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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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MONS, ON 1 JOHN 4. 20. 











. rnsley, Bolt Court, Fleet Siren. 






On 1. John 4. 20. 

8t CorDtoatnets' 

In the Year 1676. 

VL. VI. 


1 Jehn iv. 20. 

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is 
liar : for he that lovclh not his brother whom he hath 
seen ; how can he love God whom 
he hath not seen. 

"JVTY purpose at present is not to speak from these words 
either of love to God, or our brother, absolutely and 
singly : but comparatively only, according to that connexion 
which they have one with another; and the difference of the 
one from the other respecting their objects, as the object of the 
one is somewhat visible, and of the other somewhat invisible. 
There is one thing necessary to be premised to this intended 
discourse concerning the acceptation of love here, and it is this; 
that the apostle in this little tractate of love, as this epistle 
may for the most part be called, doth not design to treat of love 
as a philosopher, that is, to give us a precise formal notion of 
it ; but to speak of it with a latitude of sense ; not so indeed as 
to exclude the formal notion of love as it is seated in the inner 
man, but so as to comprehend in it such apt expressions and 
actings of it, as according to the common sense of men were 
most agreeable and natural to it. And therefore speaking of 
love to God in 2 chapter, ver. 5. he tells us, that " Whoso 
keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected :" 

* Preached May 24, l6; 


that is, the very perfection of the love of God stands in this, in 
keeping his word. So in chapter 5, ver. 3. "This (saith he) is 
the love of God, that we keep his commandments." And speak 
ing of the other branch of this love in chapter 3. ver. 17. he 
saith, " Whoso hath this world's goods, and seeth his brother 
have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, 
how dwelleth the love of God in him ?" The apostle calls this 
the love of God also ; it being one and the same divine princi 
ple of love implanted by God himself, which spreads itself to 
several objects all under one and the same communication, as 
havinjfmore or less of the divine beauty and loveliness appear 
ing in them. 

So that if any one should go about here to play the sophister, 
and say, " Love is a thing, which hath its whole nature, and 
residence in the inner man. Define it never so accurately, you 
will find it to be wholly, and entirely seated there. Now 
therefore, since nothing can be denied of itself, let it be con 
fined and shut up there never so closely, admit that no expres 
sion be made of it one way or another, yet I need not be so 
licitous on this account : for let me walk and do as 1 list, the 
love of God may be in me for all that ; since love is such a thing, 
wherever it is, as must have its whole nature within one." To 
this the apostle would reply, No, I do not speak of love in so 
strict a sense. Love, as I intend it, is not to be taken so: 
or if it were, it must however be supposed to have that strength 
and vigour with it, as to enable it to be the governing principle 
of a man's life; to affect and influence his own soul; and so to run 
through the whole course of his daily practice. I speak of love 
according to what it virtually comprehends in it ; namely, con 
formity to the will of God, and obedience to his laws whereby 
that will is made known. And thus love is elsewhere taken in 
Scripture also. Our Saviour you know gathers up our duty into 
love. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, 
and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbour 
as thyself; upon 'these two commandments hang all the law 
and the prophets."M att. xxii .37. 40.The apostle also tells us, that 
"love is the fulfilling of the law." Rom. 13. 1O. Therefore love 
to God and our brother, in this place, must be taken for the 
summary or abridgement of our whole duty ; an epitome of the 
two tables ; a virtual comprehension of all we owe either to 
God or man, that is, universal holiness, and an entire obedi 
ence to the divine will. But still in this system or collection 
of duties, love, strictly and formally taken, is to be considered 
as the primary and principal thing; as seated and enthroned in 
the heart and soul ; and as the original principle, upon which 
all other duties do depend, and from whence they must pro- 


ceed. The acceptation of love being thus settled, there are 
three things that I chiefly intend to shew from this scripture. 

FIRST. That there is a greaterdifficulty of living in the exercise 
of love to God than towards man, upon this account, that he is 
nor the object of sight, as man is ; and consequently, that the 
duties of the second table are, according to this our present state 
of dependence on external sense, more easy and familiar to us 
than the duties of the first. Hence proceeds that general pro 
pensity, which it greatly concerns^ us to be aware of; to ac 
quiesce and take up our rest in a 'fair, civil deportment among 
men, without ever being concerned to have our souls possessed 
with holy, lively, and powerful affections towards God. 

SECONDLY. I shall shew, that this impossibility of seeing 
God, doth not however excuse us from exercising love to him 
in this our present state. It is indeed one reason why he is ac 
tually so little loved in the world, but it is no sufficient excuse. 
For the impossibility of seeing God doth not render it impossi 
ble to love him, and to live in his love, while we are here in 
this world, dwelling in the flesh. And this also is plainly ground 
ed in the text; for this vehement expostulation of the apostle, "If 
any man do not love his brother whom he hath seen, how can 
he love God whom he hath not seen ?" plainly supposes it to be 
an intolerable thing not to love God. And therefore hence he 
takes the advantage of enforcing the duty of loving our brother, 
because otherwise we should be convicted, and proved to be no 
lovers of God ; taking it for granted, that this would be esteem 
ed a most horrid thing, even at the very first sight. Otherwise 
his exhortation would have no force, nor pungency in it ; but 
would be flat, and insignificant. Therefore he plainly supposes 
here, that though God's not being the object of sight doth ren 
der the exercise of love to him, upon that account, more 
difficult ; yet it doth not render it impossible, or the neglect of 
it at all excusable ; but considers it as a thing to which men 
are most indispensably obliged. This therefore will be my se 
cond head to discourse upon from this scripture. And then in 

THIRD place, my design is to shew you the absurdity of their 
profession of love to God, who do not love their brother also ; 
and how false and fulsome a thing it is for men to pretend to 
any thing of sanctity and religion, while they neglect the du 
ties of the second table. Of these we shall speak in order, and 
begin now with the 

FIRST observation, that the impossibility of seeing God ren 
ders the exercise of our love to him more difficult, than the 
exercise of it towards man whom we do see. In this doctrine 
there are two branches, which are to be distinctly congidercd. 


I. That it is more difficult to love God than our brother. 

II. That one great reason of it is, that we cannot see God, 
as we do our brother. 

I. As to the former of these, that there is a greater diffi 
culty in the exercise of love lo God than to men, we may col 
lect from the common observation of the world. For it is very 
plain and evident, that the common course and practice of men 
shews what is more easy to them, and what less ; it plainly dis 
covers which way they are most inclined. This is the thing, 
which I understand here by difficulty ; and it answers the in 
tent and force of the apostle's expression, " How can he that 
loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, love God whom he 
hath not seen ?" This plainly must be understood in a relative 
sense, and have respect to some agent, and here must have 
reference to ourselves. It is less easy to us, that is, it is a 
thing which our nature in our present state doth less incline us 
to, actually to live in the exercise of love towards God, than 
towards men. And, I say, what men are more or less inclined ' 
to, is to be seen in their common course ; and from the com 
mon observation of the state and posture of the world we may 
gather, that men in general are less inclined to love God, than 
one another. And though it be very true, there is too little of 
love, kindness, and mutual affection among men, and a great 
neglect of justice, common honesty, and the other duties of 
the second table, which love must be understood to compre 
hend ; yet certainly the instances are not so rare of persons that 
are kind, courteous, affectionate, and well-humoured one to 
another, as of persons well-affected towards God. This is a 
thing which commands our assent even at the very first sight. 
Nay further, though it is also no less true, that men are too 
much lovers of themselves, to the exclusion not only of God, 
but of men too ; yet certainly there is more of love to men, 
than to God, prevailing in the world. And to make this out 
let us go to the usual evidences and expressions of love ; such 
as mindfulncss of others, trust in them, a readiness to be 
concerned for their interest, a studious care to please them, 
loving to converse with them, or seeking and being pleased 
with it, and the like. If we descend, I say, to the considera 
tion of such evidences of love as these are, we shall find that 
man is generally better beloved, than God is. And that this 
may gain the greater possession of our souls, let us a little con 
sider these particular evidences of love ; and then see whether 
men are not generally more beloved by one another, than God 
is by them ; hereby we shall plainly see, what is most agreea 
ble to their temper, and what not. And, 

1. Mindf illness, or a kind remembrance of others, is a 


most natural evidence of love. But what ! are men who trans 
act affairs one jvith another, so apt to forget each other, as 
they are to forget God ? It is given us as a common distinctive 
character of a wicked man, that he is one that hath not God 
in all his thoughts. For thus saith the Psalmist, "The wick 
ed in the pride of his countenance," that is, his heart express 
ing itself in the 'haughtiness of his countenance, and his super 
cilious looks, " will not seek after God ; God is not in all his 
thoughts." Ps. 10. 4. And by the same divine penman a wicked 
man, and a forgetter of God, are used as exegetical expressions. 
Ps. 9. 17 But there is many a wicked man that will kindly 
remember his friends, his relations, even his very companions in. 
wickedness. And if we demand an account of ourselves, do we 
not find it more easy and familiar to us to entertain thoughts 
concerning our friends, and relations, from day to day, than we 
do to think of God ? Are we not also more inclined to love them 
than God ? What we love we are not apt to forget. " The 
desire of our soul is to thee, and to the remembrance of thy 
name." Isa. 26. 8. Our love to thee, which naturally works 
by desire, will not let us forget thee ; it is too deeply impressed 
and rooted in us ever to lose the remembrance of the object of 
our love. This is one thing that sheweth, that God is a 
great deal less loved by men, than they are by one another. 

2. To be apt to trust in one another, is a very natural evi 
dence and expression of love. Whom we hate, we cannot 
trust ; whom we love entirely, we Jknow not how to distrust. 
One of the characters of love is this, " It hopeth all things, 
it believeth all things:" (I Cor. 13. 70 it abhors to entertain a 
jealous surmise of the person, who is the object of it. Now 
let the matter be tried by this also, and how much more ready 
are men to trust to one another, than they are to trust to God ? 
What is there so vain, so uncertain, so unstable, which they 
are not more forward to repose their trust in, than in him ? 
Therefore, saith the apostle to Timothy, "Charge them that 
are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded ; nor 
trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God." 1 Tim. 6'. 1 7- 
Which charge implies the propensity of men's minds, rather 
to trust in the most fugitive, uncertain, vanishing shadows, 
than in God himself. This is an argument, that he hath but 
little love among men ; that he cannot be trusted ; and that 
few will give him credit. But how safely and quietly do men 
repose a trust and confidence in one another ? And indeed if 
faith and trust were not natural to men, there would be no 
such thing as commerce, which is the bond of human society. 
The world must dissolve and break up ; all must live apart in 


dens, and caves, and wildernesses, and have nothing to do 
one with another, if they could not trust one another. With 
out mutual confidence, there would be an end of all traffic. 
But to this, human society shews there is a disposition ; and 
you can easily find out persons, in whom you would as safely 
repose your trust and confidence, as in your own hearts. You 
can say, " I would put my life in such a man's hands, or what 
ever is most dear to me." And if that person should but pro 
mise to undertake an affair, saying, " I will do such a thing 
for you, irust me with it, leave it upon me ;" you would be 
as quiet, as if you saw the business done and already effected. 
But ho\v unapt are the hearts of men to trust in God ! and 
this it is, that holds off the world from him. He hath sent 
the gospel of peace and reconciliation to mankind, and therein 
declares the good tidings, how willing he is that the contro 
versies should be taken up between men and himself; yet none 
will believe it, none think him in earnest, till he is pleased 
himself to draw them. "Who hath believed," saith the prophet, 
"our report ? or, to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" 
Isaiah 53. 1. Plainly intimating, that the arm of God must 
go forth to make a man believe him, and take his word. A 
strong argument, that he hath but little love among men, 
when he cannot be trusted j or, at least, when so few will give 
him credit ! 

3. A readiness to be concerned for one another's interest 
and reputation, is also a natural evidence of love. And we 
know how easily men are drawn in for one another, and take 
part with a neighbour, or a friend, when they are traduced, 
and evil spoken of ; and especially when they see indignities 
and affronts put upon them. There is usually a great siding 
among persons upon such occasions. " Such a one has spoken 
ill of rny friend, I must stand up for him to the uttermost. 
Another has injured him, purloined from him that which was 
his, and the like ; I must right him." Should we not reckon 
him a base fellow, who should behold an act of stealing com 
mitted upon the estate of another, and not make a discovery of 
it, or endeavour to have him righted ? But how little generally 
are men concerned for God, and his affairs ! What robberies 
are every where committed against him, and yet how few do 
lay it to heart ! How evil is he spoken of many times, and his 
truth, and his ways ! But how few can say, "The reproaches 
wherewith they have reproached thee, have fallen upon me ?" 
Ps. 69. 9. It is true, this is the sense of David, when he 
cries out, " As with a sword in my bones mine enemies re 
proach me, while they say unto me daily, Where is thy God ?" 
Ps. 42. 10. It is to me as if one was forcing a sword into my 


bones, even into ray marrow. ; a most intolerable torment to 
be upbraided in respect to my God : that he is either impotent, 
and cannot help me ; or that he is false to me, and answereth 
not the trust I have reposed in him. But how few are there of 
David's mind, in this case ? How many oaths and blasphemies 
can, they hear, wherein the sacred name of God is rent and 
torn, and yet their hearts are not pierced at all ! Further, 

4. An earnest study to please men is a natural expression 
of love. Now let the matter be estimated by this, how much 
less . God is loved in the world than men. It is an ordinary 
thing with them to study to please one another, to humour 
one another. tf Such and such things I do, and such I omit, 
lest I should displease a relation, a friend, or one that 1 have 
frequent occasion to converse with." But how few are the 
persons, who can say, "This I do purposely to please my 
God ?" or with Joseph, " How can I do this great wickedness, 
and sin against God !" Gen. 39. 9. A man will oftentime cross 
his own will, to comply with that of another ; and reckon it a 
great piece of civility to recede from his own inclination in or 
der to gratify another person, when he can do it without any 
great inconvenience. But how rare a thing is this with respect 
to God! To be able to say, "In such a thing [ displease myself, 
that I may please God ; 1 cross my own will, to comply with 
his." Among men there is especially one sort, that we are 
more concerned and obliged to please, so far as we can ; and 
that is, such as rule over us. We are bound to please our su 
periors ; and to obey them, that we may do so. And there is 
no obedience either to God or man, that is right in its own 
kind, but what proceeds from love, and is an evidence as well 
as an effect of it. "If ye love me," saith Christ, "keep my com 
mandments." John 14. 15. "And this is the love of God," 
saith St. John, "that we keep his word." 1 John 5. 3. More 
over the duties of the second table, which we owe to men, par 
ticularly that of obedience to superiors, are summed up all in 
love. The apostle having, in the 13 chapter of his epistle to 
the Romans, pressed subjection to the higher powers, in that 
they are of God, adds in the 10th verse, that "to love one 
another is the fulfilling of the law." "Render," saith he, in 
the same discourse, "to all their dues : tribute, to whom tri 
bute is due ; custom, to whom custom; fear, to whom fear; honour, 
to whom honour." Rom. 13. 7? 8. Yet observe, all is wrapt 
up in love ; for the command is immediately after, "to owe no 
man any thing, but to love one another:" and in short there is 
nothing which love doth riot comprehend, or to which it doth 
not incline us. 

VOL. vi. c 

10 ON THK T.OVE OF GOD (sfcR. 1. 

But however, though such obedience be due to our human 
superiors as proceedeth from love ; yet how apparent is the 
case, that herein is greater love shewn to men, than to God, 
though too little to both ? There is indeed too little regard to 
laws both human and divine, in the most important matters 5 
yet surely a great deal less to the latter, than to the former. 
The thing speaks itself as to common observation : and we daily 
see how much more human Ltws do influence men's practice, 
than those which are divine; and personsthat are a great deal more 
prone to be precisely observant of them about matters, which 
they themselves do otherwise count indifferent, than of the laws 
of God, which are about the most necessary matters, and which 
also are acknowledged as such. Thus it hath long apparently 
been in the Christian world. A greater account hath been made 
of this and that arbitrary circumstance, than of the substance 
of religion itself. More stress hath been put upon the cream, 
the salt, and the oil, and such additional of human invention, 
than on the great obligations of the baptismal covenant. And 
if it were not so, it could never have been desired by any, that 
we should rather be all infidels, than not be Christians 
after their fashion, and in their way. For that it hath been 
evidently so, may be seen in this ; that this whole nation itself 
hath at once suffered under the interdict of excommunication 
in former days. All the doors of our churches and chapels 
have been shut up, only for some non-compliance, with this 
or that human addition ; thus they chose we should rather be 
no Christians at all, than not have Christianity with those ad 
ditions. This shews a greater disposition in the minds of men 
to obey human laws, in circumstantial matters ; than di 
vine laws, in those points which are most necessary and impor 

What then is more apparent, than that God is less loved in 
the world than men are ; since persons are more forward to 
shew respect to them, than to him? Not but that we arc 
bound to shew respect to them too, especially to those who 
represent him, and as his vicegerents rule over us. But sure 
ly it was never intended, that when we are to obey men for 
God's sake, we should regard him less ; we should rather do it 
so much the more on this very account. 

In a wordf, love ought to be an ingredient in every act of 
obedience ; even to human government, as I have said before, 
as well as to that which is divine. What love is expressed in 
that great canon of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! "What 
soever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to 
them;" (Matt. 7.12.) that is, you ought to judge the case 


thus ; "What would I wish to be done to me in such a man's 
circumstances? Would not I expect to be obeyed and reveren* 
ced, if I were a magistrate ? My love to myself would incline 
me to expect it. Therefore my own love to myself, being the 
measure of that love which I owe to another, should oblige me 
to shew the same respect to him in his circumstances, that I 
would wish to- be shewn to me in the like circumstances." 
But here is the iniquity of the case : those whom we should 
honour and love in the Lord for his sake, men are apt to put 
the supreme respect upon ; which is to dethrone the supreme 
Lord of all, and to set up his creature in his place. And as 
to other persons, who are not invested with power and authority 
over us ; how many are there of those, who will not wrong 
men, or do them any injustice ! How many that are most 
highly civil, and candid in their converse with them, and 
strictly careful not to disoblige them by their behaviour ! But 
who sticks at disobliging God, or makes a difficulty of disobey 
ing him ? Again, 

5. Towards men there is a disposition deeply to regret any 
offence we unwarily have given them. When we, though 
undesignedly, have done another an injury ; if, for instance, 
we but casually tread on his foot, or some such like matter, we 
presently say, " I am afraid I have hurt you, I am sorry for 
it." Common civility would oblige one to express such a re 
gret. And if we by any rash word or weak action have trespas 
sed upon another, we are reckoned almost unfit for society, if 
we do not shew a sense of our having offended such a person. 
Men that are not very ill-natured indeed, are apt to make 
apologies, and desire to be forgiven in cases where they have 
offended through inadvertency. But how much is it other 
wise with men towards God, who trespass upon him every day, 
and never cry to him for mercy ! who wear away their lives, 
from one month, year, and day, to another, in continual de 
viations from him, and rebellions against him, without its 
ever coming into their thoughts to say, " Lord forgive me, 
that I have lived so long in the world, as it were, without 
thee ! that I have carried it to thee as if I owed thee no duty 
nor service ! Lord, I have offended, I desire to put an end 
to this course, and to do so no more." Finally, 

6. A love of converse or delight in each other's company, 
is another expression of that regard which men have for one 
another. Man is naturally a sociable creature ; and how few do 
you know, or ever have known, who do not affect company ? 
Some few instances there are of persons, that are of a gloomy 
retired temper ; but generally men seek to converse with one 


another, and take pleasure in it. But alas, how little do 
they care to converse with God ! They had rather be any 
where, than in his presence. Many, otherwise ingenious per 
sons, men of good dispositions and of facetious tempers, who, 
as they delight in converse themselves, so their conversation 
proves delightful to others ; yet care not at what distance they 
keep themselves from God. How many, I say, of such in 
genious persons do we know ; who yet neglect to pray to God ; 
take no pleasure in having any thing to do with him ; take his 
holy name in vain ; and set themselves at a distance from him, 
by their own evil practices ? It may be they will come to the 
solemnities of public worship for the sake of order, and to ex 
press their respect to others ; so that even in those things 
which are peculiarly appropriated to him, they shew more res 
pect to men, than God. And how sociable soever their temper 
is, one with another; yet with the Almighty they care not to 
converse at all, but say to him, "Depart from us, for we desire 
not the knowledge of thy ways." Job 21. 14. From whence we 
may conclude, that to man in his present state, it is even na 
tural to wish the great God out of being. "The fool hath said 
in his heart there is no God." Ps. H.I. "I would there 
were no God, my vote shall go for it, that there were none ; 
I could wish him out of the universe."* But you never heard 
of such a monster among men, as to wish there was no man 
beside himself. You never heard of such a hater of mankind, 
as to wish the whole human race into nothing. 

Now all these things concur to evidence or prove to us, that 
God is much less beloved in the world, than men are by one 
another. And it must be allowed that the common practice 
of men sheweth their inclination. This is discovered by con 
stant experience and observation, and the very aspect of men's 
deportment doth represent this as the true state of things. 
And, as I observed before, men may find something of it by 
the experience they have of themselves ; even those who have 
applied themselves to the business of religion, seriously and 
in good earnest. They find they can presently set their love on 

* For it is in the Hebrew text, itD'-n^X T 1SW bi 1DN that is, 
The fool hath said in his heart, NO GOD. And so it may as well 
be understood to signify the fool's wish, as his judgment. And 
this is the more likely to be the meaning ; inasmuch as it is 
manifest, that this is not the speech of some particular persons, or 
of some rare instances of most monstrous horrid wickedness 5 but 
it is spoken of apostate man in general, concerning wbom it is said 
in ver. 3. They are all gone aside, they are altogether become 
filthy 5 there is none that doeth good, no not one. 



work towards this or that creature ; but how long an exercise 
of the thoughts doth it require, and how great is the difficulty 
and toil, before the heart can be wrought up into a frame ac 
tually loving God ! 

So that the former branch of this truth, that men are more 
inclinable to love one another, than they are to love God, is 
abundantly clear. The latter is, that it proceeds in a great 
measure from this cause, that God is not seen by us, as we 
are by one another j but this must be reserved for another 




TN my Former Discourse I told you, that my design from this 
scripture was not to handle singly and apart either the 
love of God, or of our brother : but to speak of them compa 
ratively, with respect to the greater or less facility attending 
the exercise of the one or the other, according to their different 
objects ; the object of the one being visible, and of the other> 

The First Observation raised from the words, after settling the 
acceptation of love, was this : That it is more difficult to live 
in the exercise of love to God, than towards men ; because he 
is not the object of sight as we are one to another. In which 
doctrine, as we observed, there are two things to be consi 

I. That it is more difficult to love God, than our brother. 
This has been proved from experience, and the common 
observation of the world, in several particulars. The, 

II. Branch contained in this proposition, which we are novr 
to speak to is this ; that one great reason of this difficulty is, 
that men cannot see God, whereas they do see one another. 
In the prosecuting of this part of my subject it will be more ne 
cessary to insist on the explication, than on the proof of it ; 
and still more upon the application than on either of the 
former. Something I shall endeavour to say to all, as the time 
shall allow. 

* Preached May 31, 16/6 


1 . For the explication of this matter : namely, How we are 
to understand, that the not seeing God as we do men, is a 
cause of its being more difficult to love him than it is to love 
them, take these few propositions, As, 

(1.) That it is not an impossible thing in itself to love the 
tinseen God : for if the not seeing him, did make it impossi 
ble to love him,- he could never be loved by any one ; because 
he is seen by none with the bodily eye, as we see one another. 
But it is plainly implied in our text, that there are some that 
love God, notwithstanding his invisibility. And the apostle 
therefore endeavours only to evince the absurdity and guilt of 
not loving our brother, because from thence a man may be 
convicted of being no lover of God, which he accounts as a 
most intolerable thing. The not seeing him therefore doth 
not make it impossible to love God, but only renders it less 
easy. That is, it is not simply impossible, and therefore he 
who can do all possible things, can make the nature of man to 
love him ; he, 1 say, can form the nature of man to the love of 

(2.) The not seeing of God cannot be understood to be a 
necessary cause of this sad thing. It is not such a cause as 
doth necessitate this evil, and horrid effect. For that would 
be to reflect upon God, as if he had made a reasonable and in 
telligent creature, that was by the necessity of his nature pre 
vented from loving him. This would be to suppose, that the 
seeing of God with the bodily eye, were necessary to the lov 
ing of him ; which would make it altogether impossible that 
he should be loved by any of us at all, since he is visible to 
none. Nay, we might say further, he was never to be loved 
by any being, no not by himself, on the same grounds. The 
cause therefore of this difficulty is such as doth not necessitate 
the thing caused : for that indeed would imply that the nature 
of man is such as would never admit of his loring God, and sa 
there would be a/contradiction in men's *ery nature ; to wit, 
that they should be capable of being blessed in him only, 
whom at the same time they are not capable of loving. For 
experience sheweth, that there is nothing else in which we 
can be blessed ; nothing below, or besides God. Therefore 
this would infer, that man must be a creature made on purpose 
for misery ; for it is evident he can be happy in no creature ; 
neither in God could he be happy, if it were simply impossible 
he should ever love him, which is to cast the whole matter 
upon God himself. For if this were the case, then a man 
might say, " God hath given me such a nature as renders it 
impossible for me even to exercise love towards him." But 
far be it from us that we should entertain such a thought of 

|g ax THE LOVE OF GOD (SBR. If* 

God ! that he should make man, a creature indued with an 
intellectual mind, and yet not capable of loving h.m, who is 
the Author and Original of his life and being ! This it were 
even horrid to think of. And again, 

(3.) Nor hath this always been the cause of such an effect ; 
for there are some that are actually brought to love God, 
though they never saw him in the sense we speak of, to wit, 
with the bodily eye. It was not so with man from the begin 
ning, that because he could not see God, therefore he loved 
him not, or was'for that reason the less inclined to love him. 
He was formed at first for the lore of his Maker, so as to take 
the highest complacency in him, and to make him his supreme 
delight. Man, I say, was made thus upright ; but he hath since 
been trying inventions, to see if he could be hapvy any other 
way, or upon other terms. And therefore since this is not 
the necessary, nor the constant cause of such an effect as this, 
we must add, 

(4.) That it cannot be a cause of itself alone, but must needs 
be a cause in conjunction with some other cause ; by the in 
tervention of some other thing, by the concurrence of which 
thia sad effect is brought about. For if it be true, that there 
have been men who have loved God, though they never s.aw 
him with the bodily eye, there must be some other ceuse of 
the want of love to God in those persons who love him not, 
besides his invisibility. Because otherwise, since God was 
always invisible, and never seen with the bodily eye, it would 
necessarily follow that he could never have been loved at all* 
And hence again we may observe, 

(5.) That the other cause therefore, which is considerable 
in this case, must needs be the degeneracy of man's nature. 
It is not to be imagined, that man in a state of integrity should 
be incapable of loving God further than he could see him : or 
that the sight of his eye should be the conductor of his affec 
tions, and of the motions of his soul, which is a reasonable in 
telligent spirit. But the nature of man is not now, what it 
was. Certainly the case was better with him formerly, than 
it is now in this lapsed state, in which we must confess him to 
be; since there is so great an alteration in his very nature. 
This even the heathens themselves have seen, confessed, and 
lamented. I remember Plato brings in Socrates, somewhere 
speaking to this sense, upon a supposition of the pre-existence 
of his soul : " There was a time, says he, when I could have 
seen, and did see the first beauty, the highest and most per 
fect comeliness, and loveliness ; but now being subject to the 
body, all that impression is vanished and gone." And divers 
ethers have complained of that great darkness and ignorance, 


which was in them; and of the bonds and chains that held 
their souls fast, so that they could not tell how to exercise the 
powers of them towards invisible things. It cannot be then, 
but the matter must be resolved into this ; that if our not 
seeing God is the reason why he is so little loved, it is because 
our nature is grown so corrupt and degenerate, that what 
we see, takes with us most. And again, 

(6.) We may add hereupon, that this degeneracy of the 
nature of man must needs stand very much in the depression 
of the mind, or intellectual powers, and the exaltation of sense. 
For the mind and. the understanding, by the light which God 
had placed there, were to guide and govern the man ; instead 
of which, sense usurped the throne and took the government 
of him into its own hands. During the distraction and inter 
ruption of that order, which God had originally set between 
the superior and inferior powers of man's soul, sense, I say, 
usurped the throne, and took the government into its own 
hands, and man has ever since basely yielded, and subjected 
himself to its dominion, so that nothing moves him now but 
what is sensible. In this therefore the degeneracy of man very 
much consists, that sense dictates, and is become the govern 
ing principle of his life. And, 

(70 We add further, for of this more will be said when we 
come to the use or application, that the not seeing God can be 
only a temporary cause of our not loving him ; inasmuch as 
it is only a cause, with the intervention or concurrence of 
another cause, I mean, the disturbance of that primitive 
order, which God had settled between one faculty and another, 
belonging to the nature of man. Our not seeing God could 
never have prevented us from loving him, if things had not 
been so deplorably out of course with us, or if this confusion of 
order had never been brought in among us. Therefore this 
cause is only temporary, that is, so long as this great deprava 
tion of our nature doth pre'vail. But there are those, with 
whom it either doth not, or shall not prevail always. There 
are some, blessed be God, in whom this distemper and disor 
der of the soul of man is cured. For God hath sent his Son, 
the Redeemer, into the world on purpose to undertake this 
cure, and to rectify and set things right in men's spirits. And 
" Christ gave himself for us that he might redeem us from 
all iniquity/'* and therefore surely from this monstrous kind 
of iniquity, the most horrid of all the rest, to wit, that most 
unrighteous unequal thing, that man should not love his own 
Original, and the Author of his life and being. Therefore it 

* Tit. 2. 14. 



was the resolution of the Redeemer, " I will die, but I will 
remedy this matter. I will give myself, I will sacrifice all that 
I have, but I will bring this matter to rights again." I say 
then it is only a temporary cause, which has been assigned of 
men's not loving God, subsisting only so long as man's nature 
continues depraved : which is not only curable, but in part 
is actually cured, when the work of regeneration is set on foot, 
and the Spirit of the Redeemer has begun to obtain in the soul; 
and it is completely cured, when the new creature becomes 
mature, and is risen up to its full growth and perfection. But 
in the mean time, so long as this distemper in the nature of 
man continues, our not seeing God is one great reason why we 
love him not. For that way of apprehending God, which 
should be the same with respect to invisible objects, that sight 
is with respect to those which are visible, is wanting. And 
this apprehension will still be wanting, that must supply the 
room of sight, so long as this degeneracy remains in us. While 
it is thus with us, that we are subject to the power of .sense 
which has usurped the throne, the soul is destitute of those 
clear conceptions, those lively and vivid apprehensions, that 
issue in love to God. And so the great neglects of God, and 
the intolerable disrespect and affronts that are put upon him 
in the world, are, in a great measure, according to the present 
degenerate state of man to be resolved into this cause, name 
ly, that he is not seen. Hence it is, that so many persons 
neither love, nor regard him at all. 

2. Having thus explained the point we are upon, I now 
proceed to evince this truth, that one great reason, why men 
are not so apt to love God as they are one another, is because 
he is not the object of sight as we are. And this I shall do 
from the following considerations, namely, that the object is 
such as would certainly command our love, if it could be ap 
prehended aright ; and if it be not so, it must proceed from 
some defect in ourselves. 

(I.) That the object is such as would certainly command our 
love, if it were rightly apprehended. For he is most amiable 
in himself; and has infinitely more obliged man, than thev can, 
ever oblige one another. 

God, I say, is most amiable In himself, who is chiefly to be 
loved by all, though he is not actually so ; as he is confessed 
to be the Supreme Object of our understanding, while in reality 
he is least known. " God is light,"* says the apostle in one 
place of his epistle; and "God is love,"f as he affirms in 
two others ; a Being of pure light, and glorious love. Would 

* 1 John l. 5 \ 4. 16.. 

SER. II.)' AND tf R BROTHER. 19 

he not be loved therefore, if apprehended aright ? " Who is 
like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods !" as we find Moses 
speaking with admiration, " Who is like thee, glorious 
in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?"* God is a 
Being wherein the most perfect wisdom, goodness, power, 
truth and righteousness, make so admirable a temperature, 
that it is not possible he should not be loved, if he were but 

Besides, he has infinitely more obliged men, than they ever 
have or can oblige one another. Take any man whatsoever, 
whose soul you may suppose to be utterly destitute of the love 
of God, how low and abject soever be his state, yet you may 
say, " Thou impious wretch ! thou hast not the love of God in 
thee ; though he hath done more for thee, than all the men in 
the world whatever could do, even though they should all join 
together to oblige thee. For is he not the Author of thy life, 
and being ? Could the invention of all the men in the world 
have formed such a creature as thou art out of nothing ? Is he 
not a continual Spring of life to thee ? Thou livest and movest, 
and hast thy being in him every moment. And it i* with this 
design, that God doth continue to thee thy breath and being, 
that thou mightest feel after him, though thou canst not see 
him, and also labour to find him, though he be not far from 
every one of us. Thou art his offspring as even heathen poets 
tell us :f no creature could ever have made thee. No man is 
always doing thee good every moment, and at all times ; but 
thou art continually sustained by the divine hand. The great 
God who made thee, feeds thee with breath from moment to 
moment, and is always exercising towards thee sparing and 
sustaining mercy ; for his patience and bounty always concur 
together, in every moment's addition to thy breath." It were 
altogether impossible then but that God should be loved, 
more than all other beings, if he were but known. And 

(2.) Since an object so excellent in himself, and beneficent 
towards us, must have been loved by us, if there were not 
some defect in ourselves, therefore it plainly appears that 
there is a defect ; and it is owing to this, that sense has got 
dominion over us, and the ruling sway within us. For if he be 
not loved by any one, it must proceed from hence, that those 
lively apprehensions are wanting, which sense is the instru 
ment of with reference to visible objects. This is in itself most 
plain, that such an object as the blessed God i, could not but 
attract our love, if there were not some great defect in our- 

* Exod. 15. 11. f See Acts 17. 27, 28. 


selves, or if sense had not the power and dominion over us. 
And that it has such power and dominion, may be seen by 
comparing these two things together : to wit, that generally 
the objects of sense do make great impressions upon us; 
but the things that fall not within the reach thereof, or ex 
ceed its sphere, usually make little or none at all. 

[1.] The things of sense, I say, do usually make a great 
impression upon us, and are the things that have the deep 
est influence and operation upon the minds of men, so long as 
they are destitute of the grace of God. Hence it is, that 
men, who are yet in an unregenerate state, are said to be 
" in the flesh."* And a wicked man is spoken of as one, that 
is lost in the flesh ; so that there is nothing comes near him, 
nothing affects the soul, nothing reacheth his heart, but what 
some way or other doth slide in upon him, through the media 
tion of his external senses. It is true, sense is the instrument 
of conveying to us the knowledge of many things that are not 
the objects thereof. But when any are spoken of under this ' 
character, of being in the flesh, it bespeaks the degeneracy of 
man while unrenewed to be so great, that he is a creature so 
wrapt up in the flesh, as that nothing can come at him, but 
what is sensible. And therefore of such persons it is said, 
" They savour the things of the ftesh."f While this is the 
state and case of any man, it is no wonder that things, which 
are not the objects of sight, should move his heart but little. 
It is evident to all that make any observations upon themselves, 
how mighty a power sensible things have upon them. A dan 
ger that we see, how do we start at it ! Without using any in 
tervening thoughts, as soon as we sec it we dread it. How 
apt are we also to be amused, by the variety of sensible ob 
jects ! How apt to be ensnared and enticed by them ! There 
fore such as have a due care of themselves, what a watch and 
guard do they set upon their sense ! For this purpose holy Job 
is said to " make a covenant with his eyes." And we also 
read of a heathen philosopher, that would outdo Job, by put 
ting out his eyes, that he might be able to contemplate the bet 
ter ; acting herein agreeable to this Arabian proverb, shut the 
windows, that the house may be light. Thus it is evident 
how great a power sense has over us, to draw us this way and 
that. And, 

[2.] On the other hand, it is also obvious to experience, how 
little power, in general, those things have usually over us which 
fall not under the senses. Not only the objects of our love, 
but of our other affections signify nothing, make no impres- 

* Rom. 7. 5. f Rom. 8. 5. Job. 31. 1. 


sion if they be invisible. Therefore it is spoken of as a cha- 
racteristical note of the saints, that " they look not at the things 
which are seen, which are but temporal, but at the things which 
are not seen, and are eternal."* We read particularly of 
Noah, who " being warned of God of things not seen as yet, 
moved with fear, and through faith prepared an ark for the 
saving of his house."f Do but consider ; here was one 
man, and only one in a whole world, that was actually mov 
ed by the discovery and report of things not seen as yet, who 
when he was warned by God of such and such things coming, 
though unseen at present, admitted into his soul a pious pre 
venting fear. I say there seems to have been but one such 
man in a whole world, and he is thereupon recorded with ho 
nour in the book of God for it. So rare a thing is it that a man 
should be influenced by things not subject to sight, that if 
there be but one Noah, any one such person in the world, Re 
cord him for it (saith God) to future ages, for his excellency in 
this, that he took notice of the monition, or warning from 
God, as to things not seen as yet, so as to do what was agree 
able to the exigence of the case. Accordingly he stands at 
this day as an eminent example to all succeeding ages. And 
you find, that it is the same faith which distinguished! those 
who belong to God, and is the principal rule of their life ; to 
wit, " the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of 
things not seen."! Plain therefore and visible it is to us, and 
so it must be to all the world, that most persons are governed by 
their senses ; while things not sensible never move, nor signi 
fy any thing with us. How plainly doth experience every day 
speak in this case ! When we tell men of a judgment to come, 
a dreadful tribunal where they must all appear, and an endless 
state of things, that is before them ; we are to them as men 
that mock. They cry out, f< Surely, you are but in jest ; you 
mean not as you say, when you tell us of such dreadful things; 
we see nothing like it, nothing tending that way." Thus in 
like manner it is said, that when the inhabitants of Sodom 
were admonished by Lot, that fire and brimstone were ready 
to come down upon their heads to punish the most flagitious 
enormities of that people, " he was to them as one that mock 
ed.'^ So we are told this will be the language of scoffers in 
the latter days, " Where is the promise of his coming ?"j| As 
much as to say, " You have told us often of the great and ter 
rible day, when the sign of the Son of Man shall be seen in the 
heavens, and that there shall be most terrible concomitants of 

2 Cor. 4. 18. t Heb, 11.7- J Heb. 11.1. Gen. 19. 14. 
|| 2 Peter 3. 4. 


his appearance ; but we see nothing like it, no token of its ap 
proach, "all things continue as they were from the beginning 
of the creation." Thus the judgment of sinners is framed 
only by what is seen ; and what is not seen, is not at all mind 
ed; not regarded by them. So David says, "Because they have 
no changes, therefore they fear not God."* They say, "All 
things are as they were. There is no alteration fallen out so 
important, as seems to portend such dreadful things, as you 
talk of. The sun runs its course as it has been wont, and there 
is the same succession of day and night, summer and winter, 
as in former times. Who therefore can make us believe, that 
there is such a dav coming as that, which is so much talked 

Now, since we find, that God is such a one as you have 
heard ; namely, most amiable in himself, and beneficent 
towards us, and consequently that he would most certainly be 
beloved, if there were not some great defect in us which 
hinders so blessed an effect ; and since we find, that there is 
such a defect, that we have promoted sense to be the ruler in 
us, and that sensible things make a deep impression on us, 
while things that are not subject to the senses have little, or 
no regard from us ; we have all the reason in the world to con 
clude, that the great reason why men love not God is, because 
they do not see him. He is out of sight, and they regard him 

I THOUGHT to have insisted on many things by way of use, as 
I proposed, after having explained, and evinced, this second 
branch of my first proposition ; but i shall now only hint at 
some things, which I propose to speak more largely to in the 
next discourse. 

IN the first place, we may infer and gather from hence, 
that the apostacy and degeneracy in which this woild has been, 
and is still involved, is very dreadful ; in that it hath destroyed 
man's right disposition towards God. If it had wrought only 
so far as to deface men's limbs, and turn them into monstrous 
shapes, it had not been by many degrees so tremendous ; but 
it hath deformed the mind, and spoiled the temper of the spirit 
as it hath reference to God most of all, which is a thing never 
enough to be deplored. 

Again secondly, we may further infer, that there is a necessity 
for something or other to supply the room of our not seeing God, 
as man did in the state of innocence ; inasmuch as he is not 
seen by us now in this lapsed state, so as to furnish us with 
such apprehensions of him as to engage us to love him. There 

Psalm 55, 19, 


must be something analogous to sight, some communications 
of God's grace, that must influence our hearts to love him ; 
without which it is impossible. 

Moreover thirdly, I would observe, It is a wonderful mercy 
that God hath not wholly concealed himself from men : that 
though he cannot be seen by the bodily eye, yet he hath vouch 
safed to shew us, how we may attain to the knowledge of him. 
No man, saith John the Baptist, hath seen God at any time ; 
the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, 
he hath declared him.* How then ought divine grace to be 
admired for this ! 

We may hereupon, fourthly, see the great necessity of much 
gospel-preaching, and that very lively and serious too. There are 
a great many that are apt to say, "What needs such ado ? why 
must we have sefmons so often ?" Surely the exigence of the 
state of man is but little considered by them that say so. Do 
not we need to be often put in mind of the invisible God, when 
men love him not, because they 'see him not ? If they should 
hear of him neither, what would become of them ? Certainly 
they misunderstand the state of things among us, who think 
every little in this kind is too much. 

Finally : We may see how little reason we have to be in love 
with this state of dependence upon sense, which amuseth our 
souls, usurpeth the power over them, and so disturbs and mud 
dles our minds as to divert them from their true objects. 
How little reason have we to be fond of living in, and walk 
ing after the flesh ; which is to live the life of a creature, as it 
were, buried alive. Surely, I say, we have no reason to be 
fond of such a life. 

* John 1. If. 



TIAVlNOtold you in the introduction to the First Discourse, 
that love to God and man, is the summary of our whole 
duty, I proposed to insist on these three things. 

FIRST, that there is a greater difficulty of living in the exer 
cise of love towards God than towards men on this account, 
that he is not the object of sight, as man is : or, in other words, 
men are much more disposed to love one another, rather than 
God, inasmuch as they can see each other. 

SECONDLY, that although this is one great reason why men 
in reality love God so little, yet it is no excuse. 

THIRDLY, I proposed also to shew you the manifest falsehood 
and absurdity of any one's pretending to love God, who does 

* Preached September 6, 1676. 

N. B. The author begins the third sermon on the subject after 
the following manner : 

" It will be necessary, after so long an interval, to be somewhat 
larger than usual, in the recollection of what has been said from this 
scripture." And accordingly he proceeds to give a large recapitula 
tion of the two former discourses, which he had preached about 
three months before ; of which this is only an abstract. 

There is a like interval or chasm, with respect to time, between 
the VIII. and IX. of those posthumous sermons, published by Dr. 
Evans ; and there are several more of the like nature in the manu 
script volumes, out of which these discourses are selected. 

SEtt. 111.^ AND OUR BROTHER. 25 

not love his brother also. The FIRST of these we have made 
some progress in, and, in the handling of it, told you, that it 
contained these two parts : 

I. That it is more difficult to love God than our brother. 

II. That one great reason of it is, that we cannot see God 
as we do one another. 

As to the former of these, we have shewn you in several par 
ticulars, that how much soever mutual love is wanting in the 
world ; yet it is not so hard a matter to find out instances of 
kind, goodnatured men, who are friendly and fair in their de 
portment one to another, as it is to find persons who are kindly 
affected towards God. In the prosecution of this matter the 
usual expressions, or evidences of human love were considered. 
Such as mindfulness, or a kind remembrance of one another ; 
mutual trust ; a readiness to be concerned for each other's in 
terest, and reputation ; an earnest study to please, and oblige ; 
and a disposition deeply to regret an offence, though given 
unwarily ; and finally, a love of converse, or delighting in 
each other's society, is another expression, as we observed, of 
that regard, which several persons have for one another. In 
all which respects it appears from constant observation and 
experience, that men are more disposed to shew love and res 
pect to one another, than to God. 

As to the latter of these propositions, that all this proceeds 
for the most part from this cause, namely, that God is not 
seen by men as they are seen by one another, several proposi 
tions were first laid down for the explication of this point ; and 
then two considerations for the eviction of it, tending to shew, 
that it must necessarily be from some great defect in the nature 
of man, that the most excellent and most amiable objects of all 
others, should not be generally loved by us. After which, 
two or three hints by way of use were given you, and so we 
concluded the last exercise on this subject. 

3. I now proceed to a larger and more close application of 
this important truth. 

( I .) Hence we infer, that man is in a very lovr and lapsed, 
state. The present state of man, 1 say, is a lapsed state. He 
is fallen, and fallen very low indeed, when this is the case 
with him, that he is less apt to love God than man ; and only 
for this reason, because he cannot see God. It argues, I say, 
man to be sunk very low, and greatly fallen. And can we 
hereupon think otherwise ? For what ! can it ever enter into 
the imagination of any of us, that God did ever create such a 
thing as the reasonable intelligent spirit of man, his own off 
spring, image, and glory, with an original indisposition to the 

VOL, VI. X, 


love of himself ? Do we think that God gave such a nature to 
man at first, as was capable of being employed about spiritual 
objects, and yet with this strange defect or flaw in k, that it 
should be impossible to this nature of man to love the Author 
of itself, and the Original of its own life and being ? This can 
not be. It can never be, that a reasonable spirit, the immedi 
ate issue of the great Father of spirits, should be so alienated 
from its own Father ; and that it should be so dependent upon 
sense, as not to be able to love him from whom it came, or 
anything which is above the sphere of that base principle, 
which now presumes to give laws to the immortal mind. It 
is not to be supposed, that God ever created man so, as that 
his invisibility, which is the excellency of his own being, 
should be the reason why man should not love him. For he is 
therefore invisible, because he is excellent. And to think that 
the nature of man at first was so formed, that the excellency of 
things should be the reason why they should not be loved, and 
his own excellence a reason for his creature not to love him, is 
too absurd for any rational person to imagine. It is there 
fore plain, that the present state of man is a very lapsed 

Some of the heathen, as we observed before, have acknow 
ledged and lamented this. We find one of them complaining, 
that the darkness of ignorance clouded his mind, and that this 
body and flesh was but as a living sepulchre to the man. 
Another complains of certain bonds and chains, that tied down 
tire mind of man to the body, and the things of sense. And a 
third speaking of the excellent state of man at first, sa^s, that 
he then lived in a sort of familiarity and converse with God, 
but that now it was become quite otherwise with him. Such 
things as these we find in the writings of divers of the heathen. 
And how incongruous a thing is it for us who have all the con 
cerns of our souls, and what relates to our being, so expressly 
discovered and made known to us ; how incongruous a tiling 
is it, I say, that such a malady as this should be so little mind 
ed as it is by us ! Many have very slight notions of the dege 
neracy of man, and make a little matter of it, and the most 
have a much slighter sense thereof in practice. How few are 
there, who carry it as those who apprehend themselves fallen, 
and cast down from great excellencies ! fallen short, very far 
short, of the glory of God ! we live as if we apprehended no 
such malady, as if we knew not that there was a disease or 
distemper inwrought into our natures. Oh, how little is there 
of the sense of this to be found in the bulk of mankind ! And 
hecce I would farther infer, 


(2.) That this depravity or lapsedness of the nature of man 
consists greatly, in the depression and declination of his mind, 
and intellectual powers, as to the particular work and ofl'ice of 
guiding his passions, his affections, and practical inclinations. 
This was just mentioned before in the last discourse,* but shall 
now be more largely considered. I do not say, with some, 
that this is all that is meant by the corrupt state of man ; but 
certainly it stands very much in this, that his mind and ra 
tional powers are become unfit for their proper business ; and, 
that sense hath got the throne, usurped the reins, and governs 
his passions and affections. Herein I say, consists, in very 
great part, the corruption and depravedness of man's present 
state. And do not we find it to be so ? Do not we see, as to 
the objects that draw men's affections daily into a certain course 
that it is not the mind, but sense which prescribes? Sense dic 
tates and says, " Love here," and they do accordingly : "Love 
not there," and they obey. " Let that be the object of your 
love,, which sense tells you is amiable and lovely ; and that 
which sense says no such thing about, you may slight, neglect, 
and take no further notice of." Thus men are dictated to, and 
they do accordingly. It is plain then, that the depravedness 
of man's state stands chiefly in this, that sense takes upon it 
self to do the business of the mind and intellectual powers, 
and we consent it should be so. 

But is not this a dismal thing ? more dismal that it is not 
laid to heart ! Is it not a dismal thing, I say, that the first rank 
and order of creatures in this sublunary world should be sunk 
into that low bestial life, so as to be governed by no higher a 
principle than what is common to them with brutes ; and tlaat 
the incongruity of this should not be reflected upon, and more 
deeply considered ? That men should so seldom consider with 
themselves the unfitness of their course, or labour to shake off 
the usurped dominion over them ? This, I say, is most sad 
and doleful to think on, that matters should have gone on thus 
from age to age, and from generation to generation, in so many 
successions to this day, and we have heard of so few in all that 
time, who have regretted to be so imposed upon, and forborne 
to live the life of beasts and brute creatures through so many 
ages ! One would think it should some time or other have come 
into the mind of man, to think thus witli himself. "What! is 
it a becoming thing for me, a reasonable and intelligent crea 
ture, one formed after the image and likeness of God, one of 
those creatures made at first for his immediate service and fel- 

* See Prop. (<5.) p. 17. 


lowship, that T must now be imposed upon, and dictated to by 
sense ? that vile and base principle of sense, so as to love no 
thing but whatthat counts lovely, and neglect every thing which 
that takes no cognizance or notice of?" It is an amazing thing, 
that there should not be so much apprehensiveness left among 
men, as to remember, that they were men, in their original, 
once at least that they were men, " Remember," saith the 
prophet in a like case, u and shew yourselves men." Isa. 46. 
8. But alas, how little is there left of a sense of this degeneracy 
among us ! how little resentment of the vile indignity that is 
done to the whole kind, and which the whole species of men 
have suffered to come upon them ! to be degraded and brought 
down into an inferior rank and order ! to do, to act and live, 
as if they were also made to die like the beasts that perish! 

There are indeed many, in the mean time, who proudly ar 
rogate and give to man that which belongs not to him in his 
present condition, and which this state does not admit of. , 
They say him to be that which he is not, but in the mean time 
really see not, nor lament that he is neither what he was, nor 
what he should or ought to be. And to how little purpose is it 
to magnify human power, when it is manifest how forlorn the 
present state of man is ? He is fallen very low ! And what are 
these men intent upon, who make it their business now to 
magnify the nature and power of man in this condition ? those 
parasites of mankind, as I may call them, what mean they by 
it ? When he is become a lost perishing creature, they adorn 
him with shadows, and think they make up the matter by at 
tiring him with magnificent titles and attributes. As if when 
a person is condemned to suffer the execution of the sentence 
of death passed upon him, one should clothe him with a ma 
jestic robe, and bestow great compliments upon him. This 
is to add scorn to his ruin, and is only insulting over the 
wretchedness and calamity of the man's condition. And yet 
this is the course of them that go about to persuade man, that 
although the case is thus with him, he can recover his 
own excellence that he hath lost ; that he can anew create him 
self, or repair the ruins of his decayed and shattered state. 
This is the way to add incurableness to his misery, by tempting 
him to neglect the only means of taking it off, and so make 
him miserable without remedy. But that persons out of a deep 
concern for the honour and gloiy of man as the top of the crea 
tion, should go about to make him believe himself now in an 
honourable state, and that he can even now do great things ; 
now unsuitable and insignificant is this, as well as inconsistent 
with truth ! And again,. 


(3.) We infer hence, that man is most especially prejudiced 
and impaired by his lapse or fall, in respect to his disposition 
and inclinations towards God. The wound is principally in 
his mind, and consists in the depression and enfeebling of its 
powers ; but the mind itself is most especially hurt and im 
paired in respect of those inclinations by which it should be 
guided towards God. For in the state in which he is at pre 
sent he is indisposed to the love of God ; and for this mean rea 
son, because he cannot see him. And that he is not able to 
love what he cannot see, shews him to be a very mean abject 
creature, and that his powers are mightily impaired. Surely 
the time was, that he could have loved what he could not have 
seen with his bodily eye ; and how comes it to pass that be 
cause he cannot see God, therefore he cannot love him ? This 
shews that his mind is impaired, that he is hurt chiefly in 
what respects his Creator ; and that his propensity, the bent 
and bias of his spirit towards God is lost. 

This is the sad and dismal thing that is befallen the nature of 
man, because God is far beyond the reach of his sight, and he 
himself is sunk into flesh, lost in earth, and always imposed 
upon by sense, he cannot see him, cannot lift up the dull heavy 
eye of his mind to his God, which is the eye he must be seen 
with by his creatuies. So that, as the apostle Paul expresses 
it, he is become alienated from the life of God, and without 
God in the world. Eph. 2. 12. And how much is this to be 
lamented, that man is so fallen off from God ! that his original 
propensity to him is lost and dropped from his nature ! If we 
had heard but of one man since the creation of the world with 
whom this was the case, it would deserve to be very much la 
mented. But that this should come upon the whole kind, that 
it should be thus, as I may speak, with the whole race of men ; 
methinks the sense of it should never wear off from our hearts. 
Strange ! that it should be the course and fashion of this world 
all over the earth, to live in an oblivion of him that made us, 
and with hearts devoid of his love, and only because he is so 
excellent as not to be seen by us with the bodily eye ! It was 
reckoned a sad and terrible day, when a tribe was cut off from 
Israel ; but if we consider what man was made for, what were 
the design and end of his creation, we see as it were a whole 
race of beings lost from the creation of God. For what can we 
think man was made for but to love, admire, triumph, and 
glory in his great Maker ? But to all this he is lost, and ab 
stracting what is done in order to the recovering him again, it 
had been as well if there had been no men at all, and for 
themselves unspeakably better. How strange then is it, that 


such a matter as this is, should ever escape our thoughts ! If 
we speak of the corruption and depravedness of human nature, 
they are words of course that drop from us now and then, and 
some slight notions of the matter hover in our minds; but 
how few are there to whom it is a familiar thing to roll them 
selves in the dust before the Lord, in the sense of that vile and 
abject state, which man in common now is in ? How few la 
ment that they are by the fall cut off from God; and spoiled as 
to all their capacities, whereby they were suited to the divine 
love, service and communion ! And yet the most tragical cala 
mities that could possibly have fallen out in the world, or of 
which we could form any imagination, had been nothing in 
comparison of this. Nay if all mankind, as to shape, or im 
possibility of external enjoyments, were the most monstrous 
and most miserable creatures living, it were nothing when 
compared to the mischief and misery, which are the fruits of 
man's apostacy from his Maker. 

(4.) We further infer hence, that man upon all these accounts 
must necessarily be at a very great distance from true blessed 
ness. Whoever understands, or considers the connexion be 
tween blessedness and love, will soon perceive the reasonable 
ness of this inference. It is impossible to be blessed without 
love ; and it is necessary to every one's satisfaction, that it be 
a full and sufficient good that is the object of his love. If 
either of these be wanting, it is impossible it should be satisfy 
ing, or a suitable good to me. Or if on the other hand, there 
be a good never so self-sufficient or all-sufficient, yet if I can 
not love it, if my heart be averse to it, this also is a sufficient 
bar to my happiness. The things that are seen, though a man 
love them never so much, can never satisfy, because they are 
not sufficient. The infinite incomprehended good is all-suf 
ficient, and fit for every purpose ; but this cannot make him 
happy, because he doth not love it. In the creature therefore 
man cannot be happy, in God he will not. He cannot in the 
creature, because that hath not in itself to give ; in God he 
will not, because his heart is disinclined to him, and will not 
be brought to a closure with him by love. 

Consider man according to this state of his case, and you 
must look upon him as one, who by his very constitution and 
present temper of his soul, is formed for misery ; I say so long 
as he continues in his present situation. His heart inclines 
him truly to visible things, and to love the objects of sense, 
which can never make him happy. The good that is unseen 
hath enough in it to make him blessed, but then he will not 
love it. He will not apply himself to love God, merely be- 


cause he is out of sight. You must needs think then that it 
is a great thing that must work the cure of man, who is thus 
involved in so great an abyss of depravedness and misery. And 
therefore I must add, 

(5.) That there is a very great necessity of much gospel- 
preaching in order to persuade men to the love of God. For 
what is the design of the gospel, but to render God amiable to 
men ? What is it but a method of rendering God lovely, and 
of restoring men's love to God ? And since his loveliness is 
not the object of sight, there needs such a supplemental re 
presentation of himself, to supply the want of vision. And 
since the things that court our senses are obvious, and occur to 
us every day, yea every hour of the day, it is needful that we 
should be frequently put in mind of God $ and that those dis 
coveries of him which tend to beget the love of him in our 
hearts, should be very much urged and inculcated upon us. 
For otherwise what should countervail sense, or what shall 
we set against the sight of our own eyes ? " No man hath seen 
God, at any time." What is it then that must supply that 
defect, and be in the stead of the sight of God to us ? Why, 
"the only begotten Son of God, he hath declared him.'* John 
1. 18. So that we have now a revelation of God himself. 
And our Lord Jesus Christ, who lay in his bosom, and came 
from thence to declare the Father to the world, has ordained 
that this revelation, of which he is the prime Author, shall be 
held out before us from time to time, by the use of inferior and 
subservient instruments. 

I have often considered the strange prevarication, and sophis 
try, which some men use in stating things that are necessary 
to salvation ; and the use they make of that state. That is, 
because they can make a shift to gather up the main principles 
of religion into a little compass, as they may very easily, they 
say, "Here is all that is necessary to salvation. And therefore 
since in that way, or in that church all things necessary to 
salvation are taught, what need is there of any more ? why 
should not we come over thither ? or why should we separate 
from it ?" Methinks it were an obvious easy thing to most 
people to detect the fallacy. They state what is objectively 
necessary to salvation, without considering the condition of the 
subject, and what is necessary for that subject. That is, they 
state what is necessary to be known and believed in order to 
our being saved, but consider not what is necessary to bring 
men to this knowledge and belief of these necessary things, so 
as to make a due impression of them upon their hearts. Jf, for 
instance, you were to prescribe to a sick languishing person a 


remedy for the taking off his distemper ; would you only tell 
him of such and such good substantial food that you would have 
him eat ? and would you then think you had done the business? 
Alas ! the poor man is sick ; he desires nothing, can take no 
thing, can digest nothing, and casts up all you give him. 
Why then do you talk to him of such things as will make 
wholesome and substantial food, when he can neither receive 
nor retain it ! So in like manner in the present case and exigence 
of man, considered as a fallen creature, if the bare proposal of 
the sundry heads of religion, necessary to be known and believed 
were sufficient ; then to have a sermon once in a man's life 
time might do the business ; or a mere system of the principal 
parts of the Christian religion would do what it is urged for, and 
answer the exigence of the case. This, I say, were a thing 
easily to be granted, if it were really so with men, that a doc 
trine would be understood as soon as proposed, and received 
when understood, and so beget its due and proper impression, 
upon the hearts of men. But truly the case is manifestly 
otherwise, since man is fallen into so depraved a state. And 
to talk thus, is to speak of a scheme of divinity suitable only 
to innocent men in paradise ; when no more was needful to be 
done than barely to propound things with respect to the clear 
ness of the understanding, the rectitude of the will, the agreea- 
bleness of the powers one to another, together with the truth 
and goodness of their objects. But to say that this is all that 
is requisite, that there is enough held forth or laid before men, 
the knowledge and belief of which is sufficient to save them, 
is just as if one should say, that such and such things proposed 
to a sick man would do him good if lie were not sick. So in 
like manner this way of propounding the gospel would serve 
the turn for men, if they were such as when they were at first 
created. Indeed it were no gospel, if it were only enough to 
save men from sin, who as yet were no sinners. The very no 
tion implies a contradiction. For doth not the same sin which 
makes them stand in need of a gospel for the reconciling them 
to God, disaffect at the same time their hearts unto God, and 
make them unwilling to close with him ? Therefore they need 
to have precept upon precept, and line upon line ; here a lit 
tle, and there a little. And they that preach the gospel to 
men, are urged " to be instant in season and out of season, to 
admonish, exhort, reprove: (2 Tim. 4. 2.) and all little enough, 
indeed all too little. 

Surely then there is somewhat else to be considered in the 
matter. When we consider what is objectively necessary, it 
is also to be considered what will bring men to believe these 


necessary things. And in order to that there is need of their 
being frequently inculcated, inasmuch as things that are seen 
are more the objects of our love, than the things which are 
not seen ; and what we ought to set our hearts most upon, are 
out of sight. God himself is the great Object men are to be 
directed to, and to whom they must be united, or they are 
lost. He is invisible, and they are apt, as you have heard 
again and again, to mind nothing but what is seen. There 
fore it is a strange unapprehensiveness of the real state and 
condition of mankind, which those .are guilty of, who decry 
preaching as a needless thing. Surely they that do so, have 
little studied the nature of man ! There are several other 
things that remain to be spoken to, which I cannot insist upon 
at this time. 

VOL. n. 

34 WN THE XOVE OF Ot> (SEtt. IV. 


have gone through the first part of my design from these 
words, which was to shew, that men are less apt or dis 
posed to the exercise of love to God than to one another. And 
we have made some progress in the application, by way of in 
ference ; and therein have endeavoured to shew, that the in 
disposition of man to the love of God is a proof of his being in 
a lapsed and very degenerate condition that this degeneracy 
must consist principally in the depression of the mind and its 
intellectual powers that more especially man is prejudiced by 
the lapse or fall with respect to his inclinations towards God 
that in consequence of this, he must needs be at a great dis 
tance from true blessedness, which is inseparably connected 
with the love of God and in the next place, it was further 
inferred, that there is great occasion for frequent gospel-preach 
ing, which is the method instituted by Christ for restoring and 
reviving love to God in the soul* of men. But though this is 
necessary, yet we are also to know that it is net sufficient ; for 
all the preaching in the world cannot alone make the sensual 
heart of men to love God. And therefore we proceed to infer 

(6.) That since men arc so very unapt to love God, and for 

* Preached September 13, 


this reason, because they see him not ; there is great need of 
the communication and influence of that glorious and mighty 
Spirit of life to relieve him in this sad extremity and distress. 
For surely it is a very distressed case, that man cannot love 
his own Maker, the Author of his life and being, him in whom. 
is his eternal hope, and all because he cannot see him. It is 
a case that calls. for a very great and powerful hand to redress ; 
and no other hand is proportionable to the exigence thereof. 
Though he works by means, and even by that of the gospel-re 
velation, yet it doth not follow that the means will do the busi 
ness alone ; but the contrary follows, that because they are 
means, therefore there must be an agent, and an efficient, to 
use them, and one proportionable to the work of forming and 
disposing the spirits of men towards God, that they may be ca 
pable of his love, and admit it into their hearts so as to rule and 
govern there. And what can do this but the Spirit of God ? 
What else is it that can awaken and rouse the dull, sluggish, 
drowsy spirits of men ? What else, I say, can quicken, puri 
fy, and refine spirits lost in pleasure and sense ? The way of 
bringing any soul to love God, is to give it the spirit of love. 
There is no other way of doing it. Now the apostle says, that 
*' God hath given to us not the spirit of fear ; but of power, 
and of love, and of a sound mind."* One and the same Spirit 
is all these at once. And till that Spirit is given us, there is 
nothing but enmity and disaffection towards God; there is 
nothing but feebleness and impotence, as to any thing that is 
good ; there is nothing but distemperature and diseasedness in 
man, which have pierced him to the very heart. This Spirit 
therefore, in reference to these several exigencies, is a Spirit 
of love, of power, and of a sound mind. That same Spirit that 
makes the soul capable now of doing things that require power; 
that same Spirit that rectifies the mind, and heals it of those 
distempers under which it was wasting and consuming before, 
is a SPIRIT OF LOVE. It is said to be a Spirit given, a Spirit 
superadded to our own, a Spirit that we had not before. In 
deed it must be some other spirit than ours, which must ren 
der us capable of loving God. 

You know, that the apostle recounting the several fruits of 
the Spirit, (as he had done those of the flesh before) sets this 
of love in the front of them. "The fruit of the Spirit is love 
joy, &c."f And after telling us, that " eye hath not seen, nor 
car heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the 
things which God hath prepared for them that love him ;" he 

* 2 Tim. 1. 7. f Gal. 5. 22. 1 Cor. 2. Q. 


tells us also of a Spirit different from that of the world, the 
Spirit which is of God, which such as they had received. "We 
have received," says he, " not the spirit of the world, but the 
Sp'rit which is of God."* And in this same chapter, wherein 
is uur text, you have the apostle John speaking to this very 
case, to wit, the impossibility of our seeing God : " No man 
hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwell 
ed) in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we 
that we dwell in him and he in us, because he hath given us of 
his Spirit. "f Love to one another as Christians or saints, is 
also a fruit of that same blessed Spirit. And if there be such 
a principle of love within us, it plainly speaks that God dwells 
in us, and we in him, and that he hath planted his own love 
in our souls, which is perfecting there. It is manifest now 
that he hath taken possession of us, and drawn us into union 
with himself, so as to become the great Fountain of that princi 
ple of love in us, whereby we are capable of loving him, and 
loving such as are his, for his sake. 

And because the act of the heart in loving supposes some 
foregoing act of the mind by which the object is perceived to 
be lovely, therefore this same Spirit is elsewhere called "A Spirit 
of wisdom, and revelation, in the knowledge of him, whom we 
are to love."^ The apostle is there praying earnestly on be 
half of the Ephesians, that this Spirit might be given them, by 
which they might be capable of knowing, and knowing practi 
cally, as the word miywffts signifies, and of coming into union 
with that blessed One that is known. And on this union love 
hath a great influence. St. John says, " We know the Son 
of God is come, and hath given us an understanding that we 
may know him that is true ; and we are in him that is true, 
even in his Son Jesus Christ. That is the true God and eter 
nal life." The understanding here spoken of is said to be given 
by which we so come to know God in Christ, as to be brought 
into union with him by love : it is, I say, a given thing, men 
have it not of themselves. 

It is very requisite, and therefore i so long insist upon it, 
that we understand how necessary it is, that there be another 
and a better Spirit than our own, to render us capable of loving 
God, whom we have not seen ; for otherwise we shall never 
love beyond the sight of our own eye. And it is very strange, 
that this necessity, since the case speaks itself, and the Holy 
Scriptures so often declare it, should be no more understood. 
Jf there be no such necessity, what is the reason we are taught 

* \ Cor. 2. 12. f 1 John 4. 12, IS. } Ephcs. 1. 17. 1 John5. 20. 


to " pray for the Spirit,";}: as starving children do for bread? 
That we are bid to " live in the Spirit,"* " to walk in the 
Spirit,"f and "by the Spirit to mortify the deeds of the 
flesh ?'' And are we not told, that we must u be born of the 
Spirit, or else we shall never enter into the kingdom of God?" 
John 3. 3. All this is plain language one would think, and 
easy enough to be understood by those that have a mind to it. 
But it is very observable, that those notions which tend to make 
as little as possible of the depravity and corruption of man's na 
ture, to magnify beyond measure the power of man in his fallen 
state, to depress preaching, and to make light of the operations 
of the Holy Ghost upon the minds of men, are all of a sort, ail 
of a piece. These are notions that hang upon one thread, and 
when we see wherein they issue and terminate, we may easily 
discern the danger of them ; and into how great hazard they 
bring the eternal concerns of the souls of those men, who suf 
fer themselves to be tainted with them. We again farther in- 

(7.) That the work of regeneration must needs stand in very 
great part in the implanting and seating in the souls of men such 
principles, as may directly tend to control the dictates of sense, 
and in opposition to it rule and govern in men. The infirmity 
and distemper of man's nature easily shew, wherein this cure 
and renovation must consist. This is at present the great dis 
temper of his soul, it cannot love but where it can see. It is 
the sight of the eye that carries the heart, and draweth it this 
way and that way. A most dreadful distemper this ! But as 
we know the distemper, we know wherein the cure must con 
gist. Regeneration is that which restores the man to his right 
mind, and sets things to rights again with him. Though his 
former state is expressed by being in the flesh, he is now said to 
be in the Spirit, from the spiritual frame created in him by the 
great work of regeneration. Thus, says the apostle, "Ye are 
not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of 
God dwell in you." Rom. 8. 9. And the thing produced in 
the work of regeneration is called spirit. " That which is bom 
of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." 
John 3. 6. While man is in flesh he is capable of loving no 
thing but what is seen, nothing but what to his senses appears 
amiable and lovely. Herein therefore stands the work of re 
generation, to take a poor sensual creature, a mere lump of 
flesh, and to make him spiritual ; and then it is he becomes ca 
pable of loving God. There must be a new creation : and 

jMatt. 7. 9, 10, 11. * Gal. 5. 25. | Rom. 8. 1. yer: 13 


right principles planted in the mind, to influence the heart, 
and to direct and determine souls towards God, from whom 
they were cut off and so dreadfully alienated. Again in the 

(8.) Place, we further infer, that the power by which it comes 
to pass that there are any lovers of God in the world is highly to 
be adored and magnified. You see it is far more difficult to love 
God, whom we see not, than our brother whom we do see. How 
then can this difficulty be overcome, unless divine power im 
plant this principle of love ? We ought therefore to make the 
representation of that power, that hath wrought this work in 
us, appear very glorious in our own eyes, that so with reference 
to this matter our hearts may be put in an adoring posture. 
Let us then bless and adore that glorious Being, who hath done 
such a thing as this ; who hath made a stupid sensual heart, 
which could never rise beyond the sphere of flesh, ascend and 
enlarge itself, and fix and terminate its love upon the blessed 
God. " How great is the power" (should one say that finds 
it thus) " which hath done this in me ! to make a clod of earth, 
a lump of clay to love God ! This is as great a thing as out of 
tones to raise up children unto Abraham." In reality we 
ought not to think little, or meanly of this. And again, 

(9.) We may further infer, that the life of Christians in this 
world cannot but be a conflicting life. The life of a Christian 
as such must be influenced throughout by the love of God. He 
is to act according to the direction of St. Jude, " Keep your 
selves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord 
Jesus Christ unto eternal life." John 3. 21. Is this the busi 
ness of a Christian, and what mut be his very life to live in the 
love of God all along ? then he must indeed live a conflicting 
life all his days. That is, there must be a continual conflict 
kept up against imperious sense, and its dictates, which always 
is crying to the heart of man, "Love what is seen, what you 
perceive to be lovely :" there must, I say, be a continual 
striving in the heart of a Christian against this ; since he must 
keep up a continual love to him whom he cannot see, to him 
who is far above out of sight. 

This sheweth, that they who know not what a continual 
striving against sense, its dictates, and inclinations means, are 
yet to learn what the business of the Christian life is. How can 
a man love God whom he seeth not ? When there is a continu 
al difficulty, there must be a continual striving and vigorous 
endeavours always used. Loving God is not swimming down 
with the stream of nature, it is quite another thing. And 
agreeable to this, what a strife is represented all along, through 
out the seventh chapter of the epistle to the Romans, between 


the " law of the flesh," and the. " law of the mind ;" the in 
clinations of sensual nature, and the spiritual dictates and pre 
scriptions which are by the apostle called "the law of the Spirit 
of life in Christ Jesus;"* which doth as it were repeal, and abro 
gate the law of sin and death ; and so far as it obtains, delivers 
a man from its impositions, arid imperious commands, which 
lead to death. 

It is highly needful for us to state our own case to ourselves, 
and to consider what we are like to meet with in our Christian 
course ; and if we mean to persevere, we must resolve upon a 
striving conflicting life all our days, for thus it must be. How 
much then are they beside the Christian course, who know not 
what it is to strive against any inclination of their own, nor to 
oppose the earthly tendencies of their own spirits ; who can 
never find occasion to contend with themselves; who espy no 
fault in the temper of their own spirits, but carry the matter to 
themselves as if all were well ; who can pass a whole day with 
no rebukes nor checks, when their hearts have run after their 
eyes only ! These persons perhaps have never minded, never 
loved any thing better than what came within the reach of their 
senses, or could be seen with the eye ; and yet they are inno 
cent creatures in their imagination, and think they have no 
cause to blame themselves. But let us not be deceived, who 
see that the life of a Christian mus.t be a continual running 
counter to a man's own eyes, and the dictates of sense ; since 
these prescribe to a man to love only what he sees, whereas 
certainly he is no Christian who liveth not in the love of God 
whom he doth not see. In the 

(10.) Place, we further infer, that the proneness of men to 
acquiesce in a civil deportment, and to rest in the mere forma 
lities of religion, hath one fixed common cause, and that is, the 
want of the great principle of love. In this respect it is fit that 
we should consider what the case of man is. Men are very apt 
to satisfy themselves with a fair and unexceptionable carriage to 
others, or at most with a little formality in the duties of religion, 
and never look further ; which certainly must proceed from one 
and the same cause, namely, the want of love to God. This, I 
say, in the 

[1 ] Place, is the reason why persons are so prone to acqui 
esce in a fair and civil deportment towards men. It is necessa 
ry for us to know this, that so the danger of it may be more care 
fully avoided and deeply dreaded. What is it that is really the 
principle of duty even towards men ? Certainly it is love. This 
is easy, as the text supposes, towards men, in comparison of 
what it is towards God ; men therefore are apt to take up with 
what they find most easy. 

* Rom, 8. 2. 


The state of the case lieth thus. There are characters of the 
ancient law, which God at the creation impressed upon the spi 
rit of man ; Lex non scripta sed nata ! the law not written, 
but born with us, as one heathen writer expresses it, or the 
M/AOJ- Qvtnxos, natural law, as another heathen writer calls it. 
There are, I say, still some broken parts, some scattered frag 
ments, some dispersed characters of this law, which was by 
our Maker put into our very frame, which lie discomposed and 
dispersed here and there in men, whereof some refer to our 
duty towards God, and others to our duty towards men. Those 
relating to men are more legible, are oftener read, and come 
more frequently under view. For how much more prevalent is 
this sense in the minds of men, " My neighbour is not to be 
wronged or disobliged," than this, " God is not to be forgot 
ten, neglected, disobeyed?" Why, the matter being so, that 
the characters representing our duty to men are oftener in view, 
and so more frequently furbished as it were and brightened, 
than those which express our duty to God ; being, I say, more 
frequently reflected upon, they are more put into practice. And 
therefore here men are apt to take up, saying, "' I do that which 
is just, honest, and fair before men, and there are none that 
can charge me with the contrary." And so they think their case 
is good. 

Indeed there are several things concurring to make such prin 
ciples, as point out to us the duties we owe to man, more in 
fluential upon practice. As for instance, men have sensible 
kindnesses from one another, which work upon ingenuity, and 
so influence to a suitable behaviour to them that shew such 
kindnesses. When they receive a kindness from the hand of a 
man, it is from a visible hand. They see who doth them good. 
Though there is a thousand times more good done them by 
the invisible God, but his invisible hand they take no notice 

Again, they are sensible continually of their need of men. 
All persons sensibly find they need some other, for they cannot 
live alone. They are not only obliged to a mutual dependence 
upon one another, but they are very sensible of it ; and there 
fore are very apt to carry it so much the more fairly to men, as 
those who stand in need of one another. 

