
Whoever hated his own flesh ? No man cuts and wounds and 
mangles himself; but a mad-man, who is then not himself, is 
outed and divested of himself. He must be another thing from 
himself, before he can do such acts of violence even to the 
bodily part, how much more valuable, and nearer us, and more 
ourself is our mind and spirit ? But this is the case in the mat 
ter of inordinate thoughts and care. We breed the worms that 
gnaw and corrode our hearts. Worms ? yea the serpents, the 
vultures, the bears and lions. Our own fancies are creators of 
what doth thus raven, and prey upon ourselves. Our own 
creature rents and devours us. 

(4.) Such as excludes divine consolation, so that we cannot 
relish the comforts God affords us, to make our duties pleasant, 
and our afflictions tolerable ; or is ready to afford. In the mul- 


titude of my thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul, 
Ps. 94. 19. Those thoughts, if they were afflicting and trou 
blesome, they were not so without some due measure or limit, 
while they did not so fill the whole soul as to exclude so need 
ful a mixture. But how intolerably sinful a state is it when 
the soul is so filled, and taken up, prepossessed already, with its 
own black thoughts, that there is no room for better ! And its 
self-created cloud is so thick and dark that it resists the heavenly 
beams, and admits them not in the ordinary way to enter and 
insinuate. When the disease defies the remedy, and the soul 
refuses to be comforted, as Ps. 77 2. This seems to have been 
the Psalmist's case, not that he took up an explicit, formed re 
solution against being comforted ; but that the present habit of 
his mind and spirit was such that it did not enter with him ; 
and that the usual course did not succeed in order to it, for it 
follows, "I thought on God and was troubled," which needs 
not to be understood so, as if the thoughts of God troubled him, 
but though he did think of God he was yet troubled. The 
thoughts of God were not the cause of his trouble, but the in 
effectual means of his relief. Still he was troubled notwith 
standing he thought of God, not because. For you see he was 
otherwise troubled, and says, " In the day of my trouble I 
sought the Lord." He took the course which was wont not to 
fail, but his mind was so full of troublous thoughts before, that 
when he remembered God, it proved but a weak essay. The 
strength of his soul was pre-engaged the other way, and the 
stream was too violent to be checked by that feebler breath 
which he now only had to oppose it. Though God can ar 
bitrarily, and often doth, put forth that power as to break and 
scatter the cloud, and make all clear up on a sudden ; yet also, 
often, he withholds in some displeasure that more potent influ 
ence, and leaves things to follow, with us, their own natural 
course, lets our own sin correct us, and suffers us to feel the 
smart of our own rod. For we should have withstood begin 
nings, and have been more early in applying the remedy before 
things had come to this ill pass. Because we did not when we. 
better could, set ourselves to consider, and strive and pray ef 
fectually, the distemper of our spirits is now grown to that 
height that we would and cannot. In that great distress which 
befel David at Ziglag, when he finds his goods rifled, his near 
est relatives made captives, that city itself the place of his re 
pose, the solace of his exile, reduced to a ruinous heap; his 
guard, his friends, the companions of his flight, and partakers 
of all his troubles and dangers, become his most dangerous 
enemies, for they mutiny and conspire against him, and speak 


of aH the divine laws, that they are visibly, and with admirable 
suitableness, contrived for the good and felicity of mankind, 
and seem but obligations upon us to be happy. Such as in the 
keepiog whereof there is great reward, Ps. 19. 11, And, in this 
particular one, how observably hath our Lord, as it were stu 
died our quiet, and the repose of r minds ! How (especially) 
doth the benignity and kindness of the holy Law-giver appear 
in it ! upon comparing this consideration with the precept it 
self. Take no thought for to-morrow, sufficient for the day is 
the evil of it. As though he had said I would not have you 
over-burdened ; I would have you be without care. It imports a 
tenderness of our present comfort; which he many other ways 
expresses of our future safety and blessedness. As though he 
should say, 1 would have you go comfortably through the world, 
where you are in a pilgrimage and a wayfaring condition ; I 
would not have you oppressed, ncr your spirits bowed down with 
too heavy a burden. And it is elsewhere inculcated. Casting 
all your care on him, for he careth for you, (1 Pet. 5. 7.) In 
nothing be careful (Phil. 4. 6.) but, in all things, let your re 
quests be made known to God, with thanksgiving ; 'and the 
peace of God (so it immediately follows) which passeth all un 
derstanding, shall keep your hearts and minds. Commit thy 
way to the Lord, devolve k on him, as the word signifies, Ps, 
37. 5. trust also in him, and he will bring it to pass. If we 
be so wise as to observe his rule and design, we shall be wise for 
ourselves. And that tranquillity and calmness of spirit, which 
many heathens have so highly magnified, ancl which their phi 
losophy sought, our religion will possess and enjoy. But if we 
neglect, and disregard him herein ; we shall bring an evil into 
to-day that neither belongs to this day, nor to any other. It is 
true indeed, God doth often point us out the day, wherein we 
must suffer such and such external evils, and as it were say to us, 
** Now is your day of suffering." Sometimes by his providence 
alone, when I have no way of escape ; sometimes by the con 
currence of his word and providence, when the one hems me in, 
on the one hand, the other on the other. He hath now set m$ 
a day for suffering, in this or that kind, but none for sinning ift 
this kind, nor in any other. Why shall I draw in evils to 
this day, from to-morrow, that belong neither to this day nor 
to to-morrow. 

The sum is, whether we regard our innocency or our peace, 
whether we would express reverence to God, or a due regard to 
ourselves. If we would do the part either of pious and religious 
or of rational and prudent men, we are to lay a restraint upon 
ourselves in this matter. Have we nothing to employ ^ur 

FOB THE FUTURE. 3 ..if* 

thoughts about, that concerns us move ? nothiag wherein; we 
may use them to better purpose ? Is these nothing wherein, we 
are more left at liberty I or nothing aboijt which we are more 
bound in duty to think ? Unless we reckon that thoughts are 
absolutely free, and that we may use our thinking power as we 
please j and that the divine government doth not extend to our 
minds ? (which if it do not, we confound God's government, 
and man's, and there is an end of all internal sin and duty ; 
and of the first and most radical differences of moral good and 
vil) we can never justify ourselves in such a range of thoughts 
and cares, as this we have been speaking of. And it is very un 
reasonable to- continue a course we cannot justify. A transient 
action done against a formed judgment would be reflected on 
with regret and shame by such as are not arrived to that pitch 
as not to care what they do. But to persist in a condemned 
course of actions, must much more,, argue a profligate consci 
ence enfeebled and mortified to that degree as ta have little 
sense left of right and wrong. Where it is so, somewhat else is 
requisite to a cure, than mere representing the evil of that course. 
What that can do hath been tried already. And when men 
have been once used to victory, over their own judgments, and 
consciences; every former defeat makes the next the easier ; 
till at length, light and conscience become such contemptible 
baffled things, as to signify nothing at all, to the governing of 
practice> this way or that* 

The only thing that can work a redress, is to get the temper 
of our spirits cured ; which will mightily facilitate the work 
and business of conscience, and is necessary, even where it is 
most lively and vigorous. For to be only quick at discerning 
what we should be, and do, signifies little against a disinclined 
heart. Therefore for the rectifying of that, and that our incli 
nations,, as well as our judgments, may concur, and fall in with 
our duty in this matter, I will only recommend in order hereto 
by way of direction (among many that might be thought on) 
these two things. 

(1.), That we use more earnest endeavour to be, habitually, 
under government, iareference to our thoughts, and the inward 
workings of our spirits. For can we doubt of the obligation of 
the many precepts that concern, immediately, the inner man ? 
to love, to trust, to fear, to rejoice in God, &c.? What becomes 
of all religion, if the vital principles of it be thought unnecessa 
ry ? Do not all the laws of God that enjoins us any duty, lay 
their first obligation upon our inward man ? Or do they only 
oblige us to be hypocrites ? and to seem what we are not ? And 
why do we here distinguish , and think that, by some precepts, 


God intends to oblige us ; and by others he means no such 
thing, but to leave us to our liberty ? Or would not those which 
we will confess more indispensable (namely, such as have been 
instanced in) exclude the careful thoughts, we speak of, about 
the events of to-morrow? For can a heart much conversant in 
the explicit acts of love to God, trust in him, the fear of him, 
&c. be much liable to these forbidden cares ? 

Nor, surely, can it be matter of doubt with us, whether God 
observe the thoughts and motions of our souls ? For can we think 
that he will give rules about things wherein he will exercise no 
judgment ? The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man that they 
are vanity ; (Ps. 94.) and are any more vain than these ? Do 
we Christians need a heathen instructor to tell us, " We ought 
always so to live, as under view ; and so to think, as if there 
were some one that may, and can, inspect and look into our in 
nermost breast. To what purpose is it that we keep anything 
secret from man ? nothing is shut up to God. He is amidst 
our minds, and comes among our most inward thoughts." (Se 
neca.) Let us labour to accustom and use our spirits to sub 
jection, to have them composed and formed to awful apprehen 
sions of that authority and government which the Father of spi 
rits claims, and hath established immediately over themselves. 
This, though it be more general, will yet reach this case. 

(2.) That we aim at being, in the temper of our spirits, more 
indifferent about all future events, that lie within the compass 
of time. Let us not account them so very considerable. Time 
will soon be over, and is too narrow a sphere for us to confine 
our minds unto. We should endeavour a greater amplitude f 
thoughts. As he that hath large, and noble designs, looks with 
great indifference, upon smaller matters wherein they are not 
concerned. One that fears God, and works righteousness, be 
lieves a world to come, and lives in entire devotedness to the 
Redeemer, (the constitution of whose kingdom relates entirely 
to that other world) hath little cause to concern himself about 
interveniences, which, as to his part in that world, will not al 
ter his case. We are not the surer of heaven, if the sun shine 
out to-morrow ; nor the less sure, if it shine not. 

For the obtaining of this dutiful and peaceful indifferency, it 
concerns us to be much in prayer. For, both, that happy tem 
per of mind is part of the wisdom, which if we want, we are to 
ask of God. (Jam. 1. 5.) and it directly eases us of the bur 
den of our affairs to commit them in that way ; as is signified in 
that mentioned scripture, Phil. 4-6. Nor was anything more 
agreeable, than that our Lord teaching us (in that admirable 
summary of petitions given in this same sermon on the mount) 


to pray every day for our daily bread, should here forbid us to 
take thought for the morrow. As also, in the gathering of 
manna, no care was to be extended further than the present 
day.* We have easy access daily. Story tells us, the poor 
Chinese could not enter into the presence of their Tarta 
rian prince, with never so just a complaint, without submit 
ting, first, to a hundred bastinados, as the condition of their 
admittance. Would we thankfully accept, and use as we 
might, the constant liberty we have upon the easiest terms, 
how much would it contribute both to our innocency and 
quiet ! 

* Both which remarks are noted by some expositors. 






Cmmoaerate SDesite 









immo&erate 2?egtt:e 



HpHERE is yet another very vicious habit of mind, besides 
this of taking thought about the events of future time ; 
namely, an intemperate appetite of foreknowing them. Which 
hath such affinity, and lies so contiguous, and bordering to the 
former, that it will not be incongruous to add somewhat con 
cerning it ; and, which is of so ill and pernicious an import, 
that it will deserve some endeavour to shew how we may discern 
and repress it. And it may be requisite to discourse somewhat 
to this purpose, both for the vindication of God's wisdom and 
goodness, in confining our knowledge of the events of future 
time, within so narrow bounds and limits ; and that serious 
Christians may the more effectually consult the ease and quiet 
of their own minds, by keeping themselves contentedly, as to 
this matter, within the bounds which he hath set them. This 
appetite of foreknowing is only to be animadverted on so far as 
it is inordinate, and a distemper. Our business therefore here 
must be, to specify and distinguish this distemper : and to offer 
somewhat for the cure of it. 

I. For the finding out and specifying of it. It is not to be _y 
doubted but there may be a fauitiness in the defect : a too 
great listlessness, and indisposition to look forward. Which in 
disposition will appear blamable, when it proceeds either 
from a sensual slothfulness of temper that addicts us wholly to 

VOL. II. ' 2 Y 


the present. It is too mnch a-kin to the beast, to be totally 
taken up with what now pleases. When all the soul lies in the 
senses, and we mind nothing but the grateful relishes of our 
present and private enjoyments, are quite unconcerned about 
the state of the world, or the Christian interest, or what shall 
hereafter come of the affairs of our country, in civil or religious 
respects : when we are held in a lazy indirFerency concerning 
the state of things in succeeding times and ages ; are conscious 
of no desire of any hopeful prospect for posterity, and those 
that shall come after us; and it is all one with us whether we know 
them likely to be civil or barbarian, Christian or pagan, free 
men or slaves, because we care not which of these we be our 
selves, so we can but eat on, and enjoy our own undisturbed 
case and pleasure ; this is a fatal mortification of the appetite 
of foreknowing. For it destroys it quite, when it should but 
rectify and reduce it within due bounds. And in what degree 
that, or any other inclination ought to die, it much imports 
what kills it ; because that which doth so, succeeds into the 
dominion, and hath all the power in me which it before 
had. And surely no worse thing can rule over me, than a 
sensual spirit; that binds me down, and limits me to this spot 
of earth, and point of time. Or if it proceed from a 
weak and childish dread of all futurity : as children ap 
prehend nothing but bugbears, and hobgoblins, and fright 
ful images, and appearances in the dark; this ill disposi 
tion is very intimately conjunct with the former. When 
a sensual mind, finding itself already well entertained with the 
gratifications of the present time, cleaves to it, and every 
thought of a change is mortal. It is death to admit the appre 
hension of a new scene. It is as true indeed, that the same 
temper of mind, in more ungrateful, present circumstances, 
runs ail into discontent and affectation of change ; as will be 
further shewn hereafter in the proper place. But in this re 
gion of changes, it is most imprudent and incongruous, to let 
the mind be unchangeably fixed upon any external state and 
posture of things ; or irreconcilably averse to any. It is be^ 
coming, it is laudable and glorious, with a manly and a truly 
Christian fortitude, to dare to face futurity how formidably so 
ever ^any thing within the compass of time may look. For, 
certainly, so far as we ought to be mortified to the knowledge 
of future things, it ought to proceed from some better principle, 
than only our being afraid to know them. 

But, that distemper of mind which is now more principally 
to be noted .and reproved, lies rather in the excess. That 
therefore it may be distinctly characterized and understood, I 
shall endeavour to shew when this appetite of foreknowing the 


events of future time is not to be thought excessive ; or how 
far a disposition to inquire into such matters is allowable and 
fit, and when, by its excess,, it doth degenerate into a dis 
temper so as to become the just matter of reprehension and 

First. Therefore (on the negative part) we are not to think 
it disallowed us; yea it cannot but be our duty, to have a weH 
proportioned desire, of understanding so much of future event, 
as God hath thought fit to reveal in his word. As he hath there 
foretold very great things concerning the state of the Christian 
church and interest to th end of the world. Which predictions 
it cannot be supposed, are made public and offered to our view 
to be neglected and overlooked. Only we must take care that 
our endeavour to understand them, and the time and labour we 
employ therein, be commensurate to the circumstances of our 
condition, to our ability and advantage for such more difficult 
disquisitions, and be duly proportioned between them, and 
other things, that may be of equal or greater moment to us. 