Besides, men find a sensible advantage from the reputation 
of a fair, just, and honest carriage to others. " If 1 have not 
the repute of being a person kind, goodnatured and well-hum 
oured, I shall have no friend ; no body will converse with me, 
but be shy of me. If I have not the reputation of being a just 
man, honest and square in all my dealings, I shall have no trade, 


no one will trust me, every one will be afraid to hare to do with 
me." These considerations dispose us to good behaviour 
towards one another. 

Finally, men are frequently sensible of hurt or some great 
inconveniencies accruing to them, if at any time they misbe 
have themselves to others. They that are morose and churlish 
do often fall upon tempers as cress-grained and perverse as 
their own, and so meet with such measure as they bring. If 
they be quarrelsome, it falls out sometimes that there are those 
who will quarrel with them, and will not take an affront at 
their hands. And though there are some that scorn the tutor 
age and instruction of fear, which should govern them in the 
conduct of their affairs ; yet many others are more prudent, 
and are not apt to follow the hurry of their own pride and in 
clinations. They consider how much it concerns them, not 
to provoke those who will right themselves, nor to injure those 
who will be sure to meet with them one time or other. Yea, 
those who are more considerate will be very cautious how they 
make any man their enemy, even the meanest ; for no man is 
so mean but it may be sometime or other in his power to do 
him a shrewd turn. 

Such inducements there are, I say, as theSe unto a fair and 
unexceptionable deportment towards men, whom we see and 
converse with every day. And with this men are inclined to 
take up their rest ; contenting and satisfying themselves with 
this, that they carry it to others, so as that none have any great 
reason to find fault with them, and thereupon think that God 
will find none neither. 

[2.] There is also a proneness in mankind, as we observed, 
to take up with formality in the matters of religion. For what 
besides formality can there be in the religion of those who love 
not God? If I pretend to worship him and not love him, though 
I spend all my days upon my knees will it signify any thing as 
to real religion ? But because this is more easy^ that is, bodily 
exercise than that of love, or an inclination of mind and heart 
to God, it is natural to take up with it for that reason, and to 
rest there. 

The pharisees among the Jews, one would think should not 
have been to seek where religion really lay ; but, alas ! where 
did they place their's ? In ceremonial sanctity, in washing their 
hands before they did eat bread, in cleansing their cups and 
platters, and in frequent purifications of themselves; all which 
they made to be as significant things, as the instituted rites of 
worship by God himself. Moreover they were very exact in 
tithing mint, rue, and all manner of herbs, while in the mean 
VOL. vi. a 


time they "passed over judgment and the love or God.*' 
Luke li. 42. What a strange oversight was this! that the 
pharisees, those devout men, those zealous pretenders to the 
greatest strictness in the observance of the law of God, as well 
as to the profoundest knowledge of it, even beyond all other 
men, should be guilty of such an oversight as to pass over the 
sum and substance of it, to wit, the love of God ! And yet our 
Saviour speaks of it as their common character. If then the 
pharisees, those knowing and strict men, as they would be 
thought to be, were in such an error as this so commonly, we 
may well conclude that the spirits of men are generally prone 
to acquiesce in the mere externals of religion, and to take up 
with the outside thereof without ever going any further. They 
think their case is well enough with God if now and then 
they bow the knee, compliment him in duty, and put on some 
face and shew of devotion ; while in the mean time the love of 
God is an unthought-of thing. So that how many must say, 
if they would speak as their case truly is, "I never thought 
that the love of God must go into my worship.'* Since then 
the proneness of mankind to acquiesce in a fair and civil de 
portment, and in the mere formalities of religion proceeds from 
one common, fixed cause, to wit, the want of this divine prin 
ciple of love, it is necessary that we consider the matter, lest 
we ourselves be thus dreadfully imposed upon. 

And now to conclude the First Part of our subject, it appears 
that temptations to atheism must needs find great advantages 
in the temper of men's spirits, while they are so depressed and 
overborne by sense. For its essence, particularly of practical 
atheism, consists in the alienation of the heart from God. 
And how easy a step is it from hence to speculative atheism, 
when a man has lived so long "without God(0<>/, the apostle's 
phrase is.) in the world !" Eph. 2. 12. For if he do not love 
God whom he hath not seen, for the same reason he will not 
fear him ; neither hope nor rejoice in him as his chief good. 
How obvious is it for such a man to entertain such a thought 
as this ? " Is it not as good to say, there is no God, or I will 
own none ; as to say there is no one that I will love or fear, 
nor any one with the thoughts of whom my heart is at any time 
atfected ?" 

Let us therefore hence take occasion to admire the patience 
and much more the bounty of God towards his revolted crea- 
IUITS in this world. How wonderful is it that he spares and 
maintains them also ! that he should make constant provision 
for such as put the highest affronts and indignities upon him, 
by loving and preferring his own dust, before him who formed 


it into what it is ; by exalting the work of his hands ahove 
him ; and finally, by profusely bestowing their affections on 
the creature, but none upon God the great Creator of all ! Do 
not we think this is a thing not to be endured ? and do not 
we wonder that it is actually endured and that men are 
permitted from age to age, to continue in this course, and 
are suffered by vengeance to live, when the whole business of 
their lives is to express how much more they value despicable 
nothings, creatures like themselves, than the great, the bles 
sed, and glorious Lord of heaven and earth ! Certainly it should 
be often our business to set ourselves to admire the sparing 
and sustaining mercy which God exerciseth towards this 
world while this is the state of things between him and apostate 



have hitherto been shewing you from these words, 
That men are less apt to love God than one another, 
principally for this reason, because God is not the object of 
sight as men are. We are now to go on to the 

SECOND thing observed from them, namely, That we are 
most indispensably obliged to the exercise of this duty though 
we see him not, and therefore notwithstanding this excuse, it 
is a most intolerable thing not to love God. 

This hath its manifest ground in the text, and doth funda 
mentally belong to the apostle's reasoning in this place. For 
the argument or medium which he reasons from is this, that if 
we do not love our brother whom we have seen, then we can 
not so much as love God whom we have not seen. By which 
he endeavours to represent how grievous a thing it would be, if 
Christians should continue in a mutual neglect of one another. 
Now all this would fall to the ground, and signify nothing, if 
they were disengaged from loving God upon the account of his 
invisibility. But the apostle takes it for granted, that all men 
must esteem it a most horrid thing to be convicted of not lov 
ing God ; otherwise his argument would be altogether to no 
purpose. For it might have been replied to him, " Though 
we be convicted of this, that we do not love God, inasmuch 

* Preached September 20, 


as we do not love one another, yet what is the inconvenience of 
such a neglect ? We grant the whole, but what are the ill con 
sequences that follow upon it ?" Now the apostle doubts not 
but they would see the consequences, and that every man must 
needs take it to be an intolerably hateful thing to pass for one 
that is no lover of God. This therefore is supposed by the 
apostle as a fundamental circumstance in his discourse that 
not to love God, though we see him not, is a most horrid hate 
ful thing, as well as absolutely inexcusable. 

Now as this is plainly to be collected, so it is very necessary 
to be insisted upon. For as it is apparent, that as men com 
monly do not love God, or at least are less disposed to it, be 
cause they see him not ; so they are very apt to excuse and 
exempt themselves from guilt upon this account. " Why 
should I look upon it, says one, as so abominable a thing not 
to live in the exercise of love to God ? He is out of sight, sure 
he expects no such thing from us who cannot see him, and who 
live at so great a distance from him !" What multitudes are 
there who can wear out the whole time of life, and never 
charge themselves with any fault all their days for not having 
lived in the love of God ? As if the old heathenish maxim were 
their settled notion, Quce supra nos, nihil ad nos : we have 
nothing to do with what is so far above us. 

And besides, this is not only the latent sense of most, or 
that which lies closely wrapt up even in the very inwards of 
their souls, to wit, that they have little to do with God, and 
need not concern themselves about him ; but it is also what 
many have the confidence to speak out, and to declare in 
plain express words. It is very notorious that there are sun 
dry persons in the world, not of one denomination or party 
only among the professors of the Christian name, who are not 
afraid to avow this very sense. Those who have made it their 
concern to look into the doctrines that have been handed about 
in the Christian world, do well know whose casuistical divinity 
this is, "That we are not obliged to love God, unless it be 
once or twice a year." Or as some have presumed to say, 
" If it be only once in a man's life-time it may serve the turn," 
as a worthy person, now removed from us, hath largely 
shewn ; as also what the morals and practical divinity of that 
sort of men are. And another * of quite a different strain, 
who hath disciples more than a good many in our time, in his 
discourse of the human nature, would slily insinuate, that we 
are not obliged at all to formal direct acts of love to God, from 

* Hobbes. 


this very passage of Scripture in the next chapter of this e- 
pistle, This is the love of God, that we keep his command- 
mentsf. As if because the apostle would there include all the 
external effects virtually in the principle, it was therefore fit 
to exclude the principle itself by the external effects. Nor 
indeed was there ever any time or age wherein the heart and life 
of practical religion and godliness were so openly struck at 
as in our days, by the perverse notions of some, and the scorn 
of others : as if it were thought a very feasible thing to jeer 
religion out of the world ; and that men ought to be ashamed to 
profess love to God, because they can have the impudence 
and be so daring as to laugh at this and such like things. 

We are therefore so much the more concerned to bestir our 
selves, and to look more narrowly into the very grounds and 
bottom of our own practice in the ways of religion. We are 
to consider whether indeed we have a reason to oblige us to be 
godly, yea or no; and especially is it incumbent upon us to 
defend this great principle and summary of all godliness, The 
love of God. For certainly if we must yield to the extinction 
of this principle, if a love to God may be banished from among 
us, we turn all our religion into nothing else, but a mere piece 
of pageantry. How vain and foolish, how absurd and ridicu 
lous things were the forms of religion, which we keep up from 
time to time, supposing this great radical principle was to have 
no place nor exercise among us ! To come together, and make 
a shew of devotion to him whom we do not love, nor think our 
selves obliged to love, is nothing but inconsistency and con 
tradiction. And those who come on such terms, as oft as they 
undertake to worship God, must needs offer nothing but the 
sacrifices of fools. But it is our business to defend this prin 
ciple ; to vindicate it against every thing that can be alleged 
against it by those who would excuse themselves from the ob 
ligation to this duty, from their not seeing God. And that we 
may the more fitly prosecute the present design, we shall en 
deavour to do these two things. 

I. To shew the vanity and impertinence of this excuse for 
not loving God, to wit, our not seeing him. 

II. To demonstrate the intolerable heinousness of this sin 
notwithstanding, and to shew its horrid nature though God is 
not visible to us. Because persons are apt upon this ground or 
reason either totally to excuse themselves, as if there were no 
iniquity at all in it ; as there are multitudes of people who can 
pass over their days one after another, without any emotion of 

f 1 John 5. 3, 


heart to love towards God at all : or else because if they cannot 
obtain of themselves against the clearest light to believe it is 
no sin ; yet they would fain have it to he only a peccadillo, or a 
very little one. " God, say they, cannot expect much bove 
from those, who cannot see him ! or that such beings to whom 
he is invisible should mind him much, or concern themselves 
with him from day to day !" Therefore, I say, we shall en 
deavour both to shew, how most impertinently this is alleged 
as an excuse for not loving God, or how unreasonable it is to 
infer from his invisibility, that we are under no such obligation, 
and after that, to represent to you the hateful nature of the sin ; 
or to shew, that if we love not God, it is not only a sin not 
withstanding this pretence, but a most prodigious and horrid 
one too. 

1. That we may evince to you the vanity of this excuse, or 
the impertinency of alleging that we are not obliged to love God, 
because we see him not, there are these two things that we 
charge this excuse with, and shall labour to make out concern 
ing it; to wit, that it is both invalid and absurd. It is in 
valid, because it hath nothing in it which a valid excuse ought 
to have. And it is monstrously absurd, and draws most in 
tolerable ill consequences after it, if such an excuse should be 
admitted in such a case. 

1. I shall shew the insufficiency of this excuse, or that it is 
vain and hath nothing in it which a valid excuse should have. 
tf We do not see God, therefore we are not concerned to love 
him." This will easily be made out to you thus. Whenever 
any thing is charged upon us by a law, and the exception lies 
not against the authority of the lawgiver, but only the matter of 
the law as applied to us, no excuse can be valid in that case, 
but where the matter brought in excuse shall be able to prove 
one of these two things: either that what is enjoined, is in it 
self impossible to us, or at least that it is unfit and unreasona 
ble to be expected from us. But our not seeing God can 
never infer either of these. It neither renders our loving him 
impossible ; nor unfit and unreasonable, supposing it to be pos 

(1.) Our not seeing God doth not render our loving him 
impossible. This it is needful for us rightly to understand be 
fore we proceed any further. The thing that we intend to 
make out to you is, not that it is possible to us to love God by 
our own natural power. You have heard already enough to the 
contrary. He can never be truly loved by us, till the Spirit of 
love is given us ; which is also at the same time a Spirit of 
power, aiid of a sound mind. Till then, I say, it is impos- 


sible that any should love God. But when he implants this 
principle in us, he doth not therefore render himself visible to 
our bodily eye, which is the seeing here meant, for we must un- 
derstandthe word in the same sense in both parts of the test. All 
that we have to evince then is, that our not seeing God as we 
do our brother, does not make it impossible for us to love him. 
So that our present inquiry is not concerning the power, that 
gives the principle of love ; but only concerning the means 
that should be made use of, in order to the begetting or plant 
ing that principle. Which being understood, the several con 
siderations following will plainly evince to us, that our not 
seeing God doth not render it impossible for us to love 

[1 .] Consider that the sight of our eye is not the immediate 
cause, or inducement of love to any thing, but only a means 
to beget an apprehension in our minds of the loveliness of the 
object. And then it is, that is, upon the perception of this 
loveliness, that we are brought to love the object itself. For 
after the sight of the eye there must pass in the mind an act of 
the judgment upon the object, before we can be brought to 
love it ; otherwise we should love or hate every thing that we 
see promiscuously, and not distinguish objects of love, from 
objects of hatred. It is only the apprehension of the mind, 
even in reference to objects of sight, that brings us to love 
them. If there be any other means of begetting an apprehen 
sion in our mind concerning such and such objects, that they 
are lovely and fit to be loved, it is not necessary that we should 
see them with our eyes. To this we add, 

[2.] There are other sufficient means to possess our minds 
with an apprehension of the loveliness of an object, and 
more especially those objects that are never liable to the sight 
of our eye. We do not need to insist much on so plain a case. 
It is plain that there are sundry ways, by which the apprehen 
sion of the loveliness even of an invisible object, may come to 
have place in us ; invisible at least so far as to be out of the 
reach of our eye. To be a little particular here : 

There is, for instance, with respect to the unseen God natu 
rally a divine impression upon the minds of men, by which, when 
they are put upon reflection, they must needs own that he is 
not only a lovely, but the most lovely and amiable Object, and 
has the best right to claim their love. Whosoever they are that 
do acknowledge a God,* must also read such attributes and 

* As Epicurus himself confrsseth this to be a proleptic notion, 
that prevents every man's reason, so as that he needs not argue the 
matter with himself, but if he will but read what is written in his 
own soul, must read that there is a God. See mere of this iu the 
Author's Living Temple, Part 1. Chap. 2." 


properties of the being of God engraven there, importing that 
he is the first and supreme Object of our love. No one that ac- 
knowledgeth a God but presently acknowledged! too, that he is 
good ; that lie is true ; that he is holy ; that he is wise ; and 
the like. And then his own heart must tell him, whether he 
will or no, that he ought to be loved above all. 

Again, our own-reasonings from the manifest visible effects 
and characters of divine wisdom, and power, and goodness, that 
are to be seen every where, may also beget an apprehension or 
judgment in us that he should and ought to be loved. Do we 
live in a world full of the divine glory, that arrayeth and cloth- 
cth every thing we can cast our eyes upon ; and do we want 
ground ^o perceive, that this is the lovely Object that ought to 
captivate all hearts, and draw into a closure with itself the will 
of every intelligent creature ? Moreover, 

The express testimony of the gospel is another means more 
apt still to beget this apprehension within us, that God is one 
we should love, and whose excellencies do every way entitle 
him, with a most indisputable right, to the highest degree and 
supremacy of our love. " No man hath seen God at any time.'* 
What then ? Is it therefore impossible that he should be loved ? 
Hath not (e his only begotten Son, who was in the bosom 
of the Father, declared or revealed him ? " John 1, 18. 
Surely he hath made such a declaration of him, given such 
a prospect and view of him to the world, as that every one 
who will believe a God, and receive his report, must confess 
him to be the most amiable and excellent Being. Here all 
hearts ought to meet and unite ; and this ought to be the uni 
versal centre of love. " He is in Christ reconciling the world 
to himself ;" (2 Cor. 5. 19.) giving mankind a lovely prospect 
of himself. And in him, who is the Emmanuel, God with us, 
he is ready to communicate himself, and to draw souls into uni 
on with him, and to a participation of his own likeness and fe 
licity. Wbo then is there but must acknowledge, that upon 
this representation he lays a just claim to our highest love ? 

There is also the inward revelation of the Holy Ghost, by 
which the want of seeing God is abundantly supplied. It is 
true, this Spirit of wisdom and revelation, by which we come to 
the practical knowledge of God so as to love him, is but the 
portion of a few. But it is in the mean time the great fault and 
wickedness of every one who seeks it not, values it not, and 
makes it not his business, with an earnest and restless impor 
tunity to sue for it till it is obtained. God hath given no man 
any cause to despair j but if he seek that Spiri^, by which he 



may be so known as to be certainly loved, he hath given him 
ground to hope that he shall have that knowledge of him, 
which shall be efficacious of that love. God has given no 
ground to any to despair, or fear that they shall seek in vain ; 
but as our Saviour says in this very case, If they seek, they 
shall find, for he is more ready to give the Holy Spirit, than 
parents are to give bread rather than a stone to their children, 
Matt. 7, 7 11. And now that there are so many ways for con 
veying the apprehension into the mind, which is to be the im 
mediate parent of love, to wit, that this Object is most amiable; 
it is most evident, that the not seeing God, doth not render it 
impossible for him to be loved. And we may further consider 
to this purpose, 

[3.] That in sundry cases besides, other means than sight, 
do suffice to convey such apprehensions into the mind, as to 
excite and raise proportionable affections in the soul. Then 
why should it not be so in this case ? For what can any man 
say why he ouglit not to be moved by such apprehensions con 
cerning God, as are by other means brought into his i>*indthan 
by sight ? What ! do you love nothing ? do you never find your 
hearts taken with any thing but that which your eyes have seen? 
Is it an impossible thing, or what your ears never heard of, for 
a person to love only upon report, as being informed of si/ch, 
and such excellencies and perfections in the object? Have not 
many been taken with the description of a country they have 
not seen ? Or do we think it impossible for a blind man t 
love his children, his wife, his friend ? Do we imagine that 
such persons, because they can see nothing, can therefore love 
nothing ? Do you not love your life ? You cannot see that, 
but only in the effects ; and in the effects also you may see 
the blessed God himself, who is the life of your life. And who 
can deny, that they have notions in their OWH minds of things 
that are altogether unliable to sight : which, if they will but 
ask themselves the question, they must acknowledge to be 
lovely, and which many are actually brought to love. For in 
stance: the notions of truth ; the abstract ideas of this, and 
that, and the other virtue; things that are never discoverable 
by the eye ; who that considers, but must acknowledge a love 
liness in them ? And how many in fact are brought into a real 
and hearty love with such fair and orderly contextures of truth, 
when they see things do well cohere and hang together ? The 
ideas of justice, fortitude, humility, patience, temperance ; 
how many are there that do really love and admire these virtues 
though they only perceive the beauty and usefulness of them 
by the mind, and in their effects ? 


So then it is no impossible thing that there may be that ap 
prehension in the mind concerning God, upon which he shall 
be confessed to be lovely, and that be ought to be loved though 
he is never to be seen. The case is the same as to other affec 
tions, and there is a parity of reason between them. If it were 
impossible to love any thing but what one sees, we are pro- 
portionably incapable of fearing, hating, or admiring any thing 
but what we see. But let any one ask himself the question, 
whether he is not many times offended at the mention of things 
lie doth not see : and whether his heart is not really afraid of 
things as yet invisible ; or whether he hath not been many 
times raised into an admiration of sundry things, of which 
he has only heard the report. And again, I add in the next 

[4.] That many persons have lived in this world in bodies 
of flesh as we do, exercising a holy love to God, notwithstand 
ing they never saw him. Therefore it is no impossible thing; 
for Quod fieri potuit, potest, what has been, maybe: accord 
ing to the old maxim. Do we think that there have been no 
lovers of God in the world, who have lived in bodies and de 
pended on sense as we do ? God knows there have been but 
few, in any time or age of the world ; yet have there not been 
some who have loved him, and have not loved their lives unto 
the death for his sake ? What professions of love, what rap 
tures of phrase and expression do we find many times in Scrip 
ture from those whose hearts were full of, and overflowed with 
love ? When the fire burned within, it could not be withheld 
from flaming out. " I will love thee, O Lord my strength," 
says David j and again, " 1 love the Lord," that is from my 
very bowels, "because he hath heard my voice and my suppli 
cations."* How full are the psalms of these expressions! and 
we must suppose the Psalmist to be full of an answerable sense. 
" As the hart panteth for the water brooks, so panteth my 
soul after thee, O God ! My soul fainteth for God, for the liv 
ing God ; when shall I come and appear before God ? |* How 
amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts ?| 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 be 
hold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple. 
For whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon 
earth that I desire beside thee."|f 

Such expressions as these verbal ones, and some significantly 
real actions and sufferings on the account of love to God,will not 

.*Psalaa 18. 1. 116.1. f42. 1, 2. J84. 1. 27.4. 1173.25. 

52 ON THE tOVB Of *OD (SER. V 

suffer us to doubt but that there have been true lovers of God, 
whatever there are in our days. And it is to be hoped, that 
there is some even now. However it is to be feared, that there 
are persons in the world who are heartily grieved, and vexed 
at the very heart, that there should be such expressions as 
these now mentioned, in those writings which they think it 
convenient to acknowledge as divine. For if they did not 
think thus, how loudly and clamourously would David and 
those who speak such words, have been cried out upon ; and 
perhaps be charged with being fanatics and enthusiasts, as 
much as any in our days ! 

And that an unseen God should be loved, and an unseen 
Christ, who is also out of sight, is spoken of in Scripture not 
only as the true character, but the high glory of Christian be 
lievers. " Whom having not seen/' says St. Peter, "ye love ; in 
whom though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with 
joy unspeakable and full of glory."* This is not barely affirm 
ed, concerning these primitive Christians, but spoken of them 
as their high praise and encomium ; as being a discovery of the 
refinedness, excellency, and greatness of their spirits, who 
could so far lift up themselves above sense and sensible things, 
as to place their highest and most vigorous love upon an un 
seen Object. That was glorious joy, and glorious love, placed 
upon what was not seen ; a deserving Object, at least believed 
to be such, though not seen. 

And so it is we know that the blessed God becomes visible. 
"By faith Moses endured, as seeing him who is invisible/'f 
The word of God is a representation of himself, and makes re 
port of all the glorious excellencies belonging to him. Among 
the rest this is his peculiar and distinguishing attribute, " that 
he cannot lie."^ His truth is one of those excellencies ; 
therefore it is impossible that he should misrepresent himself, 
or say that he is other than he is. " For," as the apostle says, 
" what man kaoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of 
man which is in him ? even so the things of God knoweth no 
man, but the Spirit of God." He sure can best tell what 
an excellent and glorious Being he is, and as he has told us 
he is such a one (which it was impossible he should do if he 
were not really possessed of those excellencies) then there is 
all the reason in the world to acknowledge, that he ought to be 
loved infinitely above all. And this hath been the sense of 
many, whose practice also hath been answerable to it ; who 
have been in this world, living in tabernacles of clay and 

* 1 Pet. 1. 8. f Heb. 11. 27. J Heb. 6. 18. 1 Cor. 2. 11. 


earth as we do. Therefore it follows, that it is no impossible 
thing that God should be loved, though he be not seen. And 
supposing it not impossible, then 

In the next place it is easy to be proved also, that it is not 
unfit to love God, for that reason. Sundry suggestions 
might be used to enforce this, and afterwards the absurdities 
of this excuse might also be brought in view. Indeed I have 
had it most in my eye, to expose this absurd principle, that 
men have no need to concern themselves with things unseen j 
I would fain, I say, drive it out of the world. And if men 
would but examine it thoroughly, it would appear to them 
monstrously absurd. To do this therefore, and set it before 
their eyes, would be worth our time, and shall accordingly 
be done hereafter. 



TTPON the latter part of the text lies the main weight of the 
discourse we have in hand. " How can he love God 
whom he hath not seen ?" In which it is plainly implied, that 
we are still perpetually bound to love God, notwithstanding his 
being invisible. And the vehemence of the apostle's expostu 
lation here, implies it to be a most intolerable thing not to do 
so. And therefore we have observed, 

That not to love God is a sin most horrid and heinous, 
notwithstanding the excuse that we see him not. Here we 
proposed in the 

J. Place to shew the vanity and impertinence of this excuse 5 
and then, 

II. To demonstrate the heinous ness of this sin, and its hor 
rid nature. 

In order to evince the impertinence of this excuse, there 
were two things which it was charged with ; to wit, that it has 
nothing which a valid excuse should have; and if it could be 
admitted, it would draw the worst consequences after it. 

1. It is insufficient, as we have observed, to allege this as 
an excuse for not loving God, that we see him not j because it 

* Preached September 2/, 1676. 


Is not for this reason impossible, nor unfit, that God should re 
quire this by a law.* 

(1 .) It is not impossible. For the sight of our eye is not the 
immediate cause of our loving any thing, but only the medium 
by which the mind discerns the loveliness of the object. For 
there are other means besides this of sight, to possess our 
minds with the love of certain things. And since there are 
such in the present case, which lead us to the love ef God, 
and have actually led others to it, it is therefore possible to be 
done, and is by no means an improper thing to be the matter 
of a law. We now proceed 

(2.) To shew tlwt it is not an unreasonable law ; or^ that it 
cannot with any colour be pretended, that it was an unfit thing 
that God should lay a law upon men, dwelling in flesh as we do, 
obliging them to love an invisible being. We shall here first 
examine what can be pretended from God's invisibility, to 
make it unfit to oblige men by a law to love him : and then 
lay down some considerations to evince, that it is most reasona 
ble and fit that men should, notwithstanding, be under this ob 

[I.] Let us examine what may be thought of as a pretence to 
the contrary, or alleged against the obligation of this law. 
Perhaps some may object against it after this manner : " The 
admitting what hath been proved, that it is no impossible thing 
that God should be loved by men who see him not ; yet it doth 
not therefore follow that it is the fit matter of a law. Many 
things are possible, yet very unfit to be enjoined, especially 
those things which are unsuitable to the common inclination of 
a people. The wisdom of law-givers teacheth them to study 
the temper of their subjects, and to suit their laws to them ; 
and it would be thought very unfit and improper to make laws, 
that should cross the common genius of the people ; and to 
urge the observance of them. But now the dependance that 

* Here we shewed that if any thing be brought in excuse for not 
obeying the law, and the exception is not against the authority of 
the law-giver, but to the matter of the law, that which is alleged 
as a valid excuse, must he able to evince one of these two things : 
either that the thing enjoined by this law, is impossible to them on 
whom it is enjoined ; or that at least though possible, yet it is unfit, 
and therefore unreasonable to he imposed. Neither of which will 
be admitted. It is indeed impossible to men considered under the 
reigning power of sin, and while they remain so. It is so only by a 
compound impossibility j as there is a compound necessity, by which 
a thing is said necessarily to be, while it is. But to love God though 
we see him not, is not a simple impossibility ; for then it were im 
possible, that he should he loved by any one at all. 


we have upon sense, cannot but infer a disinclination to the 
love of such things as sight cannot reach, nor come within the 
sphere and cognizance of our senses. To apply this to the 
present case. Every man, by consulting himself, may find a 
disinclination in his own heart to the exercise of love to God. 
"And what !" hereupon may the sensualist say, " must I be 
obliged to a perpetual war with myself ? to run counter to all 
my most natural inclinations ? to neglect the things which my 
own eyes tell me are lovely ; and labour to love an invisible be 
ing, of whom I have none but cloudy thoughts, a very faint 
and shadowy idea ? Who can imagine that I should be put into 
this sensible world, with such senses suitable thereunto, as 1 find 
about me ; and that it must be expected from me that I must 
even renounce my senses, run counter to my very eyes, aban 
don the things which so presently court my love, and tell me 
so feelingly that they are delightful ? In short, that I must re 
tire from substantial good which I know, to seek after what 
appears to me as a dark shadow ? and which whether there be 
any thing substantial in it, I know not ?" Thus may the man 
devoted to sense pretend on such grounds, that God is not to 
be loved by such as we who dwell in bodies of flesh, and have 
so much dependence upon the things of sense. Well ! let us 
examine this pretence a little, and see whether there is any 
thine in it to make the duty of loving God unfit to be imposed 
upon us in this our present state. And there are several things 
here to be considered in reference to this matter. As, 

First. If we would have this inclination to signify any thing 
with relation to the fitness or unfitness of a law to be imposed 
upon us, we ought surely to examine whether that inclination 
be good or bad, and so judge. But can there be a worse incli 
nation in any creature than to iiisaffect the Author and Origi 
nal of its own being ? And by how much the stronger the in 
clination is to evil, by so much the greater is the wickedness 
likely to prove. For do not we think every one more wick 
ed as he is the more wickedly inclined, especially when he in 
dulges his wicked inclinations ? Doth not his evil inclination, 
I say, when indulged, add to, and not detract from his wick 
edness ? If one be found to have killed another, the great thing 
inquired into, is the inclination indulged, the intention ; 
whether or no it was through malice prepense. If he did the 
thing without the design of ill to the party, without inclination 
or propensity to such an action, he is looked upon as innocent. 
An unintended fact is not punishable as a crime. Therefore 
to allege inclination in this case, is but to excuse one wicked- 
Bess by another. 


Secondly. Consider what would become of this world, if 
men were to be ruled only by their own inclination, or if that 
were to be the only rule by which all laws relating to them 
were to be measured. What a dreadful state would you be in, 
if it were permitted to any man to rob, murder, rifle away your 
goods and destroy your lives, only because he is inclined to it } 
if every one might take from you what he would, and do any 
imaginable mischief to you or yours, merely because he hath a 
mind to it ! 

And whereas the disaffection to God is very common, and 
rooted and confirmed in men by their being disused to converse 
with things above the reach of their senses (which might tend 
to invite their hearts and attract their affections) how horrid a 
thing were it if such a vicious custom were to obtain the force 
of a law ! or, if men were to be allowed to do so and so wick 
edly, only because they have been wont so to do ! if the oftener 
the swearer, the drunkard, the fornicator and the murderer, have 
indulged their respective vices, the more lawful it should be 
for them to continue such practices ! if men, in a word, should 
be so far a law to themselves, as to be permitted to do whatso 
ever they have been used to do ! or, as Seneca says, if a reason 
able creature should go like a sheep, not the way he ought, but 
that which he has been used to ; what, I say, can be mqre un 
reasonable and unfit than this ? 

Thirdly. It must be considered, that though it is the wis 
dom of a ruler to regard the inclinations of *a people in making 
laws, yet sure there must be a distinction made between things 
indifferent and things necessary. But is there any thing of 
higher and more absolute necessity than the love of God, 
though we see him not ? Doth not our experience tell us, that 
we stand in need of somewhat that we do not see, in order 
to the continuance of our being ? much more in order to our 
happiness. If you had nothing but what you see to maintain 
life, do you think it were possible for you to live another mo 
ment ? I would appeal to the considerate reason of any man, 
whether he were not to be thought a madman that should say, 
(S I will be alive the next hour ?" Man ! there is somewhat in 
visible and unseen that is the continual Sustainer of thy life ; 
" in whom we all live, and move, and have our being." Acts 
17. 28. Our own experience must convince us of this, that there 
is an invisible Being which hath dominion over our lives, other 
wise every man could measure his own time. But do not we 
find men die before they are willing, and when they would fain 
live longer ? Why, it is somewhat unseen that imposes this ne 
cessity upon them, " Here thou must expire !" No man hath 

vot. vi. i 


power over the spirit to retain it, neither hath he power in the 
day of death. Eccles. 8. 8. 

And again, is it at all necessary to us to be happy ? Our own 
experience tells us that we are not as yet happy and satisfied. 
And common experience tells all the world, that all the things 
they can see and set their eyes upon, can never make them 
liappy in this world. And if we expect to he happy in ano 
ther, when will our eyes lead us to heaven ? when will sense, 
inclination, and following the customs of this world bring us to 
blessedness ? It were a dreadful thing, if in a matter of so ab 
solute necessity, custom or inclination were to be the measure 
of the law which must govern us. And again, 

Fourthly. 1 add in the next place, that it is true indeed that 
rulers do consider the tempers and inclinations of a people 
under their legislature. And there is good reason they should 
do so, and not impose unnecessarily upon the people, things of 
mere indifferency, and so run the hazard of urging them into 
tumults about matters of very little consequence. But sure 
there is no such need or reason that the great Author and Lord 
of all things should so much concern himself what the incli 
nations of those are whom he is to govern. If they dislike his 
laws, and have an inclination to tumultuate or rebel against him 
let their dislike and inclination be as strong as it will, He that 
sitteth in the heavens will laugh, and have them in derision; 
when they say, Let us break his bands asunder, and cast away 
his cords from us. Psalm 2. 3, 4. 

Fifthly. There is a very great difference in the consideration 
of laws already made, and of laws to be made. This law was 
made for man when he was no way disinclined to the love of 
God. It is a law as ancient as his being. He had it as soon 
as he had the nature of man. It is therefore a, part of the law 
of nature, and one of the most deeply fundamental things in 
that law ; for it is made the summary, and wraps up all laws 
whatsoever in itself; for all is fulfilled in love. And what ! 
was it reasonable or fit that this law, so suitable at first to the 
nature of man, should be then repealed, when he thought fit 
to break and violate it ? That were a strange way of superseding 
the obligation of a law, that as soon as it is transgressed, it 
should oblige no longer! Then may any subject be a sovereign; 
since there would be no need of any thing more to make a law 
cease to oblige him, than for him to disobey it. 

Sixthly. Consider that our not seeing God is so far from 
having a necessary tendency to preclude the love of him, that 
if things were with men as. they should be, and as they have 
been with some in the world, it would very much promote our 


loving him. For though we cannot see him, yet we see many 
things that are great arguments, and should be powerful in 
ducements to us to love him. It is true we do not see God 
with our hodily eyes, but we see the effects of his wisdom, his 
goodness, his mercy and patience every where ; and of his 
mighty power over all, especially over those who are for God 
and lovers of him, 

If we take a view, as we can do with these eyes, of the 
beautiful and glorious works of his creation, we continually be 
hold in the visible things that are made, the invisible power 
and Godhead, (Rom. 1. 20.) which we are called upon to 
adore and love. And in the works of his providence and the 
ways of his dispensations towards men great arguments of love 
do daily occur. And into what raptures of affection do we find 
holy souls transported even by the help of their own eyes ! the 
things seen, representing to them the great unseen Object of 
love. In what an extasy do we find David, upon the view of 
the beauty and glory of this creation ! " How excellent is thy 
name in all the earth, O Lord our Lord, who hast set thy 
glory above the heavens !" What put him into this ra]rture ? 
The sight of his own eyes. He beheld " the heavens the work 
of God's hands, the moon and stars which he had ordained ;" 
and therefore as he begins, so he ends the psalm in a transport; 
" How excellent is thy name in all the earth !" Psalm 8. And 
thus our own eyes may serve to be our instructors, and prompt 
us to the love of him the great Author and Original of all that 
glory, which we find every where diffused in this world. 

The viewing God also in the ways of his providence, how 
hath it excited the love of holy men sometimes ! When Moses 
and the children of Israel had seen that marvellous work of the 
sea divided, themselves conducted and brought safe through it, 
the waters made a wall on the right hand and on the left, and 
their enemies dead on the sea-shore, how did this set love on 
work in them ! how is the blessed God adored and admired 
upon the account of what their eyes had seen of him ! " Who, 
say they, is a God like unto thee ? Who is like to thee among 
the gods, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing won 
ders ?" Exod. 15, 11. And after the people of God had seen 
that great salvation wrought that we find recorded in the fourth 
chapter of Judges, what a mighty raisedness of heart do we 
find in the next chapter, all shut up in this. " So let all thine 
enemies perish, O Lord, but let them that love him be as the 
sun when he goeth forth in his might." Judges 5, 31. Here 
was love set on work and raised to the height, so as even to pour 
out blessings upon all the lovers of God. What a phrase of 


benediction is that, "Let all that love him be as the sun when 
he goeth forth in his might !" which proceeded from the view 
of his excellent greatness. 

So that this pretence, that God is not seen, doth not make 
it unreasonable or unfit that the duty of love to him should be 
imposed upon men by his law. They are not for this reason 
necessarily disinclined to love him, and therefore this excuse 
for not loving him is neither reasonable nor fit, nor can ex 
empt men from the obligation, as the objection supposes. Let 
us then see, 

[2.] What can be alleged to prove, that the love of God is 
most fit and reasonable to be the matter of a standing and in 
dispensable law. And to this purpose, in order to shew how 
reasonable this is, we shall only note in general, that if any 
should object against the fitness of loving God on this ground, 
because he is not seen, and affirm that for this reason men 
should not be required to love him ; what they have to say in 
this case, if it signifies any thing to the purpose, must be as 
strong an objection in all cases of like consideration, and must 
at last come to this; that it is unreasonable and unfit that men 
should be affected with any thing they cannot see. But the fals- 
hood hereof, and the reasonableness of this injunction upon men 
may be gathered from this fourfold consideration ; to wit, that 
we may be as sure of the objects of the mind, as we can be of 
the objects of our sight ; that those of the former sort are ge 
nerally more excellent ; that we are concerned in them, as 
much at least, and in many of them infinitely more, than in 
the others ; and finally, that what can only be the object of the 
mind may be more intimately present with us, than those 
things which are the objects of sense. And if we can make 
out all these, which I hope we may, then it must be con 
cluded that God is so much the more to be loved, yea infinite 
ly more than any tiling our eye can see or make a discovery 

First. We may be as sure of the real existence of the ob 
jects of our mind, as we can be of any objects of our sight ; 
or in other words, we may be as certain of the existence of in 
visible beings, as of visible ones. We may frame a notion of 
their existence with as much assurance ; and form certain con 
clusions concerning their nature, though they are invisible to 
the bodily eye. We may especially be most sure of the exist 
ence of God, though we cannot see him ; more indeed than we 
can be generally of the existence of visible things. 

Sometimes the objects of our mind and sight meet in one, 
there is somewhat visible and somewhat invisible. As for in- 


stance, in actions that are capable of moral consideration, 
there is the action itself, and there is also the rectitude or ir- 
rectitude of that action. Now here is at once an object of my 
sight and of my mind ; and I may be as certain of the one, as 
of the other, in many instances. As, suppose I see one strike, 
wound, or kill an innocent person ; or, suppose I see one af 
front a magistrate," injuriously or barbarously ; here I have the 
object of my eye and mind at once. That the action was done 
I am certain, for I saw the stroke ; and I am no less sure of 
the affront, though that be an object of the mind. As soon as 
I see such an action done, do not I apprehend it to be ill done ? 
Is not the thing which my mind apprehends, as real as that 
which my eyes see ? Am I not as sure that it was ill done, as 
that the action was done at all? though the one falls under my 
eye, and the other only under the cognizance of the mind. 

Again, if we look no further than ourselves, our own frame 
and composition, we may be as certain of the existence of 
what we see not, as of what we do see. We have a body. We 
are sure we have a body, for we can see it. It is many ways 
the object of our senses, or the external organs that are planted 
there. But we cannot see our minds, yet I hope we are never 
theless sure that we have minds. We are as certain that we 
have somewhat about us that can think, can understand, as 
we are that we may be seen and felt. I go not about to deter 
mine now what it is that thinks whether material or not, 
mortal or not ; but every man that will consider, is as sure 
that he has a mind which he cannot see, as that he has a body 
which he can see. 

To bring this matter home to our present purpose concerning 
the supreme invisible Being, the blessed God. It is most ap 
parent that we may be as certain of his existence as of any 
thing ; and unspeakably more certain of his constant existence, 
than we can be of any being whatsoever. There is no man that 
will use his understanding, but must allow this. For, suppose 
an object of sight before me, 1 am certain that it doth exist ; 
for I see it. Now the following conclusion may be as certain 
to any one that considers, to wit, something is, therefore 
something hath ever been. I will appeal to any understanding 
man, whether this be not as certain as the other. For if we 
should suppose a time when nothing ever was, when nothing 
existed, any man's understanding must tell him, it was impos 
sible that any thing should ever have been, Suppose a season 
when nothing was, and then was it possible any thing of itself 
should arise out of that nothing, when there was nothing at all 
conceivable ? that a thing should be before it was, and do some 
thing when it was nothing ? Therefore it is hence most ne- 




cessarily consequent, that there must needs be some original, 
eternal Being, subsisting of itself, that was always and never 
began to be ; and therefore was necessarily, and so can never 
cease to be.* 

Let this be but weighed, and let any sober understanding 
judge, whether this conclusion be not as certain as the former. 
That is, compare these two conclusions together, I see some 
thing, therefore something is ; and this also, something is, 
therefore something hath ever been, some original Being that 
always was of itself, and could not but be. A man, I say, feels 
as great a certainty in his own mind concerning this, as con 
cerning the other. He must renounce his understanding as 
much in one case, as his eyes in the other, if he will not grant 
this to be certain, that as some beings now exist, there has been 
always an original, self-existing Being. 

And then supposing the existence of the thing already, I may 
form as certain conclusions concerning the attributes of what I 
cannot see, as of that which I can see. To apply this also to 
the invisible, eternal Being: look to any visible thing, and your 
eyes can tell what are its visible accidents. I look upon the 
wall, and see it is white. I know it is so, because I see it is so. 
Cannot I as certainly conclude concerningthis original, eternal 
Being, that he is wise, holy, just and powerful ? I know that 
there is such a thing as wisdom, and justice, goodness, and 
power in the world. I know that these things are not nothing, 
and that they did not come out of nothing ; therefore they must 
needs originally belong to the original Being. Is not this as 
certain, and as plain, as any visible accident of any thing is to 
a man's eye ? Must not these attributes necessarily first be in 
God, as in their original Seat and proper Subject? yea, a great 
deal more certainly, than any kind of quality we can suppose to 
be lovely in the creature can agree to it : because as for the ori 
ginal Being, that existed of itself ; and therefore is necessarily 
and by consequence eternally, and invariably whatever it is. 
Therefore since these perfections are originally in God himself, 
or derivations from him, what should rationally keep a man in 
suspense, when by the intervention of his mind he sees such 
an invisible object, but that he should fall in love with that, as 
well as with any visible object, that commends itself as lovely 
to the sight. And I should next add, 

Secondly, That invisible excellency is infinitely greater than 

* This argument is urged at large, with great force and strength in 
the Author's admirable Treatise, entitled the Living Temple. Part 
1, Chap. 2. 


any visible excellency can be. As there is a reality in unseen 
things, and especially in this invisible Object, as much as in 
any thing we see with our eyes j so there is generally a higher 
excellency in invisible objects, than in those that are visible, 
and infinitely more in this than in other invisible objects. 
But this and the other considerations I cannot reach to now. 



7T1HE SECOND head of discourse which we are still upon Is 
this, That men are not released from the obligation to love 
God though he be invisible ; and that it is not only an evil, 
but a most horrid and intolerable one too, not to love him, 
notwithstanding the excuse that we cannot see him. And this, 
as we observed, you have from the plain words of the text ; 
inasmuch as all the force of the apostle's reasoning depends 
upon it. For he is endeavouring to evince how unreasonable 
it is we should not love one another, because upon this would 
ensue that infernal thing our not loving God; rather than ad 
mit which, it is supposed that men would admit any thing. For 
the prosecution of this truth we proposed to evince, in the first 
place, that this is a very vain excuse :f and have already shewn 
from many considerations, that it is not impossible to love God 
in these bodies of flesh, wherein we have such a dependence on 
the senses ; neither is it unreasonable, or unfit that it should 
be enjoined as a duty. Against the contrary principle we have 

* Preached October 4, 1676. f See 


designed to insist on sundry considerations, and have observed 
already in the 

First place, that we may be as sure of the existence of many 
invisible beings, especially of God, as we are of any that are vi 
sible. This we have shewn, and also that it is as easy to form 
conclusions respecting the nature of the former, as it is of the 
latter. Both these we laboured to evince from several instan 
ces : and concluded with observing to this effect, that since all 
perfections are originally in God, which we may discern by the 
intervention of the understanding, therefore it is as reasona 
ble to love him, as any visible object how lovely soever ; and 
more so indeed, because he is eternally and invariably the same. 
For, to add something further on this head, 

I see and converse often with such or such a person, who 
because of certain amiable qualities that I discern in him, hath 
attracted and drawn my love : but I am never sure those 
qualities will remain in him always. I know not whether they 
be of that kind, yea or no, that they will remain. But I most 
certainly know, that he will not always remain with me the con 
versable object of my love. And therefore if sense, if the sight 
of what is lovely in him be the only ground of my love to him, 
I could never have loved him longer than my eye could see 
him. For as soon as he is gone out of my sight, I know not 
but he is gone out of being, out of the world, and so the object 
of my love may be quite lost. But I know that the eternal 
Being doth exist necessarily, and always. It is impossible that 
God should ever not exist, or ever be other than he was : and 
therefore if loveliness and amiableness were found there at any 
time, it is to be found there at all times ; without variableness 
and shadow of change, yesterday, and to-day the same, and for 

And now upon all this, since it is very plain and evident, 
that we may be as certain concerning what we see not, as con 
cerning what we do see ; as sure of the existence of invisible, 
as of visible being ; and more especially about the nature and 
existence, (as far as concerns us) of the blessed invisible God ; 
it is plain that there our love ought to have its exercise, as 
much as any where else, supposing such excellencies to be 
found in the invisible things, as may equally recommend the 
object to our love. Therefore we add, 

Secondly : That, invisible things are really of far higher ex 
cellency, than those which are visible. As the things that we 
cannot see have as certain a reality as those that we can see ; 
so, I say, they are of higher excellency : and this blessed 
invisible Object infinitely more excellent, as we must acknow- 


ledge, while we acknowledge him to be God. If we speak of 
such things as lie within the compass of our being, how plain 
is the case and how evident the inference ! Sure the invisible 
world must needs be of incomparably greater excellency and 
glory, than the visible world. And if you reduce all kinds of 
being in the whole universe to these two ranks and orders, vi 
sible and invisible; certainly the latter must be unspeakably 
more excellent. 

We who are for our parts set in the confines of both worlds, 
visible and invisible ; we in whose very nature both meet, 
unite, and touch one another, and are as it were comparted to 
gether ; we who are of a nature partly visible, partly invisible, 
partly flesh and partly spirit, or as the language of Plato's 
school was, NJ jy, mind and dust united into one compound ; 
surely we should not be partial in our judgment of this case. 
Who should be impartial if we are not, who are set as a mid 
dle sort of creatures between the two worlds, and so are capable 
of looking into, and surveying the one and the other ? 

And if we contemplate both, even in ourselves, methinks it 
should be no difficult thing with us to determine which is of 
greater excellency, this bulk of flesh, or this spirit which in 
habits it, and keeps it from being a dead lump, an useless, rot 
ten, putrid carcass. Yea, if we should suppose the body of a 
man to be animated by some inferior vital principle to that of 
a reasonable spirit, yet this would be the more excellent part. 
It is true, we should then have before our eyes a certain sort of 
human brute, of which kind there are but too many in our age, 
at least that live and carry it as such. We should in short, to 
speak plainly, have somewhat before our eyes that wore the 
mere shape of a man, and could hear, and see, and smell, and 
taste, and move to and fro this way or that, and must ere long, 
after a few turns are fetched about, turn to dust, to rottenness, 
and corruption. But suppose we a spirit separately, such as 
is wont to animate a human body : here we have to contem 
plate something that can think, reason, and understand ; that 
can form abstract notions of things, or compare one thing with 
another; something that can reflect upon itself, which our 
eye cannot do ; that can control and correct the errors of 
sense ; that can run through the vast compass of known things; 
is capable of solving problems and difficult questions ; of lay 
ing down principles and maxims of truth, after having weighed 
and found them firm, so as that they may pass current : for 
such there are which pass unquestionably every where for 
undoubted principles. In a word, we have here a kind 
of being to contemplate, that is capable of taking up what 
lies within the compass of philosophy, policy, and the whole 



human orb of learning ; of being instructed in all the great 
mysteries of mechanical skill of every kind ; and in short, 
that can turn itself every way ; and is of a nature unperishable 
and immortal, not liable to, nor capable of corruption, but 
must last for ever and always endure. Who now would make 
any difficulty of owning, that this is a far more excellent thing 
than the other ? this spirit, than that shape of a man which 
merely lives ? But yet even this more excellent creature which 
we have been supposing, is somewhat diminished, and falls 
beneath a brighter order of beings, by its being proportioned 
to a human body. And upon this account man is said to be 
a little lower than the angels,* at least this is one account 
that may be given of this passage ; for it is a diminution of 
the spirit of a man, that it is proportioned to its habitation, 
the body. But then consider those purely intellectual creatures, 
of whom we know not how to form a notion, which shall be 
more expressive than to call them INTELLIGENCES ; inasmuch 
as they are, as far as we can apprehend them, beings of know 
ledge and light, and also of goodness and love proportioned 
to that light of theirs ; what can match the excellency of 
such creatures as these, among the whole sphere of visible 
beings ? 

But let us further consider how vastly numerous that order 
of creatures is, as we may very well suppose, and partly col 
lect from intimations of Scripture, where they are said to be 
innumerable. " The innumerable company of angels, and the 
spirits of just men made perfect/'f How much of glory and 
excellency must then be in the invisible world, beyond what we 
can possibly conceive of in this lower visible region ! If we do 
but bethink ourselves and consider what a mere punctilio, a 
little point, this earth is in which we dwell, in comparison of 
that vast expanse that doth surround and encompass it about j 
how unspeakably, how inconceivably more numerous must we 
suppose the inhabitants to be, that replenish those vast su 
perior regions quite out of sight, than those which inhabit and 
replenish this point of earth ? How vast, I say, must we sup 
pose the invisible world to be, if we consider the number of its 
inhabitants who are parts of God's creation, whom we have 
reason to think do competently replenish all those vast regions 
that are, when our eye has gone as far as it can, far more ex 
ceeding the reach of our thoughts. What limits can we set to 
the creation of God in our most enlarged thoughts ? Finite we 
must suppose it to be, but alas, we are never capable of mea- 

* Psalm 8, 5. f Heb. 12, 22. 


suring the bounds ! And we have reason to believe it is every 
where replenished with such glorious invisible creatures as we 
speak of, in comparison of whom all the inhabitants of the 
earth, that ever where or shall be, are but an inconsiderable 
handful. Are we not then to think that the invisible world is 
far more excellent than that which is visible ? 

But then if we ascend to the great Author of all things, the 
blessed invisible Object that we are concerned to speak about, 
that vast profound abyss of all excellencies, perfection, and 
glory, how much more must we conclude there is of excellency 
in that sort of being in general which is invisible, than in that 
which is visible ! If we consider him inhabiting his own eter 
nity, if we consider his immensity who was before all time, 
whom " heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain,"* 
every where existing, and never not existing ; in whom there 
is an infinite fulness, a rich fountain of being, life, wisdom, 
power, goodness and holiness, and whatsoever we can conceive 
under the notion of excellency and perfection : to think of such 
a Being that was every where before all time was, and continu 
ing to be the same when time shall be no more, where no 
worlds are, and where never any shall be, replenishing all the 
space that we can imagine, and that we cannot imagine, all, 
every where, 'and eternally full of being, life and glory ! what 
an object have we now to contemplate, and think of in the 
invisible order of beings ! And what ? would we confine all ex 
cellency as well as reality to this little, minute, inconsiderable 
earth ! the things that sense can reach unto ! As if our senses 
were to be the measure of all excellency, perfection and reality, 
and it was the same thing for any thing to be nothing, or at 
least worth nothing, as to be out of our sight. 

How unreasonable were such an imagination as this ! And 
indeed well might we be ashamed, and count it a reflection 
upon our profession of the Christian name, that we may so of 
ten read Pagans discoursing in transports of the INTELLKCTUAL 
PULCHRITUDE, of the beauty and excellency of mental and 
invisible things ; while our hearts, in the mean time, are 
taken with nothing but what our eyes can reach to see, or our 
senses judge of. With what raptures do some of them speak 
of the first pulchritude, and the self-pulchritude, or that 
which is lovely of itself. Plato in particular calls him, "The 
Being that is with itself, always agreeing to itself always exist 
ing uniformly, never varying from itself, and lasting always." 
Thus he speaks of the first ORIGINAL BEAUTY, meaning the 

* 1 Kings 3. 27, 


great Object that we now speak of, to wit, the invisible God. But 
what a degeneracy is it to measure the objects of our love by the 
sight of the eye! whereas there is nothing fair or good, as philo 
sophers speak, but what bath its derivation from the first pul- 
chrirude ; or as it hath a kind of precarious beauty and comeli 
ness derived to it from him, who is the first and original Beau 
ty. If then we seriously bethink ourselves of this, we cannot 
but acknowledge that the prime Object of our lovelies among 
the invisible things. If we will but use our thoughts, we must 
say thus : this, I say, must be the conclusion, if we will not 
profess brutality, and renounce our humanity ; that is, deny 
that we are human and reasonable creatures. 

But because here it may possibly be said, " That admit 
ting there be so great excellency and glory in the invisible 
sort of beings, yet we are to love where we are concerned ; we 
are to place our love among things with which we have to do, 
and upon which we have dependence; but how little can we 
have to do with things invisible, and out of our sight ?" 
Therefore 1 add, 

Thirdly : We are a great deal more concerned about invisi 
ble, than visible things. They are of much more importance 
to us, as well as of greater excellency considered in themselves. 
It will certainly be found one day, that faith, holiness, humili 
ty, meekness, mortifiedness to this world, a mastery over inso 
lent and brutish passions, tranquillity, peace, and composure of 
spirit, those great ornaments of the hidden man of the heart, 
are of unspeakably more concernment, than all the things of 
the visible world besides. These are of greater importance to 
our present comfort, and to our future and eternal well-being, 
than whatsoever our senses can bring to our notice. But the 
invisible God is so most of all, who is infinitely beyond and 
above all. 

And what ! will any pretend, that they have no concern with 
God, because they cannot see him ? no concern with him, "in 
whom we live, and move, and have our being, and in whose hand 
our breath is," without whom we cannot move a hand or lift a 
foot, or think a thought, or live a moment ? Have we no con 
cern with him ? none in this present state ? Or are we the less 
concerned with God, because we see him not ? May we not be 
convinced, if we will allow ourselves to think, that it is some 
what invisible, which our life and being depend upon ? For we 
know ourselves to be depending beings. We do know and 
feel, yea our own thoughts and hearts must instruct us in this, 
that we are not self-subsistent. We have not in our own 
liands the measure of our time, nor the command of our owa 


concernments. We find ourselves controled and over-ruled 
in many things every day. There are many thousands of things 
that we would have otherwise, if we could tell how. There is 
something invisible to which we owe our breath, and that hath 
dominion over us, whether we mind it or not. And have we 
no concern with that Being, which hath such immediate power 
over our lives, and all our comforts, in this present state and 
world ? But what talk we of measuring our concernments by 
this present state ? Have not our own souls a secret conscious 
ness in them, that they are made for eternity ? for a world 
\vhere they are to be perpetual inhabitants, after a little short 
time is over ? And have we not therefore now in this life, most 
to do with invisible things, especially with the great invisible 
Lord, both of the visible and invisible creation ? 

We should soon know ourselves to be most concerned with 
what is invisible, and most of all with God, if we would but 
understand the state of our case. We know ourselves to be 
creatures. We did not come into this world of our own choice, 
or by our own contrivance. We made not ourselves, neither 
was it the object of our choice, whether we would be of this or 
that rank or order of creatures ; but were put into that rank of 
beings wherein we are, by a superior and higher hand. Yea con 
sidering what sort of being it is we have, and what a nature the 
great Author and Parent of all nature hath furnished us with, it 
is easy for us by a little reflection to come to this knowledge, that 
we are not what he made us ; that we are fallen creatures as well 
as reasonable ones; that we have incurred the displeasure of 
him that made us; that we are absolutely at his mercy; that there 
is such a darkness and blindness upon our minds and understand 
ings, and such a stupidity and death possessing our very souls, 
that can never be supposed to have been in the first formation 
of such a creature by the hands of God. Lastly, we may find, 
that we are become impure and corrupt ; that there are per 
verse sinful inclinations and affections, which we ourselves can-? 
not but disapprove of, and disallow upon reflection : and that 
hereby we are under a very egregious guilt, and so subject to 
wrath and eternal punishment. If we would but allow our 
selves to consider this as our state, we should soon know that 
we have more to do with the invisible God, than with all the 
world of visible things. Yea further, how amiable would he 
appear in our eyes, if we did but understand purselves ! if we 
would but take notice what dark, blind creatures we are, how 
would it recommend him to us, who is represented as the light 
of our eyes, and the life of our hearts ! In a word, if we would 

* * 


but consider what deformed creatures we are, how impure, and 
alluding to the expression in Job,* so plunged in the ditch, 
that our own clothes might abhor us, Oh how delectable would 
the thoughts of him be ! how lovely would he be in our eyes 
that brings such overtures of purification to us ! 1 will sprinkle 
clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean from all your fil- 
thiness ; and from all your idols will I cleanse you.f And he 
that offers this, will certainly effect it in all those, who are de 
signed for a blessed commerce with him for ever, in order to 
make them perfect in his own comeliness. 

Then again, if we consider ho\v liable we are to his wrath, 
how fast bound with the cords of our own guilt, how amiable 
would that notion and name of God be to us, which was pro 
claimed to Moses, " The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and 
gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 
keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, 
and sin.";]: But we measure things by the sight of our own eye, 
because we will not allow ourselves to take any cognizance of 
the true state of our own case. Whereas if we did but consi 
der the matter, and give ourselves leave to think and inquire, 
we should know there are things which concern us unspeakably 
more, that are out of sight, than what come under our view 
day by day ; and that especially we are most concerned with 
him who is least in our sight, and most remote from the view 
of our external eye. And then add to all this, 

Fourthly : That invisible things are a great deal more capa- 
hle of being intimate to us, or we may be infinitely more con 
versant with them, than it is possible for us to be with things 
that are seen. We love a friend whom we have often seen ; 
and it may be, the oftener we have seen him the more we love 
him. But we cannot be with this friend always. The dearest 
friends must part. We cannot have him perpetually in our 
bosom to converse with in a friendly manner. A great many 
things must concur to the entertainment of our friends with de 
light, and to converse with them with pleasure. For instance, 
they must be in a pleasant humour, and at leisure for converse. 
We many times wait for visits, and they are not given ; or we 
design them, but are disappointed. Messengers may be sent 
to this or that place, one after another ; and yet two friends, 
that would converse, cannot be brought together. Besides, 
when we are conversing with such lower objects of our love, 
we must make use of speech, and are fain to employ words, 
those necessary but imperfect instruments, or media of con 
versation. But we cannot convey by words our full and clear 

* Job 9. 31. f Ezek. 36. 25. f Exod. 34. 6. ?. 


apprehensions to others, so as to let them know all that we 
would have them know. And most of the controversies in the 
world, about matters of opinion in religion, do arise from hence, 
that men cannot be brought to understand one another. I 
cannot tell how to make another master of my thoughts, but 
one way or other tlje notion will be misrepresented, and so not 
lie so distinctly clear in another's mind, as it doth in his that 
would propagate it. But if we could this way infuse into them 
a full and clear knowledge of what we ourselves do intend, yet 
we cannot thereby infuse a living sense, nor convey the affec 
tions that are in our own bosoms to another by words. 

But how intimately conversant may we be with the invisible 
God, and that blessed Spirit that understands not only our 
words, but our sighs and groans, and the living sense thereof 
that is unutterable. God can also be conversant with us 
whithersoever we go, wheresoever we are, so that as soon as 
we are minded to retire, we find him with us. As soon as we 
retire into ourselves with a design to converse inwardly with 
the living God, he is immediately present with us, and it is as 
easy to converse with him as with our own thoughts. As soon 
as we think, so soon are we with God, and as soon is he with 
us. In the twinkling of an eye we find him. We look unto him 
and are lightened. Thus with a cast of the eye the soul is fil 
led; it finds itself replenished with a divine and vital light, that 
ditfu-seth the sweetest and most pleasant influences and sa 
vours through the soul. 

Surely then, what is invisible, and most of all the blessed 
God, is most fit for our converse : an omnipresent God, who 
is every where present with us in the very first instant : so that 
there are no bodies, or other circumscribing circumstances to 
withhold and divert that commerce between him and us ; but 
he is with us in our walking in the way, in our sitting down in 
our houses, in our lying down in our beds, in any wilderness, 
in any den or desert. Certainly it can be no way unfit, that he 
should be chosen for our converse, and for the great Object of 
our love, though we cannot see him. Our not being able to 
see him detracts nothing from the reasonableness of placing our 
love there, upon all these accounts. Therefore the pretence 
for our not loving God because he is invisible, is altogether in 
sufficient, and carries nothing in it that a valid excuse should 
have to make it so. I should now proceed to shew the intoler 
able absurdities of not loving God because he is invisible j but 
the time doth not give me leave to speak to them. 



iLTAVING in the three last discourses shewn the invalidity 
*^ of the excuse for not loving God, drawn from his invisi 
bility, we now proceed in the 

2. Place, to evjnce more fully the obligation we are under 
to this duty, and to shew the intolerable absurdity of this ex 
cuse, that is, of pleading that we do not love God, only because 
we cannot see him.f For 

(1.) It would infer, that we are to be affected or moved with 
no invisible thing whatsoever ; or that nothing but what can 
strike our senses, ought to touch our hearts. For if this be a 
good reason in the present case, we do not love God because 
we cannot see him, wheresoever the case is alike, the reason 
will be so too ; and so we are to be moved by nothing at all, 
but what is to be seen. No threatening danger then is to be 
feared or provided against, and no distant good to be cared for; 
and so our greatest concernments that should urge us more 
than all others, must be quite thrown aside. Our business for 
eternity and another world, the apprehensions of which, men 
cannot quite abolish out of their minds, must all stand still ; 
nd we live at such a rate that no man will be able to give a 
tolerable account what he liveth for, or what his business in 
this world is. For it is altogether inconceivable for what pur- 

* Preached October 11, 1676. f See Sermon V. p. 47. 


pose such a creature as man is, should be here in this world, 
furnished with so much higher and nobler faculties than the 
brute beasts, and yet to do no other business but what they 
might do as well as we. 

(2.) It would hence be consequent, that the blessed God 
would be everlastingly excluded our love, or that he could 
never be loved by his reasonable intelligent creature, for an 
eternal reason ; because he can never be seen, as we see our 
brother with eyes of flesh. None of us in this sense can ever 
behold God ; and if this reason be .conclusive, to all eternity 
he must be excluded our love. And so it may be affirmed even 
of his reasonable creatures, "None do love him, nor ever 
shall." And again, 

(3.) According to this way of reasoning, God would lose 
his interest in our love by the excellency of his nature. And 
how monstrously absurd is it, that by how much the more ex 
cellent an object is, so much the less it should be loved ! For 
it is owing to the excellency of his nature and being, that God 
cannot be seen. And is it not a horrid consequence, that be 
cause he is so excellent as he is, therefore he is not to be loved? 
Nothing is more manifest, than that by how much the more 
excellent any thing is, so much the more it is remote from our 
sight. And shall this be admitted as a principle, that by how 
much the more excellent any thing is, the less it shall be lov 
ed ? Shall God lose his interest in our love, merely because he 
is so excellent and perfect as he is ? or shall he for this reason 
be less loved than visible objects are ? Again, 

(4.) Al! commerce would hereupon cease, or rather never 
be, between the blessed God and his intelligent creature, at 
least all intellectual commerce suitable to such a creature. 
For if this were a good reason, He is not to be seen, therefore 
he is not to be loved, it would also follow, that he is not to be 
trusted, feared or obeyed. All which would infer, that God 
hath made an intelligent being with whom he can converse no 
way suitable to its nature, than which nothing can be thought 
more absurd. Further, 

(5.) All differences of moral good and evil, in such a case, 
would be quite taken away, or all apprehensions of them, from 
among men. For the rectitude or irrectitude of actions is not 
to be judged of, nor discerned by the sight of our eye. We 
cannot by this means alone, tell whether this or that thing be 
right or wrong. And this by consequence would necessarily 
render mankind incapable of being governed by laws ; because 
the reason why a law should oblige, doth not fall under any 
man's sight. The decency and fitness of a thing the eye does 



not reach ; for to discern this is the husiness of the mind. 
And so it would be left altogether impossible for any one to 
assign a reason, why it should be more congruous to equity 
and justice for one to embrace his friend, than to murder him j 
why a man should relieve the poor who cannot help themselves, 
rather than oppress them ; or why a man should not as well, 
and with as great reason and equity, affront a ruler, as obey 
him and be subject to his authority ? So that in short you take 
away the foundation of converse with man, at the same time 
you take away the foundation of religious converse with God 
and invisible things. By this kind of argument you not only 
overturn the practice of godliness and piety, which is a great 
part of that love to God we ought to be exercised in, but you 
do as effectually by the same means destroy all civil commerce 
between man and man, howsoever related ; and leave no foun 
dation for human society, considering the members of it in re 
lation to governors or rulers, and to one another. And 

(6.) It would hence follow, that the original constitution of 
man's nature was made up of inconsistencies ; nothing else but 
a piece of self-contradiction. That is, it would be necessary to 
do a thing, and yet at the same time impossible. It is neces 
sary by the constitution of the human nature that man do love 
a known good, and therefore most of all the Supreme Good, 
which may be certainly known to be what it is, the absolutely 
best, the highest and most excellent Good, as hath been already 
shewn ; and yet by this argument it would be impossible to do 
this. So absurd is this maxim or pretence, that we are not to 
be affected with invisible things, and are under no obligation 
to love God, because we see him not ! In the last place, 

(7-) It would also be consequent from hence, that man must 
be a creature from the very first, made only to be miserable. 
For it is impossible that sense should ever afford him relief a- 
gainst internal evils, or ever supply him with suitable and sa 
tisfying good. How then can he be otherwise than miserable? 

Sense cannot afford him relief against internal evils, and no 
man can exempt himself from them, nor give himself any se 
curity that he shall never be invaded by such. Let there be 
never so great a calm, and according to his present apprehen 
sion let all things be never so well now; yet no man can assure 
himself, that he shall never meet with any inward pangs ; that 
he shall never have cause to complain of the terrors of the Al 
mighty besetting and overwhelming his soul, even ready to cut 
him off. These things have invaded as fortified breasts as any our 
age can afford ; and no man knows when he is secure from them* 


And suppose they do invade a man, and conscience molested 
by known and often repeated wickedness does at length awake, 
and grow furious; pray where shall relief be had ? Will the 
things of sense afford it ? Will they ease such pangs, or work 
off agonies of this nature? In such a state of mind, for a man 
to feast himself with the objects of sense, or with that which 
pleases the eye, w.ould be as impertinent as music to a broken 
leg, or fine clothes for the cure of a fever or an ulcerous body. 

Nor can sense be the inlet to a man of any suitable or satis 
fying good. Let experience witness. To those who have 
all sensible enjoyments to the full, I would say, "Are you hap 
py ? Can you pretend to want any thing that sense can pos 
sibly supply you with to give pleasure to your spirits ? Have 
you not what you would have ? and yet can you say, All is full 
and well ? " Undoubtedly what was the wise man's experi 
ence, would be every man's that were at leisure to consider 
the case ; The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled 
with hearing. Eccles : 1 . 8. Sense, let it be gratified never so 
much, will still live unsatisfied, will be always craving and never 
contented. And therefore by this supposition it must needs be 
consequent, that man could be created for no other state, than 
a state of misery. But how absurd were it to suppose, that 
the God of all goodness had made a creature, whom it should 
be impossible, even to himself, to make happy ! (for it is im 
possible to his nature ever to make himself visible to an eye of 
flesh) and that it should be only possible to terrify and torment 
his creature, but not to satisfy it and do it good! All these 
things do plainly evince that this excuse, to wit, we cannot love 
God, because we see him not, is not only insufficient, but 
also most absurd. Then, say we, it ought not to be admitted as 
an excuse at all, and men are still under an indispensable obli 
gation to the love of God notwithstanding. 

But here it may possibly be suggested to the thoughts of 
some, " Admit it to be a duty to love God, although we cannot 
see him. We acknowledge that his invisibility renders it not 
impossible nor unreasonable to love him ; and therefore we see 
the excuse is insufficient, and that many inconveniencies and 
absurdities would ensue upon making it. But though it will 
be no entire excuse, yet it will sure be a great alleviation. And 
methinks the love of God in this world should not be so strictly 
urged ; or though we should not live in the exercise of this 
duty, it should not be represented as so very great a crime." 
Therefore in answer to this we are to evince to you according to 
what was proposed:* 

See page 54. 


II. The greatness and heinousness of the sin of not lov 
ing God, notwithstanding this excuse that we do not see 
him : that it not only leaves it a sin still, but a most horrid 
one. And this will appear if we consider sundry things that I 
have to mention to you, which will shew it to he injurious to 
ourselves and others, but chiefly to the blessed God himself, 
the great Author of our being. 

1. It cannot but be a most horrid thing, inasmucli as it is a 
most injurious distortion of our natural faculties. And therein 
it is injurious even to ourselves, to our own nature, and to God 
the great Author and Parent of all nature, at once. For what 
do we think he has given us such faculties for, as we find the 
nature of man to be enriched with ? Why hath he given us a 
mind, originally capable of knowing him, and that could once 
retain God in his knowledge ; or a will that could then em 
brace him by love ? It must needs be u very injurious perver 
sion of our own faculties, to withhold and divert them from the 
prime, the best and highest use, whereof they were originally 
capable. And it is a very unaccountable thing that it should 
be thus, that man should have a power given him, originally 
ordained by the very designation of the God of nature to such 
and such purposes, and that it should never be applied there 
unto. Not to love God is to set those faculties one against the 
other, and both of them against him. 

2. It is a most vile debasing of ourselves, and a sordid depres 
sion of our own souls. By love we most strictly join ourselves 
to that which is the object of our love, and enter into the 
closest and most inward union with it. And what is it that we 
love, while we love not God ? Are not the things which our 
love terminates upon, such as we should even be ashamed to 
think of separately and apart from him ? What is there that 
is not base, when severed from God, or if we do not eye and 
consider him in it ? We cannot conceive of any creature what 
soever, not even of the best and most noble, but as of a most 
horrid idol, if made the terminative object. of our love, taken 
apart from God, and not considered or regarded in subordina 
tion to him who is supreme. And as to the mind and spirit of 
a man, there is nothing that so defiles it, that renders it so im 
pure as spiritual idolatry does. A vile and filthy thing, that the 
spirit of a man should be alienated from God, and prostituted 
to an idol ! For we make any thing so, that we make the su 
preme object of our love. And so in effect we join ourselves to 
vanity, as idols are wont to be called; to that which is not 
only vain, but by this means made odious and loathsome. 

And how deep a resentment should this be to us, that so ex- 


cellent a thing as the spirit of man, God's own offspring, should 
suffer so vile a dejection ! that it should he depressed and de 
based unto such meanness as to join itself to vanity and dirt, 
when it might be united with the God of glory, with the ful 
ness and excellency of the Deity ; yea, and when it is apparent, 
that by the original designation of that nature he hath given us, 
we were at first made capable thereof! For how came we by 
that love which we find in our nature ? We plainly see we 
can love somewhere ? While we love not God there is some 
thing or other that we do love ; yea and <it is altogether im 
possible to our nature, not to love something or other. And 
Jiath he " planted a vineyard and shall he not eat of the 
fruit thereof?" I Cor. 9. 7. He hath planted that love in our 
natures which we have made vile, by .alienating it from him, 
and which may yet be made a sacred thing by being sanctified 
and turned upon God again. For it is the object^ and a suita 
bleness thereunto, wherein consists the sanctification of the af 
fections. And again, 

3. Not to love "God is a most merciless self-destruction. It 
is a divulsion of ourselves from him who is our life. It is to 
rend our souls from the Supreme Good, and so abandon our 
selves by our own choice unto misery. How infamous among 
men is the name of afelo de .sr, one that hath done violence 
to his own life, and perisheth by his own hands! Though the 
nature of the thing doth exempt him from personal punishment 
in this world ; yet you know that human laws do very severely 
animadvert upon, and punish the crime as far as the matte* 
can admit. Juries are impanelled, a strict inquiry is made 
into the nature of the case. " What did he do it voluntarily? 
was he compos sui f did he understand himself when he did 
it?" And if this be found to be the case ; his goods are con 
fiscated, and his memory branded with all the infamy that can 
be devised. And there is a great deal of reason for it. For 
the wrong that is done does not terminate upon himself, or his 
own relatives ; but the prince is wronged, being robbed of a 
subject; and the community is wronged also, being de 
prived of one that otherwise might have been a useful mem 

No man, as 1 remember Cicero somewhere speaks, Nemo 
slbinascitur, is born for himself. Many claim a part in us 
besides ourselves, to wit, our prince, our country, and our 
friends. And when one destroys himself, many are injured by 
that self-destruction. And though some heathens have spoken 
of self-destruction as a very noble and generous act, yet Plato 
who had more light (speaking, as I remember, to this very 
case) says, " We are here in the body like soldiers in a gani- 


son, who are not to stir out without the general's order and di 
rection ; no more may any one dare to go out of the body, till 
the great Ruler of the world, who hath placed him there," gives 
him leave, or a call." And he appeals to men themselves. 
" If you" (saith he) " had a slave that should kill himself, 
would you not say he had wronged you, as well as himself, who 
had an interest in him and his service ?" And what ! do we 
think all this while that God's dominion is less over our spiri 
tual and eternal heing ? over these souls of ours that are capa 
ble of being employed in his love and praise eternally ? And is 
not this injurious to him, that men, who are naturally capable 
of all this, should yet throw themselves off from God, and cast 
themselves among a crew of damned spirits, whose business 
will be always to curse their Maker ? Is not this, I say, an in 
jury to the blessed God himself, who is the Author of that be 
ing and capacity to serve him, which we find ourselves posses 
sed of ? Moreover, 

4. By not loving God we render ourselves altogether incapa 
ble of doing him any faithful service, upon which our great 
comfort and advantage, and his honour and glory do at once 
depend. For God is glorified only by our voluntary action and 
devotedness to him, And is it not also more pleasant to serve 
God cheerfully than otherwise ? but can we do that without 
loving him ? And doth it not cast a most intolerable calumny 
upon him, that we should serve such a master unpleasantly, 
and with uncheerful service ? Further, 

5. We should, in breaking of this one law of love to God, 
break all. It is a breach of all the law at once, and so makes 
us incapable of doing God any service at all. For we can never 
serve him while we obey him not, and we can never obey him 
without love. We find that the whole law is summed up in it. 
Therefore we break the whole law of love to God in epitome, 
when we do not love him. All the law is fulfilled and compre 
hended in the one word Love. And though it is plain that 
the Apostle when he says (Rom. 13. 8. 10.) "Love is the fulfil 
ling of the law/' speaks there with a more direct reference to 
love to men, or one another ; yet it is plain too that both 
branches may be reduced to one ; for no man loves his brother 
or neighbour truly, if he do not love him for God's sake, and 
vipon his account. That great law against murder in the book of 
Genesis (9. 6 ) is founded upon this reason, *< For in the image 
of God made he man ;" so that it is God who is principally 
struck at, when one man murders another. Thus our Saviour 
made the summary of the law twofold, when he said, (to the 
lawyer, who had asked him, which was the great command- 


ment,) "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy 
heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind ; and thy 
neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all 
the law and the prophets." Matt. 22. 37 10. 

The whole of our duty therefore centers in this one thing, 
love to God. This is the radical principle whence all is to pro 
ceed ; and every command doth bind us with this reduplication, 
" Do this and love God, and do that as a lover of God," other 
wise what we do is no more the same thing which the law en 
joins, than the carcass of a man is the man. That which is the 
soul of the duty is wanting, and that is love. What signify, 
think you, those prayers to God, which are put up by one that 
does not love him ? or of what avail is any other act of worship 
that is performed by such a one ? And if we do any part of our 
duty which respects man, and that duty be not animated by the 
love of God, the love that one man can have to another in this 
case is nothing else but a sort of friendly intercourse among 
rebels, that have cut off themselves from their supreme Ruler; 
and take no more notice of his interest which he hath in com 
mon in them, but as they are confederated, and join in a con 
spiracy against him. Love among men, why do we talk of 
that ? To love such men as have quite cut off themselves from 
God, as well as we ourselves have done, is only such a love as 
is among rebels, that treat one another kindly in a state of 
rebellion. To proceed, 

6. It is a violation of the most merciful indulgent law, en 
joining us a duty most agreeable to our own necessities, and 
the least toilsome and expensive of all others. How intolera 
ble then is it to affront God, and even to do it with no pretence 
of advantage to ourselves, but greatly to our own disadvan 
tage and loss ! How merciful is the law of love ! how direct a 
provision is there made in it for the necessity of man ! Pray 
what shall we do, nay what can we do with ourselves, if we 
place not our love upon God ? It may be we do not find 
our present need of him, as long as we find objects of sense 
courting and flattering us in our way ; but do not we know that 
this world must break up, and this frame of earth and flesh in 
which we dwell, dissolve! What then will become of him at 
last that will be found to have been no lover of God? How 
dreadful a thing is it for a soul to be stripped naked and to have 
nothing to enjoy ! It cannot enjoy God, because it never loved 
him. For sure, what we love not, we can never enjoy. 

Therefore it was a most merciful law that said unto us, 
w Love the Lord your God with all your heart, vyith all your 
soul, and with all your strength." It is a law teaching us to be 


happy, and to solace ourselves in the rich plenitude of divine 
goodness. Our necessity doth at once urge us, and the divine 
goodness invite us here to place our love. This is the true so 
lution of Plato's riddle, " That Love is the daughter of Pluto 
and Penia." For it plainly appears that the rich plenty of di 
vine goodness, and the poverty and indigence of the poor crea 
ture that cannot otherwise dispose of itself, are the true parents 
of love. 

This is a thing also that will cost us nothing. To love God 
therefore is the most unexceptionable thing in the world. It is 
what we are capahle of in the worst external circumstances. If 
a man he never so poor he may yet love God. If he be sick 
and infirm, if lie be never so mean, if he have no estate, no in 
terest, or be never so little in repute, he is yet capable of loving 
God. This he can do any where, in any place, in any desert, 
or cave, or upon the most afflictive bed of languishing. There 
is no pretence against loving God, let a man's case be what it 
will, or supposed to be. it is therefore a most intolerable 
thing to offend against a law that provides so directly for our hap 
piness and most urgent necessities. It is such a law, an obedi 
ence to which will cost us nothing, neither can there be the 
least pretence of gaining any thing by the neglect of it. The sin 
is therefore the more horrid: and foul and shameful it is to dis 
obey in a case wherein we have nothing to say for ourselves. 
And again, 

7- It is a direct contradiction to our own light, and the com 
mon sentiments of mankind. For this is no disputable thing, 
whether we are to love God yea or no. There are many things 
in religion, and many things more that are affixed to it, that 
make much matter of disputation, and great ventilating of ar 
guments, there is pro and con, this way and that; but pray who 
can tell how to form an argument against the love of God ? To 
deny this is to affront our own light, and that of the world in 
common ; for there is no man that will profess himself to be no 
lover of God. Did you ever meet with any one that would pro 
fess enmity to him ? And the soul of man cannot be indiffer 
ent in this case. It must either be a friend or an enemy, must 
cither love or hate. God is not indifferent, or a mere nothing 
to us, and how should we be affected to him, if not by love ? 
And we further add, 

8. It is a most unnatural wickedness to the Parent of that 
being which we are each of us furnished with, to disaffect our 
own Original. That men should disaffect him from whom they 
immediately sprang, and whose image they expressly bear, is,- 
1 say, a most unnatural crime. Suppose there were a son to be 


found that never could love his father, and always hated the 
womb that bare him ; what a strange prodigy in nature would 
he be thought ! But is not this infinitely more prodigious to 
disaffect the entire and supreme Author of our own life and be 
ing, of which parents are but partial, or at most but subordi 
nate authors. An4 in the 

9. And last place, not to add more, it is blasphemy against 
the divine goodness. It is a practical blasphemy. It is the 
most emphatical way of denying God. For as the man that 
does not believe him, denieth his truth and makes him a liar, 
so by manifest parity, he that doth not love him denieth his 
goodness, a great deal more significantly than can be done by 
words. For men many times earnestly speak what is not their 
settled judgment, and what they are afterwards ready to retract. 
But how horrid a thing is this, that a man by a continued course 
and series of practice should discover this to be the fixed sense 
of his soul, that God is not worthy of his love ! that a race of 
reasonable creatures should bear their joint testimony against 
the great and blessed God, the common Author and Cause of 
all being, that he is not worthy the love of any of them ! For 
we practically say so while we live in the neglect of this duty. 
What do we talk of words in this case, when deeds and our 
constant practice do more significantly and directly speak? 
and vvhat doth the course of a man speak, who loves not God, 
but this, that he is not to be loved ? Therefore sure, not to love 
God, though we see him not, is not only a sin, but a most mon 
strous and horrid one. 

We should go on to make some practical inferences from all 
that has been said on this part of our subject, that we might 
thereby the more closely apply all; but of this hereafter. 

YOL. VI t 



TN speaking to the second part of our subject we have largely 
insisted in shewing you, that our not seeing God is no ex 
cuse for our not loving him. We have shewn particularly, 
that it is insufficient, and also very absurd to be alleged as an 
excuse ; and that it i& not only a sinful omission, but a most 
horrid wickedness, not to live in the exercise of love to God, 
notwithstanding this excuse that we cannot see him. 

It now remains, as we promised in our last, to deduce from 
the whole some practical inferences, by which (if God will 
so direct his word) all may be applied, and brought home 
with the greater pungency to our own hearts. And, 

1. We may henee take notice of the insolent wickedness of 
the world, that they so generally agree to confine the little 
love that is left in it to one another, and to exclude the Blessed 
God. That men do not love God speaks them very wicked : 
that they continue in the neglect of this duty, without any ex 
cuse, speaks the insolency of their wickedness. While they 
.have not a cloak left them, not a colourable pretence, nor any 
thing to say for themselves that is so much as plausible, yet 
they continue their course of excluding God out of their hearts, 

* Preached October 11, 1676. 


and live as if they owed him nothing, and had no concern at 
all with him. 

That men do not love God is a thing that cannot be excused, 
as you have heard; and it is as little capable of denial, as of 
excuse. The matter is open and manifest. The general face 
and aspect of this world sheweth, how little there is of the love 
of God in it. The very shew of its countenance speaks it 
plainly. Men do in this matter even declare their sin as So 
dom. They openly testify to one another that they are God's 
enemies. So that every man that runs, may read how the mat 
ter commonly is with men in this respect. 

Alas, how little doth God's interest signify in this world ! 
this shews how little he is beloved. How little is his interest 
valued, in comparison of that which is merely secular, and hu 
man ! We have instanced to you already in this and many other 
things, for the eviction of the matter of fact in this case. As 
for the matter of right and wrong in the case, you have fully 
seen, from the demonstration which hath been given you, that 
our not seeing, excuseth us not from loving God. Nothing can 
be more plain, than (as we noted heretofore) that although 
too little respect be paid in the most important matters to hu 
man laws, yet there is a great deal less paid to divine. Men 
are more prone to be observant of the laws of men than of God. 
But there is no true obedience to the one or the other which 
doth not proceed from love, so far as it is true. We are to owe 
nothing to any man but love, or what may spring from thence. 
It was the complaint you know of old, " The statutes of Omri 
are kept." Micah 6. 16. A very scrupulous care, as is intimat 
ed and complained of, there was to observe them ; while the 
statutes of God were neglected, or not so much respected 
among those that professed his name. 

Yea, and which Is more than that; how much more frequent 
are the instances that may be assigned of laws made directly 
against God's interest, and the precepts of the first table, than 
against those of the second ! The world in the several succes 
sive ages of it, hath been full of instances of laws made for po 
lytheism, infidelity, idolatry, the worshipping of false gods, and 
the abolishing, or very much depraving the worship of the true. 
But when did you ever hear of laws made for theft, false witness 
bearing, and the like? so as to oblige men under certain penal 
ties to invade each other's interests, as they generally make bold 
with God. We have heard and read very frequently of men 
persecuted even to the death by laws, for not burning incense 
to idols, for not denying of Christ, and the like ; but when did 
you ever hear of a man exposed to such penalties for not steal- 


ing, for not cozening, not defrauding this, or that, or the other 
man ? So apparent is it, that men can express somewhat of 
tenderness one to another, in respect of their own private and 
secular interest ; when, in the mean time, there is no concern 
at all for the common interest of the Lord of all this world. So 
that what interest is in the world is shut up almost entirely a- 
mong men themselves. And though there is too little regard , 
to that interest ; yet they confine what there is among one ano 
ther, excluding the hlessed God from having any part or share , 
in their love at all. 

And truly, sirs, I fear we are too little concerned about this 
sad case. We do not consider this matter as it deserves, nor 
with that solemnity that it challenges. We are not so affected 
about the rights and interest of him, whom we call our God, 
as we ought to be. It doth not pain us to the heart as it should, 
to think how little God is made of in his own creation, and 
among the works of his own hands. We sometimts, when 
we hear the matter spoken of, say it is a sad case, but we know 
not how to help it, and so pass it very slightly over. But do 
not we indeed know how to help it r And should not this affect 
us ten thousand times more, when it is a case, that we can 
only lament ? Sure methinks, at least we should do that if we 
can do no more. But how prone are we to alleviate the mat 
ter by considering it as a common case. " Oh ! this is a mat 
ter of observation every day. It may be seen in every place, 
that there is little of the love of God to be found among men." 
And is it a common case ? Is it not then a thousand times more 
horrid that it should be so common ? If there had been but 
one apostate creature from God in all the world, one person 
of whom it might be said, " He doth not love God," how 
shocking and horrid would this man look in our eye ! But is 
it not inconceivably worse and more horrid, that there should be 
so general a revolt from God ? and that the hearts and love of 
his poor creatures are so averted without cause, and wickedly 
alienated from him all the world over ? 

2. We further collect hence, that the conviction of the un 
reconciled part of the world must needs be very clear and easy 
in the great day. When this shall be the common case 
brought into trial (as indeed it will be with every man) "Was 
he a lover of God, or was he not ?" how easy and clear, I say, 
must the conviction needs be, since, as you have heard, it is a 
matter that admits of no excuse ? If this be a matter not defen 
sible at our own bar, among ourselves, when we controvert the 
matter one with another ; how easily and gloriously will divine 
justice triumph in the eviction of his right, and of the wrong, 


that hath been done him by his creatures in the matter? Be 
hold a whole race of creatures, originally capable of his love and 
communion, gone off from him with one consent ! alienated ia 
heart and spirit, from the life and love of God! transmitting 
their enmity and disloyalty from age to age, from generation 
to generation ! and, in a word, emboldening themselves in 
wickedness against him, because they see him not ; and as 
they vainly think, because he sees not them. 

And yet in the mean time it is very plain, that men might 
know him if they would ; for they live, and move, and have 
their whole subsistence in, and by him. He is not far from 
any one of them. He supplies them with breath from moment 
to moment. They entirely owe themselves, their being, and 
preservation, to an every where present, and apprehensible 
.Deity. Yet they do not, neither will they know him ; and ia 
this voluntary ignorance they sufficiently shew, that they love 
him not. How glorious then will the triumphs of justice be, 
when this case comes to be stated ! when this shall be the 
charge brought against men, be they who they will, or what 
soever they have been in other respects, that they have been 
no lovers of God. 

3. We are hence to note, and admire the wonderful patience,, 
and bounty of God to this wretched world. How admirable are 
the riches of his goodness, and his sparing and sustaining mer 
cy ! that the treasures of wrath are shut up, and the treasures 
of bounty opened to a world, where he hath, upon the matter, 
but little or no love ! One would wonder that this world should 
not have been in flames many an age ago, considering how en 
mity against God hath been transmitted from age to age. But 
how much more reason have we to wonder, that he so concerns 
himself about, and takes such care for a company of wretched 
miscreants, among whom he is not valued ! Still his treasures 
are opened to us ; his sun shines, his rain falls, and in ways of 
grace and mercy he leaves not himself without witness, in that 
he is continually doing us good, " Giving rain from heaven and 
fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness ;" 
(Acts 14, 17) though in the mean time men will not know who 
feeds them, and maintains their life ; and parcels out their 
breath to them, every moment, from time to time. 

Surely it becomes us deeply to adore that patience and boun 
ty, that are so continually exercised towards such creatures, who 
are here shut up in the dark, as it were, from one day to ano 
ther. God appears not to them ; they see him not, and in the 
mean time agree in this, that they will have no thoughts of him, 
Imt have him in perpetual oblivion. Yet all the while they 


have natural powers and faculties, which if employed in the in 
quiry, might easily inform them, that they did not make them 
selves ; that they have not their life in their own hands, neither 
can they prolong it at their own pleasure, inasmuch as all of 
us " live, and move, and have our heing in God." Acts 17. 28. 
However, they content themselves with their ignorance of him; 
and yet he hath sustained the world, and upheld the pillars of 
it, when sometimes it hath been ready to dissolve, and burst a- 
sunder, with that weight of wickedness that hath overwhelmed 
it fora time. 

We ought surely in the contemplation of this to say, "How far 
are his ways above our ways, and his thoughts above our 
thoughts !" Men sometimes when they receive but a petty in 
jury, and an apparent wrong from another, are presently won 
dering, that the earth doth not swallow up the man that hath 
done them this palpable wrong; that vengeance spares him ; or 
that God suffers such a one to live. Oh ! why do not we turn 
all our wonder this way ; that God spares those that are per 
petually affronting him ! making it as it were the whole business 
of their life to testify to all the world, how little they care for 
him that made them ! We ought then to consider with great 
admiration that vast and immense goodness, which is so in 
dulgent to men all this while. Again, 

4. We may hence learn too, the absolute necessity, and 
proper business of the Redeemer ; how great need there was of 
a Redeemer, and what work and business he has to do on the 
behalf of sinful men. We may learn, I say, how great need 
there was of such a one. For who can stand under the weight 
of this charge, to have lived days, and months, and years in 
this world, destitute of the love of God ? Any man that appre 
hends the horror of the thing, and knows how inexcusable a 
wickedness it is, and how horrid, notwithstanding any pretence 
of excuse, cannot but be greatly affected by it ; methinks pale 
ness must possess his face, and pining his heart, to be subject 
to so heavy a charge, and also liable to be convicted of not lov 
ing God. And then, one would think, it should be easy to 
understand what need there was of a Redeemer. The creation 
would not be able to sustain this burden, to have creatures in 
it that loved not God, and were disaffected to their own Origi 
nal. If this guilt were to be parceled out among the creation, 
how soon would it make all tilings fly asunder ! and how im 
possible would it be for things to subsist and hold together ! 
How great then was the need of a Redeemer in this case ! 

And we may see what his business hereupon must be also ; 
that is, both to expiate the guilt of such as have not loved God, 


and to procure that they may do so for the time to come. And 
these two we are to consider not as separate and apart from one 
another. We are not to fancy or imagine, that Christ hath 
only this to do, namely, to procure pardon for our not having 
loved God. Sure he is to procure grace also, that we may, and 
effectually shall do so for the future, or else he will profit u* 
but little. If we have to do with Christ at all, if ever we re 
ceive any benefit at all by him, it must be this double benefit in 
conjunction ; not the one separate from the other. 

The imagination runs in common among men, as if Christ's 
business as mediator was only to reconcile God to man, and not 
man to God. But how expressly doth the Scripture speak of 
this part too ! You that were sometime alienated, and enemies 
in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled. 
Col. 1, 21. He must reconcile us to God. And therefore the 
apostle again saith, that God was in Christ reconciling the 
world to himself. 2. Cor. 5, 19. To take out of the hearts of 
men the enmity that is reigning every where against God, and 
bring them into love with him, is the very business of the gos- 

There did not need a gospel to be preached to heaven, to in 
cline God to man ; but there was a necessity of dispensing one 
on earth to men, to incline them to God. If the business had 
only been to reconcile God to man, there had been no need of 
a gospel at all. The affair of our redemption might have been 
transacted between the Father, and the Son, in God's eternal 
counsel. Christ might have died as he did, and the ends of his 
dying be never known to us, were it not that this was the 
means, that the Spirit of Christ was to work by, in order to 
overcome men's hearts, and slay the enmity in them, not to be 
done by any other way. And shall any of us think, that Christ 
came into the world to procure the salvation of those, that 
loved not God ? This were to think, that he came into the 
world to banish the love of God out of it. 

Therefore we must know, that if ever we be the better for 
Christ it must be both in his expiating our guilt, for not loving 
God ; and in removing our enmity, that our love may be set 
upon him, our hearts joined with him, and engaged in com 
munion and fellowship with him, in our future course. For 
this is the business of a Mediator between God and man : to 
salve the breach on both sides ; to make a mutual agreement 
between both parties ; to vindicate God's right, and so to act 
the part of a just Redeemer, and to procure man's righteous 
ness, which is the part of a merciful Redeemer. This was his 
thought : " This case must be either redressed in men by 


working a change in them, or else vindicated upon them." 
This he is obliged to as Redeemer. The Father hath given all 
judgment into his hand; and as it were, deposited his rights 
there, to be vindicated by him, or restored. John 5. 22. 

5. Learn hence the generous nature of divine love in men. 
The love that we owe, and that good souls do live in the exer 
cise of, and actually bear to God, of how noble and generous 
a nature I say, is it ? Their love is of so refined and solid a na 
ture, that it breaks through the whole sphere of sense, and 
flies above all visible things, and pitcheth upon an invisible ob 
ject. There it terminates, and takes up its residence. It ne 
ver rests till it has flown up thither, and seeks no excuse from 
the duty of love to God, merely because he is invisible. It 
despiseth to be so excused, and neglects, and disregards the 
dictates of sense in the case. This is the genius of divine love 
and the inward spiritual sense of the new creature, whereof 
this love is the heart, and life, and soul. " What ! shall ex 
ternal sense impose upon me, and tell me what is fit for me to 
love, and what not ? What ! shall I love no higher than so ? 
no higher than* a brute?" Therefore, how much more noble 
and excellent a spirit is that of the truly good man, than the 
men of this world are of ! and how excellent is the spirit of di 
vine love, which is in the saints, above that which is earthly 
and sensual ! Let us believe this therefore, and be .convinced, 
that the spirit that is peculiar to godly men is quite another 
thing, from a vulgar and mundane spirit ; and its strain and 
genius different, from that of the men of this world. These 
love only what they see, and think they are excused from lov 
ing any but sensible objects. But says the good man, (f When 
I have seen, and viewed all the good, and all the excellency that 
this sensible creation can offer to my view, I must have some 
thing unseen for my love to pitch 'upon which is beyond all 
this." Therefore a gracious spirit is an excellent spirit. It 
cannot grovel upon this earth. It must ascend above all visible 
things, and get up to that God who is invisible. 

6. Since we are so strictly obliged to the love of God though 
we cannot see him ; what reason have we to charge and con 
demn ourselves, and even loathe and abhor ourselves that we have 
loved him so little, and that so small a part of our life can be 
said to have been spent in this divine exercise ! It is high time 
for us to understand the state of our case, and to consider it in 
this respect : though it is very much to be feared that it is but 
little considered ; for alas, how generally do people carry it as if 
they thought themselves innocent in this point ! After all the 
injury that has been done to God by our not loving him, this 


is the most intolerable aggravation that we should think our 
selves innocent therein, and maintain that temper of spirit 
as if we apprehended all was well. And how plain is it that it 
will not enter into the souls of men, that they are guilty crea 
tures before the Lord on this account, that they have not loved 
him ? 

If a man had secretly and privily been guilty of the death 
of another on such a day, and the matter was closely covered 
up and no body knew it ; yet how would his own thoughts dog 
him and accuse him at night ! The blood of that man would so 
cry in his conscience, that certainly he would have but a hard 
matter of it to compose himself to quiet peaceful repose. 
Why, men in not loving God are guilty of deicide, as much as 
they can be, or as far as their power extends. It is an attempt 
against God. It is saying in their hearts, "No God!" For 
it is a plain denial of his goodness, and therefore of his being. 
It is as much a denial of his goodness, as infidelity is of his 
truth. What a strange thing is it, that men can be so much 
at peace with themselves, can pass over whole days one after 
another, yet no such thing as the love of God to be found 
among them ! and at night can sleep and rest, and their hearts 
never smite them for it. 

Methinks it is strange that men can make so slight a mat 
ter of breaking all laws at once, as you have heard this is of 
not loving God ; of subverting the whole frame of the divine 
government over us. For how do we obey it in any thing, who 
comport not with the first principle of obedience, namely love 
to God ? Oh that men should be guilty of a more horrid fact, 
than it would be, if it were in their power, to turn all things 
out of order, and yet not only be able to rest but even to think 
themselves innocent all the while ! 

These things, in my apprehension, do make a most won 
derful conjuncture, where they happen to meet together ; these 
four things especially, that it should be so plain to every man 
that he ought to love God, that it should be so plainly demon 
strable, as to the most, that they do not love God; that it should 
be so confessedly a foul and horrid thing not to love him, even 
by every man's acknowledgement ; and yet, that so many can 
be guilty of this horrid crime all their lives, and yet live as if 
all was well, and they were innocent all the while. All these 
things make, 1 say, an amazing conjuncture. I appeal to you if 
they do not. 

But that none of us may be so stupid under such guilt as 
this, let us since we cannot excuse it, freely condemn ourselves. 
For who is there among us but must be forced to acknowledge, 
that the love of God is too little exercised, or is very faint and 



languid among us ? Methinks we should hate ourselves for this, 
that we do not love God. It ought to be looked upon as a 
frightful thing, a monstrous indisposition in us. We should 
then in our own thoughts, commune with ourselves, and rea 
son thus. " Why, what a creature am I ! what a strange 
creature am I ! of how amazing a composition ! I have an un 
derstanding ahout me. I know that which is good and what is 
best. I know the Author of all goodness and excellency, must 
needs be the highest excellency and goodness himself. I have 
also love in my nature, which I can employ upon inferior 
things, and which I confess to be of unspeakably less, and of 
diminutive goodness. How monstrously strange is it then that 
I cannot feel daily emotions of love in my heart to God ! that I 
cannot find my heart to beat for him ! that every thought of 
him is not pleasant to me ! How amazing and wonderful is 
this !" Why sure it is a very befitting posture, that we should 
be covered with shame and confusion before the Lord ; and be 
even wallowing in our own tears, lamenting that there should be 
so stupid and cool an ascent in our hearts towards him : that we 
can spend whole days without him ; give him no visits, and re 
ceive none that are of concernment to us ; and in a word, lead 
our life as it were without God in the world. 

It should make us ashamed to read that precept of an hea 
then emperor,* who expresses himself to this effect, and, "You 
must lead your lives with God. Then," says he, " you will 
be said to lead your life with God, when you approve yourselves 
well pleased with every thing that he dispenseth to you, and 
take all kindly at his hands ; and when also you obey that leader 
and ruler," (he can mean nothing but the conscience that is in 
man) " which he has set to be the guide of your actions. So 
shall you lead your lives with God, and have daily converse 
with him." And now to have daily our conversation in the 
world without God, and yet have no scruple about it, nor re 
morse upon it, is a marvellous thing ; especially among us, 
who hear of him and from him so often, and know that we 
must be happy in him at last, or else eternally miserable. 
In the 

Last place, Since our not seeing God cannot excuse us from 
loving him, how much we are concerned to see to it that it be 
no hindrance or impediment to this our duty of loving God. 
And that it may not, it is very necessary that it be some way 
or other supplied. Since it is impossible for us to see God, 
we ought to consider seriously with ourselves, whether there 

* Antoninus. 


be not something or other that may serve us instead of the 
sight of God, and be a means of our living in his love. And 
here I had several things in my thoughts to have hinted to you, 
and intended to have gone through them at this time ; but I 
must leave them to the next opportunity. 


CINCE it is necessary, that our not seeing God should be so 
supplied, as that we may be capable of loving him, not 
withstanding ; I now proceed to give some directions, which I 
hope will be of use to us in this great and important matter. 

1 . Let us fix the apprehension deep in our souls, of his cer 
tain necessary existence, and supreme excellence. Our sight 
doth not serve us to the loving of any thing, otherwise than as 
it is a means to beget an apprehension in our minds of the love 
liness of it. Sight is in no case the immediate inducement of 
love, but only as it is ministerial and subservient to the nobler 
powers of the mind. And if by any other means than by see 
ing, we can come to apprehend so much concerning the bles 
sed God, to wit, his most necessary existence, and supreme 
excellency, we shall not be at a loss then for an apt medium, 
by which our love is to be excited in us towards him. 

These two things are the same in effect with those that the 

* Preached October 5, 16/6. 


apostle tells us we ought to be assured of, in order to our com 
ing to God with acceptance, namely, that he is, and that he is 
a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Heb. 11.6. We 
may easily understand how he is a rewarder, if we compare this 
passage with what is said to Abraham, I am thy exceeding great 
reward. Gen. 15. 1. God is at once both a rewarder, and a re 
ward to those whose hearts are towards him. He is a rewarder 
by communicating himself, and not by giving rewards alien 
and diverse from himself. And it is necessary that we be as 
sured, that he both is, and that he is in this sense a rewarder, 
as being in himself the highest excellency, or the supreme and 
best Good. For without a persuasion concerning both these, it 
is intimated, that we cannot come unto him in an acceptable 

Now loving him is one way of coming to him. It is that by 
which the soul moveth to him in desire, and then rests in him 
in delight. There can be no such motion in the soul towards 
God, without this double persuasion concerning him ; namely, 
of his certain existence, and highest excellency, as our termi- 
native good. And you have heard that we may be as sure of 
both these, as of any thing that we see with our eyes. For if 
our eyes tell us, that any thing is in being, our minds tell us as 
certainly, that there is an original Being. And if we can be 
any way sure, that there is such a thing as goodness, and ex 
cellency in the world ; we may be as sure, that there is an ori 
ginal excellency, an original good, which must needs be the 
supreme good, and can be no where, but in the original su 
preme Being. For goodness and excellency are not nothing, 
and therefore cannot come out of nothing, but must proceed 
from the same fountain, from whence all being comes. We 
are not more sure of any thing that our eyes inform us of, than 
we shall be of this, if we do but consider, and use our under 
standing in the case. 

So that we should endeavour once to fix the apprehension of 
these things, as being most certainly true ; and from our very 
souls should bless God, that we are at a certainty in these 
things ; that we do not feel the ground loose under us, but are 
in this respect on firm ground, when we affirm that God most 
necessarily is, and is the highest and most excellent Good. 
And being once sure of this, it would be very unreasonable to 
be recalling tliis matter into doubt, or to be perpetually moving 
questions and disputes concerning it in our minds. It is what 
we may be as sure of, as that there is a world in being, or that 
any thing is, that we ourselves are, who being nearest to our 
selves, umy be surest of our own being. 


And it would make strange confused work In the world, if 
in reference to all the actions of man, they should be ever 
moving disputes about them, whether they really are or are 
not. As if a man could not tell how to eat, but he must fall a 
doubting presently, "Is this real food before me, or is it not J 
or am 1 awake to eat it, yea or no ?" Or as if he could not telt 
how to converse with any one, about never so important a bu 
siness, but he must fall a disputing, " Is this a real man, OF 
but a spectre ? may it not be only the umbra of a man ?" In- 
short, what could be done, what business transacted in the 
world, if about such plain matters, doubts must be perpetually 
raised ? 

Every man that hath understanding, as hath been said, may 
be at as great certainty concerning the existence of the supreme 
and first Being, as of any thing whatever. Nay, a great deal- 
more, because his existence is supremely necessary. So that 
if I confine certainty to the eye, then I am sure of nothing but 
what I see. But I am certain that God always was of himself, 
and therefore is necessarily ; and so, not to be, must to him 
be simply impossible. This, therefore would be one great 
supply to our not seeing him, once to make the matter plain 
and clear, that he exists, and that he is the most excellent and 
supreme Good. Which would be a great deal in our way, 
towards the exercise of love to God, though we do not see 

2. It will concern us much to use our thoughts in being con 
versant with other invisible objects. For certainly, minds and 
hearts that are continually busied about things of sense only, 
will be but in a very defective capacity, at all times, to converse 
with the invisible God. It needs a very refined temper of mind 
to behold him with the intellectual eye, and thereupon to love 
and embrace the blessed glorious God. And as while we con 
verse with things that are vain, our minds are vain ; while with 
things that are earthly, our minds are earthly, and bear the 
impress and image of those things with which we have most 
to do ; so, if we did but converse with spiritual things, or 
those which are above the reach of sense, it would be a means 
to make our minds and hearts grow more spiritual, and conse 
quently more fit for the love, and converse of the eternal, siu- 
preme, invisible Spirit. 

It is a mean base thing, since God hath furnished our natures 
with a thinking power, to use our thoughts only about those 
things that lie in common to us with brute creatures. Can I, 
have I, a power to mind higher and nobler objects, and will 
I so vilely debase myself as not to mind them ! to mind 


only things that are earthy, drossy, and terrene ! By this means 
I shall always keep myself in an incapacity to have to do with 

We should therefore consider with ourselves, that as we have 
faculties by which we are rendered capable of conversing with 
men and visible things ; so we have faculties too in our natures, 
whereby we are capable of conversing with things that are not 
visible, and that are of a higher nature. It is easy to turn all 
the things of this visible state into a dusky shadow to ourselves. 
We can clothe all the world with darkness, in a moment, only 
by shutting our eyes. And therefore as our eyes would signify 
nothing to visible things, if we did not use them ; so nor will 
our thoughts signify any thing in reference to the invisible 
world, unless we employ them upon their more proper, and 
peculiar objects. 

We should also recollect with ourselves, that there is such a 
thing as an invisible world, which is the best and noblest part 
of the creation of God. We ourselves, as to the better part of 
our natures, belong to it. Therefore we should not behave as 
strangers, and unrelated to that world. We should consider 
how glorious the invisible world is, and recount who are its In 
habitants, what are the affairs and pleasures, the excellencies 
and ornaments of those inhabitants. Let us think with our 
selves, what vast numberless myriads there are of glorious 
spirits, creatures of God, that are composed all of mind and 
love, whose perpetual business and employment is to behold, 
and adore the great Father of spirits, the PATERNAL MIND, or 
RKASON, as the Heathen have called him, the original intel 
lect, that is every where and ALL IN ALL. 

We should think with ourselves, that the affairs of those in 
numerable multitudes of glorious spirits, and their pleasures 
and delights, are the same. Their business is to be always 
beholding the divine glory ; and by adoration and praise to re 
turn it to him, reflecting it back again to its own Original. We 
should think with ourselves, what the lovely ornaments and ex 
cellencies are of those blessed inhabitants : we should consider 
their vast knowledge, their mighty power, their pure holiness, 
their profound humility, the benignity, love, and sereni 
ty, that are every where to be found among those happy be 

And when we have thought and considered all this, then let 
us ask ourselves, "Why am I a stranger to this invisible world ?" 
For indeed we are strangers to it, while we are unrelated to 
God, and his Christ. But this is not our necessity, but our 
great folly, that we continue in so distant and unrelated a state. 


We are naturally aliens, strangers, foreigners ; but there are 
overtures made to us by Christ, to become of the household 
and family of God. Eph. 2.19. And his family is made up 
of heavenly ones, though part be in heaven, and part on earth. 
Our Lord Jesus Christ himself, besides his natural, hath an 
acquired dominion and lordship over the whole of it. By him 
were all things made, both visible and invisible ; and even 
besides that, by the blood of his cross, he is become the Head 
over all principalities, and powers, and thrones, and domi 
nions ; whether they be in heaven, or earth, or under the 
arth. Col. 1. 1621. 

So that if we be of those who profess themselves to be chris- 
tians, and are united to him, we are come to an innumerable 
company of angels, and the spirits of the just made perfect. 
Heb. 12. 22, 23. We are actually joined as members of that 
body,which is all but one community of glorious creatures above, 
and holy ones here below, in whom the beginnings and first 
principles of the new creature, and the work of sanetification 
are to be found. So that we may again demand of ourselves 
and ask, " Why do we estrange ourselves and carry it as if we 
were unrelated to those invisible creatures ?" Those blessed 
spirits are continually mingling with us, if we will believe the 
divine testimony concerning them. The angel of the Lord 
encampeth about them that fear him, and delivereth them, 
Ps. 34. 7- And what are all the angels ? But ministering 
spirits sent forth for the good and service of them who are heirs 
of salvation. Heb. I. 14. They are conversant in our as 
semblies, as some understand that passage in the first epistle 
to the Corinthians, where the woman is directed to have power 
over her head, that is, a vail, in token of her subjection to 
power, " because of the angels ;" (1 Cor. 11. 10.) though 
some understand this passage otherwise. And again, more ex 
pressly it is said, that unto powers and principalities in hea 
venly places is known by the church the manifold wisdom of 
God. Eph. 3. 10. 

Therefore in that we do not entertain more frequent thoughts^ 
and exercise our minds more about what the Scriptures reveal 
in this matter, we are certainly injurious to ourselves. We 
keep back our minds from being clarified from earth and sensi 
ble things, by which they might be raised up to the honour and 
advantage of being employed about the blessed God himself. 
For if we were filled, all the day long, with becoming thoughts 
ef the state and condition of the affairs of the inhabitants of the 


invisible world, how easy were it to fix upon God the great 
Ruler of all, the Father of spirits. 

And being of the same community, making but one society 
with those blessed creatures, as being under 4he same Head 
with them, we make a great schism in the body if we break 
off ourselves from them, and their employments and affairs, 
and involve ourselves with things that are visible, and the ob 
jects of sense. Of all men in the world the sensualist is the 
greatest schismatic. He breaks himself off from all the affairs 
and concernments of the invisible world ; and wraps himself in, 
this narrow sphere, as one quite cut off from God, and all that 
are more immediately conversant with him. We, I say, quite 
rend ourselves from that body, that happy society, if we do not 
apply ourselves more to mind the concernments of that other; 
world, and to have our spirits, thoughts and affections, exer 
cised and carried up thither. And again, 

3. It is necessary in order to supply our not seeing God, that 
we most firmly believe the report and testimony that is given of 
him in the gospel of his Son. What we cannot know by our own 
eyes, we must be beholden for the knowledge of to the report 
of others. And it is the business of the gospel to make a re=- 
port of God to us, and the errand of his Son into the world was 
to bring us this report. He who best knew him, and from 
eternity was in his bosom, " hath declared him ;" and that on 
purpose for our relief in this case, because " no man hath seen 
God at any time." Since therefore God is invisible, and we are 
creatures that depend so much upon sense, he " hath spoken 
to us by his Son, the express image of his person." Heb. 1. 3. 
So that it is by no mean one that he hath sent us an account of 
himself, though we cannot see him. 

All reports signify as they are believed. They signify no 
thing where no credit is given to them. But what should in 
duce us to doubt, whether the revelation which Christ hath 
made to us of God, in his word, be true or no ? What should 
jriake us imagine, that God should misrepresent himself? 
What ! Doth he need to beguile us, his creatures, whom he 
hath entirely in his power? the works of his hands, whom he 
can wink and beckon into nothing ? Do you think he means to 
beguile us with specious representations of himself, other 
wise than the matter really is ? 

Therefore we should thus consider with ourselves. " We 
have not indeed seen God, nor is he liable to so mean a thing 
as human sight. But we have an express discovery of him 
l>y his own Son, who came upon this very errand : and what 
fee has said was not casually, and on the by, as words droppei 


by chance ; but he came for this very end, that he might ac 
quaint the world what God is, and give to men an account of 
him, since he is not to be seen with eyes of flesh." And sure, 
upon the account we have of this blessed and glorious Object, 
he must be acknowledged to be the most lovely Object. We 
are not then at a loss for an object of our love, if we will but 
believe the record, and testimony of the blessed God in his 
own word ; and take it as a revelation from heaven with so 
merciful a design. How awful an acquiescence therefore doth 
that challenge and command ! So that our hearts should rea 
dily suggest to us, that it is the greatest profaneness, if 
we do not with reverence, and veneration admit that testi- 

In what honour and veneration had those poor deluded crea 
tures the image that was said to have come down from Jupiter! 
Acts 19. 35. Why, God's own word is his own lively image, 
a true representation of himself, which certainly came down, 
from himself. He hath sent many on this message ; his own. 
Son, his prophets, and apostles, on purpose to draw men into 
communion and fellowship with himself. These things, saith 
St. John, are written, that we might have fellowship with the 
Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1. 3. And 
then he goes on in his epistle to tell them, that the message 
which the apostles heard of him and declared unto them, was 
this that God is light, and God is love. 1 John 1. 5. &c. 
Surely then such a Being is the most worthy of our esteem and 
love ; and the message sent to men is most worthy of their ac 
ceptance, to wit, that such a God is offered to them for their 
God. Thus men are acquainted with him by the revelation 
they have of him in the gospel, that so they may be drawn into 
a communion and fellowship with him, the life and soul of 
which is love. 

4. It is necessary, that we bend ourselves much to contem 
plate and study the nature of God, according to the discovery 
we have of him in his revelation. That which we do know 
and believe, makes an impression upon us only as it is im 
proved by our thoughts ; as it is considered or not considered. 
A great many things lie asleep in our souls, and signify no 
thing to us, for want of actual thought. At certain times and 
seasons, therefore, we should say to ourselves ; " Well ! I will 
now go on purpose, and sit down, and meditate upon God. 
This shall be the business of the present hour." For surely 
nothing can with higher right lay claim to our entire thoughts, 
than the Author of all. And it is a strange piece of negligence, 
that he, with whom we have such great concerns, and who is 

VOL. vi. 


our All in all, should be so seldom the Subject of our solemn, 
designed, purposed meditation; that the thoughts of God 
should be casualties with us ; that we should think of him only 
now and then by chance, and never find a time, wherein we 
may say to ourselves, " I will now on set purpose think of 

How doth this correspond with the practice of the saints, 
who had communion with him of old ? as we find the Psalmist 
intimating, that he thought of God on his bed, and medi 
tated on him in the night-watches. Ps. 63. 6. I would not 
here propound to you the indulging, or gratify ing of a vain curi 
osity, inquiring into the unrevealed things of God ; but would 
recommend to you the study of those plain intelligible attributes 
of his, that are obvious to the understandings of the generality 
of men, because the Divine Being is not capable of a strict 
and rigid definition. These are enough to suggest such a no 
tion of him, as renders him an Object worthy of our love and 
worship ; while a multitude of things may be supposed con 
cerning God, which it is not necessary for us to be acquainted 

Consider then his wisdom, power, goodness, holiness, and 
the like, which are his communicable attributes ; and add to 
these the incommunicable properties of his eternity, his im 
mensity, his self-sufficiency, his self-subsistence, his neces 
sary existence, and so we have an account of God. And then 
how excellent and glorious an Object both of love and worship 
have we before us ! a Being of himself originally perfect; who 
is essential wisdom, goodness, love, truth, righteousness, and 
holiness. In what a transport should we be upon such a re 
presentation of God ! We have his name often in our mouths, 
when it is with us but as an empty sound ; as if that great, and 
venerable name signified nothing. He is near in our mouths, 
and ears, but far from our hearts ; and then no wonder he is 
so little loved all the while. But would we once admit to have 
our souls possessed with the apprehension of the import of that 
mighty and venerable name, which was given to Moses ; how 
would it engage us to bow our heads and worship him, who is 
" the Lord, the Lord God merciful and gracious, long- suffer 
ing, abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thou 
sands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, and that will 
by no means clear the guilty." Exod. 34. 6, 7- Our Lord 
told the Samaritan woman, " Ye worship ye know not what." 
John 4. 22. So do they, who make his worship nothing else 
but a ceremonious compliment ; the mere bowing of the knee, 
and the honouring him with the lip. But if it be the worship 


of love, it is impossible then that we should worship we know 
not what. For the interior faculties of the soul, as to love and 
desire, cannot be wrought upon by a shadow. They must be 
moved by something substantial, and set on work by some 
thing on purpose which really exists. When therefore we 
hear the name of God spoken, how should it make us stoop 
and bow before him ! and into what an awful and pleasing 
commotion should it put all the powers of our souls at once ! 
But to go a whole day, and forget God ; and to let many days 
pass, without ever choosing a time to think of him, is a great 
iniquity. And while that iniquity abounds, the love of such 
must needs grow cold. And then again, 

5, We must take heed, that we entertain no horrid and dis 
mal thoughts of God, and that we believe nothing that is con 
trary to his own revelation of himself. Take heed lest the be 
lief of a God suggest only a guilty enslaving fear. I mean not 
the fear of reverence, which the angels owe and pay ; but that 
fear of horror, which is most proper to devils, and is the pro 
duct of a diabolical faith. " The devils believe and tremble." 
Ja. 2. 19. They believe and are full of horror, as the word 
Qficnrov/Ti signifies. Do even shiver with the belief they have con 
cerning God. As Cf perfect love casteth out fear," so such 
fear will always put out love. For a fear proceeding from gross 
and horrid mis-persuasions concerning God, must needs stifle 
all dutiful, ingenuous, loyal affection to God. 

It is the great art of the devil to possess men with the ap 
prehension, if it be possible, that their case is the same with 
his own, that so thereby they may make it their own. If the 
devils can once persuade men, that God is as unreconcilable 
to them, as he is to themselves, who sinned with open eyes, 
without a tempter, and all at once in their own proper persons ; 
if they can, I say, but make men believe this, then it is a most 
easy thing to keep the love of God from ever having any en 
trance into the soul. It is natural to hate those, whom we fear 
or dread; therefore, 1 say, the fallen angels believe and tremble, 
believe, and are full of horror. 

But, do you believe, and bless God ? Believe him actually 
reconciled, if you find your hearts do yield to him, Believe 
him willing to be at peace. Believe him when he testifies, 
that whosoever cometh to him shall in no wise be cast out. 
John 6. 1^. Believe him saying, "Though thou hast for 
gotten me, and hast set up thyself to be thine own idol, and 
hast been perpetually affronting me ; yet do thou but accept my 
Son, and of pardon in and through him, and I will make thee 
my friend, my associate and my son." Do but believe this, 



(SER. X. 

and try if it be in your power not to love him. This faith will 
certainly work by love. But take heed of believing what God 
hath never said ; and what the destroyer of souls would make 
you believe he hath said. For whatsoever thoughts tend to 
the making him unlovely, or not amiable in your eyes, have 
them far from you. And 

6. Make him your own by an entire, and cheerful choice, 
and acceptance of him for your Lord and your God. How 
mightily doth relation, interest, and property command love ! 
You cannot see him it is true, but you may choose and appre 
hend him for your God ; which relation, once understood, will 
happily supply the want of seeing him. Surely you would love 
your own child, your own father, your own husband, or wife, 
though you were born bli.nd and could never see them. How 
many are apt to say, when they observe any thing lovely, in 
such or such a relation in another family ; for instance, a duti 
ful, ingenuous child, "Oh had I such a one, how should 1 love 
him I" Why, you have an amiable description of your God ; 
and do not your hearts say within you, " If he were my God, 
how should I love him ?" And why is he not your God ? he of 
fers himself to be yours, and has put no harder terms upon you, 
than that you receive him for your God. Comply then with 
his righteous law, "Thou shalt have no other Gods before me." 
Exod, 20. 3. Say therefore, " Thou shalt be my God wholly 
and alone." As every covenant is made up by a mutual sti 
pulation, so his willingness and yours make the bargain. He 
hath declared his own willingness, do you but make out yours, 
and the matter is effected, so as that none can tear you asun 

And how pleasant a thing is it to have such a God your own 
to glory in, and to walk in his name ! to be able to say, 
" God, even my God shall bless me ! I need no other/' How 
high matter of triumph was this to the Psalmist ! Let it be 
told to the generations following, This God is our God for 
ever and ever ; he will be our guide even unto death. Ps. 48. 
13, 14. As if he had said, We are willing that this should be 
known, in the present, and succeeding ages, Let it be trans 
mitted to posterity. Let there be a perpetual everlasting mo 
nument of this, that we have had the Lord for our God. Thus 
a certain noble person would have an inscription put upon his 
tomb, without any further enlargement, to this effect, That 
he had been a servant to queen Elizabeth, counsellor to king 
James, and friend to sir Philip Sidney. By this it appears 
he would have all ages know whose servant, counsellor, and 


friend be had been.* In like manner should every good and 
pious soul declare to the present, and all future ages, that 

7. Let your souls be rilled with this apprehension, that God 
is always and every where present. 1:1 ow sweetly moving are 
those thoughts of God's omnipresence in the 139 Psalm ! They 
were so to the Psalmist and are so to all the saints. " Whither 
shall I go from thy Spirit ? or whither shall I flee from thy 
presence ? If 1 ascend up into heaven, thou art there ; if I 
make my bed in hell, behold thou art there. If I take the 
wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the 
sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand 
shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me ; 
even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkless 
hideth not from thee, but the night shineth as the day ; the 
darkness, and the light, are both alike to thee." And 
when the royal Psalmist considered, how God insinuated 
himself into every bone of his flesh, and particle of his 
frame, saying, "Thou hast possessed my reins, thou hast 
covered me in my mother's womb;" he breaks out at last in 
to these words, " How precious also are thy thoughts unto 
me, O God ! how great is the sum of them !" 

Let us then but habituate ourselves to the apprehension of 
an every where present Deity, conceiving all things filled with 
the divine fulness, and this will supply the defect, or the want 
of seeing God. Let every creature, every place, every provi 
dence, put us in mind of God. Thus begins, and ends the 
eighth psalm, the design of which is to contemplate God in these 
things, regarding them all as the works of his hands ; " How 
excellent is thy name, O God, in all the earth, who hast set 
thy glory above the heavens !" And what an ecstasy do we 
find Moses in, while he is celebrating a particular providence i 
" Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods ? who is 
like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing won 
ders ?" Exod. 15. 11. If then we did but labour to make this 
thought familiar to ourselves, that whithersoever we go, or 

* The noble personage here alluded to, is Fulke Grevill, Lord 
Brooke ; whose funeral monument is yet remaining in St. Mary's. 
Church in Warwick, and has on it this inscription 




wherever we are, we have a God to behold ; that there are 
footsteps of God, everywhere, for us to take notice of, or im 
pressions, and prints of his glory ; this would habituate us to 
his converse, and make the motions and exercises of love, easy 
and familiar to us. This effect it had on the Psalmist in the 
104 Psalm, who. after a glorious description of God, thus 
closeth it up ; " My meditation of him shall be sweet, I will 
be glad in the Lord." Ps. 104. 34. He had been viewing 
God, as he was to be seen in the works of his hands ; and his 
spirit was now drenched deeply in the thoughts of God's 
active power and providence, every where diffused in the 

We, in like manner, should always have such thoughts in 
jected into us, if we would but consider with ourselves, that 
wherever we are, still we live, and move and have our being 
in God. The whole earth is full of his glory. By him all 
things consist. We can set a foot no where but still we tread 
upon his ground, and are in his dominion. We cannot live, 
but by a vital influence derived from him, How much would 
this contribute to the facilitating the exercises of love ! By con 
verse love insinuates itself into persons, they are captivated 
before they are aware. And there is no man of so morose, sour, 
churlish a nature, but wijl have a sort of kindness for such, 
whom he converseth frequently with. Assiduous converse 
wins hearts. How much more, when we have such an amiable 
object, should we associate with him ! It will then ensue of 
course, that we shall be taken with him, and drawn by the 
cords of love into the happy bonds. 

8. And lastly: Let us pray much and earnestly for the Spirit 
of life and love, which is his own gift. Among the many ex 
cellent fruitsof the Spirit you see love leads the van. Gal. 5. 22. 
It is of considerable moment to state the case to ourselves thus ; 
"The love of God is one of the fruits of his own Spirit." How in 
tent then should we be upon this, that he who claims to be the 
Object of our love, is pleased to be the Author of it ? even of 
that pure, refined love, that is fit to be set upon so glorious 
an Object. Whereas such a carnalized, impure, drossy love 
as ours, can never turn itself unto God ; will always decline, 
nnd shun that blessed Object. He must form our love for him 
self, or it will never do. 

As he therefore makes our love the sum of his law, and of 
all his precepts, so we should make it the sum of all our re 
quests. For it is at once indeed both our privilege, and our 
duty. Both what we are to do, and what we are to enjoy, are 


all summed up In love. And if we make this the sum of 
our desires, how much of ingenuity would there be in this 
prayer, when we come to the Lord and say, " Lord if I 
should cast all my desires into one request, it is love ! Love 
is the only thing. I beg only a heart to love thee." How 
much ingenuity is there, I say, in such a prayer ! and how 
great also is the necessity of it ! For we can as soon pluck 
down a star, or create a new sun, as plant in our own souls 
this principle of love to God, without his aid. Every good 
and perfect gift is from him ; and certainly this is good, 
and a matter of high excellency, to have the heart possessed 
with his love. We can never understand the love of God to 
us, till our souls are, as it were, trans-elemated into a love to 
him. God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in 
God and God in him. 1 John 4. 16. 

And now, after all this would we be excused from the duty 
of loving God ? that is, from being happy, from living a life of 
pleasure, from solacing ourselves with the immense Good? We 
should methinks as little wish to be excused, as a poor indi 
gent man from having all his wants supplied ; or a sick lan 
guishing person, from returning to health and strength ; or a 
hungry fainting person, from receiving convenient food j or 
a weary person, from receiving refreshing ease and rest. Would 
we be excused from having God for our portion, our health and 
strength, our rest and all in all ? We cannot indeed see God ; 
but will that excuse us, when so many things present us with 
an idea and image of him ? or when we have the privilege of 
addressing ourselves to him by prayer ? The Scriptures do not 
speak to us in this matter with any intention or design to ex 
cuse us from this duty. There it is intimated, that all the good, 
which concerns a man's present state, comes from love to 
God. All, says the Apostle, shall work together for good, to 
them that love GOG. Rom. 8. 28. And with respect to the 
other world, it is said that, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, 
neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive, 
what God hath laid up for them that love him. 1 Cor. 
2. 9. 

And if we would but consider the matter, it is plain we can 
not excuse our conduct, to ourselves ; much less to God. For 
do not our consciences tell us, that nothing is so easy, no 
thing so ready ? And it is likewise to be considered, what will 
be made of this one day. I make little doubt but one very 
great part of the torture of hell, will lie in a too late repen 
tance ; that we never loved what our convicted consciences 
must needs have told us was most congruous, and fit to be 


loved. When an awakened soul shall make reflection, and 
consider, what infinite reason there was for the loving of God, 
and yet it could never be brought to it ; we can conceive no 
sort of mental torture to be more tormenting than this. So 
that they, who live destitute of the love of God, and content 
themselves with so doing, are busily preparing their own hell 
all their days. Oh, how tormenting will be the reflection ! 
" I lived a life's time in the world, and knew how reasonable 
a thing it was, how just and righteous to love God, and yet 
I never did love him !" This will be a most amazing sub 
ject for thought to feed upon, and to find torment by, through 
out an eternal state. And therefore we are the more con 
cerned to be restless in our spirits, till we feel the fire so to 
burn within us, and can make our appeal to God, saying, 
Thou knowest all things, Lord ! thou knowest that I love 
thee. John 21. 17. 

SKR. XI.) 




"1\7"E have endeavoured from these words to evince to yon 
the indispensable obligation there is upon us to the con 
tinued exercise of love to God, notwithstanding that we can 
not see him. This hath been doctrinally discoursed of, and 
also insisted upon by way of use, and particular application of 
that doctrine ; but before we pass from it, it will be requisite 
to add somewhat further of a casuistical import. 

It is very plain, that though there are not many sincere 
lovers of God, in this world ; yet there are but few, who 
pretend not to be so. They are apt to please themselves with 
the conceit that they love God, and so take the matter for 
granted, though there be nothing of any such affection in their 
hearts at all. Others there are, who are apt to suspect that 
they do not love him in sincerity, and are too forward to con 
clude, that they have none of this divine affection, because 
they do not perceive it to work towards God, as their love does 
towards other objects. Finally, there are others again, who 
are very prone to censure those that speak of more passionate 
workings of affection to God, as mere hypocrites for this pre 
tension. For since they experience nothing of such workings 

* Preaehed November 1, 1676. 

VOl,. VI. 



(SEK. XI. 

on their own hearts, they think it impossible there should be 
any such thing at all in the world. There are therefore three 
sorts of persons that our present discourse must have reference 

I. Such ignorant and careless souls as do, at random and 
without ever considering the matter, pronounce concerning 
themselves, that they are lovers of God ; though if the mat 
ter be strictly looked into, they have no such thing as a motion 
of love in their heart to God at all. 

II. Those that are prone to suspect, and conclude them 
selves to have no love to God at all, because they do not find 
this affection to work with that fervour and constancy, that 
they think it should, and which they perceive on other occa 

HI. Such as are very apt to suspect, and accuse others of 
hypocrisy or folly, who seem to express the most passionate 
and fervent love to God, and think that such an affection to 
wards him cannot have place in a human breast. What there 
fore is pretended to be of a spiritual and holy kind, must be 
resolved, they imagine, wholly into enthusiasm ; or be attri 
buted to the power of fancy, or imagination ; or to the temper, 
and disposition of the bodily humours, and the various struc 
ture and fabric even of the inferior parts of the body itself. 
To each of these sorts, reference must be had in what is now 
to be discoursed upon at this time. 

I. As to those who confidently give out themselves to be 
lovers of God, though they never felt any motion of love to 
him at all in their hearts, such things as these it would be very 
fit for them to consider. 

1. That it is a very rash and unreasonable, as well as dan 
gerous presumption, for them to conclude there is that in them 
which they have never perceived at all. For what might not 
one imagine, or fancy upon such a pretence ? Supposing it 
possible, must I believe every thing to be true which is barely 
possible to be true ? How many absurd things should 1 then 
believe ! For there are many things that possibly may be, 
which yet it would be a very great absurdity to believe are in 
reality. It is a known rule, that of things that appear not, 
nor exist, the same esteem is to be had. If then it no way ap 
pears, or however appears not to me, that I am a lover of 
God ; with what confidence can I pretend to it, or say that I 
am so? 

2. It is to be considered that it is a most natural thing to 
men to be very indulgent to themselves, and to think that of 
themselves, which none would think or imagine but themselves. 


It is natural to every wicked man to " flatter himself in his 
own eyes, until his wickedness be found out to be hateful." 
Ps. 36'. 2. Thus says the Psalmist, "The transgression of 
the wicked saith within my heart," that is, suggests to me, 
" that there is no fear of God before his eyes." Ps. 36. 1 . 
And truly this does as effectually speak or declare, that he hath 
not the love of God in him ; yet at the same time he flatters 
himself, as it there follows, in his own eyes, till the matter 
comes to be plainly observable to every eye. Hence it may be 
very well understood, how it comes to pass that men are so apt 
to judge themselves any thing, which it would be horrid for 
them not to be thought to be, only from the kindness they 
have to themselves. For how horrid is it for any man to ad 
mit himself to be no lover of God ! Therefore he must needs 
think himself such, or affirm that as true, which it were a 
horrid thing to confess and avow to be false. And so, up 
on the matter, their love to God depends upon, and runs 
into nothing else, but a partial and fond love to them 

3. They should consider how obvious the mistake is, to 
take a conviction of conscience in this case for an affection of 
the .heart. That is, because they are convinced that it is a 
very reasonable and fit thing to love God, therefore they con 
clude, that they do love him. But how most irrational is the 
conclusion ! They may as well conclude their approbation of 
any thing else, to be the possession of the thing itself. For 
instance, that they are rich, because they approve of riches ; 
or that they are in very good health, because they approve of a 
sound habit of body. It is plain that this is all which the most 
can say, as to the bottom of their pretence. They have no 
thing at all in them, like the love of God, but only this con 
viction of conscience, that it is fit he should be loved. Of this 
there is a necessary and unavoidable approbation imposed upon 
their judgment, from the evidence of the thing itself. And 
as all men are convinced, that the obligation is indispensable, 
therefore they are willing to take it for granted, that they have 
the love of God in them. 

4. It follows, as another thing to be considered, that if the 
love of God in itself be really a distinct thing, and different 
from such a conviction, then their love to him is reduced to 
nothing : for it is really nothing, distinguished from such a 
conviction, or apprehension in their own minds. And under a 
notion of its being an affection of a finer kind and nature than 
to be obvious to common observation, they have refined it 
quite away, even into a mere nothing. For doth not every 


man's own sense tell him, that the love of tins or that 
thing, is quite another thing than a mental approbation of it ? 
Or may not I be convinced in my judgment of the excellencies 
of one,' TO whom I have yet a settled aversion in my heart? 
How many cannot endure such persons, of whom upon con 
viction they cannot say they are not excellent men ? And cer 
tainly it will put every sober considerer of this state of the case 
upon qiiite new thoughts, when we shall find he is not able to 
tell, what the thing Is, that he calls love to God, if it must 
be distinguished from the mere conviction of the reasonableness 
of it. 

5. It is also to be considered, that since love to God, if it 
he any where, is to be discerned and felt, and must be a ruling 
principle ; it is then a most absurd imagination, that such a 
principle should be in men, of which they have no perception. 
For is it not absurd, that a principle, which is to have the 
conduct of a man's life, and so very great power in and over 
him in his whole course, should yet be neither discernible, nor 
felt ? Indeed there are many thoughts and motions that stir 
in our minds, of which we take very little notice ; nor can we 
in a little time say positively, whether we have such a thought 
or no. But that a principle, which runs through the univer 
sal course of a man's life, and which of all things should most 
frequently come under his notice, should yet be neither felt 
nor perceived by him, is the most unimaginable of all things 
we can conceive of. Therefore those who have so hastily pro-, 
nounced themselves to be lovers of God, and yet never felt any 
thing by which this love is to be discerned, are besought to think 
again, to allow the cause a rehearing, to take it into new 
consideration, and not run away with a groundless conceit 
that they are what it so much concerns them actually to be, 
while they are only so in their own fancies and imagina 

II. I now come to the next sort, namely, those who are apt 
to judge themselves wholly destitute of sincere love to God, 
because they do not find those passionate motions of it towards 
him, as they do towards many inferior objects. And there 
are sundry considerations, which will be very requisite to be 
weighed in this ease too. As, 

1 . That certainly the actual exercise of love towards Go(J 
may be often intermitted, when an habitual propension of heart 
towards him doth remain. The soul may frequently be put 
beside the direct acts, and exercke of this duty ; and yet that 
virtue and principle, which hath touched their hearts, and by 
gracious vouchsafement is seated there, may still habitually 


incline them the same way. As the needle touched with the 
load-stone, is frequently diverted from its direct tendency 
towards the north ; for being moved it shakes and quivers, and 
hath its various vibrations this way and that, yet there is a vir 
tue in it that will bring and reduce it to the right point again. 
Therefore it is not this, or that act of love towards God, that 
gives the denomination ; but the habitual propension, and 
bent of the heart. A man then is to be esteemed a lover of 
God, according as his heart stands habitually propense to him. 
But if the denomination depend upon this, or the other act ; 
then a man would cease to be a lover of God, as often as he 
loveth, or thinketh of any one else, or is diverted from it 
by this or that though never so necessary an occasion. And 

2. It is very necessary, that we consider the act and the 
passion of love as very distinguishable, or different things. 
The act of love in a reasonable intelligent creature, is nothing' 
else but the complacential motion of the will towards this or 
that object, that is apprehended amiable, or worthy to be lov 
ed. The passion of love is the impression made by an object, 
upon the animal and vital spirits of the brain and heart, which, 
being sensible, are reflected upon, and by many are taken no 
tice of (through a great mistake) as if the very notion and being 
of love was placed there. Whereas the whole entire nature of 
divine love is separable from that passion, and may be without 
it; otherwise if passion were of the essence of love, it were 
altogether impossible, that the separate soul should be capa 
ble of loving God, or any thing else. This is a mere accident 
to our love, and a result that depends upon our present union 
with the body ; which body is essentially necessary, neither 
to our soul, nor to our love, for both may be without it. And 

3. That those acts which are performed, as I may call It, 
in the upper region of the soul, and which are more pecu 
liar to its intellectual nature, are as truly discernible, as the 
passions .are which rebound upon, and affect the body. The 
acts of the mind, and of the will, are no more imperceptible 
than the passions ; and it is as possible for me to be able to 
discern and feel the former, as the latter. Cannot I as well 
tell that t think such a thought, if I do think it ; that 1 intend 
and purpose such a thing, if I do really entertain in my heart 
such a resolution, as> that I feel the motions that affect my 
outward man ? If therefore a person with a practical judgment 
esteems the blessed God to be his highest and best good, and 
accordingly chooses him as such, and settles this resolution in 


his own soul, saying, " This God shall be my God, my best 
and supreme Good, here will 1 seek my felicity, and take up 
my rest, and to him will I be an entirely devoted one for ever;" 
in this person certainly lies the substance and essence of love. 
And is not tin's perceptible ? are not such acts as these capa 
ble of being reflected on, and taken notice of, if men would 
but more frequently turn their eyes inward, and habituate 
themselves to converse with themselves ? But I further 

4. That most certain it is, that during our abode in the body, 
the affections of the soul have more intimately an influence upon 
it. Such is the close and mysterious union between these two 
natures of flesh arid spirit ; that the influences between the one 
and the other are reciprocal. And therefore it is that the very 
temper or complexion of our souls doth so naturally, some way 
or other, represent itself in the outward man, as that it is very 
difficult, almost impossible, to hide and conceal what are the 
sentiments of our spirits upon certain occasions. Whence it 
hath grown into a maxim, vultus est index animi : that the 
face is the. character of the mind. Heii, guam difficile est 
crimen non prodere vultu ! How hard is it for a man not 
to betray guilt in his countenance, if he has the sense 
of it in his own mind and heart ! And therefore we should 
consider with ourselves, how our affections work towards God ; 
even according to the usual way, wherein human affections are 
wont to shew and discover themselves. For I add, 

5. That even spiritual, holy affections, such as respect the 
invisible God, and other invisible objects, do frequently so work 
in those pious souls in whom they are, as to make very great 
and deep impressions upon the body, and are accompanied 
with such passionate expressions, as are discernible, even to 
the inferior senses which belong to the animal nature. Let pas 
sages of Scripture to this purpose be looked into. How was 
the Psalmist affected and wrought..upon by one affection towards 
God, when he tells us, " My flesh trembleth for fear of thee, 
and I am afraid of thy judgments." Ps. 119. 120. There is 
a proportion between fear and love, in this case. As for love, 
the same devout Psalmist says, " My soul thirsteth for thee, 
O God ! yea my flesh longeth for thee." Ps. 63. 1 . And again, 
"My heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God." Ps. 84. 
2. Now these are not to be understood as mere rhetorical 
strains ; for indeed they are not so, but do plainly carry this 
signification with them, that though the flesh be more imme 
diately incapable of desire, of thirsting, and longing after God, 
whereof the soul alone is primarily capable, yet, mediately,. 


the flesh partakes thereof. That is, the heart and soul did so 
much long after God, that the flesh was affected and bore the 
impression of that vehement desire, which was in the soul, as 
in its original and proper scat. We are therefore to consider, 
that even the more passionate workings of love towards God are 
very agreeable to that kind of affection, which in respect to 
the object, and principle of it, is spiritual and divine. And 

6. It must further be added, that if persons be very apt to be 
passionately affected in other kinds, and towards other objects, 
but do always find themselves dull, and insensible of such mo 
tions towards God and invisible things, they have a great deal 
of reason to suspect themselve.s to be under a very bad distem 
per. Indeed, when persons are equally, and alike, unapt to 
feel such passionate lesentments in their hearts towards any 
kind of objects, the matter is quite otherwise. But if they can, 
ordinarily say, "I feel my love to work towards the creature, a 
relation, or other amiable objects in this and that passionate 
manner ; but 1 can feel no love working towards God," they 
are far from being in a good condition . They have, at least, 
a good deal of reason to suspect, that a distemper prevails 
upon them. Their love languisheth, and needs re-enforcement; 
and they ought not to content themselves to have the matter 
so, as if it were a case to be approved of, and that needed no 
redress. But yet again, 

7. We must consider, that tempers are very carefully to be 
distinguished. The temper of some men's minds is more 
composed, according as the bodily temper is more fixed, and 
their natural spirits are less volatile. Hence some are of a 
more even deportment to every object, even to the observation 
of others, and seldom are seen to be exalted, or depressed, 
whatever occurenoes happen to them in the course of their 
lives. They are not often seen, it may be, either to weep or 
laugh, to be either remarkably sad or cheerful. And grace, or 
this holy affection wherever it is in its subject, is somewhat 
conform to the natural temper of the person ; as water pour 
ed into a vessel, resembleth the form of that vessel. If the 
vessel be round, then it resembles a round figure ; if triangu^ 
lar, then it resembles a triangular figure. So 1 say grace and 
holy affections, where they are, resemble their subject, and 
receive in some sense a likeness and conformity to it, so as not 
to change the natural temper of the mind. Indeed the great 
business of the grace of God is to influence men as to morals, 
and not as to naturals. Therefore it were an unreasonable 
thing for any one to make himself a measure to all other per- 

112 03* THE LOVE OF GOD (SER. XJ. 

sons, how much soever they differ in temper from him. Or 
that any one should make another such a standard to himself, 
that however it be with him as to his natural temper, he must 
be just such as others are ; which is equally to aim at a thing 
both unnecessary and impossible. Further, 

8. We must warily distinguish between the exercise of 
love upon extraordinary, and sudden occasions, and such as 
are common and less surprising. As you know one may con 
verse daily among the nearest relatives, and never feel any dis 
cernible pang of affection working towards them, as one docs 
to an object that suddenly appears. This proceeds from fre 
quency and familiarity with them; when possibly the very same 
. person would be in a transport upon the sudden and unexpect 
ed sight of the face of a friend, whom he had not seen for 
many years before. Now this is not inconsiderable as to our 
present case. It may be thus with many persons, who do not 
feel such a passionate pang of love towards persons, they daily 
converse with, as they do towards others, at the sight of whom 
they are surprised : yet notwithstanding this their love may be 
far dearer, and habitually much more strong to- those relations 
whom they daily converse with, as occasions when administer 
ed abundantly shew ; that is, they would do more for them, 
and be more deeply concerned if they saw them in distress, 
pain, and anguish. They would with much more regret en 
dure separation from them, or take their deaths much more 
impatiently ; which things shew their affections to be habitual 
ly much stronger, though upon sudden occasions, or in a cer 
tain juncture, they may work much more observably. And 
thus it may possibly be with some persons, who walk more 
evenly in their spirits before God. They have it may be fewer 
transports than others, who are of such uneven spirits, that the 
sight of God is often a new thing to them. They have him, 
less frequently out of sight, and are daily more conversant 
with him, and therefore are not subject to such violent emotions 
of mind. And if we compare these together, certainly we can 
never think, that there is a greater excellency in that temper 
which subjects a man, now and then, to higher transports of 
spiritual and divine affection, than in that temper of spirit, 
which is more steadily determined to a continual course of 
walking with God, in whom there is also an habitual compla 

Lastly, Tin's is further to he considered, that if at any time 
one would try the sincerity of one's heart towards God, it is 
much more clearly to be evinced by the influence this hath on 
a man's life, than by the passionate or sensible impression* 


made upon the body. I say, we have a far surer evidence of 
our love to God, from the influence it has to govern and 
manage the course of our lives, than from all the passionate 
emotions, and resentments we may feel in the inferior parts of 
the outward man. Suppose such raptures, and transports, and 
ecstatical motions, as are very strange, and not without their de 
lectation and pleasure : alas ! these signify hut little towards 
the evincing of true sincere love to God, in comparison of a 
stable course of living under his government, as persons who 
are beyond all things loath to offend and displease him. If you 
seek an evidence of the truth of your love to God, take this ; 
"If ye love me keep my commandments." John 14. 15. And 
again, " This is the love of God, that we keep his command 
ments." 1 John 5. 3. Though we must take heed here of 
thinking, as was formerly said, that the external effect is suf 
ficient without the principle ; or that a course of obedience, in 
outward acts, to the rules set before us, will do the business, 
though there be nothing of the principle of the love of God in 
us. But take these in connexion, the principle with the ef 
fect, and they are a great deal more pungent demonstrations of 
love, than mere transports of extraordinary affection, now and 
then, are. Agreeably to which our Lord says, " 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 manifest myself unto him." John 14. 21. 
And again, as it afterwards follows, "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 we should take heed of putting too much upon the 
mere matter of passionate love in this case ; unless, as we 
said before, it be manifestly discernable, that we can be pas 
sionately affected to any other kind of objects, while we find 
a stupidity, and dulness upon us, with respect to those, which 
are spiritual and divine. Therefore lay the great stress always 
here : " What doth the love, I pretend to, signify as to the 
conduct of my life ? Do I live as a lover of God ? as if it 
were an ungrateful matter to me, above all things, to displease 
him ? as that I study, by all means possible, to maintain an 
intercourse of union, and communion between him and me ? 
Is it such a love as makes his honour dear to me, so that I am 
above all things concerned not to disgrace the name which I 
bear, or be a reproach to him to whom I profess a relation ? 
Is there such a principle in me as makes distance from God a 
wearisome thing ? And would I fain be nearer to him daily, 



more acquainted with him, more conformed to him, and 
changed into his divine image and likeness ?" If this is the 
influence that love to God hath upon our lives, it is the evi 
dence, it is the thing, if any thing can be so, that must prove 
and demonstrate to ourselves the sincerity of our love. 


T/fjTE have already in the preceding discourse offered sundry 
considerations to those, who are apt to take it for grant 
ed that they are lovers of God, though they never really dis 
cerned any motion of love to him in their hearts at all ; or who 
fondly imagine that the conviction of their judgment in this 
matter, is to be taken for the affection of the heart. We have 
also spoken in several particulars to another sort, who suspect 
they are no true lovers of God, and are many times ready 
to conclude so ; because their love to him is not so fer 
vent and passionate as they think it ought to be. And 

III. We come to the third sort that we have to do with, to, 
wit, those who are apt to censure other persons, merely upon 
this account ; because they make profession of such a fervent 
love to God, as they themselves are altogether strangers to. 
All expressions of such a fervent passionate love to God fall 
under a suspicious censure, and accusation from these men. 
As for instance, they charge all such expressions of love with 
hypocrisy, or with enthusiasm : thinking it proceeds from, no 
thing else but a fantastic representation of the object they pre- 

* Preached November 8, 


tend to love ; or else, they resolve it all into the temper of the 
body, and say it owes itself to nothing else but to such or such 
a crasis, a present habit and temperature, or a freer circula 
tion of the blood, and quicker agitation of certain brisk and 
agile spirits. And thus they think that a mechanical account 
is to be given of all such kind of affections ; and that whoso 
ever well understands the structure of the brain, or the 
nature of the spleen, and hypochondria, and the various 
twistings of the nerves about the veins and arteries, may 
very well be able to give a good account of all such kind of 

1 . Now as to the first of these, to wit, the charge of hypo 
crisy, we must allow (as there will be further occasion to 
evince hereafter when we come to the last doctrine) that if 
any do pretend to such a love to God, and join with it an im 
moral conversation, there is a great deal of reason for the 
charge ; and in such a case we must fall in with the accuser 
and say the same. But if this charge be fastened upon persons, 
whose walk and conversation is sober and just, we have then 
everal things to say to it. As 

(1 .) It is a most uncharitable censure to say that all pretence 
to a more fervent and vehement love to God, is for this very 
reason hypocritical. I wonder why so ? Does not this seem 
to say, that there can be no such thing as a real, and fervent 
love to God ? This is surely a very strange accusation, at once 
without warrant, and against the express law of charity, which 
requires us to " think no evil." 1 Cor. 13. 5. And it is an 
essential character of it to be absolutely disinclined to take up 
an evil surmise, or bad thoughts of any one, where there is 
not a very manifest and apparent cause. 

(2.) The charge is most unreasonable. There is not the 
least ground for such a censure, supposing the persons to be 
in the main of a sober, just, and unexceptionable deportment 
among men. Of such it may most unrighteously be said, that 
they are hypocrites, while they pretend to love God. But how 
will you prove your charge ? by what medium will you 
make it out, that all pretences of love to God, by such 
persons, are hypocritical ? And surely that is most un 
reasonable censure, for which no reason can be given. 