Nor, again, is it liable to exception, if we only 
desire to make a right use of other additional indications and 
presages also ; whether they belong to the moral, natural, or 
political world or(if any such should be afforded) to the more pe 
culiar sphere of extraordinary and immediate divine revelation. 

1. It is not only innocent, but commendable to endeavour 
the making a due improvement of moral prognostics; or to 
consider what we are to hope, or fear, from the increase and 
growth of virtue, or vice in the time wherein we live. And 
herein we may fitly guide our estimate, by what we find pro 
mised, threatened or historically recorded in the Holy Scriptures 
(or other certain history) in reference to like cases. Only be 
cause God may sometime, arbitrarily vary his methods ; and the 
express application of such promises, threatenings and histories 
to our times is not in Scripture,we should not be too positive in 
making it. 

2. The like may be said of such unusual phenomena as fall 
out within the sphere, but besides the common course of nature: 
as comets or whatever else is wont to be reckoned portentous. 
The total neglect of which things, I conceive, neither agrees 
with the religious reverence which we owe to the Ruler of the 
world ; nor with common reason and prudence. 

It belongs not to the present design, as to comets particularly, 
to discourse the philosophy of them. Their relation to our earth, 
as meteors raised from it, is a fancy that seems deservedly ex 
ploded; but it seems to require great hardiness to deny they 
have any relation as tokens. Their distance from us may we* 
argue the former. But, the constant luminaries of heaven, 


that in other kinds, continually serve us, might by their distance 
(most of them) be thought quite unrelated to us as well as 
they. And if we should suppose all, or most, of those useful 
luminaries primarily made for some other nobler use, that makes 
not the constant benefit we have by them less in itself, The 
like may be thought of the use which these more extraordinary 
ones may be of to us, in a diverse kind ; that they should cause 
what they are thought to signify. I understand not, nor am 
solicitous how they are themselves caused ; let that be as na 
turally as can be supposed, (of the rejected effluvia of other 
heavenly bodies, or by the never so regular collection of whatr 
soever o'ther celestial matter,) that,hinders not their being signs 
to us, more than the natural causation of the bow in the clouds, 
though that, being an appropriate sign for a determinate pur 
pose, its signification cannot but be more certain. And, if we 
should err in supposing them to signify any thing of future 
event to us at all, and that error only lead us into more serious 
ness ; and a more prepared temper of mind, for such trouble 
as may be upon the earth,* it will, sure, be a less dangerous 
error, than that on the other hand would be, if we should err in 
thinking them to signify nothing; and be thtreby made the 
more supine and secure, and more liable to be surprized by the 
calamities that shall ensue ; besides, that we shall be the less 
excusable, in departing from the judgment of all former times 
and ages, upon no certainty of being more in the right. And 
why should we think such things should serve us for no other 
purpose, than only to gratify our curiosity, or furnish us with 
matter of wonder, invite us to gaze and admire? when (as an anci 
ent well observes*) "things known to all in the common course 
of nature are not less wonderful, and would be amazing to all 
that consider them, if men were not wont to admire only things 
that are rare. It is neither fit, indeed, we should be very par 
ticular, or confident in our interpretations and expectations upon 
such occasions; or let our minds run out in exorbitant emotions, 
as will be further shewn in the positive account which is in 
tended of this sort of distemper. But I conceive it is very safe 
to suppose, that some very considerable thing, either in a way 
of judgment or mercy may ensue ; according as the cry of per 
severing wickedness or of penitential prayer is more or less loud 
at that time. 

3. There are, again, very strange and extraordinary aspects 
of providence that sometimes offer themselves to, our notice, in. 
the course of human affairs, and in the political world, where 
God presides over rational and free agents. And these also must 

*August. de Civil. I}ei ? I. 21. c. 8. 


l*e allowed to have their signification of what is likely to be future. 
For, otherwise, if we were to reckon they imported nothing, 
either of good or evil (so much as probable) to be expected 
from them ; we should be to blame, if our minds should admit 
any impresbion from them, either of hope or fear (which both 
refer to the future) though in never so moderate a degree. And 
should be obliged to put on an absolute stoicism, in reference to 
whatsoever may occur beyond what human nature is capable of; 
and which would have more in it of stupidity, than prudence, 
or any human or Christian virtue. When, therefore, the face of 
providence seems more manifestly threatening, clouds gather ; 
all things conspire to infer a common calamity, and all means 
and methods of prevention, are from time to time frustrated; 
if we so far allow ourselves to think it approaching, as that we 
are hereby excited to prayer, repentance, and the reforming of 
our lives 5 this sure is better than a regardless drowsy slum 

And again, if in order to our preservation from a present 
utter ruin, there fall out, in a continual succession, many strange 
and wonderful things which we looked not for, without which 
We had been swaDowed up quick; we be hereupon encouraged 
unto trust, and dependance upon God, and the hope we shall 
be preserved from being at length quite destroyed whatever pre 
sent calamities may befal us; and be the more fortified in our 
resolution not to forsake him, whatsoever shall : this seems no 
immodest or irrational construction and use of such providences. 
Yea, and at any time, when there is no very extraordinary appear 
ance of a divine hand in the conduct of affairs; it unbecomes us 
not to use our reason and prudence, in judging by their visible 
posture and tendency, as they lie under human management, 
what is like to ensue ; upon supposition the over-ruling provi 
dence do not interpose, to hinder or alter their course : (as we 
find they often run on long, in one current, without any such 
more remarkable interposition) only we are to be very wary, lest 
%ve be peremptory in concluding ; or put more value than is 
meet upon our own judgment (as was noted before) both be-, 
cause we know not when, or how, a divine hand may interpose; 
and may be ignorant of many matters of fact, upon which a true 
judgment of their natural tendency may depend, and our abili 
ty to judge, upon what is in view, may be short and defective. 
Others that have more power, and can do more, may also have 
much more prudence, and can discern better. But observing 
such limitations, it is fit we should use, to this purpose, that 
measure of understanding which God hath given us. In what 
part of the world soever he assigns us our station, we are to 
consider he hath made us reasonable creatures, and that 


we owe to him what interest we have in the country where we 
live. And therefore, as we are not to affect the knowledge 
which belongs not to us ; so, nor are we to renounce the know 
ledge which we have ; to abandon our eyes, and be led on as 
brutes or blind men. But to endeavour, according as we have 
opportunity, to see where we are, and whither we are going ; 
that we may know accordingly how to govern our spirits ; and 
aim to get a temper of mind suitable to what may be the state 
of our case. And for aught we know, this may be all the pro 
phecy we shall have to guide us. As it was the celebrated say 
ing of a Greek poet, quoted by divers of the sager heathens, 
ft He is the best prophet that conjectures best/* Nor is it so 
reasonable to expect, that in plain cases (which do ordinarily 
happen) God should, by any extraordinary means, give us no 
tice of what is to fall out. 

4. But we are not suddenly to reject any premonitions of 
that kind, that appear to deserve our regard, if there be any 
such. It is indeed a part of prudence not too hastily to embrace 
or lay much stress upon modern prophecies. But I see not 
how it can be concluded, that because God hath of latter 
time, been more sparing, as to such communications ; that 
therefore prophecy is so absolutely ceased, that he will never 
more give men intimations of his mind and purposes that way. 
He hath never said it : nor can it be known by ordinary means. 
Therefore for any to say it, were to pretend to prophesy, even 
while they say prophecy is ceased. The superstition of the 
vulgar pagans was, indeed, greatly imposed upon by the pre 
tence of divination ; but among their more ancient philosophers 
none ever denied the thing, except Xenophanes and Epicurus, 
as Cicero* and Plutarchf inform us, and concerning the latter 
Laertius. J It seems he did it over and over ; and, indeed, it 
well agreed with his principles about the Deity to do so. Cicero 
himself, after large discourse upon the subject, leaves at last, 
the matter donbtful according to the manner of the academy 
which he professes to imitate. Yet a great father in the Chris 
tian church, understands him to deny it, but withal observes 
that he denied God's prescience too (as one might, indeed that 
he doubted it at least) in that discourse. Plato discourses so 
berly of it, asserting, and diminishing it at once, (as we shall 
afterwards have more occasion to note,) the generality were for 

* Dedivinat. t De Placit. Phil. 

wg KKI ev 

^ He hath abolished every act of divination in others, as well as in 
ibis small epitome. 
1 In vita Epic. 


it, as is evident. And indeed the many monitory dreams rela 
ted in Cicero's books upon that subject, and by Plutarch in se 
veral parts of his works, shew that notices of things to come 
were not uncommon among the pagans ; and in a way- that 
seemed more remarkable, and of more certain signification, 
than their so much boasted oracles. How they came by them, 
from whom, or upon what account, we do not now inquire. 
But since the matter was really so, it seems no incredible thing, 
that some or other in the Christian church, even in these latter 
ages, should, upon better terms, partake somewhat of some such 
a privilege.* Nor is it difficult to produce many instances,with- 
in the latter centuries, that would incline one to think it liath 
been so. 

But whosoever shall pretend it, I see not what right they can 
claim to be believed by others, till the event justify the pre 
diction; unless they can, otherwise, shew the signs which are 
wont to accompany and recommend a super-natural revelation. 
Where any such is really afforded, it is like it may produce a con 
comitant confidence, that will exclude all present doubt in their 
own minds, without external confirmation. But then, as the 
apostle speaks in another case, if they have faith, they must 
have it to themselves. They can never describe their confidence 
to another, so as to distinguish it from the impression of a mere 
groundless (and often deluded) imagination. Nor are others 
to grudge at it, if some particular persons, be in this or that 
instance privileged with so peculiar a divine favour, as to have 
secret monitions of any danger approaching them, that they may 
avoid it, or direction concerning their own private affairs, which 
none else are concerned to take cognisance of. But, if the matter 
be of common concernment, the concurrence of things is to be 
noted ; and a greater regard will seem to be challenged, if 
several of these mentioned indications do fall in together. As, 
supposing a gradual foregoing languor and degeneracy of 
religion, in the several parts of the Christian world. And 
Christianity (with the several professions, which it comprehends) 
looks less like a religion ; or a thing that hath any reference to 
God. But rather, that men have thought fit to make use of 
this or that various mode of it, as a mark of civil distinction, 
under which to form and unite themselves into opposite parties, 
for the serving of secular interests and designs. It, generally, 
makes no better men than paganism. A spirit of atheism, pro- 
faneness, and contempt of the Deity, and of all things sacred, 
more openly shews and avows itself, than perhaps, heretofore, 
in any pagan nation. And not in a time of gross darkness, such 

* Savanrola, G. Wischard, of Scotland, and several others. . . 


as formerly, for several ages, had spread itself over the Whole 
face of the Christian church ; but in a time of very clear and 
bright light. Worse and more horrid principles, even in the 
ancient sense of mankind,, apparently destructive of common 
order, and of all human society, are inserted into the religion 
of Christians ; and obtain with them that have, in great part ob 
tained the power in the Christian world, and would wholly en 
gross the Christian name. Better principles, in others, are in 
efficacious and signify nothing, too generally, to the governing 
of their lives and practice. Men are let loose to all imaginable 
wickedness, as much as if they were not christians, .and many 
(namely, that more vastly numerous and bulky party) the more 
for that they are so. Yea, and not let loose, only; but obliged 
by their very principles, to those peculiar acts, and kinds of 
wickedness, and violence, which directly tend to turn Christen 
dom into an Aceldama, and involve the Christian world in ruin 
and confusion. When multitudes stand, as it were prepared, 
and in a ready posture, to execute such vengeance, as is highly 
deserved by others, and make judgment begin at (that which 
our profession obliges us rather to account) the house of God 
to rebound afterward, with greater terror and destructiveness 
upon themselves who began it. 

If now some eminent servant of God much noted, and of great 
remark, for knowledge, wisdom, and sanctity, remote from all 
suspicion of levity, or sinester design, shall have very expressly 
foretold such a time and state of things as this, and what will be 
consequent thereupon; and with great earnestness and vehemency 
inculcated the premonition; and if, in such a time, God shall set 
again and again a monitory torch, high and flaming in the heavens 
over our heads; methinks it doth not savour well to make light ac 
count of it, or think it signifies nothing. For, (to speak indeed, 
as himself doth allow and teach us to conceive ;) the majesty of 
God doth yi such concurrent appearances seem more august. 
His hand is lifted up, and he doth as it were accingcre se, pre 
pare and address himself to action, raise himself up in his 
holy habitation, (Zech. 2. 13.) whereupon, all flesh is required 
to be silent before him. A posture both of reverence, in res 
pect of what he hath already done ; and of expectation, as to 
what he may further be about to do. And of what import or 
signification soever, such things, in their concurrence, may be 
to us, it surely ought to be attended to, and received with great 
seriousness, yea, and with thankfulness. Especially, if there be 
ground to hope well concerning the issue (as there will always 
be to them that fear God) and we can see the better, what 
special sort and kind of duty, we are more peculiarly, to apply 
to, in the mean time. 


And whereas we know a mind and wisdom, govern all affairs 
and events through the whole universe. It is fit we should 
meet mind with mind, wisdom with wisdom. That, on our 
part, an obsequious, docile mind should advert to, and wait 
upon that supreme, all ruling, divine mind, in all the appear 
ances, wherein it looks forth upon us. And with a dutiful 
veneration, cry hail to every radiation of that holy light ; ac 
counting, whatever it imports, it opportunely visits the darkness 
wherein we converse, and should be as gratefully received as 
the sun, peeping through a cloud, by one travelling in a dusky 
day. His is the teaching wisdom. It is well for us if we can 
be wise enough to learn ; and unto that, there is a wisdom re 
quisite also, Whoso is wise, and will observe those things, even 
they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord. (Ps. 107.) 
And again, I will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way 
xvhich thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye; (Ps. 32. 
8.) which implies our eye must diligently mark his, and that 
(as it follows) we be not as the horse or mule that have no 
understanding, &c. v. 9. And whereas, all the works of God, 
even those that are of every days observation, do some way or 
other represent God to us ; and should constantly suggest unto 
us serious thoughts of him ; those that are more extraordinary, 
ought the more deeply to impress our minds. And excite in 
those higher acts of a religious affection, which the circumstances 
of our present state admit not that they can be constant in the 
same degree. As though subjects ought always to bear a loyal 
mind towards their prince ; upon such greater occasions, when 
he shews himself in solemn state, it is becoming there be cor 
respondent acts of more solemn homage. But upon the whole, 
since all the certain knowledge we can have of such futurities 
as naturally, and in themselves are not certain, must be by God's 
own revelation only; and all probable pre-apprehension of 
them, by the use of our Own reason and prudence, upon any 
other apt Media that occur to us. While we can confine our 
desire of seeing into the future within these limits, it will be 
just and innocent. And therefore we may now go on, 

Secondly. To the positive discovery wherein this appetite is 
inordinate and degenerates into a distemper of mind. And it 
may, in general, be collected from what hath been now said, 
namely, that when we remain unsatisfied, with what God is 
pleased to reveal about such things; and with what a well govern 
ed prudence, can any other way discern ; and have an itch and 
hankering of mind, after other prognostics, that lie not within 
this compass, and are no proper objects either for our faith or 
our reason. This is the distemper we are to get redressed, and 

VOL. II. 2Z 


are concerned to take heed lest we indulge or cherish. And 
that we may yet be somewhat more distinct in making this 
discovery. These that follow, will be plain indications, that 
our inquisitiveness and thirst after the knowledge of future things 
is a distemper of mind, and ought to be considered, and dealt 
with accordingly. As, 

1. If it be accompanied with discontent, and a fastidious 
loathing of our present lot and portion in the world. Which is 
so much the worse if when our affectation and desire of change, 
proceeds really, and at the bottom from private self-respect ; we 
endeavour to delude others, or flatter ourselves into a belief that 
it is only the public good we are intent upon, and the better 
state of God's interest in the world. And worst of all, if our 
desires be turbulent, vindictive, and bloody, that is, if not only 
they are so fervent towards our own hoped advantages, that we 
care not through what public confusions, and calamities our 
private ends be promoted and carried on ; but should like it 
the better to see at the same time our heart's desire upon them 
we have allowed ourselves to hate; yea, though it be never so 
true that they hate us, and have been injurious to us. Thus 
with the study and desire of a new state of things, which in itself 
may be, in some cases, innocent ; and, limited to due methods 
and degrees of the desired change, not only innocent but a duty 
(for there is no state of things in this world so good, but being 
still imperfectly so, we ought to desire it were better) a twofold 
vicious appetite may fall in, that of avarice, and revenge, of 
good to ourselves beyond what comes to our share; and of hurt 
to other men. Which complicated disease must taint and in 
fect every thought and look, that is directed forward towards a 
better state of things. 

If this be the case, it must be great negligence and indul 
gence to ourselves not to discern it. For the incoherence and 
ill agreement of what is real, and what is pretended would soon 
appear to one not willing to be mistaken. Sincere devoted- 
ness to God and his interest, would be always most conjunct 
with that complacential faith in his governing wisdom and power, 
and entire resignment of ourselves and all his and our own con 
cerns to his pleasure and goodness, that we will never think his 
procedure too slow ; or suspect him of neglecting his own in 
terest ; or of that which he judges (and which therefore is, most 
truly) ours. And it is ever accompanied with that placid be 
nignity, and universal love to other men (enemies themselves 
being by the known rules of the gospel included) as that we 
would not wish their least injury, for our own greatest advan 
tage. And should most earnestly wish, that if God see good, 


the advantage of his interest in the world, might be so carried 
on as to comprehend and take in therewith, their greatest ad 
vantage also. And if we should see cause to apprehend it may 
fall out to be otherwise ; that, surely, ought to be our temper, 
which the prophet expresses (and appeals to God concerning it) 
upon a very frightful prospect of things, " I have not desired 
the woful day O Lord thou knowest/' Jerem. 17 16. Sore- 
mote it should be from us to press forward with a ravenous, 
cruel eye towards a tragical bloody scene ; or to accuse the dir 
vine patience which we should adore, and (perhaps, as much as 
any others) do also need. 

2. If there be a greater inclination to look forward into the 
future things of time than those of eternity. If in the former 
we find a con-naturalness, and they seem most agreeable to us, 
these other are tasteless, and without sap and savour. If it 
would be a great and sensible consolation, to be assured such a 
state of things as we would choose, shall very shortly obtain. 
But to think of a state approaching, wherein all things shall be 
perfectly and unexceptionably well for ever, is but cold comfort. 
Blessed God! what a mortal token is this ? Do we apprehend 
nothing of distemper in it ? Do we see ourselves the men of 
lime (as the hebrevv expresses what we read men of this world, 
Ps. 17. 14.) and do not our hearts misgive at the thought ? 
How little likely is it we are designed for that blessed eternity 
to which our spirits are so little suitable? When, as it is said 
of them that are for the state wherein mortality shall be swallow 
ed up of life, that he that hath wrought them for that selfsame 
thing is God ? (2 Cor. 5. 4. 5.) Can the felicity of heaven be 
long to them that value it not as their best good ? but count a 
terrestrial paradise of their own devising better ? 

3. If we besointentuponthis or that future event,as that here 
by the due impression is worn ofij of much greater and more im 
portant things that are already past. What so great things 
have we to expect in our time, as we know have come to puss 
in former time ? What so great, as that the Son of God came 
down into our world ! did put on man ! lived a life's time 
among us mortals ! breathed every- where heavenly love, and 
grace, and sweetness ; and with these grateful odours perfumed 
this noisome, impure, forlorn region of darkness and death ! 
died a sacrifice for sinners ! and overcame death ! ascended 
in triumph to the throne of God, sat down on the right hand of 
the Majesty on high ! What so great as the mystery of God 
liness, that God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the 
spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in 
the world, received up into glory! (1 Tim. 3. 16.) Are any 


of those little futurities, whereof we have but an uncertain ex 
pectation, fit to be compared with these things which we cer 
tainly know to have come to pass, ? Or have we anything so 
important and great to fix our eye upon, as a Redeemer now in 
his exaltation ? invested with all power in heaven and earth, to 
whom every knee must bow, and every tongue confess ! The 
arbiter of life and death to men ! who hath established so ad 
mirable a frame of religion for the reduction of apostate man ! 
made it triumph over the obstinate infidelity of the Jews, and 
the idolatry of the Gentile world ! And what the glorious issue 
of his administration will be, we already know ; and are not 
left about it to suspenceful dubious inquiry. Nor do need a 
more certain revelation than we have. Is all this to be waved 
and overlooked ? while we stand at a gaze, expecting what 
shall be .the height of the French monarchy, or the fate of the 
Dutch republic, or of this or that particular person, now upon 
the stage ! It must surely be an ill symptom, and an indication 
of a sickly mind, when things have all their value and regard 
with us, not as they are great but as they are new. And are 
only considerable to us, because they are yet future and un 

4. If we more earnestly covet to foreknow the approach of an 
external state of things that would be better, in our account, 
than to feel the good effect upon our spirits, of one that we take 
to be worse, and that is externally afflictive to us. This excludes 
the apprehension of a wise providence, governing the world \ 
That pursues a design in what it doth or permits. As if we 
thought God did afflict us for afflictions sake, as more intend 
ing, therein, his own pleasure than our profit, Or as if we 
would impute a levity to providence, and reckoned it inconstant 
and desultory, even beneath the ordinary prudence of a man. 
That it might ibrget and desist, and would not drive on a de 
sign to an issue. Or that (contrary to what God tells Eli by 
Samuel, I. Sam. 3. 12.) wlin he began, he would divert and 
alter his course, before he made an end. Or it implies, we 
place our felicity in somewhat without us, more than in a good 
habit and temper of spirit within. Whereas,surely things are much 
ami^s with us, if we do not account that a mortified heart, to 
wards whatsoever is temporary and terrene, is a thousand-fold 
more desirable than the best external state of things that is ever 
to be enjoyed under the sun. As calamitous as the condition of 
Job was, it-had been a worse evil than any he suffered ; if that 
censure of him were true, that he chose iniquity rather than 
affliction. Jp,b. 36. 21. Or if that were not true, which he 
seems to intimate concerning himself, that he was less intent 


upon a present release from the furnace, than, at length to come 
out like gold. Job. 23. 10. 

5. If the other parts of Scripture be less savoury to us than 
the prophetical. And especially when these are of more grate 
ful savour than the preceptive part. This is of great affinity 
with the foregoing character. For the precepts in God's word, 
describe to us that excellent frame of spirit, which afflictions are 
designed (as one sort of means) more deeply to impress. And 
what there is of ill character, here, lies in this, when anything 
is of greater value than that comely, amiable, well complexion- 
ed temper of spirit. And surely it less concerns us, what God 
will do without us, than, what he will have us do, and be, our 
selves. It is an ill circumstance with a diseased person, when 
he hath less inclination to such things as tend to bring him to 
a confirmed habit of health, than such as more serve to nourish 
his disease. And whereas Quicquid recipitur ad modum re- 
cipientisy whatever is received., is received according to the 
measure of the recipient, there is little doubt, but where this 
distemper we are speak ing of, prevails; men may be much inclined 
to make that use, even of Scripture prophecies as to feed their dis 
temper. When they can relish and allow themselves to mind no o- 
ther parts of the Bible : when they take more pi easure to be conver 
sant in these obscurer things, than those that are plain, and con 
cern us more, (as God hath mercifully provided that such things 
in his word, should be plainest, that are of greatest concern 
ment to us,) and they perhaps, neither have the requisite helps, 
nor the ability, with them to master the obscurity : when our 
prepossessed fancy must be the interpreter : and we will make 
the prophecy speak what it never meant ; draw it down to the 
little particularities of the time and place wherein we live : and 
are peremptory in our applications, and so confident, till we 
find ourselves mistaken, that when we do, we begin to suspect 
the Bible. As if divine truths, and our attachments to them, 
must stand and fall together. 

6. (And lastly) when we have an undue regard to unscriptu- 
ral prophecies. Which we may be supposed to have, if we 
either much search after them, or give hasty credit to them 
without search. 

( 1 .) If we much search after them. As, weak and sickly ap 
petites are wont to do for rarities and novelties, we are not con 
tent with what occurs, nor with our own allotment, and God's 
ordinary dispensation, if things of that kind occur not, but pur 
vey and listen out after them ; as if we had not considerable 
things enough, both for our employment, and our entertain 
ment and gratification besides. 

(2.)lf we believe them without search; only because they seem 


to speak according to our mind ; imbibe all things, of that im 
port, promiscuously and on the sudden, without examining the 
matter. The simple believeth every word; Prov. 14. 15. It is 
the business of judgment, to distinguish and discern. We there 
fore call it discretion. It totally fails, when we can find no me 
dium, between believing every thing and nothing. Some things 
indeed of this pretence, are so apparently idle and ridiculous, 
that it will become a prudent man to reject them at the first 
sight. Some may perhaps, partly from the matter, or partly 
from the person, and other concurring circumstances, have such 
an appearance, as ought to stay our minds upon them, detain 
us awhile, and hold us in some suspense, while we consider 
and examine whether any further regard is to be given them or 
no. It is a very distempered, ravenous appetite that swallows 
all it can catch without choice : that allows no leisure to dis 
tinguish between what is suitable, or fit for nourishment, and 
what is either noxious, or vain. 

II. And now for the cure of this distemper. We are to con 
sider the nature of the things the fore-knowledge whereof we so 
earnestly affect. And we find they are not such futurities as 
have their certain causes in nature. As when the sun will rise 
and set ; or be nearer us or remoter ; when there will be an 
eclipse, &c. These are not the things which will satisfy this 
appetite. But mere contingencies that depend upon free and 
arbitrary causes, that is especially, upon the mind and will of 
man ; as it is under the direction of the supreme, and all-govern 
ing mind. And again, we are to consider the nature of the 
knowledge we covet, of these things, namely, that it is not con 
jectural (which indeed were not knowledge) but we would be at 
a certainty about them. Now hereupon we are further to con 
sider, that there is no reasonable appetite which we may not 
seek to have gratified in some apt ^nd proper way, that is, by 
means that are both lawful, and likely to attain our end. 

In the present case, we can think of no course to be taken 
for the obtaining of this knowledge (even giving the greatest 
scope and latitude to our thoughts) but it must suppose one 
of these two things ; either that we look upon it as an ordinary 
gift to be acquired by our own endeavours that is, by art and 
industry, and the use of natural means and helps, whereby we 
imagine our natures may be heightened, and improved to this 
pitch or else that we reckon it an extraordinary immediate 
gift of God; so that if we affect it, we have no course to take 
but to seek it at his hands by prayer ; either that God would 
confer it upon, ourselves, or upon some others, by whom we 
may be informed. And we are now to bethink ourselves, what 


encouragement or allowance we can suppose is given us to seek 
it either of these ways. For, if we can seek it in neither of 
these, we must be obliged either to assign a third (as we never 
can) or abandon it as an unreasonable; and vicious appetite ; 
the satisfaction whereof is no way to be so much as attempted, 
or sought after. And now 

first. As to the former of these ways. There is nothing 
more to be despaired of, the very attempt being both foolish, 
and impious ; both most impossible, and unlawful. 

1 . It is plainly an impossible attempt. For what natural 
means, what rules of art, can give us the knowledge of such 
futurities as we are speaking of? or improve our natural facul 
ties to it ? It is a knowledge quite of another kind, and alien 
to our natures. For besides the notices we have of things by 
sense, which is limited wholly to things present, as its object, 
and our knowledge of first, and self-evident principles (from 
which how remote are the future contingencies we now speak 
of?) We have no imaginable way of coming by the know 
ledge of any thing, otherwise than by reasoning and discourse, 
which supposes a natund connexion of things. Whereupon, 
when we have sure hold of one end of the thread, we can pro 
ceed by it, and lead ourselves on, by such things as we know to 
other things we know not. But what such natural connexion 
is there, between any present thing, known to us, and this sort 
of future things ? Which, for the most part, are such as must 
be brought about, by the concurrence of great multitudes of 
free agents, who may be opposed by as great, and prevented of 
accomplishing what they designed, though their minds were 
never so constantly intent upon the design. But we have no 
way to know with certainty the present minds of so many men, 
nor of any man at all, by immediate inspection; or otherwise, 
than as we may collect, by the former series of his actions or 
professions. Wherein men may deceive the most quick-sight 
ed, and really intend otherwise, than they seem. Much less 
do we know that so mutable a thing as the mind of man is, will 
not alter, and especially, of so many men. And their condi 
tion and outward circumstances may alter, if not their minds. 
What can be certain in such a region of changes, where the 
effecting of purposes depends upon the body, as well as the 
mind, and many external aids and helps besides ? And wher$ 
all are subject to so many accidents, to mairns, sicknesses, and 
deaths ? Nay who can tell what his own mind shall be here* 
after, supposing any such futurity to be within his own power, 
or that his power shall be the same, if his mind should not 
change. And add, what is more than all the rest, who know- 


eththe mind of God, or being his counsellor hath taught him ? 
Isa.40.13. Horn* 1 1. 34. Who can tell what he will do? or enable, 
or permit men to do ? What event could ever have been 
thought more certain, before-hand, than the destruction of the 
Jews by Hainan's means ? And who could ever have foreseen 
a few days, or hours before, that he should be hanged on the 
gallows he prepared for Mordecai. Who can ever think or 
hope, to measure that boundless range, and latitude, wherein 
infinite wisdom and power may work this way or that ? Or, 
within that vast and immense scope ? who can be able to pre 
dict what way God will take ? Or what he will do, or not do ? 
When all human contrivance and forecast is at an end, still 
more ways lie open to him. Or his power can make more, and 
break its way through whatsoever obstructions. We know not 
what to do (says Jehoshaphat in his distress) but our eyes are 
upon thee. 2. Chron. 20. 12. A dutiful confession of the li- 
mitedness of human wit, and power, and of the unlimitedness 
of the divine, both at once ! To offer at comprehending his 
profound designs, and abstruse methods only shews how little 
we understand ourselves, or him. Our own scant measure, or 
Ins immensity. We might better attempt to sound the ocean with 
our finger, or gather it into the hollow of our hand. It were 
happy for us, if our confessed ignorance might end in adora- 
ation ; and that the sense of our hearts were such as the 
apostle's words would aptly express. (Rom. 11. 33.) O the 
depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God ! 
How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past find 
ing out. Such as arlect to be wiser, but not so pious, and go 
about to form models, and ideas for the future, apart from him ; 
how often doth their great wit only serve to expose their folly ! 
And make them the sport of fortune (as some would call it) we 
may say rather, of that wise and righteous providence, that de 
lights to triumph over baffled insolence ! for ludit in humanis y 
&c.) and deride a confidence that is founded only in proud im- 
potency! He that sits in the heavens laughs, the most high 
hath them in derision. How often are the wisest politicians disap 
pointed and despised ! all their measures broken ! their models 
shattered and discomposed ! and all their fabrics overturned in 
a moment ! So remote is human wit, at the utmost stretch, 
from any certainty, about the futurities we speak of. And if 
any imagine it may be helped to foresee, by some art or other ; 
or by rules framed and collected upon former experience; ac 
cording whereto judgments are said heretofore to have been; 
happily made, of what would comfc to pass. 