(3.) Such a charge or accusation must needs proceed from 
a most idle and pragmatic temper. For these censurers shew 
themselves to be vain busy-bodies, who meddle out of their 
own province. But what have they to do to judge the hearts of 
other men ? That is a province they have nothing at all to do 
in. What is it then but a vain pragmatic humour that prompts 


them to meddle in a sphere wherein they have no concern ? 
" Who art thou," saith the Scripture, " that judgest another 
man's servant ? to his own master he standeth or falleth". Rom. 
14. 4. Nay, 

(4.) It is to be guilty of the most insolent presumption; for 
it is to encroach upon the prerogative of God, to whom alone 
it belongs to search, and judge the heart. Who are they that 
take upon them to judge one another? {( We must all appear be 
fore the judgment seat of Christ." Rom. 14. 10. Whoever they 
are that do judge so, they subject themselves to the judgment 
f God. Therefore says our Lord, " Judge not, that ye be 
not judged." Matt. / ! That is, in effect, if you judge 
so at random, and where you have nothing to do, you 
shall know what judging means, when you shall be judged 

(5 .) I would further say, by way of question, Pray what 
is the thing you find fault with in this case ? Is it this love 
itself, or is it the appearance of it ? Sure it will not be said, it 
is the love itself. Who would be so impudently profane as to 
say, it is a crime to love God ? or that such love is criminal, 
when it is warm and vehement ? as if it were possible to love 
God too much. Sure this will never be said by those who con 
sider that we are required to " love him with all our heart, and 
with all our soul, and with all our mind." Matt. 22. 37 
And besides, this were to make the accusation t6 contradict 
itself; for whensoever the charge of hypocrisy is alleged 
against anyone, the thing pretended to is implied to be good 
and commendable. 

Or is it the appearance of such love that is found fault with? 
That is just the same thing as to find fault with the sun for 
shining. It is true, all discovery of this or any other excel 
lency whatsoever ought to be modest, and sober ; most remote 
from any thing of boasting or vain-glorious ostentation, than 
which, in such a case as this, nothing in all the world can be 
more fulsome. But what ! should a man be ashamed to be 
come, and appear an earnest lover of God ? Was the Psalmist 
shy of appearing so, when he again and again avowed it with 
so much solemnity ? .when he made professions of his love to 
God, which he designed, and no doubt knew would be record 
ed to all future times ? And the noble personage whom we 
spoke of before, was he ashamed to have it recorded, that he 
was such a one's friend ? It is so remarkable that we cannot 
look over a page in the book of Psalms, but we shall find some 
or other expression now made public to the world, of an avow 
ed love to God. tc 1 love the Lord," says he, '* because he 


hath heard my voice and my supplications." Ps. 11G. 1. And 
again, "I will love thee, O Lord my strength." 18. 1. The 
word there used is most emphatically expressive of the most ve 
hement, ardent, fervent love. " I will love thee from my very 
bowels -" And what ! is this a. thing for a man to be ashamed 
of? to profess himself an earnest lover of God, if indeed he 
is so. He only has reason to be ashamed of saying he is so, 
who is not so in reality. But J say further, 

(6.) That this same accusation is hypocritical. It carries 
the most palpable hypocrisy in it ; for it is manifest that such 
persons do only pretend to be angry at the pretence of love to 
God ; when it plainly appears they are angry that the love of 
God should really be in any one. And this is easy to be made 
out. For do not all men generally profess love to God ? Now 
they are not angry with those that profess, but love him not. 
But what religion is there without love ? and whoever profes 
ses religion, does consequently profess love to God. But let 
them make it appear by their practice, that their profession is 
but a mockery, that they do but say, "Hail!" and strike at the 
divine Majesty at the same time ; let them I say with their 
pretence of religion, or love to God, but join some practical 
signification that they are not in good earnest, and they please 
well enough, no fault is found with them. 

So that it is very plain the fault they are bent against is not 
hypocrisy, but sincerity. They are angry that there is any 
such thing as sincere love to God in the world. Therefore as 
Plato said to the Cynic, who trod upon a fine bed of his, and 
cried out, " I tread on Plato's pride," that he the Cynic dis 
covered greater pride by this action ; so we may say to these 
men who accuse professors of love to God, with hypocrisy, that 
it is with more hypocrisy. It is not the mere pretence of love 
to God, that they intend to accuse, as supposing it false, or 
that there is no such thing, but because they really suspect 
it is true. They think that such men have that in them, which 
they have not, and therefore they pass a kind of judgment upon 
them in their own consciences. This they cannot endure ; 
and since they would fain malign them in their report, therefore 
they would do it as plausible as they can, and are more witty 
than to say, they censure them for loving truly, but for pre 
tending to it falsely. But then again 

2 . The affection of this kind is by some charged with en 
thusiasm. " If (say they) there be any such affection, it is 
altogether enthusiastic. It owes itself entirely to the fantasti 
cal representation of the object, and so can have nothing sin 
cere, or genuine belonging to it." To this, I say, 


(1 .) Why so ? why must it needs be thought enthusiastical ? 
What ! because it is more than ordinarily vehement or fervent ? 
as if no sober exercise or expression of love to God could 
be so. And we know too, though I lay very little stress upon 


(2.) That the name of enthusiasm hath sometimes had a 
gentler sound than now it hath ; since the E/*7muro', and 
phrases signifying inspiration from God, are so frequently to be 
found in the writings of Plato, and others of the philosophers. 
And yet they were never twitted as enthusiasts, nor treated as 
if that name carried any thing of evil signification, or the im 
port of a bad character in it. But 

(3.) Why should it be wondered at that there should be ex 
pressions of love to God which import great fervour and in- 
tenseness ; since we know that such as have been professedly 
related and devoted to God heretofore, and of whom Scrip 
ture-records give us an account, have been all along very full 
of such expressions ? What would they think of such expres 
sions as these of David ? "I opened my mouth, and panted ; 
for I longed for thy commandments," Ps. 119. 131. "My 
soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments 
at all times." ver. 20. "Oh how love I thy holy law !" ver. 97. 
" As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my 
soul after thee, OGod." 42. 1. Yea we find that there have 
been such appearances, and expressions obvious to view, of 
this divine spiritual affection, that have incurred the censure 
of insanity ; and yet they have been reckoned a glory. Thus it 
was with David, who when he was censured for dancing be 
fore the Lord, answers, " I will play before the Lord, 1 will 
yet be more vile, &c." 2 Sam 6. 21. 22. And says the apostle, 
" Whether we be besides ourselves it is to God ; or whether 
we be sober it is for your cause : for the love of Christ con- 
straineth us." 2 Cor. 5. 13, 14. It is very likely he speaks 
here with reference to the censure of those false teachers, with 
whom you find him conflicting in that very chapter; as very 
frequently he does in both the epistles to the Corinthians, and 
also in others. They perhaps went about to represent him as 
a wild enthusiast ; as one that was acted by an enthusiastical 
fury. Therefore he speaks according to their sense. Admit 
it, be it so; If I be really besides myself as they talk; it is the 
love of Christ which constrains me ! He thinks himself not at 
all disparaged in the case. But I further say, 

(4 ) I make little doubt but many do attribute too much to 
rapture, and ecstatic motions and transports of otherwise pious 
love. 1 refer therefore to what was said under a foregoing head, 


especially to that distinction which was given you of the act, 
and of the passion of love, which are not only distinguish 
able, but sometimes plainly separable things. There may be 
very intense love, very strong and mighty love, where there 
is nothing of passion felt. This is a thing altogether acciden 
tal to the nature of love, which may be diverse and dis 
tinct from passion ; otherwise there would be no such thing 
as loving God at all in any other way. And we must further 

(5.) That no doubt it is a very great fault to frame repre 
sentations and ideas of God, and of divine things in our minds 
by the use of a liberty indulged to our own fancy and imagina 
tion, if therein we go beyond, or besides the warrant of his 
own revelation. And even there too we must be very careful, 
when we find God representing himself, or other matters of a 
divine and spiritual nature under borrowed expressions or si 
militudes, that we mind the thing that is to be represented, 
and held forth to us, and that we drain and defecate it from all 
the dregs of materiality, which belong to the metaphor; other 
wise we may be greatly injurious, more than we are aware of, 
both to the divine honour, and to ourselves. 

Too many do greatly gratify the luxury of their fancies in 
such cases. We read of one, but very likely there may be 
rnore instances than one, I say we read of one, a popish female 
saint, who pretended in vision to such a communion with our 
Saviour, that forsooth she took upon her to describe him ; 
what sort of eyes he had, and what kind of features ; and pre 
tended to be most passionately enamoured of him. And per 
haps there are too many over-prone to frame imaginations con 
cerning the Deity, altogether unworthy of, and disagreeable 
to that glorious and ever-blessed Being ; and having thereup 
on formed such and such ideas of him in their own minds, 
are variously affected according to the import of the idea about 
him. For instance, those of very melancholy tempers are apt 
to frame ideas altogether unlike God, and such as render him 
in their eyes a dreadful, and hateful object. Or if the idea be 
such as imports loveliness ; yet if it be fantastical, and an af 
fection of love be raised thereupon, it is most plain and evi 
dent that such a person is all the while but hugging his owa 
shadow, and entertaining himself with an empty cloud, or an 
idol of his own forming. And 1 do not know wherein he is, 
less guilty, than in falling down before an image. When we- 
do in our own fancies create a God to ourselves, and an ex-i 
traordinary motion of affection is working towards it, in one 
kind er another, it is our own creature that we are all this 


while entertaining ourselves with, and not God. Therefore 
we ought to take heed that our apprehensions of things be 
scriptural and regular ; such as that light which shines in 
God's word, or that clear flame which reason, when it argues 
according to the word of God, doth give us. Otherwise we 
are mere idolaters, while we imagine that we have only com 
placency in doing homage to God. But I add, 

Lastly, That the most regular, true, and rational appre 
hensions of God, do give ground for the most fervent and ve 
hement love of him that is possible. And therefore it is a very 
foolish, idle thing, to charge love to God with being enthusi- 
astical merely because it is fervent. For though it be such as 
answers truly, it can never answer fully such apprehensions of 
the object, as are agreeable to God, and such as God's own 
revelation gives ground and warrant for. Certainly there is no 
warrant to say that there is any thing of enthusiasm in such a 
pretence as this. There is no need that any such exorbitant 
digressions and excursions should be made to by-ways of re 
presenting God to ourselves, that so he may be amiable and 
lovely in our eyes. A true, and right apprehension of him, 
that is most agreeable to the Object itself, and his revelation, 
s the best and truest ground of the strongest and most ve 
hement love. And certainly to a sober Christian, a fantas 
tical representation of a divine object will rather greatly 
cool and check his love, than contribute to the heat of it. 

3. Such an affection, as we are speaking of, is by others 
resolved into the temper and disposition of the bodily humours ; 
or the various structure of our frame, and the freer motion of 
the blood and animal spirits. And to this also it is, 

(1.) To be acknowledged that there is undoubtedly verv 
much truth in the matter so far as that the affection may be the 
more intense, and exercised with a more sensible vigour, ac 
cording as the body is so and so disposed, or as the habit of it 
is at that time. 

(2.) Do not we also know that there are pious men of all 
tempers and constitutions of body ? and is not every man the 
more pious, by how much the more he is a lover of God ? 

(3.) Admit that bodily tempers signify any thing in this 
matter, that is, in the present exercise of the affections in ge 
neral, what is to be inferred ? Will it follow, that such an 
affection as this, in which the blood and spirits may be so and 
so concerned, hath therefore nothing spiritual and divine in 
it ? which way should that follow ? Why is it not as apprehen- 


sible, that divine and spiritual love may run in the same 
natural channel, and follow the same common course of 
operations with other love, as that wine and water may al 
ternately flow through the same conduit pipes ? Or why 
should it be more unreasonable and absurd, that divine and 
spiritual love should exert itself by the same corporeal or 
gans with love of another kind, as having the same seat and 
subject, the faculties of the soul ? 1 hope it is not one faculty 
in the soul that common love hath its seat in, and another fa 
culty that divine love hath its seat in. Why should it be ne 
cessary there should be other internal organs for divine than, 
for common love, more than other external ones ? Why may 
not divine love run the same course with common love in the 
respect that hath been mentioned ? And why may not that be 
promoted, in its bent and exertions, by a brisk and quick agi 
tation of the vital and animal spirits ? What great inconveni 
ence is there in this ? Or what greater necessity is there for it 
to be otherwise, than there is for a man to have one pair of 
hands to do his common business, and another to lift up to God 
in prayer ? May not a man speak of God or of divine things, 
and of other matters with the same tongue ? and may not the 
same eyes which serve to read the Bible, serve to read any 
other book ? But this carries more of folly, and foolery 
at the bottom, than to deserve more words to be said about 

Therefore to wind up all, Will we severally resolve, upon 
all that hat!) been at so many times discoursed to you upon this 
subject, namely, the love of an unseen God, are we I say 
resolved to apply ourselves in good earnest to the exercise and 
practice of it ? It is a very dismal thing, if all our hearing at 
such times and occasions as these are, must be for nothing else, 
hut only to give the ear a present pleasure. Or that we must 
take such an opportunity as this to meet together, only to see 
one another's faces, without ever minding to lay up a stock, 
and to add to a treasure of that light and grace, that may ac 
tually influence our future course. Certainly we should be 
most inexcusable persons, if after all this we should make as 
little conscience of the actual frequent exercise of love to God 
as heretofore. If any that have heard so much of this matter, 
shall go hereafter from day to day, and have reason to say, 
''This clay I have not loved God at all, I do not know there 
has ever been a pleasant thought of him," and so indulge 
themselves in the liberty of running on in this course, it will 
not admit of being said all this hath been to no purpose. For 
it will certainly be found to have been to some purpose, but to 
a sad and dismal one, when the day comes, that every one 

VOL. vi. R 


must be judged according to the light they had. And the word 
that hath been spoken to those that live under the Gospel is 
that by which they must be. judged. 

Let us bethink ourselves, What is our life, if love run not 
tli rough it ? if a vein of love to God be not carried through the 
course of it ? Alas, without this, life is but a dream, and all 
our religion but a fancy ! What do such assemblies as these 
signify ! What a cold pitiful business is it, for so many of us 
to come together, if no love to God stir among us ! We pre 
tend to come to a God, whom we do not love. What a pitiful 
account can we give of our coming together, if this be all ! 
The shew, and shadow of a duty ! a holy flourish ! and that 
is all. This, I say is all, if the love of God do not animate 
our worship. 

We cannot pretend to doubt whether God ought to be loved 
or no. It is a plain indisputable case. There are a great many 
things in religion, that are matter of doubt and disputation, 
and many things are made so more than need. And truly I 
take this occasion to say, it is no wonder there is so little love 
of God, and of true, living religion \ because there is so much 
unnecessary disputing about the formalities of religion. It is 
a very sad and dreadful contemplation to think of, that so many 
persons can make the matters of religion a topic barely to please 
themselves with. If they can but toss an argument, cavil, and 
contend about this or that matter, then they are enamoured 
with, and highly applaud themselves, as if they could do some 
great thing in the business of religion ; but all this while, and 
even by these very means, the love of God, and all practical 
religion vanishes. These things have exhausted, and wasted the 
strength, spirits, and vigour of religion itself, and made it 
look so languidly, and become so pitiful a thing as it is grown 
to be in our days ; so that professors are now but the spectres, 
and umbrae of christians, mere skeletons. They are so in 
comparison of what christians were in former days, when every 
one might discern that in their behaviour, which might justly 
make them cry out, Aye ! these are heavenly persons indeed ! 
Heaven was seen in their converse, and all savoured of love to 
God. The Lord knoweth to what degree our religion is dege 
nerated, and what it is like to come to at last ! 

And let us consider with ourselves, that we fill up our days 
tvith calamities, and make our souls desolate, and forlorn ; we 
involve ourselves in all manner of miseries by estranging our 
selves from God, and not living in the actual exercise of love to 

Moreover let us consider that we are not always to live in 


this world. A dying hour doth expect us. We are hovering 
upon the brink of the grave. And what ! is it a good prepara 
tion for death to live strangers to God, as long as we live in 
this world ? Oh ! with what horror must that thought strike a 
man in a dying hour, when his own heart shall tell him, "Thou 
hast not lived in the love of God !" Dare we, can we think, 
have we, I say, the conHdence to think of going to God at 
length ! to one that we have never loved, and to whom we 
have lived strangers all our days. But, oh blessed preparation 
for death ! when a man shall be able, under the expectation of 
expiring his last breath, to reflect and say, that his life hath 
been a continual walk with God. How easy a death must that 
man die ! Death conveys him to no stranger, to no unknown 
presence ; to die, in regard to him, is but to know that Being 
better, whom he knew before ; and to love him better whom 
he loved before ; and to have those enjoyments improved in 
degree, with the nature and kind of which he had a former ac 

Let us then be serious, and in good earnest in this business ; 
and know, we can never do any thing to purpose in it, if we 
labour not to have our spirits more entirely abstracted from the 
world. Alas ! do we think we can serve two masters, God 
and the world ? If we love the one, we shall despise the other ; 
for as our Lord tells us,* we cannot love both. How often 
should these monitory, these weighty and wounding words be 
thought of, by them, whom they more especially concern ? 
"If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in 
him." I John 2. 15. Therefore saith the apostle, "Love 
not the world, neither the things that are in the world." And 
is not this a cutting word of our Saviour's to the Jews, "I know 
you, that you have not the love of God in yourf And would 
we be branded for such ? We had need then to watch the more 
strictly over ourselves, when we have to do with the affairs of 
this world, that our spirits be not ruffled, nor suffer a discom 
posure by the amusements of sensible things, or the variety of 
occurrences and affairs that we meet with in this our earthly 

* Matt. 6. 24. f JohnS. 42. See a moving discourse on these 
words by the Author in Vol. II. p. 481. entitled, A Sermon 
directing what we are to do, after a strict inquiry, whether or no 
we truly love God ? It is only one single discourse out of seven or 
eight upon the same subject ; and seems to have been published 
without his full consent, on account of the great impressions it had 
made upon the audience. 


Constant watchfulness, and much dependance upon God, 
and having him still before our eyes, would he a great help to 
us in this matter. It might make you wonder to hear, what 
some have professed to have attained unto, who were not of 
your religion. For instance, we are told of a nobleman of a 
foreign country, a romanist, who professed to have had such 
times, that when he passed along the streets of Paris, where 
continual diversions might easily have disturbed him, and could 
scarce be imagined to do otherwise, his soul was so taken up 
with God as to be no more moved, than if he had been in a 
desert. And Seneca himself, a pagan, writing a letter to his 
friend says to this purpose ; for I remember not the very words, 
nor have lately seen the book. " You write to me to give you 
an account how I passed yesterday. Truly you have a very 
good opinion of me, to think I so pass a day as to be able to 
give you an account of what took it up. But since you desire 
it I will tell you. My window opens to the theatre, where 
are all the shews, and the noise and clamour that you well 
know the theatrical sports carry with them. Why (saith he) 
all these things (so much have 1 been taken up with divine 
matters) have no more moved me, than the whistling of the 
wind among the leaves of the trees in a wood &c." 

These things that I mention should be upbraiding to us, 
that we so little mind our spirits, and inward man, with the 
operative motions, and reflections thereof, and never look after 
a composed spirit, that is employed in minding God and taken 
up with the exercise of his love, through the worldly affairs and 
occurrences we meet with here. If we would do any thing to 
purpose in the exercise of love to God ; if we would not be as 
those, that busy themselves about trifles ; like the pharisaical 
hypocrites whom our Saviour speaks of, who were so zealous 
in tithing of mint, anise, and cummin, that in the mean while 
they forgot judgment, and mercy and the love of God ; I say, 
if we would not be like them, but would do any thing to pur 
pose, there must be times set apart for us to quit the world, 
with the torturing and distracting thoughts thereof, and let us 
labour to do it so totally as to forget that there is any thing in it 
but God, and misery. 

SER. xni.) 




E have largely insisted upon a twofold truth from these 
words, and told you, 

FIRST, That there is a greater difficulty of living in the ex 
ercise of love to God than towards man, upon this account, 
that he is not the object of sight as man is. And 

SECONDLY, That our obligation to the love of God is most 
indispensable, notwithstanding that we see him not ; or, that 
the impossibility of seeing God, is no excuse for our not loving 
him. There is yet another point which remains to be consider 
ed, and which was at first proposed with the former ; and 
that is 

THIRDLY, That they do most falsely, and absurdly pretend 
to the love of an unseen God, who love not their brother whom 
they do see. This point is full and direct in the eye of the 

It is manifest the apostle speaks here upon the notice he had 
taken, that there were some persons of very high pretensions 
to religion, and the love of God, who were yet manifestly and 
notoriously defective in the exercise and expression of love 
towards men, and even towards their fcllow-christians. And 

* Preached November 15, l(5/6\ 


lie counts it therefore necessary to cast a slur upon that empty 
kind of profession, and to give a dash unto that spacious fancy 
and gilded nothing of a pretence to the love of God, disjoined 
or severed from that other branch of love, namely, that towards 
men. In speaking to this it will be requisite to do these 
three things, in order to the rendering this truth more capable 
of belief. 

I. To shew in what extent, or with what limitations, we are 
to understand this form of speech here in the text, the loving 
our brother. 

II. To shew whence it comes to pass, that any should take 
upon them to pretend love to God, who yet have no love to their 
brother. And 

III. To shew the absurdity and falsehood of that pretence. 
Upon which the use will ensue. 

I. It will be needful to consider a little in what extent, or 
with what limitation this form of speech is to be understood, 
namely the love of our brother : that is, how we are to under 
stand the expression, our brother ; and what is meant by love, 
as it refers to him in this and other such like passages. 4 

I conceive we may very warrantably extend the meaning of 
this expression, as was formerly hinted to you in the first open 
ing of the words, to such a latitude as to understand by it the 
duties of the second table; as love to God includes all the duties 
of the first. So our Saviour hath taught us to understand both 
these, in the answer which he gave to that querist, who asked 
him which was the great commandment of the law. The 
answer was this ; (i Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all 
thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This 
is the first and great commandment. And the second is like 
unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two 
commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Matt. 22. 
37. And the apostle you know also tells us, that " Love is 
the fulfilling of the law." Rom. 13. 10. All is summoned up 
in this one word Love. 

And the same apostle in the very epistle from whence my 
text is taken, in insisting so much upon love to our brethren, 
as he doth throughout this epistle, guides us to his own drift 
and scope ; and particularly when he tells us, that, " This is 
the love of God that we keep his commandments/' 1 John 5. 
3. It is manifest, that sometimes in this epistle he intends 
by this expression, the love of God, not merely that love which 
terminates upon him as the Object of it, but that love which is 
from God, as the Author of it, divine love. And he speaks 
of this divine love indefinitely, and says it is the keeping of 


God's commandments ; and of these commandments too we 
are to understand him speaking universally, and intimating 
that to love God is to keep all his commandments. It is love 
which runs forth in obedience to all his laws, which you know 
are divided into these two tables : the one is a comprehension 
of the precepts touching such things as relate to himself; the 
other of those which concern man. Therefore I doubt not but 
the word, brother, here in the text, may be taken in the same 
latitude, that neighbour is taken in, when it expresseth and 
signifieth to us the duties of a Christian to his neighbour, as in 
that place before mentioned, " Thou shall love thy neighbour 
as thyself," that is, any man. So that the duties that we owe 
to men, as men, are all to be collected and gathered up in this, 
as that great summary, namely, love, to our brother. 

It is very true indeed, brother is a title that many times in 
Scripture doth distinctly, and with some limitation hold forth 
to us a community and fraternity in religion ; a brotherhood, 
who are in a state of subjection and devotedness to God, and 
are really his servants and children, as we shall have occasion 
further to speak by and by. But it is plain also, that it is some 
times used in Scripture in a far more extensive sense ; as Adam 
in a, more extensive sense is said to be the son of God. You 
find it vvas part of the accusation against Job, (injurious enough 
no doubt, but that is nothing to our purpose) that he did take 
away the pledge from his brother, and made the poor naked, 
and sent them away unclothed. Job 22. 6. And so you know 
Paul bespeaks all that great assembly before whom he was 
convened, and with whom he vvas disputing, after this manner, 
t( men and brethren ;" though they were far from being all 
Christians as he was. Acts 23. 1. 

And I wish that there were not too much need to insist upon 
this business of love to our brother according to this latitude : 
that those were not many in our days, who make a very great 
shew of piety towards God, and hold forth an appearance of re 
ligion even in a more eminent degree; and yet indulge in them 
selves a very great liberty ^most injuriously assumed God 
knows) as to their dispositions and deportment towards men as 
men, with whom they are cast into human society. Yea, and 
there hath been a way found out to make little of all matters of 
this nature : a way to depreciate and speak diminish togty of 
whatever is of that import, by affixing characters upon persons 
which it is intended should lessen them; as such a one is a good 
moral man, and the like. Truly, if it were only to assign to 
each man his proper place, or to determine that to be of less 
value and account which really is so, this were tolerable and 
very fitj but it is too manifest that very cften reliir" n is profes- 


sedly magnified, not to the lessening only, but even the nulli 
fying and exclusion of what is called morality. As if the tables 
were again to be broken, by being dashed one against another : 
or as if there were such incompatible things in the laws of God, 
that it is altogether impossible that a man should carry it as does 
become him towards men with whom he lias to do, but he must 
intrench upon, and offer violence to the duty he owes to God ; 
or, as if on the other hand, the duty which immediately termi 
nates upon God, must quite shut out the world, and whatso 
ever relates to men as men. 

Though yet by the way too, it is to be noted, there is all the 
while a very great mistake and misapplication in the use of the 
term morality. And I wonder whence we or any of us have 
learned to appropriate moral to the duties of the second table ; 
as if the duties of the first table were not as much moral, as 
those of the second, and in a higher and more eminent sense so. 
Certainly he is but a person of bad morality that does not love 
God, and whose heart is not set upon him as the best, the su 
preme Good. It is a great injury to take the term moral, and 
affix it only or chiefly to the duties of the second table. I hope 
there is such a thing, which ought to obtain in our notion and 
practice, as being well-mannered unto God, or behaving our 
selves well and fitly towards him. And that is the meaning of 
morality, when a man is in general well-mannered. Therefore 
he that behaves himself ill to God, doth very ill deserve the 
character of a moral man. 

But the thing is, men intend civil by the term moral, and 
so mistake morality for civility. Civility indeed is only be 
tween men and men, as they are cast into societies one with 
another ; but morality must needs run through the whole law 
of God. Every commandment of his law, which he hajth dis 
tinguished from all other laws by vouchsafing himself to speak 
it by an audible voice, in ten words, to a vast assembly of men, 
we ouojht surely to account moral; and not elevate the autho 
rity or obligation of one part, by using terms with an intention 
to lessen or diminish another part of the same law. 

But as to the thing itself, waving the name, (as it is pity 
there should be so much logomachy, or contention about the 
use or misapplication of bare words) it is 1 say the thing 
itself, wherein the religion of Christians hath been so very 
deficient, and by which it hath been so much slured, that a 
great many have learned in their practice, not to care what 
their deportments are to men, so they can but keep up a con 
tinual profcssivtnof, and course of pretence to, sanctity, piety, 
and devotion towards God. And therefore the exigence of the 


case so much requiring it, and the text so plainly inviting to it 
also, it will be very fit to say somewhat of the duty of loving 
our brother in this latitude, as comprehensive of all the duty we 
owe to men as men. Though what I shall say at present will 
be in general. What is particular I shall refer to lie enlarged 
upon in the use or application. And here I must hint to you 
that a twofold extreme is carefully to be avoided, that when we 
speak in this latitude of loving our brother we do not, 

1. By that love to our brother so intend the inward princi 
ple of that love, as to cut off the external acts of it : Nor 

2. So confine the notion of this love to the external duties of 
the second table, as to exclude or shut out the internal princi 
ple. These are two extremes which men are very prepense 
to run into, either into the one or the. other of them. On the 
one hand, 

1 . Some are very apt to satisfy themselves that they are 
blameless, and not liable to exception, if their external de 
portment be fair and candid, just and equal, and also charita 
ble now and then as occasion offers j though, in the mean time 
there be no such thing as the inward root and principle of this 
love in their hearts. It would be as great an absurdity for any 
one to say, that this love doth virtually include and comprehend 
in it all the external duties that flow from such a principle, as 
it would be to state those duties so abstractly, as to exclude the 
principle itself whence they are to proceed. They no way 
answer the intention and design of the Holy Ghost in this mat 
ter who only comply with the external part and letter of these 
laws, when, in the mean time, the spring and fountain- of all 
these duties hath no place in the soul, namely love itself. For 
the external acts may proceed from another principle. A man 
may carry himself justly to others, for the sake of his reputation ; 
and from the same motive may do many acts that carry in them 
mercy, pity and compassion to those that are in distress : but 
the principle from whence all this proceeds is self-love, and 
not love to his brother. Thus a man may do such and such aa 
act of justice, such and such charitable actions, as the occasions 
of them are administered, merely because he would gain the 
reputation of beinga most unexceptionable just man, a good-na 
tured man, a charitable man. And many apprehend that they 
are greatly concerned to do so upon the account of prudence, 
out of a prudential respect, I say, to their own interest and ad 
vantage ; such especially whose way of living in the world de 
pends upon trade and commerce with men. They know, if they 
do not obtain and preserve the reputation of justice, none will 
have to do with them j every one will shun them ; they will be 

VOL. vi. s 


thought unfit for any kind of commerce whatsoever. This is one 
extreme therefore that is carefully to be avoided in this matter. 
When we say that love to our brother includes all the duties of 
the second table, yet we must not say it excludes the inward 
principle whence those external duties flow ; that is, such a 
love to our neighbour, as that which we bear, and owe unto 
ourselves, aa we know our Lord resolves it, in the foremention- 
ed scripture. The other extreme is, 

2. That we lay not the whole stress of the business upon the 
internal principle, without the external acts and expressions : 
that is, that none should content themselves with the imagina 
tion and conceit, that they have in their own hearts and bosoms 
the principle of love to their brother ; but in the mean while 
never express it nor let it be seen. No, that must be a great 
secret to themselves, and kept close in their own consciences ; 
they have love in their breasts, but they can find no time or 
occasion to let it be seen : that is, they can, it may be, give 
him a good word, or as the apostle James expresses it, say to 
one in distress that wants food, or raiment, "Depart in peace, 
be you warmed and filled," but give them nothing for the body. 
They say that they pity such and such persons ; and perhaps 
there may be some low degree of pity, but not such as exerts 
itself and commands the consonant act which is agreeable to 
compassion, and should be consequent or ought to follow there 

But we must understand this duty of loving our brother so 
as to comprehend the internal principle, and external expres 
sions of it tpgether. It is necessary that there be a sincere love 
in the heart, and that it demonstrate its own sincerity by such 
expressions and discoveries, from time to time, as the provi 
dence of God gives us opportunity. As occasions offer we 
should, as the apostle exhorts, do good to all men, but es 
pecially to them who are of the household of faith. Gal. 6. 

And if love to man is to be taken in such a latitude as hath 
been said, if it gather within the compass of it both the prin 
ciple and all the actions that properly belong to it, we are not 
then to think we have a mean, low, ignoble object for our love. 
There is an image of God that man as man doth bear upon him. 
It is true, there is an image that hath been lost, but there is 
o:ie still that is not capable of being so. The spiritual super 
natural image wherein man did resemble God in holiness was 
banished from the nature of man universally, till he was pleas 
ed to renew it, and make us his own workmanship created in 
Christ Jesus unto good works. But there is besides that a na- 


tural image of God, which man still bears, inasmuch as he 
partakes of a spiritual, intellectual nature, resembling that of 
God. So that it is a noble object of love we have. We are to 
love men, even as God's own offspring, his sons, as he is the 
Father of spirits. There is in every man a spiritual nature, of 
which God owns himself to be the great Parent and common 
Father. Therefore to have a heart universally inspired with 
love to men as men, which flows even as far as the nature of 
man reaches and extends itself, even to all mankind, this, I 
say, we must understand to be the sum of the duty given us in 
charge under the expression of love to our brother. 

We are to be lovers of mankind under one common notion ; 
that is, to love upon a universal reason, which reaches to man 
as man, and so consequently to every man. " This is one of 
my own species whom I am required to love ; of that rank and 
order in which God hath set me in the creation, and who all of 
us bear the image of the common Lord upon us." And you know 
it is the thing we find superadded, as the enforcement of one 
of the great precepts of the second table, namely "Thou shalt 
not kill ;" and a reason why the breach and violation of it 
should be punished, that " in the image of God created he 
man." Gen. 9. 6. Certainly the reason is the same as to all 
the other laws of that table. And besides what is appropriated 
to the conditions of some men by the very terms of this law it 
self, yet men as men, under that common notion, and for that 
very reason, are the objects of that required duty. As when 
we are forbidden to kill, is not every man whatever the object 
of that prohibition ? When we are commanded not to steal, 
or bear false witness, are we not equally barred up from doing 
that injury to all mankind ? When we are inhibited the co^ 
veting another man's property, is it not every man's property 
which we are thereby forbidden to covet ? But then 

It must also be understood that there is a stricter notion of 
loving our brother, to which we are to have a more particular 
reference, without excluding that more common extensive no 
tion (as there is no quarrel at all between things that are in 
subordination to one another) that is, we ought upon the 
Christian account, in a special distinguishing manner, to love 
those who under that notion are to be esteemed or reputed 
brethren : I mean Christians, in the truest and strictest sense, 
as far as they appear so to us ; that is, those who are the re 
generate sons of God, who are the children of one and the same 
Father, and therefore are brethren to one another, on that ac 

And you find that tne apostle hath his eye to these brethren 


liere, as It is manifest by many passages in this and the next 
epistles. If you consult the beginning of the next chapter, you 
will see who are to esteem one another as brethren in the most 
special sense. Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is 
horn of God ; and every one that loveth him that begat, loveth 
him also that is begotten. 1 John 5. 1. You see those are to 
be principally esteemed as brethren, who can look upon them 
selves and one another as related, upon the account of re 
generation, unto the holy, blessed God as their common Fa 
ther. So the notion of sons is manifestly taken in the third 
chapter of this epistle at the beginning; Behold what manner 
of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be 
called the sons of God ! 1 John 3. 1 . Those, who are God's 
own sons by gratuitous adoption, are to be accounted by us as 
brethren, if we have any reason to look upon ourselves as of 
that character. Those who are sons by adoption, and there 
upon are entitled to the inheritance of sons, and are designed 
to that blessed state of the vision of God, and participation of 
his likeness, are characterized more eminently as his sons; which 
plainly tells us who are brethren to one another, and should, I 
say, be eyed and respected under that notion. 

But here we must take heed of narrowing and limiting the 
object any further. This is limiting and restraining it enough, 
we need not do it any more. Many will allow this measure, 
that we ought to love a godly man, or one that bears God's 
image as such ; but they will after this be the measurers of their 
own measure, or they will cut God's measure according to the 
square of their own fancies. And when they have said they 
ought to love a godly man as such, that is every good man, they 
will have him to be of their own opinion in the smallest matters, 
one of their own persuasion and party, one of their own tem 
per and humour. So that in short, upon the whole matter, that 
same Christian love, that ought to flow to all good men, to all 
Christians as such, is confounded with that which ought to be 
called the love of friendship. 

There is a vast difference between the love, which does, and 
ought to lie in common, between Christians and Christians, and 
that which should be particular, as between friends and friends. 
It is indeed true, if I were to design and choose out myself a 
friend, au intimate, one whom I would trust, and with him de 
posit my secrets and the like, I might warrantably enough 
make choice of one with those qualifications before-mentioned; 
that is, as near my own temper as possible, or of such a lovely, 
amiable temper as would render his friendship acceptable to 
me. I might choose one of as much prudence as I could, of 


my own rank and condition, whose ends, interests, and designs 
Jay very much the same way with my own. But it were a most 
unjust thing to think, that Christian love ought to be so con- 
lined. That must run to all Christians as such, and under 
that very notion. So that it is not merely one of such a rank 
in the world, of such a temper and humour, of such or such a 
party, holding certain opinions in smaller and more disputa 
ble matters, that is the character of one who is to be loved as 
a Christian. 

Though indeed that has all along been in all times, and 
among all sorts of 'persons pretending to religion, a very usual 
practice, to fix the church, and set the boundaries of God's 
house, just according to the measure of their own fancy, and 
of their own persuasion. So the romanists will pretend to 
have the church only among those of their communion. And 
so we know there are others also, who would so confine the 
pale of the church. Besides, of others among ourselves there 
are not a few, who will allow none to be of the church but 
\vho will bear such external badges. One may as truly judge 
of a man by his clothes and garb of what profession or calling 
he is, and we may as well confine all human love and com-r 
merce to persons of such and such a complexion, as Christian 
love and converse to men distinguished only by certain exter 
nal adjuncts. But I shall not here insist further on the ex 
tent and limitation of this form of speech, loving our brother. 
When we come to the use there will be occasion to say more 
on this head. 

II. We are next to inquire, whence it is that any should 
pretend love to God, and yet be destitute of Christian, or even- 
human love to their brethren. We have formerly shewed you, 
that the exercise of love to God is a thing of far higher difficulty 
than that which terminates on men. Love to an unseen God is 
unspeakably more difficult in the exercise of it than towards men 
that we see, and have occasion to converse with daily. Now 
though this be most true and apparent, yet the pretence of love 
to God is much more easy than the real exercise of love to our, 
brother. It is a far more difficult thing to love God, than our 
brother ; but withal it is a far more easy thing to pretend love 
to God, than really to exert it to our brother. We have in, 
the one the real exercise of love, and in the other case only the 
pretence to it. And there are two things particularly that do 
much more facilitate this business of men's making a shew, and 
putting on the pretence of love to God, rather than really ex,-! 
ercising it to men. 

1 . That it is more cheap, and less expensive. And 


2. It is more glorious, and makes a more glittering shew 
than the other does ; therefore men are a great deal more apt, 
and more easily induced to it. 

1. It is more cheap to pretend love to God, than really to 
exercise love to our brother. It will cost them less. The 
things by which men acquire to themselves a reputation of love 
to God, may stand them in little ; only to be at some small 
pains to get notions into their minds, by which they may be 
furnished with talk upon such and such subjects. They are 
not one straw the poorer for this, it costs them nothing. Their 
keeping up the external duties of religion, going from time to 
time to Christian assemblies, waiting as much as they can upon 
the ordinances of God ; all this may be done, and they be at 
no expence. There may be little or no cost in all this. But 
really to exercise love to our brother, will many times prove a 
costly thing, A man must deny himself, his own interest, 
gain, and advantage very often, that so he may be just or mer 
ciful as the circumstances of the case may be. 

And it is plain, the great temptations that men have to en 
croach upon the rights of other men, and intrench upon the 
businesses that come within this summary of love to our neigh 
bour, are principally from self-love, and self-interest. Men 
would be just if they did not find or imagine, that they should 
gain by this or that trick, by putting this and that cheat and 
fraud upon their neighbours with whom they have to do. 
They would be charitable if it did not cost them much, if they 
were to expend nothing. And thus to pretend love to God is a 
cheap thing : but to exercise real love to our neighbour ac 
cording as various occasions may be, to draw forth the princi 
ple into act and exercise, may frequently prove very costly and 

2. There is also more of glory in the shew, and glittering in 
the appearance of religion (in sometimes more than others, and 
it may be in our times as much as any) than there is in the dis 
charge of the duties of justice and charity to men. He that 
acquires to himself the reputation of a godly man, by an abili 
ty to discourse of godly matters, having gotten a great stock of 
notional knowledge, gains thereby also the reputation of a man 
of a very refined inind. As the gnosticks in their age, an age 
of errors, were men of much pretence ; had very high and 
sublime notions ; but as to their morals they were as bad men 
as ever the world knew, if you will take the testimony concern 
ing them, not from their professed enemies the Christians, who 
opposed themselves to them, but even from a heathen who 
characterized! them at large. (Plotinus) There were not a 


viler sort of men, as to matters concerning the duties of the 
second table, and what lay between man and man. But they 
were men of high speculative knowledge, had very airy, and 
sublime notions, wherewith they did seduce and captivate not 
a few A great reputation was acquired by them of that kind, 
when they could recommend themselves as persons, who had 
made it their business to separate from the rest of the world, 
to give themselves up to the study of all wisdom as the wise 
man's expression is. Eccles. 7. 25. 

And as those men looked big and talked high in those former 
ages upon this account, I mean the reputation they had acquir 
ed for their knowledge and wisdom, which they boasted of ; 
so many do now, and think to make a glitter in the places 
where they live, as men of high, notional knowledge in mat 
ters of religion : but in comparison of this they think that to do 
good in a place where a man lives, to be a useful member of a 
civil, or a Christian society, to observe the strict rules of jus 
tice, charity, and compassion, are mean things and very low 
matters, compared with that glorious shew and glitter, which 
the appearance of a great measure of notional, speculative 
knowledge casts upon men in their own eyes, and the eyes of 
them that are about them. Thus knowledge puffeth up, while 
true love would edify. But in the mean time that which so 
puffeth up makes a better shew, than that which does substan 
tially, and solidly edify the soul. 

It is too apparent a truth, which hath been hinted to you 
thus far, that there are persons, who upon such accounts as 
these, are easily induced to pretend to religion, and to make 
a shew of love, and devotedness to God, who are strangers to 
the effects of love to their brother. But from this so very ap 
parent truth men are apt to induce as manifest and gross a 
falsehood ; that is, because there are those who pretend love to 
God, that are found manifestly peccant as to the exercise of 
that duty which love to man would command, and ought to 
be the spring and principle of, that therefore all pretences to 
stricter religion than ordinary are hypocritical. No man who 
makes a more strict profession than his neighbours, and is more 
frequently conversant in the exercises of religion than they are, 
but he must needs be apharisee and a mere pretender, only be 
cause some such persons are manifestly capable of being con 
vinced as such. But this is no more reasonable, than because 
there is some counterfeit coin in the world, that therefore all 
is to be rejected as false, and not current; or because spec 
tres and ghosts have been seen to walk in human shape, there 
fore there axe no true men ; or as if, because some do hypo- 


critically pretend loyalty and devotedness to the government, 
while they carry on conspiracies against their rulers, that 
therefore there is no way for others to approve themselves 
blameless, but presently to turn open and contemptuous rebels. 
This is strange kind of logic ! 

And in truth, none are honest men in their account, but such 
as will swear, and drink, and run into all wickedness and ex 
cess of riot with them. Of such a one they will be ready to say, 
" A very honest gentleman !" and then all the talk flies against 
such and such persons that addict themselves to a course of re 
ligion. And if some who are the notorious scandals of it have 
shewn themselves to be what they are, then those who make 
it their business to keep up a course of strictness in piety and 
religion, have the common infamous brand of hypocrites put 
upon them. 

Now at this rate we must certainly quite turn the tables. 
Virtue must be called vice, and vice be called virtue, and the 
names of things be utterly altered. And we must account, that 
God's children and the devil's are to change families, fathers, 
and states one with another. For we shall have none left to be 
called honest men, or the children of God, but such as are no 
better than good -fellows : and all serious fearers and sincere 
lovers of God must be abandoned for none of his, only because 
some false brethren creep in among them. 

And yet it very greatly concerneth those, who are actually 
and truly of the family and household, or the church of God 
by faith in Jesus Christ, though men do never so causelesly and 
injuriously scandalize the whole fraternity, upon the delinquen 
cies of some false pretenders, to learn instruction by it, and to 
be abundantly more wary in all manner of conversation, 
upon the account of their calling him Father. All therefore 
that I shall by way of use leave with you at this time is the ad 
monition of the apostle, If ye call upon the Father, who with 
out respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, 
pass the time of your sojourning in fear. J Pet. 1.17. 



are endeavouring to shew you, that their pretence to 
the love of God is both untrue and absurd, who love 
not their brother. And as to this we proposed to shew in, 

I. Place, how we are to understand the duty of loving our 
brother ; that is, in what extent and latitude, and also with 
what restriction and limitation. 

II. Whence it is that persons pretend to the love of God, 
who never loved their brother. We now proceed, 

III. To shew the falsehood and absurdity of that pretence; 
or to evince to you, that the pretence of love to God, where 
there is no love to our brother, is both false and absurd. That 
it is false is expressly enough said in this very verse, and we 
need go no further for the proof of it. " If a man say he loveth 
God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar." What need we 
more to prove this pretence false ? That it is also absurd, is to 
be evinced to you from the considerations we shall give you for 
that purpose, which are especially two : namely, the neces 
sary connexion that there is between the love of God, and the 
love of our brother, in the nature of things j and the greater 


* Pralied November 22,, 


difficulty of loving God whom we have not seen, than our bro 
ther whom we have seen. So that it is absurd for a man to 
pretend, that he has mastered the greater difficulty, who has 
not overcome the less. 

1 . The absurdity of this pretence may be evinced from the 
necessary strict connexion there is between the love of God, 
and the love of our brother, even in the nature of the things 
themselves. And here we shall shew you that there is a four 
fold connexion between them they are connected in respect 
of their object in respect of their root and principle in res 
pect of their rule, and of their end. 

(1.) They are connected in respect of their object. Love 
to God and love to our brother, will be found to have in some 
sort the same object. I would not go about to prove any great 
affinity between the things themselves, but it is plain, I say, 
they have in some sort the same formal object. That is, our 
love to our brother if it be right and true, falls in with our love 
of God ; so as that our love of God must be the very formal rea 
son of our loving our brother, whom we can never truly love, 
if we do not love him for God's sake and because we primarily 
love God. 

The truth is, whatever specimens of beauty or excellence we 
find any where in the creature, we are then only said to love 
them duly, when our love is pitched upon them as so many 
rays and beams from the first and supreme Good. And so it is 
the original primary Goodness which we rightfully love, even 
in this or that creature. It is true indeed, goodness in its ori 
ginal, and in its descent and derivation are not univocally the 
same. Nothing can be univocally common to God and the 
creature. But they are analogically the same. Goodness is 
primarily in God, and so descends, and is imparted to this or 
that creature. But it is only there by dependance upon him, 
from whom and in whom it originally is. And our love to our 
brother, in the strictest sense of that expression, is exerted, 
when it meets with that goodness, which is the most express 
and vivid image of God's own. We there love the represen 
tation of God in that subject wherein he has proposed him 
self to us as our pattern, even the excellency and glory of his 

They that are in the strictest sense our brethren, as you 
have heard, are God's own regenerate sons ; and because 
v>e are to love him that begat, we are to love them that 
are begotten of him. I John 5. 1. And it is therefore to 
be observed, that elsewhere in this epistle, our states God- 
ward are to be measured by this one thing, namely, our love 
to the brethren. " We know that we have passed from death 


unto life, because we love the brethren." 1 John 3. 14. So 
that if we compare place with place, it is very plain that the 
measure here is but mcnsura mensurata ; that is, it is itself 
to be measured by a supreme measure, namely, our love to God. 
It is a mark or character, which itself is tried by a higher mark. 
" By this," says the apostle, u we know that we love the 
children of God, when we love God and keep his command 
ments." 1 John 5. 2. So that no man may depend further 
upon this as a mark and trial of his state with respect to God, 
that he loves such and such his children, than as he is able to 
evince the love of them to be for God's own sake, and as 
they bear his image and likeness. And so the trial finally and 
ultimately resolves in this, " Am I a lover of God, yea or 
no ?" 

It is very true, that I may first and more sensibly have the 
perception perhaps of my love to this or that particular man. 
But I must run the matter higher, and particularly inquire, 
what is the reason I love this man ? Is it because he is a good 
man ? taking goodness in the strictest and most noble sense. 
Is it because he hath participated of the divine goodness ? and 
is a follower, imitator, representer of God's moral goodness, 
which is his holiness ? We must be capable of concluding our 
selves lovers of our brethren, as they are holy ones, as they 
bear, or appear to us to bear, the image of God. And hereby, 
and not otherwise, can we conclude our love to our brother to 
be of the right kind, by our being able to evince that we love 
God primarily and above him, that is, that we love him for 
God's sake. And whatever is to be said of any thing for such 
a reason, and only upon that account, is much more to be said 
of that reason itself. We do not therefore love our brother 
aright, if God be not loved much more ; our love to God 
being the very reason, why we truly and aright do love our 

Thus they stand connected in their object. You see they 
cannot be severed ; and that a man cannot possibly love his 
brother aright, if he love not God : therefore the love of 
God must needs draw in the love of our biother, as a thing in 
separably connected with it. 

(2.) They are connected also in the root and principle, which 
in both is one and the same ; namely, that very spirit of love, 
which is mentioned by Paul to Timothy, and which God has 
given us,as well as that of power, and of a sound mind. 2Tim. 1. 
7 We must know that love to our brother is a fruit of the Spirit 
as well as love to God. We have an enumeration of the several 
fruits of the Spirit in the epistle to the Galatians, "and love is 


set in the front of them all." Gal. 5. 22. Now if you consider 
what fruits of the ftesh those of the Spirit do stand in opposition 
to, you will find yourselves necessitated to admit and conclude, 
that love there, is not meant of love to God alone, but of that 
love which diffuses and spreads itself duly according as the ob 
jects are presented or do invite ; in which the divine goodness 
is found, in himself primarily, and derived to this or that crea 
ture, and especially to such as bear, as was said, the more 
lively image and representation of his goodness. 

We are not therefore to think, that love to God is one gra 
cious principle, and love to our brother is another gracious 
principle : but we must know, that it is one and the same gra 
cious principle of holy love which works towards this or that 
object, according to the excellency and amiableness thereof ; 
that is, proportionably to what I see of divine goodness in it, 
which is the formal reason of my love. Holy love is the af 
fection of love sanctified ; which affection is not many but one, 
but yet turns itself towards this or that object according as the 
object claims and requires. 

And therefore we find expressly that love to our brethren is 
resolved into the spirit of holiness, as its original cause, which 
is the thing that I would mainly, and principally inculcate, that 
so it may not be looked upon as a thing of an inferior nature j 
since we are too apt to look with a diminishing eye upon this 
duty of love to our brethren. It is really one of the fruits of 
the Spirit of holiness, a part of its production in renewed 
souls. See how expressly the apostle Peter speaks to this pur 
pose. (i Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the 
truth through the Spirit, unto unfeigned love of the brethren ; 
see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently." 1 
Pet. 1. 22. So again we are told, that f( the end of the com 
mandment is charity (or love, for it is the same word that is 
rendered sometimes one way and sometimes another) out of a 
pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned." 
1 Tim. 1. 5. By the end of the commandment is meant the 
perfection, the top, the sum of it ; or that which does virtually 
include all that lieth within the whole compass of the command 
ment. And what we are to understand by the word com 
mandment, which is expressed indefinitely, we may see in 
what follows ; namely, that it is the same thing with the law, 
" The law," says the apostle, " is not made for a righteous 
man ; but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and 
for sinners, for the unholy and profane, &c." ver. 9. which 
supposes the commandment and law here to be meant of the 
law in its extent, as it comprehends both tables ; not only our 


duty to God, but to our brother also. And therefore that love 
which is the coronis and very sum of it, goes to both. Now 
it is said concerning this love, taken thus extensively, that it 
must proceed out of a pure heart, and faith unfeigned. It must 
proceed from that faith, which is peculiar to the regenerate sons 
of God. "They that believe are born of God." 1 John 5. 1. 
" And as many as received him to them gave he power to be 
come the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name ; 
which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor 
of the will of man, but of God." John 1. 12, 13. Now this 
same faith is the immediate production of the Spirit in the work 
of regeneration. It works out into love, and even into that 
love, which exercises itself upon our brother. Love to him, I 
say, must proceed from faith unfeigned. Therefore when the 
exercise of love was required by our Saviour, in forgiving an 
offending brother ; and the question was put, how often they 
should forgive ? and he replies, " unto seventy times seven ;" 
presently the disciples, as knowing the great need and exigen-^ 
cy of the case, said, " Lord increase our faith." Luke I7t 
5. There needs much faith in order to the exercise of such, 

Wherefore this love is in most necessary connexion with 
what is intimate to the new creature, and what most essentially 
belongs unto the constitution of it. It is part of the work of 
regeneration, and of that holy creature, which is, when pro 
duced, called the new creature. You find therefore in that 
scripture, 2 Pet. 1. 5, 6, 7 where several graces of the 
Spirit are mentioned together, that brotherly kindness comes 
among the rest, in conjunction with faith, patience, and the 

Yea, and to evince this a little further, you find that in this very 
epistle in which is our text, love to our brother, even an indi 
gent brother, is called by the name of love to God ; that is, not 
with reference to him considered as the object (though in some 
respects, as was said before, God may be considered as the ob 
ject too) but in reference to him as the Original and Author of 
this love. " He that hath this world's good," saitli the apostle, 
" and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels 
of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him ?" 
1 John 3. 17. It is as if he had said, it is plain, that this di-r 
vine love, which God is the Author of, and of which this poor 
indigent brother is an object, is not in him, if he has no bowels 
of compassion towards him at such a time, when the exigency 
of his case calls for relief. 

The apostle Paul tells the Thessalonian Christians, that con- 


cerning brotherly love they needed not that he should write un 
to them, " for (saith he) you yourselves are taught of God to 
love one another." 1 Thess. 4. 9. Sure we are not strangers 
to the import of that expression in Scripture, or what it is to 
be taught of God. The expression is paralleled by those which 
represent men as drawn by him, efficaciously moved, and act 
ed by his almighty Spirit. " Every one," saith our Saviour, 
" that hath heard and learned of the Father, cometh unto me." 
John 6. 45. That hearing and learning of the Father, is ex 
pounded by that of being drawn, or powerfully attracted by the 
Father. Therefore the meaning of this expression, " You have 
been taught of God," is this; your hearts have been powerfully 
drawn by God into the exercise of this love to one another. 
" You need not that I write to you concerning this matter, 
for ye are taught of God." As in another case it is said, (the 
passage is taken from the prophet Jeremiah, 31, 34.) " They 
shall not teach every man his neighbour and every man his 
brother, saying, Know the Lord ; for all shall know me from 
the least to the greatest." Heb. 8. 1 1. The same form of ex 
pression you see is used here, and must be taken in the same 

In the second chapter of the same epistle of John, ver. 20. 
we read of an unction of the Holy Ghost, by which the spirits 
of those who belong to God are so seasoned, and tinctured, 
that they are even connaturalized unto the truth ; and this is 
the way of God's teaching, even to love, as well as any thing 
else. It is a mighty, potent work of that Spirit of holiness, by 
which men are taught to love. He teaches so as none besides 
does. His way of teaching is by working in us the things that 
we are taught. And therefore they who think that whatsoever 
is required of goodness and holiness, may be the product only 
of human endeavour and acquisition, are to understand that we 
cannot do so much as this, without being taught so to do by 
the mighty power and Spirit of God ; not so much, I say, as 
truly to love men as such, upon whom the stamp and impres 
sion of God's holy image is to be found. And indeed, they 
who think that all may be the effect of our own endeavour 
which is herein required of us, or of moral suasion, might learn 
better Christianity even from some heathens of Plato's school. 
A heathen philosopher, I remember, in one of his dialogues 
discusses this question, Whether virtue is to be taught or not ? 
And he undertakes to demonstrate, that it is not a thing to be 
taught, but is infused, or inspired by God himself. Particu 
larly he says as to this virtue of love, love to good men, that it 
is a divine thing infused by God. And he gives the reason of 


this general assertion, namely, that whatsoever virtue any do 
partake of, it is not taught by men, but infused from heaven 
above : " For, (saith he,) if it were a thing to be got by mere 
human teaching, then certainly good men might easily teach 
others to be good and virtuous ; and only they must do it, be 
cause they alone have virtue, and so are alone capable of teach 
ing it. But if they were capable of teaching it to others, no 
thing could hinder it but their envy and ill-nature ; or unwil 
lingness that any should fare as well as themselves. But a good 
man cannot be envious. Therefore (he concludes upon the 
whole) virtue is a thing not to be taught, a thing that cannot 
be got by teaching." We see then how it is to be understood, 
when love, which is so great a part of it, is said to be taught 
of God. So that love to God and the brethren agree in their 
root and principle. They have there a firm connexion ; so as 
that it is impossible they should be severed, or that a man can 
be a lover of God who is not a lover of his brother. 

(3.) They are connected also in their rule, which is one and 
the same law : for indeed the whole law of God is summed up 
in love. "Love is the fulfilling of the law/'as we had occasion to 
shew formerly. Rom. 13. 10. And you see what the apostle 
means there by law, from the occasion of this discourse. "And 
this commandment have we from him, that he that loveth God, 
should love his brother also." 1 John 4. 21. He hath laid 
this law upon us, that we should thus dispense our love ; that 
if we pretend to exercise our love to him, we must do it to our 
brother too. He will never otherwise take us into the census, 
or account, of lovers of himself. 

And when the apostle James insists upon it, that " Whoso 
ever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he 
is guilty of all," pray look back there, and see upon what occa 
sion, and with what reference he says this. *' If ye fulfil the 
royal law, according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy 
neighbour as thyself, ye do well. But if ye have respect to per 
sons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as trans 
gressors." James 2. 8. 10. You find he has reference to this 
very thing, our love to our brother ; which is what he calls 
the royal law. The law enjoined us is this, "Thou shalt love 
thy neighbour as thyself." And if we be found peccant as to 
this, and obey it not, nor comply with the authority of the law 
and the Lawgiver in this instance, we make ourselves rebels 
throughout ; we break the whole law, and all that we do be 
sides signifies nothing. Therefore he gives an instance. The 
same law that hath said, " Do not commit adultery, said also, 
Do not kill." ver. 1 L. The law doth equally and alike forbid 

144 ON 1 THE LOVE OF GOO (sER. Xlf* 

inordinate love and unjust hatred : inordinate lust and impure 
love, as that which offends against one command ; and inordi 
nate hatred and ill-nature which equally offends against the other, 
as it is the root of murder. In opposition to which this law 
stands, as the summary of all that duty, which we must under 
stand to be implicitly enjoined in that law. 

(4.) Love to God, and our brother concentre and agree in 
one end ; that is, the glory of God, and our own felicity : 
which two, you know, do make up the end of man. We ought 
to love God, in order to our glorifying him ; and we ought al 
so to love our brother, for the same reason. So we ought to love 
God in order to our enjoying him, and being happy and blessed 
in him ; and in like manner ought we to love our brother, in 
order to our enjoying God, and being happy and blessed in 

The glory of God first depends upon our loving him, but it 
also as truly depends upon our loving our brother. Yea this 
glory of God which is the end, and some way ought to be the 
effect of our actions, shines a great deal more, sometimes, in the 
exercise of love to men. Thus saith David, "My Goodness ex- 
tendeth not unto thee, but unto the saints, that are upon the 
earth, in whom is all my delight. 3 ' Ps. 16. 2. 3. As if he had 
said, Thou art never the better for it, but they may be. Here 
it is that we make the glory of God to shine forth in our course 
and practice when we do visibly exemplify the goodness of his 
nature in our own goodness, that is, in doing good ; in those 
continual fruits and acts of goodness, which issue and flow from 
the principle of divine love (with which our souls are posses 
sed) to those that are related unto God, according as their re 
lation to him is larger or more special, as we have formerly 

It is by our doing good that we shew to , whom we belong, 
though that goodness of ours can reach only to men and saints. 
"The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness:" (Eph. 5. 9.) namely, 
that goodness which can flow and diffuse itself according as \ve 
have objects here below, upon which it may be continually 
pouring itself forth, and spreading itself. Herein we bear tes 
timony to God, that we are the very children of his love. We 
do, as it were, herein justify and honour our great Father. 
We own our Father, and own ourselves his children. " Love, 
that ye may be the children of God, says our Saviour, who 
doth good both to the evil and the good ;" that is, that ye 
may appear to be his children. Matt. 5. 44. 45. And again, 
" By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love 
one another." John 13. 35. This refers to that more special 


love which we ought to settle upon nobody but those, who are 
particularly related and united to Christ. "You will own me in 
the world, and your relation to me ; and I shall be owned and 
honoured among men by you, if ye love one another/' And this 
was the character of Christians in the primitive times of the 
Christian church, " See how these Christians love one ano 
ther, and refuse not to die for one another." 

Yea, and again, our own felicity is promoted (which is ano 
ther part of our end) by the love of our brother. For though 
God himself be the supreme felicitating object, yet he intends 
to be enjoyed by his in a community. He gathers them all 
unto himself in one body, of which body love is the common, 
bond, the unitive thing which as it were embodies and holds 
the members together j being the same bond of perfectness 
the apostle speaks of, or the most perfect bond which, says he, 
is charity. Col. 3. 14. 

And the case is plain and manifest, that where there is a 
languor and deficiency of Christian or brotherly love, the way 
of access to God is obstructed and barred up. Such persons 
have no free converse with God. A spirit that is full of ran 
cour, under a distemper, filled with animosity though but to 
this or that one particular person, knows not how to goto God. 
The new creature is starved and famished this way. The soul 
cannot heartily enjoy God, hath no liberty towards God. 
Therefore our Saviour considering the state of the case gives 
this general law and rule : "If thou bring thy gift to the altar (he 
speaks in the phrase and language of the Jews under the Old 
Testament administration, designing the instruction of chris- 
tians under the New) and there rememberest that thy brother 
hath ought against thee ; leave there thy gift before the altar, 
and go thy way (thou hast nothing to do at the altar, there can 
be no commerce between God and thee except thou go) and 
be reconciled first to thy brother, and then come and offer thy 
gift." Matt. 5. 23, 24. Love must flow, and have a free 
course between thy brother and thee, or it can have none be 
tween God and thee. And if it were possible how monstrous 
would it be, if in a man's natural body all the nutriment should 
bedra vn to one side! Would any one think fit to feed and 
cherish but one side of himself ? Especially, would the new crea 
ture cherish only a love to God, and at the same time famish 
what may be called the other side, a love to his brother ? 
He attempts a thing impossible to be done ; and it were 
extremely monstrous if it could be done, or should ever take 

Thus far you see then, that by an iaseparable connexion 
.. vi. u 


which there Is, in these four respects, hetween love to God 
and love to our brother, it must needs be an absurd pretence 
that men make of love to God, who exercise not love to their 
brother also. 

2. I proceed to speak briefly (and so shall shut up for the 
present) to a further consideration, whence the absurdity of 
such a pretence ariseth ; which is drawn from the greater dif 
ficulty of loving God vviiom we have not seen, than our brother 
whom we have seen. It must needs be an absurd thing for 
a man to pretend that he hath mastered the greater diffi 
culty, who hath not overcome the less. Which you see is 
the plain and full sense and meaning of the apostle's reasoning 

But here it may perhaps be said, that " These two consi 
derations do seem to contradict one another, or that the latter 
is repugnant to the former. For if love to God and to our 
brother be so connected as hath been shewn, then how can it 
be that love to our brother should be less difficult than love to 
God ? Yea and if there be such a connexion, as it appears 
there is, it may rather be said that love to our brother seems 
more difficult : for we can never truly love him, till we have 
first been brought to love God ; and so we love our brother se 
condarily, that is, upon his account and for his sake." For 
the clearing of this 1 shall briefly say two or three things to 

(I.) That when we say, love to God is more difficult than 
love to our brother, we speak not (as- formerly you may have 
taken notice) of implanting the principle of this love; but we 
speak of the exercise of it. It is God that implants the prin 
ciple, and all things are equally easy to him ; but it is we that 
are to exercise it. 

(2.) Whereas we cannot exercise it neither wrthout his con 
currence, we are to consider that concurrence of his with re 
ference not to his absolute, but to his ordinary power. Not, 
I say, according to the extraordinary, but the ordinary work 
ings of the power of God. And though it be true, that accord 
ing to the extraordinary working of his power he can make it 
equally facile to love himself and any creature in which his- 
image shines, and more facile or easy many times ; yet ac 
cording to his ordinary working, his people find by their own 
sad experience, that they have more to do in getting their 
hearts to act that way, than towards the creature, according 
to that degree of divine goodness which they can take no- 


tice of. But though this be clear enough, yet we answer fur 

(3.) There are many persons, who in some degree love 
Christians and good men upon lower and less sufficient mo 
tives ; and not upon the account of what peculiarly rejspects 
godly men as such. And we are principally to understand the 
apostle as speaking to such persons, as pretended to love their 
brethren, professed Christians, upon these lower motives. As 
if he had said, " You are not yet arrived so far as to love your 
brother upon motives sufficient to establish your love, though 
you see him as one,' with whom you have sensible converse. 
Are you then got so high as to love God ? Is it a credible thing 
you should be able to love an unseen God ?" So that the pre 
tence carries the same absurdity with it, as if one should pre 
tend this or that more difficult thing to be easy and facile, when 
many things that are unspeakably more easy he cannot do or 
effect. As if a man should pretend it easy to fly to the stars, 
who cannot walk upright on his feet. Or as if another were 
vaunting to be able to outface the sun, whose eyes are per 
petually dazzled witli the light of a candle. A likely thing you 
should love God, whom you have not seen ; who cannot so 
much as love your brother, whom you have seen, but upon 
the lowest motives 1 Wherefore these things have a connexion, 
and it appears from these considerations, that true love to our 
brother must be inseparable from the love of God. And so we 
have sufficiently seen the falsehood, and absurdity of such a 
pretence as this is. 

The Use of all remains ; and for the present it concerns us 
to bethink ourselves and reflect, that whereas all of us profess 
and pretend to love God (I presume there are none here but 
will avow themselves to be lovers of God, for to profess any re 
ligion is virtually to profess love to God ; I say, we are con 
cerned to bethink) whether our want of love to our brother 
carries not in it a conviction of the falsehood of that pretence. 
The languishing of this love shews a deficiency of the exercise 
of that noble principle of love to God. Love to God cannot 
be fervent, xvhen love to Christians is so cool and feeble. And 
we have not only reason to complain that love is cold, but that 
envy and hatred are flagrant and burning hot. So far from 
loving one another are Christians now-a-clays, that they cannot 
endure one another, nor tell how to live by one another ! * 



(SER. XV. 


truth which we have in hand from these words, I mean 
the last of those which have been proposed from them, is 
to this purpose ; That their pretence to the love of God is 
both false and absurd, who join not therewith love to their bro 
ther. And here 

I. We have already shewn, in speaking to this proposition, 
how we are to understand love to our brother ; with what lati 
tude, and with what limitations. 

II. We have shewn you whence it is that some may pretend 
to love God, who do not love their brother. And 

III. We have shewn both the falsehood and absurdity of such 
a pretence : the former from plain words of Scripture ; and the 
latter from such considerations, as do plainly demonstrate it 
to be a most unreasonable pretence, and therefore such as car 
ries the most manifest absurdity with it. 

The Use doth yet remain. And that which I more princi 
pally intend is to put you upon reflection : to engage you to 
reflect upon yourselves, and the common practice, but more 
especially upon your o\vn ; to consider how disagreeable it is to 
that love, which we owe to our brother ; that so we may la- 

* Pleached November 29, 1(3/6*. 


merit the great miscarriage that is to be seen in the common 
practice of the world, and reform it in ourselves. 

And consider as to both, since we all of us profess love to 
God (as all implicitly do who profess any thing of religion, of 
which love to God is the very life and soul) whether want of 
love to our brother doth not too generally carry with it a plain 
confutation of that profession. And that I may the more dis 
tinctly pursue this use, and more comprehensively, as to the 
cases and persons concerned, I shall, according to the double 
notion of the duty in the text, take notice how little love there 
is to be seen towards men as men, or towards Christians as 

First, Towards men as men : whom we may consider either 
universally, that is all men in general ; or indefinitely, that is 
any man in particular with whom we have to do, or have oc 
casion to converse withal. 

I. How little love is there to be seen towards men universal 
ly considered ! To love men as men, is to love them upon a 
universal reason, that extendeth or should make our love ex 
tend unto all men. As you know all the commandments of 
the second table are all founded in love, resolved into that 
duty, and gathered up into that one sum. And we find that 
this or that particular command being reduced thither doth 
oblige us to duty even to men as men, and that upon a uni 
versal reason common to all men. As we instanced before in 
that one negative precept, " Thou shall not kill," enforced by 
that universal reason, ** For in the image of God made he 
man." The obligation of this in reference to the object, ex 
tends as far even as that natural image of God does ; which 
as an ancient speaks, " every man bears whether he will or no, 
and can no more part with it than with himself." It is indeed 
his very nature. But how little of such love is there to be found 
among us ! How few true lovers are there even of their own 
species, who have a real and fervent affection (such as the ob 
ject claims and challenges) for such as partake of the human 
nature with themselves ! For I pray consider 

1. How little is our resentment of the common calamities of 
the world, whether in reference to their eternal, or temporal 
concernments ! How few regret it, or take it deeply to heart, 
that men are so generally without God in the world, arid with 
out Christ ! That the knowledge is so imperfect among men of 
their own original, and of the end of their being ; of him who 
made them, and what they were made for ! That the know 
ledge of a Redeemer (the sweet savour of which the apostle tells 
as it was so much his ambition to have manifested in every place* 


2 Cor. 2. 14.) is yet so little among men! Who regrets or lays 
it to heart, that the world is so filled with violence, barbarism 
and blood ? that a deluge and inundation of misery is with sin 
spread over the world, and transmitted and propagated from 
age to age, and from generation to generation ? When we 
hear of wars and devastations, and garments rolled in blood 
here and there, how few are there who concern themselves for 
it, as long as they are quiet and at peace in their own habita 
tions ! And again, 

2. How cold and faint arc our supplications on the behalf of 
men so generally considered ! though we are expressly di* 
rected by the exhortation of the apostle to make prayer and 
supplication for all men. 1 Tim. 2. 1. How little compre 
hensive are our spirits to take in the common concerns of the 
world with seriousness as the case requires ! How little do we 
imitate the blessed God in this ! for a general philanthro 
py, or kindness to men is even a most godlike quality, and 
that wherein he hath represented himself as a pattern to us. 

II. We may consider men indefinitely, that is, any whom 
we have to do or converse with. And though there may be, 
as there ought to be the inward workings of love towards 
men considered under that formal and extensive notion, yet 
there may not be so much as the external expressions and exer 
cises of love to men considered this latter way. This external 
exercise of love requires a present object, determined by such 
circumstances, and such particular occurrences and occasions as 
render it liable to the exercise of our love. So the apostle li 
mits particularly our benefaction ; "As we have opportunity let 
us do good unto all men, but especially to those who are of the 
household of faith. Gal. 6. 10. The poor, says our Saviour, ye 
have always with you, but me you have not." John 12. 8. A pre 
sent object so circumstanced, is required for the exercise of such 
love as goes forth into external acts. We cannot ourselves ac 
tually do good unto all. We cannot reach all, for our sphere is 
not so large. The most we can do in that kind is by prayer to 
our utmost to engage a universal agent, who can adapt himself 
to every one's case and exigence. But within our sphere; I say, 
and in reference to those we have to do with and where we have 
opportunity, how little does there appear of love to men ! 

The rule according to which we are to exercise our love, is 
that royal law, as the apostle James calls it, to love our neigh-* 
bour as ourselves, jam. 11.8. Or as our Saviour elsewhere 
expresses it, " Whatsoever ye would that men should do to 
you, do ye so to them. " Matu 7- 12. A rule that hath been very 


highly magnified even among some of the heathen ; and the 
Author of it also, our Lord Jesus Christ himself, upon the ac 
count of it. That is a known thing of the emperor Alexander 
Severus, who caused it to be inscribed up and down in the most 
noted places of his palace ; and professed to bear so high 
an honour unto Christ, upon the account of his being the Au 
thor of so good a rule, as to desire to have him placed among 
the other deities. This indeed was designed before, but provi 
dence ordered it so as that it should not be said he came into so 
mean a copartnership for a Deity. 

And that rule it is" plain doth oblige us in reference to men 
indefinitely, or to any man whatsoever. For we would not on 
ly wish that this or that good man should deal well with us, or 
regret he should deal ill, but that any. man whatsoever should 
do so. We take it ill to be traduced, detracted, oppressed by 
any man. And so we have the object of our love in that extent 
plainly pointed out to us. Now we might here shew you, how 
this royal law is violated : namely, by such carriages and dis 
positions as are directly repugnant to love ; or else by such a 
temper, disposition, and behaviour, which (though it doth not 
carry in it repugnancy to love, but would consist very well with 
it) proceeds from other principles, and not from a genuine, and 
pure principle of love. And here 

1. We shall animadvert upon some things which are more di 
rectly repugnant to this love. As 

(1.) A morose unconversable frame and temper. When men 
are become unsociable, and nobody knows how to deal 
with them ; such sons of Belial (as was said concerning Na- 
bal) that one knows not how to speak to them. Such as, al 
though it has been a proverb that every man hath two handles, 
have themselves never a one that one can tell how to take hold 
of them by. It is impossible to, know how to converse with 
them, so as not to give them offence ; always sour, captious, 
snarling, supercilious, and tractable on no terms. And this 
is a great deal more odious when religion is pretended for it ; 
and when because they would be taken for persons more strict 
ly and severally godly, they must needs therefore in their great 
zeal for such a reputation shew themselves uncivil and hu- 
moursome. As if religion, which beyond all things else tends to 
cultivate men's minds and manners, must quite destroy hu 
manity out of the world, and render men incapable of civil 

If we did but read and consider such passages of Scripture, 
where we are enjoined to be courteous, and kindly affected to 
men ; or consider such instances and examples as that of Abra- 


ham treating with the sons of Heth, o'r that of the apostle 
Paul's deportment towards Felix, Festus, or Agrippa : we 
should soon see that much acquaintance with God is no way at 
all inconsistent with the most comely, fair, and even genteel 
deportment unto men ; and that there is no inconsistency at 
all between religion, even at the very highest pitch, and a 
civil and ingenuous behaviour to them with whom we have to 

(2.) We may instance in what is still worse, namely, an 
unmerciful temper and disposition, and a practice suitable to 
it. There is a heart that is hard as a stone, which hath no 
bowels, no compassion, even towards the most moving objects, 
which do from day to day occur. And this the apostle in this 
rcry epistle tells us very plainly doth argue the love of God not 
to have place in us. And again 

(3.) Injustice, or unrighteousness is fitly reducible hither 
also as a violation of that royal law of love, inasmuch as love 
ought to be the principle of all the duties of righteousness. 
Else how can the duties of the second table be gathered up in 
that sum, as you heard before, of love to our neighbour as 

And here comes in all falsehood, the violations of men's 
words and promises, so that one does not know whom to trust; 
which is the thing that directly tends to break up all human 
society. For every thing of commerce between man and man 
depends upon human faith, as commerce with God depends 
upon a divine faith. A man that cannot trust in God can have 
no fellowship with him ; and when there is no such thing as 
trust in men, there is no place for commerce between man and 
man. For if that should be once banished out of the universe, 
the world must disband, all human societies must break up ; 
men must resolve to live as beasts, retired in cells and caves 
and wildernesses. 

All that oppression also, extortion, and fraudulent commerce 
that are among men, belong to this head. If men did but 
love others as themselves, or if they would but do to others as 
they would be done unto, (which is the great measure of the 
exercise of love) none of this would be. 