It is not here intended to examine the several ways that have- 


been taken, and trusted in, for this purpose. That they are all 
such as have been, and are, much disputed, if they were not with 
manifest evidence disproved, would argue that, that foreknow 
ledge of things is not likely to be very certain, which must be 
obtained by arts and rules that are themselves uncertain. How 
much hath been said (anciently, and of late) to discover the va 
nity of that sort of astrology that relates to the futurities we have 
under consideration ! Such as have a mind may view what is 
written to that purpose, and may save themselves much vain la 
bour by perusing the learned Dr. More's late Tctractys, and 
what it refers to in his mystery of godliness. Have we heard of 
none of our later pretenders this way, that have incurred the 
like fate with that wise man of Greece, that was laughed at by a 
silly girl (as Laertius tells us) for so long gazing upon the stars 
(though perhaps upon a better account) till at length, in his 
walk, he fell into a ditch ; that he minded so much what was 
over his head, that he took no notice what was at his feet ! And 
for the an nent augury of the pagans, in the several sorts of it, 
how much was it had in contempt by the wiser among them 
selves. Insomuch that one of them says, he wondered how they 
could look upon one another, and not laugh. As who would 
not, that such strange things should be foreshewn by the flying 
or the singing, or the feeding of birds ! Their usual haruspicy 
was as wise, and as much regarded by some greater minds 
among them, As Alexander that reproved and jeered the'im- 
pertinency of his sooth-sayer that would have withheld him from 
action, upon the pretence of some ill omen he had observed in 
the entrails : telling him that he would surely think he were 
impertinent, and troublesome if he should go about to inter 
rupt him in his employment, when he was busy viewing his 
sacrifice, and asked him, when he pressed further, what greater 
impediment a man could have, that had great things before his 
eyes, than a doting superstitious fortune-teller ? And where 
there was not so much wisdom and fortitude, as to despise such 
fooleries, how ludicrous was it that great and momentous af 
fairs were to be governed by them ! That a general was not to 
march an army or fight a battle, but first such observation must 
be had of the flight of birds, and the entrails of beasts ! or other 
things, as idle as they, as the whirlings, rollings and noise of ri 
vers, the change of the moon, &c. Upon which in Germany 
(as is observed) when Caesar had invaded it, their presaging 
women were to be consulted before it was thought fit to give 
him battle. Clem. Alexand. Strom. L. 1. Besides, what was 
not less vain, but more horrid, presaging upon the convulsed 
members, andthe flowing blood, of a man slain for the purpose. 
ii. 3 A 


Diod. Sic. Bibl. Hist. 1. 5. Nay and the excess of this desire 
hath tempted some, to try the blacker practices of necromancy 
or what might be gained to satisfy and please it, by converse with 
departed souls; or what if it be other familiar spirits ? We here 
consider the folly of such courses, apart from the impiety. As 
what reason have we upon which to apprehend, that they can 
^certain us, or be, ordinarily, certain themselves of such futu 
rities as we speak of? But also the thought of any such course 
we are to presume is horrid to the minds of serious Christians. 
Unto whom, what we find in the holy Scriptures, concerning 
any such ways of presaging, as have been mentioned, should, 
methinks, be enough to form their spirits both to the hatred, 
and the contempt of them, and, by consequence, of the princi 
ple itself (this vain appetite) that leads unto them, and hath 
captivated whole nations into so miserable delusion by them. 
Thus saith the Lord thy Redeemer, that frustrateth the tokens 
of the liars, and maketh diviners mad, that turneth the wise 
men backward, and maketh their knowledge, foolish. (Isai. 44. 
25.) Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels : let 
now the astrologers, the star-gazers,the monthly prognosticates 
stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon 
thee. Behold they shall be as stubble, the fire shall burn them) 
they shall not deliver themselves from the flame, &c. (Isa : 47- 
13, 14. Isa. 8, 19, 20. Dan. 2, 27.) 

And though it be true that God hath often given premoni 
tions of future things, by dreams(which is a matter that belongs 
not to this head) yet the rules that are given, by some learned 
men, for the interpreting of such dreams as contain not 
the things expressly, pretended to be signified are generally, 
so very ridiculous, that it is hard to say, whether they were 
learnedly busy or idle,that thought fit to trouble themselves or the 
world with them. Oneirocrit. Artem. Archmi. &c. And surely, 
though some dreams have been divine; such rules of interpreting 
any,are so meanly human,as to be fit enough to be thrown in hi 
ther and thrown away with the rest of the trash noted before. And 
may help to let us see,that the foreknowledge of the future things 
we are cons5dering,is so impossible to human nature,improved by 
whatsoever rules and precepts of our devising, that while men 
seek to become wise in this kind, by such means, they do but 
befool themselves, and are not a whit the more knowing, but 
shew themselves the less prudent and sober. And if such know 
ledge be a thing whereof Iranian nature, by itself, is not capa 
ble ; to be impatient of ignorance in these things, is to be of 
fended that God hath made such creatures as we find we are. 
That is, if this had been the natural endowment of some other 


order of creatures, how unreasonable were it that a man should 
quarrel with his own nature, and with the inseparable circum 
stances of his own state ? All creatures are of limited natures to 
one or other particular kind. This or that creature admits of 
all the perfections of its own kind. It admits not those of ano 
ther kind. How foolish were it if a man should vex himself 
that he cannot fly like a bird, or run like a stag, or smell like a 
hound, or cannot as an angel fly, at pleasure, between heaven 
and earth, or visit the several orbs, and exactly measure their 
magnitudes and distances from one another ! 

2. We are therefore to consider that the affectation of such 
foreknowledge (that is, to have it in and of ourselves, or by any 
means of our devising) is unlawful as well as impossible. In 
deed this might be collected from the former; for the capa 
city of our natures ought to limit our desires. And it hence 
also, further appears unlawful upon the highest account, in that 
it were to aspire to what is most peculiar, and appropriate to 
the Deity. For hereby the great God demonstrates his God 
head, and expostulating with idolaters, insults over the unactive 
ignorance of their impotent and inanimate deities upon this 
account. Produce your cause (saith he) bring forth your strong 
reasons. Let them bring ther-n forth,and shew us what shall hap 
pen. Shew the things that are to come hereafter that we may 
know that ye are gods, Isa. 41, 21, 22, 23. As if he had said, 
If they be gods why do they not, as gods predict things to come, 
that if they be gods we may know it ? So in the 42 ch. pf the same 
prophecy, v. 8, 9. I am the Lord, that is my name, and my 
glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven ima 
ges. Behold the former things are come to pass, and new 
things do I declare : before they spring forth I tell you of them. 
This is a thing (saith he) that doth peculiarly belong to me. It 
is a glory of mine that shall never be imparted. And to the same 
sense is that in the 46 ch. of that prophecy, v. 9, 10. Remem 
ber the former things of old, for I am God, and there is none 
else, I am God. arid there is none like me, declaring the end 
from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are 
not yet done, saying; my counsel shall stand, and I will do all 
my pleasure. So also did our blessed Saviour, when he had a 
mind to convince that he was, as he gave out the Son of God, 
design the same medium for that purpose. Now I tell you be 
fore it come, that when it is come to pass, ye may believe thaf J: 
am he. And again, I have told you before it come to pass, that 
when it is come to pass, ye might believe. John 13, 19. 
ch. 14. 29. It was indeed the great temptation used to our 
unhappy first parents ; you shall be as gods, knowing good and 


evil. Undoubtedly that knowledge wherewith they were tempt 
ed, must include at least, foreknowledge in it. You shall be as 
gods knowing &c. They were tempted by an expectation of 
being, in this respect, made like God, and we are become by it 
in this respect, like beasts that perish, and in other respects, 
like the devils themselves, who joy in our deception and perdi 
tion : too like beasts in ignorance, and devils in malignity! 

What can be a more presumptuous arrogance, than to aim at 
the royalties of the Godhead ! If to affect what belongs to the 
nature and capacity of another creature were foolish: to aspire 
to any prerogative, and peculiarity of God himself, cannot but 
be extremely impious and wicked ! Are we to be offended that 
we are creatures ? that our natures and the capacity of our 
understandings are not unlimited, and all- comprehending, when 
we owe it to the mere benignity and good pleasure of our Maker 
that we are anything? and much more that we have any such thing 
as an understanding at all. Yea, and if this knowledge were not 
peculiar to God, yet inasmuch as he hath not given it us, nor ap 
pointed us any means of attaining it, is an uncreaturely disposi 
tion, not to be satisfied without it. The rebuke our Saviour 
gave his disciples in one particular case of this nature, ought 
also to be monitory to us, in all such cases, that is, when they 
inquire wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Is 
rael ? Acts 1. 6. His answer is reprehensive. It is not for you 
to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in 
his own power. The expression is remarkable, which the Fa 
ther hath put in his own power,(f0To) it implies, as if, by a po 
sitive act, God had reserved, and locked up from us, the things 
which he hath not vouchsafed to reveal. And we may see how 
he hath, as it were industriously, drawn a curtain between the 
present and future time, that we cannot see so far as one mo 
ment before us. Shall we with rude and irreverent hands, as 
it were attempt to rend, or draw aside the cartain? 

Secondly. And from hence we may also see, in the next 
place how little encouragement we have in the other way to 
expect this knowledge, namely, by supplicating God for it, as 
an extrordinary gift to be obtained immediately from him. If 
we have not wisdom enough, to present unto him reasonable 
desires, we may expect his wisdom will deny us such as are 
unreasonable. He is never so apt to dislike our requests 
for their being too great, as too little. Or for their having 
nothing valuable, or important in them, nothing suitable to him, 
or to us, fit for him to give, or for us to seek or receive. In 
the present case, it is true, he hath sometimes favoured men 
with this kind of knowledge, ordained and inured prophets, 


who were to signify his purposes and pleasure to others. But 
it was rather modestly declined, than sought j and was, mostly, 
upon great and important occasions for high and very considera 
ble ends, and to he effected, at seasons, and hy persons of his 
own choosing. Nor doth it seem a thing fit for men to make 
the matter of petition. For if they should, either it must be 
for some reason peculiar to themselves, and which others can 
not generally allege, as well as they ; which it is not supposa- 
ble any can be able to assign. Or for some common reason 
that concerns the generality of men as much. And then, we 
are sure, it can be of no weight ; for, upon the same reason, 
all should, as much, be prophets. Which it is plain he doth 
not judge fit (who can best judge) in that he hath not made 
them so, which is concluding, as to things he hath not made 
it our duty to seek. And that this is a communication not fit 
to be constant and general at all times, and to all persons, is 
evident in itself. And may appear by divers considerations that 
partly respect God and his government, partly ourselves and 
our own interest, and concernment. 

1. On God's part, [t would greatly detract from the majes 
ty of his government that it should have no arcana, and that 
all things should lie open to every eye. We may easily appre 
hend that the dignity of the divine government was, in this 
respect, designed to be kept up to an awful height, when we 
find there is somewhat mentioned to us (and how many things 
more may there be that are not mentioned ?) which the angels 
in heaven know not, nor the human soul of our Lord himself, 
but the Father only. Nor again, was it suitable (particularly) 
to the government of God over man, in this present state, which 
we find designed for a state of probation ; to be concluded, and 
shut up at last by a solemn judgment. For unto this state, the 
final judgment hath its peculiar, only reference. Therein we 
are to receive the things done in the body, that is, (as it is ex 
plained 2 Cor. 5. 10,) according to what we have done whether 
good or evil. How unfit were it that probationers for eternity, 
should, generally foreknow events that shall fall out in the state 
of their trial? Wherein they are to be strictly tied up to rules 
without regard to events. And are to approve themselves in 
that sincerity, constancy, fortitude, dependence upon God, re 
signation of themselves, and their concerns to him, that could 
have little place or opportunity to shew themselves, in a state 
wherein all things were at a certainty to them. 

2. On our own part. It is to be considered that the fore 
knowledge of temporary events, is not a thing of that value to 
us, which we may, perhaps, imagine it is. It would serve us 


more for curiosity than use. An unfit thing for us to petition 
in, or expect to be gratified. The wiser heathens have thought 
meanly of it. They have believed, indeed, that God did some- 
times enable men to prophesy but have reckoned it, as one of 
them speaks, a gift indulged unto human imprudence.* That 
author accounts weaker minds, the usual subjects of it. That 
no man in his right mind, attained it, but either being aliena 
ted from himself, by sleep or a disease. And that they were 
not wont to understand, themselves, the meaning of their own 
visions, but must have them interpreted by others. The result 
of a larger discourse, he hath about it, than is fit here to be in 
serted comes to this, that fools divine, and wise must judge. 
Whereupon another (Cicero) thinks such prophecies little to be 
regarded, counting it strange that what a wise man could not see 
a mad-man should. And that when one hath lost human sense 
he should obtain divine ! 

They were not acquainted indeed with those ways wherein 
God revealed his mind to holy men whom lie used as his own 
amanuenses or penmen, or who were otherwise to serve him for 
sacred purposes. But when we consider Balaam's being a pro 
phet, methinks we should not be over fond of the thing itself, 
abstractly considered. How unspeakably is the Spirit of holiness 
as such, to be preferred ! To have a heart subject to God, 
willing to be governed by him, to commit to him, even in the 
dark, our less considerable, temporal concernments ; and con 
fidently to rely for our eternal concernments, upon his plain 
word in the gospel, wherein life and immortality are brought 
to light, would make us little feel the need of prophecy. The 
radical principle of holiness is love (for it is the fulfilling of the 
law) in the absence whereof, the apostle esteems the gift of 
prophecy (with the addition of understanding all mysteries, and 
all knowledge) to go for nothing. 1 Cor, 13. 2. And if we strictly 
consider ; wherein can we pretend it needful to us to foreknow 
the events that are before us ? they are either bad and ungrateful 
or good and grateful. For the former sort, what would it avail 
us to foreknow them ? That we may avoid them ? That is a 
contradiction. How are they avoidable, when we know they 
will befall us ? Is it that we be not surprized by them ? We 
have other means to prevent it. To bear an equal temper of 
mind towards all conditions ; to live always, in this region of 
changes, expecting the worst. At least not to expect rest on 
earth, to familiarize to ourselves the thoughts of troubles, ap 
prehending, as to those that are private, we are always liable. 

Plat. inTiiu. 


And for any greater, common calamities that we may share 
in with the generality usually, they come on more slowly. 
There, often, are premonitory tokens, such as were before- 
mentioned in this discourse, sufficient to keep us from being 
surprized. And with the rest this may concur (as was said) 
that perhaps some or other of that value, and consideration, 
as to deserve our regard may, in such a case, have great pre- 
apprehensions of approaching trouble, which whether they pro 
ceed from their greater prudence and sagacity ; or from any 
more divine impression upon their minds, we need not deter 
mine. If it should be the latter, the design may yet be, not 
to ascertain, but to awaken us. Upon which supposition, a 
serious consideration of the thing, may well consist with sus 
pending our belief of it. And whether it prove true or false, 
if we are put thereby, upon the doing of nothing, but what a 
prudent man, and a good Christian should do, however ; and 
unto which we only needed excitation, a very valuable end is 
gained. Affairs are generally managed in human, yea and in 
the Christian life, upon no certainty of this or that particular 
event ; it is enough that we are put upon seasonable considera 
tion of what concerns us, in the one kind or the other, and do 
accordingly steer our course. When Jonah was sent to Nineveh 
upon that ungrateful errand ; and came a stranger into that 
luxurious paganish city, though he brought them no creden 
tials from heaven, nor (that we find) wrought any miracle to 
confirm his mission, yet the matter he published iu their streets, 
being in itself most considerable, and they having (no doubt) 
sufficient light, to know their practices were such as deserved 
the doom they were threatened with, and needed redress, they 
hereupon consider what he said, reform, and are spared. And 
what harm was now done in all this ? except that Jonah had 
too tender a concern for his own reputation, and lest he should 
be thought a false prophet. Whereas the event that happened 
did better prove the impression, upon his rnind, divine ; than 
the destruction of the city, after their repentance, had done. 
It being a thing more agreeable to the divine nature, and more 
worthy of God, to save, than destroy a penitent people. If 
we see no such disposition to repentance, we have the more 
reason to expect the overflowing calamity ; and have enough to 
prevent our being surprized, without fore knowing the event. 
But for events that are pleasing and grateful, no matter how 
surprising they be. The more, the better, the sweeter, and 
the pleasanter, When God turned again the captivity of Zion 
we were as them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with 
laughter, and our tongue with singing. (Psal. 126'.) It cn- 
hanceth mercy, when it is preventing, and unexpected, 






Eccles. 7. 29. 







Eccles. 7. 29. 

Lo this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; 
but they have sought out many inventions. 

TN these words you have the result of a serious inquiry into the 
state of mankind. In the verse immediately foregoing, the 
preacher speaks his own experience, touching each sex distri- 
butively; how rare it was to meet with a wise and good man, 
how much rarer with a prudent and virtuous woman (so he must 
be understood, though these qualities are not expressed) then 
in the text gives this verdict touching both collectively, tending 
to acquit their Maker of their universal depravation, and con 
vict them. "Lo this only have I found, that God hath made 
man upright ; but they have sought out many inventions. 

The words contain two propositions The first touching 
man's perfection by his creation, " God made man upright" 
The second touching his defection by sin, "But they have sought 
out many inventions" Together with a solemn preface intro 
ducing both, and recommending them as well-weighed truths, 
" Lo this only have I found/'&c. As though he had said, " I do 
not now speak at random, and by guess ; no, but I solemnly pro 
nounce it, as that which I have found out by serious study and 
diligent exploration, that God made man upright, &c." The 
terms are not obscure, and are fitly rendered. I find no con 
siderable variety of readings, and cannot needlessly spend time 


about words. Only in short, By man you must understand 
man collectively, so as to comprehend the whole species. 
Making him upright, you must understand so as to refer mak 
ing not to the adjunct only, supposing the subject pre-existent, 
but to both subject and adjunct together; and so it is man's 
concreate and original righteousness that is here meant. By 
inventions understand (as the antithesis doth direct) such as 
are alien from this rectitude. Nor is it altogether improbable 
that in this expression, some reference may be had to that 
curious desire of knowing much that tempted Adam and Eve 
into the first transgression. Many inventions, seems to be 
spoken in opposition to that simplicity and singleness of heart 
which this original rectitude did include ; truth is but one ; 
falsehood, manifold. God made man upright, that is ; simple, 
plain -hearted, free from all tortuous windings, and involutions 
(so the word rendered upright in the text doth signify ; and 
Jeshurun derived therefrom, which God thought a fit name for 
his people Israel, the seed of plain-hearted Jacob to be known 
by ; answerably whereto Nathanael is said to be a true Israelite 
in whom was no guile, John I. 4?.) Such, man was at first; 
now in the room of this simplicity, you find a multiplicity ; he 
was of one constant, uniform frame and tenour of spirit, held one 
straight, direct and even course ; now he is become full of in 
ventions, grown vafrous, multiform as to the frame of his spirit, 
uncertain, intricate, perplexed in all his ways. Sought out, this 
notes the voluntariness, and perfect spontareity of his defection; 
it was his own doing. God-made him upright ; he hath sought 
out means to deform and undo himself. The words thus opened 
afford us two great gospel truths. That God endued the 
nature of man in his creation, with a perfect and universal 
rectitude. That man's defection from his primitive state was 
purely voluntary, and from the unconstrained choice of his 
own mutable and self- determining will, 

Though the latter part of the text, would afford a sufficient 
ground to treat of the state of man now fallen ; yet that being 
by agreement left to another hand, I observe no more from it 
then what concerns, the manner of his fall, and that only as it 
depended on a mutable will. In handling these truths, I shall 
open them in certain explicatory theses, and improve them 
in some few practical and applicatory inferences. 

I. These two great gospel truths are to be opened in certain 
explicatory theses. 

First. About the former, That God endued the nature of 
man in his creation with a perfect and universal rectitude : take 
these propositions for explication. 


1. All created rectitude consists in conformity to some rule 
or law. Rectitude is a mere relative thing, and its relation is 
to a rule. By a rule, I here mean a law strictly taken ; and 
therefore I speak this only of created rectitude. A law, is a rule 
of duty given by a superior to an inferior; nothing can be in 
that sense a rule to God, or the measure of increated rectitude. 

2. The highest rule of all created rectitude, is the will of 
God, considered as including most intrinsically, an eternal and 
immutable reason, justice, and goodness. It is certain, there 
can be no higher rule to creatures than the divine will ; and as 
certain that the government of God over his creatures, is always 
reasonable and just and gracious; and that this reasonableness, 
justice and goodness by which it is so, should be subjected any 
where but in God himself, none that know what God is accord 
ing to our more obvious notions of him can possibly think. Rom. 
7. 12, 12, 1, 2, Ezek. 18, 25, ch. 33. 

3. Any sufficient signification of this will, touching the rea 
sonable creatures duty is a law, indispensibly obliging such a 
creature. A law is a constitution de debito, and it is the legis 
lator's will (not concealed in his own breast, but) duly express 
ed that makes this constitution, and infers an obligation on the 

4. The law given to Adam at his creation was partly natural, 
given by way of internal impression upon his soul ; partly posi 
tive given (as is probable) by some more external discovery or 
revelation. That the main body of laws whereby man was to be 
governed, should be at first given no other way than by stamp 
ing them upon his mind and heart, was a thing congruous 
enough to his innocent state (as it is to angels and saints in glo 
ry) it being then exactly contempered to his nature highly ap- 
provable to his reason, (as is evident in that being fallen, his 
reason ceases not to approve it, Rom. 2, 18.) fully suitable to 
the inclination and tendency of his will, and not at all regret 
ted by any reluctant principle that might in the least oppose or 
render him doubtful about his duty. 

Yet was it most reasonable also, that some positive commands 
should be superadded, that God's right of dominion and go 
vernment over him as Creator, might be more expressly assert 
ed, and he might more fully apprehend his own obligation as a 
creature to do some things, because it was his Maker's will, as 
well as others, because they appeared to him in their own na 
ture reasonable and fit to be done; for so the whole of what God 
requires of man, is fitly distinguished into some things which he 
commands, because they are just; and some things that are just 
because he commands them. 


5. Adam was endued in his creation,with a sufficient ability and 
habitude to conform to this whole law, both natural and posi 
tive ; in which ability and habitude his original rectitude did 
consist. This proposition carries in it the main truth we have 
now in hand, therefore requires to be more distinctly insisted 
on. There are two things in it to be considered. the thing 
itself he was endued with : and the manner of the endow 

(1.) The thing itself wherewith he was endued, that was up 
rightness, rectitude, (otherwise called the image of God, though 
that expression comprehends more than we now speak of, as his 
immortality, dominion over the inferior creatures, &c.) which 
uprightness or rectitude consisted in the habitual conformity, 
or conformability of all his natural powers to this whole law of 
God; and is therefore considerable two ways, namely, in rela 
tion to its subject, and its rule. 

[1.] In relation to its subject ; that was the whole soul (in 
some sense it may be said the whole man) even the several pow 
ers of it. And here we are led to consider the parts of this 
rectitude, for it is co-extended (if that phrase may be allowed) 
with its subject, and lies spread out into the several powers of 
the soul ; for had any power been left destitute of it, such is the 
frame of man, and the dependance of his natural powers on each 
other, in order to action, that it had disabled him to obey, and 
had destroyed his rectitude ; for* bonum non oritur nisi ex cau- 
sis integris, malum vero ex quovis defectu, good arises only 
from perfect causes but evil from some defect. And hence 
(as Davenant well observes) according to the parts (if I may so 
speak) of the subject wherein it was, man's original rectitude 
must be understood to consist of, 

First. A perfect illumination of mind to understand and know 
the will of God. Secondly. A compliance of heart and will 
therewith. Thirdly. An obedient subordination of the sensi 
tive appetite, and other inferior powers, that in nothing they 
might resist the former. That it comprehends all these, ap 
pears by comparing Col. 3, 10, where the image of God, where 
in man was created, is said to consist in knowledge, that hath 
its seat and subject in the mind, with Eph. 4, 24. where 
righteousness and holiness are also mentioned ; the one whereof 
consists in equity towards men : the other in loyalty and devo- 
tedness to God ; both which necessarily suppose the due fram 
ing of the other powers of the soul, to the ducture of an en 
lightened mind. And besides, that work of sanctification 

* Davenant dc justiria habituali, <Scc. 


(which in these scriptures is expressly called a renovation of man 
according to the image of God wherein he was created) doth in 
other scriptures appear (as the forementioned author also ob 
serves) to consist of parts proportionable to these I mention, 
namely, illumination of mind, (Ephes.1.18.) conversion of. heart 
(Ps. 51, 10.) victory over concupiscence. Rom. 6. 7 through 

[2.] Consider this rectitude in relation to its rule ; that is 
the will of God revealed, (1. John 3.4.) or the law of God. 
Sin is the transgression of the law ; and accordingly righteous 
ness must needs be conformity to the law; that is, actual righ 
teousness consists in actual conformity to the law ; that habitual 
rectitude which Adam was furnished with in his creation (of 
which we are speaking) in an habitual conformity, or an ability 
to conform to the same law. This habitual conformity, was, 
as of the whole soul, so to the whole law, that is, to both the 
parts or kinds of it, natural and positive. He was furnished with 
particular principles inclining him to comply with whatsoever the 
law of nature had laid before him, and with a general principle 
disposing him to yield to whatsoever any positive law should 
lay before him as the will of God. And if it be said (in reference 
to the former of these) that this law of nature impressed upon 
Adam's soul, was his very rectitude ; therefore how can this rec 
titude be a conformity to this law ? I answer, First A law 
is twofold regulans, regulating regulata, regulated. 
Secondly The law of nature impressed upon the soul of 
Adam, must be considered; as subjected in his mind; so it 
Consisted of certain practical notions about good and evil, right 
and wrong, &c. and as subjected in his heart, so it consisted 
in certain habitual inclinations to conform to those principles. 
Now these inclinations of the heart, though they are a rule to 
actions, they are yet something ruled in reference to those no 
tions in the mind; and their conformity thereto makes one part 
of original rectitude. And those notions, though they are a 
rule to these inclinations, yet they are something ruled in refe- 
rffnce to the will of God signified by them ; and in the confor 
mity thereto, consists another part of this original rectitude. 

(2.) We have to consider the manner of this endowment. 
And as to this, it is much disputed among the schoolmen, whe 
ther it were natural or supernatural. I shall only lay down in 
few words, what I conceive to be clear and indisputable. 

[1.] If by natural, you mean essential (whether constitutive- 
ly, or consecutively) so original righteousness was not na 
tural to man, for then he could never have lost it, without the 
loss of his being. 

[2.] If by natural you mean connatural, that is, concreate 

VOL. II. " 3 C 


with the nature of man, and consonant thereto, so I doubt not 
but it was natural to him. 

f>. This rectitude of man's nature, could not but infer and 
include his actual blessedness, while he should act according to 
it. According to the tenour of the covenant, it could not 
but infer it. And consider this rectitude in itself, it must needs 
include it : the rectitude of his understanding including his 
knowledge of the highest good ; and the rectitude of his will 
and affections, the acceptance and enjoyment thereof; as Au 
gustine (dc civitate Dei) in this case, nullnm bonum abesset 
homini quod recta voluntas optare posset, fyc. JVb good 
would be wanting to a man which a well regulated will could 
wish for. Thus far of the holiness and blessedness of man's first 
state. It follows to speak of the mutability of it, and of his fall 
as depending thereon. 

Secondly. That man's defection from his primitive state, was 
merely voluntary, and from the unconstrained choice of his own 
mutable and self-determining will. For the asserting of this 
truth, take the following propositions. 

1 . That the nature of man is now become universally de 
praved and sinful. This, Scripture is full of,* and experience 
and common observation put it beyond dispute. It is left then 
that sin must have had some original among men. 

2. The pure and holy nature of God could never be the ori 
ginal of man's sin. This is evident in itself. God disclaims it;f 
nor can any affirm it of him without denying his very Being. 
lie could not be the cause of unholiness, but by ceasing to be 
holy, which would suppose him mutably holy ; and if either 
God or man must be confessed mutable, it is no difficulty where 
to lay it; whatever he is, he is essentially; and necessity of ex 
istence, of being always what he is, remains everlastingly the 
fundamental attribute of his Being. James 1, 1J. 

3. It is blasphemous and absurd to talk of two principles, (as 
the Manichees of old) the one good per se, in itself, and the 
cause of all good ; the other evil per se/dnd the cause of all evil. 

Bradwardine's two arguments : that this would suppose two 
gods, two independent beings ; and that it would suppose an 
evil god ; do sufficiently convince this to be full both of blas 
phemy and contradiction. Bradwardine de causa Del. 