(-1.) We may addasanother instance, furious passions, rash an 
ger, and precipitous choler, and the contentions and strife which 
are so frequent, and so hotly maintained among men. And we 
may add to these, fretting, envy, secret repining in men's spirits 
when others are better, or do better than themselves. This is a 
disaffection of soul, which, as some heathens have noted, speaks. 
a direct quarrel with God, and a righting with him. Because a 


wise providence sees fit to favour such and such persons, there 
fore we will be sure to be none of their friends. And most of 
all repugnant to this duty of love are hatred, malice, revenge- 
fulness, a continual watching, and waiting for opportunities 
to do others an ill turn, from whom we conceive ourselves to 
have received one. And I instance, 

Lastly, In that from whence almost all this doth proceed* 
namely, inordinate self-love which hath set all the world at 
variance. This is what the apostle means by lust j an affec 
tation of drawing all to ourselves, by an inordinate and extra 
vagant affection to which we indulge ourselves and our own in 
terest, each minding his own things. And so, whereas we should 
each of us fill up the sphere we converse in with love, that so 
dwelling in love we might dwell in God who is love, most men 
shrink their sphere into one point. They make themselves 
the only object of their love j all is confined there, and termi- 
nateth there.* 

And therefore, because men's private interests do interfere 
and clash with one another, hence it cornes to pass that the 
world is filled with all those strifes, quarrels, contentions, wars, 
and blood, with which it is afflicted from day to day, and age 
to age. Whence are all these but from lusts ? and what are 
those lusts all gathered up into one, but inordinate self-love, 
that knows no regulation, and will be confined by no just mea 
sures ? It is a most apt and elegant expression of the Roman 

* There is an excellent passage to this purpose, which I beg 
leave to transcribe verbatim from one of the author's discourses on 
self-denial, never yet published. 

" Consider the great incongruity, yea the monstrous incongruity 
of his self-addictedness, that a creature should be addicted to itself j 
a creature I say, be it as good and great as it will ! For what is the 
creature itself, the whole collection of all creatures together, but a 
mere drop unto the ocean, the drop of a bucket? Such a minute 
thing, a little inconsiderable thing that sprung up out of nothing 
into something but the other day, now to set up for itself ! Mon 
strous incongruity, horrid absurdity ! most of all for that self, that 
most addict themselves to serve, fleshly self. A fit thing to be a 
Deity! a thing whose wants and cravings continually might con 
vince one, that it is not nor can be alone. How does it hug, and 
cleave, and cling to a sojourning soul for a merely borrowed life 1 
feeling itself going when the soul is going. Is this a fit thing to 
subsist alone ; by itself and of itself r" And so the author goes on 
to shew,, that " to set up for ourselves as if we were born for our 
selves alone, or as if we owed nothing to our brother, nor had any 
dependance upon God, cuts us off from him and forfeits all interest 
in his common car." 


1 54 ON THE LOVE O* COtf (sfiR. kV. 

emperor Marcus Antioninus to this purpose, who says, " Such 
an inordinate self-love is like an ulcer, or imposthumated part, 
that draweth all to itself, and starveth the body to which it be 
longs." But there may be also 

2. A violation of this royal law of love to others, not only 
where things directly repugnant to it are indulged, but also 
where there are external carriages which would well comport 
with it, while they proceed not from a principle of love to one 
another, as the root and fountain of them. As in the opening 
of the doctrine we observed to you, that so waywardly are the 
spirits of men alfected, that sometimes they will make the prin 
ciple exclude the external acts and expressions, and sometimes 
the contrary. Men may carry it fairly and without exceptiona- 
bleness to others, but it proceeds not from the principle of love, 
but some other principle. 

As for instance, with respect to acts of charity, some express 
their compassion to those who are in distress, by relieving them 
in their exigencies ; but it is out of vain- glory, and to procure 
themselves a name. They sound a trumpet before them and 
proclaim that they give alms, as our Saviour speaks of the pha- 
risees. So a man will be just and square in his dealings, but 
it proceeds not from love to his neighbour, such as we owe to 
ourselves, but only from prudence ; for if they do not carry 
it fair, they shall undo themselves as to their name and com 
merce in the world. Or it may proceed from fear ; "I will not 
wrong or injure such a one for fear he should right himself upon 
me, and prove too hard for me at the long run." It may also 
proceed from deceit, and a treacherous disposition. They will 
carry it with all kindness to such till they can have an oppor 
tunity as it were to smite them under the fifth rib, as Joab did 
Abner, while lie spoke to him peaceably. 2 Sam. 3. 27. 

These are manifest violations of this great and royal law ; 
that is, they may be manifest to the persons themselves who 
are guilty, if they would but allow themselves the liberty to re 
flect, and take a view of the temper of their own spirits. In 
the exercise of this kind of love, a^xim awn-oK^/ror, an unhypo- 
critical love is required, love without dissimulation. Rom. 12. 

Now concerning all these things many are apt to think them 
but little matters. " They are but offences against men, say 
they, such as ourselves." Conscience as to these is little sen 
sible or smitten in most men, because it is stupid, and cannot 
feel by reflections of this kind. But indeed these are very far 
from being light matters in themselves. They are things of 
dreadful import, if we consider what it is they argue or prove ; 


that is, they argue little or no love to an unseen God. For thi 
ther it is that the apostle's argumentation directs us to run up 
the business. If it appear by these instances that there is no 
love to our brother, whom we have seen ; how can there be 
any love to God, whom we have not seen ? These things argue 
the little respect men bear to an invisible God, to an unseen 
Ruler and Lord. They argue how low the interest of the bles 
sed God is among men, how little his authority and law do sig 
nify with them, and that men are sunk into a deep oblivion of 
him that made them. 

These miscarriages where they are more common, prevail 
ing, and customary with men, are all rooted in atheism. Where 
there is but little respect to the duty between man and man, 
it is an argument there is a much less. respect to that which we 
owe to the unseen God, the Lord both of them and us. It 
argueth that when he hath settled an order in this world among 
his creatures, designed and appointed such a thing as human 
society, and directed that human love should be the common 
bond of that society ; it argues, I say, a great want of respect 
unto God that men should make a rupture of that sacred bond, 
and so at once break themselves off from one another and from 

This is a matter of dreadful consequence if we do but run it 
up to its original, and lay the stress and the weight of the mat 
ter where it ought to lie. As was said of a certain country, 
* c The fear of God is not in this place," (Gen. 20. 11.) where 
it was apprehended there was a danger of suffering violence in 
reference to property ; so it may equally be said, there is no 
love of God in that place j that is, in that heart and soul where 
so many manifest violations are continually offered (habitually 
and without regret) unto a law upon which he lays such weight ; 
a law which God has made so fundamental, and built the frame 
of so great a part of all our other duty upon it. 

And it may be now upon all this, some will be ready to say j 
ff Truly it is a very sad thing there should be so little love 
among men as such, and highly reasonable it is that such love 
should obtain more than it does." But they withal think it 
very reasonable that they should be dispensed with, especially 
in two cases ; that is, where men are very wicked, or where 
they are enemies to them. In the former case they would be 
dispensed with upon the account of their pretended respect to 
God, who is injured by men's wickedness ; and they would 
fain be excused in the latter case, upon a real but very undue 
respect to themselves, whom they apprehend to be injured by 
such and such persons. 


Therefore I would say somewhat more particularly (before I 
leave this head of love to men as men) to these two cases ; 
that is, to evince to you how great iniquity it is that such limi 
tations should be admitted of as these ; namely, that we would 
extend our love to men in general, except the more wicked 
sort of men, and also such as are particular enemies to our 

I, As to the former, the pretence is more plausible ; they 
cannot apprehend how they should be bound to love a wicked 
man. And yet I shall shew you briefly what exercise love ought 
to have in that case, and upon what considerations ; what place 
there is, and what room for love to those who are profligately 
wicked, whom we are thus urged to love. 

(1.) It is plain, negatively, that we ought not to love a man 
the better because he is a wicked man, and yet it is plain that 
most men do so. It is as ill to love a wicked man for his ini 
quity, as to hate a good man for his goodness ; as Cain did his 
brother Abel, which is noted also in this epistle. For there 
are persons, " Who (knowing the judgment of God that they 
which commit such things are worthy of death) not only do the 
same, but have pleasure in them that do them." Rom. 1. 32. 
But this is very remote from the temper of a gracious spirit. 
The Psalmist makes his solemn appeal to God concerning this 
case j " Do not I hate them that hate thee, O Lord ? 1 hate 
them with a perfect hatred. I count them mine enemies." 
Ps. 139. 21, 22. That is, barely considered as wicked, or 
upon the account of their wickedness and enmity to God ; 
which is the thing upon which this professed, avowed hatred 
is founded. But notwithstanding, 

(2.) There is room still for the exercise of love to such per 
sons several ways. As 

[1.] Love ought to be exercised in assuaging and repressing 
of undue and inordinate passions, which are apt to tumultuate, 
even in reference to cases of that nature. A fretting corrod 
ing spirit, when we find wickedness and a prosperous state in 
conjunction, is most expressly forbidden. "Fret not thyself 
because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man 
who bringeth wicked devices to pass." Ps. 37. 7- And again, 
*< Let not thine heart envy sinners, but be thou in the fear of 
the Lord all the day long." Prov. 23. 17. The daily and assi 
duous fear of God will be a check able to restrain such an 
ebullition of spirit where it doth prevail. 

In like manner a vindictive temper of spirit as to such is not 
allowed. There arc those, many times, who cannot have pa 
tience till providence has run its course, when they see wick- ; 


edness prosperously triumphing and lifting up the head, but 
with impatient heat they are presently for calling down fire 
from heaven to destroy such. As it was with those over zeal 
ous disciples of our Lord, when entertainment and lodging 
were refused by the Samaritans. But see how our Saviour re 
sents it, who rebuked and said unto them, "Ye know not what 
manner of spirit ye are of." Luke 9. 55. There ought to 
be the exercise of love to the mitigation, and depression of 
the inordinate workings of the heart in such cases. And 

[2.] In serious and affectionate compassion, from the con 
sideration of the tendency of their course, and of what these 
poor wretches are doing against themselves. The same com 
passion, I say, that we would have towards a distracted man, 
who we fear every moment will suffer by his own violent hands ; 
and of whom we apprehend extreme peril, if he should be left 
a quarter of an hour to himself. These are persons that are 
likely to undo themselves, and in danger finally of piercing their 
own souls as they are wounding them every moment. The 
true spirit of Christian love to men as men, considered as 
never so wicked, ought to be exercised towards these persons 
upon that account, and because they are so. We reckon it as 
a very unnatural inhuman thing not to have great motions of 
pity and compassion, upon the hearing of towns, villages, and 
cities, in which pestilential diseases are raging, and tumbling- 
thousands daily into the dust. But how much more dreadful 
is this case ! and therefore how much more pitiful, compas 
sionate love doth it require and challenge ! And again, 

[3.] Love should have its exercise in offering up very earnest 
prayers for them. It is a very sad case when the hearts and 
consciences of too many may witness and testify, that they could 
tell how to rage against such persons as they have observed to 
be wicked, and find their hearts ready to storm, at them ; but 
never can find, from time to time, an occasion to put up a 
prayer to God for them, who have no disposition themselves to 
eek for mercy to their poor souls. And 

[4.] In prudent and kind admonitions too, and rebukes, 
when providence administers the occasion 5 which is to be 
judged of by more rules and circumstances, than our present 
design will suffer us to mention. But besides what hath been 
said, as to the particulars in which this love is to be exercised 
in such cases, the considerations to move us to the exercise of 
it are manifold. As for instance, 

We ought to consider that such have human nature and rea 
sonable immortal spirits, capable of service to Gud as much as 


ourselves, and also of being in God as well as we are. And 
what ! is there no place for love to them, who are bone of our 
bone, and flesh of our flesh, and even of the same reasonable 
nature with ourselves ? 

We should also consider that we have a corrupt nature a* 
well as they have, even the same corrupt nature. And if it has 
not broke forth into as ill practices, we owe it not to ourselves 
but to that mercy which distinguisheth persons, and doth ex 
ercise itself as it will. And it may be even as to practice too, 
euch we have been in times past, as the apostle speaks of some 
of the Corinthian Christians. 1 Cor. 6. 11. Therefore the 
wickedness of such is separable from their nature, otherwise 
if we think the case better with us, how came it separable from 
curs ? 

Finally. Let it be considered, that God expresses a common 
love and kindness and indulgence to such. He does good to 
the evil and the unthankful, to the just and the unjust ; and 
makes his sun to shine, and his rain to fall upon the one and 
the other. Matt. 5. 45. Yea and his particular love hath fall 
en upon many such, and doth mostly fall upon such, where it 
does fall. For herein " God commendeth his love towards us, 
in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Rom. 5. 
8. If God did not know how to love sinners, not indeed for 
their wickedness, but notwithstanding it j where were we, and 
what would have become of us ! 

MR. XVI.) 




have already shewn from these words, that their pre* 
tence to the love of God is hoth false and absurd, who do 
not join wi f h it love to their brother. And by way of use or 
application ve have animadverted upon the common temper 
and frame, so very unsuitable to what this scripture plainly re 
quires and call 3 for ; namely, the little love that appears among 
Christians in our days. And after we had pressed and recom 
mended love to men universally considered, and shewn also 
that we are obliged in our carriage and practice to shew our 
love to men considered indefinitely, that is, every one with 
whom we have anything to do ; it was observed, that some 
would fain indulge themselves in the neglect of this duty, and 
particularly in two cases think that they may challenge a dis 
pensation. We therefore proposed to consider them severally. 

1 . The case of those who think themselves to be under no 
obligation to love wicked men, especially such as are persons of 
profligate wickedness. In speaking to which we have briefly 
shewn what sort of exercise, love ought to have in this case. 

2. Case is that of those who think they may be dispensed 

* Preached December 6, 


with or excused from loving those that are their enemies, which 
we now proceed to consider. In the former case, as we have 
observed, persons are prone to think they may be dispensed 
with out of respect to God, or on his account ; in the latter case 
out of respect to themselves. A great piece of hardship many 
think it to be compelled to love them who they know are no 
friends of theirs, but are continually contriving mischievous de 
signs against them. What room or place there can be for the 
exercise of love in such a case, we shall here briefly shew you, 
and then upon what considerations it ought to be vigorously 

(1.) For the former of these, on which I shall not insist very 

[1.] There ought to be the exercise of love, even to enemies, 
in calming and subduing whatever is contrary thereunto in our 
selves. All opposite passions, and the workings of them must 
be restrained j every thing of anger, wrath, malignity, bitter 
ness of spirit, revenge or vindictiveness more especially. Thus 
ought love to be exercised in the maintaining of a calm in our 
own minds and hearts, that there may be no tumultuations of 
any undue or forbidden passion upon any such account. Yea 
and again, 

[2.] There ought to be love exercised in a more positive way ; 
in forgiving or passing by whatever trespasses are done against 
us, as we expect to be forgiven ourselves. Love ought to be 
exercised to such even in doing them good; which is yet more 
possitive. " Do good," says our Saviour, " to them that hate 
you, and pray for them that despitefully use you." Matt. 5. 44. 
We should do them what good we can ourselves, and pray for 
them that they may have that good which we cannot procure 
for them. The order and gradation of this precept is very ob 
servable. We are lirst in general enjoined to love our enemies, 
to bless them that curse us ; and then we are enjoined to do 
them good, and to pray for them. As if our Lord had said, 
*' First do all the good you can to them yourselves ; but when 
you are gone as far as you can, then engage and set on work 
an almighty agent by prayer. Pray that God would do them 
good when you can do them none." 

We should take heed of looking on this as a Platonical ehi- 
msera ; as a thing that can only have place in the imagination, 
or as a matter altogether impracticable. Christ has enjoined 
us no impracticable things. And there have been great exam 
ples in the world, that of his own and others, who have beeri 
so influenced by the grace of God as to give demonstration that 
this was 110 impracticable matter. And have we never heard 


of any that have" rendered themselves remarkable on this ac 
count ? of those of whom it hath been said, " No man could 
take a readier course to make such a one his friend, than by 
doing him an injury?" I believe some of us have heard of such 
instances even in these lower dregs of time. This we should 
then fix with ourselves as our resolutions. ts Doth any man 
make it his business and design to trouble and molest me ? 
Is he from time to time seeking occasions to vex me ? The 
next opportunity that occurs to me of doing that man a good 
turn, I will be sure to lay hold upon it. I will be even with 
him that way. If I can do him good, I will. This I would fix 
upon my heart as a law." 

(2.) I will now proceed to give you some considerations that 
vince to us the reasonableness of such an exercise of love to 
our enemies j to such as bear us ill will, and are ready to do us 
an ill turn. As 

[1.] Consider it is the law and glory of Christianity to do so. 
That it is the Christian law is plain, and you have heard it al 
ready. You see how in the sermon on the mount, our Saviour 
reflects upon that mean, sordid, narrow principle of the Jews, 
which mostly in those times did possess and steer that people. 
" You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy 
neighbour and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your 
enemies, &c." Matt. 5. 43. He then plainly, as to the mat 
ter of the exercise of love, takes away the distinction between 
neighbour and enemy. Our Saviour will allow no such dis 
tinction. And it is very plain, that by neighbour and brother 
he means the same thing in that fifth chapter of St. Matthew's 
gospel, where expounding the sixth commandment, " Thou 
shalt not kill," according to its spiritual sense and meaning, 
he makes the object of that law to be our brother ; plainly in 
tending by brother all those, whom it was unlawful to kill. 
" I say unto you that whosoever is angry with his brother with 
out a cause shall be in danger of the judgment." It is plain he 
means anger and killing with respect to the same object. We 
are therefore to love our enemies under that common no 
tion of brother. This, I say then, is most clear that pur Lord 
Christ hath made this law with respect to enemies. Love them, 
bless them, pray for them, and do good to them, are his ex 
press precepts. 

And it is the particular glory of Christianity, that such a con 
stitution as this is, is to be found in it as a law. This must be 
acknowledged to be peculiar to Christianity. " To love friends, 
that is common to all men ; to love enemies, that is proper to 
Christians j" as said an ancient in the Christian church long 

VOL. vi, y 

162 ON THE LOVE Of <SO <R. 

ago. It is true indeed such a temper as this hath been well 
spoken of among the heathen : but a great deal more praised, 
than practiced ; more applauded, than imitated. I remember 
one of them says, that " It is to imitate God himself not to 
hate any one at all, and more especially to terminate the ex 
ercise of our most fervent and complacential love upon the 
best." And we have heard of some who in lower things have 
done somewhat like this. As a great man of Athens, when on a 
certain night one followed him all along the street, reviling him 
and calling him most injurious and contumelious names, as soon 
is he came to his own house, he only commanded his servants 
to light the man home again. And every man must acknowledge 
it an amiable and lovely thing, when but a specimen has ap 
peared, though never so faint, of such a kind of practice. 

But I say it is the peculiar glory of Christianity to form and 
habituate the spirits of those who are sincere unto this temper; 
that so the instances of this nature may not be rare, and that 
love may be exemplified in men's course and behaviour, ac 
cording as the occasions of human life do require. And who 
can but reckon it a glory ? For is not every creature upon that 
account the more excellent as his spirit is more conformed unto 
God ? It is with this enforcement that this law is given by our 
Saviour, in the verse immediately after the precepts before 
mentioned ; " That ye may be the children of your Father 
who is in heaven, for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil 
and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." 
As if he had said, Love your enemies, and do good to them 
that use you ill, that you may hold forth a visible resemblance 
of God 5 that his image in this kind may appear and shine in 
you ; and that it may thereupon be made known to all whose 
children you are, and by whom you are begotten ; that it may 
be seen, that there is a nature truly divine conveyed and trans 
mitted into you, and so inwrought into your temper as demon 
strate you to be the children of God. Certainly it is the glory 
of a creature to resemble its Maker ; and by how much the 
more :t does so, by so much the more glorious is that crea 
ture, for what is the glory or excellency found in the creature, 
but the reflection and impress of the divine excellency and 
glory ? And again, in the 

[2.] Place, let it be considered, that by this exercise of love 
to our enemies we make ourselves superior to them, according 
to the injunction which is laid upon us by the apostle : " Be 
Hot ye overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." Rom. 
12. 21. The latter part of the verse we may take notice of by 
and by. All the while that a man can continue and keep up a 
spirit of kindness, and benignity, and goodness to bis eueuaics/ 


it is plain he is not overcome ; he is upon the upper ground, 
and hath unspeakably the better of them. And it is the easiest 
and surest defeat of malice that can be imagined or thought of. 
For it is certain where an ill-minded, mischievous person doth 
bend and set himself against such a one as you, he will not 
only set himself to hurt you but to vex you. It is not only 
your hurt that he aims at, but he would disquiet you, and put 
your mind to torture. So then it is plain, let a man have 
never so much hard usage from another, if there are manifest 
evidences that his spirit sinks not, but rather that he maintains 
a great spirit under all, it retorts the vexation upon him who 
designed it, and he himself alone is vexed who aimed at that 
design. Therefore he still keeps the superiority in this case, 
the temper of whose spirit remains within him placid, calm, and 
undisturbed ; free from any unmanly, and most of all unchris 
tian passions. 

And it is love which hath that dominion, that it will not let 
such impure and unbecoming things as envy, hatred, or malice 
come into that state, which is all made up of goodness, kind" 
ness, and love. The strength of that gracious principle, work 
ing with its due vigour, expels and keeps them from coming 
into the soul, or making inroads there. And all this while 
there can be no vexation, no disquietude in the spirit of such 
a one. It is fortified, and so strengthened as to shut out what 
ever would disturb and break the peace within. And so he 
that hath set himself against you hath not his design, because, 
you are not overcome by him. 

And to be sure whatever hand the devil hath in such attempts 
he is defeated ; for he only desires you should sin against God, 
which certainly you do when you admit of any breach of chari 
ty. He does not care whether it be well or ill with you in ex 
ternal respects, only as it is a means to induce you to commit 
sin. So that if he stirs up a quarrel between any one and you 
his design is to transfer it between God and you ; and having 
put it into the heart of any one to be your enemy, he would fain 
excite enmity in your heart Jigainst him, so as to render you 
God's enemy. This is the design he wholly aims at. Now he 
is defeated thereof, when your spirit remains conform to the 
law of God in this case j and you are not conscious of any evil 
temper of spirit towards them, who are in the mean time, work 
ing you all the mischief that they can. 

[3.] This temper of spirit carries in it, and a suitable deport 
ment expresses, a holy, great, and generous independency upon 
external things. For any man's ill will to you, and what 
soever effects there can be of it, are all to you external things. 


Such a temper of spirit then, I say, shews your independency 
upon all outward things, and a superiority unto all external 
good and evil ; that you do not take yourself to be greatly con 
cerned in matters that are so foreign to you as such a man's 
ill will, or any ill effects thereof. For whither can they reach 
if you do not betray yourself, or be false to yourself ? " Fear 
not them that can kill the body only, and after that have no 
more that they can do." Luke xii. 4. We are addressed to there 
as if we were hardly to reckon the concernments of the body 
any part of our own concerns. 

So indeed some heathens have been wont magnificently to 
speak, reckoning up such things wherein good and evil may be 
said to consist ; and upon stating the notions of the one, and 
the other, all the good and evil things of the body are cast out 
of the account. " For/' says one, "do you think 1 take my 
body to be MB, and this flesh to be myself?" And so another, 
" They can kill me, but they cannot hurt me." So when one 
was to be beaten to death with hammers and axes, he cried out, 
Si Strike on ! thou mayest break in pieces this vessel of Anax- 
archus, but him himself thou canst not touch." And another 
discoursing upon that question, An injuria sit referenda f 
denies it peremptorily, and reasons against it most strongly. 
* C A good man, says he, is neither capable of being affected with 
injury, nor of affecting any one with it. Injuries can properly 
have place only among ill men, who are upon that account of 
fenders and breakers of laws. But among good men there is 
no one that can do an injury because he hath that virtue that 
will not let him ; and he cannot suffer injury neither, because 
his virtue keeps it off, so as that it cannot have access to his 
spirit. It cannot invade or disturb his inward man. There 
is nothing to be detracted or taken from him by such an injury. 
For as to external good he doth not reckon it his, he cares not 
for it, and so parts with it without loss.'' 

Thus many of them have talked at a high rate, but it is the 
great concern of Christians that they may feel in themselves 
what may answer the import of such expressions ; and as one 
said, "Live rather than talk great things. " And certainly it is 
a great thing when the temper of a man's spirit is such, as that 
in all his course he shall discover an independency upon exter 
nals ; so as to hold it forth that he is little concerned with, or 
moved by any kind of good and evil as can only reach the out 
ward man, which ends with his life, and will shortly be as if it 
had never been. 

Such a temper of spirit as this is -will soon keep a man out 


of the reach of this lower, and more troublesome sphere. He 
is above, liveth in another world, in another region. His iniud 
and spirit are not within the reach of storms and tempests, but 
above that region which is liable to the stroke of such things ; 
and so he continually keeps the possession of his own soul. It 
js a dominion over himself, a dominion in himself, the peace and 
tranquillity of reason that such a man enjoys. Thus says our 
Saviour, " In your patience possess ye your souls." That is a, 
thing not very remote and alien from that temper of spirit that 
\ve are speaking of.. For what think we patience is ? It is not 
a mere sturdiness of spirit, a stoutness by which we are able to 
endure whatever comes ; but it is that sweet and pleasant trau- 
quillity, that repose of rest and spirit, by which it remains un 
disturbed whatever evils fall out to be our lot in this evil world. 
Jt is not merely to be able to bear, but to bear well ; to bear be 
comingly and with a composed and quiet temper of mind, which 
admits no ill impression or resentments under what it happens 
to be our lot to bear. 

So it falls in with love, and is animated by it. Love is the 
life and soul of it. Patience towards him by whom I suffer evil, 
is influenced by love to him ; and then that evil which I suffer 
by him signifies nothing. And it is by this I possess my own 
soul ; otherwise, I am not master of myself, but am an impo 
tent slave to this or that passion, raised and stirred up in me by 
this or that outward affliction. And thus I betray myself to an, 
injury, which otherwise could not hurt or touch me. And a- 

[4.] It is further to be considered that the person that ma 
ligns me, or suppose them to be many that do so, they may yet 
have many excellencies, and on other accounts may be very 
worthy persons. And it would be a useful consideration, to 
keep and preserve a good temper of spirit in us, and to quicken 
love to its due exercise, if we would turn off our eye from that 
one particular thing, the ill will they bear to us, and look upon, 
the many things that are good and commendable besides. And 
whatever, real goodness there is, that doth certainly challenge 
love. For what ! do we think love is to have its exercise no 
where, but where there is perfect goodness ? Then are we to 
love no creature at all. 

What if in that respect we apprehend such a man to be evi 
or to do evil, who bears ill will to us or to our way, and those 
who bear our character upon them ; yet may they not have 
very good things in them besides ? Such may be sober, prudent, 
learned persons, and useful men in the world. And what ! must; 
all that good be lost and buried, only because they have some 


particular animosity and ill will to us ? It is too much to take 
our measure of what is to be loved, and what not , by ourselves 
and by our own interest ; and it would argue a very private and 
narrrow spirit, that we should judge of what is lovely and com 
mendable, only by what has reference to us. We have no rea 
sonable warrant to do so. 

And perhaps it is a disputable thing that such and we differ 
in ; and it is not altogether impossible, that they may be in 
the right, and we in the wrong. And it becomes such persons 
as we are, conscious to ourselves of human frailty, not to be 
too confident that every man is in the wrong who opposeth him 
self unto us. At least, it would become the modesty of chris- 
tians to search so much the more, and inquire the more 
diligently into the matter, that they do not a double injury by 
being opposite to such persons > wrongfully at first,and then 
persevering in it ; and letting an unworthy, unsuitable temper 
of spirit obtain thereupon, and take place in them. 

[5]. Suppose we be unjustly maligned by certain persons, 
then we have certainly God on our side j and consequently have 
a very good cause if we do not spoil it. If such and such bear 
us ill will, and we on our parts maintain the law of love invio 
late, we are well as to the matter we suffer for, and we shall be 
tolerably well as to the manner of suffering too. Suppose we 
suffer hard things through their ill will, this is not so much, so 
we do but quietly bear our wrong ; but if we miscarry here, we 
perfectly spoil a good cause. Whereas before we were right as 
to the matter, now as to the manner of our suffering under any 
one's displeasure, we have involved ourselves in guilt, and con 
sequently have done so much to disoblige God from interesting 
himself for us. And certainly then we have done very ill for 

[6.] If we do suffer the displeasure and ill will of any un 
justly with the effects thereof, and yet keep up love in our own 
hearts, those persons who injure us, do first a great deal more 
injure God. Therefore we have all the reason in the world to 
turn private, selfish anger upon that account, into a resent- 
mentof the indignity and offence done tothe common Ruler and 
Lord of all. And certainly by how much more the exercise of 
our spirits worketh out towards him, his interests and concern 
ments ; so much the less shall we find ourselves prejudiced in 
our own spirits, by what does more directly tend to us, and 
hath an aspect that way. We shall less consider that he hath 
injured us, and so be less tempted to render ill for ill, and 
hatred for hatred. He hath injured him that made him as wel} 
as us, which is a superior thing and a greater crime. Anil 


therefore that anger which turned the other way before, ought 
to turn against the dishonour that is done thereby to God, and 
into pity of the offender, upon the account of the anger of 
God incurred thereupon. And it ought to be considered fur 

[7-] That if any such do never so unjustly malign us, and 
therein wrong us, they wrong themselves much more. That 
would be a great allay to our passion to consider they slightly 
hurt us, but greatly hurt themselves. They are more injurious 
to themselves, than to those they design hurt unto. They do 
us but some external injury, but they wound themselves to the 
heart and soul. Sure then there ought to be that love in us, 
which should work pity in us upon that account. Nay fur 

[8.] We ought to consider that if they have wronged us, 
we have at one time and in one way or other wronged ourselves 
worse. We have done ourselves more wrong, than all the men 
in the world or the devils in hell could ever have effected against 
us, with their combined powers. If we have long lived in this 
world strangers to God, wandering from him who is our life : if 
we have lived in impenitence, disobedience, and rebellion to 
him, and strangers to his converse ; we have then infinitely 
more wronged ourselves, I say, than men or devils can pos 
sibly do. And yet we can tell how to love ourselves for all that. 
Why then shall we not know how to love them who do us un 
speakably less wrong, and are in no possibility of being so pre 
judicial to us as we are to ourselves ? We can be indulgent to 
ourselves, who have done more wrong and hurt ; why not to 
them, who have done us less ? 

[9,] We shall do ourselves a great deal more wrong than it 
is possible for them to do us, if we requite them with ill will, 
and do not maintain the law of love inviolate to them. We 
shall do ourselves a greater injury than they can make us suffer, 
though it were in their power to do as much as one creature can 
do to another. For they can but hurt us externally, unless it 
be our own fault ; but we hurt ourselves internally, if there be 
any unbecoming passion working or raging within. And what 
reason is there, because one giveth me a light scratch, that 
I must therefore give myself a mortal stab ? And yet further 

[10.] That whatsoever exercise our love shall have in thi* 
kind it will rebound upon ourselves, and turn to our o vn great 
advantage. For, in the first place, we shall have present peace 
aud tranquillity within, which is a great reward j and we shall 


be also entitled unto that reward which is future, as all sincere 
obedience is, by the law of God and the Redeemer. 

First. There is a great reward in this temper of spirit which 
it carries in itself. For do but consider what it is plain the law 
of Christ requires in this case. tc Bless them that curse you, 
do good to them that hate you, pray for them that despitefully 
iise you, and persecute you." Matt. 5. 44. Let us allow our 
selves to pause here a little. What advantage is there in this 
temper of spirit, whereby a man without forcing, or straining 
the habitual frame thereof, desires the fulness of all good to 
them, who perhaps rashly or injuriously wish all harm to him ! 
Certainly the very sense of those words, ff Bless them that curse 
you," if they were but transferred into and impressed upon our 
souls, is of unspeakably more worth than all the wealth of both 
the Indies. For a man to bear that temper of soul in himself, 
and to be able on reflection to conclude, though he be assaulted 
on all sides by the unjust displeasure of men, that there are yet 
no other but good propcnsions of kindness and mercy, tender 
ness and compassion, and a readiness to do them all the good 
lie can, as soon as ever he has an opportunity ; the pleasantness 
of such a temper, if known and experienced, no one would 
change for the greatest advantage this world could afford him. 
How happy is it to be able to say with the apostle, " Being 
reviled, we bless ; being persecuted, we suffer it ; being de 
famed, we intreat." 1 Cor. 4. 12, 13. As if he had said, 
" He that looks into our ways, nay into our breasts, shall be 
able to discern nothing but calmness there ; even an undisturb 
ed composure of spirit, and benignity towards them who are 
full of malignity to us." And 

Secondly. This is that temper of spirit also to which the blessed 
God hath particularly promised a reward. " If thine enemy be 
hungry, give him bread to eat ; and if he be thirsty, give him 
water to drink : for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, 
and the Lord shall reward thee." Prov. xxv. 21, 22. Rom. xii. 
20. It may be the person himself will not reward thee for so 
much good done to him. Concern not thyself for that ; if he 
will not, God will. The Lord will reward thee for all that good 
which thou hast done, in lieu of the evil which he has done to 
thee. And I add, 

Lastly, In this way you may quite conquer him at last, to 
whom you exercise love to that height. And how glorious a 
conquest is this ! The apostle says in the forementioned place, 
which is quoted from the Proverbs, that you shall by this means, 
(by returning good for evil) " heap coals of fire upon his head." 
1 know there is a controversy about these words ; some under- 


stand them in a good, others in an evil sense. Some say there 
by is meant, that you shall engage God on your side, and his 
wrath and vengeance shall vindicate your quarrel. Others think 
that we may understand by coals of tire, the melting warmth of 
love ; which will dissolve and mollify the obdurate, malicious 
spirit of the unjust adversary. And I for my part make Rule 
doubt but that is the meaning, and I am the more induced to 
believe it from what we find conjoined in both these scriptures. 
It is in the Proverbs, " The Lord shall reward thee," as one 
that hast been a subordinate benefactor to himself ; who doth 
good to those, who carry it very ill towards him. But to this 
passage quoted by the apostle is subjoined this exhortation ; '-Be 
not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good." Your 
goodness makes you glorious conquerors, and will melt down 
your enemy, and subdue him to you at the long run. 

And there is no way wherein we can contribute so much to 
the accomplishment of God's promise, to wit, " If a man's 
ways please the Lord, he will make his enemies to be at peace 
with him." Prov. 16. 7- And we have the most reason 
(though we are not to limit God as to the time or method of 
working things) to promise ourselves a happy issue and suc 
cess this way, that is, to make our enemies at peace with us ; 
when we in our whole deportment express and hold forth no 
thing but benignity, kindness, and sweetness to them, how 
ever harsh in their words and actions they are to us. 

And we ought to bethink ourselves too (with which I shall 
conclude) that let us be put to forgive them never so much, 
God has forgiven us more. It is impossible they should ever 
offend us so much as we have transgressed against him. There 
fore let us not grudge to extend our love to our enemies, for if 
God had not done so to us, what had become of us ? Misera 
ble creatures had we been ! " When we were enemies Christ died 
for us." It was for enemies he laid down his life, and exposed 
himself to those cruel sufferings which he underwent. And 
when we expect eternal life by him, who hath done so much 
for enemies will we not at his word, and upon the obligation, 
of his own law, conform our spirits and practice to our utmost 
herein ? For it is impossible we can have any enemies so in 
jurious to us, as we have been to Christ ; all which injury and 
wrong he is yet willing to bury in everlasting oblivion. 


(&ER. XVIJ. 


HE truth which we have more lately handled from these 
words is this : That their pretence to the love of God is 
hoth false and absurd, who do not conjoin with it love to their* 

We have insisted a little upon this doctrine, and have made 
some progress in the use, which was mainly intended to be 
this : namely, To animadvert upon the common practice of the 
world ; and especially to put us upon animadverting on our 
own practice, wherein it is contrary to the law of that love, 
which we are required to exercise towards our brethren, 
considered as men, and as Christians. We have already in 

first place, shewn and complained that there is but little of 
that love which ought to be exercised to men, as men, and we 
have particularly spoken to two cases, wherein many would 
plead an exemption ; namely, the case of those who are profli 
gately wicked, and of those who are their particular enemies : 
And we have shewed you how reasonable and necessary it is 
that love should be exercised to them as men, notwithstanding 
either of these circumstances. We are now to speak 

* Preached December J3 f 1676. 



/Secondly, According to the other and more restrained no 
tion of brother, to that love which we should have for one ano 
ther as Christians ; or which should be generally exercised by 
us upon a Christian account. And is it not worth our while to 
take notice, how the law of such love is most commonly vio 
lated among them who bear the Christian name, and to give 
instances hereof ? We will do this in two kinds. That is, 
we shall give you both private and positive instances, and let 
you see by both, how the law of love is too frequently broken 
and intrenched upon, even as if it were not a sacred thing. 

I. We shall give you some private instances of this, wherein 
persons appear not to do what the law of love doth require. 

1. When the object of this love is mistaken ; that is, either 
stated with too much latitude, or else is too much narrowed 
and limited. 

(1.) I say when it is stated too largely, and men do give ex 
orbitant measures of Christianity. There is a love to be exer 
cised to all, as you have heard before ; but there is, many times, 
a very unwarrantable extension of the notion of Christianity. 
There is so manifestly, when persons think the very assumed 
name itself a criterion enough of a Christian, and so would 
stretch that which is peculiarly Christian love to a proportiona 
ble latitude. As very often the Christian name is assumed, and 
taken on by such persons as understand not, nor believe any 
more of the Christian religion than mere pagans. As to them 
it is by mere hap that ever that name comes upon them. As 
if it were enough to make a Christian, only to live on such or 
such a turf; or as if because they think it fit and convenient 
to call themselves Christians, therefore they must be account 
ed as such ; and under that consideration be owned, respected, 
and loved as such without any difference, though all their prac 
tices hold forth nothing less than a perpetual avowed hostility 
unto Christ, as it is with too many others. 

I would indeed allow to that profession as much of respect as 
can, with any appearance of justice, be understood duly to be 
long to a name ; and such are to be loved suitably to the state 
and condition they are in. But totally to mistake their state 
and condition, and then to exercise love to them without dis 
crimination according to that mistake, certainly there is a great 
injury done in this case : especially where the case is so very 
apparent that persons more significantly shew themselves what 
they are by what they do, than can be known by what they are 
called. And then, 

(2.) When the notion of Christianity is too much narrowed 

172 ON THE LOVE OF GOD (sBR. XVtf.' 

and restrained, or of those whom we are to account and love 
as, Christians. The whole Christian fraternity is confined by 
some to those of tht- ir own party, or particular way and per 
suasion in respect of some little things, altogether extra-essen 
tial and circumstantial only to religion. And so Christian love 
comes to be confined to, and is exercised only within this lit 
tle circle. This is a very great injury on the other hand ; and 
the same thing in effect as to say, Lo, here is Christ, and there 
he is, yea, it is to say exclusively Here he is, and no where else ! 
And it is as great a fault to say he is not where indeed he is, as 
to say he is where he is not. Love to Christians, as Christians, 
surely ought to run a larger course. And again, 

2. When the principle of love doth languish. Suppose the 
object of it to be stated never so rightly, without any error or 
mistake, the languor and decay of the principle does every 
whit as much intrench upon the law of love, and is a more 
injurious violation of it, than a mistaking the object. When 
love so exceedingly fails among Christians, as such, that 
upon reflection it is hardly to be known whether any such 
thing be alive or at work or no ; when, I say, our love so 
waxes cold, it is, as our Saviour intimates, a time of great 
iniquity. And it is plain he means it of that love that ought 
to have its exercise to Christians, fellow-christians, and not 
merely of love to himself. For in the context you will find 
him speaking of persons betraying one another ; and hating one 
another; and then he adds, " Because iniquity shall abound, 
the love of many shall wax cold." Matt. 24. 12. And indeed 
the cause is very manifest and obvious to be from thence, from 
the abounding of iniquity. 

He that loveth a Christian as a chiistian, must be under 
stood to love Christianity itself proportionably more. That 
which makes a thing such, is more such ; that which makes a 
person lovely, is more lovely. To love Christians as Christians, 
is to love their religion. But now, when once the iniquities 
of the times abound, many who loved professors before grow 
cool in their love It was taken up for their conveniency, and 
it is laid down for their conveniency, according as may best 
serve their turn. 

Now this coldness of love among Christians considered as 
such is a dreadful token, how little and slight an account so 
ever is made of it. The law of love doth not only say, Love 
your brother or one another; but with a pure heart fervently." 
I Pet. 1. 29-. And it is not a little that is contributed to the 
life and vigour of religion itself, by the vigour and lively ex 
ercise of this love. Therefore this great duty is recommended 


upon the very account, and with this design that our hearts 
may be established in holiness. " The Lord make you to in 
crease and abound in love one towards another, and towards 
all men, even as we do towards you ; to the end he may es 
tablish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God even 
our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all hie 
gaints." 1 Thes. 3. 12, 13. 

3. An unaptness to take care of avoiding offences among 
Christians is another breach of this same law of love. Too 
many lay no restraints upon their spirits in this matter at all, 
or have no consideration of the case ; never saying, " Shall I 
offend by this or that, or shall I not ?" And others are as faul 
ty in being apt to take offence, where the matter carries none 
in it. They are testy, froward, and. captious, so that no one 
knoweth how to converse with them, or careth to have to do 
with them, or to be of their society. And again, 

4. That I may hasten through many things, which I would 
at this time say to you in the close of all this long discourse, a 
very great difficulty either to give or receive satisfaction, is very 
unsuitable to the love of our brother. 

To give satisfaction : how are the spirits of many straitened 
and bound up in this case, by their own pride and self-conceit, 
and the great opinion which they have of themselves ! As if it 
were a far greater reflection to say, " Sir, I have done wrong ;" 
than it is to do another wrong. Or that men must needs give 
out themselves to be of something above a mortal human race, 
that it is impossible they should ever have offended, or ever 
do amiss. How great mischiefs would one such word as this 
sometimes prevent, among those with whom we have a fami 
liar converse, " Sir, I confess I have not done well in such a 
thing, pray pass it by !" That great precept of confessing our 
faults to one another, and praying for others, (Jam. 5. 16.) 
how is it quite thrown out of doors now-a-days ! how rare in 
stances are there of any such kind of practice. 

And there is as great an unaptness on the other hand to re 
ceive satisfaction. Persons insist highly upon the wrong, and 
cannot abate so much as one punctilio. Such things as for 
bearance and forgiveness, where there is an offence and wrong 
done, how little do they obtain in common practice in our time 1 
And it is amazing to think that the moving enforcements which 
we have in Scripture of that one thing, should signify so little a- 
mong us. Forgive ye one another the trespasses that ye com 
mit one against another, even as God for Christ's sake freely 
forgave us. Oh what ! should not such a consideration as that 
is prevail with Christian hearts to forgive, when it is considered 


how freely God for Christ's sake is said to forgive us ? " Be 
ye kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, 
even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Eph 4. 32. 
Col. 3. 12. 13. And again, 

5. A mutual shyness and strangeness to one another, without 
a sufficient cause, is also unsuitable to this Brotherly love. Many 
Christian friends grow of a sudden strangers to one another, 
and no one can tell how or whence it should be. It may be the 
person that is passive in the case is altogether at a loss to ac 
count for it. For a long while he observes such a one to grow 
a stranger to him, and he cannot devise what should be the rea 
son, or whence it should proceed, but upon a surmise. As if 
it were so great a difficulty to ask a person the question, Is it 
so ? or if so, were it well ? But instead of this, alienation 
must be the next thing, the first thing done without any more 

How intolerable is this among Christians ! And surely if we 
should live to see a day wherein the Christian community should 
be scattered, and we tossed and driven to and fro, it may be it 
would be a grateful sight to meet such a man, to see such a face 
in a wilderness or upon the tops of mountains, whom formerly 
we could not endure. Cordial then perhaps would be the em 
braces among those persons, who almost mortally hated one 
another before. We have reason to pray to God that such dis 
tempers of mind among us be not thought fit to be cured by 
such means. 

6. Another instance is neglect of mutual admonition and ex 
hortation among Christians concerning known sins or manifest 
neglects of duties. We know that this is frequently pressed in 
Scripture, and the charge and weight of it is laid upon our love. 
Yea to neglect this is an interpretative hatred. "Thou shalt 
not hate thy brother in thine heart, thou shalt in any wise re 
buke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him." Levit. 19. 17. 
How often are we called upon to exhort and admonish one ano 
ther ? " Exhort one another daily while it is called, To-day; lest 
any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." Heb. 
3, 13. And how strange a thing is it, that any should take 
upon them to pass over such commands as these, as if they 
were reversed, as if they were repealed, as if such laws were 
abolished ! Do we take upon ourselves arbitrarily, and at our 
own pleasure to abolish the Bible ? or to abandon in our practice 
things as plainly pressed upon us, as any thing in the world can 
be ? And how little is it considered how great a share such per 
sons as neglect this duty of admonition, hath in the miscar 
riages of such as they converse with ? How much do they par- 


take of their sins ! " Such a man would have been a more re 
formed man, less passionate, more orderly in his family, not 
so light and vain, if I had but, when occasion was offered to 
me, dropped a seasonable word to him." And so instead of 
having the benefit of Christian society, and partaking the fruits 
of one another's graces, we partake of one another's sins, and 
share the guilt with them. That is a sad part of Christian 
community ! 

And there is many times as much fault in the undue manner 
of reproving, as in the neglect of the thing itself ; when it is 
done in so proud, and imperious, and passionate a way, as if 
the design was not to correct such a man's faults, but only to 
vent my own passion. Or while I pretend to mend the faults 
of another, I myself shall commit a greater. For it may be, 
the fault in the manner of reproving, is greater than the mat 
ter which I take upon me to reprove. But when this duty is 
sues from love, and is so managed as that it may plainly be 
seen to be the product of love, then as . it is in itself a great 
duty, so a great blessing doth often accompany and go along 
with it. 

7. The neglect of doing good and kind offices for one ano 
ther, as occasion doth require and call for, is altogether un 
suitable to this law of love. For you know how we are charg 
ed and required, as we have opportunity, to do good to all, but 
especially to those who are of the household of faith. Gal. 6. 
10. And undoubtedly the apostle, using expressions of such 
import as he does there, is not to be understood as if he meant 
that this kindness, or doing good, was to be confined to the 
poor and indigent only, or to necessitous persons ; though that 
is one great part of the sense : it is then to be referred to those 
good offices we should do to all who stand in need of our help, 
though it may be they are not indigent ; but notwithstanding 
are the objects of our love, in such or such a particular case, 
wherein they may possibly receive assistance from us. But 
when persons are bound up in themselves, and^so are little ca 
pable of minding any one's interest but their own, how greatly 
is love hereby suppressed, and stifled in the exercise of it ! But 
besides these prirative instances, 

II. We shall give some positive instances too of the violation 
of this law of love, and so hasten to a close. And 

1. Hard thoughts and rash censures of one another do very 
little comport with the love that should be exercised towards 
brethren. With respect to their particular actions, words or 
expressions, we are many times guilty of great injustice, and 
Wrong is done to this law of love. That is, when upon this or 


that action that we see done by such or such a one, it may 
be against our inclination or judgment, we put the worst con 
struction upon it that we possibly can devise. So in like man 
ner we are faulty when we torture the words of another, and 
wiredraw them, that we may if possible make them speak a bad 
sense, when it may be a much better might be put upon them. 
Persons also are guilty in this regard, when they are prone to 
load the differing opinions of others in some smaller matters with 
the most odious, and many times with the most ill-grounded 
consequences ; putting them as it were into bears and wolves 
skins (as some did the Christians in the primitive times) that 
they may be the more exquisitely worried, and torn all to 

But the matter rises many times much higher than this ; and 
men proceed, upon some small matters of difference, to pass 
censures concerning such and such persons, as to their states 
Godward. They sit in judgment upon their souls, and pass 
determinations concerning them in reference to their very life 
or death. And yet it many times so happens, that such as con 
tend for that small matter of difference are hypocrites, and they 
that are against it are hypocrites also. The one party is cen 
sured and judged as formal, superstitious hypocrites; and the 
other as phantastical, self-conceited, perverse hypocrites : and 
nothing less than the charge of hypocrisy will serve the turn, 
in this case, on the one hand or the other. So persons arro 
gate to themselves the peculiar business of the Almighty. But 
" Who art thou that judgest another man's servant ? (This is 
spoken of such smaller matters as we are speaking of) Why dost 
thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy bro 
ther? for we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ:" 
Rom. 14. 4, 10. " Let us therefore (as it is afterwards in 
culcated and urged) follow after the things which make for 
peace, and things wherewith one may edify another." ver. ] 9. 

2. Rash anger is another positive violation of this law of love: 
or tumultuous and insolent passions, that suddenly rise and 
storm and rage in Christian breasts one against another; many 
times on very small and little provocations, but to that height 
as no provocation can justify. How little is it considered that 
our Saviour, in the interpretation which he gives of the law in 
his sermon on the mount, does so interpret the sixth command 
ment, "Thou shalt not kill," as to make anger against our bro 
ther a kind of murder, and to bring it within the compass of 
that prohibition ! Moreover, 

3. Which is a great deal worse, inveterate grudges are also 
inconsistent with that love which we owe to our Christian bro- 


ther. These strike at the very root of love, and tend to the 
starving and famishing the principle itself. Thus persons lay 
up something in their minds against this or that fellow Christian, 
and there it shall lie, corrode, work and fret, till it is the occa 
sion of their doing him hurt ; but it is much more mischievous 
to themselves, and turns to their own far greater hurt and da 
mage. " Grudge not one against another," says the apos 
tle, "the Judge is at the door." Jam 5. 9. An intimation that 
this is a matter that will be brought before the Judge. Here 
now is work for the Judge when he comes, that such and such 
have allowed themselves to harbour grudges in their hearts, till 
they are grown old and turned into rankling and festered sores 

And certainly to a truly Christian spirit that is itself, and in 
a right frame, nothing will be more agreeable than to say, "I 
would not for all this world know or experience any thing as a 
settled grudge in my heart to any one who or whatsoever he be; 
so as to wish that his finger should ache, or that he should have 
the least harm or hurt upon my account, or for any disaffection 
he may bear or express to me." This now is a truly Christian 
spirit. But to allow myself to treasure up such things ; to let 
them remain (alta mente reposita, as it were) against such 
a man, is very much against this law of love. He has offended 
you ; it may be you are as prone to offend him, or to offend 

It is little considered what is the true, the proper and right 
notion of the Christian church, or the churches of Christ in 
general. They are hospitals, or rather one great hospital 
wherein there are persons of all sorts under cure. There is 
none that is sound, none that is not diseased, none that hath 
not wounds and sores about him. Now how insufferable inso 
lence were it, that in an hospital of maimed and diseased per 
sons, one sick or wounded man should say ; " Such a man's 
sores are so noisome to me, that I am not able to endure the 
being neighbour to him ?" Is it fit to talk thus in an hospital 
"where all are sick ? Cannot sore, and wounded men endure one 
another, when they are all there for cure ? Indeed if a person 
is stark dead, apparently stark dead, it is not fit he should 
remain there to be an annoyance to the rest. But further, 

4. A secret delight taken in the harm of another is yet worse 
than the former. When those that call themselves Christians, 
or to whom that name may belong, secretly please themselves 
to see inconveniencies befall this or that person, this, I say, is a 
horrid violation of the law of love. It is a most unnatural thing 
to rejoice in the harm of another. In the body, as the apostle 
intimates, (I Cor .12. 26.) when one member is suffering, all 

YOL. VI. A 2 


the menibers suffer with it. And to delight in the harm of 
others is as contrary to the spiritual nature, which is diffused 
in the true body of Christ, as if the header any other mem 
ber should rejoice that the hand or foot is put to pain. And 

5. Directly opposite to this, but no less inconsistent with this 
duty of loving our Christian brother, is envy at the good of 
another. When I behold the good of another with an invidi 
ous, displeased eye, because such a man is better than I am ; 
or is better reputed, or reported of ; or has better gifts, or parts; 
or there is more appearance of his grace ; and he doth more 
good, has more to do good with : these are most insufferable 
things, most directly contrary to love. 

6. Most of all inconsistent with this duty is hatred. This 
is directly contrary to it, and, in the tendency of it, aims at no 
less than the destruction of the person himself. And how fre 
quently is the case so even among some Christians, that no 
thing can satisfy thern but the destruction of those who differ 
from them ! Nothing less than their destruction will serve 
their turn. This is a thing so common and manifest, as if it 
were quite forgotten that ever there was such a portion of 
scripture in the Bible as this ; " Whosoever hateth his brother 
is a murderer, and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life 
abiding in him." 1 John 3. 15. And it is yet worse, when 
the very reason of that hatred is because such and such persons 
are better than themselves ; as it is with many profane persons 
that go under the name of Christians, and yet hate Christians 
all the while for Christianity's sake ; for living the Christian 
life, and observing the precepts of their common Lord : as 
Cain did his brother Abel, because his works were evil, and 
his brother's righteous. To shut up all, 

7. Another positive instance of the violation of this law of 
love to our Christian brother (in the last place) is bearing hard 
ly on one another's consciences in matters of external form re 
lating to religion. I speak this with respect to private persons, 
for such I suppose my hearers to be. That is, when they do in 
their own minds wish, or any way within their own compass or 
capacity endeavour that the consciences of such who differ from 
them may be hardly borne upon. 

It is very true indeed that the pretence of conscience, for ap 
parent flagitious crimes, is a most wicked and blasphemous 
pretence. For that is to entitle God to my wickedness, or to 
charge him with it ; inasmuch as I cannot allege conscience 
for any thing, but I must in that case look upon it, and refer to 
it as God's substitute and vicegerent, and as doing his part 
within me. Therefore to pretend conscience for any thing that 


is in its own nature wicked and flagitious, is to cast all upon 
God ; and to pretend that he hath enjoined me to do such or 
such a wicked thing. But when the difference is about small 
matters, which are (as we said before) extraessential to religion, 
even by common consent ; it is a great violation of love for 
Christians in this case to affect and desire to have those who dis 
sent from them hardly dealt withal, and their consciences griev 
ously imposed upon on this pretence, that they must be, in such 
forms and external modes of religious worship, just as them 
selves, or they are not to be endured. 

We do not count it necessary that it should be so as to the 
natural body. For I look upon matters of external form in the 
church, as I do upon the external vestments or coverings of 
our bodies. Now we do not think it necessary, that every mem 
ber of the natural body, should have a covering of the same 
shape, size, and colour. And if this case were but considered 
as it should be, and Christian love did but do its part (abstract 
ing from what necessity there may be by an authoritative sanc 
tion) we should not think it more necessary, that every mem 
ber in such a Christian community should be clothed in 
external form alike, than that every part of the body should have 
the same sort of garment ; or, that for conformity's sake, a 
man should wear a cap on his foot as well as on his head. 

Love, if it might be allowed its place and exercise, would 
consider the necessities of the several members. Love to our 
selves, in the natural body, teaches us to do so. Sometimes it 
may be I .have a sore toe or a hurt finger, that will not endure 
a pinching shoe or a strait glove : yet I do not think it ne 
cessary to cut off that finger or toe, or to let it go naked ; but 
I provide a covering for it that it will bear, and that is suitable 
to it. Certainly, Christian love would lead us to act in like 
mannner to the members of the Christian body, if it had 
but the place and exercise that belongs to it and which it 

Therefore now to conclude, let it be seriously considered by 
us how happy a world, and how happy a church it would make, 
if we could but learn according to what we have heard, to ex 
ercise this love to men as men, and to Christians as Christians. 
There would then be no contention in the world, or the church, 
but only a striving who should do the most good, and who should 
be most good and kind to others. 

And it is a vain thing to hope, until the spirit of love revives 
ever to see good days. It is no external thing that will do the 
business. To be brought under the same form in every punc 
tilio, in every minute circumstance, what would that do ? What 


I say would this do if love be wanting, whic,h is the life and 
soul of all communities, especially of the Christian community ? 
Without this, the body would hang-together but as a rope of sand. 
Love then alone is the unitive, living cement, that joineth 
part and part and all to the head. It is this that must make 
Christianity to flourish, and the Christian church a lovely and 
a lively thing ; a thing full of loveliness, life and vigour. And 
happy will it be when hearts are knit together in love, and all 
aim at the edification of one another, and also at the good of 
the whole ; bearing with one another in tolerable things, and 
labouring to redress what is intolerable and not to be borne. 
Therefore as we are to direct our prayers this way, so let us di 
rect our practice also amongst ourselves, and all those with 
whom we converse. And so I have done with this scripture, 




Acts 1. 7. 

And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times 

and the seasons, which the Father hath put 

in his own power* 

HPHESE words are part of our Saviour's reply unto an im- 
pertinent question that was put to him by his disciples ; 
after he had some time conversed with them since his resur 
rection, and immediately before he ascended, and went up into 
glory from them. They inquire of him, saying in the 6th. 
verse, " Lord wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to 
Israel ?" He answers, "It is not for you to know the times or 
the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power. But 
ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon, 
you ; and ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, 
and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part 
of the earth." And then it follows, "when he had spoken these 
things, while they beheld, he was taken up, and a cloud received 
him out of their sight." 

It is obvious to the observation of any, that read the Evan 
gelical history, what it was that the minds, even of Christ's 
more immediate followers, were intent upon, during the time 

* Preached at Mr. Case's, March 3, 


of his abode in the flesh among them ; and great was the ex 
pectation they had of a time when the Roman yoke should be 
shaken off, and when Israel, that had wow been tributary long 
to that power, should be restored to its liberty. And when they 
found that they had now got among them one that manifestly 
appeared to be an extraordinary person, who could heal the 
sick, raise the dead, and do all other wonders with a word, they 
little doubted but now was the time of this great turn and re 
volution, which they so much hoped for. He that could feed 
multitudes as with miracles, they doubted not could easily 
maintain an army strong enough to do the business, upon very 
easy and unexpensive terms. 

But see at length now what this great expectation of theirs 
came to ! Which expectation, you must know too, had a pri 
vate aspect even towards themselves, and their own concern 
ments ; for they doubted not if their Head and Lord became s6 
great, they that were immediately related to him, must share 
proportionably in his greatness : and some of them, as the gos 
pel tells you, thought of nothing less than sitting' at his right 
hand, and left hand, in this his temporal kingdom which they 
thought he was about to set up. But see, I say, what this ex 
pectation came to ! Him, whom they expected to be a potent 
glorious king, they had seen apprehended, and haled to judg 
ment, and to death, as a most ignominious malefactor. They 
had beheld the end of him, and seen him expire, and die upon 
a bloody reproachful cross ; and now all these great hopes 
of theirs were vanished. " We trusted," say they, " that this 
was he that should have redeemed Israel." Great hopes we 
had, that the so long expected work would now, without any 
possibility of frustration or disappointment, have received its 
accomplishment and be brought to a glorious period. But they 
saw their hope laid in the dust ; and now they reckon there 
was nothing more to be looked for from him ; there was an 
end of him, and all their expectations from him. We hoped 
this was he ; but we are fain now to think we know not what, 
or to think other thoughts of him. 

Well, but at length he revives, and rises again ; and now 
their hopes revive, and rise too. But their hopes are still 
of the same carnal, and low alloy; still their minds run 
the same way they had done, and they take up the matter 
afresh where they had left it. " Come Lord, what sayest 
thou now to this great business ? Wilt thou now at this time 
restore the kingdom to Israel ? Now that thou hast con 
quered this same death that hath befallen thee, what canst thou 
not conquer? Shall the business be yet done ?" See what he 
tells them in this reply of his j ** It is not for you to know tbe 


times or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own 
power." What kindness (as if he had said) God hath for Israel, 
in that respect you intimate, it belongs not to you to know ; it 
becomes you not to inquire. In the mean time there is ano 
ther work for you to do. " You shall receive power, when the 
Holy Ghost is come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to 
me in Jerusalem," &c. He answers them first with a rebuke, 
and then with a promise. With a rebuke of that curiosity and 
carnality, which they betrayed in their question. As if he had 
said, "You meddle .with things that concern you not ; you too 
busily pry, and with an eye too daring and adventurous, into 
matters which God hath purposed to reserve and hide from you." 
But unto this mild rebuke he adds also a gracious promise. 
"There is a work for you to do that is properly yours, and which 
you have been designed to, and you shall be fitted and qualified 
for it ; and pray let that content you, and serve your turn. 
Your work and business must be to be witness bearers to me, 
to my name and truth ; to be my agents to carry on the busi 
ness and design of that spiritual kingdom, which I am intent 
to establish, and promote, and spread through the whole 
world. And in order thereunto, you shall have a power come 
upon you which you shall little understand till you feel it, and 
which shall furnish you for this great work. " You shall re 
ceive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you : and 
ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all 
Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the 

You see then the occasion and drift of the words, which I have 
designed at present to speak to ; and these two things, (that 
we may not lose more time in any thing previous) we may ob 
serve from them, 

I. That there are times and seasons respecting the church 
of God in the world, which the Father doth reserve and con 
ceal in his own hand and power from men. And 

II. That they are not concerned to be solicitous or make in 
quiry touching those times and seasons, but are to be patient 
of ignorance in reference thereunto. These 1 shall briefly 
open, and assert severally. And then, 

III. Apply them jointly together. 

I. That there are such times and seasons, that have reference 
to the state of the church of God upon earth, which the Father 
doth reserve and hide from men, in his own power. Now 
here concerning this we are to inquire, what these times and 
seasons are ; and then what the hiding of them in God's own 
power doth import, which will serve for the explication of this 

VOL, VI. B 2. 


truth. And then we shall let you see upon what accounts the 
blessed God is thus reserved towards men in this matter, hiding 
the events of such times and seasons in his own hand and pow 
er ; and therein you may have some account of the reasons of 
what is asserted in this point. 

As to the explication of it, two things are to be spoken to, 
namely, what these times and seasons are ; and, what the hid 
ing of them in God's hand and power is, or the putting them 
there, as it is here expressed. As to the former : 

! . The times and seasons which he doth so hide, we may 
say concerning them that he doth conceal, first the final and 
concluding season of time, the period and upshot of time 3 and 
then, of each man's own particular time. He hides 

(1.) The period of all time from men. We know not when 
the season shall be, that shall shut up time. It is a thing de 
termined, that there shall be such a season, beyond which time 
shall be no more. As that great Angel is brought in swearing 
by him that liveth for ever and ever, " that there should be 
time no longer." Rev. 10. 6. But we are elsewhere told, that 
" of that day knoweth no man, no, not the Son" (as man 
we must understand it) *' but the Father." Matth. 24. 36'. 

(2.) The period of our own times also he hides, and keeps 
in reserve, as a thing put in his own power, and not into 
ours. " No man hath power over the spirit, to retain the spirit, 
nor hath he power in death ; and there is no discharge in that 
war." Eccles. 8. 8. The measure of our own days he hath 
not put in our power. If any would hold the spirit in that day, 
or detain the soul in the body in which they live, they cannot 
do it. No man hath power over the spirit, to retain the spirit ; 
he must resign it when God commands it away ; and that time 
is a thing he hath kept in his own power. You have that ex 
pression of Isaac remarkable to this purpose ; "I am old, and 
know not the day of my death." Gen 27 2. Though he was 
grown a very old man, and very near to death, yet he could not 
know the time : though it were so very near that he might be 
sure it could not be very far off, yet he professeth ignorance 
concerning the time still. " My times are in thy hand," saith 
David. And into his hands he commits his spirit, as you 
have in the fifth verse of the same psalm. That life which he 
knew he could not command, he very willingly commits ; he 
is well pleased that the measuring of it should be in the hands 
wherein it was. As if he had said, " I desire not to have it in 
mine own hand ; I commit my spirit into thy hand ; let it 
lodge here in this tabernacle as long as thou wilt, and let it go 


forth when thou wilt ; this power is better lodged in thy hands 
than mine." Moreover, 

There are contained within this compass of time in general, 
or of our own time, the seasons of good or evil unto the church 
in general, and the especial members of it in particular; which 
are for the most part unknown, and reserved in the hand and 
power of God. 

The good seasons seem to be more especially referred to 
here ; for it was a certain good to the church of God that the 
apostles were inquisitive about. " It is not for you to know 
the times." God hath his set time, an appointed time, where 
in to favour Zion, that may seem instant and at hand now and 
then; as they speak in the 102 psalm (we may well suppose 
as they would have it) The time to favour Zion, yea the set 
time is come. Ps. 102. 13. Methinks it should be come ; 
why should not the full time be accomplished ? If one may 
make an estimate from the affections of the well-wishers of 
Zion, it should be come. " Thy servants take pleasure in her 
stones, and favour the dust thereof." But this could not be 
peremptorily said ; he had stated the time of it with himself; 
the appointment of it was a matter in his own hand and power. 
And by consequence 

The ill times, the more afflictive times of the people of God 
are hid, and put in his own hand and power too. For supposing 
that a good season be determined by him, a calm, and more 
serene, or halcyon season, it must be by consequence in his 
hand and power too to measure all the intervals : how long the 
intervening ill seasons shall last, how long it shall be that his 
people shall feed upon the bread of affliction, and have their 
own tears for drink, and have men riding over their heads, and 
they be themselves even as the street to them that pass over. 
All that time must come under the same mensuration, the 
mensuration of the same hand. So that to determine when 
the church of God shall enjoy better days, and how long worse 
times shall last, this they were to account and reckon upon 
that he had put it into his own hand and power. It is that 
which we have an interdict upon us to know. "It concerns 
not you to know, trouble not yourselves to inquire, the 
matter is in good hands." But then we are to consider 

2. What its being in the power of God and being put there 
doth signify ; which last we are to consider chiefly as leading 
to the other. The force and emphasis of the expression, seems 
to set forth more, than that it should barely import they are in 
his power ; the phrase signifieth withal a positive act that is 


put forth in reference to their being so ; that is, an act of the 
divine will which hath determined with itself that it will have 
the matter so, that such times and seasons shall remain in his 
own hand and power. As for those expressions in Scripture 
(hand and power) they explain one another. The hand of God 
is nothing else, but his power; his active power by which he 
ruleth the world, and changeth times and seasons, as to 
him seemeth good. But if you inquire for a more distinct ex 
plication of this matter, How this power and hand of God 
exerts itself, in reference to such times and seasons ? Why, it 
doth so, in reference to the existence of them, and to the dis 
covery of them. 

(1.) In reference to their existence : his power doth effect, 
and bring it to pass, that there should be such times and sea 
sons, as he hath stated and determined with himself. And so 
more particularly his power orders, or effects such things 
as these, in reference to the existence of the times and seasons. 

[I.] The commencement of them : that is, when such a 
State of things, good or evil, shall take its beginning ; when 
such a cloud shall first begin to arise and spread itself over the 
horizon ; when it shall scatter and be dispersed, and a bright 
and cheerful light spring up ; "the day-spring from on high" to 
visit the desolate. This, his hand or power hath determined. 
And then, 

[2.] How long such or such a state of things shall continue. 
The duration of it, its bounds and limits, are the work of his 
hand and power. So long my people shall be afflicted ; as he 
did determine concerning the people of Israel, from the time 
that he spoke to Abraham about that matter, namely, four 
hundred and thirty years \ and then ensued that blessed peace 
ful calm, and the glorious and wonderful works of providence, 
which did make way for that and introduce it, whereof the his 
tory afterwards gives an account. And again, 

[3.] His own hand or power exactly measures all the degrees 
of good and evil, that shall be within such a compass of time ; 
so as that there shall be nothing, more or less, than what his 
power orders. For we are not to take times and seasons here 
abstractedly ; but so as to take in the events of such times and 
seasons : all those events which such times and seasons go 
pregnant with. All the births of those times, of what kind 
soever they be ; his power orders every one so to come forth, 
even as it doth come forth. He works all things according to 
the counsel of his own will. Dan. 4. 35. And, 

[4.] That hand or power doth order all the occasions and 


methods by which such and such seasons, with all that they 
are laden and burdened with, shall be brought about. No 
thing comes to pass but as that hand or power doth direct and 
order : not only the effects, the things that are produced ; but 
all their causes, or whatsoever is productive of them. And we 
may add, 

[5.] That the hand or power of God doth also order all 
the consequences and dependencies, of any such times and 
seasons. For there is still a concatenation in providences ; 
and nothing falls out in the world but somewhat else depends 
upon it : this and that is done which is preparatory, and leads 
the way to something else that is to be done, till the end and 
the folding up of all things ; till that season come, when it is 
determined, that time shall be no more. But, 

(2.) This hand or power of the Father hath its exercise not 
only in reference to the existence, but also to the discovery 
and notification of those times and seasons which he hath re 
served in his own power. That is, either to make them known 
before-hand or not, as he pleaseth; or else to make them 
known more or less clearly as he pleaseth, with greater or less 
degrees of obscurity or perspicuity, according as seems to him 
good. This is that he hath in his own hand and power, either 
to reveal or not reveal them, what seasons shall be as seerneth 
him good ; or if he let any light break out before-hand into the 
heads or hearts of those that are in covenant with him, then to 
let out so much and no more as seemeth him good. 

And this may suffice for the explication of the first point. 
And would you now have some reason of it, why he doth thus 
put future times and seasons in his own power, and keep them 
there ; why it is always his will and pleasure, while such things 
remain hid and reserved, that it should be so j the reasons will 
partly respect him, partly ourselves. 

[1 .] Respecting him there is a great reason for it on his part ; 
that is, this twofold reason : it is his right, and it is his 

First. It is his right to have futurity thus in his own hand 
and power, it belongs to him as he is Ruler of the world, the 
great Disposer and Orderer of all things. For is it not incon 
sistent with sovereignty, to be accountable for every thing one 
means to do ? should there be no arcana imperil, nothing kept 
hid and secret ? It cannot stand with the absoluteness, at 
least, of his dominion, and that power which rightfully be 
longs to him over the whole creation, that there should be no 
thing determined or done, but there must be previous notice 
of it given to his creatures. He gives no account of any of hit 
Blatters unto any. And then, 


Secondly : It is his glory, and his honour : it is the peculiar 
honour of his Godhead, to have the prospect of all his works in 
view, even from the beginning to the end. A glory that he can 
not share nor communicate. It is the glory of God to conceal 
a thing, to hide things, to have his way in the dark, so as that 
his footsteps shall not be known ; and so to steer the course, 
and manage the whole administration of his government, that 
none shall be able to trace him, or know what he will do next ; 
neither make any certain collection from what is done, what 
jhall be done. As the wise man says, " He hath made every 
thing beautiful in its time," (hath ordered all things in the apt- 
est and fittest seasons for the same,) "also he hath set 
the world in their hearts, so that no man can find the work 
that God maketh from the beginning to the end." He hath 
set the world in their hearts, so as that the very world itself, that 
is, the stage on which are acted so many successive parts, doth 
become a blind to them, that they cannot see his way ; nor 
from the beginning or former things conjecture, or make any 
collection what will ensue. As, you know, the eye that sees 
all things, sees not itself. He hath set the world in their heart, 
the seat of prudence, understanding, wisdom and knowledge ; 
but the object is so close to the faculty that it cannot see. They 
cannot see what is done in the world so near them, so as to be 
able to discern and make inferences from any former things, to 
any future things yet to be done, at leastwise as to the timing 
of them, which our text refereth chiefly to. " Such a thing was 
done such a time, therefore such a thing will be done such a 

This then is his peculiar and singular glory, that he can out 
do apprehension ; and counterwork the conjectures and guesses 
even of all men. Sometimes such a state of things according 
to all visible human appearances seems instant ; it may be no 
thing but gloominess, darkness and horror is to be looked for at 
such a time, according to all the prognostics we can have ; and 
lo ! by a quick turn of providence, most unexpectedly a bright 
lightsome season is brought forth in view. Sometimes, on the 
other hand, external appearances are fair and pleasing ; men 
are ready to cry nothing but peace, peace ; and then a sudden 
cloud arises, and spreads itself over all, out of which nothing 
but storms and tempests ensue. And so doth the providence 
of God, as was aptly expressed by the poet, seem to sport with 
men ; ludere in humanis rebus. God doth, as it were, glory 
over men in this kind, by giving them to see, how by letting 
such appearances come into view he can raise fears and scatter 
them ) or excite such and such probabilities to make persons 


full of hopes, and presently dash them, that men may know the 
Ix>rd omnipotent reigneth. There is no searching his under 
standing ', he is not capable of being prescribed unto. None 
can direct the Spirit of the Lord ; it runs the most unthought- 
of ways in its disposal and management of things. This then is 
reason enough as to God ; it is his right to have the disposal of 
limes and seasons ; and then it is his glory wherein his excel 
lency doth shine and discover itself, and shews how far he trans 
cends all the thoughts and apprehensions of men : how far his 
thoughts are above our thoughts, and his ways above our ways. 

[2.] There is reason too, in reference to his people, why it 
should be so ; that is, it is their great advantage that thus it 
should be. As 

First, That they may not be diverted from their proper work 
and business, the work they have to do from day to day, and 
from hour to hour ; which certainly they would be, if they had 
the range of all future times open to them. They would be ta 
ken off from minding their present business ; and spend their 
time in continual profitless ranges, to and fro, in the futurities 
that should lie open, and present a vast prospect to them. And 

Secondly, That they may not be disquieted ; for certainly 
it would be a very great disquietment to the mind of a good 
man, if he did know all things that should fall out in the 
compass of time, even his own time. But I hasten to the 
other thing, and therefore enlarge not further here. 