4. It was not possible that either external objects, or the 
temptation of the devil should necessitate the will of man to 
sin. External objects could not; for that were to reject all 

*l Kings 8. 46. Psal. 14, 1. Rom. 3, 12, &c- cap. 5, 1213, &c. 
1, John 5, 19, &c. 

t Deut. 32, 4. Psal. 5, 4. 3. John 1 1 . 


upon God ; for if he create objects with such an allective power 
in them, and create such tin appetite in man as cannot but work 
inordinately and sinfully towards those objects, it must needs in 
fer his efficacious necessitation of sin, being it would destroy the 
truth already established, that God created man with such a rec 
titude as that there was a sufficient ability in his superior powers 
for the cohibition and restraint of the inferior, that they should 
not work inordinately towards their objects. The devil could 
not do it for the same reason, having no way to. move the will of 
man but by the proposal of objects ; yet that by this means (which, 
he could in many respects manage most advantageously) he did 
much help forward the first sin, Scripture leaves us not to doubt, 
5. The whole nature of sin consisting only in a defect, no 
other cause need be designed of it than a. defective ; that is, an 
understanding, will and inferior powers however originally good 
yet mutably and defectively so. I shall not insist to prove that 
sin is no positive being; but I take the argument to be irrefra 
gable, (notwithstanding the cavils made against it) that is drawn 
from that common maxim, that omne enspositivum est velpri- 
mum, vel a primo, all positive existence is cither first or from 
the first. And that of *Dionysius the Areopagite is an ingeni 
ous one 5 he argues that no being can be evil per sc : for then 
it must be immutably, to which no evil can be, for to be al 
ways the same, is a certain property of goodness ; it is so even of 
the highest goodness. And hence sin being supposed only a de 
fect, a soul that is only defectibly holy, might well enough be the 
cause of it; that is, the deficient cause. Nor is it in the least 
strange that man should be at first created with a defectible holi 
ness ; for if he were immutably holy, either it must be eye na- 
tura, of nature, or ex gratia ; of grace; ex natura it could 
not be, for that would suppose him God ; if it were ex gratia, 
then it must be 'free; then it might be, or might not be; 
therefore there was no incongruity in it that it should not be. 
And indeed it was most congruous that God having newly made 
such a creature, furnished with such powers, so capable of go 
vernment by a law, of being moved by promises and threats 
he should for some time hold him as a viator* traveller, in a 
state of trial unconfirmed, (as he did also the innocent angels) 
that it might be seen how he would behave himself towards his 
Maker, and that he should be rewardable and punishable ac 
cordingly, in a state that should be everlasting and unchangea 
ble : the liberty therefore of the viators and the comprehensors, 
Gibieuf well distinguishes into inchoata or consum-mabilis 

*TO yap as i TUWTW rx uyxbS $IQV. This is the peculiar natn 
of goodness. Dion, de Div, nom. 


begun, and capable of being consummated; and perfects 
or consummate perfect or consummated ; the former such 
as Adam's was at his creation ; the latter such as is the state 
of angels and saints in glory ; and as his would have been had 
he held out and persisted innocent through the intended time 
of trial. 

It -.'/as therefore no strange thing that man should be created 
defect ib'le ; it was as little strange that a defectible creature 
should deficere,revolt. For the: manner of that defection, (whether 
error of the understanding preceded, or inconsideration only,and 
a neglect of its office) with the great difficulties some imagine 
herein, I wave discourse about them; judging that advice good 
and sober, for to consider how sin may be gotten out of the 
world, than how it came in. Though it is most probable there 
was in the instant of temptation a mere suspension of the un 
derstanding's act, (not as previous to the sin, but as a part of it} 
and thereupon a sudden precipitation of will, as Estius doth 
well determine. 

6. Man being created mutable as to his holiness, must 
needs be so as to his happiness too. And that both upon 
a legal account, (for the law had determined that if he 
did sin he must die) and also upon a natural ; for it was 
not possible that his soul being once depraved by sin, the 
powers of it vitiated, their order each to other, and towards 
their objects broken and interrupted, there should remain a dis 
position and aptitude to converse with the highest good. 

II. The use follows which shall be only in certain practical 
inferences that will issue from these truths, partly considered 
singly and severally ; partly together and in conjunction. 

First. Some inferences issue from these truths considered 
singly and severally. From the first we infer, 

1. Did God create man upright as hath been shown, then 
how little reason had man to sin ? how little reason had he to 
desert God ? to be weary of his first estate ? Could God's ma 
king him; his making him upright, be a reason why he should 
sin against him ? was his directing his heart, and the natural 
course of his affections toward himself, a reason why he should 
forsake him ? what was there in his state that should make it 
grievous to him ? was his duty too much for him ? God made 
him upright, so that every part of it was connatural to him : 
Was his privilege too little ? He knew and loved, and enjoyed 
the highest and infinite good. O think then how unreasonable 
and disingenuous a thing sin was ! that a creature that was no 
thing but a few hours ago, now a reasonable being, capable of 
God ! yet sin ! Urge your hearts with this, we are too apt to 

Gibieuf de libertate Dei & crratur. 


think ourselves unconcerned in A dam's sin ; we look upon our 
selves too abstractly, we should remember we are members of a 
community, and it should be grievous to us to thiuk that our 
species hath dealt so unkindly and unworthily with God : and 
besides, do not we sin daily after the similitude of Adam's trans 
gression ? and is not sin as unreasonable and unjust a thing as 

2. Was our primitive state so good and happy, how justly 
may we reflect and look back towards our first state ? how fitly 
jnight we take up Job's words ? (Job 29. 2, 4, 5,) O that I 
were as in months past; As in the days of my youth ;---When 
the Almighty was yet with me ! - When I put on righteousness 
and it clothed me; -When my glory was fresh in me, c. 
With what sadness may we call to mind the things that are 
past, and the beginnings of ancient time ? when there was 
no stain upon our natures, no cloud upon our minds, no pollu 
tion upon our hearts ; when with pure and undefiled s^uls we 
could embrace and rest, and rejoice in the eternal and incom 
prehensible good ? when we remember these things, do not 
our bowels turn ? are not our souls poured out within us ? From 
the second we infer, 

1. Did man so voluntarily ruin himself? how unlikely is lie 
now to be his own saviour ? he that was a self-destroyer from 
the beginning, that ruined himself as soon as God had made 
him, is he likely now to save himself? is it easier for him to 
recover his station than to have kept it ? or hath he improved 
himself by sinning r and gained strength by his fall for a more 
difficult undertaking, is he grown better natured towards him 
self and his God, than he was at first ? 

2. How little reason hath he to blame God, though he finally 
perish ? what would he have had God to have done more to pre*^ 
vent it ; he gave his law to direct him, his threatening to warn 
him ; his promise for his encouragement was evidently im 
plied ; his nature was sufficiently disposed to improve and com 
port with all these ; yet he sins ! is God to be charged with 
this ? sins upon no necessity, with no pretence ; but that he 
must be seeking out imentions, trying experiments, assaying to 
better his state, as plainly despising the law, suspecting the 
truth, envying the greatness, asserting and aspiring to the so 
vereignty and Godhead of his Maker. Had we (any of us) a 
anind to contend with God about this matter, how would we 
order our cause ? how would we state our quarrel ? if we com 
plain that we should be condemned and ruined all in one man ; 
that is to complain that we are Adam's children. A child might 
as well complain that he is the son of a beggar or a traitor, and 
charge it as injustice upon the prince or law of the land that he 


is not born to a patrimony; this is a misery to him, but no man 
will say it is wrong. And can it be said we are wronged by the 
common Ruler of the world, that we do not inherit from our 
father, the righteousness and felicity we had wilfully lost long 
before we were his children ? If we think it hard, we should 
be tied to terms we never consented to, might not an heir as 
well quarrel with the magistrate, that he suffers him to become 
liable to his father's debts ? and to lie in prison if he have not 
to pay ? 

But besides, who can imagine but we should have consented, 
had all mankind been at that time existent in innocency toge 
ther ? that is, let the case be stated thus ; Suppose Adam our 
common parent, to have had all his children together with him 
before the Lord, while the covenant of works was not as yet 
made, and while as yet God was not under any engagement to 
the children of men : Let it be supposed, that he did propound 
it to the whole race of mankind together, that he would capi 
tulate with their common parent on their behalf, according to 
the terms of that first covenant ; if he stood they should stand, 
if he fall, they must all fall with him. Let it be considered, 
that if this had not been consented to, God might (without the 
least colour of exception, being as yet under no engagement to 
the contrary) have annihilated the whole species ; for wherein 
can it seem hard, that what was nothing but the last moment, 
should the next moment be suffered to relapse into nothing, 
again ? Let it also be considered, that Adam's own personal 
interest, and a mighty natural affection towards so vast a pro 
geny, might well be thought certainly to engage him to the 
uttermost care and circumspection on his own and their behalf. 
It must also be remembered, that all being now in perfect in 
nocency, no defect of reason, no frowardness or perverseness of 
will can be supposed in any, to hinder their right judgment, 
and choice of what might appear to be most for their own 
advantage, and the glory of their Maker. 

Can it now possibly be thought (the case being thus stated) 
that any man should rather choose presently to lose his being, 
and the pleasures, and hopes of such a state, than to have con 
sented to such terms ? It cannot be thought. - 

For consider the utmost that might be objected ; and suppose 
one thus to reason the matter with himself; "Why? it is a 
mighty bastard for me to suspend my everlasting happiness or 
misery upon the uncertain determinations of another man's 
mutable will ; shall I trust my eternal concernments to such a 
per-adventure, and put my life and hopes into the hands of a 

It were obvious to him to answer himself, " I, but he is my 


father ; he bears a natural affection to me, his own concernment 
is included, he hath power over his own will, his obedience for 
us all, will be no more difficult than each man's for himself ; 
there is nothing required of him, but what his nature inclines 
him to, and what his reason (if he use it) will guide him to com 
ply with ; and though the hazard of an eternal misery be greatly 
tremendous ; yet are not the hopes of an everlasting blessed 
ness as greatly consolatory and encouraging ? and besides, the 
hazard will be but for a time, which if we pass safely, we shall 
shortly receive a full and glorious confirmation and advance 
ment." Certainly no reasonable man, all this considered (though 
there had been no mention made of a means of recovery in case 
of falling, the consideration whereof is yet also to be taken in 
by us) would have refused to consent ; and then what reasona 
ble man but will confess this to be mere cavil, that we did not 
personally consent; for if it be certain we should have consented 
and our own hearts tell us we should,doth the power of a Creator 
over his creatures, signify so little that he might not take this 
for an actual consent ? for is it not all one, whether you did 
consent, or certainly would have done it, if you had been treated 
with ? Covenants betwixt superiors and inferiors, differ much 
from those betwixt equals ; for they are laws as well as coven 
ants, and therefore do suppose consent (the terms being in se 
reasonable) as that which not only our interest, but duty would 
oblige us to. It is not the same thing to covenant with the 
great God, and with a fellow- creature. God's prescience of the 
event (besides that no man knows what it is, yet) whatever it 
is, it is wholly immanent in himself (as also his decrees) there 
fore could have no influence into the event, or be any cause of 
it ; all depended, as hath been shewn, on man's own will ; and 
therefore if God did foresee that man would fall, yet he knew 
also, that if he would he might stand. 

Secomlly. Some inferences arise, from both these doctrines 

1. Were we once so happy; and have we now undone our 
selves ? how acceptable should this render the means of our 
recovery to us ? That it is a recovery we are to endeavour 
(which implies the former truth) that supposes us once happy, 
who would not be taken with such an overture for the regaining 
of a happiness, which he hath lost and fallen from ; it is a 
double misery to become from a happy estate miserable ; it is 
yet as a double happiness to become happy from such misery; and 
proportionably valuable should all means appear to us that tend 
thereto. Yea, and it is a recovery after self-destruction (which 
asserts the former truth) such a destruction as might reduce us 
to an utter despair of remedies, as rendering us incapable to 

MAN'S cttEAfKttr IN A HOLY, &c. 

help ourselves, or to expect help or pity from others. O how 
welcome should the tidings of deliverance now be to us! how 
joyful an entertainment should our hearts give them upon 
both these accounts? how greatly doth * Scripture command 
the love and grace of Christ under the notion of redeeming ? 
a word that doth not signify deliverance from simple misery 
only, but also connote a precedent better state as they expound 
It, who take the phrase as Scripture uses it, to allude to the 
buying out of captives from their bondage. And how 
should it ravish the heart of any man to have mercy and help 
offered him by another hand, who hath perished by his own ? 
how taking should gospel-grace be upon this account ? how 
should this consideration engage souls to value and embrace it ? 
it is urged (we see) to that purpose, Hosea 13. 9. O Israel, 
thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help ; and verse 10. 
it follows, I will be thy King ; where Is any other that will save 
fhee, &c. And ch. 14. 1. O Israel, return unto the Lord, for 
thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Now (friends) do but 
seriously consider this. If you believe the truths you have heard, 
ftow precious should Christ be to you ! how precious should 
the gospel, the ordinances, and ministry of it be ! Do you 
complain that formerly you were not treated with ? by all these 
God now treats with you. Now your own personal consent 
Is called for ; not to any thing that hath the least of hazard in it, 
but what shall make you certainly happy, as miserable as you 
have made yourselves; and there is nothing but your consent 
wanting ; the price of your redemption is already paid ; it is 
but taking Christ for your Saviour and your Lord, and living a 
life of dependance and holiness for a few days, and you are as 
iafe as if you were in glory ; will you now stick at this ? O do 
ftot destroy yourselves a second time, and make yourselves doubly 
guilty of your own ruin. 

2. Was our state so good, but mutable ? what cause have we 
to admire the grace of God through Christ, that whom it 
recovers, it confirms ? It was a blessed state, that by our own 
free will we fell from ; but how much better (even upon this 
account) is this, which by God's free grace, we are invited and 
recalled to ? 

* Kom. 3. 34. &c. 1 Cor. 1. 30. 31. Epti. 1. 6, 7. 
Tit. 2. 11. 14. 






Colos. 1. 21. 





Colos. 1. 21. 

Andyou 9 that were sometime alienated and enemies in your 
mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled. 