II. The second point was this ; We are not concerned, and 
therefore should not be solicitous to inquire, or know much of 
these reserved times and seasons, which he hath so put and hid 
in his own hand and power : " It is not for you to know the 
times, &c." And here we may reckon it is not for us, 

1. As being none of our right, it belongs not unto us ; we 
can claim no such thing. And, 

2. As being no way for our advantage. It can profit us no 
thing. What should we get by it ? It is therefore not for us. 
God hath so disposed the state of things, and the way of his dis 
pensation towards us men, over whom he is Governor, as not t 
please and gratify our humour ; but to do, in reference to his 
own, what may make for their real advantage. But what shall 
we be the better for knowing what God will do, what times 
or seasons shall come either of good or evil ? I add fur 

3. It would be our great disadvantage, and a prejudice to us. 


(1.) It would multiply our troubles. Fordo not we know 
how apt we are to forecast troubles to ourselves ? When we 
are not sure they will come, yet our minds will not be with 
held from a most tormenting anticipation of evil, and possible 
troubles ; (we do not know they are certainly future, but we 
apprehend them possible) and so that which God would have 
us suffer but once, we suffer a thousand times. We ought to 
admire here the divine wisdom and mercy in conjunction, upon 
this occasion ; that he doth not let us have any more know 
ledge than what will suit with our power in such things. What 
a dreadful concurrence would it be in us between infinite know 
ledge and finite power ! Could we know all things, and yet do 
but this or that ; if a man should have the knowledge of such 
and such things to come, but no power to prevent it (as alas ! 
what can our impotency do ?) how dreadful, I say would this 

There is a great deal of compassion in this : that since it 
belongs to our state as creatures to be able to do but little, to 
be mere dependencies,impotentthings,that therefore we should 
not have a fore-knowledge of what it would be afflictive to us to 
foreknow. We are therefore put under a restriction that comes 
so close to us, as to stand betwixt us and to-morrow. " Take 
no thought for the morrow; sufficient for the day is the evil 
thereof." We are not to range with afflicting thoughts so far 
as to the next day. Thou wilt have enough in this day to 
trouble thee with, never let thy solicitude be conversant about 
the accessions of time. We foolish creatures should fetch the 
troubles of all our days into every day, if we could foreknow 
what is to come. Take then no thought for to-morrow ! it is 
enough for you that you have One to think of you, and care for 
you. And it will make most for your advantage to be looked 
npon by him every day ; who will make your strength to be suf 
ficient for each day when it comes. And then, 

(2.) As it would be a prejudice to us in the multiplication of 
afflictions, so in the diminution of mercies. For there is a 
great accent of pleasure and delightfulness certainly added to 
them by the surpiisingness of them, when they come most un 
expectedly. How grateful is a bright, warm, refreshing sun, 
shining all on a sudden out of a thick dismal cloud ! Memora 
ble things have been done for the church of God that they looked 
not for : such things as eye had not seen, nor ear heard, neither 
had it entered into their hearts to conceive, or which they could 
form no conception of before-hand. "Who would have look 
ed, said they, for such a day as this is ?" How sweet is a.mer- 
cy that comes unknown, unlocked for ! " When the Lord 


turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that 
dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our 
tongue with singing." Ps. 126. 1,2. God so provides in this 
matter, that nothing of the gust and sweetness of mercy shall 
be lost to his people ; they shall have it with the best and high 
est set off or advantage. Now, 

III. To make some brief use of all that we have observed, 
taken together ; we may learn hence, 

1. That there is an aptness in the spirits of men, even of 
good men, to be very inquisitively prying into futurity, beyond 
what God hath thought fit to reveal and put out of his own 
hand and power, as to the discovery thereof. " Lord wilt thou," 
(say his disciples,) " at this time restore the kingdom to Is 
rael ?" wilt thou do it now ? It would not, it seems, satisfy them 
or serve their turn, to have some understanding, such as they 
might collect from the prophets, whom they had in their hands, 
that God had a kind thought towards Israel, had not utterly cast 
off his people : they cannot be content to know only so much ; 
but, Lord ! shall it be now ? Wilt thou now restore the king 
dom to Israel ? 

That disposition of spirit, since it is so natural, ought to be 
watched and repressed ; and as we find any hankering in our 
own spirits this way, we should see to it that they meet with 
their seasonable, and due rebukes, even from our own animad 
versions. We are, when a suffering time is upon us, very im 
patiently set upon it to know when it shall be over. If we have 
any expectation of a good time, oh ! bu* when shall it be ? Thus 
we would bring God to our punctilio, and to our very now. Up 
on such niceties would we be with him, so apt are we to dodge 
with the great Lord of heaven and earth. " That which I would 
have, shall it be now ? or when shall it be ? This is that I 
would be rid or freed of, but when ? How long must I bear ? 
how long must I wait ?" This now is undutiful, and stands not 
with that creaturely submission, that is belonging and proper 
to our state : much less with the spirit of a child ; that tract- 
ableness, resignation, yielding in all things to the Father's plra- 
sure and wisdom, which is most agreeable to that relation. And 

2. We may learn hence, that times or seasons whether they 
be good or evil to a people, fall not out to them casually, or by 
chance ; but they remain in the hand and power of God. We 
are too apt to let our spirits work many times as if we thought 
such and such things came to pass by casualty. For if any ill 
state of things come upon us, how apt are we to aggravate the 
evil of it to ourselves, saying ; " Had it not been for such a 

VOL. VI. C 2 


thing, this had not come ; this might have been kept off: if it 
had not been for the miscarriage of this instrument, our case 
had not beeri so bad. If it were not for this or that unhappy 
accident, all had been well enough." Alas ! we forget, these 
things are in his hand and power that over-rules and orders all, 
that it is not blind chance that regulates the world, but the 
counsel and wisdom of God, that run through the compass of 
all events, and hath the conduct of all things. 

3. We may also learn, that men have it not in their hand 
and power to order times and seasons of good and evil, to God's 
people, as they please. We may sometimes seem to have that 
apprehension ourselves ; and if we have not, some may have an 
apprehension, that it is in their hand and power to dispose and 
measure out good and evil, to the children of God, as they will. 
No, God hath not let the reins go yet, he hath the times and 
seasons in his own power. Say they sometimes, " We will pur 
sue, we will overtake, and we will divide the spoil, we shall 
have our will over them,' 7 when God hath not said so : and 
his will and work shall stand against and above theirs. And 
take we heed of our attributing too much to creatures, that 
what men have a mind to, shall be ; or what they have no mind 
to, shall not be. There is a God in heaven that ehangeth the 
times and seasons, as he seeth good. And, for the shutting up 
of all, let us in reference to this matter, and upon what hath 
been spoken to you, take in the close these few counsels. 

( I .) Let us labour to trust in him, who hath all the times and 
seasons which concern us, and his people, and the world, in his 
own hand and power. Have we not reason enough to do so, 
and encouragement enough ? And so though we be blind and 
cannot see the product of to-morrow ; know not what a day 
will bring forth ; we shall have him to be eyes to us. He wilj 
he eyes to the bHnd, if they will but trust in him, As when a 
blind person is led by another he useth tfeat person's eyes, who 
leads him. Let him lead us on from day to day, time to time y 
season to season. We cannot see with our own eyes, but is it 
not better for us that we have better eyes to see with ? Fer we 
have one to see for us, who seeth infinitely better than we. We 
know not the product of the next day, or week ; but is it not 
enough that he knovveth the event of all future times, and that 
he orders all things with exact judgment. " He is the rock his 
work is perfect, all his ways are judgment," (Deut. 32. 4.) or 
reason : the most exquisite reason, that is, the result of deliber 
ation, and the most concocted thoughts. Deliberation, it is true, 
can have no place with him, who is the most absolutely perfect 
; but that which is equivalent is intended to be signified 


by the applying it to him. He sees with one view all the con 
nexions of things ; and so is able to outdo them who reason but 
by degrees, and by recollecting of things after things, so as to 
make a judgment at last. " Our God is a God of judgment : 
blessed are all they that wait for him." Isai. 30. 18. To every 
thing there is time and judgment. He doth particularly state 
the time and season, and applieth to every thing its proper time 
when it is most fit it should fall out ; and then it will so do to 
the best purpose. Trust in him, 1 say, who hath all future times 
and seasons in his own hand and power. The Father hath put 
them all in his own hand and power. Father ! that is an ex 
pression of love, tenderness, compassion, and care. Is he not 
fit to be trusted then ? 

(2.) Submit to him, who hath all things and seasons in his 
power ; resign, I say, and yield the matter to him. Subdue an 
unquiet, turbulent heart ; beat down all wayward and perverse 
reasonings. Father is a name of authority, as well as love. The 
Father hath put all things in his hand and power ; he who is 
the Head of the family, that great family, which is made up of 
heaven and earth. And are you children of that family, and will 
you not allow that he orders the timing of things as to him 
seemeth meet. 

(3.) Since you cannot know his times and seasons, pray la 
bour to know your own. Since you cannot know the times and 
seasons which he hath put in his own hand and power, know 
those that he hath appointed to you. Though he hath hid from 
you those seasons of future events, in the contingencies of the 
world, yet he hath not hid from you the duty of all seasons and 
events. This is our time. " Your time is alway ready," saith 
Christ ; (John 7 6.) that is, the present time is ours, that he 
hath put as a prize into our hands ; the present time for pre 
sent work, if we have wisdom and hearts to make use of it. 

It is a dreadful thing not to know our own time. (f For 
man," says the preacher, "also knoweth not his time." Eccles. 
9. 12. That was the miserable state of Jerusalem; they knew 
not the time of their visitation. For our Saviour beheld the 
city, and wept over it, considering what was coming upon it. 
Enemies should begirt it round about, such and such ruins 
should befall it, and all because they did not know in their day 
the things that did belong to their peace ; but now they were 
hid from their eyes. Thou hadst a good time, as if he had 
said, if thou wouldst have known it. We are barred up as to 
future time; but we are bid to know the present time, and 
what God calls for at our hands therein. We may know when 


it is a time to mourn, and when to rejoice ; when to weep, 
and when to he merry and pleasant. 

He points out to us our more extraordinary praying seasons, 
if we would but ohserve the finger of providence, and take no 
tice of his indications. It is a lamentable case, when we can 
not understand the time of such a thing; when we cannot 
know this is a time for such work, and this for such work. 
The present time points out such and such work that we should 
be intent upon We cannot indeed know these reserved times 
and seasons ; let us then know the times, that are left open to 
our view. As now this present time is come, but do we know 
what ought to be the work of this time ? God hath ordered for 
us this time, this season to be waiting for him, humbling our 
selves before him. The season tells us what the working of 
our souls should be now at this time ; what there should be of 
humiliation; what of striving and wrestling with God; what 
endeavours to take hold of him, that we may yet keep him 
with us, while we have him. It is a happy thing to be able 
to know a praying day, when it comes ; to know it so as to an 
swer it by a suitable frame and temper of spirit. 

So also you are expecting shortly another good time, a sea 
son of drawing nigh unto God, and to converse with him and 
with your great Redeemer, even at his own table. If God do 
order for you that season, that will tell you what disposition of 
spirit there must be ; and you ought to be forecasting, that 
you may have a temper and disposition of spirit, suitable to 
such a season, and the work of it. If you have the season, it 
will then prove a blessed season ; and if you should be de 
prived of it, yet all these sweet gracious workings of spirit will 
not be lost, they will be a rich advantage to you even in refer 
ence to a future holy course. Oh then if you cannot know 
God's time, labour to know your own ! the present time for 
present work, that he seems to call you to. And then I add in 

(4.) And last place ; Since you cannot look far into future 
time, look more into eternity, over and beyond all time. For 
it is only future time that God hath shut up from you, while 
he leaves eternity open to you. He would have you look over 
time into a vast and boundless eternity. Look then not to the 
things that are seen and temporal, (things measured by time) 
but to the things unseen and eternal ! And doing so, this will 
be your great advantage and gain ; you will find that though 
the outward man should perish (as there will come a crash 
upon all our earthly tabernacles, and down they musO the in 
ward man will be renewed day by day. If then, the outward 


man will perish, let it perish; if it will go down, let it go ; 
there is somewhat we shall gain by that loss. In the mean 
while we shall in our souls be renewing strength day by day, if 
we keep our eye open to eternity; to that unseen state of things 
within the vail, whither he hath led the way, who is our great 
Forerunner to the glory that is to be revealed ; with which glory 
the sufferings of the present time, this now, are not to be com 
pared ; not to be named in the same day, with that felicity 
which accrues to us hereafter. In a word, what we now suf 
fer, within the compass of time, cannot bear any parallel with 
that glory and blessedness, which is to come after time is 
done. Let us therefore in the mean while seriously mind these 



2 Cor. 4. 8. 

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed. 

T SHALL detain you very little about the context. In the 
foregoing verse the apostle speaks of a certain treasure which 
was committed to earthen vessels, with this design, that the 
excellency of the power might be of God ; that is, might ap 
pear to be of God, and not of men. What this treasure was 
you may collect from the 6th verse. " God who commanded 
the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, 
to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the 
face of Jesus Christ." Now "this treasure," saith he, "we 
have in earthen vessels ;" that is, the light of the knowledge 
of the glory of God, shining in the face of Jesus Christ : con 
veyed in and through a Mediator, and discovered in the gospel. 
It is a treasure of light whereof he speaks, a treasure of glorious 
light. And this is that, which he said was put into earthen ves 
sels 3 intrusted to the ministerial disposition of very mean, and 

'* Preached at Haberdasher's Ha^L, February 2/, 1675. 


very weak and fragile instruments. And that upon this account, 
that all might see that the excellency of the power was of God, 
and not of them ; that there was somewhat more than human in 
the matter, that such effects, as he had spoken of in the close 
of the foregoing chapter, should follow that dispensation they 
were intrusted with. Where also it is by the way intimated, 
that this same treasure is not a treasure of mere light ; feehle, 
ineffectual notions, that were apt only to reach the mind oif 
a man, and stay there as the matter of contemplation only ; 
but it is a certain vital, vigorous light whereof he speaks, a 
light that carries power, efficacy, and a transforming influence 
along with it. The light of that glory which being beheld, 
changeth souls into the same likeness, from glory to glory. 
This light we have, this treasure of glorious light, in earthen 
vessels ; that so the excellency of that power, which accom- 
panieth this light, may appear to be of God and not of men : 
that all who observe it may be convinced, and constrained to 
confess something divine in it, when such things are discovered 
and held forth to men, as work at the rate, which the Gospel 
dispensation was designed to do, and did actually do. 

And then in the words that we are to speak unto, and those that 
follow, he giveth a proof and demonstration of the excellency 
of the power, that did accompany and go with the Gospel light 
wherever it reached its end, and did the work to which it was 
designed ; and to which it was also in its own nature adapted, 
and made suitable. Let this be a proof to you (as if he had 
said) that there is a certain excellency of power accompanying 
that light, which we are appointed to convey to the world ; 
namely, that we, who are thus intrusted, though we are but 
a company of earthen vessels, are not for ail that presently 
knocked asunder by being on every side struck at, and dashed 
against. " We are indeed troubled on every side, yet not dis 
tressed ; we are perplexed, but not in despair ; persecuted, but 
not forsaken ; cast down, but not destroyed." Certainly there 
was somewhat more than ordinary in this matter, that a little 
light should so preserve vessels of earth, that they could not 
be broken. There was an excellency of power went along with 
it. And this is brought for a proof of it, that their spirits were 
sustained and upheld in defiance of surrounding troubles. Our 
spirits are not broken, we are still where we were, whatever 
assaults are made upon us from without This is that which the 
apostle says here, and is manifestly the design and scope of 
the words. 

And in these and the following words we have the apostle 
T ery curiously criticising about the degree of the afflictions, 


which he, and others in his circumstances were exposed to, 
or the extent and limits of them ; that they reached so far, to 
a certain point or degree, but no further. And he makes, as 
you see, a fourfold distinction between trouble on every side, 
and distress ; perplexity, and despair ; persecution, and de 
sertion ; dejection, and destruction : yielding the former as to 
each of these, but denying the latter. 

And as to the passage which we have chosen to speak unto, 
** We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed :" we are 
to consider the subject, that is common to this, and all the 
rest ; and then what is said about it by way of affirmation, and 
by way of negation. 

It is very true, this apostle doth more directly speak here of 
a particular subject ; that is, of such persons as were intrusted 
with the ministry and dispensation of the gospel : " WE have 
this treasure in earthen vessels, WE are troubled on every side," 
&c. But yet the same persons were considerable too in a capa 
city, that was common to them with all other Christians. And 
he speaks in that guise before, of something that must be un 
derstood as common to Christians in general ; and not appro 
priated to ministers only : and that is, the having the light to 
shine into their hearts ; that " light of the knowledge of the glory 
of God, in the face of Jesus Christ." This was not peculiar 
unto them alone. It having shone first into the minds and 
hearts of the apostles ; from thence, as its instrument, this 
light was further conveyed, and transmitted unto others. We 
take "we" therefore in that more exclusive sense, or as it holds 
forth to us a larger subject; namely, Christians as such, 
who are so in sincerity and truth 5 and I would observe to 

That it is very possible to be encompassed with surrounding 
troubles, and yet at the same time not to be in distress. Or, 
if we take it with application to the subject ; sincere Christians, 
even then, when they are surrounded with troubles on every 
side, may yet be exempted from distress ; may be troubled on 
every side, yet not distressed. And that this may be more dis 
tinctly spoken to, we are to consider, 

I. Of whom this is said. 

II. What it is that is said of them. 

III. Upon what grounds. 

IV. Make some use of the whole. 

I. We are to consider of whom this is said. I have already 
in general told you, that we may justly extend it to all Christians 
that are sincere ; that is, who are entirely such, and who faith 
fully persevere. 


1. To those, who are entirely such, or are Christians through 
out : who do not content themselves with this, or that piece of 
religion : but have gotten the whole and entire frame of it. It 
is very possible, that the whole of religion may not, by these 
troubles on every side, be struck at all at once. But if a man 
be an entire Christian, by the concurrence of all the integral 
parts which belong to such a character, it is likely that he will 
some Hme or other find himself troubled on every side ; and yet 
may find himself also exempted from distress. The apostle 
tells us, that " All .that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall 
suffer persecution." 2 Tim. 3. 12. It was possible to be a 
sober man, and a pious man (as piety went in the pagan world) 
and yet not be persecuted. But if a man would be a godly 
man in Jesus Christ ; if he would add Christianity, in that 
state of things, and at that time, to his profession of piety ; 
then, as if the apostle had said, let him look to it, he will be 
persecuted ; and then he had need to look to this also, that he 
be not distressed. 

2. The true Christian of whom we speak is also one that 
faithfully perseveres. Having been once an entire Christian, 
by the concurrence of all that was requisite to make him so, he 
continues to be what once he was. Otherwise, by laying aside 
this or that piece of religion, when that comes to expose him 
to danger, the case would be altered. He neither would be 
exposed to affliction, nor so much need the support. If I did 
preach circumcision, says the apostle, when the doing of that 
was so great a salvo to a man, why should I then suffer perse 
cution ? I should then be liable to no trouble, the offence of 
the cross being ceased. Gal. 5.11. "It were" (as if he had said) 
"an easy matter for me to avoid the stroke, if I could wave such 
a particular piece of Christian truth, and such a part of Chris 
tian duty ; as this very juncture of time did challenge my own 
ing and asserting even to the utmost hazard. I were well 
enough if I could dispense in this matter : but because I cannot, 
the offence of the cross is not likely to cease j 1 shall have that 
in my way if I were apt to stumble at it." 

II. We are next to consider what it is that is here said of 
these persons. Something is said affirmatively, to shew the 
extent of the present affliction ; and something negatively, to 
shew the limitation of it. 

1. That which is said by way of affirmation, and to shew 
how far the present affliction did extend is this ; " We are 
troubled on every side." It reached so far as to give trouble 
on every side. Here we are to consider what sort f trouble 

VOL, VI. B 2 


that is, in respect of the nature of it ; then in respect of the de 
gree of it. 

( I .) In respect of the nature of it, it is plain it was external 
trouble. The very word there used, $A</3Veyo/, signifieth dash 
ing a thing from without. As the beating and allision of the 
waves against a rock make no trouble in the rock, no commo 
tion there ; but a great deal of noise, clamour and tumult 
round about it. That is the sort of trouble which that word in 
its primary signification holds forth to us ; and which the 
circumstances of the text declare to be the signification 
of the thing here meant. And then we have next to consi 

(2.) The degree of this same trouble ; or what is intimated 
concerning it in the expression "on every side." It is very true 
indeed we are not necessitated, by the literal import of the ex 
pression, (JTAITI) there used, to read it thus. We may as well 
read it, troubled in all things, troubled in all kinds, or at all 
times. The universal expression is capable of any of these ad 
ditions, whereof there is none expressed in the text. It may 
therefore mean a great variety of those external troubles that 
we are liable to : such as we find the apostle making a distinct 
enumeration of pretty frequently ; as in the 2 Cor. 11. 22. and 
onward, and so elsewhere. And also the expression may im 
port the continuedness of such troubles running along with us 
in our course. We are always troubled, surrounded with trou 
ble, always filled with it. " In every city, bonds and afflictions 
abide me," says St. Paul. This is said by way of affirmation, 
to shew the extent of this affliction. And then, 

2. By way of negation, to shew the limitations of this affliction, 
it is said that it did not arrive to distress. That is the thing 
denied of this subject. While trouble on every side is con 
fessed, the apostle, I say, denies their being actually distressed 
on this account. And there the word used (yEvoj^fou/xEvo/.) sig 
nifieth such a kind of straitening as doth infer a difficulty of draw 
ing breath ; that a man is so compressed that he cannot tell 
how to breathe : that is the native import of the word. As if 
he had said, We are not reduced to that extremity, by all the 
troubles that surround us ; but we can breathe well enough for 
all that. Properly there are meant, by this thing denied, two 
degrees or steps of inward trouble. As 

( 1 .) That it is trouble that doth not reach the heart. For 
that is a distressing trouble which does so, which cuts and 
wounds the heart. But it does not touch there, as is the im 
port of that expression in the 32 Psalm, " In the floods of 
great waters they shall not come nigh unto him." Psal. 32. 6. 
That is strange that floods of waters should not come nigh un- 


to him, when he is in the midst of them. No, they do not so 
invade his spirit as to affect that, they do not afflict his heart. 

(2.) Here is denied (supposing such afflictions do reach the 
heart) that they so overwhelm as t constrain them to acknow 
ledge, that they are distressed. If the waters should so flow 
in upon a man's soul that he could not breathe, that were a 
distress indeed. But the matter is not so. Either it is a trou 
ble that reacheth not the heart ; or if it doth, it does not op 
press or overwhelm it. But now, 

III. We are to inquire concerning the grounds of this affir 
mation and negation ; or how it comes to pass that such are 
troubled on every side, and yet not distressed. 

1. Let us inquire how it comes to pass, that true, sincere chris- 
tians are troubled on every side; to keep to the expression in our 
translation. It is to be observed, that besides the permissive and 
disposing providence of the great Ruler of the church and the 
world, who for wise and holy ends permits, and orders such a 
state of things sometimes ; besides this, I say, there are those 
proper inclinations in the persons immediately concerned,which 
directly reach the case. That is, there is somewhat in the dis 
position or temper of those, who are agents in this matter, or 
immediately work this surrounding trouble ; and also in the 
patients, by which they are exposed, or do expose themselves to 
trouble on every side. 

As to the former, there needs no other account be given of 
it, but only the hate, the malignity of a wicked heart ; that 
will be as mischievous to any more visible appearances of God, 
and his interest, as is possible. Therefore wicked men will 
create trouble on every side, because they are so wickedly 

But then on the part of the patients, or suffering Christians, why 
are they so exposed ? or why do they expose themselves, since 
the trouble that is on every side, upon the account of religion, 
might be avoided ? To this we answer, that as the reason why 
others will create this trouble is from the corrupt malignity of 
their natures, so the reason why these do expose themselves to 
sucli trouble is from that new nature, that holy gracious na 
ture, which is put into them, and superadded to what they na 
turally were before. We are to consider their religion aS a 
thing, which is vitally united with them ; that is, as it were, 
incorporated, and wrought into them, so as to make another 
sort of person in them from what there was before. For what 
a difference is there between the religion of one, who is not 
thorough, and in good earnest, in the business of Christianity, 


and one who is a Christian indeed ! To the former sort, religion 
is but as a sort of cloak. A man can easily lay aside his cloak 
if he finds it inconvenient, or a burden to him. It has no living 
union with himself; therefore it puts him to no pain or trouble 
at all to throw it away, if he finds thereby any inconvenience. 
But the religion of one that is truly and sincerely a Christian, is 
a vital thing, and part of himself. And though a man can, 
easily part with his cloak, yet he cannot so easily part with 
his skin. That has a vital union with himself to which the 
spirit of life gives an animating power. And this is the case 
here. One that is only an overly outside professor hath 
put on a cloak of Christianity. If he finds that any preju 
dice is iike to accrue to him upon this account, it is, I say, the 
easiest thing in the world for him to throw off his cloak. But 
one, who is a Christian indeed, cannot do so. He cannot part 
with his religion. It is not as a cloak to him, but it is a piece 
of himself, and therefore he must be exposed. What will di 
rectly strike at such a man as he is, cannot be helped ; for he 
annot cease to be what he is. It is his very nature : that is, 
a new nature is put into him, which he cannot alter, or change 
and vary as he will j and therefore he must take what comes. 
But then again, 

2. We are to consider the ground of the negation ; why such, 
though troubled on every side, are not distressed. And they 
are not so, partly upon the account of that gracious presence 
that is afforded to them ; and partly because of those principles 
which are in them, that necessarily carry matter of solace and 
relief, so as to keep them from distress, notwithstanding 
their being surrounded with external troubles. There is, I 

(1.) A gracious presence afforded upon promise. " When 
thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee ; and 
through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee. When thou 
walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned ; neither shall 
the flame kindle upon thee." Isa. 43. 2. This is promised 
and made good, more or less, in a higner or lower degree, as 
to the divine wisdom and goodness seems most meet. He will 
never leave nor forsake such, whose hearts he hath determined 
to himself, and who adhere and cleave to him. He will not 
cast away the upright man. Such a one then is not like to be 
in distress when he hath God so present to him. It is but 
turning himself to him, and he hath him at hand. And, 

(2.) In subordination to the former, the very native tenden 
cy of the principles, which God has implanted in a holy soul, 
and which incline and dispose it towards him, are its great re 
lief against every thing that tend^to distress, or works that way. 


As for instance ; faith, which adjoins the soul to God, interests 
it in his infinite fulness ; when the soul must be far remote 
from straits or distress. Love too, is another principle by which 
the soul comes to have the actual fruition of that fulness, ac 
cording to its measure ; and what God doth now see meet, or 
fit, and suitable for it. There is patience also, by which the soul 
is composed; and brought into a perfect mastery and dominion 
over itself, so far as this gracious principle obtains. "By your pa 
tience possess ye your souls." You are outed of yourselves, if you 
be not patient ; but if you be patient you enjoy yourselves. So 
that let the storm be never so great and boisterous without, there 
will be peace and calmness within. Patience is an ability to- 
suffer. It is passive fortitude. He that can suffer, who is fur 
nished with this ability, is in peace and quiet ; is in no distress. 
He considers the case thus : " Such and such can afflict, and 
I can suffer; I am therefore in this respect on even terms with 
all the world. They can indeed lay upon me such and such 
things, and I can bear them through grace that helps me." 
If such be the temper of a Christian that he cannot suffer, he 
must be a slave. Every such person must be subject to the 
power of those that can hurt him, or do him an ill turn ; 
only because he can suffer nothing. He cannot suffer, there 
fore he must serve ; or yield to every one's beck that hath any 
power to hurt him. But he that can suffer, hath the mastery 
over himself, and remains in self-possession. The other is outed 
of himself; and must resign his will, his judgment, his consci 
ence, and every thing to the pleasure of another. Again, the 
principle of a good conscience also keeps a person from distress. 
When a man's own heart doth not reproach him, what can be 
distressing unto him ? As Job said his should never do so, 
though he suffered, you know, very hard and grievous things. 
fe My heart shall not reproach me so long as I live, till I die I 
will not remove my integrity from me." Job 27. 5, 6. Where 
such a disposition of spirit remains there can be no distress ; no 
distress can ever fall there. 

IV. And now to make some brief use of this subject, we 

1 . How happy a good man is when no external trouble 
though it compass him on every side, is yet able to bring him 
into distress. Is not this man a happy man that can defy the 
world ? that can stand in the face of storms unhurt, untouched, 
unshaken? The matter deserves our serious thoughts, that there 
should be such a privilege as this communicated unto mortality; 
unto a poor creature dwelling in mortal flesh. It gives us to 
see, that there is somewhat that greatens the spirit of such a 


one to that degree, as to make it too big for all this world. 
For what else is the reason, why such a one cannot be distress 
ed ? only because things apt to distress in their own nature, and 
in a subject more liable to it, are not able to compass, and en 
tirely comprehend within themselves that spirit, which they 
would aim to distress. The spirit of a good man, as such, is 
too big for all this world ; and if it have that grace in exercise, 
that is suitable to such a case, it is too big for this world entire 
ly to compass. You cannot compress and straiten that which 
you cannot grasp. This world cannot grasp such a spirit. It 
is, 1 say, too big to be held within this narrow sphere. It looks 
above all sensible things. It is of too great a prospect to be 
confined in its apprehension of things, to time; it looks into a 
vast and boundless eternity. Therefore such a person cannot 
be distressed in his spirit. It surmounts the world, and is too 
great to be straitened by all the powers thereof, which can never 
reach unto it. Or if it should be brought into some very great 
trouble, it looks beyond this present troublous state of things. 
It looks into eternity, and says j " If it be not well now, it shall 
be. Things at present are not as I could wish, but they shall 
be as well as ever I could wish hereafter." In short you cannot 
confine the eye of such a one, but it will have a look at some 
thing beyond what is present and liable to common view. 
Therefore there is no way entirely to cut off relief from the spi 
rit of a good man ; for though it be troubled on every side, it is 
yet exempt from distress. 

2. Hence we see also the vast difference that there is between 
such a one, and a wicked, carnal man that knows not God ; 
who is unacquainted with, and unrelated to him. Such per 
sons, when external trouble comes upon them, are presently 
distressed, or are very liable to be so upon every occasion. They 
have not the way of escaping the pressure thereof, that holy 
gracious persons have. A person is not distressed so long as 
he hath some way of escape or other left. This is intimated by 
St. Paul himself, when he says ; " There hath no temptation 
taken you, but such as is common to man : but God is faithful, 
who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able ; 
but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ve 
may be able to bear it." 1 Cor. 10. 13. It is no strange thing 
that an affliction or trial should be borne, when there is a way of 

But it may be said, Why is there any talk of bearing what I 
shall escape ? I answer, it is plain that it is not escaping to suf 
fer, that is there meant ? but real hurt or damage by that suffer 
ing, so as to be not at all the worse for it, or prejudiced by it, at 


least in our spiritual concerns. It is such an escape as that, 
which our Saviour means in these words : l ' Watch and pray 
always, that ye may be counted worthy to escape the things that 
shall come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man." Luke 
21. 36. Not that they should escape suffering for he had been 
telling them before, what grievous things they should have to 
suffer; but that they should receive no hurt from their sufferings: 
that isjUpon the whole matter they should have no cause to reck 
on themselves sufferers, inasmuch as no damage should accrue 
to them from thence. 

Now when a man hath a way of escape, he is not distressed ; 
his state, I say, is not to be called a real distress. There is, at 
least upward, always a way of escape. David was sore distressed 
in Ziklag, after the Amalekites had invaded, and burnt it with 
fire and taken his people captive ; yet it is said, that " he en 
couraged himself in his God." 1 Sam. 30. 6. He looked up 
ward, and had a way of escape or deliverance open to him from 

But it is however said there, that he " was greatly distres 
sed." I answer it is very true, and so any good man may be in 
a great degree distressed, as well as David. Thus the apostle 
Paul speaking of the impossibility of working any separation be 
tween him and Christ, and intimating that nothing could force 
him out of the arms of his love ; not even persecution, or tri 
bulation, nor famine nor the sword ; mentions distress also as 
the supposed lot of good men. Rom. 8. 35. But we must un 
derstand however only by this, that something may befall a 
good man which is apt to distress; but is not actually distressing, 
at least to that degree as to allow no way of escape. Then in 
deed a man would be in real distress, if that were true of him, 
which his enemies said of David ; "Many there be which say 
of my soul, there is no help for him in God." Psalm 3. 2. 
But this is not the case ; there is no state in which a good 
man may be, wherein there remains no help for him in God. 

It was indeed a distressing case, which you find Saul was in, 
when he had caused Samuel, or somewhat that appeared like 
to him, to be called up ; who said unto him, " Why hast thou 
disquieted me, to bring me up ?" To whom Saul answered, I 
am sore distressed, for the Philistines make war against me, and 
God is departed from me, and answereth me no more. 1 Sam. 
28.15. This was a grievous distress indeed: there was great 
trouble from without, and God was gone. Here then is the 
vastly different state of a wicked wretch, from that of a godly 
man under affliction in a time of trouble, and when distress is 
n every side ; God is gone ! God is afar off ! Besides such a 


one has no disposition to take the way that leads to God. Thus 
Elihu speaking of such distressed wicked men, says; " By rea 
son of the multitude of oppressions they cry; they cry out by 
reason of the arm of the mighty. But none saith, Where is 
God my maker, who giveth songs in the night ?" Job 35. 9. 10. 
They lie groveling, and groaning, ready to expire away under 
their burden ; but it never comes into their mind, to inquire 
after God, saying, Where is our God ? This is a thing unthought 
of, and therefore theirs is a most distressed state and condition ; 
having no shift left them, nor knowing what to do. But there 
is always this shift left to a pious soul, if there be nothing else, 
namely, to look up. "We know not what to do," says Jehosha- 
phat,"but our eyes are up to thee." 2 Chron. 20. J 2. But when 
a man hath simply nothing to do, no prospect of relief, then the 
case is very forlorn ; and this, at length, will be the case of all 
wicked men. We may easily guess, that they have nothing 
left to do, who cry to rocks and mountains to fall upon them. 
This speaks plain desperateness ; and yet this will be the case 
one day with those, who find not out in due season, the way of 
being exempted from distress. Then there will be a great deal 
of trouble on every side, when the world will be all in flames ; 
and then it must certainly be distress. There will be, as our 
Lord informs us, (Luke 21.25, &c.) distress of nations with 
perplexity ; the seas and the waves roaring ; men's hearts fail 
ing them for fear, and for looking after those things that are 
coming upon the earth : for the powers of the heavens shall 
be shaken, when we shall see the Son of man coming in a 
cloud, with power and great glory ; and when the cry shall go 
forth, " Lo ' he is come, behold his sign in the heavens !" Con-, 
sider then how we are concerned to make sure of his favour, and 
to hasten to get into that state ; wherein, though for a while we 
may not be exempted from trouble, yet we shall from distress : 
I mean from that distress for which there is no remedy, which 
can admit of no relief. 

I thought to have propounded something by way of counsel, 
in order to such a course as this. As, 

(1.) Labour to be disengaged from all terrene things, the 
things of this world. If there our life is bound up, if we are 
troubled there on every side, we cannot but be distressed. 
But if the world be crucified to us, and we to the world, there 
can be no distress ; the troubles of it cannot be distressing to 
us. Dead things cannot feel, cannot afflict one another. Let 
us say then, " The world is dead to me, and I am dead to it ; 
we are crucified one to another." The dead can lie quietly one 
by another, without giving mutual wounds. And then too > 


(2.) Draw nigh to God, that large and boundless good, in 
whom all fulness is. Of them that fear him it is said, " their 
souls shall dwell at ease." Ps. 25. 13. The expression in the 
original, is, " Their souls shall lodge, or rest in goodness ;" 
for the word there aptly signifies the quiet rest of the night. 
We must then draw nigh to God ; and stick close to him in 
trust, confidence, love, obedience, subjection, and by a con 
tinual daily course of prayer. For they who are given much to 
pray will feel little of distress, in comparison of what they are 
else liable to. The. Psalmist speaks of enemies, who were 
continually designing evil to him. " For my love," says he, 
they are mine adversaries, but 1 give myself unto prayer." Ps. 
109. 4. If there be any design against me, if my enemies are ^S 
aiming at me, " 1 prayer ;" for so the expression is in the He 
brew text : that is, I betake myself to prayer, my known and 
usual resort, and then I fare well. Thus, in so doing, you 
will find your soul to dwell at ease, and rest in the goodness of 
God. A wicked man, in the midst of his sufficiency is full 
of straits ; you, in the midst of straits will be in the fountain 
of all-sufficiency, and have the all-flowing goodness streaming 
on every side. And in such a course you may come to ex 
perience what is here said by the apostle, so as no longer to 
look upon this as a paradox, but as that which your hearts can 
witness to j namely, that though trouble be on every side, yet 
thanks be to God, we find no distress. 




James 1. '.'. 

My Brethren, count it all joy ivhen ye fall into di 
vers temptations* 

T TAKE It for granted that by temptations here, we are to 
understand afflictions ; such as are, for trial's sake, laid 
upon the people of God. And whereas such, namely, those 
to whom the compellation of brethren is agreeable, are enjoined 
to count such afflictions matter of all joy; this plainly implies, 
that to such persons they are so. For they are not surely en 
joined to judge otherwise of the matter than it really is, nor 
directed to make a false judgment of things. Therefore the 
truth I have to insist upon you may take briefly thus j 

That the afflictions laid upon Christians, for the sake of trial, 
are to a right and spiritual judgment the matter of joy; even 
of all joy, as you have it here expressed. 

Now that this truth may be capable of use (which is the main 
thing I design upon it) it is necessary that I do these two things 
in the general ; namely, 

I. That I state this truth : and then,, 

II. Give you the grounds of it. 

* Preached at Haberdashers' Hall, March 29, 10/7. 


I. I shall state this truth, or shew you how it is to be taken 
and understood. And here we have two things to open to you; 
namely, the object of that judgment, which is here directed to 
be made, and then the nature of it. The opening of these two 
things concerning the judgment we are to make of afflictions, 
which good men are exercised withall, will take up the whole 
of the business that is needful by way of explication ; so 
as that you may have the distinct state of the matter before 

I. I shall consider the object of the judgment here to be 
made; that is, the truth of this proposition, that afflictions laid 
upon us for the sake of trial are matter of joy. And this is the 
thing to be judged ; as indeed in any proper act of judgment, 
a proposition is still the object ; wherein one thing is affirmed, 
or denied of another. And the truth of this proposition is the 
thing to be judged ; that afflictions, such afflictions or tempta 
tions as the apostle speaks of, are really matter of joy. There 
fore it is necessary that we open to you this proposition as the 
object of the judgment here to be made. Particularly that 
we, consider what is supposed here to be matter of joy; 
namely, afflictions, for the sake of trial : then we shall open 
to you that which is affirmed, or supposed, concerning temp 
tations ; namely, that they are matter of joy : and .then 
the manner of the agreement of the one of these, to the 

(1.) Let us consider what it is that is supposed by the apos 
tle to be matter of joy ; namely, temptations, or afflictions for 
trial's sake. Not any man's afflictions, but those that befall a 
Christian ; not any afflictions of a Christian neither, but those 
which are laid upon him for the sake of trial, as the word 
(Kiipxa-pois,) used in the text doth plainly import. For t one 
very well known, and very useful and necessary distinction of 
afflictions, that they are either corrective, even unto the peo 
ple of God ; or else tentative. This is not a distinction ot af 
flictions considered in their natures, but taken from the end 
thereof : for in their natures they may be the very same, as the 
afflictions of good men and bad men may be. 

Divers temptations are mentioned : which implieth not only 
multitude, as to number ; but variety, as to kind. There may 
be the same kinds of them inflicted, for either the one or other 
of those ends. So that the distinction I mention to you is not 
of their natures, but it is taken from something extrinsical ; as 
the end of any thing is extrinsical to the thing itself. God 
doth sometimes lay on afflictions to try, and sometimes to cor 
rect or chastise his people. The principle of those afflictions, 


that are for the sake of correction, is displeasure and paternal 
justice ; which God doth exercise upon his own family, and 
among his own children. And they have been wont, as indeed 
they ought, so to understand the matter. Thus says the prophet 
Micah, in the name of the people; " I will bear the indigna 
tion of the Lord, because 1 have sinned against him." Micah 
7. 9. And his anger is sometimes said to smoke, and con 
tinue long to do so ; as several expressions in Scripture, that 
I might turn to, import. But when the afflictions are to try, 
the principle thereof is not displeasure ; but wisdom, and so 
vereign good pleasure. In this case, I say, they are to be re 
solved into wise and holy sovereignty ; not anger, as their prin 

Now it is concerning afflictions so designed, or directed to 
this end, namely, for trial, that the attribute here in the text 
must be understood ; that is, that they are matter of all joy, and 
are to be so accounted. And because we must take the state of 
the subject, so as to understand the apostle speaking not of 
punitive, but tentative afflictions, as such ; therefore we are a 
little more concerned to inquire in every case, how we may be 
able to discern when any affliction, or series of afflictions, are 
brought upon the people of God, or upon a particular person, 
for the sake of trial. For the stress of the whole business lies 
upon the right understanding of this matter, and is the main 
thing we have to do in stating of the truth before us. 

In order to it therefore, you must know that though these two 
notions of afflictions, to wit, corrective and tentative, are very 
distinct ; yet we are not to suppose that they are always to be 
separated. It is very possible that an affliction, or a state of afflic 
tion, may come upon a good man for both these ends at once; but 
it is impossible that both these ends should, at any time, be prin 
cipal. When both these ends do fall in together, so that afflictions 
are sent both to correct and also to try; yet still one of them only 
is the principal end, and it is from thence that the denomination 
is to be taken. As for instance; that affliction is to be called ten 
tative, or that state of affliction is to bear the name of tempta 
tion or trial, when this appears to be the chief end, which God 
designed and aimed at, in ordering such a state of things to be 
the lot of his people, or of this or that person. But when the 
principal end appears to be their chastisement, then they are to 
be accounted corrective afflictive ; or punishments, and judg 
ments, as these expressions are also used with respect to the 
people of God. But yet it may be said, " How shall we know 
which end is principal, when an afflictive condition comes to be 
the lot of any of God's people ?" 


This case cannot be very distinctly and particularly spoken 
to now, for that would take up all our time. I shall only say 
this one thing to it at present, which is very plain and clear; 
and I doubt not satisfactory to every one, that seriously attends 
to it. When the people of God, who are in a state of afflic 
tion, have been and still are in a declension, as to matters of re 
ligion ; or when this and that person can reflect, that they have 
been guilty of some very great enormity, some more notable 
transgression, and an affliction befalls them : why, truly, in 
this case they have all the reason in the world to look upon 
this affliction as punitive ; that is, as principally designed for 
correction. But if the state of the church otGod,when such an 
afflicted condition falls out to be their lot, is spiritually good ; 
that is, if they have been for some time in a better condition 
than ordinary, or under no very observable delinquency and de 
cay in their spiritual state ; then the course of afflictions, which 
they at such a time fall under, is chiefly tentative ; or to be 
reckoned as sent principally for the sake of trial. 

And truly if we look into the afflictions which befell the peo 
ple of God in common, at different ages, you will find, by what 
you have recorded in the Old Testament, concerning the church 
in those days (which consisted of the Jews for the most part) 
that miseries always befell them, when they were in a state of 
apostacy from God, or some more notable defection ; which 
therefore constantly passed under the notion of corrections, or 
chastisements and punishments, upon that account. But as to 
what we find recorded of the sufferings of the church of God in 
the NewTestament(which you know gives us an account only 
of a small space of time) those afflictions and sufferings befell good 
men, at a time when the church of God was in its best state ; 
and when there was most of the vigour, the power and spirit of 
religion, that ever was known. Therefore we have most reason 
to look upon the afflictions, that befell them, as designedly ten 
tative ; whereupon it is that you have afflictions more usually 
spoken of, in the New Testament, under the notion of trials 
and temptations. 

So that this is a short and summary account that I give you 
of this matter : afflictions befall persons for correction, when 
they are in their worst state ; for trial, when they are in their 
best. And now you have the state of the subject (as far as it 
is necessary) cleared up to you. But concerning afflictions it 
is said, when it is discernible that they are principally tenta 
tive, that they are to be accounted matter of all joy. And 

(2.) This is the thing spoken of this subject, which we are 
now to speak to ; we are to reckon these afflictions joy, all joy. 


We shall need to say but little here. This joy, if we take in 
the term all with it especially, includeth these two things j to 
wit complacency, and gloriation: a being well pleased with 
these afflictions, and also a visible glorying upon such an ac 
count. It is true indeed these things are wont to be expressed 
by two different words, (X^a, and Ayaxx/ao-/?) whereas we 
have but one in the text. You have them put together by our 
Saviour when he pronounces blessedness on them who suffer 
persecution for righteousness sake ; " Rejoice" (says he) "and 
be exceeding glad." Matt. 5. 10, 11, 12. There is inward 
pleasure, an inward sense of pleasure, and a certain kind of tri 
umph, that appear and shew forth themselves in conjunction. 
And when it is said, that we are to account it all joy when we 
fall into such temptations, it implies, that we are to com 
prehend both these together in the sense of the expression. In 
which expression, we are indeed to understand joy objectively, 
as is usual, and so very obvious that I need not hint it to you ; 
not, I say, the act, but the matter of joy, as we before ex 
plained it to you. 

(3.) We have further to consider, concerning this proposi 
tion, the agreement of the object, with the subject of it. How 
comes it to be truly said of afflictions that they are matter of 
all joy ? How do these agree together ? It is very plain it is not 
a natural agreement ; it is no agreement arising from any af 
finity that these afflictions have, in their own nature, unto joy. 
Nothing more remote than affliction, and joy. Affliction " for 
the present is not joyous, but grievous." Therefore that which 
connects them must be something extrinsical ; somewhat 
which God puts in the case, so as wholly to alter it from what 
it would else be in its natural state. But this we shall have 
occasion to shew by and by, when we speak to the grounds of 
it, which we are to come to presently. 

2. Having considered the object, we are now to consider 
the nature of this judgment. The apostle bids us so to account 
such affliction, as we have considered, all joy, as that this may 
be a fixed kind of judgment with us ; for so the word i<y!<ro-6i, 
signifies. I shall particularly say but these two things about 

(I.) That it must be a judgment spiritually enlightened: a 
judgment that is irradiated by a divine light shining upon it, by 
which the truth of the thing might be discerned ; which other 
wise would go for a paradox, and that the most incredible one 
that ever was heard of. It must be a heavenly divine light, 
which must inform that judgment that shall be able to discern 
the truth here asserted, that these trying afflictions are matter 
f joy. And 


(2.) It must be a judgment spiritually actuated and enlivened 
that so it may become a practical judgment. By the former 
means it comes to be a clear judgment, when divine light once 
shines in the mind, so as that the truth of this matter appears very 
clear ; by the latter means it comes to be a practical judgment, 
that is, such as is impressive of a proportionable correspondent 
frame of heart, which is that which the apostle chiefly intends 
here. For it would do persons but little good, to have such a 
notion only hovering in their minds concerning afflictions, that 
they are matter of joy; this would be but a cold business. The 
word count here in the text, is taken from the word vyt^/Wi 
from whence that phrase is taken, which is expressive of the 
leading faculty and power of the soul. But there is nothing 
leading, where nothing follows j the one implies the other. 
It is therefore implied here, that this must be such a judgment 
as commands what is duly and properly the subject of it, and 
what ought to be commanded; namely, the heart, and will, 
and affections of the soul. It implies that a person willingly 
bear a temper of spirit, proportionable to this judgment ; that 
is, maintain a holy cheerfulness and vigour, and liveliness of spi 
rit, through the whole course of such an afflicted state, as may 
happen to be his lot. Such a judgment it is that being enlight 
ened from above is in some measure clear, and does not suffer 
us to be always in the dark, puzzled and entangled in our 
thoughts about the matter. In a word, it is a judgment that 
being actuated by a divine power ought to be practical, propor 
tionable and conformable to itself ; that so we may carry our 
selves in a state of affliction, as though we judged in this case, 
that it is matter of great joy that we are brought into such a 
condition as this. 

Thus now you have the state of the truth in reference to the 
things propounded to be opened, concerningthe subject spoken 
of; and particularly the nature of the judgment that is to be 
made concerning the afflictions that be-fall good men : which 
as I have shewn, must be spiritually enlightened, and so 
spiritually enlightened as to be a practical principle in the 

II. 1 now proceed to the next genera! head to be spoken to, 
after having stated this truth ; and that is to give you the 
grounds of it. What should be the ground of this, that to a 
true judgment such afflictions as these are should be matter of 
joy ? I can but just touch at what requires to be largely insist 
ed upon. In general, if this be our case, that we are Christians 
exercised witli tentative afflictions, we are to count them all 
joy, if we would judge rationally and prudently ; both upon 
God's account, and our own 


1. On God's account ; and you have no reason to think it 
strange, that this should be alleged as a ground of a Christian's 
rejoicing in temptations. For God and good men are no such 
strangers to one another, but that wherein his interest is con 
cerned and advantaged, they have real matter of joy. both upon 
the account of their relation to him, and the determination of 
their spirits towards him, and his interest. Now his interest is 
manifestly concerned to great advantage in this case ; and by 
this means it 'hath always been promoted, and his glory hath 
shone forth illustriously through the trials that have befallen 
his people. 

If we speak of the glory of God, which is capable of being 
given to him ; which cannot be the glory that is essential to 
his being, but his extrinsical, or adventitious glory, it may be 
said to lie in these two things : namely, in the display thereof, 
and in the agnition and acknowledgement of his glory upon 
that display. That is all we can make of glorifying God, and 
of his being glorified in the world : that there is a lustre shi- 
neth forth, or a visible glorious representation of him made ; 
and then, that this be acknowledged, or taken notice of, arid 
he be confessed hereupon to be glorious. Why both these are 
concerned, whenever it falls out to be the lot of his people to 
be exercised with tentative afflictions. 

(1.) There is a most visible display of his glory in this case ; 
to wit, the glory of his power, of his wisdom, of his goodness, 
of his faithfulness and truth, both in sustaining and delivering 
his afflicted ones. There is a spirit of glory resting upon them 
in such a time and state as that is. " If ye be reproached for 
the name of Christ, happy are ye." 1 Pet. 4. 14. Men cast 
upon you reproach, God puts a glory upon you ; for, as St. 
Peter expresses it, " the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon 
you:" it stays and abides with you, and hath a fixed settled 
residence upon you. Agreeable hereunto is the tenor of that 
prayer of St. Paul for the Colossians : " That ye might be 
strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, 
unto all patience, and long-suffering, with joyfulness; giving 
thanks unto the Father, who hath made us meet to be par 
takers of the inheritance of the saints in light." Colos. 1.11, 
12. Here is a very great display of the divine glory in this 
case. And, 

(2.) The agnition or acknowledgement thereof is wont to 
ensue, which is the other thing considerable in God's being 
glorified. Such as feel supports from God in their afflictions, 
do highly magnify him in their spirits ; yea and many times 
his glory is acknowledged by afflicting enemies themselves. 


They are made to confess that they have to do with somewhat 
they cannot master, a spirit that is too hard for them, even an 
invincible spirit. They are made to own and confess that 
greater is he that is in the sufferers, than he that is in this 

I have sometimes taken notice in the histories of formertimes, 
concerning the persecutions that befell the people of God more 
than once, that this expression hath been used in those cases, 
" The devil is in them ;" that is, a more than an ordinary spirit. 
They could not but . believe it was somewhat more than the 
spirit of a man, that supported them ; but if they called it by 
any other name they must have reproached themselves, and 
acknowledged that they were fighters against God. However 
they could not but have a secret conviction, (and it appears 
sometimes they had so) that it was an almighty Spirit they 
were fighting against, when they were dealing with the people 
of God in this kind. 

This then is the ground of joy to the patients themselves, 
that though they suffer, yet God is glorified. His glory shin- 
eth through all the clouds and darkness that involve them, and 
wherein they are inwrapt. The apostle speaks as if he did not 
care what became of him, so that Christ might be but magni 
fied by him, living or dying. Phil. 1. 20. 

2. I now come to shew that good men, exercised with such 
afflictions as the apostle speaks of, ought to rejoice in them on 
their own account; not only because of the glory that redounds 
to God thereby, but also because of the advantage that accrues 
to themselves ; which is twofold, namely reputative, and 

(1.) A reputative advantage accrues to them from hence: 
for it is an honour and dignity put upon them to be called to 
suffer on this account, that is, for the sake of trial. As I re 
member, a heathen moralist says, " A soldier who is one of 
the number selected or picked out to go upon some very hazard 
ous enterprize, if he be one of true fortitude and real valour, 
he will not say " Imperator de me male nteruit, sed bene ju~ 
dicavit. My general discovers a good opinion of me, and so 
he puts the honour of such a service upon me." So when God 
thinks fit to exercise his people in a way of trial, he puts an 
honour upon them, saying ; " Come forth, now you shall be my 
champions, you shall be the butts and marks against which 
all the power and malice of devils and men shall be directed, 
and yet I will make you stand." A poor bruised reed, God is 
able to make to stand, as in another case is said concerning a 

VOL. VI. F2 


weak Christian. A reed that is bruised, and hangs its head, is 
capable of being made to stand against all the storms and rage 
of earth and hell. "You," as if he had said, "are some of my 
instruments, which I will make use of to baffle hell and all the 
powers of darkness. I will make them, even by you confess 
themselves outdone." 

Here then is a great reputative advantage, an honour and 
dignity put upon good men, to come forth as God's own cham 
pions ; to contend on his behalf against every adversary and 
power in a way of affliction : that so they may overcome them 
by the blood of Jesus and the word of his testimony, not loving 
their lives even to the death. This is some of the honour of 
these saints of God. And if it had not been accounted so in 
former days, we should not have had, among the writings of 
some of the antients, consolations writ purposely to them who 
missed of martyrdom ; whose lot it was to be delivered, 
and not to fall as martyrs, in the common day of trial. And 

(2.) There is a real advantage accruing from afflictions or 
temptations of this nature, both present and eternal. They 
that are exercised with them get great advantage by them at 
present, and foresee that they are like to do so hereafter ; as is 
instanced in one particular in the words immediately following 
my text. " My brethren count it all joy when ye fall into di 
vers temptations ; knowing that the trying of your faith worketh 
patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may 
be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." James 1. 2, 3, 4. 
So that at the long run they tend to their consummation and 
perfection. But first it is said, "knowing that the trial of 
your faith worketh patience ;" which carries this intimation 
along with it, that this one single advantage or gain by the trial 
of faith, even the grace of patience, countervails all evils what 
ever which such trials can bring upon them. 

And certainly it is so, if it be considered what a heaven pa 
tience carrieth in it ; namely, that meekness, that subjection 
to the Father of spirits, that complacency in his will, that holy 
fortitude and greatness of mind, which, I say, patience carries 
in itself. So that if a man had lost all that ever he had in the 
world, and got patience, he is a great gainer. Such a one is 
refined, and purged, and shines so much the more gloriously, 
as a star in the higher region, or the upper firmament. But 
this is only a leading thing to the universal gain, which they, 
who are spiritual, have in other respects ; for upon this im 
provement of patience the whole inward man partakes of so 
much more strength, vigour, sprightliness and activity. Spi- 


ritual strength and soundness are thereby throughout promot 
ed ; so that they have great reason to glory with respect to 
the present gain and advantage, accruing from their afflic 

And then with respect to hereafter, what matter of joy and 
glory to think how all will be compensated to them in the other 
world ! The " light afflictions, which are but for a moment, 
work out for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of 
glory." If we suffer with Christ, we shall be also glorified to 
gether ; " for I reckon," says the apostle, (this is the compu 
tation I make) "that the sufferings of this present time are not 
worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed." 
These are things not to be mentioned the same day, one" with 
the other, for there is no comparison between them. 

Therefore you see how it is that this same joy doth guide it 
self, and which way the eye of the soul is directed to the ex 
ercise of it : not to pore upon afflictions alone, but to consi 
der them as subservient to glory. Thus says the apostle, " We 
rejoice in hope of the glory of God." And then it presently 
follows too, " We rejoice in tribulations also ;" that is, con 
sidered with and in their subserviency to future glory. And 
this it is that makes them the matter of the highest joy. 

But I would say something by Way of Use, though the time 
hath almost overslipt me. Sundry things might be inferred 
from hence, which 1 shall but name to you. 

1. Since this judgment, and the temper of spirit agreeable 
thereto, are peculiar to the case of trials or tentative affliction, 
they must be necessarily otherwise where afflictions are visibly 
punitive, and principally of a chastising nature. As this judg 
ment, namely to count them all joy, answers the one case ; so 
truly deep humiliation cannot but answer the other ; even very 
deep humiliation, abasing one's self and lying low, and owning 
that the holy, righteous, jealous God is punishing them for 
the evil they have done. For in this case he is dealing with his 
children another way ; he is not arraying them with glory, but 
clothing them with shame, before all the world. And there 
fore it is a season for them to be deeply humbled whenever that 
appears to be their stated case. Though to such persons there 
may be a mixture of pleasure, arising from the hope that God 
will bring such a state out of it (out of their sin and suffering) 
as shall turn into matter of joy afterwards. But the occasion of 
joy in such a case is more occult, and remote ; and is wrapt up 
in a great deal more visible matter of sorrow, shame and hu 
miliation, when it appears that an afflicted state is brought 
'upon them purposely for punishment and rebuke. And again, 


2. We may infer hence, that mere patience is not enough 
for christians under trying afflictions. It is not sufficient to be 
merely patient ; they are to account their condition all joy. 
Therefore the apostle prays that more patience might be grant 
ed to the Colossians, in the place mentioned before ; that they 
might suffer with joyfulness, and give thanks to him who had 
made them meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints 
in light. Col. I. 10 14. He writes there to such as were 
likely to meet with, or to have very little of any earthly inheri 
tance ; rather to lose what they had, for the sake of Christ : 
and he intimates that it was not enough for them to be merely 
content, or patient under such a loss, but it was suitable to their 
state to be in a high triumph and exultation of spirit upon this 
account ; because God was thereby making them meet for ano 
ther inheritance with the saints in light. Those christians do 
not quit themselves well, nor as becomes them, who do only not 
murmur or repine that they are tried by afflictions : for the 
thing to be aimed at, in the-midst of all such exercises, is to 
thank God, and rejoice in the thoughts of what they are to en 
joy ; namely, an inheritance with the saints in their pure, 
lightsome, peaceful, blissful regions. " What an inheritance 
have I above ! Blessed be God, though I lose all I have in 
this world,while he is making me meet for such an inheritance ; 
and makes it evident he hath such a design in hand as this 
upon me !" 

3. We learn too, that to be impatient and repining upon the 
account of afflictions, is greatly intolerable. To be patient 
merely, is not enough ; to be impatient, is simplicity, folly, 
and sin. It is intolerable that we should think we are ill dealt 
with, when we are exercised with such afflictions as are design 
ed only for the sake of trial. But I cannot stay on this head. 

4. We learn, that joy is most exceedingly connatural to true 
living religion. There cannot be a greater demonstration of it 
than this, that there can be no state, externally so bad, that can 
make their joy unseasonable ; or that can make it an incongru 
ous, or unfitting thing for them to rejoice. To have a disposition 
unto spiritual and heavenly joy is a thing very intimate to the 
constitution of a true Christian. That must needs be a very 
strong, predominant, prevailing principle in any thing, which 
converts and turns that which is of an opposite nature into nu 
triment to itself; such is the joy as can even feed upon, and 
maintain itself out of afflictions. God's people can rejoice, not 
only notwithstanding they are afflicted, but because they are so 
afflicted. The divers Temptations they are exercised \vith are 


counted the matter of their joy. And we may yet further Infer 

5. That there is something very peculiar in living true Chris 
tianity. For how odd a sound doth this carry to an unchristian 
ear, and how uncouth a taste to an unchristian heart, that af 
flictions are to be made, and accounted matter of joy. But it is 
past all doubt that there is a real truth in the matter. We find 
that it hath been so ; and that this is not a mere notion that 
hovers in the air, but is a practical thing, and has been a tried 
case. Do not we read of the apostles' rejoicing that they were 
counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ ? Acts 
5. 41. This was not only so in their account, but was really so. 
So we are told of the believing Hebrews, that they took joyfully 
the spoiling of their goods. Heb. 10* 34. What ! for a man 
to rejoice to be undone ? A strange paradox that any, who was 
not seriously a Christian, should count this matter of joy ! 
Therefore true Christianity hath somewhat peculiar to itself be 
longing to it. It is a very extraordinary thing, which lies 
without the compass and comprehension of all, who do not ex 
perimentally know it. 

Before I close, there are two things I would say to you by 
way -of counsel. 

1. Labour to fix this judgment in general upon your minds. 
Let it not seem to you as an uncouth incredible thing. It is a 
most certain truth, that afflictions in some cases may most rea 
sonably be matter of joy. It is a sad thing when we cannot ob 
tain so much of ourselves as to receive this notion, and to be 
lieve the truth of what is here implied. For when we are bid 
to count so, it is implied thai it is really so; that is, that af 
flictions in such a case, namely, for the sake of trial, are mat 
ter of joy. But our spirits boggle at this; we cannot tell hovr 
to receive, or entertain it. And then, 

2. Endeavour that it may be your judgment with application 
to yourselves and your own state and case. And we must here 
take notice to you of what is in itself most obvious, that when 
we are directed to count it all joy when we fall into divers temp 
tations, we are also directed to do whatever is necessarily pre 
supposed hereunto. It is never to be imagined or thought, that 
one who lives in sin ; who is a secure, carnal, earthly-minded 
creature, and a stranger to God and heaven, if any affliction 
should come upon him, that he must off-hand count it a mat 
ter of joy. No there is something must intervene. What then 
is it we should apply ourselves to ? Why to endeavour to get 
into a safe state of soul, and that things may be so with us God- 
ward, that if eve;; it come to be our case to be afflicted we may 


be able to pass tbis judgment, so clear and satisfied as to im 
press the heart, that afflictions are to be counted all joy and in 
such a case may actually ourselves rejoice. 

I Thought to have insisted on sundry things here, but have 
not time. Yet I must observe, that to get our states clear with 
respect to God, and to keep and maintain our consciences both 
clean and quiet, are necessary to such a happy state as to be 
able to rejoice in adversity. Then we shall suffer without grudg 
ing, and with rejoicing for the sake of Christ. How impossible 
is it ever to rejoice in an afflicted condition, till we have hearts 
brought under the power of a self-denying spirit ; till we are 
mortified to this world, and our spirits loosened and disengaged 
from every thing terrene ! The man whose heart cleaveth to 
this earth ; who is taken with an ample estate, an opulent trade, 
a neat habitation, all desirable comforts and accommodation : 
the man, I say, who is so taken up with these things that his 
life his bound up in them, cannot endure the thought, upon 
any terms, of suffering in these kinds j it is death to him to 
think of it. But if a man's spirit be once divested of an earthly 
frame, and can tell how to digest the thoughts of being undone, 
he may rejoice, and say ; " What am I, that I may not be un 
done ? have not many as good as I been undone ? who had as 
good an estate, lived in as good credit in the world ? Why may 
not 1 be poor, come into straits, be destitute of friends, and ex 
posed to wants as well as others ?" When a man by fami 
liar converse with these objects hath reconciled his spirits to 
them, so that he can digest these things, then he is in a way to 
rejoice in such a case, when it comes to be his, and is able to 
say ; t( Blessed be God that I had an estate to sacrifice for 
Christ ! that I had liberty, and have still a life to sacrifice for 
him, whenever he calls for it." If we did but thus labour be 
forehand to inure ourselves to such thoughts as these ; if we 
did but put the case frequently and make the supposition fa 
miliar to ourselves, " What if we were to live in a wilderness ? 
dwell in a cave of the earth ? What if we were to go up and 
down helpless, living upon providence for daily bread?" When 
we had, I say, used ourselves to think thus, and made the matter 
familiar to ourselves we might if it should come to be really our 
case, or God should put us upon the trial, turn it into a matter 
of triumph and great joy. 

Aftd so likewise it is highly necessary to live much in heaven, 
and to realize that state to ourselves ; not to make it as a 
strange country, but this state rather in which we are. To 
a man that is abroad in some foreign country, which is full of 


war, trouble, and blood, it is some comfort to him (if he be 
certain of a way of return) to think, " Well ! I am not to stay 
here long in this troublesome country ; I know how to get 
home, to mine own house in a peaceful country ; I shall find 
all quiet there." How pleasant a thought I say is this, espe 
cially if a man is sure of a return ! In this case he may be sure, 
and a Christian may say, " My own country is a quiet country ; 
there will be nothing but peace, rest, pleasures and delights to 
people of God. Here indeed I do not intend to abide. I do 
not expect to stay long here this is not my country." Oh, to be 
here as in a strange country, and to look upon that other, name 
ly heaven, as our own ; will make it possible to us not only to 
despise, but even to rejoice in what we meet withall that is 
troublesome in this world, because it is part of our way home. 
It is indeed a dirty way, but it is our way notwithstanding to 
our better country. 

I would enforce all that has been said by a consideration or 
two, and so conclude. 

1. Think with yourselves how pleasant it is to have spirits 
got into this frame and posture, that we can really count it mat 
ter of joy to fall into afflictions. Oh think, I say, how plea 
sant it is ! For how happy are those persons, who when they 
have a prospect of great evils before them, are yet not afraid of 
them ? and certainly we shall not be afraid of that, which we 
have an actual disposition to rejoice in. In such a case we 
shall be under the pressure of no very tormenting fear. " They 
that hearken to me" (saith Wisdom) " shall dwell safely, and 
shall be quiet from the fear of evil." Prov. 1. 33. He that 
has got to this pitch, who can count it all joy to fall into divers 
temptations, is arrived already to a safe dwelling : he hath so 
hid himself in the divine presence, that he is secure from 
the fear of evil. No evil can ever reach him. And consider 

2. That this is the only way we have to make any good or 
advantage of a matter, that is bad in itself and in its own nature. 
For let us a little recount ourselves. I believe there are few 
among us, if any, that have not some prospect, more or less, 
of troublesome days a coming ; a very afflictive condition. 
Pray what shall we do in this case, if we will not do those 
things that tend to bring us into a capacity of making this judg 
ment our own, in reference to our own concernments ? What 
have we else to do ? Would we busy our thoughts how any such 
condition shall be prevented ? Shall that be our concern ? Shall 
we try if we can stop the sun, or alter the cpurse of the stars ? 


Do we think to change the external posture of the world ? That 
is, alas ! a hopeless thought, a vain attempt. 

But we have a nearer and a possible thing to do, namely, to 
get the temper of our own spirits altered ; brought off from 
this world ; pitched upon another, and a better world. We 
have no other course to take. Let us then drive the nail that 
will go. We have hopes that we may alter our spirits if we 
will employ our power so to do, but we cannot change the 
times and the seasons. That is our province and business. We 
have work to do here. We have a superintendency over our 
own spirits ; here we are authorized ; God puts us upon it to 
see to our own spirits, that if they be earthly, we may endea 
vour to get them made heavenly ; if impure, holy ; if dead, 
lively ; if vain, serious. This is our own proper business. So 
that as our case is, our circumstances are. We cannot hope 
to avoid suffering, our business therefore is to avoid suffering 
uncomfortably ; this, I say, is our great business. To avoid 
suffering we cannot reasonably hope, though we should resolve 
to make shipwreck of faith, and a good conscience. For do we 
think, that all such persons that do so are secure from suffer 
ing ? It is a remarkable passage from Scripture we have in St. 
Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians. u There hath no temp 
tation befallen you, but such as is common to men." That is 
one consideration. Another is, " But God is faithful, who will 
not suffer you to be tempted, above what you are able, &c." 
1. Cor. 10. 13. It is the former t would now speak to: " No 
temptation hath befallen you, but such as is common to men." 
As if he had said : You are liable to afflictions as you are men, 
not merely as you are Christians : so that you cannot certainly 
save yourselves from them, though you should abjure your 
Christianity. For what can a man be safe from, that is com 
mon to man ? These afflictions follow humanity. Are chris- 
tians the only men that are poor? that are crossed ? or in a pri 
son r If a man be a man (reckon only so) he is liable on that 
account to these things. Therefore, I say, since we have n 
way in the world to secure us from suffering, our great concern 
is to labour that we may suffer in the most comfortable way we 
can : so as that when it comes to be our lot, we may be capa 
ble of counting it all joy. And then we are a thousand times 
upon better terms, than if we were sure never to feel affliction : 
for that is only an external good ; but the other is a spiritual 
good. And these are to be estimated according to the capacity 
and condition of the subject. I hope my flesh, my body, is not 
capable of so much hurt, as my spirit is of good. To be freed 
from afflictions, it is true, would be the advantage of the out- 

. HI.) 



ward man ; but to be able to bear them rejoicingly is an ad 
vantage to the soul ; a thing capable of greater good, than my 
outward man is capable of. 

Therefore this is the great thing that lies upon us to do ; to 
take heed, since we cannot be sure we shall not suffer, that we 
do not suffer as evil doers ; neither in respect of the cause, nor 
of the temper of our spirits : to take heed that we suffer not 
so, as that it shall be the effect of a controversy between God 
and us ; or the affliction be regarded as his coming upon us 
with anger and displeasure. We are to see to it that we have 
no rebuke nor anger to reflect upon ; (these tend to shame, 
these are humbling things) that we may regard his sovereignty 
and divine pleasure as things in which we may rejoice and 
triumph ; which sovereign pleasure we may rejoicingly comply 
with, when once we can make it out, that the affliction of our 
lot is principally of a tentative nature, to try our loyalty to God, 
and fidelity to las interest. 



1 Peter 5. 10. 

But the God of all grace, ivho hath catted us into his eternal 

glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered 

awhile, make you perfect, stablish, 

strengthen, settle you. 

T SHALL spend none of your time at all in looking upon the 
context. And although there are many great truths, which 
lie within the compass of this verse, as any of you may easily ap 
prehend at first sight ; I shall only pitch upon that one which 
I intend to insist upon, and which it may be hoped will be 
equally suitable to the time and to our case, as it is to the text. 
You may without further preface take it thus ; 

That to a right and well-disposed judgment, spiritual im 
provements and advantages by sufferings, are more desirable, 
than a freedom from those sufferings themselves. 

That the ground may be clear, I shall present you with a 
supposition or two, before I proceed to make out the truth it 
self. As 

First : We will suppose these expressions, to wit, "make yon 
perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you," do all of them hold 

* Preached at i'luisUmV Hall, Ftbruary 28> 


forth to us spiritual improvement and gain. I apprehend that 
none of you will doubt, but the apostle by these expressions in 
tended the better state of those, to whom he wrote, in spiritual 
respects. We may suppose not of each person considered ab 
solutely, and singly; but all considered in common, that they 
might be brought into a better state with reference to their 
spiritual concernments and affairs ; which indeed the word 
xtxTxpTiarxi doth more especially seem to hint to us. It signi 
fies the setting in joint, what was unjointed before, and quite 
out of frame ; and so rather imports a relation to a community, 
than to a single person alone. But take all together, and no 
doubt the expressions do intend spiritual improvement and ad 
vantage. And then again, 

Secondly: We may lay down this further supposition, that 
the order of the sufferings here mentioned is not merely that of 
precedency in time, but of subserviency to some kind of cause 
that has an instrumental influence to their spiritual advantage. 
ft After that ye have suffered awhile, or you having suffered a lit 
tle" (as the words may be read, for the word "after" is not in 
the Greek text) " May the God of all grace make you perfect," 
&c. But it would be very unreasonable to suppose, that these 
sufferings should only precede, and no more ; or have only an 
idle priority in respect of time ; for that were to suppose, that 
God, as it were, was consenting to it, that they should suffer 
for nothing, or to no purpose. And therefore we must con 
clude that the apostle intended to insinuate, that this precedent 
state of suffering would conduce, and contribute much to their 
spiritual improvement ; which he had principally in his eye, 
on their behalf. These things being supposed, I shall endeav 
our very briefly to evince to you. 

I. That a well-informed judgment will reckon, and does 
reckon and account, as you have heard, namely, that spiritual 
improvements and advantages by sufferings are more de 
sirable, than a freedom from those sufferings themselves. 

II. Shew you what reason and ground it has so to judge. 
And this I shall do only from the text, and with all possible 
brevity, that I may hasten, 

III. To the use, which I chiefly intend. 

I. That a well-informed judgment doth reckon spiritual im 
provements by sufferings to be more desirable, than a freedom 
from those sufferings themselves. We need no further light 
than what the text affords us to make this point clear, if we 
will but admit this twofold consideration ; 

It That this great apostle was undoubtedly furnished with 


wisdom enough to understand what was really best for these 
scattered strangers, to whom he writes here. There can be 
no room for a doubt concerning this. And, 

2. That he was prompted by that love, which would certain 
ly engage him to pray for that which was best for them, ac 
cording to his judgment. We can, I say, doubt of neither of 
these, if we will but consider that this prayer of his was in 
dited by the Spirit of all wisdom, and love. We cannot there 
fore doubt but that he both understood that to be best for them, 
which really was so ; and that he thereupon prayed for that, in 
great kindness of heart to this poor people, which he so under 
stood to be best. No more need be said to evince that a well- 
informed judgment will determine thus, that spiritual improve 
ment by sufferings is better, than a freedom from them, and 
more desirable. I proceed to shew 

II. That there is a sufficient reason for such a judgment, 
which we may also see in the text ; that is, that it is more de 
sirable to have sufferings improved, that to have them present 
ly removed from us. And this appears most suitable to that 
grace by which Christians are called j and also to that glory 
unto which they are called. 

Observe the connexion of the request, which the apostle 
makes on the behalf of these scattered Jews ; ^as we have most 
reason to suppose them Jews converted to Christianity) do but 
observe, I say, the connexion of the request, with the preface 
to it : " The God of all grace, who hath called you to his 
eternal glory by Jesus Christ, make you perfect," &c. It is 
to be supposed, that the preface in this prayer (as it is usually 
intended in all such prayers) should carry somewhat or other 
in it, agreeable to the matter afterwards prayed for. And so 
it really is here. For the apostle does not pray, that these ""} 
Christians might not suffer ; but that upon, or by the means of J 
their sufferings, they might receive that great and spiritual ad 
vantage, of being brought into a more perfect and better state, 
than they were in before ; and gain more strength, more 
stability, more fixedness than ever. And to pray thus, I say, 

1 . Most suitable to that grace by which they had been 
called j or most suitable to God, as he is the God of all 

But it may be said, <( Is that suitable to the gracious nature 
of God, to let his own peculiar people be abused by a vile, 
wicked world ? to expose that sort of persons (who of all others 
do alone love him, and are true to him among men) unto vio 
lent and injurious usae;e from the rest of mankind ?" Yes cer- 


tainly; if we consider the matter well, it is most suitable. God 
is, it is true, a Father to that select people ; but consider where 
the relation falls, and where it terminates. He is said in con 
tradistinction to the fathers of our flesh, to be the Father of our 
spirits. Heb. 12. 9. It is certainly most suitable to the love 
of God to let his own people suffer, if you will allow his love to 
be correspondent to the relation. He is indeed related to them 
as a Father, but to what of them ? To their spirits principally, 
and especially to that spiritual product, or new nature, of which 
he is the immediate Author. There the relation terminates, to 
that he is chiefly related as a Father, and there his care and 
love goes with the relation, " Let it be well with their spirits, 
and it matters not much how it goes with them any where else. 

1 am the Father of their spirits; I am to take care it may go well "*& 
with them upon spiritual accounts. Therefore if their flesh 
feel pain, if it suffer want, if it be pinched and straitened, if it 
languish and complain, it agrees very well with my relation to 
their spirits, as a Father to them. Let it then be so, let suffer 
ings come upon them, if all this shall prove to the greater ad 
vantage of their spirits ; if they shall thereby come to have so 
much more thriving and prosperous souls ; if by this means 
they grow more refined ; more freed from terrene dross ; be 
more fitted for my fellowship ; rendered more capable of do 
ing me duty in their respective places ; and of tasting, and re 
lishing the pleasure thereof ; if this be the case, 1 think I 
deal with them but as a Father, whose relation is to their spi 

The apostle speaks of this with a great deal of complacency, 
and as one that is highly well pleased. " Though (says he) 
our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by 
day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, work- 
eth for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory ; 
while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the 
things which are not seen : for the things which are seen, are 
temporal ; but the things which are not seen, are eternal." 

2 Cor. 4. .16, 17, 18. He does not speak this with any kind 
of regret that he found the outward man so struck as to be con 
tinually liable to perish. 