TT is a great and wonderful context, whereof these words are 
a part, which the time will not allow me to look into ; but 
presently to fall on the consideration of the words themselves 
which briefly represent to us ; the wretched and horrid state 
of in en,yet unconverted and not brought to God; and the happy 
state of those that are reduced, and brought home to him. 
The former in these words, " And you that were sometime 
alienated, and enemies in your mind by wicked works." The 
latter, in those words, " Yet now hath he reconciled." 1 shall 
apply my discourse to the former part of the words, and thence 
observe, that men in their unconverted state, are alienated 
from God, and enemies to him by their wicked works. This I 
shall endeavour, to explain, and shew you the meaning of 
it : to evince, and let you see the truth of it, and apply 

I. For the meaning of it,it is evident that it is the unconverted 
state of man that is here reflected upon and referred unto. You 
that were sometime alienated, and enemies in your mind, by 
wicked works. They were so, before they were turned to God, he 
writes to those Colossians as to converts, to them that were 
saints, and faithful brethren in Christ, (v. 2.) to them that 
were now believers in Christ, and lovers of the saints, (v. 4.) 


telling them, they sometime had been enemies, hy wicked 
works. Before conversion, they had (as is elsewhere said) their 
understandings darkened, being alienated from the life of God; 
walking as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 
(Ephes. 4. 18.) compared with the preceding verse. This is 
the deplorable condition of,the unconverted world, they are 
alienated from, and enemies to God by wicked works. We are 
to consider what this alienation from God doth import. It 
signifies estrangement,unacquaintance with God; and that with 
out any inclination towards him, or disposition to seek his ac 
quaintance. The word is emphatical, it signifies people of 
another country, you were like people of another country. Of 
suck a different language, manners and behaviour they that 
are converted are to you, and you to them ; you are estranged 
to their speech, customs, and ways. All that is of God was 
strange to you, men in their unconverted state are strangers 
to God. VVicked men da not understand the words of the 
gospel. (John 8. 43.) What relates to the kingdom of God, 
the unconverted man dislikes. (Job. 21. 14.) They say to 
God, depart frojn us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. 
Man, who was originally made for the service of God, and com 
munion with him, is now so degenerated, that he is become a 
mere stranger to him. The next word to be taken notice ofy 
s enemies, which may seem to add somewhat to the former 
word alienated ; there is not only no inclination towards God 
but there is a disinclination ; not only no affection, but a disaffec 
tion. The GarnaV mind is enmity to God, and the effects are 
obvious. This alienation from God is voluntary, affected, and 
chosen : men in their unconverted state, are not only strangers 
to God, but enemies against God, and that in their minds. A 
most fearful case, full of astonishment, that the very mind of 
man, the offspring of God, the paternal mind, as a heathen 
called him, that this most excellent part, or power belonging to 
the nature of man, should be poisoned with malignity, and 
envenomed with enmity against the glorious,ever-blcssed God ! 
that the mind of man,his thinking power, the fountain of thoughts 
should be set against God, who gave him this power to think ! Yet 
into this reason must every man's unacquaintance with God be 
resolved, they know not God, and converse not with him, only 
because they have no mind to it. That noble faculty in man, 
that resembles the nature of God, is turned off from him, and 
set on vain things that cannot profit ; as also upon wicked and 
impure things, that render them more unlike to God, and dis 
affected to him. By ivicked works which must have a 
double reference : to former wicked works, as done by 
them; and to future wicked works, as resolved on by them. 


The former wicked works, which they have done, have 
more and more habituated their souls unto a state of dis 
tance from God. The longer they live, the longer they sin; 
and the longer they sin, the more they are confirmed in their en 
mity against God. Future wicked works,as resolved on to be done 
are also referred to. They purpose to live as they have done, and 
give themselves the same liberty in sin as before, and will not 
know God, or be acquainted with him, lest they should be drawn 
off from their resolved sinful course. For the knowledge of 
God, and a course of sin are inconsistent things, 1. Cor. 15. 34, 
Awake to righteousness, and sin not, for some have not the 
knowledge of God. This is the condemnation, (John 3, 19,) 
that light is come into the world, but men love darkness rather 
than light, because their deeds are evil. They hate the light, 
because they will not have their course altered, they resolve to 
do as they have done, and that light, which brings with it a ten 
dency to the obeying of God, they cannot endure. But then, 
as this alienation of mind and enmity, are against the light that 
reveals God, they finally terminate on the blessed God himself: 
as God is the term of reconciliation, so he is the term of this 
enmity and alienation. Wicked men look on God with enmity 
of mind, under several notions. 

first. As he claims to be their Owner, when he claims a princi 
pal propriety in them, when he insists on his right in them as 
their Creator, as having made them out of nothing. When God 
owns or claims them as their Lord, that first signifies he is 
their Proprietor, or one to whom they belong ; but they say 
they are their own. If we have to do with God, we must quit 
claim to ourselves, and look on God as our Owner; but this is 
fixed in the hearts of men, we will be our own ; we will not 
consent to the claim which God makes to us. Our tongues are 
our own, Ps. 12. 4. Wicked men might as well say the same 
thing of their whole selves, our bodies, strength, time,parts &c, 
are our own, and who is Lord over us ? 

Secondly. If you consider God under the notion of a Ruler,as 
well as an Owner. Why should not God rule over, and govern his 
own ? But this, the spirit of man can by no means comport 
withal, though it is but reasonable, that he who gave men their 
beings, should give them laws ; and that he. who gave life, should 
also i^ive the rule of life ; but this, man, in his degenerate state, 
will by no means admit of. There are two things considerable 
in the will of God, which the mind of man cannot comply 
withal. The sovereignty and the holiness of it. 

1. The sovereignty of God's will. We must look on God's 
will as absolutely sovereign, man must look on God's will to be 
above his will ; so as that man must cross his own will, to com 
port with a higher will. than his. But this apostatized man 


will not do, and therefore he is at enmity with God ; he will 
not submit to the will of God, as superior to his will. And 

2. There is the holiness of God's will. His law is a holy 
law ; and the renewed man therefore loves it ; but because it is 
holy therefore the unregenerate man dislikes it. 

Thirdly. God is considered under the notion of our end, 
our last end, as he is to be glorified, and enjoyed by us. There 
is a disaffection to God, in the hearts of unregenerate men, in 
this regard also. The spirit of man is opposite to living to the 
glory of God, every one sets up for himself; I will be my own 
end, it shall be the business of my whole life to please myself. 
Therefore when God is represented as our end, as in the 1. Cor. 
10. 81. whether ye eat, or drink or whatever you do, do all to 
the glory of God; and as it is in the 2. Cor. 5, 15. No man is 
to live to himself, &c. The great design of our being deli 
vered from the law, namely, as a cursing, condemning law) is 
that we may live to God,(Gal. 2, 19,) I am dead to the law, that 
I might live to God ; this the unrenewed heart cannot comport 
with. The last and great design of all our actions must terminate 
on God; now self is set up, as the great idol in opposition to God, 
all the world over ; and the spirits of men grow, by custom, more 
and more disaffected to God, in this respect. Again, God 
would be owned by us for our best good. This should be the 
sense of our souls towards him, so it was with the Psalmist, (Ps. 
73, 25.) whom have I in heaven but thee, &c. but says the un 
regenerate soul, the world is better to me than God. And it is 
upon this account that when overtures are made of changing 
this state, the unregenerate mind opposes it. Thus have you 
this doctrine explained and opened. I come now, 

II. To evince the truth of this doctrine, and that by two heads 
of arguments, Partly from ourselves, and partly from God. 

First. From ourselves. It is an alienation and enmity of mind, 
that keeps men off from God, and reconciliation with him ; 
which will plainly appear, 

1. If we consider that our minds are capable of knowing 
God. Such a thing is the mind of man, which was originally 
made for such an exercise, as to be taken up, principally, 
with things relating to God. Our minds can apprehend what 
is meant by the nature of God, as a Being of uncreated perfec 
tion, in whom all power, wisdom, and goodness do meet ; who 
fills heaven and earth, and from everlasting was God. Our 
minds tell us, that we have a capacity thus to conceive of God; 
it is in the capacity of man's nature to mind God, as well as to 
mind vanity ; but doth it not. And whence doth this proceed, 
but froogi enmity, an alienation of the mind from God ? 


2. This appears., in that men are wilfully ignorant of God, 
and are destitute of the knowledge of him out of choice ; igno 
rant, and are willing to be so. This speaks enmity and alie 
nation of mind more expressly and fully. That they are capable 
of knowing God, and yet are ignorant of him, leaves no other 
cause assignable ; hut their desiring so to be, plainly assign? 
this cause, (Rom. 1. 28.) They liked not to retain God in 
their knowledge. It is not grateful to them, (Job 21. 14.) We 
desire not the knowledge of thy ways. Men are ignorant wil 
lingly of that God, who made the world, and all things therein, 
(2 Pet. 3. 5,) For this they are willingly ignorant of, c. They 
will not know God, though his visible works shew his invisible 
power, and Godhead, (Rom. 1. 19. 20.) Now this can sig 
nify nothing but alienation, and enmity of mind. Men are 
willing and industrious to know other things, and labour after 
the knowledge of them ; but they decline the knowledge of God, 
and his ways, being alienated from God, through the blindness 
of their hearts, (Ephes. 4. 18.) This heart-blindness is cho 
sen, and voluntary blindness, signifies their having no mind or 
will to things of that nature. But now the voluntariness 
of this ignorance of God, and the enmity that this is conse 
quently in it, appears evidently in two sorts of persons. 

(1.) In many that are of the more knowing and inquisitive 
sort, who do all they can to make themselves notional atheists; 
to blot or rase the notion of God out of their minds. Of them 
I shall say little, here, they do their utmost, but in vain; it 
will stick as close to them as their thinking power. But their 
attempt shews their enmity, for they are content to admit the 
grossest absurdities into their minds, rather than permit that no 
tion to remain unmolested there : rather imagine such a cu 
rious frame of things, as this world is, to have come by chance; 
than that it had a wise, just, holy, as well as powerful Maker. 
They would count it an absurdity, even unto madness, to think 
the exquisite picture of a man, or a tree to have happened by 
chance; and can allow themselves to be so absurd, as to think 
a man himself, or a tree to be casual productions. Is not this 
the height of enmity ! 

(2.) In the unthinking generality. Of whom, yet unconverted 
out of the state of apostacy, it is said they are fools, as is the 
usual language of Scripture, concerning wicked or unconverted 
men; and that such fools, though they never offer at saying in 
their minds, much less with their mouths, yet they say in their 
hearts, no God ; that is, not there is none, for there is no is in 
the Hebrew text. The words may rather go in the optative 
form, than the indicative, O that there were none ! The notion 
is let alone, while it reaches not their hearts ; if it do, they 


only wish it were otherwise. This speaks their enmity the 
more, for the notion lays a continual testimony against the bent 
of their hearts,and constant practice,that while they own a God, 
they never fear, nor love him accordingly. And they grossly 
misrepresent him, sometimes as all made up of mercy without 
justice or holiness ; and so think they need no reconciliation to 
him, he and they are well agreed already. Sometimes think of 
him as merciless, and irreconcileable; and therefore, never look 
after being reconciled to him. 

3. It appears hence, that men do seldom think of God, when 
as a thought of God may be as soon thought, as any other, and 
would cost us as little. Why not as well on God, as upon any 
of those vanities, about which they are commonly employed ? 
It is a wonderful thing to consider, how man is capable of form 
ing a thought! how a thought arises in our minds ! And how 
sad is it to consider, that though God has given to man 
a thinking power, yet he will not think of him ! God has 
given to man a mind that can think, and think on him, as well 
as on any thing else. My hody cannot think, if my mind and 
spirit is gone ; though God gave man the power of thought, 
yet men will not use, or employ their thoughts otherwise than 
about vain or forbidden things. God forms the spirit of man 
within him, hath put an immortal spirit into him, whence a 
spring of thoughts might ascend heavenwards. When we 
have thousands of objects to choose of, we think of any thing 
rather than God ! and not only turn this way or that, besides 
him : but tend continually downwards in opposition to him. 
Yea, men cannot endure to be put in mind of God, the serious 
mention of his name is distasteful. Whence can this proceed, 
that a thought of God cast in, is thrown out, as fire from one's 
bosom ; whence is it, but from the enmity, that is in man 
against God ? 

4. It further appears hence, that men are so little concerned 
about the favour of God. Whomsoever we love, we naturally 
value their love ; but whether God be a friend, or an enemy, it 
is all one to the unrenewed soul,if there be no sensible effects of 
his displeasure. The men of this world only value its favours, 
the favour of God they value not; whereas in his favour is life in 
the account of holy and good men, (Ps. 30. 5,) yea, they judge 
his loving-kindness is better than life without it, Ps. 63. 3. 
When men shall go from day to day, without considering, whe 
ther God hath a favour for them, or not ; whether they are ac 
cepted, or not, whether they have found grace in his eyes, or 
not, &c. What doth this declare, but an enmity of mind, and 
alienation from God? If men had true love for Gpd> it could 
not be, but they would greatly value his love. 


5. That men do so little converse, and walk with God, doth 
speak a fixed alienation of mind, and enmity against God. 
Walking with God includes knowing, and minding him ; but it 
adds all other motions of soul towards him, together with con 
tinuance, and approving ourselves to him, therein. Now agree 
ment is required to walking with God, (Amos .3. 3.) Can two 
walk together unless they be agreed, Hos. 3. 3. Men walk not 
with God, because they are not come to an agreement with 
him; God's agreement with us, and ours with him is that we 
may walk together. If we walk not with God it is because 
there is no agreement ; and what doth that import, but an alie 
nation of mind from God ? Says God, I would not have you 
live in the world at so great a distance from me, I would walk 
with you and have you walk with me ; and for this end I would 
. come to an agreement with you. But sinners will not come to 
any agreement with God, and thence it comes to pass that they 
walk not with God ; they begin the day without God, walk 
all the day long without God, lie down at night without God 
and the reason is because there are no agreements, and that de 
notes enmity, especially considering, 

6. That daily converse with God would cost us nothing. To 
have any man's thoughts full of heaven, and full of holy fear, 
and reverence of God &c. (which is included in walking with 
God) what inconvenience is in this, what business will this hin 
der ? when a man goes about his ordinary affairs, will it do any 
hurt to take God with him, no business will go on the worse for 
it, it will not detract from the success of our affairs, 1. Cor. 7 
24. Let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with 
God. Let your state be what it will, there can be no business 
in this world, but what you may do with God, as well as with 
out God, and much better. 

7. Which makes the matter much plainer, how uncom 
fortably do men live in this world, by reason of their distance 
from God, and unacquaintedness with him, Job. 35 . 10. But 
no one saith where is God my Maker, who giveth songs 
in the night. They choose ratter to groan under their bur 
dens alone, than cry to God their Maker, as at the 9th Verse of 
that chapter when men will endure the greatest extremity, ra 
ther than apply themselves to God, what doth this resolve into 
but enmity against God ? 

8. That men do so universally disobey God, bespeaks alie 
nation and enmity of mind as obedience proceeds from love, 
so disobedience proceeds from enmity and ,for this I shall only 
instance two great precepts, wherein the mind and will of God is 
expressed which I mention, and insist upon (though briefly) a$ 
things that concern the constant, and daily practice of evefy 

VOL. II. 3 E 

39 4 F MAN 

Christian a course of prayer to God, in secret, and having 
our conversation in heaven. How express are both of these pre 
cepts, in the same chapter, the former Mat. 6. 6. the latter, ver. 
19. 20. 21. Now consider, whether our disobedience to these 
two precepts do not discover great enmity in our hearts against 
God. What to refuse to pray and pour out our souls to him in se 
cret so refuse placing our treasure and our hearts in heaven ; 
what doth this signify, but aversion, and a disaffected heart ? 
Let us consider each of them severally and a part by itself. We 
are a Christian assembly, how should it startle us to be (any of 
us) convicted of enmity against God, under the Christian name, 
in two so plain cases ? 