" No," saith he, "let it perish daily; I matter it not. Though 
it does perish, that signifies nothing to me, so that the inward 
man be but renewed day by day." And, 

2. It is more suitable to that state of glory, whereunto we 
are called; as well as to that grace, by which we are called, -~v 
It is very necessary, to our being introduced into that glorious, 
blessed state, that we be prepared, and made some way fit for 


it, before we reach it. And the great concernment and neces 
sity of this makes the apostle Paul bless God, with a great deal 
of triumph, on the behalf of those Christian Colossians to whom 
he wrote; and he puts them upon blessing of God, that though 
they were suffering to that degree as that they stood in need of 
all patience, yet that all this while he was making them meet 
to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Col. 
1. 11, 12. He speaks of it as the proper matter of thanksgiv 
ing, that though they suffered so much as to require their being 
strengthened with all might, according to the glorious power of 
God ; yet it was all well enough : they were so far from hav 
ing cause to complain, that they had a great deal of reason ra 
ther to give thanks to God. As if he had said, " It is a pure, 
a bright, and lightsome region that you are going to, and you 
need a great deal of refining before you come there, that you 
may be fit to be received. You need to have your spirits cla 
rified, and freed from all impure dross, even while you are suf 
fering so as that all patience is requisite unto it. You have 
therefore reason to give thanks, if God by this means is making 
you meet to partake of the inheritance of the saints, in their 
state of life, purity and perfection." 

This is also intimated in that place before mentioned. "I do 
not care," as if he had said, "though the outward man perish- 
eth, while the inward is renewed day by day." And how is it re 
newed ? Why thus, the "light affliction, which is but for a mo 
ment, works out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight 
of glory/' But how do afflictions work out a state of glory for 
us ? In answer to this, we are to consider what notion we ought 
to have of the glory, whereof the saints are to be partakers here 
after ; and by which they are to be made happy and blessed. 
Now it is not merely an objective glory that can make me happy, 
and be the satisfaction of my soul ; that is, to have only some 
glorious sights to behold and look upon, and no more. For I 
can be happy by nothing, which is not united to me ; and it 
is impossible any one should be blessed by a distant good, se 
vered from themselves. And therefore we are told how we are 
to conceive of this glory, by St. Paul, who tells us it is a glory 
that is to be revealed in us. Rom. 8. IS. It is a glory most 
intimate to the subjects, and by which they are made glorious ; 
not merely to be seen, but what they themselves are to bear : 
and therefore the apostle says it is us v^zs, to be revealed in, or 
into us. It is that impress of the divine glory, which is impart 
ed and communicated from God to the soul, upon the vision of 
his blessed face ; by which it is transformed perfectly now in 
to the same likeness, as much as a creature can be like to him. 


Here is the glory, by which souls are made happy and hlessed 
at last ', and into the stated participation of which they are 
now actually called by Jesus Christ. 

Now consider this glory so, as here explained, and it is very 
apprehensible how the light afflictions, that are but for a mo 
ment, do work it out for us. For they gradually refine the 
soul after the image of the divine nature, make it more and 
more conformed to God ; and according to the degree of the 
progress to which this refining work is carried on by such means 
while we are in this world, is our participation of the divine 
glory hereafter. According to the capacity of the vessel, which 
God hath designed to he a vessel of glory and honour, is the 
measure of that glory which is to be put into it in the other 
state. But certainly by this refinement, to which afflictions 
are so subservient and useful in this world, the soul is made 
more and more capable and receptive ; it is refined, and enlarg 
ed at once. And thus it is more suitable to that state of glory 
to which we are called, which was to be proved, in order to 
Shew that it is more desirable to have sufferings improved, than 
to be freed from those sufferings themselves. 

III. Therefore now to apply this, as the time will allow j- 

J. For Instruction. 

(1.) We may learn hence, that we have another interest to 
Concern ourselves about, besides that of our flesh or outward 
man. For otherwise it could never be understood how that, 
which is really an offence and prejudice to the outward man, 
should be an advantage to us in any other respect. As chas 
tising afflictions by a paternal rod are natural evils, but yet 
inflicted on us for spiritual good. It is plain then, I say, 
we have another interest about which we ought to be concern 

(2.) We may further collect; that these two interests, as they 
are very distinct, so they are ordinarily too, very opposite to 
one another. That may make for the advantage of the spirit 
or inward man, which is greatly to the hurt and prejudice of 
of the outward ; and that which contributes to the gratification 
and pleasure of the outward man, may be very prejudicial to the 
inward. These are opposite interests, and we should consider 
them as such ; and it would be of very great advantage to us, 
through our whole course, to carry this as a fixed thought with 
us, " That the interests of my flesh, and of my spirit, are of 
ten stated in such an actual opposition to one another, that 
what makes for the advantage of the one, is frequently hurt 
ful and prejudicial to the other." For if we would but allow 



ourselves to consider this, dnd admit it as a fixed thought, then 
it would not, upon every occasion that occurs to us, be our 
first concern and care ; namely, " What shall I do to save my 
flesh and outward man ? how shall I order matters that all 
may go well with that ?" especially as there is another interest 
in myself, which may be provided for by the methods of pro 
vidence, that cast a severe and threatening aspect upon the 
other. And, 

(3.) We may hence further learn, that the interest of the 
inward man is much more considerable than that of the flesh ; 
which is the subject of the supposed sufferings, of which the 
apostle speaks, who puts up a very solemn request for spiritual 
advantage by such sufferings. He that loved them so well does 
not pray, that they might not suffer at all ; but only that after 
they had suffered a little, they might be perfected and esta 
blished. Certainly our spiritual interest is more considerable^ 
than our outward interest ; and we should be willing that the 
interest and advantage of the flesh, should be sacrificed to the 
interest of the soul : and that which I am willing to part with 
for another, must certainly be less considerable than the other. 

(4.) We may also learn, that sufferings are not novelties 
among the people of God in this world ; neither are they to be 
looked upon as novel, even the sharpest and severest of them. 
The apostle directs those, to whom he writes, in the same 
chapter, that they should look with another kind of eye upon 
an afflicted state, than to suppose it a new thing, or as if no 
thing like it was known before. In the verse before my text, 
he intimates that they only suffered such afflictions as were 
common to others in the world, and such as many good men 
-had endured, who were gone before them. And in another 
place of this epistle he admonishes them not to think strange 
even of the fiery trial (" which," says he, " is to try you") 
as if some strange thing had happened to them ; assuring them: 
that after they had suffered awhile, the Spirit of glory and of 
God should rest upon them. That they should surfer was 
reckoned upon, taken for granted ; and therefore it speaks a 
very strange spirit among us, if the thoughts of any sufferings 
shoultj presently startle us. What ! are we grown so soft and 
delicate, that we must meet with no afflictions in the world ? 
as if it were a more wonderful thing that we should suffer, than 
others who have gone before us in former days. Wherein are 
we better than they ? 

2. I pass on to another use, which may be for conviction to 
15, who seem to be so EQuch of another judgment from the 


apostle, in this important case. And there are two or three 
things which I would here premise. As 

(1.) That there is no present question depending whether 
we should simply desire to be freed from affliction, yea or no ; 
or whether, considering the matter simply in itself, we may 
not judge it desirable to be free from affliction. This is not the 
thing concerned in the present discourse, nor any part of it. 
It will be easily acknowledged, that the sufferings we speak of 
are natural evils ; and eviJ as such, or in itself, cannot be eli- 
gible to a reasonable nature. But the thing we speak of is, 
that when these two matters are compared; to wit, freedom 
from afflictions, and spiritual advantage by them, we should 
not prefer the former : not but that a freedom from suffering, 
simply in itself and alone, is a desirable thing ; but compared 
with the spiritual advantages arising from thence, is not to be 
preferred or desired by us. And, 

(2.) 1 again premise, that by judgment here I do pot intend 
a mere notional, but a practical judgment. For I make no 
question but we are all of the apostle's mind without any more 
ado ; and agree with him that it is better to have spiritual ad 
vantage by affliction, than to be free from it. But when we 
speak of a practical judgment, here it is that our error lies, and 
wherein we are to be rectified. The practical judgment is that, 
to which the temper of a man's soul doth correspond : that 
which is of such power and prevalency with a man, as to im 
press its own likeness, or somewhat correspondent to itself up 
on his own heart, upon his will, his choice, and affections ; 
and so consequently influence the course of his walking, and 
conversation. The thing therefore I complain of, in this case, 
is, that the temper of our spirits is so unsuitable ; so unlike 
the apostle's judgment in this case, that spiritual improvement 
by suffering is more desirable than freedom from it. These 
things being premised, 1 shall evince, that there is a failure 
among us in these things, particularly that we are not like- 
minded with the apostle in this matter, and then, shew you 
the great evil of it, that is, of our error in this regard. 

[1.] 1 am to evince that there is a great failure or mistake in 
our judgment, if we are not of the same mind with the apostle 
as to this point. And this I would do by putting a few queries 
to you, by which you may be able to convict yourselves where 
in the matter does require, and will admit. As 

First. Whether are we move sensible of the external cala 
mities which befall us, than of inward spiritual distempers? Sup 
pose a person by some surprising providence lose all he had in 
the world, is reduced to the utmost distress and necessity, whe- 

VOL, VI. H 2 


ther is not this more grievous, or more sensibly felt than in 
ward spiritual evils ? " Do I so cry and bemoan myself because 
of the body of sin and death, as I do when I have lost my friend, 
my husband, my wife, my child, my house, my estate, my plea 
sant delectable things in this world ?" In such cases we cry 
out as undone persons ; we mourn and refuse to be comfort 
ed. " But 1 have an earthly, vain heart ; a heart that will not 
be brought to live in love, and communion with God ; unapt 
to prayer, to meditation, to spiritual commerce with heaven." 
Do we so sensibly complain upon these accounts, I say, as men 
are apt to do under the sharp and acute sense of external evils ? 
This shews which way the poize of our spirits inclines, and 
we may plainly discern it by urging ourselves with this ques 

Secondly. Whether do we more dread and fear the continu 
ance, and increase of inward distempers, or external sufferings ? 
which, I say, is more the matter of our dread ? I have a near 
evil that hath pressed me, and is like to do so still ; a carnal, 
stupid, terrene, and corrupt heart ; whether do I dread the con 
tinuance of this, or the increase of it ; more than I do the con 
tinuance, or increase of any external sufferings that are upon 
me, or may threaten me ? If you should be told, that there is 
danger of being devoured in all your external concerns by a 
formidable enemy ; or that you are in danger of fire, of great 
losses, of coming into a decayed state in respect of your Trade 
and traffic ; which things would you think of with the most 
dread ? Should not we dread more the thoughts of being turn 
ed out of all, driven from house and home, of going to seek our 
bread in desolate places, of wandering in wildernesses and de 
serts, lurking in dens and holes of the earth ? Should we not, 
I say, think of these things with more dread, than we ordinari 
ly do of that close, latent enemy, that lies lurking at our very 
hearts and souls ? namely, infidelity within, and disaffection 
to God ? a proneness to depart from him, and a heart bent 
to backslide ? Which sort of evils are we most apt to dread ? 

Thirdly. Which should we consider with more complacency, 
an external state of things just agreeable to such an idea as we 
could form to ourselves in our own minds ; or an inward frame 
of holiness, agreeable to the idea which the blessed God hath 
set before us in the word of truth ? which, I say, should we 
think of with more delight ? Suppose we should have the pros 
pect set before us of such a state of things in outward respects 
as we could wish ; garners yielding all kind of store, nothing 
but prosperity, pleasure and peace in our dwellings ; all the li 
berty our hearts could desire, to do and walk according to our 


own inclinations : and frame again the prospect of an enlight 
ened, lively mind and spirit ; full of God, full of heaven, full 
of divine love, full of spiritual strength, vigour, activity and fer 
vour in all holy exercises whatsoever ; and which, I pray, of 
these seerneth the more grateful prospect to us ? Or which is 
the more taking thing with our hearts, upon the view of the one 
and the other ? to have in outward respects, all the opulence 
and prosperity our hearts could wish on the one hand ; and on 
the other, to have hearts disentangled and freed from sin, so as 
that we may go to God upon all occasions with freedom, or 
without restraint, and always converse with him with delight ? 

Such questions as these closely urged may convince some, as 
the case may require, how much they differ from this apostle ; 
and are of a different sense and estimate from him, in reference 
to what we are speaking of. And if there be such a disagree 
ing judgment in this case, then we are to consider, 

[2.] The great evil of it. And this I might represent to you 
very largely ; but, at present, take some account of it only iu 
these few particulars. 

First. It speaks great injudiciousness in the matter of dis 
cerning between things that differ, and which doth more excel. 
It is .one great part of the work and business of judgment to 
distinguish between things, that are of different value from one 
another ; and he is a very injudicious man, who is not able to 
prefer those things that are more excellent, which when com 
pared and judged of do vastly differ : as it would argue very great 
injudiciousness indeed if I could not tell which of the two to 
prefer ; a gay feather, or a rich diamond. The odds is so vastly 
great here, that it must needs argue a great want of discern 
ing the just value of things : and so it must in like manner if 
we cannot tell which is to be rather chosen ; a little freedom 
from pain and affliction, or that which is a great advantage and 
gain to the inward man. 

Secondly. It argues very great unbelief of the truth of God's 
word in reference to this very case. It is expressly said, AH 
things shall work together for good, to them that love God, to 
them who are the called according to his purpose. Rom. 8. 28. 
But we do not believe this ; for it is plain that if we did be 
lieve it, it were then altogether impossible we should reject or 
less value that, which at the same time we believe to be the 
greater good. For it is spiritual good that is there meant,which 
is to be wrought out by external natural evils. And can we to 
lerate in ourselves an habitual indisposition to take God's word? 
Sure, methinks, we should look upon this as a most intolera 
ble thing. 



Thirdly. It argues a very low and mean temper of spirit, 
when we do not know how to value and favour most our best 
and most excellent good. It shews that we have a very vile 
esteem of our own souls, when we are more concerned about a 
clod of clay, a lump of flesh, than we are about them, or their 
benefit and advantage. And 

Fourthly. It argues most unworthy thoughts of the wisdom 
and goodness of the providence of God, with respect to those 
sufferings and afflictions we speak of. It looks as if we did not 
really believe, that they are brought upon us for some greater 
good, than any we can lose, or be indamaged in, by them ; or 
that we thought that neither wisdom, or goodness, conducted 
the course of affairs towards us. What account can we give, or 
what reasons produce, why the course of divine providence 
should run so and so (as it many times has done in the 
world) as to cast smiling fair aspects on the worst sort of men, 
and frowning severe aspects on the better sort ? Hence men 
have been apt to make very sinister interpretations, and ap 
plications. Thus the prophet Malachi charges some in his 
time : " Ye have wearied the Lord with your words : yet ye 
say, Wherein have we wearied him ? when ye say, every one 
that doeth evil, is good in the sight of the Lord, and he de- 
lighteth in them ; or, where is the God of judgment ?" Mai. 
2. 17. And truly, though we have explicit formed thoughts 
otherwise, yet the sense of our hearts will seem to be agreeable 
to such thoughts as these, if we tolerate in ourselves the error 
which 1 am detecting, and representing the evil of; that is, of 
supposing that it were better to be freed from afflictions, than 
to have them improved to our gain and advantage. Either we 
must think, that afflictions come upon the people of God by 
chance, and so that God has no design at all by such an order 
ing of things ; or else, that he afflicts his people out of hatred 
and perfect ill-will : both which are monstrous, and horrid 
thoughts. It were altogether an unaccountable thing, upon 
the whole matter, why the course of the dispensations of God's 
providence should be as it ordinarily is, that the saints should 
be exposed to sufferings and afflictions, while the wicked live 
in ease, prosperity and pleasure ; I say, this were unaccounta 
ble, if it could not be said that there is some greater good to be 
wrought out by these sufferings which shall abundantly com 
pensate and countervail them. But if we persist in the error I 
speak of, we lose the only way of solving this difficulty of pro 

Fifthly. To represent the evil of this error yet more, I 
would observe, that it argues much impatience and weakness 
of spirit : for patience is passive power, fortitude, or ability to 


suffer. It argues very great weakness when we had a great deal 
rather not he good, than suffer affliction. Sure it is a sign that 
we can suffer nothing. And if there he such a disposition to 
faint in the day of adversity, our strength is small ; as saith 
the wise man : and this is not only our great infelicity hut 
our sin. Prov. 24. 10. 

Sixthly. It is a tacit choosing of sin, rather than affliction ; 
and certainly that is a very had thing. It is manifestly so, if 
we consider and look upon the case as it is. <l Let me be im 
pure still, drossy and terrene still, unlike to God still ; so my 
flesh may but escape, my sense be gratified and indulged, and 
incur no prejudice." 

Seventhly. It argues a great deal of pride ; and also insen- 
sibleness both of what we deserve, and what we need. If any 
can by no means bring their spirits to "think of suffering, there 
commonly lies at the bottom an insensibility of what they are ; 
what wretched hearts, and untoward natures they have. It is 
little apprehended what we deserve, and what we need, when 
we look upon such an aspect of providence as unsuitable ; which 
threatens us with suffering, and is like to prove afflictive. This 
should be the sense of our hearts : " Alas ! whatever I suffer, 
it is much less than my iniquity deserves ! Yea, if I suffer ne 
ver so severely, it is but what the exigency of my case requires. 
My heart is very sleepy and dead, and needeth rousing ; it is 
very drossy and needs a hot furnace." And we should think 
so if we thought of ourselves aright, and if too good an opinion 
of ourselves did not blind our eyes. I might mention several 
things more, but the time permits not. 1 shall only design, 
hereupon in the close, to recommend two things ; 

i. That we should fix this judgment of the apostle in our 
selves, as the standard and measure of our own. I judge thus, 
as the apostle Paul says ; " I reckon that the sufferings of the 
present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that 
shall be revealed in us." Rom. 8. 18. As if he had said, " This 
is my logic, I compute so upon the whole matter ; and this is 
the result I come to, having considered it thoroughly, and 
viewed it on every side." Let us settle our judgment of this in 
like manner, and record it : "This was my mind at such a 
time, and I came then to be convinced of the truth of it. I 
will never alter it, till I see better reason (which I suppose 
I never shall) for laying it down, than I had to take it up." 

ii. Agreeably hereunto let us direct the scope, current, and 
end of our prayers, on such days as these, as the apostle here 
doth his. It is necessary our hearts should be brought to an 
agreement with our judgments. What is the good I should 


most desire, and wish, and seek for my soul this day ? If this 
be a right judgment which we have now heard of, it will be 
very good for us, at such times as these, and even at all times 
in our prayers to say : " I pray not that I may be freed from 
suffering ; that is not the great thing I request. As to that I 
refer myself to the divine pleasure, and acquiesce in the deter 
mination of providence. But, O Lord ! I have another re 
quest to make unto thee, that whatsoever shall befall me, I 
may have more of thine image; more life and strength; vigour 
and heavenliness ; fitted for holiness in this world, and bles 
sedness in the other. And then let my sufferings be what they 
will, so they be but subservient to this great design, of procur 
ing my spiritual advantage/' 

And we pray upon pretty sure grounds when we pray thus. 
We do not need to doubt whether this be agreeable to the 
divine will or no. We are upon a certainty. If I should insist 
peremptorily in prayer upon this, and that temporal good for 
myself, or the community I belong unto, it may be said ; 
" Where is the promise ? and thereupon, where is the faith of 
being heard in such a prayer?" But I am sure I pray agreeably 
to his own will,when I pray, that I may be brought into spiritual 
prosperity. 1 am sure therein to suit with what he himself 
doth command. This will be acceptable, and well-pleasing to 
God ; and turn to my ineffable good and advantage, both here 
and hereafter. 


Isaiah 63. 10. 

ut they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit : therefore 

he was turned to be their enemy, and he 

fought against them* 

TN the forgoing part of this chapter you have a representation, 
as it is generally agreed, of our Lord Christ in triumph ; 
returning as a conqueror from his victories, with garments dis 
coloured with the blood of the slain. " Who is this that com- 
eth from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah ? this that 
is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his 
strength ? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save," 
The enemies, whom the Messiah is supposed to have engaged 
against, are represented and set forth by Edom, and the me 
tropolis thereof, Bozrah ; because they were the next enemies 
to the church of God, mostly confined within Palestine, upon 
which Idumea bordered, and who were continually vexatious, 
and afflictive to them : by these, I say, are the spiritual ene 
mies represented, which our Lord Jesus Christ was to set him 
self against. And so I have taken notice of a certain author 

* Preached at Haberdashers' Hall, June I, 16/7. 


(though I profess not to like all his allegories) who allegorical- 
ly speaks of the carnal part, under the name of Edom. "The 
mind or spirit ought to follow God unweariedly, without devi 
ating or turning aside, lest he come into Edom :" alluding 
no doubt to the word itself edom or earth, as the name of 
Adarn comes from the same root. Against these spiritual ene 
mies, that readily fall in with our carnal, earthly part, did our 
Lord Jesus Christ use his prowess, unto a glorious victory and 
triumph. This heing represented, how ready the Redeemer 
was to undertake on the behalf of them, who were to be de 
fended, and saved by him ; a reflection is made upon God's 
former dealings on the behalf of this people, and their unequal 
carriage and deportment towards him, in the seventh, eighth, 
and ninth verses. But I cannot go distinctly over them. Unto 
which this complaint is subjoined ; " But they rebelled, and 
vexed his holy Spirit; therefore he was turned to be their enemy, 
and he fought against them." 

There are two things, which present themselves to our view, 
and consideration, from these words : namely, that the rebel 
lions of a people professing the name of God, are very vexatious 
to his Spirit; and that such vexations engage him against them 
as their enemy. To speak to both these together, for the sake 
of dispatch, I shall do only these two things. 

I. Inquire concerning the evil done; that is, vexing the Spi 
rit of God, by rebelling against him. And, 

II. Concerning the evil suffered ; and that is his turning 
against them, so as to become their enemy. Upon which, 

III. The use of all will ensue. 

I. As to the evil done, we are to inquire in the first place con 
cerning the nature of it ; and then in the next place, the cause 

1. Let us consider the nature of the evil done, namely, the 
vexing of the Spirit of God. We are not to understand it as if 
the blessed Spirit of God was capable of such vexation, as we 
are in ourselves ; that is, of real perturbation or passion. That, 
common reason will tell us, the divine nature is not capable of. 
But yet notwithstanding, this doth not signify nothing ; there 
is some great thing lies under this expression, which we may 
conceive of in these two particulars. 

(I.) His will is really crossed; somewhat is done, that is, 
against his will. I mean his will concerning our duty, not his 
will concerning the event ; against his preceptive will and con 
sequently against that good, which he wills to us upon the sup 
position of our compliance with his just and righteous will. 
He really wills many things in reference to men, which he doth 


not will effectually to procure that they shall be done. He wills 
our obedience and duty ; and, as this is connected with it, he 
wills also our felicity and happiness. The will of God in the 
former part, is expressed by his precepts ; in the latter, by his 
promises, so far as they are of a general tenor. But there is a 
will of his in reference to the event, of which it may be truly ^-7 
said, "Who hath resisted his will ?" Rom. 9. 19. When 
the commands of God are disobeyed, and persons by their diso 
bedience rush upon vengeance, and put themselves under the 
effects of divine displeasure ; then is that done, which is averse 
to the legislative will of God, as it is signified to us by his word. 
And this is implied in the expression in the text of his being 
vexed ; namely, that there is a matter or object lying before 
him, at which he may take offence, or- resent. 

(2.) It is implied also, that he doth apprehend and resent 
this matter ; though without any commotion, or perturbation. 
He resents it so as not to look upon it as a matter of indiffer 
ence. It does not escape his notice, as profane, atheistical spi 
rits are apt to fancy ; who say, " The Lord shall not see, nei 
ther will the God of Jacob regard it." Psal. 94. 7 No, there 
is no such thing to be imagined. God takes notice of the mat 
ter, and resents the wrong done to him ; yet so calm is the re 
sentment, as every way agrees with the felicity of the divine 
nature. It is this which he lays up in store, as it is empha 
tically expressed by Moses, and seals up among his treasures. 
Deut. 32. 34. This he keeps by him as the just matter of a 
controversy, which he will manage ; and will animadvert up 
on it in his own time, and when a fit and proper season shall 
come. So much then are we to conceive as spoken of God, 
or of the Spirit of God, under the expression of its being vex 

2. We are now to inquire concerning the cause of this vex 
ation ; or shew, what it is that thus vexes the Spirit of God. 
We may well understand in the general that sin does so ; be 
ing in its own nature a direct contrariety to his good, and holy, 
and acceptable will. But especially rebellion against the Spirit 
of God is vexatious, which is a higher pitch of sin ; and im 
plies a continued course of disobedience. Rebellion speaks a 
prevalent, and continued malignity of sin. " They rebelled, 
and vexed his Spirit." 

But to be more particular here ; we may understand what 
sin is more especially vexing to the Spirit of God, if we allow 
ourselves to consider what the titles and attributes of this Spirit 
in Scripture are. By these we shall know what is the tenden 
cy of the office and operations of the blessed Spirit of God ; and 

VOL. vi. 2 I 


so more easily conceive what tends to vex, and to grieve it, as 
you know the expression is elsewhere. " Grieve not the holy 
Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemp 
tion." Ephes. -1. 30. 

(1.) The Spirit of God is styled the Spirit of truth. John 14. 
17. It is therefore very grievous, and vexing to this Spirit, to 
have a light esteem of divine truth ; to be indifferently affected 
towards it ; to have a loose adherence to it ; an easiness to part 
with it; and much more a proneness to oppose it, and run away 
from it. This, I say, must needs be vexing to the Spirit of God. 
And because I foresee I shall be able to speak but little to the 
use, I desire you as we go along to make reflections on each 
head ; and to consider how far you may suppose yourselves 
guilty, and how far this age (professing the truth of God) 
is guilty of vexing the Spirit in this, and other respects. 

(2.) It is mentioned in Scripture under the name of the Spirit 
of grace. Heb. 10. 29. It is therefore very vexing to this 
blessed Spirit when that grace, of which it is the author, and 
which it is its office and business to convey and apply, or ef 
fectually to reveal, is rejected ; when in that gospel under 
which we live, and which is the ministration of the Spirit, 
grace is offered and despised ; when there are few that 
express any regard to, or any desire or value of the Spirit of 
God : this is a most vexing thing to this Spirit. 

(3.) It is called the Spirit of faith. 2 Cor. 4. 13. Infidelity 
therefore must needs be reckoned a most vexing thing to this 
Spirit. When persons continue under the gospel in obstinate 
unbelief ; and the great things, there revealed and discovered 
to us, are but as a tale that is told ; or regarded no more than 
we would regard the word of a child ; a most vexing thing 
to the Spirit of God this must be understood to be. More 

(4.) It is a Spirit of contrition and repentance. This is an 
effect that is attributed to this Spirit as the author of it. The 
Spirit of grace and supplication shall be poured forth, as it is 
promised in Zechariah, and then it is that souls shall mourn 
over him whom they have pierced, and be in bitterness for him 
as one that is in bitterness for his first-born. Zech. 12. 10. Aa 
impenitent hard heart, a heart that cannot repent, is a most 
vexatious thing to the Spirit of God. We cannot conceive a 
greater vexation to him, than to find hearts hard as rocks 
and stones, under the dispensation of the everlasting gos 
.(5.) It is stiled the Spirit of love ; which is the great prin- 


ciple, that disposes and inclines the soul towards God. He 
hath given us the Spirit of love, (2 Tim. 1. 70 that principle 
which influenceth, and is the life and soul of all the commu 
nion there is, between the blessed God, and those that do be 
long to him ; which itself therefore is called "the communion 
of the Holy Ghost." 2 Cor. 13. 14. A cold heart then to 
wards God, a heart that is disaffected to him, that keeps at a 
distance from him, that will not be engaged in sweet com 
munion with him through love, is a most vexing thing to his 
Spirit. Again it is in the 

(6.) Place, called a Spirit of power and of life. It is the 
Spirit that quickeneth, says our Lord. John G. 63. And 
again St. Paul tells us, God hath given to us the Spirit of power. 
2 Tim. 1.7- It is a very vexatious thing to this Spirit, when 
any indulge themselves in deadness of heart ; when they allow 
themselves to be formal, lukewarm, and indifferent ; neither 
cold nor hot, as it was said of the Laodicean church, whom, 
our Lord threatens therefore to spue out of his mouth ; a strong 
expression of his being vexed, and of his resenting the matter 
with very high displeasure. Rev. 3. 15, 16. 

(7.) It is stiled the Spirit of holiness. Rom. 1. 4. And 
here in our text it is said, They rebelled and vexed his holy 
Spirit. This is a most vexing thing, when persons professing 
the Christian name indulge themselves in a liberty to walk at 
random ; are impatient of restraints ; affect libertinism ; have 
not refrained their feet but have loved to wander : therefore 
the Lord doth not accept them ; he will now remember their 
iniquity, and visit their sins. Jer. 14. 10. When no bonds 
can be endured ; when the yoke and burden of our Lord Jesus 
Christ are apprehended uneasy, grievous, and intolerable ; and 
the resolution is come to this, " Let us cast away his cords, let 
us throw off his bonds from us, he shall not reign over us;" 
when the law of sin and death contesteth to that height against 
the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, as to engage us to 
comply with the lustings of the flesh ; this is a most vexatious 
thing to the Spirit of our purity and holiness. 

(8.) It is a heavenly Spirit ; and the design of all its gra 
cious operations upon souls is to fit them for heaven. "He 
that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing, is God, who also 
hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit." 2 Cor. 5. 5. And 
again says the apostle, " 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 us of God :" even those 
things which " Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have 
entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath pre- 


pafed for them that loVe him." 1 Cor. 2. 12, 9. A worldly 
heart therefore is a vexation to this Spirit ; that is, when we 
mingle with, and suffer ourselves to be swallowed up of the 
spirit of this world : the inclinations and tendencies of 
which spirit are earthly, and running downwards ; while the 
Spirit of God is aiming to lift us up towards God and heaven. 

(9.) It is a Spirit of prayer. So it is called in Scripture, the 
Spirit of supplication. Zech. 12. 10 It is the great business 
of this Spirit to act souls, and to raise them to God, in the way 
of prayer. It is a very great vexation therefore to the holy Spi 
rit, when persons grow to a prayerless disposition ; do not 
care to converse with God in this duty; are slow in the 
business of pi ayer ; either not minding it, or doing it as though 
they did it not : this, I say, is a very vexing thing. So he in 
terprets it, and speaks of it with resentment : " Thou hast 
not called upon me, O Jacob ; thou art weary of me, O Israel." 
Isai. 43. 22. When persons, who formerly loved prayer, are 
now grown out of love with it ; when those, that have taken 
pleasure in being in their closets, and shut up in corners, are 
now grown strange to him, and care not to come nigh him in 
that way ; this is especially to provoke and grieve the Spirit. 
The very bent and tendency of such a soul runs now directly 
counter to his proper design and business ; which is to en 
gage the souls of men with God in that great duty, wherein 
they may enjoy continually a fruitful and useful commerce 
with him. But they decline^ and will not be brought to it 
by this means. This is also a very bitter vexation. And 

(10.) It is a Spirit of sincerity and uprightness ; and wher 
ever it obtains, it makes men upright and sincere. Thus it is 
called the Spirit of a sound mind. 2 Tim. 1. 7 Hypocrisy 
therefore, or a deceitful dealing with the blessed God in mat 
ters of religion, is a most vexatious thing to his Spirit. When 
there is only a shew and appearance of love, and devotedness to 
him ; and this only made a cover to a false disloyal heart : this 
is an abomination unto God. He loves truth in the inward 
parts, and his countenance beholdeth the upright ; giving them 
pleasant, smiling, complacential looks, which are plain indi 
cations of his approving, and being well pleased with them. 
So again, he cannot but frown with displeasure, where there is 
falsehood and deceit ; where there is an unsound heart ; a la 
tent hypocrisy, as if we designed to impose upon him by a 
cheat and shew ; to deceive and mock him, who cannot be de 
ceived, neither will be mocked. 


(11.) It is a Spirit of union, peace, and meekness, among 
them that belong to God. It is designed to form the hearts of 
believers to these things ; and so far as his Spirit is given, one 
heart and one way are also given ; as we may see from Ezekiel 
11. 19. compared with other scriptures. Animosities among 
the people of God ; heart-burnings, whether they be upon a 
common, or a particular, personal account ; are the most vex 
ing things imaginable to the Spirit of God, which is the Spirit 
of union, peace, and concord, and the very soul of the mysti 
cal body. It is a very vexatious thing when one member of 
this body goes to fight with another ; and it may be some 
against the common interest of the whole. And it is in 

Last place, A Spirit of sobriety and temperance, in opposi 
tion to grossly sensual lusts. It is a very vexatious thing to the 
Spirit of God, when among a people that profess his name, 
there is a general profusion, and running into vile sensual lusts. 
Some are sensual, not having the Spirit. Jude 19. The con 
nection is very observable. Whereas God gives his Spirit, to 
form a people to that purity, that they may be different from 
the rest of the world ; they allow themselves to run into the 
same excess of riot. And I believe there are few of us that ever 
heard, or read of an age, in which there were more gross in 
stances of impurity among professors, than the present. How 
many instances do we hear of this kind ! It must needs be very 
vexatious to the holy Spirit, whose design it is to form a peo 
ple unto God, to bear up his name in opposition to a common 
ly dissolute, and debauched age. 

You see then as to the evil done, what it is, and what is the 
cause of it j namely, sin, and more especially rebellion in those 
instances, wherein the designs of the Spirit (as represented to 
us by various titles and attributes in Scripture) are most oppos 
ed. We are therefore now, 

II. To inquire concerning the evil suffered hereupon ; 
or which we may expect will be inflicted on persons on this ac 
count : namely, his turning against them so as to become their 
enemy. Here we should speak distinctly, 

1. Concerning the nature of this evil; and, 

2. Concerning the issue of it, and how justly it does ensue 
in this case. 

1. Let us consider the nature of this evil, and shew what is 
imported in it. And here something is expressed, and some 
thing is implied in the words of my text ; " therefore he turned 
to be their enemy, and he fought against them." It is implied, 
that he shall cease doing for such a people as he hath done. If 


he was wont formerly to be a bountiful, liberal benefactor, he 
shall stop his hand. And especially it is to be expected, that 
we should be so dealt with in that very respect, wherein we 
have been vexatious : that is, Have we vexed the Spirit of 
God ? then it is natural to expect that the Spirit of God will 
retire. This is certainly implied in his becoming an enemy to 
us. If he become an enemy, it is not likely he should hold 
that friendly commerce, which sometimes he hath done. If 
God become our enemy, his Spirit shall withdraw from us ; 
shall not strive, nor wrestle with us. And then also these words 
express some positive evils against such persons ; which t 
might instance in many particulars, but cannot now mention 

2. I am to consider how justly this penal evil does ensue 
in this case ; namely, that God should turn against those, who 
rebel and vex his Spirit. This is to be collected from the 
greatness of the evil done. Consider therefore how just cause 
and matter of provocation, this injurious dealing with the Spirit 
of God doth carry in it. Particularly, 

(1.) Consider that this is very despiteful dealing, to do 
that which will vex his very Spirit. Sinners of this kind are 
expressly said to do " despite unto the Spirit of grace." Heb. 
10, 29 And surely to do that, which must directly contradict 
the very business and design of the Spirit, is a most spiteful 
kind of wickedness. 

(2.) Consider that this is a wickedness, wherein the most im 
mediate kind of affront is offered unto God. He deals with 
men in a more distant way when he deals with them in his pro 
vidence, or the outward manifestation of his will in his word. 
But when he comes to deal with the spirits of men, and to have 
his work within them, and their spirits resist and oppose him ; 
there is then a most immediate contest between the blessed 
God and them. And we cannot but think this is a high pro 
vocation unto God, and reckon upon this issue, that he must 
hereupon become our enemy. And, 

(3.) It is to be considered that sinning so as more directly to 
vex the Spirit of God, does carry with it a withstanding of the 
Spirit in that which is its proper office ; which is a great ag 
gravation of the wickedness. It is one thing when I withstand 
a person in a thing, which he does casually and by the by ; 
and another when I withstand him in that, which is his stated 
business. It is, you know, reckoned a high affront among 
men to be resisted, and withstood in an office. To oppose an 
ordinary, private person, is but a small matter in comparison of 
affronting an officer, in the execution of his office. The Spirit 


of God, when it is about the work of diffusing gospel light and 
grace, is in the work of its own office. And when persons do 
such things as are vexatious in this respect ; that is, oppose 
and withstand the holy Spirit in its proper stated business, this 
must needs be highly provoking. It is a bold and insolent af 
front done to the blessed God ; and therefore may well infer 
upon such a people that dreadful thing that God should turn 
against them, and become their enemy. 

III. Now as to the use (though these matters have been more 
lightly touched and considered, than the matter required for 
want of time) we may' infer the following things. 

1 . We may infer hence, that among a people professing the 
name of God, the Spirit of God is wont to be at work ; and 
where it is not doing any work, we cannot suppose it to be thus 
vexatiously resisted, and contended against. It was the testi 
mony that Stephen bore against this people, even dying, that 
they constantly rebelled, and vexed the Holy Spirit. " Ye do 
all ways resist the Holy Ghost : as your fathers did so do ye." 
Acts j. 51. Now what doth this imply ? Inasmuch as it is 
said expressly that there was a war kept up against the Spirit of 
God, from age to age, and from generation to generation ; it 
implies, that as they were from age to age a professing people, 
so from age to age the Spirit of God was still, more or less, 
striving with them : or else how could they be said always to 
resist ? Where there is no striving, there is no resisting. We 
ought therefore to consider this, that ordinarily where the gos 
pel is professed; there the Spirit of God is at work, more or 
less ; though not always so, as to prevail. It is a free Spirit ; 
and works, as the wind blows, where it listeth, and to what 
degree also. But I conceive, that in all those who live under 
the gospel, the Spirit of God moves at some times, in one 
degree or another. For it is hardly to be imagined, that any 
should wear out a life's time under the gospel, and not, one 
time or other, have the injection of some good thought, some 
check or rebuke, as to their evil course ; and some inclination, 
at least, to return, and alter their course. And I doubt not 
but there is a parity between these two cabes ; that is, as in mat 
ters of consolation the Spirit of God co-operates with our spirits, 
so he doth in matters of conviction, whether it ever becomes 
effectual or no. So that I reckon it most safe, and most hon 
ourable to God, when any injection of that kind is made in the 
conscience of any man, that lives under the gospel, to ascribe 
it to the Spirit in its common operations. 

2. We are hereupon to reflect and consider, whether this 
may not be much our case and the case of the generality at 


this time, even thus like the Jews to have vexed the holy 
Spirit of God, which hath been for a long season dealing with 
us. Recount with yourselves the particulars mentioned; and 
think whether there has not been a great deal of vexation given 
the Spirit of God in those several ways. But I cannot stand 
now to remind you of them. 

3. Let us be hereupon persuaded to hasten the taking up 
this controversy (for it is a dreadful thing to have it depending) 
by humbling, and abasing ourselves in the dust, before the 
Lord ; for ourselves on our own account, and on the behalf of 
the generality of those among whom we dwell. Surely this 
ought to be much the business of such a day as this, even deep 
ly to humble ourselves before the Lord, for the vexation given 
to his Spirit ; and that our temper, course, and spirits run sp 
directly counter to him. We should not want matter of hu 
miliation for many such days, if we did but seriously consider 
this case ; though every day should be kept a fast, and as a day 
of humiliation on this account. And indeed it is sad, when 
the matter of humiliation is so very great and manifest, there 
should be any appearance of declining these occasions, or of 
shyness in closing with them. We desire to bless God for it, 
that it is in the hearts of any to join us, but yet it cannot but 
be observed that there is too great a coolness ; and many per 
sons are easily diverted, it is to be feared, from closing with 
such occasions as these. And methinks it is more especially to 
be observed, that but few masters of families do appear before 
God, at such times and on such occasions ; who might repre 
sent their families, and in the name of them come and lie pros 
trate at the foot of the throne of grace. 

Give me leave but to reflect upon a passage, which is not un 
worthy of our notice upon this occasion. They are the words 
of those idolatrous women that burned incense to the queen of 
heaven, who said to the prophet Jeremiah ; " When we burnt 
incense to the queen of heaven* and poured out drink-offerings 
unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out 
drink-offerings unto her without our men ?" Jer. 44. 19. 'Did 
not they come and fall in with us ?* It is a sad case, if the men 
of our times cannot be as forward to fall in with the ways and 
methods of atoning God, and pacifying his displeasure against 
us, as they were in those days in ways pf so high provoca 
tion ! 

4. Let us apply ourselves particularly and with great ear 
nestness to supplicate the continuance of the Spirit, where it 
remains breathing in us ; and the restoring it, where it had 
been in any measure restrained. O, how loud and impor- 


tunate should our cries be upon this account ! It is a fearful 
thing to lie under the guilt of continual vexation to the Spirit of 
God. You know there is a particular accent put upon such wick 
edness. You know there is such a thing as the sin against the 
Holy Ghost, in an eminent sense; and we had need to take heed 
of every gradual approach unto it. I do not think that every sin 
against the Spirit of God, is that sin against the Holy Ghost ; 
but we had need, I say, to look to ourselves as to any gradual 
approach to it. For how great is the censure laid upon that 
sin ! It is therefore a fearful thing to have our heart and way 
bent against the way and course, the tendencies and motions of 
the Holy Ghost. 

And when we consider the matter in this light, what reason 
have we to cry out, as we find the Psalmist does ! " Cast me 
not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy Spirit from 
me." Ps. 51. 11. It is a great matter God hath against us, 
when he hath this to charge us with, namely the vexing of his 
Spirit. It is a part of the charge against Sodom, that they 
vexed Lot's righteous spirit. 2 Peter 2. S. It is mentioned 
as a high aggravation of their wickedness that they vexed 
the spirit of a righteous man. But how much more heinous 
a thing is it to vex the Spirit of God ! Is it (says the prophet 
Isaiah) a small thing to weary men, but wili ye weary my 
God also ? Jsai. 7- 13. And the mpre we apprehend the 
heinousness of this matter, the louder should our cry be, 
" Take not away thy holy Spirit from us, that Spirit, which 
we have vexed, grieved, and done so much to quench." 
And to this purpose consider, before I conclude, these two 

(1.) The exigence of the case, and the necessity of having this 
Spirit. Alas ! what will become of us when this Spirit is gone, 
quite gone and breathes no more ? What do we conceive of 
ourselves, we that carry about with us bodies of flesh, animated 
by a living soul ? What becomes of us when that spirit retires, 
and is gone ? into what noisome putrid carcasses do we turn in 
a short time ! and what a miserable carcass will that church 
become, out of which the Spirit of God is gone ! a body with 
out a soul ! an unmoving breathless thing ! If God should leave 
us the gospel, and the external frame of ordinances, what 
will that avail us when the Spirit is gone ? The matter would 
be with us, as with some noble stately mansion-house, that is 
deserted of its great inhabitant. There you may come in, and 
walk from room to room, and find no body, where there was 
once great resort, and a great deal of splendour, pomp, and joy, 
but now, nothing but desolation ! Such a thing will that church 
be, out of which the Spirit of God, the great Inhabitant, is 

VOL. vi. 2 K 


gone. You might have gone to that ordinance and the other, 
and have met with life ; but now no such thing ; there are the 
empty rooms inhabited by no one. 

We should therefore so apprehend the exigence of the case, 
that our spirits may be awakened and stirred up, even with the 
utmost importunity, to obviate and avert, as much as in us lies, 
so great a calamity as this, and so great a death. The presence 
and influence of the Spirit would stand us in the stead of a 
great deal of mercy of other kinds. It was supposed, that to 
have ministers and teachers in the church would overbalance 
a great calamity, where it is said ; "Though the Lord give you 
the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not 
thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes 
shall see thy teachers." Isai. 30. 20. But how much external 
misery would it outweigh, to have this Spirit (so teaching as 
none does) remaining among us ! So that it may well become 
us still to be praying ; " Lord whatever thou doest, withdraw 
not thy Spirit from us ! Rather tear our flesh, pour our blood 
like water upon the ground, than cease to be pouring out thy 
Spirit among us !" We should make this much the design of 
all our prayers on such a day as this. 

It may be, many are come before the Lord this day, to try 
to deprecate and avert that wrath, which threatens us with ex 
ternal calamities ; or that they may do something for the sav 
ing their estates, and their pleasant delectable things : but 
this is a low design. Rather say, " Let all these things go, if 
thou wilt Lord, but let thy Spirit remain ! let that breathe, and 
work in us still ; and do with us, in all external respects, what 
thou wilt." 

Let us labour thus, I say, to apprehend the necessity of our 
case. It is not necessary that we should be rich, or in quiet, 
or at liberty ; it is not necessary we should have such, and such 
external accommodations; but it is necessary we should have the 
Spirit : for they that have not the Spirit of Christ are none of 
his. Rom. 8. 9. And again, 

(2.) Apprehend too (wherewith I close) the possibility of suc 
ceeding well, in our strivings and wrestlings with God, yet to 
obtain more of his Spirit. It is itself a Spirit of grace, and 
supplication ; and according as it is complied with in that, which 
is its proper business and office, so we may expect more and 
more plentiful effusions of it. We are therefore to look upon 
this -as a hopeful case, if we set ourselves to strive with God 
for his Spirit, that it shall not withdraw. But if it be an in 
different matter with us, then are we lost before we are aware. 
We feel death creeping upon us by degrees, and we re 
gret it not ; death drawing near our vitals, but we mind it 


This is a sad case ; but if we, feeling a decay and languish- 
ment, cry with importunity to God, the case is not hopeless. 
He hath said, that he will give the Spirit to them that ask for 
it ; and that he will pour out his Spirit upon us. Christ re 
presents it as given to a child, as a boon from the Father ; 
and that this gift is comprehensive of all good things. Matt. 
7. 11. compared with Luke 11. 13. Nay, that the Spirit is to 
us, as bread to a child ; for we can no more live without the 
Spirit, than a child can without bread. 

If we would therefore set ourselves a craving in good earnest, 
and represent our case to the Father of spirits and mercies, his 
bowels would work towards us ; and he would not long with 
hold his Spirit from them, whom he sees to want it, and ask for 
it. Therefore beg of God thus : " O Lord, behold a poor 
company of creatures gasping for life ! thy Spirit is vital breath; 
we are ready to die, if thy Spirit breathe not. Pity thine own 
offspring, thou Father of mercies, and of all spirits I" Surely 
then this Spirit will return ; for why should not we rest upon 
his promise, who has said, that God will give his holy Spirit to 
them that ask him ? 

And we may the more boldly ask, because we may suppose 
ourselves to be nearer those days, wherein there shall be a more 
general pouring out of the Spirit ? And we might argue that 
those days are nearer indeed, if there was a more general, and 
importunate, and loud cry for this Spirit. This would import 
that a great measure of it is already come, and that far greater 
measures are coming. It would be an argument, that it would 
be a Spirit of consolation and joy, life and vigour ; which would 
make religion a glorious thing, and Christians shine and live, 
both at once. 



James 1. 22. 

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, de 
ceivingyour ownselves. 

limits of my time, since I intend to discourse to you 
only this hour upon this scripture, will not allow me to re 
flect much upon the context ; which is all suitable, and of the 
same piece with the words of the text itself. We have at the 
eighteenth verse a very high eulogy given us of the word of 
God, as that which is the divine seed and principle of the new 
birth j and out of which God's great and glorious work of the 
new creation doth result. "Of his own will begat he us with 
the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his 
creatures." Whereupon the exhortation, f( Be swift to hear," 
(ver. 19.) is grounded ; that is, be very covetous of all seasons 
to wait upon the dispensations of this word. And then, at least, 
we come to this caution here in the text ; " But be ye doers of 
the word, and not hearers only." Though hearing the word is 
the appointed means of this new creation ; and is that, which 

* Preached at Haberdashers' Hall, September 16, 1677. 


by divine designation is able to save the soul of a man, by vir 
tue of that efficacy which many times accompanies it from God ; 
yet this is not to be understood, as if it should do any such 
work upon them, who only give it the hearing, and no more. 
And therefore the apostle thinks it seasonable, and necessary 
to give this intimation by the way, upon what terms we might 
expect so glorious an effect to be wrought by it : that is, sup 
posing that we apply ourselves to attend upon it, with that 
earnest intention of the mind, as those who have a design to 
comply with, and to guide and govern their practice by the 
word they hear ; otherwise all will come to nothing. " Be ye 
doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own- 

We might recommend to you several propositions of di 
vine truth from this scripture ; but we shall choose to col 
lect, and gather up all as much as we can into one, for the sake 
of greater dispatch, which you may take thus. 

That it is a miserable self-deception for any to be hearers of 
the word only, and not doers of it. And herein we shall speak 
to these three things, as previous to the improvement of 

I. Shew what it is to be a doer of the word. 

II. What to be a hearer only. And 

III. Wherein those, of the latter sort, do so miserably de 
ceive themselves. 

I. We are to shew what it is to be a doer of the word. The 
expression plainly imports a habit; according as we denomi 
nate every person that is of such or such a calling or trade, from 
the course and way of life which he follows. A doer of the word, 
(voiYirat,} is not one that doth some single act, now and then, 
which the word enjoins or directs ; but one whose wonted course^ 
and the business of whose life it is to obey the dictates of this 
word, and who governs his life and the tenour of his actions by 
it. Just as we find the phrase of a worker of iniquity is, in the 
Old and New Testament, made use of to represent and hold 
forth to us the course of those persons, who trade in sin. 
They are said to be sin-makers, as the expression KXHOVOIUVTSS doth 
emphatically note : their business is to work sin ; and they do 
often exert their strength, and power that way. So we are to 
understand in general, a doer of the word of God ; that is, one 
whose business of his life it is to do it in a continual course. 
And this supposes, and includes in it many things, which I shall 
briefly hint to you. 

1. It doth suppose a design, a formed fixed design, that this 
shall be my course. Accordingly we have the Psalmist speak- 


Ins; to this purpose ; 'I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I 
will keep thy righteous judgments : I have inclined mine heart 
to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end." Ps. 1 19. 
10. 112. As if he had said, " I purpose and intend so to do ; 
and this is an intention I resolve to pursue, throughout my 
whole course, from which nothing shall divert me." So in like 
manner when we attend upon the dispensation of the word, it 
^hould be with a settled design in our hearts, and a sincere 
purpose to learn somewhat in order to practice j to apply and 
accommodate to practice the truths we hear, and that are ca 
pable of being applied to this purpose. 

2. It carries with it a very serious applying of our minds to 
understand what is the mind and will of God, which is held 
forth to us in his word : that we content not ourselves to have 
heard such and such things propounded to us ; but that we 
distinctly apprehend the scope and drift of what we hear, and 
what is the great thing aimed at in it. For we can never be 
doers of the word and will of God blindly, and in the dark. It 
is necessary that we understand and know it first. It is a way 
we are to walk in with open eyes. A good understanding (says 
the Psalmist) have all they, that do his commandments. Ps. 
111. rO. He supposes a good understanding as necessary to 
the doing the commandments of God. We cannot do them, 
without having a right understanding of them. These words 
do also imply (which seems to be the particular sense of them) 
that a good understanding will certainly incline a man to keep 
his commandments ; and that the keeping his commandments 
will argue him to have a good understanding. And indeed he 
is the wise man that understands this to be his interest, and 
accordingly makes it his business to know, and practice the 
mind and will of God. 

3. It implies the use of our judgment in hearing the word, 
in order to distinguish what is divine, and what is human. For 
God hath thought fit that it should be so dispensed in the 
world, by such hands and instruments as may too possibly ad 
mit somewhat that is human into the dispensation of it. It is 
so sometimes merely as to the manner of the dispensation. 
There is nothing of this treasure that is conveyed to us by such 
vessels, but it will, some way or other, taste of the vessel : and 
that which we are principally to attend and mind, is t 
close with that which is most substantial, as supposing it to be 
altogether divine. It is also true sometimes that there may be 
some error as to the matter, as well as the manner. And there 
our desire ought to be of the sincere milk of the word, that we 
may grow thereby, even as new-born babes. 1 Pet. 2. 2. New* 


born babes have a kind of discerning if the milk he pure, or if 
there be any thing ill tasted or unsavoury in it. And there is a 
certain kind of taste and relish, which belongs to the new crea 
ture. (( Cannot my taste (says Job) discern perverse things r" 
Job 6. 30. And this was the great commendation of the Be- 
jeans, That they searched the Scriptures in order to know, whe 
ther the things spoken to them by the apostles,were of God or no. 
Acts 17. 11. And it was noted to be a piece of generosity in 
them. They were more noble than they of Thessalonica, upon 
this account. We are to make use of our judgment: as the 
apostle prays for the Philippians, that they might abound in 
judgment and all sense, spiritual sense ; that so they might 
discern the things that differ, or approve those, which are more 
excellent. Phil. 1. 9, 10. 

4. It requires a great deal of reverence to be used in hearing 
the word. So to hear it as that we may be doers, requires a 
very reverential attendance upon it ; as considering, that this is a 
revelation that comes from heaven, some part of which is now 
to be held forth to us. It is a divine light, which, through such 
a medium, is to shine forth to us. And there is certainly alto 
gether a fault in this respect, among a great many professors of 
religion ; that the reverence is wanting, which is due to those 
sacred records that go under the name of God's word, and 
which he claims and appropriates to himself, as his word. I 
have wondered, I confess, to see how among scholars, and 
learned men, there should be so great a veneration for some or 
other notable pieces of antiquity, any aged volume, any old re 
cord ; and how high a price and value have been- put upon 
them. Now there is no such piece of antiquity as this in all the 
world that we know of. The holy Scriptures, at least a great 
part, are the most ancient writings in all the world. And it 
should challenge a mighty reverence and veneration, to have a 
word brought down, and transmitted to us, through so many 
successive ages. But to consider it as a divine word, a reve 
lation come from heaven, doth much more claim our re 
verence. How strange a veneration did those Ephesians ex 
press for that image, which, they were made to believe, fell 
from heaven ! All Ephesus, as it is expressed, is a worshipper 
of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down 
from Jupiter : (Acts 19. 35.) as if all the city were of a piece, all 
heart and soul upon that one tiling, which they believed to be 
of heavenly descent. Now this word we are sure is a divine- 
breathed thing ; for all Scripture is given by the inspiration of 
God. 2 Tim. 3. 16. 

Then it is that the word is like to be done, when it is receiv- 


ed with reverence, not as the word of man, but of God : when we 
in our own thoughts prefix that preface to every part of that 
truth, which he himself hath prefixed to many parts and por 
tions of it ; namely, " Thus saith the Lord," who is the Lord 
of heaven and earth. It is his word, who made and sustains all 
things by the word of his power. When therefore we look up 
on this word as carrying the stamp of the majesty of God upon 
it, then it is like to command the heart j but it will signify little, 
till this is done. 

5. To be a doer of the word supposes that we believe it, or 
that our hearing of it be mingled with faith. It profits not 
where it is not so j and signifies nothing, if there be not that 
mixture. The word of God, says the apostle, works effectually 
in them that believe. I Thess. 2. 13. But, as it is in ano 
ther place, " The word preached did not profit them, not being 
mixed with faith in them that heard it.*' Heb. 4. 2. And it is 
never likely that men should practice that word, which they re 
gard no more, than the word of a child. If any one, whose 
truth you suspect, tell you this or that, it will signify little to 
determine your practice, or to guide and influence any design 
you have in hand. Now. to receive this word with faith, is to 
rely upon the authority of the Speaker, or him from whom it 
originally comes. <( This is the word of God. There is no 
more doubt to be made of it, than whether the things be, or ex 
ist which I see with my own eyes." For it is faith that sup 
plies the room of sight, in reference to things that fall not un 
der our eye. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the 
evidence of things not seen. Heb. 11. 1. "God hath said this ; 
and therefore it is as sure, as if my own eyes saw it all." The 
gospel is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that 
believes ; but to them that believe not, it signifies nothing, it 
has no power with them. Again, 

6. It requires love ; a great exercise of love that the heart 
may close with it. It is said of some, that they received not 
the love of the truth that they might be saved. 2 Thess. 2. 10. 
They had pleasure in unrighteousness. They had so much love 
to wickedness, that they had none for truth. Therefore they 
were left under strong delusions to believe lies, that they 
might be damned. So you find things are connected there. 
The love that is required here, is such as works out in sincere 
desire of the milk of the word, that so we may grow thereby. 
1 Pet. 2. 2. Also in delight ; for the soul hath a sweet and 
savoury relish in it. "O how love 1 thy law !" (Ps. 119. 97) 
says David : which was the name of that revelation of the mind 
and will of God then extant ; and was sweeter to him, than 


honey to his taste. Ps. 119. 103. Thy words (saith Jeremiah) 
were found, and I did eat them ; and thy word was unto me 
the joy, and rejoicing of my heart. Jerem. 15.16. The word 
of God is then like to be done, when there is so dear a love to 
it ; and the soul so taketh complacency in it, and unites to it, 
that it becomes as it were consubstantiate with the soul itself. 
And again, 

7 It requires subjection ; an obediential subjection to it, and 
compliance of heart with it. Receive with meekness (as it is 
in this contest) the ingrafted word, which is able to save your 
souls. James. 1. 21. There are many hearts of men so op 
posite to the word of God, that when they meet with that in, 
and from it, which is cross and adverse to their corrupt incli 
nations, their spirits swell, and storni and tumultuate ; and 
they are ready to say with those in the prophet, The word of 
the Lord, which thou hast spoken to us, we will not hear. Je 
rem. 44. 16. You must then receive it with meekness; that 
is, so as to yield to it, how cross soever it may be to any pre 
sent disposition of yours. The word has been so received by 
gracious hearts, when it hath spoken terrible things. When 
dreadful things were foretold by the prophet to Hezekiah, he 
said; "Good is the word of the Lord, which thou hast spoken." 
Isai. 39 8. Again, 

8. It requires a previous transformation of the heart by it, 
so as that the proper stamp and impress of it be upon the soul. 
For the word can never be done by the hearer, but from a vi 
tal principle ; of which it is itself to be the productive means. 
So it is said to be in the eighteenth verse of this chapter, in, 
which is my text ; "of his own will begat he us with the word 
of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures." 
If the new creature be not wrought by it in the soul, there 
will never be that doing of the word, which is expected and 
required. There must be an exemplar copied out from the 
word upon our hearts ; and then we are to practice, and do 
according to that exemplar: still comparing it with the first 
idea, to be seen in the rule, or word itself. You obeyed (says 
the apostle) from the heart that form of doctrine which was 
delivered you. Rom. 6. 17- Or, as the words are capable 
of being read, into which ye were delivered. That is, you 
were cast into the very mould of the word ; and have re 
ceived the stamp and impress of it upon your souls, and so 
have obeyed it from the heart. Our Lord Jesus Christ in his 
kingdom (in that part of it which is more appropriate and pe 
culiar) rules over a willing people and is not a king of slaves. 
He is obeyed with an inward inclination and propensity of 

VOL, VI. 2 L 


heart. His power hath made his subjects willing ; that is, by 
Writing his law in their hearts, which is the great promise of 
the evangelical covenant. When souls are made the epistle of 
Christ, having his mind transcribed, and written out upon their 
hearts ; then it is they obey, and do the word, and never till 
then. And then it requires also, 

9. A faithful remembrance of it ; that is, of its rules accom- 
modable to particular occasions as they occur. The apostle 
subjoins here in the words following my text a representation 
of the man that hears, without a design of doing the word ; who 
says he, is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a 
glass : for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and 
straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. Jam. 1. 
23. 24. If we apply the apostle's similitude fully unto the 
purpose for which he brings it, it must not only have reference 
to such an idea, as we have exhibited to us in the word ; or the 
representation of what we now actually are, but also of what we 
should be, both together. Looking into the word as into a 
glass we have a representation made to us there, of the new 
creature in all the lively lineaments of it ; and so we see what we 
should be : and comparing ourselves therewith, we see what 
we are; and wherein there is a deflexion, and disagreement 
from our pattern. They that do only throw a transient eye up 
on the glass, go away and forget what they see ; the image 
vanisheth presently out of their thought. Therefore there 
must be a perpetual image kept up before our eyes, by a faith 
ful and continual remembrance of what the word of God repre- 
senteth to us; to wit, of the true complexion of a Christian, 
and wherein our own disagreeth ; that so upon all occasions we 
may be able to correct thereby what is amiss ; and to direct 
our way and course according thereunto. And then there must 
be in the 

Last place, an actual application of all such rules in the 
word, to present cases, as they occur. Thy word I have kept 
in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Psal. Hi). II. 
It is laid up in that repository and treasury for this purpose, to 
be used as there is need and occasion. Therefore so skilful 
ought we to be in the word of righteousnes, which hath enough 
in it to make the man of God perfect, and thoroughly furnish 
ed for every good work ; that upon all occasions, and whatever 
work we go about, we may have our rule still in readiness to 
apply, and actually may apply it to our case ; so as neither 
on the one hand to walk dubiously, nor carelessly on the other. 
For those are extremes to be avoided. A continual scrupulosity 
is provided against by a continual acquaintance with the word, 


and having rules always in readiness to measure particular ca 
ses by as they occur ; and, on the other hand, carelessness is 
inexcusable. For many walk without having any regard to 
their own spirits, and matter it not whether they are right or 
wrong. To have this word, as the measure of our lives, to ap 
ply to upon occasion, is necessary in order to avoid these ex 
orbitances ; the one whereof is so very uncomfortable, and 
the other so very dangerous, and destructive. But then we 

II. To speak to the other thing a little ; namely, what is it 
to be a hearer only ? By being a hearer only, we must not un 
derstand every thing to be excluded, besides the bare external 
act of hearing ; as if no more were intended by it, than the 
outward act common to man with the brute creatures : for, un 
doubtedly, there may be included in it many acts of the under 
standing, and of the outward man. So to be a hearer only, is. 
in the general to hear without any design of doing at all. For 
when it is required that we should be doers, the meaning of it 
is, not that we must be doers of all that is bidden and directed 
by the word, just while we are hearing. Therefore that which 
is required over and besides hearing, is a design to be doing the 
word ; while, to be hearers only, is to hear without any previous 
design of acting according to what they do hear. Some other 
motives and considerations there are, which bring persons to 
liear ; but as for the business of practice they intend it not. 
It never came into their minds to look upon that as the true and, 
proper end of hearing that they should do and practice what 
they hear. 

Now truth is but one, error is manifold. If there be but 
one right end, that end is to be aimed at, which is practice. 
And that we may be capable of this, but one entire frame and 
right disposition of soul is required. But various are the ends, 
and many are the ill principles and dispositions, which may 
have place in the spirit of a man in reference to this matter, 
It is, therefore, a manifold character, which I might give, if the 
time would allow, of the hearer only. For as there is a mani 
fold end ; and many indispositions, in the spirit of a man, to 
the true end : so manifold are the characters of such as are 
hearers only. Therefore we are not to suppose, that they all 
belong to one and the same person j but some to one, and some 
to another. There is, 

I. The inattentive hearer; that taketh very little heed to 
what he heareth. We ought (says the apostle to the Hebrews) 
to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have 
heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. He!). 2. 1 . 
And set your hearts (says Moses) unto all the words which I 


testify among you this day. Deut. 32. 46. He that never 
intends to be a doer of what he hears, will very probably little 
regard what he hears. 

2. There is the inconsiderate hearer ; that never ponders 
what he hears, nor compares one thing with another. I can 
but name particulars to you, which might well be enlarged up 
on. There is again, 

3. The injudicious hearer; that never makes any judgment 
upon what he hears, whether it be true or false. All things 
come alike to him, he matters them not. Consideration is in 
order to judgment, and judgment follows upon it. We deliberate 
first, and then judge upon that deliberation. The inconsiderate 
hearer, therefore, will be an injudicious one. There is also, 

4. The unapprehensive hearer : who hears all his days, but 
is never the wiser. Ever learning, but never comes to the 
knowledge of the truth. No light comes in to him, and he 
remains as ignorant after twenty years living under the gospel, 
as he was at the h'rst. 

5. The stupid, unaffected hearer ; that is as a rock and a 
stone under the word. Nothing ever enters or gets within the 
stony ground. Things are heard sometimes that even rend 
hearts all to pieces, if rightly disposed ; things full of terror, 
amazement, astonishment, and of dread ; but they are heard 
by these without any trembling. Rocks and mountains may 
shake and shiver sooner than they. Again, 

6. There are your prejudiced, disaffected hearers ; who hear 
with dislike, especially those things which relate to practice : 
and with the greater dislike it may be, by how much the more 
what they hear, relates to the proper end of hearing. They 
cannot endure such things as aim at the heart, and con 
cern the business and work of religion. And there are 

7. Your fantastical, voluptuous hearers ; that hear only to 
please their fancy or imaginations. So they come on purpose 
to try if they can hrar a pretty sentence, any fine jingle, some 
flashes of wit. For it may be they have found some, who have 
to do with this sacred word, that will allow themselves to be so 
vain, as to gratify them in such things, when they come with 
such an expectation. Of which temper I remember an an 
cient saying, Dissoluti est pectoris in rebus seriis guaerere 
voluptatem : it is a dismal token upon a person to seek for 
the gratification of his fancy in serious matters. As if one 
would bring music to another, that lay under the torture of a 
broken leg ; how very incongruous would this be ! And such 
we are to consider is the state of souls, all shattered, broken, 


diseased, and maimed. This is the common case of those we 
have to do with.* There are again, 

S. Your notional hearers ; that are of somewhat a higher form 
and sect than the others : who do not aim merely to have their 
fancies and imaginations gratified by something light and flashy 
but their understandings also. But it must be by some fine 
notion, which they have not met with before. And so they 
always come to learn some kind of novelty ; and if they cannot 
meet with some new thing, which they have not met with be 
fore, they go away with a great deal of dislike, and distaste, at 
those they hear. With these, (and they are for the most part 
of the same sort, and therefore we may join them together) 
you may put, 

9. Those talkative persons ; who only come to hear that they 
may furnish themselves with notions for the sake of discourse : 
or that, when they come into company, they may have some 
thing just to talk of afterwards. Upon which a heathen mo 
ralist reflects with a great deal of ingenuity. "That is (saith. 
he) when they hear such moral precepts as the philosopher* 
use to deliver, and press in the schools ; as all came into them 
in words, so, with them, all go out in words. Which is just 
the same thing, as if the sheep, when they have been grazing 
all day, should come at night to the shepherd; and cast up the 
grass they swallowed, to shew how much they had eaten. 
Grass it came in, and grass it goes out again. The shepherd 
does not expect this, but expects that of the grass they had 
eaten that day, there should come milk and wool from the con 
coction, and digestion of what they had eaten." It is much 
that we have need to learn such documents as these from a 

* The word here atxpoxratt, hearers only may remind one (says 
the author) of an ancient word that is of affinity with it, namely, 
tix.poaifji.ae.Tx ; of which this is the sense. It was the name of certain 
songs and sonnets, joined with vocal and instrumental music, which 
were wont to be used in the conclusion of stage-plays, wherewith 
the hearers were entertained at the'r going out of the theatres. They 
were also very frequently used in the close of banquets. Why ! the 
word of God is looked upon as such an ax^oa/^at. and the things 
contained in it as axpoa/^ara, so these [axpoara/] kind of bearers. 
" Thou art," (says the Almighty to the prophet Ez< kiel) " unto 
them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and 
can play well on an instrument ; for they hear thy words but do 
them not." Ezek. 83. 32. Such hearers there are who come only 
to have their imaginations and fancies gratified with somewhat, that 
may be delicious to them; and that is all that they aim at. These 
sure are hearers only ! 


heathen. What ! because all we hear comes to us in words, 
should it all come out in words again ? No, the end is surely 
that it should be so digested, and concocted, as to yield work 
and fruit, agreeable to what we hear. And then there are 

1 0. The censorious and critical hearers ; who come on pur 
pose not as doers of the law, but as judges. They come to 
see what they may carp at, and so to pass their verdict. " Were 
such and such things rightly methodized ? such and such words 
well placed ? was there an exact concinnity in what was said?'* 
.and the like. This now is all the design they have in hearing 
the word. And then there is another sort too, and we have 
some experience, I am afraid, of too many such, in the age 
and day wherein we now live, and that is, 

Lastly, Malicious hearers ; that come on purpose to seek an 
advantage against those, they come to hear, particularly from 
what they preach. By this sort, you know, our Saviour was 
often pestered : who came to hear him ; and to put questions 
to him ; and so gave him occasion to speak, only to entrap 
and insnare him. To which maybe added your raging exas 
perated hearers, such as Stephen's were at his last sermon; who 
gnashed upon him with their teeth, and could not forbear vio 
lence to his precious life, upon their hearing him. Thus you 
ee the characters of those that are hearers only, which are va 
rious and manifold. I shall only touch upon the 

III. Thing, namely, to speak to the self-dec'eption of such 
persons. And here I shall shew, wherein such are deceived; 
,and the grossness of the deception itself. 

1. Wherein such are deceived. And they are certainly so, 
(1.) In their work. For they commonly think they have 

done well ; and they find no fault with themselves, that they 
have been hearers only. And then 

(2.) As to their reward they are also deceived. They get 
nothing by it all this time. That, and their labour are lost. 
" Whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continu- 
eth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the 
word, this man shall be blessed in his deed" Jam. 1. 25. But 
they never go away with a blessing ; most certainly they miss 
of it, who are hearers only. 

2. For the grossness of this deception, it will appear to be 
very great, if we consider, 

(1.) That they are deceived in so plain a case. For it 
is the plainest thing in the world, that the gospel is sent 
in order to practice. Now how strange is it, that men should 
fee deceived in a thing so plain ! What can the gospel be sent 


for but only In order to practice ? What other aim, or end, can 
it possibly have ? As might be shewn in many particulars, if 
time gave leave. And, 

(2.) It is self-deception ; for they are said to deceive them 
selves ; which is a far other thing, than when the matter is 
Wont to be expressed passively only, and in softer terms. As 
to say to a person, " Sir, you are mistaken ; you are deceived 
and imposed upon." This, I say, is much gentler, than to 
say of a man, that he deceiveth and imposeth upon himself. For 
this carries in it an intimation, that men do use some industry 
in the matter ; that they industriously deceive themselves, as 
indeed it must be so in this case. For if men did not use some 
art or contrivance, they could never have hid these things from 
their own eyes ; particularly, that this word is sent to be the 
guide of men's practice. And to overlook such a thing as this 
all their days, ^as those men must be supposed to do who are 
hearers only) is miserable deception. It is their trade, and a 
poor trade the Lord knows ! And they must be supposed to 
have used a great deal of artifice with themselves, to veil so 
plain a case as this from their own eyes and view ; so as not 
to understand, that the gospel is sent to be their rule of 
practice, in order to their attainment of a happy state at 

And now, to shut up all with a little application we may 
learn hence, 

1. That persons are apt to overlook the main of their duty, 
and take up with some lesser parts. 

2. That in the very business of hearing the word, there is 
great danger of self-deception, if persons do not carefully watch 
against it. And again, 

3. We may learn, that the whole business of the gospel hath 
a designed reference unto practice. Be not hearers only, but 
doers of the word. As if he had said, Do not satisfy yourselves 
with merely hearing the word of God, as if there was nothing 
in it conducing, or referable to practice, as generally the 
things contained in it manifestly have ; for this alone is 
not sufficient to answer the end and design of the gospel. 

4. We may learn, that it is a duty of very great concern 
ment to attend upon the word preached or to be a hearer 
of it ; for the whole business of our practice is to be consequent 
thereupon. It is then of great consequence to be a hearer of 
the word ; and as much as this duty is neglected by many, the 
whole stress lies upon it of the design and end, for which the 
gospel comes into the world. The gospel signifies nothing 


unless it be believed, and this " faith cometh by hearing." 
Rom. 10. 17. There are many persons that humour and please 
themselves in talking against so much hearing, and so much 
preaching ; and think it a vain, and needless thing. But that 
is certainly because they have little considered what hearing, 
and preaching are for. If it were only for the minister to teach, 
and the hearers to learn some new thing not known before, 
truly all necessary truth, by attentive diligent inquirers, might 
be learnt in a little while. But it is rather to urge and incul 
cate things, which were known before. Therefore when the 
apostle had said, that it is by the word of truth that we are be 
gotten of God, to be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures, he 
presently adds, " Be swift to hear." Jam. 1. 18, ID. As if 
he had said, these things ought to be often urged, and incul 
cated upon you ; that so the product thereof, to wit, the new 
creature may be sure in you. If this be not done at one time, 
it may at another ; some time or other it may be effected. 
Therefore be swift to hear, your life lies upon it. But 

5. And lastly, You see of what consequence it is to add do 
ing, to the hearing the word. And for that I need to give no 
other encouragement than that of our Lord at the close of his 
sermon on the mount. "Whosoever heareth these sayings of 
mine, and doeth them ; I will liken him unto a wise man which 
built his house upon a rock : and the rain descended, and the 
floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house ; 
and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock. But, (says he,) 
Every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them 
not ; shall be likened unto a foolish man which built his house 
upon the sand : and the rain descended, and the floods came, 
and the winds blew, and beat upon that house ; and it fell, and 
great was the fall of it." Matt. 7. 24 27- And I cannot upon 
consideration of this but apprehend, that, as the stability of 
many (I hope) hath been promoted by the much preaching^ 
and hearing of our times ; so there are many (I am afraid) near 
to a very dreadful fall, who have been hearers only of Christ's 
sayings, but never minded to be doers of them. 

And I must needs think it strange, if we have not among us 
a general apprehension of the danger of losing our opportuni 
ties of hearing the word of God. We have these upon such 
terms, that we should, methinks, reckon ourselves always in 
danger. And if we have any cause for that apprehension, 
what in all the world can we imagine more provoking, and 
likely to infer such a doom and judgment upon us, as the pe 
nury of the word of God, than to be hearers only, without any 


design to be doers of it ? Whereas if we did but set ourselves, 
with a more earnest design, to apply, and turn all that we 
hear, into fruit and practice ; it may be this might prevent 
such a stroke as we are not without reason to dread, nor with 
out grounds to fear. But if we should not prevent it, yet it 
would be a very comfortable thing however in a cloudy, dark 
and gloomy time, to be able to make such a reflection as this ; 
" Blessed be God, while I had such seasons, I laboured to im 
prove them as well as I could. I laboured to take all oppor 
tunities that I could,- to hear with a design to do, to quicken 
and help me to move onward in Christian practice." It will, 
I say, be very comfortable to be able to make such a reflection 
in a time of gloominess and darkness which it is possible we 
may see, and how soon we know not. And if in such a season 
we should be able to make this reflection, it would be a hap 
py provision for us against it. It would suppose us to have 
gotten some stock, some treasure within us, which we might 
draw forth. We should then have the word within us, which 
when we should lie down, rise up, or walk, might commune 
within us j and so we be capable of being preachers to our- 

In a word, if ever we should come to such a state of things, 
that we should never see the face, nor hear the voice of a mi 
nister of God's word, where our lot is cast ; if we should wear 
out our days in a wilderness, a desert, or a cave ; it would be 
comfortable to have this word a companion to us, and ingrafted 
into us, which is able to save our souls : it would be comfort 
able, I say, to have a stock of divine truth to live upon, when 
we should, as to the external dispensation of it, be in penury 
and want. Let these things, therefore, move us to a more 
earnest endeavour to be doers of the word, and not hearers 

VOL, VI. 2 M 


Luke 18. 18. 