(I.) For prayer it is a charge laid upon all person^ 
considered in their single and .personal capacity Mat. 6. 
C>. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet and 
when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in se 
cret. I fear that most of them, who bear the Christian name, 
carry the matter so; as if there were no such place in the Bible. 
When the mind and will of God is made known to us by his 
Son, who came out of his bosom, that he will be sought unto; 
and that not only publicly but secretly and daily ; that as we 
are taught by our Lord himself, to pray for our daily bread, and 
the forgiveness of our daily trespasses ; we are also to pray in 
secret, to him that sees in secret ; can such commands be con 
stantly neglected and disobeyed, and not signify the contrary, 
bent of our will; especially when we consider, that it is enjoined 
us for our good ? It would be profane to say what profit is it to us 
to call upon the Almighty but it is most justly to be said, what 
piofit is it to theAlmighty,that we call upon him? It is honoura 
ble to him, but very profitable to ourselves. If we know not 
how to pray in a corner, confessing our sins, and supplicating for 
mercy ; we cannot but live miserable lives. When therefore 
this is not done, whence is it,but from an enmity of mind ? 
To a friend we can unbosom ourselves, not to an enemy. 

I might also enlarge upon family prayer, but if closet prayer 
were seriously minded, you that have familes would not dare 
to neglect prayer, with them too. But if either be performed 
with coldness and indifferency, it makes the matter worse, or 
mrre plainly bad; and shews it is not love, or any lively affec 
tion that puts you upon praying, but a frightened conscience 
only. And a miserably mistaken deluded one, that makes you think 
the God you pray to will be mocked or trifled with, or that he cannot 
perceive whether your heart be with him, or against him. And 
so instead of worshipping him, or giving him honour in that 
performance ; you reproach and affront him ; and all this while, 
how vastly doth the temper of your mind disagree with the mind 
of God. I would saith the blessed God, have a course of pniyei 

AGAINST GOD. 31>;"j 

run through the whole course of your lives and all this that your 
hearts may be lifted up from earth to heaven, that your hearts 
may he in heaven every day, according to Matt. 6', 19. Lay not 
up for yourselves treasures on earth ; but treasures in heaven. 
Where your treasure is, there will your hearts he also. And 
so we are led to the other precept mentioned hefore. 

(2.) As to a heavenly conversation, God would not have rea 
sonable creatures, who have intelligent spirits about them, to 
grovel and crawl like worms in the dust of this lower world, as 
if they had no nobler sort of objects to converse with, than the 
things of this earth ; nothing fitter for the contemplation, exer 
cise, and enjoyment of an immortal mind. The saints are fi 
nally designed for an inheritance in light, (Colos. 1, 11?,) and 
their thoughts and affections ought to be there beforehand, that 
they may become meet for that inheritance. Will it do a man 
any harm to have frequent forethoughts of the everlasting joy, 
purity, and bliss of the heavenly state ! How joyous and pleasant 
must it be ! And why are we called Christians, if he, who is our 
Lord, and Teacher, revealing his mind to us, and expressly 
charging us to seek {irst the kingdom of God, to set our affec 
tions on the things above, &c. shall not be regarded? Why is 
not heaven, every day in our thoughts why will we lose the plea 
sure of a heavenly life, and exchange it for earthly care and trouble, 
or vanity, at the best ? Why is it ? no other reason can be given, 
but only an alienation of our minds from God. 

9. Another argument to prove this alienation, and enmity 
against God, is the unsuccessfulness of the gospel : which can be 
resolvable into nothing else, but such an enmity. The design of 
the gospel is to bring us into a union with the Son of God, 
and to believe on him whom the Father hath sent. Christ 
seeks to gather in souls to God, but they will not be gathered. 
This is matter of fearful consideration, that when God is calling 
after men, by his own Son, that there be so few that will come 
to him. How few are there that say, give me Christ, or I am 
lost? None can reconcile me to God, but Christ? You are 
daily besought, in Christ's stead, to be reconciled, (2 Cor. 5.20.) 
but in vain ! What doth this signify, but obstinate, invincible 
enmity ? 

Secondly. Another head of arguments may be taken from several 
considerations, that we may have of God in this matter : whence 
it will appear, that nothing but enmity, on our parts, keeps us 
at that distance from God, as we generally are at, and consider 
to that purpose, 

1 . That God is the God of all grace, the fountain of good 
ness, the element of love. Why are men at that distance from 
him, who is goodness, and grace, and love itself ? The reason is 
ot on God's part, 1 John iv. 16. God is love, and he thatdwel- 


leth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him. What can our 
so great distance from this God signify, from the most perfect, 
the most excellent goodness, but the most horrid kind, and the 
highest pitch of enmity ! Did men apprehend this, what fright 
ful monsters would they appear to themselves ! This is not only 
a plain, but a terrible declaration of a most unaccountable en 
mity, on our part. 

2. God is still pleased to continue our race on earth, a suc 
cession of men in this world, from age to age, made after his 
own image, with minds and spirits that are intelligent, and im 
mortal ; which declares a strong propension in God, towards 
such a sort of creatures, the inhabitants oHhis lower world, 
though degenerated, and fallen from him. Notwithstanding all 
their neglect of him, in former ages, yet new generations of men 
still spring up, capable of knowing, and serving him, Prov. viii. 
31. In the foreseen height of man's enmity, this was the steady 
bent of his mind towards them, to rejoice in the habitable parts 
of this earth, and to have his delights with the sons of men. Thus 
also in the 2 Chron. vi. 18, do we find Solomon in a rapture of 
admiration, on this account : But will God in very deed dwell 
with men on earth, &c. And the Psalmist, ps. Ixviii: 18. That 
gifts are given to the rebellious (the most insolent of enemies) 
that the Lord God might dwell among them. How admirable, 
and unconceivable a wonder is this ! The heaven of heavens 
cannot contain him, and will he yet dwell with men on earth I 
And we yet find, notwithstanding God's great condescension, 
that there is still a distance ; whence can this be, but from 
man's aversion, and enmity of mind against God ? Thus are 
men still requiting God evil for his goodness ; God will dwell 
with men on earth, but men will not dwell with him, nor ad 
mit of his dwelling with them ; they say to him depart from us. 
Job. xxi. 14. It is thus, from age to age, and generation to 
generation, which shews God's goodness on his part, and the 
enmity on man's part. See to this purpose, Ps. xiv. and liii. the 
beginning of each. 

3. Consider thfi forbearance of God, towards you, while you 
are continually at mercy. With what patience doth he spare 
you, though your own hearts must tell you that you nre offend 
ing creatures,and whom he can destroy in a moment ! He spares 
you, that neglect him. He is not willing that you should pe 
rish, but come to the knowledge of the truth, that you may be 
saved; by which he calls, and leads you to repentance, Rom. 
ii. 4. On God's part, here is a kind intention ; but on man's 
part, nothing but persevering enmity. 

4. Consider God's large and wonderful bounty towards the 
children of men in this world, arid the design of it, Acts xvii. 


25. 26. He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things, tha 1 
they might seek after him, Ps. Ixvtii. 19. He daily loadeth us 
with his benefits. He gives us all things richly to enjoy, Acts 
xiv. 17- God leaves not himself without witness, that he doth 
men good. He gives men rain from heaven, when they want 
it ; and, when unseasonable, he withholds it. It is a great 
thing to understand the loving-kindness of the Lord, (Ps. cvii. 
42.) his wonderful works towards the children of men ; to un 
derstand our mercies and comforts, and what their meaning, 
and design is. By mercies to our outward man, God designs to 
draw our hearts and minds to himself. Mercies are bestowed 
on them that have the power of thought, to consider the end 
of all God's mercies ; it is bespeaking, and seeking to win our 
hearts to himself, Hos. xi. 4. It is drawing us with these cords 
of a man, with bands of love ; which plainly shews what the 
case requires, that the minds and hearts of men are very 
averse, and alienated from him, and therefore need such draw 

5. And that which is more than all the rest, is God's send 
ing his Son into the world, to procure terms of peace for us, and 
then to treat with us thereupon ; and that in him he is recon 
ciling the world to himself, 2 Cor. v. 19. Doth not reconcilia 
tion suppose enmity, as here, and in the text : you that were 
enemies in your minds yet he hath reconciled. As we have 
noted that on our parts our withstanding, and too commonly 
frustrating his overtures, speaks enmity, and obstinacy therein; 
so on his part those overtures themselves speak it too. Here is 
the greatest kindness and good-will on God's part, that can be 
conceived ; but it supposes ; what we are evincing ill-will in us. 
Christ came to seek and save that which was lost. What a lost 
was our state ! what to be engaged in a war against iiim that 
state made us ! Wo to him that strives with his Maker, Is.xlv. 9. 
Fallen man is little apprehensive of it now, if we continue un 
reconciled to the last, at death it will be understood what a lost 
state we are in. Upon this account it will then appear, but this 
was our state before, when it appeared not ; in this state Christ 
pitied us, when we had no pity for ourselves. Christ came not into 
the world to save men only at the hour of their death, from hell; 
but to raise up to himself a willing people, that may serve and 
glorify God, in their life on earth. He is, for this purpose, in 
tent on this reconciling design ; and how earnest how alluring 
were his solicitations, in the days of his flesh ! Come to me all 
ye that are weary He that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast 
out. How pathetical his lamentations, for the unreconcileable ! 
O that thou hadst known the things belonging to thy peace 
And his blood was shed at last, as the blood of propitiation, of a 


reconciling sacrifice, to reconcile God's justice to us; and there 
upon also, as in this context : having made peace by the blood 
of his cross, (ver. 20.) to vanquish our enmity, to reconcile us 
who were enemies in our minds ver. 21, 22. 

6. Consider Christ sending, and continuing, from age to 
age, the gospel in the world ; the design whereof may be un 
derstood by the manifest import, and substance of it, and by the 
titles given to it, as it reveals Christ, the Mediator, the Peace 
maker, in his person, natures, offices, acts, sufferings and per 
formances. As it contains the great commands of repentance 
towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, with the pro 
mises of pardon, and eternal life, with whatsoever is requisite to 
our present good state Godward, and our final blessedness in 
him, as also the various enforcements of such precepts, and 
confirmations of such promises, with copious explications of the 
one and the other. And as it is called, the ministry of recon 
ciliation, 2. Cor. v.l 8. The word wherein peace is preached, 
by Jesus Christ, Acts x. 36. The gospel of peace, and of glad 
tidings, (Rom. x. 15.) as that very word gospel signifies. 

This gospel was, in its clearer manifestation, at the fulness of 
time, introduced with great magnificence, and solemnity into 
the world, as the law had been, by the ministry of angels. 
When the Sun of righteousness, the light of the world, was a- 
rising, and dawning upon it ; then did a multitude of the hea 
venly host appear, praising God, and saying : Glory to God in 
the highest, peace on earth, and good-will towards men, Luke 
ii. 13, 14. But this gospel is not a more express declaration of 
God's good-will, towards men, than their deportment under it, 
their continuing to live as without God in the world, is of their 
ill-will, disaffection, and enmity against God. 

7. And lastly, the strivings of the Spirit, in the hearts of 
ministers preaching the gospel, and with the souls of men, to 
whom it is preached, shew that there is a mighty enmity to be 

(1.) God's giving forth his Spirit to his ministers, enabling 
them to strive with sinners, to bring them to Christ according 
to the working of that power, which works in them mightily. 
Colos. i. 29. What need of such striving, but that there is a 
great enmity in the minds of people to be conquered, and over 
come ? Sometimes we read of ministers of the gospel weep 
ing over souls, who, for their too intent minding of earthly 
things, are called enemies to the cross of Chiist, Phil. iii. 18. 
Sometime^ they are ready to breathe out their own souls towards 
them, among wliom they labour, 1 . Thess. ii. 8. Sometimes 
represented as travelling in birth, with them that are committed 


to their charge, Gal. iv. 1.9. There are ministers, whose hearts 
are in pangs and agonies for the souls of sinners, when the 
things of God are too apparently neglected, and not regarded 
by them ; and when they see destruction from the Almighty is 
not a terror to them ; and while they visibly take the way that 
takes hold of hell, and leads down to the chambers of death. 
They would, if possible, save them with fear, and pluck them as 
firebrands out of the fire ; the tire of their own lusts, and fer 
vent enmity against God, and godliness, and save them from his 
flaming wrath. Is all this unnecessary ? and what makes it ne 
cessary, but that there is a counter-striving, an enmity work 
ing in the hearts of men, against the Spirit's striving in the mi 
nistry, to be overcome ? 

(2.) The spirit also strives immediately with the souls of sin 
ners, and pleads with them, sometimes as a Spirit of conviction, 
illumination, fear and dread; sometimes as a Spirit of grace, woo 
ing, and beseeching ; and when his motions are not complied 
xvith, there are complaints of men's grieving, vexing, quench 
ing, resisting the Spirit, Acts vii. 51 . Which resistance implies 
continual striving. No striving but doth suppose an obstruc 
tion, and difficulty to be striven withal ; there could be no re 
sisting, if there were not counter-striving; and hereby despite 
is done to the Spirit of grace. O fearful aggravation ! that such 
a Spirit is striven against ! It is the Spirit of grace, love and 
goodness, the Spirit of all kindness, sweetness and benignity 
which a wicked man doth despite unto, Heb. x. 29. How vile 
and horrid a thing, to requite grace, love, and sweetness with 
spite ! As if the sinner should say, thou wouldcst turn me to 
God, but I will not be turned ! The blessed God says : Turn at 
my reproof, I will pour out my spirit unto you, Prov. 1.23. There 
are preventive insinuations, upon which, if we essay to turn, 
plentiful effusions of the Spirit may be hoped to ensue : for he 
is the Spirit of grace. When we draw back, and resist, or slight 
those foregoing good motions of that holy Spirit : this is des^iti 
ing him. And doth not this import enmity, in a hign degree ? 
That the spirit needs strive so much, that it may be overcoi e., 
as with some, at his own pleasure, he doth, with others, in just 
displeasure, he strives no more, and su it is never overcome. 

Ill, We come now to theapplication,wherein the subject would 
admit, and require a very abundant enlargement, if we were not 
within necessary limits. Two things I shall take notice of, a* 
very necessary to be remarked, and most amazingly strange and 
wonderful, by way of introduction to ?o . turther use. 

First. That ever the spirit of ..a, a reasonable, intelligent 
being, God's own offspring, and whereto he is not oiiiy a Maker 


but a parent, stiled the Father of spirits, should be degenerated 
into so horrid, so unnatural a monster ! What ! to be a hater 
of God ! the most excellent and all-comprehending good ! and 
thy own Father ! hear O heavens and earth, saith the Lord, I 
have nourished, and brought up children, and they have rebel 
led against me, Isa. i. 2. Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this! 
and be horribly afraid ! be ye very desolate ! As if all the bless 
ed inhabitants of that upper world should rather forsake their 
glorious mansions, leave heaven empty, and run back into their 
original nothing, than endure such a sight ! An intelligent spi 
rit, hating God, is the most frightful prodigy in universal na 
ture I If all men's limbs were distorted, and their whole outer- 
man transformed into the most hideous shapes, it were a trifle, 
in comparison with this deformity of thy soul. 

Secondly. That it should be thus, and they never regret, nor 
perceive it! What self-loathing creatures would men be, could 
they see themselves ! so as never to endure themselves, while