And he spake a par able unto them to this end, that men 
ought always to pray, and not to faint ; saying, There was 
in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded 
man : And there was a widow in that city ; and she came unto 
him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would 
not for a while : but afterward he said within himself, 
Though I fear not God, nor regard man ; yet because this 
widoiv troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual 
coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the 
unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect 
which cry day and night unto him t though he bear long with 

"Y purpose is not to give you a particular explication of 
this parable. The design of it is sufficiently seen in the 
application of it, which our Saviour here makes. All that I 
shall at present do shall be to shew you, with all possible bre 
vity, the strength of the reasoning which our Saviour here useth, 
from the importunity and success of this widow; in order to 

'* Preached at Mr. Case's, September 29, 1676. 


encourage our addresses to God, and a continuance therein 
without fainting. And his argument to this purpose may be 
seen to be very strong and cogent if we consider these two 
things in the general. 

I. The parity of reason between the case heargueth from, and 
that which he argueth to. 

II. The superiority of reason, which is in the latter case, 
above the former. For so we must understand him to argue, 
partly apriori, and partly a fortiori. And the strength of 
the argument both ways we shall endeavour to make out unto 

III. We shall make application of the whole. 

I. I am to consider the parity of reason between these two 
cases ; which you may conceive especially in these four 

1. That here was distress in the one case, and there is dis 
tress in the other. This widow comes to this judge in a very 
distressed case, as it should seem, though it be not particularly 
expressed ; only it appears she was very much grieved, and that 
there was a great deal of wrong done her. And so in the 
other case, the elect of God are always very much injured; and 
they sustain a great deal of wrong from this evil world, in which 
they are. And surely if this unjust judge was moved with the 
distress of this suppliant, there is a great deal of reason to sup 
pose, that distress will be moving in this case also ; and that 
the elect will be heard, when they make their cries to heaven, 
urged by their own distresses. 

2. There appears to have been justice in the one case, as we 
are sure there is justice in the other. This widow's did appear 
to be a just cause. She comes with this request to the judge, 
that he would avenge her of her adversary. The word E^x^oy, 
there used, signifies, Right me of my adversary. She came to 
petition a matter of right, and all that she desired was to 
have right done her. And there is a great deal of right in 
the other case also. " It is a righteous thing with God (says 
the apostle) to recompense tribulation to them that trouble 
you ; and to you, who are troubled, rest with us, when the 
Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty an 
gels." 2Thes. 1. 6', 7- And again, 

3. There was importunity in the one cas-% and there is im 
portunity in the other. Why then should not success be hoped 
to correspond in this case, as well as that ? This widow was so 
urgent, that the judge was sensible of a grievance in it ; and 
found a necessity upon himself to do her right, lest he should 
he wearied by her importunity. The elect too are represented. 


as crying night and day ; that is, the loud voice of their pray 
ers is not by fits, only now and then, but is continued, and in 
cessant ; as night and day take in the whole complex of time. 
And do you think then, saith our Saviour, that God will not 
hear their cry ? Besides, 

4. There is an obligation by office to do right, both in the 
one case, and in the other. The person, to whom this woman, 
applied herself, was a judge in the city. Now it is known, 
that in several of the more eminent cities of Israel, there were 
constituted stated judges, to whom all persons might have re 
course, and bring their grievances, in order to their being re 
dressed. So that this woman doth not come to a person ,un- 
concerned. She does not request, that an occasional kindness 
might be done her ; as one might request such a thing of any 
one, when in necessity : but she comes to an appointed person, 
to one who by his office was obliged to right her. And God 
hath been pleased to take upon himself such an office, and to 
make himself known by the name of the Judge of all the earth ; 
that all might know whither to apply, and to whom they may 
appeal and address themselves. And why is not right to be 
expected in this case, as well as in the other ? So far this 
parable gives us ground to argue from a parity of reason. 

II. It gives us ground also for arguing from a superiority of 
reason too, in sundry respects. As, In respect of the sup 
plicants in the one case, and the other : in respect of the per 
sons supplicated in the one case, and the other : and- in re 
spect of the supplication itself in the former case, and the lat 
ter compared. 

1. There is very prevailing and much stronger reason in the 
latter case, than in the former ; if we consider the supplicants 
in both, and compare them. In the former case you have a 
poor woman ; and here we are to consider, 

(1.) That she was a single woman, only one person who 
comes to make her complaint to this judge : but in the other 
case you have a community, the whole body of the elect. How 
vast is the disproportion here! This great body joining in one 
cry, surely that must needs be unspeakably more prevailing ! 

(2.) (For we can but speak shortly to so many things as are 
before us) This was but an ordinary woman, of an inferior rank, 
by any thing that appears ; that is, she is not mentioned here 
under any remarkable particular character, that might add 
weight to her cause and suit : but this community is a choice 
community ; the elect ; a community of very peculiar persons, 


that are severed from the rest of men, a">d distinguished by 
God's own special seal set upon them. As when God's por 
tion in the several tribes was spoken of, there were sealed of 
such a tribe, so many thousands ; and of such a tribe, so many 
thousands. Rev. 7- 4. &c. All God's elect ones, are sealed 
ones ; they carry a mark of honour upon them. " The founda 
tion of Godstandeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knowetb, 
them that are his." 2 Tim. 2. 19. And, 

(3.) The supplicant was unrelated to him, to whom she 
makes her supplication. We do not find, that she pretended 
to any relation to him at all ; only comes to him as the judge 
of her city. But in the other case, the supplicants are God's 
elect ; his own peculiar people that he had taken, and made 
nigh unto himself: "called, and chosen, and faithful," as you 
have those expressions put together in Scripture. Rev. 17- 14. 
And do not we think then, that a more especial regard will be 
had here ? Besides, 

2. There is a great superiority of reason in arguing from the 
one case to the other, if we consider the persons supplicated j 
or to whom the addresses are made in each case. In the ge 
neral, in one case it is man ; in the other, it is God. And 

(1.) In the former case it was a wicked profane person, to 
whom the address was made ; one that did neither fear God, 
nor regard man : good to no one, neither to God nor man ; a 
vile wretched creature, wrapt up within himself; who studied, 
and consulted nothing but his own ease, and peace ; having no 
fear of God before his eyes, nor any regard to man. But in 
the other case, you have the holy God addressed to ; whose na 
tural, essential holiness, is a perpetual law and obligation to 
him, to do always that which is best. His essential rectitude 
cannot but do such things, as have an agreeable rectitude in 
them to his own very nature. 

(2.) In the one case it was a merciless man, that was ap 
plied to; in the other, a merciful God. How much stronger 
is the reason ! This judge was a man who had no mercy, no 
pity to any one, but to himself. He took some pity of himself in 
deed, that he might not be wearied out with continual clamours 
and cries ; otherwise, it seems, his heart knew no pity, there 
were no bowels of compassion rolling, or working in him. But 
in the other case, it is the Father of mercies who is addressed, 
and appealed to. It is he with whom there is so abundant pi 
ty, and kindness ; so strong a propension and inclination to do 
good to the necessitous and miserable, only because his will in 
clines and leads him thereunto : the Spring and Fountain of all 


that pity and mercy, that is any where to be found, diffused 
among his creatures. If parents pity their children ; if there 
lie bowels gathering in any towards the afflicted and distressed ; 
from what spring, from what fountain did all this proceed ? All 
must come from some original or other ; and they can be de 
rived from no higher, neither are they to be derived from any 
lower, than this great Father of mercies. And what ! shall not 
he hear his elect ? And again, 

(3.) It was, in the former case, an unjust man that was sup 
plicated ; here it is the just and righteous God. As his holi 
ness doth oblige him in general to do that, which is right and 
,fit to be done ; his justice, as a particular attribute in his ge 
neral character, inclines him in this case to administer, and 
execute justice. As he hath been pleased mercifully himself to 
lay down a rule and law of mercy, in reference to those that 
are his (though it be impossible that God can injure a man in 
any thing, yet it is possible that men can injure one another ; 
and very certain also that those are the worst used by the world, 
who have such a near relation to him, and whom he hath chosen 
and gathered out of the world) so here in this case, when there 
is a proper object of vindictive justice, shall not the Judge of 
all the earth do right, to whom righteousness belongs as part 
of his peculiar glory ? And then again, 

3. There is, in respect of the supplication on the one hand, 
and on the other, a great superiority, and triumphant prevalen- 
cy of reason. For, in the former case, consider, 

(1.) The matter of the petition of this widow; and that was 
only a private good, that she sought for herself: and consider 
also the petition of the elect of God. They have all one com 
mon concernment, wherein the interest of God is involved 
with theirs. So that whatsoever they supplicate for, as the 
-elect of God, must needs be a matter that is so far public ; that 
is, wherein they all agree, and in which their hearts and de 
sires do meet, and concur. It is one thing for a particular 
person to desire to be gratified in some particular, private con 
cernments ; and another thing to insist upon such matters as 
are common to us, with all the elect of God. And this it is to 
be supposed is the matter of the supplications of the elect unto 
God in this case. It is that, wherein all the elect do concea- 
tre and wherein all their desires do meet. 

(2) Look to the manner, and style of the supplication ; on 
the one part, and on the other. This woman comes in her 
own name, but the supplications of the elect of God run in 
another style ; they come all in the name of the great Media 
tor, and Intercessor. And is there not unspeakably more rea- 


son, that we should expect their supplications to prevail ? They 
come in the name of him, who is most nearly related to the 
Judge, and to them. " We have an Advocate with the Fa 
ther, Jesus Christ the righteous. 1 John 2. 1. It is said in 
definitely, with the Father : not of his, or our Father ; but 
the common Father of him, and us, as we are to understand it. 
And since with him we have such an Advocate, shall we not 
hope to prevail ? Again, 

(3.) Consider the principle of the one's supplication, and 
that of the other. We must suppose this woman's supplication 
to be dictated by her own sense of the urgency, and necessity 
of her case ; and the unrelievableness of it by any other way 
than that of addressing herself to the known judge. In short, 
it was her own private spirit that dictated her supplication ; 
for she alone knew her own need, felt her own necessity. But 
the prayers of all the elect of God have another principle. 
When they know not what to pray for, they are furnished with 
matter, and with sighs and groans at once. Rom. 8. 26. There 
is a spirit appointed on purpose, known by the name of the 
" Spirit of grace and supplications j" whose business it is to 
indite requests for the elect of God, and to strive and to wres 
tle with him : which is strongly moving at the same time in 
their own breasts ', so as that their hearts, and the heart of 
God, as it were, are united, and joined by that Spirit. Shall 
they not then hope to prevail ? They may say, when they are 
putting up such prayers as are the common sense of all the 
elect of God ; " Lord, I do not speak of myself now. Thou 
hast taught me to pray. This prompts me to it, and puts me 
upon it ; and 1 had never prayed so, nor uttered such cries : 
and such desires had not entered into my heart, if thou hadst 
not put them there." And shall not God hear his own elect 
offering up petitions of his own bespeaking ? And desires of his 
own creating shall not he answer ? Doth he stir up desires on 
purpose to disappoint them ? or, will he make his people re 
fuse to pray, by denying their petitions, and casting their pray 
ers back upon their hands ? And then, 

(4.) Consider the end of one's supplication, and thftt of the 
other. The end that this woman aimed at, was nothing but 
self-advantage, to be relieved herself ; but the end of the 
elect of God in their supplications, is somewhat wherein their 
interest is jointly concerned with his in reference to those great 
concernments, which belong to the whole body. They know 
he hath a concern twisted with theirs ; and so can speak it, 
with Daniel, as the real sense of their hearts, " Do, defer not, 
for thine own sake, O my God : for thy city, and thy people 


are called by thy name." Dan. 9. 19. This is the common 
sense of all the people of God : " Thou hast not been ashamed 
to be called our God. Thou hast taken us into a near relation 
unto thee. It is a grievous thing to be twitted with our God. 
It is as a sword in our bones to have it said to us, Where is 
your God ? Thy concernments and ours are one ; do therefore, 
and defer not for thine own name's sake." In this strain do all 
the supplications of the elect run. So that in all these respects 
you see there is a great superiority of reason, if such a widow 
should succeed well in her private request to such a judge, why 
all the elect of God should much more succeed in the requests, 
which they are day and night making to the great Lord of hea 
ven and earth. And therefore, 

III. Briefly to apply all this, we learn ; 
1 . How great a privilege it is to have this matter clear to us, 
that we are of the elect of God ; and how much therefore we 
are concerned to make our calling, and election sure ; for then 
we find ourselves to belong to a community, that are continually 
praying prayers which shall be sure to prevail. And how great 
a privilege, how blessed a thing is this ! Methinks when we un 
derstand how certainly the elect of God shall be heard, who 
are crying to him night and day ; we should be at this work, 
night and day, poring into our hearts, till we are certain of this, 
that we are the elect of God. Then we shall be sure to put up 
all prosperous and acceptable prayers, when they are all of the 
same sense, and run in the same channel, as theirs are wont 
to do. And again, 

2. We are to collect hence, that the elect of God, as long as 
they continue in this world, are to bear the character of pray 
ing ones. To be acted by a spirit of prayer, and to have con 
tinually a praying disposition, is characteristical of the elect of 
God, who are gathered in from among the common refuse of a 
sinful world. Therefore we had need to look well to ourselves 
concerning this thing. How stand our hearts Godward ? Are 
they formed unto prayers ? Is it become even a spiritually na 
tural thing to us to pray ? As natural as breathing is to a living 
man, sooiatural a thing is praying to the new creature, and as 
agreeable. The elect are supplicants day and night. The great 
business of their lives is prayer. Thi's is that, to which the 
heart of an elect person doth impel him ; so far as he is himself, 
and hath the true genius and spirit working in him, which is 
common to all the elect of God, and also peculiar to them. 
And again, we are to learn hence, 

3. In how wretched a case they must needs be, who are the 
stated, aud habitual enemies of the church of God in the worldr 


It is a fearful condition that such men are in, to have all the 
elect of God crying against them, night and day. What will 
become of this matter at last? Who, that considers the case, 
would not dread to be found in such a condition as these are 
in ? to be one against whom all the elect of God are joining 
their requests, night and day, and exhibiting complaints ! For 
they do in common pray against the enemies of the name, and 
interest of God : and so every one is involved, and the cry of 
this whole community goes against each individual ; that is, 
supposing them to persevere in a course of enmity to the in 
terest of our Lord, and his Christ. So that this might make 
any heart to tremble, to think what this is like to come to, and 
what it must needs infer. What fearful storms of wrath and 
vengeance will be plucked down at length upon their heads, 
against whom all the elect of God are continually joining their 
requests ! And, in the last place, 

4. We see hence, how unreasonable a thing it is to be des 
pondent in prayer, or to faint in this duty, supposing that the 
things we mainly insist upon are the common concernments of 
the elect of God. This being supposed we pray securely. In 
deed if we vainly and unwarrantably set our hearts upon this or 
that particular thing, that would gratify ourselves ; and nothing 
will serve our turn, but that we be so and so gratified ; we may 
pray, and pray, and all to little purpose : for there can be no 
acceptable prayer that is not the prayer of faith ; and that can 
be no prayer of faith, which goeth beyond the bounds of the 
promise. Therefore, if I pray for that, which was never pro 
mised, I may thank myself if I succeed not. 

There are some things that cannot be the matter of a uni 
versal, absolute promise ; being things which are in themselves 
of an uncertain, and variable nature : as all such things as have 
no intrinsic goodness of their own, but may sometimes be good 
to particular persons, and sometimes not. For circumstances 
may so vary the case, that the good that is in them may be pre 
ponderated by afar greater evil, if they should at that timebe giv 
en. And whatsoever is a good of tin's nature ; that is, good or not 
good, according as circumstances are, which often vary ; it is 
apparent cannot be the matter of an absolute promise : for sup 
posing circumstances so to vary, as that this should become an 
evil, you would then have evil to be the matter of a promise, 
which is contradictious and absurd. But since it is possible, 
that external or worldly good things, yea, and some alsothatmay 
be externally subservient to religion, may in some circumstances 
do more hurt to the people of (God, who does with a gracious 
care preside over their actions, and all things that have any re- 

VOL. YI. 2 N 


sped to them, and who is best able to judge ; they cannot, 
therefore, be the matter of his absolute promise. These things 
may be more hurtful, than gainful, in such and such circum 
stances ; and he sees how to do them more good by the want of 
such things, than by the having of them. A less good, when 
compared with a greater, is then to pass under the notion of 
evil ; and it would, I say, be unreasonable to suppose evil to be 
the matter of a promise. And where any thing of that nature 
is not promised absolutely, but with a reserved latitude to the 
wisdom, and goodness of our great Lord, and Ruler j our faith 
can be exercised no otherwise about them, than according to 
the tenour of such promises : that is, we may believe we shall 
have such and such things, if God seeth good ; but if he seeth 
not good, he will deny, or withhold them, even in mere good 
ness and faithfulness to us. 

But then in such things as are absolutely promised to all the 
elect of God, there we may give room and scope to our 'faith. 
And it is an unreasonable thing to be at all despondirig con 
cerning the matter of such prayers : as it is, with respect ta 
others also, no less unreasonable to admit the least doubt, that 
we shall have such things if they be best for us; and what God 
in his unerring wisdom discerns will be for our advantage. 
Therefore let us settle this apprehension with ourselves, of how 
great concernment it is to us in prayer, to insist on such things, 
as are properly of common concern to the whole fraternity of 
the elect; and therein to take heed of any diffidence, or dis 

Great and glorious things are promised to be the portion of 
God's elect in this world, at his own appointed time and sea 
son ; but he hath not told us when that shall be. However we 
may, with this peremptory faith, go unto God in prayer, that 
he will make the kingdoms of the earth, the kingdoms of our 
Lord, and his Christ, who shall reign for ever and ever ; that 
the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established, above 
all the mountains ; that there shall be new heavens, and a new 
earth, wherein shall dwell righteousness. But we make all this 
matter a private business, if we go and cry ; " Oh let it be so 
now ! let it be in my time, that mine eyes may see it \" es 
pecially if we- peremptorily insist upon it ; without reservation: 
or submission to the supreme wisdom and will. Whereas if we 
pray in general, that such things may be ; our hearts should be 
full of hope, faith, and joy, in the apprehension that thus it 
shall be ; and we cannot be without success, since it is the com- 
Inon sense of all the elect of God. 

And in matters, which respect the particular concernments 


of our souls, see that they be things of absolute necessity, and 
that fall within the consent of all the community. Let us pray 
against the body of sin and death ; that we may have grace kept 
alive, and maintained and improved ; that we may grow, and be 
carried on from strength to strength, till we reach "the measure 
of a perfect man in Christ Jesus." This is the common sense of 
all the elect ; and our prayers fall in with theirs, who have been, 
wont to cry out against the body of sin and death, as the great 
and most violent enemy they would be rid of. We may then be 
sure that our prayers shall have effect, and not be lost ; and 
that God will certainly hear them. 

If we are praying for the divine presence ; he hath promised 
that he will never leave, nor forsake those that cleave to him. 
Heb. 13. 5. Whatever he may do to people in common, he will 
never break the bond between himself, and that soul which is 
one of his elect ; and when they cry, "Lord never leave me, 
nor forsake me !" they shall be sure to be heard. When we 
pray for the divine presence to be afforded more especially to 
us, in reference to some special case, or season of trouble and 
trial, this is what God will not fail to do. If his presence be 
desired, 1 say, as to any special duty ; so it will be, and God 
will hear us. 

I hope you are desirous, and earnest in your prayers to God, 
for his more immediate presence, in reference to that special 
season of your approaching to the Lord's table. Sure all the 
elect of God have been wont to do so, praying and striving that 
they might at such times and seasons meet with God ; that 
there might be a real intercourse, between their souls and him 
(whom they love) to such a degree as to him seems best. Why, 
God will hear all these cries, that are common to us, with all 
the people of God ; and such prayers being directed to him, 
shall not be in vain. Therefore we should take heed, upon 
these accounts, that we faint not. 

We must know that fainting may be either when faith lan- 
guisheth, or desire. It is faint praying, when we pray as if 
we cared not whether we prayed or no. The word Exxaxs/v here 
rendered faint, in our text, is the same with that, which else 
where is rendered weary. Let us not, txxxKuis.iv, be weary in 
well-doing; for in due season we shall reap if we faint not: 
(Gal. 6. 9.) that is, if ye be not sluggish in the course of well 
doing. Take heed therefore of praying the sluggard's prayer, 
or at the sluggard's rate. "The desire of the slothful kills him, 
because his hands refuse to labour." Prov. 21. 25. His own 
desires carry no life in them ; they are even death to his very 
heart ; cold things that strike death into the soul, and put no 
life into it. 


And then too when faith languisheth, it is faint praying. 
" Let not that man," (says St. James) that is, the man who 
wavers like a wave of the sea, and is driven of the wind and toss 
ed ; " think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord." Jam. 
1. 7> What ! come to God, as if we did not expect to get any 
thing by God! and as if we agreed in the same sense with those 
profane atheists, and symbolized with them who say, " What 
profit is it that we have prayed to him or kept his ordinances ?" 
go heartlessly into the divine presence ; give way to a cold, dull 
spirit, in the very performance of the duty ; and never look 
after the success of it when it is over. Such had as good ne 
ver pray at all, who pray only to keep up a custom, and to 
make a shew ; and that they may be able to say when all is 
over, " The duty is done." Let not such think they shall re 
ceive any thing at the hands of God ; such especially as come 
to him with no expectation, and pray to him as to one that can 
not save. 

It is to cast infamy upon the great Object of our worship ; as 
if we were only blessing an idol, when we pray to the true, liv 
ing God, as if he were such a one as the idols of the Gentiles 
are said to be, that have eyes but see not, ears but hear not, 
and can neither do good nor hurt. It is no wonder if such pray 
ing signify nothing ; for it carries an affront in itself. Every 
such prayer is an indignity, and an insolent affront put upon 
the great God : as if the injunction of this duty upon the chil 
dren of men, was either unreasonable and to no purpose, and 
so a reflection upon the wisdom of his law, who has command 
ed us to pray j (inasmuch as that is always unwisely enjoined 
that hath no end) or, as if there were no power in him to ac 
complish what we come to him about, though we come accord 
ing to his own direction. It cannot, I say, but be an affront 
to God, either way, to come to him with desponding hearts. 
In the former case, if our desires languish, we are worse than 
the importunate widow ; in the latter case, if faith languish, 
we make God worse than the unjust judge. 


Rom. & 5. 

Hope maketh not ashamed<~ 

TT will not be impertinent or unuseful to say something, 
from this scripture, concerning this property of the Chris 
tian's hope ; namely, that it maketh not ashamed. But let us 
first, briefly consider the scope and series of the apostle's dis 
course here, and see how this passage depends and is intro 

We have here, after a long discourse touching our justifica 
tion by faith in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, some ac 
count of the privileges of a justified state in the beginning of 
this chapter. As first, peace with God. "Being justified by 
faith we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ/* 
Ver. 1. And secondly, free access unto God, and the liberty 
of his presence. " By whom also we have access by faith into 
this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory 
of God." Ver. 2. In which words we have also the patient, 
joyful expectation of the glorious state, that was designed for 
the people of God hereafter. And finally, cheerfulness in a pre- 

* Preached at Jewin-Street, March 15. l6?5. 


sent afflicted condition, is represented by the apostle as ano 
ther privilege. And not only so, but we glory in tribulation 
also. Ver. 3. It was no such strange thing, that they should 
be found exulting in the expectation of so glorious a state, as 
that which Christians look for hereafter ; but we have this also 
to say (saith the apostle) concerning our case, that we can 
glory in tribulation too, and triumph over all the difficulties 
that accompany an afflicted condition. And of this, as having 
something of a paradox in it, and appearing more strange he 
gtveth the particular grounds and reasons. As 

First : The knowledge of this truth, that tribulation work- 
Cth patience. Ver. .3. We are, as if he had said, well pleased, 
yea, and do even glory in our present afflicted condition upon 
this ground, that we know, by this means, that patience will be 
wrought out, We look upon it as a thing of very high value, 
that the mere hope of so much gain should make per 
sons glory in such tribulations, which seemingly otll for 
other affections. Tribulation is not a pleasant thing to be glo 
ried in of itself ; why then, or upon what account is it to be 
gloried in r Why, upon this account, as that out of it the gain 
of patience shall accrue, and result to us. By this we shall 
have our spirits composed to a peaceful acquiescence in the 
divine will, and the waywardness of our own wills shall be sub 
dued and brought down. There is a future heaven to be en 
joyed, a glorious he'aven ; and we rejoice in the hope of the 
glory of that state : yea, and there is a present heaven too in 
volved, and wrapt up in patience. When once the heart comes 
tp be resigned, and rest quietly and peacefully in the divine 
will, this is a present heaven ; and bears a great resemblance to 
that which is future, and expected. 

Secondly : The apostle adds, that of this patience there will 
'be a further gain, to wit, of experience. Ver. 4. As patience 
comes to be more and more exercised experience will grow. 

Thirdly : Of that experience shall spring hope, (ver. 4.) that 
shall reach and touch the other heaven ; hope, as he had said 
before, of the glory of God : (ver. 2.) even such hope as will 
not make ashamed ; and that for this reason, because (saith 
he) the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy 
Ghost which is given unto us. Ver. 5. While we find, by 
the Holy Ghost that is given to us, an effusion of the divine 
love into our souls ; while we find this love shed abroad in our 
hearts, and then testifying itself, as if there was an immediate 
assurance of heaven ; this puts us out of all doubt that God 
will never let our hope be disappointed nor end in shame. 


This is the order and contexture of the preceding discourses. 
And as to this passage that we have chosen to insist upon, we 
need not go about to vary the words, which you see are short 
and plain ; " Hope maketh not ashamed :" only it is needful 
to inquire, 

I. Of what this is spoken. And then consider, 

II. This particular property of it. 

1. Let us inquire of what this is spoken, or what it is that 
doth not make ashamed. It is here indefinitely said to be hope. 
But though it is so generally expressed, yet, it is plain, it is 
not meant of all hope. The circumstances of the text are suf 
ficiently limiting, and teach us of what hope this is to be prin 
cipally understood. It is hope of the glory of God j it is hope 
that groweth out of experience ; it is hope that is maintained 
by the love of God, shed abroad in the soul, through the Holy 
Ghost given to it. It is in short then undoubtedly the Chris 
tian hope that is here meant j and whereof we find this is ex 
pressed, that it maketh not ashamed. 

If you would have a more distinct account of this hope,, 
take it thus : It is that sanctified affection of a renewed soul, by/ 
which it is carried continually to expect what God hath pro 
mised, concerning its own welfare and blessedness here, and es 
pecially hereafter; notwithstanding whatever difficulties do oc 
cur in the pursuit, and expectation of those things hoped for. 
And if you would know what it superadds to common hope, or 
what there is in this Christian hope of a distinguishing, peculiar 
nature ; it superadds, 

1. Sanctity. A true Christian hope, is a pure and holy hope. 
It engages them that have it, to purify themselves even as 
God is pure. 1 John 3. 3. And again it superadds, 

2. Solidity. That which a Christian hopes for, is some so 
lid substantial good thing. He hopes not for shadows and ly 
ing vanities. They who lived in the exercise of this hope, to 
whom the author of the epistle to the Hebrews speaks, had 
before them the prospect of a better and enduring substance in 
heaven ; (Heb. 10. 34.) a substance that would never fail their 
hope. There is a kind of hope that runs all in the chase of 
trifles, for the most part. Men hope for things, which they 
cannot have ; and if they had, were to very little purpose. 
It superadds, 

3. Certainty. Men that hope at the common rate, do but 
hope conjecturally; and therefore their hope often maketh 
ashamed. Even at present they frequently outlive their hopes, 
they being pitched mostly upon things that are temporary. 
They hope for that, which is swept away like a spider's web. 


It is a most vanishing, uncertain hope. But if they should 
cast their eyes on futurity, that future happy state of things 
beyond time, they have no real ground to entertain any hope 
of it; or if their hope relate to present things, it is merely 
conjectural, and self-founded. God hath given them no 
ground for this hope. He hath not promised them, that they 
shall be rich ; live a long life, and spend all their days in pros 
perity here. There is that strange kind of monstrousness in 
the common hope of men ; that whereas a Christian hopes, be 
cause God in his word hath promised, who cannot lie ; they 
hope, even with reference to these their greatest concernments, 
because they think he will lie. For if they believed that he 
would not lie, but that all was true that he had promised and 
spoken; they would be in despair: they would with respect to 
these concerns, have no hope at all, but the horror of despair. 

4. Which is another distinguishing circumstance of the 
Christian's hope, every such person hath a community belong 
ing to it. The Christian hope is common to them that are 
Christians, in which they all unite and meet : whereas in re 
ference to the hope of other men, there is no such thing as a 
centre in which their hopes may unite and meet ; and so they 
lie scattered, according as their own inclinations, and appe 
tites carry them. Falsity is various, and manifold ; truth can 
he but one. And therefore says the apostle, concerning the 
hope of Christians, " There is one body, and one Spirit, even 
as ye are called in one hope of your calling." Eph. 4. 4. All 
the hearts of Christians do run into one hope ; they meet in ont 
and the same hope, the ground of which is that they are called 
to one, and the same state ; and this call will warrant their 
hope, and justify it. " Why should not I hope to reach the 
state to which I am called ? and why should not I attend to the 
affairs relating to that state ? May not a man be warranted in 
things relating to his calling ? This is my calling (saith the 
Christian) and I hope for, and expect success." He can an 
swer it to all the world, be the things never so great and high 
of which he is in expectation. They are very great things we 
hope for, but however to such things we are called. God hath 
called us to his eternal kingdom and glory by Christ Jesus. 
1 Thes. 2. 12. This calling is not peculiar, or particular 
to persons severally; but the same unto all that are called, 
whose hope is one. There is a community, whose hearts as 
they run one way in desire, so do their hope and expectation ; 
and their faith too being one common principle among them, 
they must needs have one common hope of the glory of God; 


Now concerning this hope which is proper to the Christian 
community it is said, that it rnaketh not ashamed ; which we 
are now to speak to in the 

II. Place, And as to this property of the Christian hope, 
which we now proceed to consider, we have only two things to 

1. To open the import of it : and, 

2. To demonstrate the truth of the assertion ; or to shew 
how necessarily this property doth agree to the Christian hope, 
namely, that it maketh not ashamed. 

1 . We are to open the import of this property of the hope of 
Christians, which maketh not ashamed. Not making ashamed, 
is a negative expression denoting, that those who admit or give 
place to this hope, and in whose hearts it lives, and is fixed, are 
not liable to be made ashamed on this account. Now to make 
out this, there must be a concurrence of several things, which 
we must understand to be denied by this same negation : or 
that do not belong to the hope of Christians. As, 

(1.) Shame, as it refers to the foregoing hope implies disap 
pointment. There may be shame upon many other accounts, 
but as it refers to hope it implies a disappointment. They 
were confounded (as the expression is in Job) because they 
had hoped ; they came thither, and were ashamed. Job 6. 20. 
Job is speaking there allusively to a troop of travellers, or mer 
chant men, passing through desolate countries, and expecting 
relief of which they fail, and meet not with. They were 
ashamed because of their hope; that is, because they had hoped, 
and were disappointed ; they met not with what they hoped 

(2.) It supposes hereupon disgrace and reproach. For shame 
is properly the resentment of any thing under the notion of its 
being ignominious, or that carries matter of reproach in it to us. 
We find therefore these in conjunction sometimes in Scrip 
ture; to wit, reproach, shame, and dishonour ; Psal. 69. 19. 
and elsewhere. Now in this present case ; to have hoped, so 
as to suffer disappointment, is an argument of weakness, and so 
is apt to spread a shame over a man's face, and even to clothe 
him with confusion. A man reckons it a reproachful thing to 
him to have betrayed his impotence, want of foresight, an apt 
ness to be gulled and imposed upon in this respect ; and very 
shameful that he should hope with no more security. When a 
person has cause, and apprehends that others have also of cen 
suring him, concerning the hope that he had, there it is that 
shame takes place. But this we must understand to be denied 

VOL. VI. 2O 


here. This hope, which the apostle speaks of, shall never 
meet with a disappointment ; and consequently no reproach, nor 
disgrace, shall attend the hoper. He shall never have cause 
to call himself fool, because of his hope; nor shall any one else 
have cause or ground to call him so for ever. 

(3.) Shame doth also imply our own reflection upon that re 
proach ; or else there is no actual , occasion of shame, if we do 
not consider in our minds, or view the reproachful thing we 
are to take shame for. Therefore when the matter is such as 
only in vulgar estimate is shameful, hut is not so indeed ; to 
fortify one's self against shame in that case, is to overlook it, 
or look another way. So it is said of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
that he " endured the cross, despising the shame." Heb. 12. 
2. Because it was to him no shame, he overlooked it, and 
looked upon it with contempt. "This will be counted a shame 
ful thing, but I mind it not." He looked another way, having 
his eye set upon glory. If any thing be really matter of shame, 
it is by reflecting on it that shame ensues. But this is denied 
here. In this case there shall be no occasion to pore and look 
on, so as that from thence matter of reproach may accrue to 
you that have hoped for the glory of God. Let not your hearts 
misgive you ; you shall have no uncomfortable reflection for 
what you have done in this matter. As there shall be no re 
proach, so you shall imagine none. And 

(4.) Shame includes in it a heart-dejecting resentment 
hereupon. That is, a resentment seizes the heart upon this 
reflection, and sinks into the soul so as to depress it, and bring 
it low. Shame is grief; only distinguished from other grief by 
this particular distinction in the object, that it is grief for a 
thing under the notion of its being uncomely and ignominious. 
But that is denied here. Hope maketh not ashamed. You 
shall never grieve for this hope. You shall never suffer heart- 
displeasure on tl.is account. Your hope shall never leave your 
heart to sink, because it fails and comes to nothing. 

This now is the negative import of this property of the Chris 
tian hope ; it maketh not ashamed. But then there is some 
what positive implied under this too. We may fitly under 
stand a meiosis, as they call the figure, in this expression ; 
that is, when less is said than is intended or meant. Your 
hope, Christians, shall not make you ashamed. No, it shall 
make you exult ; it shall make you triumph, and glory; it 
shall raise, and heighten your spirits, so far shall it be from oc 
casioning in you a sinking or dejection of soul. This is very 
common, in Scripture, for negative expressions to be put with 


an accent, to signify some very great positive thing. Thus it 
is said of the Messiah, that " he shall not break the bruised 
reed, nor quench the smoking flax;" (Isai. 42. 3.) that is, he 
shall cherish and support it. Again, (f his commandments are 
not grievous," 1 John 5. 3. Here also a great deal less is 
said, than meant j for they are glorious, consolatory, and re 
freshing. " Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her 
paths are paths of peace." Prov. 3. 17. This then must be 
understood ,to be the property of the Christian's hope, that it is 
so far from making ashamed, or exposing him to ignominy, that 
it ennobles his spirit ; and that it does according to the nature 
and degree of the thing hoped for. 

It is obvious to observe how the hopes of persons, by de 
grees, greaten their spirits from their childhood. There is in 
some an aptness to mind greater things, and to live at a greater 
rate than others. And this we call generosity, it being not a 
name from the descent, but from the temper of the mind. It 
not only shews itself by men's being descended from noble and 
generous parents and ancestors (though there may be some 
thing in that too) but when such persons as are born to greater 
things come to understand their capacity, and what they are 
born to, their hopes do heighten or raise their spirits, and lift 
them up above the common pitch. So that the proper spirit 
of a nobleman, a prince, or a king, is greater than that of a 
common, and inferior man. And the reason is, because as he 
comes to understand his quality, his spirit grows with his hopes 
of what he shall come to ; his very hopes greaten his spirit, 
ennoble and raise him, and make him think of living like one 
that expects to be in such a state, as that to which he is born. 
Therefore if a prince should be reduced in his infancy to that 
condition as to be brought up in a beggar's shed, and under 
stand nothing of his birth ; it is likely he would mind such 
things, as children of peasants use to do: but if he afterward 
come to understand the truth of his own original and descent, 
and what he was really born to ; and withal what his capacity 
is, and the ground of his hope that he shall one day inherit 
such and such grandeur and honours ] with this hope his spirit 
will swell, and rise, and greaten. 

And such is the property of the Christian's hope. It not only 
makes him not ashamed ; but it heightens, enlarges and great- 
ens the Christian's spirit, so as to make him aspire high, and 
to look for great things. Hence it is given as the description 
of them, to whom God will give eternal life, on that day when 
he shall give to every one according to his deeds ; that they are 
such as, *' by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for hon- 


our, glory, and immortality." Rom. 2. 6. 7- To these he 
will give eternal life ; but to those that are contentious, against 
the plain truth of the gospel which should rule and govern 
them, wll he give " tribulation and anguish, indignation and 
wrath." The former sort, wlio shall have eternal life for their 
portion, are such, whose minds, hearts, and hopes are car 
ried after great things ; who seek for honour, glory and im 
mortality ; who disdain and scorn this earth, and all sub 
lunary things, and can say, " non est mortale quod opto ; I 
have something above, better than, and beyond all that this 
earth can afford." 

In a word, a true Christian is one that seeks that better, even 
the heavenly country (Heb. 11. 1G.) so as not to stoop to this 
world thougli there were never such opportunity for gaining it : 
he would not go back, though he had the opportunity of going 
into Egypt. And all this is by reason of the hope of coming 
to a better country. The Christian would not go back into the 
world, being called out of it ; though he should have opportu 
nities for it as good as other men : no, because he is seeking 
a better country ; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called 
his God. "Such are of a great, a noble, and generous spirit, 
'like my children;" saith God. t( Such are in some measure 
worthy of me. They discover something of an excellent spirit, 
heightened proportionably to those great hopes which I have 
set before them." And now, 

2. We proceed to demonstrate this to be the true property 
of this same subject ; which will be soon done, though we 
have but little time, if we do but consider these things about 
this hope. 

(1.) Consider the Parent and Author of it. It is a divine 
thing, it is part of the new creature, it owes its rise immediate 
ly to the Holy Ghost ; as the apostle intimates, when he says, 
" Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in be 
lieving, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the 
Holy Ghost." Rom. 15. 13. Far be it from us to think, that 
God should beget a hope in his, that should end in disappoint 
ment and shame ! 

(2.) Consider the object of this hope. Christians do not 
hope for creeping shadows ; they have no reason to be ashamed 
of such great things, as they hope for. They hope for the glory 
of God, for a kingdom that shall not be shaken, for the unseen 
things of the other world. Their hope entereth into that with 
in the vail, whither the forerunner is for us entered, even 
Jesus. Heb. 6. 19, 20. A man that hath only pitched his 
hopes upon mean, base, low things, hath cause to be ashamed 


that he was such a fool to hope so; but the Christian's hope 
will never make him ashamed. 

(3.) Consider the ground of their hope. They hope in God 
upon the encouragement of his truth and promise. Uphold 
me according to thy word, that I may live ; and let me not be 
ashamed of my hope, saith the Psalmist. Psal. 119. 11G. 
Thy word is that which I ground my hopes upon ; shall I be 
ashamed ? 1 hope in thee, thy truth, thy power, and goodness ; 
let me not be ashamed. That prayer is as much as a promise, 
that he should not be ashamed. Prayer, by divine inspiration 
is as good as a promise. The prayer is, Let none that wait on 
thee be ashamed. Psal. 25. 3. The promise is expressly, They 
shall not be ashamed that wait for me. Isai. 49. 23. It is 
true, indeed, if there were not a proportionable ground for one's 
hope, a man might be ashamed of his hope ; as well because 
it is too big, as because it is too little. But if there be a real 
ground for it, a word of promise from that God who cannot 
lie ; then there is no cause to suspect the matter. There is no 
reason why any should be ashamed, let his hope be never so 
high, when he hopes only for what God has promised. 

Now to make some brief use of what has been said. 

1 . See the highly privileged state of Christians ; though in 
this present condition of little and low enjoyments, yet their 
case is so good as that they shall not be ashamed. They shall 
have heightened spirits, their minds shall be greatened by their 
hopes, even while it is little that they can enjoy in one kind or 

2. Hence consider and contemplate the different state of 
other men. It is not said, concerning their hope, it shall 
never make them ashamed. There is no body that warrants 
their hope to them. The Christian's hope hath a very good 
warrant. I warrant you for your hope, that it shall never make 
you ashamed ; but what have other men to warrant their hope? 
they have no one that undertakes to guarantee it, and therefore 
they are left liable to a shameful disappointment, and bitter 
disgrace upon that account. Yea, they are not only liable 
thereunto, but it is a sure and certain matter that it will end so ; 
for " Their hope shall be as the giving up the ghost." Job. 11. 
20. We commonly say, "As long as there is life there is hope;" 
but their hope comes at length to the giving up the ghost, 
and then the man is gone. A wicked man's hope quite 
vanishes away ; it does not remain weak, and feeble, and in 
firm only, but it is absolutely gone, and become nothing at all : 
as we have no hope at all concerning a person, when he hath 
once given up the ghost. Let the object of their hope be what 


it will, either such do hope for vain things, which are gone 
when they expire ; or if their hope lies towards better things, 
it is a vain hope. If they hope not for vain things, yet they 
hope for these better things vainly, having no ground nor rea 
son for their hope ; and so still it perishes, and, as the giving 
up the ghost, comes to nothing. Or it makes them ashamed, 
md despised ; sinks them into horror, amazement and conster 
nation, and so much the more, by how much the stronger was 
their hope. Such a disappointment is a most confounding 
thing ; when a person expects it should go well with him, 
-yet he perishes, and all his hope turns on a sudden into hor 
ror ! 

3. We learn hence also, that hope must needs be a very 
great thing in the life of a Christian ; and a most intimate, es 
sential part of his Christianity. It is that which holds his soul 
in life. This property of hope, that maketh not ashamed, as 
Was said before, is not to be understood as merely negative : 
It is that which establishes the heart ; invigorates, and gives 
life to the soul. Indeed you would make a poor thing of Chris 
tianity, if you abstract and separate this hope from it. " If in 
<this life only (says St. Paul) we have hope in Christ, we are 
of all men most miserable." 1 Cor. 15. 19. The most pecu 
liar and distinguishing things in the hope of a Christian, objec 
tively taken, are things beyond time. But if all we were to 
get by Christ were to be compassed within time, then we were 
very miserable creatures indeed ; we should make a bad bargain 
of it, if we had no more by Christ, than what time can hold, 
and deal very poorly by ourselves. 

A Christian lives by hope all along, from first to last. He is 
born to hope, begotten of a lively hope,* is saved by it ;f as 
if it had been said, he were lost if it were not for this hope. 
This then is the great, the momentous thing in the life of a 
Christian ; for if it were not for this, we should sink and perish. 
So that if 1 am a Christian indeed, if I am a new creature,! 
must live by hope all my days. And that I may shut up all, 
I shall only leave with you a word or two of counsel, and cau 

(1.) Of counsel. Labour to establish in your hearts this 
hope, and maintain it ; and live by, and upon it. But I can 
not enlarge upon this. And then, 

(2.) By way of caution, 1 add ; be sure that your hope be 
the truly Christian hope only : that hope, whereunto you can 
entitle the Holy Ghost as the Author, so as that hereupon we 

* Pet. 1. 3. f Rom. 8. 24. 


may say, we are begotten by him to that hope. And also see 
to it, that it be just commensurate with Scripture grounds. 
That is genuine Christian hope, that measures with the Scrip 
ture, and the word of promise. " Remember (says David) thy 
word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to 
hope." Ps. 119. 49. Then you will hope for nothing, but 
what God has promised j and in the way, and according to the 
tenour of his promise. And you need to hope for no more, for. 
he hath promised to give grace and glory, and to withhold no 
good thing from them that love him. Ps. 84. II. And what 
would you have more ? what need your hope to range beyond 
that, or without the compass of this promise ? But then it must 
be accbrding to the tenour of his promise ; for if you hope ab 
solutely for that which is a matter only-of a limited promise, 
then your hope would be beside its ground, and so be liable to 

And you must know there are things which lie within, 
the promise, that cannot be the matter of an absolute hope ; 
because God's promise, concerning them, is not absolute. As. 
to temporal good things ; outward prosperity to ourselves, or 
the church of God in common ; there is no absolute promise 
of these : therefore if we hope for them absolutely, we deceive 
ourselves, and it is our own fault if we be made ashamed. Who 
bid us hope so ? who bid us let our hopes run that way, other 
wise than as God commands, or beyond what he has promised ? 
We may hope absolutely for things, that are of an immutable 
goodness ; but some things are not so, and are only to be esti 
mated according to their end. Sometimes they will serve the end 
that God designed them for, and sometimes not ; and when they 
do not, they are not good, but evil. External prosperity to the 
church of God, or ourselves, will not always be serviceable to- 
the end, for which it is designed by God ; to wit, to make our 
spirits better, and more of the temper which he looks for, and 
approves : and he always knoweth whether it will be best for 
that end or no. Now if we suppose an absolute promise for 
any variable good things, which are sometimes good and some 
times not ; then take the time when they are not good, and can 
they be the matter of a promise ? No sure ; the promise would 
in that case, be turned into a threatening. 

This then shews the reason, why it is altogether impossible 
that promises, concerning external good things, can ever be 
universal and absolute. They are not always good, but only as 
circumstances are. But from the nature of the thing promised 
we may be at a certainty how the promise is to be understood ; 
that is, in reference to divine wisdom. Such things as do ap- 


pear good for us, to that unerring wisdom, in certain circum 
stances, shall be bestowed upon us j and if we so order our 
hopes, they will never fail us, for no good thing will God with 
hold from them that love him. But when there is a doubt in 
the case, whether it be good or no, there is all the reason in 
the world he should decide the doubt, and we should yield a 
matter of dubious consequence to him. But if our hearts be 
so set upon any temporary good thing, as that such savour 
more with us, than those things which run into an eternal 
state ; this we ought to guard ourselves against. As suppose 
it should be more consolatory to me, to be assured of present 
deliverance or prosperity, than to be told of being at the resur 
rection brought within the compass of his sheep, whatever trou 
bles 1 meet with here : this is certainly a great distemper of 
soul, that I cannot taste the best, the sweetest, the most satis 
fying, and fullest good, more than present ease ; but that any 
thing of earth would be more tasteful, and grateful. And this, 
I say, we should always take hee^ of j that we do not indulge 
ourselves in any thing, which is in itself of so very dangerous^ 
and dreadful a consequence. 


1 Thes. 5. 6. 

Therefore let us not sleep, as do others* 

T CAN spend no time in giving you a view of the context, 
which is very suitable to the words now read. They are a 
caution against security, and contain in them these two things. 
To wit, in the first place, a monitory prohibition of it ; " Let us 
not sleep." And, secondly, a specification of the prohibited 
evil ; " as do others :" which words plainly intimate that 
others sleeping is no warrant to us to do so. Common exam 
ple indeed is apt to have that pernicious influence : but we are 
taught that it cannot justify us in sleeping, that others so ge 
nerally, and as it were industriously, compose themselves to it. 
Moreover, these words signify, that others sleeping ought the 
more effectually to warn us not to do so. Examples that carry 
much of terror in them ought to strike our hearts with dread, 
and to possess us with a cautious prudent fear, lest we fall into 
the same dangerous and desperate state. It is as if he had 
said j " Come, let me shew you a fearful sight. Take a view 

* Preached at Haberdashers' Hall, May, 2, 16/8. 
*VOL, VI. 2 P 


of the world, cast your eyes round about on every side ; be 
hold the generality of men all asleep, asleep under wrath, care 
less and at ease, securely slumbering while their judgment 
lingereth not, and while their destruction doth not slumber: 
be warned by so dreadful an example not to do, as they 

The words do not need much of literal explication. Sleep 
is wont to be variously taken. You know what it means in the 
proper sense. In the borrowed sense it sometimes signifies, 
natural death ; sometimes a quiet composure, and rest of the 
spirit : (( I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep ; for the 
Lord only maketh me dwell in safety." Ps. 4. 8. 127. 2 
Again, that is, in a moral sense, it signifies the state of sin : 
" Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead ; and 
Christ shall give thee light." Eph. 5 14. It denotes espe 
cially the security of such a state, with reference to the wrath 
and judgment of God, whether temporal or eternal; which 
sleep is always sinful, and in some cases penal too in some de 
gree : for we read of a pouring forth a spirit of slumber, and a 
deep sleep. Isa. 29. 10. Rom. 11. 8. But we must know 
that the word Kaflet/Sw/^y, here used in the text, signifies a deep 
er or a more intense sleep. It is the word that is used by the 
Septuagint to signify the sleep of death. " Many that sleep in 
the dust of the earth shall awake." Dan. 12. 2. And they 
use the same word to express that fast sleep of the prophet 
Jonah, out of which all the storms and perils of the sea were 
not sufficient to awaken him. As for the words us, and others; 
the former plainly means true sincere Christians, and the lat 
ter the rest of the world : the refuse, as the word AO<TT>< em 
phatically signifies ; or the reprobate, and worst of men. 
Two things offer themselves to us from the words, namely that 
these others, the refuse who are the most of men do sleep : 
and that God's own people by no means ought to do so. I 
shall speak to these two things : And, 

I. Shew you, that these others, here referred to by the apos 
tle, do sleep : And, 

II. Upon what accounts it so very ill becomes the people of 
God to do so too. And then, 

III. I shall make the use of both together. 

I. I am to shew that the others, whom the text means, do 
sleep. And herein I must premise to you, before we come to 
evince this point, that by sleeping is not merely meant, that 
they do actually for the present sleep only ; as if the apostle 
supposed them to be but in some present temporary slumber : 
but we are to understand him as speaking of them as habitual 


sleepers ; or that they are under such a sort of sleeping disease, 
as is resembled by a lethargy ; or a caros, which is reckoned a 
more intense degree of that disease ; a veternum, or dead sleep. 
How physicians distinguish these things, or critics, I need not 
stay to tell you. But the thing that is plainly meant hereby is 
to represent this as the common state of the world, that it is 
an habitual drowsiness, such as tbat kind of disease serves to 

Now that this is the common state of most of the world, we 
may evince to you by such things, as are usually incident to 
sleep j or are symptoms of a sleepy, sluggish disposition. 

1. Forgetful ness, which has most proper reference to things 
past. Sleepy persons are very oblivious. So is the common 
case of the world. Men are forgetful of things they are most 
concerned to remember, and most forgetful of them. They 
have generally forgot that they are creatures ; have forgot that 
with the rest of men they are lapsed, and revolted from their 
Creator, and become sinners ; forgot that they sprung from an 
apostate race, and that they were children of wrath, one as well 
as another. Thus their strange forgetfulness of things, which 
one would think should continually urge them, shews that they 
are continually asleep. 

2. Insensibleness, or stupidity, which hath reference to 
what is present. Persons that are in a more intense and deep 
sleep, you cannot make them feel without dificulty. Such as 
are in a caros, prick them and they do not feel. Sleep is a bind 
ing of the senses, and such a deep sleep strongly binds them. 
So the common case is with the world. It is a wonder of di 
vine power if at any time their hearts are made to feel ; and a 
thing to be recorded (as you find it is in the Acts of the Apos- 
tk's, chap. 2. 37.) if any are ever pricked in their heart, 
though never so pungent things are spoken to them. 

3. Security; or unapprehensiveness of any future threaten 
ing danger. Why, so you know the case is with persons 
asleep. Let the danger be never so near, as well as dreadful ; 
if the house be on fire, if the murderer be by the bed-side, if 
the sword be at the breast, the knife at the throat, yet they are 
void of all fear. And do not we know this to be the common 
case with the world ? Destruction from the Almighty is no ter 
ror to them. They rush with all violence upon every danger, 
as a horse into the battle : or are like persons in their noc 
turnals ; who, if not hindered, would come upon rocks, pre 
cipices, or rivers, or fall into dangers that would certainly des 
troy them. Another thing incident to sleep is, 


4. Misapprehension of all things past, present, or to come. 
For you know in sleep persons use to dream, and then how 
strangely do they misapprehend things ? their heads are full of 
false images, or false conceptions of those things which are 
true. The case is so with the world too in their sleep. They 
can tell how to dis-imagine all the greatest realities, and turn 
them into shadows. God and Christ, heaven and hell, and 
the eternal judgment, which must determine them to the one 
or the other of these, are all fancies with them. But the pomp 
and grandeur of this world, which is called fancy;* the busi 
ness and turmoils of it, which are all walking in a vain shew ; 
outward prosperity, which is but as a dream when one awakes : 
these things are great realities, and with them these are the 
main things, and the most important. Riches and poverty, 
prosperity and adversity, which will be all thought fancies in a 
little while, are great things with these men $ so aptly do they 
misapprehend in their dreams ! 

5. There is also (which is near a-kin to the last) a great un- 
aptness to reflect upon any thing as absurd, though never so 
truly so, which occurs to them in this dreaming sleepy state. 
It is so with persons, you know, in dreams. Let things occur 
to them never so absurd, they never take notice of the absurdi 
ty. Let them dream themselves to be in never such odd, an 
tic postures, all is well ; they find no fault with any thing they 
do, or is done to them, while they are in their slumbers. And 
so is the case with the world too. The most absurd things 
imaginable, are no absurdities to them. To live in this world 
of God's making, while he feeds them with breath from mo 
ment to moment, yet as " without God in the world j" to be 
concerned a great deal more to please themselves than him, as 
if his favour were of no importance, and signified nothing ; to 
study more the satisfaction of their flesh, than the saving of 
their souls ; busying themselves all their days about mere tri 
fles : these, I say, the most absurd things that ever could enter 
into any human imagination so much as to think of, are yet no 
absurdities to them. They find no fault with this ; think all 
is well, though this be their continued course, which plainly 
shews they are asleep. Those things, for which persons when 
awake are ready to tear their flesh, and do abhor and loath 
themselves for, they indulge themselves even for a life's time, 
Baking no displeasing reflections upon them all their days; 
never at least till they awake, which shews what their state was 

* Agrippa and Bernie* came/*ET iiXkr>s $ wreurtac . Acts. 25. 23. 


6. It is especially incident to a deeper sleep to be awakened 
with very great difficulty. The difficulty of bringing them to 
a right mind, to the exercise of their understanding, and to ap 
ply themselves to do according as a rectified understanding 
would dictate, shews them to be very much under the power of 
sleep, since there is so much ado to awaken them. And yet 
nothing will serve some, who are called upon by the word of 
God from heaven, even all their time, and yet never awake ; 
roused by strange thunders of providence, many times, yet awake 

7. Sloth fulness is manifestly ascribed to such a sleepy dis 
temper, or a listlessness to business. So it is with the world 
too. That which is the proper business of men, in this world, 
they will not be got to it j they are altogether indisposed there 
unto. You know how Solomon represents the sluggard whose 
hands refuse to labour and indulges himself in sleep and slum 
bers. Prov. 6.9,10. 21.25. 24.303-1. Again, 

8. They are apt to shew great displeasure, and forwardness 
towards those, who attempt to awaken them. So it is with 
very drowsy persons, who soon grow peevish and angry if you 
offer to awaken them. They are ready to quarrel even with the 
very light itself, if it shine in their faces. Thus it is with the 
sleepy world too. This very light itself is as the shadow of 
death, and whatsoever it is that tends to awaken them. 

9. And lastly, there is a constant proneness to fall asleep 
again, if at any time they are startled a little. Thus it is with 
the world. You may have here and there persons who are 
roused to bestir themselves a little, but presently they drop 
asleep again. They can hold their eyes open but a little 
while. And thus I have shewn what is the common state of 
the world, these (e others j" they are generally asleep. I now 
come to shew, 

II. That it ill becomes those who are God's own children, 
that is, true sincere Christians, to sleep as do others ; namely 
the refuse of the world. This will appear upon a threefold ac 
count : it holds no agreement, either with their principles, or 
with their state, or with their design and end. 

1, It is very unsuitable to their principles that they should 
sleep as do others ; to the constituent principles of the new 
creature. As for instance, 

(I.) Light is amain ingredient principle in that holy frame 
of the new creation. New creatures are all the children of 
God, as God is the Father of lights. They are born light, of 
light. It is true, light signifies holiness ; not directly and for 
mally, but consequentially, as being potently influential and 


efficacious. It derives, or makes an impression upon the heart 
which is correspondent, and agreeable to itself. The apostle 
tells these Thessalonians, that they are the children of the light 
and of the day. 1 Thess. 5. 5. It is day with them. It is not 
only day round about them (so it is wherever the gospel is afford 
ed to men) but God hath made it day within ; or, as the apostle 
expresses it, hath shined in our hearts. 2 Cor. 4. 6. A day- 
star is risen there ; and to lie sleeping under the light of such a 
day, is a very unsuitable thing. They have light whereby to 
discern, both the mysteries of grace, and the methods of provi 
dence ; and very unsuitable it is in both respects that they 
should sleep. They have light to discern the mysteries of 
grace ; those strange and wonderful things unfolded in the 
gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, which should always hold the 
soul in an admiring posture, for it is a marvellous light they are 
brought into, 1. Pet. 2. 9. or an amazing light as the word sig 
nifies. fixvi/Mfov $us.} And they have light more than other men 
to discern the methods of divine providence. The Lord's voice 
crieth to the city, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name. 
Micah G. 9. There is that wisdom which is of heavenly des 
cent, wisdom from above, by which they know what is the na 
ture of God, and what are the ways of God, which are highly 
conformable to his nature, in his government of the world. 
It is not likely these should be asleep, when comparing things 
together ; especially when they expect God will be doing some 
strange matter on the earth : though, at some times, the ap 
pearances thereof are greater than at others, and things seem 
near even at the door. If they be so, they who have not inter 
nal light cannot apprehend it : but those who have enlightened 
eyes may, especially at some times, see that the providence of 
God is bringing it to pass. It is unreasonable then such should 
be asleep, who are not in darkness, lest the day should overtake 
them as a thief; as the expression is in the fifth chapter of this 
epistle and the fourth verse. And again, 

(2.) It is unsuitable to the principle of life and power 
in the new creature. They are made to live by the most agile 
and noble kind of life that is in the world, and to which 
sleepiness is most disagreeable. They are made to give them 
selves unto God : as those that are alive unto him, and gotten 
out of death, wherein they were sleeping before. They are to 
reckon themselves indeed dead to sin, but alive to God through 
Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom. 6. 11. I might also men 
tion those three eminent principles of faith, love and hope, all 
directed to action ; but the lime will not permit. 

2 For sincere Christians to sleep as do others is very unsuit- 


able to their state. As in the ninth verse of this chapter the 
apostle observes, that God hath not appointed us to wrath, but 
to obtain salvation by our LoVd Jesus Christ. By which 
he intimates, that the refuse part of the world have the to 
kens on them of persons appointed unto wrath ; while those, 
who are true and sincere are appointed to obtain salvation* 

3. It is unsuitable to their designs and ends. They who 
have so great things to do, as to serve and glorify God all their 
time in this world, and to save their own immortal souls, and 
to gain an immortal state of life and glory ; methinks should 
have no time to sleep. It would be altogether unsuitable to 
their business to allow themselves so to do. But I cannot insist 
further here, and shall pass on, 

III. To the use of this subject. And sundry things these 
truths taken together would yield us by way of inference, for 
our improvement. As, 

1 . That God's own people, and the men of this world, are 
two distinct sorts of people. They are alii, atque alii. " Let 
not us sleep, as do others." It would be a very useful con^ider- 
ation to us many times to think seriously of this matter, that 
there are two sorts of people in the world; and then to think 
seriously also to which I must annumeiate myself, or to which 
sort I belong. 

2. The people of God are a select and a saved people, the 
rest are a refuse people. This is plainly too held forth to us. 
Christians are a faithful, chosen generation, and possession j 
the others are not so, but are of a vile and abject sort. All in 
deed were naturally alike ; but they who are taken out and se 
lected, are made a very peculiar sort of people, in their habi 
tual frame, and in respect of the permanent fixed excellencies 
that are in them, above and beyond what are to be found in 
other men. 

3. The people of God are not to imitate the rest of the world. 
"Let not us sleep as do others." They are a peculiar and a dif 
ferent people from these (t others ;" and therefore must do other 
kind of things. " What do ye more than others?" said our 
Lord to his disciples, upon a supposition, that they should only 
do so and so ; or content themselves with going no further than 
the Scribes and Pharisees : but this absurdity is implied at the 
bottom, that for them to do no more than others were a most 
intolerable thing. Our Saviour there reasons ex absurdo, and 
supposes it very absurd that his disciples should do no more 
than others. They are not to be conformed to this world ; not 
to run with others into the same excess of riot, though they 


speak never so ill of them for their singularity. 1 Pet, 4. 4. 
We may further learn, 

4. That it is not enough for the people of God to abstain 
from the positive evils of these others, but they must beware 
also of their neglects. Many think that they do fairly well, 
that they are not guilty of those gross commissions that many 
other men are j but do not tax themselves for being guilty of 
-their neglects, carelessness, sleepiness, sloth and security 
"But alas ! we are not to sleep with others, to be emissive with 
them of what is incumbent upon us to do. 

Well, that 1 may hasten to a close, this truth ought to be 
-awakening to us all, and should put us upon rousing ourselves. 
What ! is the world asleep about us ? and do we profess to be 
,of another sort from them, and yet sleep with them ? Surely 
it highly becomes us to bestir ourselves, and to shake off this 
drowsy temper. If I had time I would shew in some particu 
lars, how pernicious and mischievous a drowsy sluggish tem 
per of spirit is to a Christian. While he sleeps, corruption 
'grows. " I went by (says Solomon) the field of the sluggard, 
.and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding (the 
sleepy person is a fool and a witless person) and it was all 
grown over with thorns." Prov. 24. 30. Temptation prevails $ 
* ( Watch and pray therefore, that ye enter not into tempta 
tion." Mat. 26. 41. Where there is no watching, but con 
tinual sleeping, temptation carrieth all before it. Grace lan- 
guishetb, and cannot but do so hereupon. Comforts fail, we 
cannot so much as taste them ; much less can we fetch them 
from the proper objects which would afford them. While we 
sleep providences are unobserved. A great deal of instruction 
is to be got out of them, and much duty lies upon us in refer 
ence to them. But while we sleep, we take no notice of what 
ever God does in the world. The breathings of the Spirit also 
are neglected ; for they do not always quite awaken, though 
they do in a degree. It looks to be complied, and comported 
with by our stirring up ourselves to meet with it. The divine 
presence is hereupon withdrawn ! Christ is gone ! How many 
good times are lost when our doors are knocked at, and we 
asleep ! Is it not often so ? Duties stand for little ! all most 
slumberingly performed ! in a slight, listless, heartless man 
ner ; as we do every thing, when we are between sleeping and 
waking. Either there is no calling upon God, or it is to no 
purpose. It is a dreadful thing to sleep upon the knee. There 
must be a stirring up of ourselves to take hold upon God, and 
a watching unto prayer. With what wakeful, lively spirits 
thould we attend at the Lord's table ! but if we indulge our- 


selves in this sleepy distemper, so it will be even there too. 
Our eternal states are hazarded ! Are we sure we have done all 
that is requisite, in order to the securing of them ? If we had 
done ever so much, we should be less for sleeping. While the 
bridegroom tarried, all slumbered and slept ; the wise as well as 
the foolish virgins j but the wise had their oil, and their lamps 
ready trimmed ; but the foolish had not. He comes, and then 
the door was shut, and they were shut out. Tney were not rea 
dy, they had slept away their time. Matt. 25. 1 13. We 
make ourselves by this means liable to the surprisal of judg 
ments. And is not that terrible to our thoughts, to think of be 
ing caught asleep, when God comes to plead in his displeasure 
with the inhabitants of the earth ? I am afraid this would be 
the too common case among those who bear the name of chris- 
tians, and is so now while God's judgments are abroad in the 
world. And I wish it may not be the case of many of those, 
who go for stricter professors among us, to be so surprised as 
the old world was. But certainly it will be inexcusable in us to 
do so who have had such warnings. We do not know that the 
old world had from Noah more express warnings than we have 
had. It is recorded as one part of his encomium, that " By faith 
he being warned of God, moved with fear, prepared the ark." 
Heb. 11. 7- We have been warned, I do not know how we 
have been moved. But sure we are very much without excuse, 
if we are without fear and care upon such warnings as we have 
had. For what ! would we expect voices from heaven ? or 
must God send prophets among us, or else we will regard no 
thing ? Needs it be proclaimed, that within so many days, we 
and our city shall be destroyed ? Surely we have so much un 
derstanding as to compare the way of God's dispensation in 
former times, when the case has been as it is with us ; and to 
make a comparison between the former, and the present case, 
in respect of wickedness and provocation ! we may then see 
how we are to make the comparison, in respect of God's judg 

I know there are pretences for security ; and things do very 
obviously suggest themselves to the thoughts of many, by which 
,they put off" or prevent what there is of an awakening tendency 
in the judgments of God. And perhaps it may be said: " Why, 
to what purpose would it be for us to be so wakeful, and ap 
prehensive of such and such fearful things coming on ? we can 
not prevent them by that." But that is more than you know. 
You do not know but that most serious importunate seeking of 
the face of God, jointly and separately, in congregations, and 
families, and closets 5 being much upon the knee, much with 

VOJL. VI. 2 Q 


God in private ; may prevent a great deal : ^you do not know 
how much it may prevent of the divine displeasure. But if you 
do not by this means prevent the common calamity, is it not 
much to save your own soul ? And though you be not hid in 
the common calamity, is it not a desirable thing to die accepted 
with God ? 

But if you still say, To what purpose is it ? I answer, Not 
to that purpose, that we should torment ourselves with the 
forethought. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof. Matt. 
6. 34. This is not the meaning of God in requiring us to be 
watchful ; nor that we should put ourselves upon the trial or 
use of any undue means, for the securing ourselves from exter 
nal calamity. It is not, I say, to that purpose neither. But, 
positively, we have a great deal to do and a great deal we 
might do if we be awake, if we be not found asleep, when any 
wasting desolating judgment comes. We may be drawing 
near to God. Is it not better that judgments take us near to God, 
than afar off ? We may be entering into our chambers ; we 
may be making our calling, and election sure ; clearing up our 
title to the eternal inheritance ; labouring to get such graces in 
actual exercise, as are suitable unto such a time, and such a state 
of things : to be prompt and ready to know how to use our 
faith and patience and not to be as those who know not how 
to use their hands, when the time for action cometh. 

Finally. We may be contemplating the heavenly state ; re 
counting with ourselves, that it is happy for us we are sure of 
happiness above : endeavouring to frame our hearts to an in- 
differency, as to all sublunary things and enjoyments, ready 
to lose all and be undone. These are things we know not 
how to digest, without preparation. And to have these things 
snatched away, before our hearts are loosened from them, will 
be the way to pluck our hearts away too. But we should be 
crucified to the world, and have the world crucified to us. 
Then we are unconcerned with one another. Dead men He 
quietly one by another, give one another no more wounds. 
And certainly it is better to be taken in such a posture as 
this, when judgment comes, than to be found in all these 
respects altogether unprepared. 

And whereas it may he said: "But why should we so concern 
ourselves ; why should not we rest in peace and quietness ? 
We have apprehended danger a great many times before to be 
very near us, but God has kept it off. He is able to keep us 
still." And this I am most troubled at of all, that this should 
be used as a kind of religious pretence for security, tf God is 
able to keep off any threatening danger." 


The doctrine is true, but grossly misapplied. Did never any 
storm befall the church of God yet ? and what ! was not God 
as able to have kept it oft* then ? We should consider with our 
selves. Is it, according to the aspects of providence, and 
God's ordinary methods before, likely that it should be kept 
off? How can we but think there is a day coming of God's 
reckoning with a people of such provocations as we are? What I 
are we more innocent than our neighbours, weltering in blood, 
and in great desolation, round about us ? Nor do I think our 
danger is so much from incensed enemies abroad (for we hear 
of wars, and rumours of wars among our neighbours) as from 
the security of our own hearts. We have not so much rea 
son to fear their arms, as we have a slumbering spirit in our 
own bosoms. 

But if these threatened evils be yet kept off, what are we the 
worse for being prepared ? We lose no labour. It is worth 
our labour to lie prepared to live or die, for good days and bad. 
We have been only doing, what is our duty at all times. We 
should be always watching ; for we know not when our 
Lord will come and call us. Therefore we have no reasonable 
pretence why we should indulge ourselves to sloth, and say ; 
" Yet a little more sleep, and yet a little more." No, no ; there 
has been a great deal too much already. 



Daniel 9. 25i 

The street shall be built again, and the wall, even 
in troublous times. 

HPHAT we may the better discern the reference of these 
words, we shall give you a^very general and brief account 
of the contents of the chapter, which consists more especially of 
two parts ; a prayer, and an answer thereunto. 

We have first, the prayer made by Daniel on the behalf of 
ruined Jerusalem, and captive Judah. The occasion of which 
we have an account of, premised in the first and second verses 
of the chapter ; to wit, that at such a time as is there mentioned, 

* Preached at Haberdashers' Hall, September 2, 1678. 

* It plainly appears, that tbis sermon was preached on occasion 
of tbe fire of the city of London, (which began September 2, 1666) 
and its restoration again to its former splendour, in a few years time. 
Jn order to illustrate some parts of tbis discourse, some account 
will be given of tbis affair, towards tbe conclusion of it, in a mar 
ginal note. 


Daniel did understand by the books (that is, no doubt, by 
consulting the writings of Jeremiah) how long the desolations 
of Jerusalem were to continue, and that God meant to accom 
plish seventy years in those desolations. Hereupon he knew 
that the time was near expiring. There was a way opened very 
far, for the restitution and deliverance of this people. The 
feign of Nebuchadnezzar was finished ; and those of Evil-me- 
rodach, and Belsha2zar past ; Cyrus had succeeded ; and hav 
ing taken Babylon, transferred the monarchy (which had con 
tinued for many years among the Assyrians*) unto the Medes 
and Persians. This Cyrus is called the servant, or the anoint-, 
ed of the Lord, (Isa. 45. 1.) by whom he meant to make way 
for the deliverance and restitution of his people ; and by that 
Darius also, who is mentioned in the beginning of this chapter, 
and who, as some conceive, was at this time a viceroy under 
Cyrus.f Hereupon he applies himself to serious seeking of 
God's face ; and makes that prayer, which you find continued 
unto the twentieth verse of the chapter. From thence, unto 
the end of it, 

Is secondly, The answer to this prayer by the angel Gabriel, 
sent while Daniel was yet a praying. In which he acquaints the 
prophet with the measure and compass of that time, wherein the 
great things were to be done ; which he now not only immedi 
ately prayed for, but which he further had a commission to ac 
quaint him with ; namely, that seventy weeks were determined 
for the bringing these things to pass (manifestly weeks of years, 
as is the Scripture way of computation sometimes) all which 
amount to four hundred and ninety years. Within the first 
seven of those weeks, that is, forty-nine years, the angel gives 
him to understand, that Jerusalem should be rebuilt : namely, 
the street, that is, all the inward part, or the houses of the city ; 
and the wall that should encompass it about ; that after the 
expiration of sixty -two weeks, added to those seven, the Mes- 

* I suppose the author means the Babylonians. For the Assy-s 
rian Monarchy was dissolved, on the death of Sardanapalus, after 
it had stood above 130O years, by Arbaces and Belesis. The latter 
of whom, who is also called Nabonasser, founded the Babylonish 
empire, which continued only 210 years; that is, to the time of 
Cyrus' taking the capital, who laid the foundation of the Persian 

f The opinion of those, whom the author alludes to, seems to 
be wrong. Darius, the Mede, was uncle to Cyrus, and without 
doubt is the same with Cyaxares in Xenophon ; who both engaged, 
according to that author, in the war against the Babylonians. But 
Cyrus, who was general of the Persian army, commanded at th 


slab, should come ; * and that in the last week, even in the 
middle of it, he should be cut off. A prophecy to which after 
wards the event did so very punctually correspond, that a very 
noted philosopher speaking of it was wont to say ; that surely 
that prophecy (as it was called) must have been written after 
the things were done. 

But the words that we are to consider concern what wa* 
done within the first seven weeks, or forty nine years ; for at 
the beginning of that time did the command go forth for the 
rebuilding of the temple and Jerusalem, as it was said it soon 
should. But the work was very soon after intermitted, as i 
reckoned for about three years ; and then dispatched in the 
forty-six years that followed. Unto which the Jews have re 
ference, more particularly speaking of the temple, " Forty and 
six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it ur> 
in three days ?" John 2. 20. As it was not a total destruction 
which it suffered afterwards ; so it was not a rebuilding from 
the ground, but a restoration, which it had by Herod. 

This is that which is, in short, foretold to Daniel here, in 
reference to Jerusalem : that though it would be a troublous 
time, in which such a work should be attempted and carried 
on j yet the work should be carried on, and completed not 
withstanding. And therefore what the words do more obvi 
ously present us with and offer to our observation, is ; 

That God takes care for the rebuilding of his Jerusa 
lem, so as to effect it notwithstanding the troubles of the 

But that we may consider this matter with the more use and 
profit to ourselves, it is requisite that we understand, that Je 
rusalem was capable of being considered under a twofold notion: 
cither as spiritual, or as civil. In the former sense, by the 
name of Jerusalem is usually in Scripture signified the church 

seige of Babylon ; and took that city by a remarkable stratagem, of 
which Dean Prideaux gives an account, both from Herodotus, and 
the eighth book of the Cyropsedia of Xenophon. The city being 
taken, the whole Babylonian empire fell into the hands oi Cyrus ; 
who, as long as his uncle Darius, otherwise Cyaxares, lived, allow 
ed him a joint title with himself in the empire ; and out of deferenc* 
to him, made him not merely a viceroy, but yielded him the first 
place of honour in it. Nine years are generally allotted by chrono- 
logers to the reign of Cyrus; the two first of which he reigned in 
conjunction with his uncle, and the seven following (Darius being 
dead) he reigned as the sovereign, and supreme head of the 

* The Author undoubtedly means, in his public character. 


of God ; and we are not to think that this sense was unintend 
ed in this colloquy, as I may call it, or interlocution about Je 
rusalem between Daniel, and the great God by his angel. 
Neither had Daniel a reference to it in his prayer, nor God in 
his answer by the angel, only considered upon a civil account ; 
that is, as it had been a great, and an opulent, and a famous 
city, of much account in the world. It was not, I say, upon 
this civil consideration, merely, that either Daniel was so con 
cerned : or that the great God did seem so directly, and with 
so special a care and providence, to concern himself about it : 
but as it was the seat of the divine presence, and worship ; and 
had been the throne of his glory, though he had suffered it to 
be disgraced to a very great degree. And therefore both 
Daniel in his prayer, and the angel in his answer, speak of it 
under the name of the holy city, as you may see in the sixteenth, 
nineteenth, and twenty-fourth verses of this chapter ; in which 
they do, as it were, mutually and certatim interest one ano 
ther. And so the thing we have to observe and consider is 

That the great God doth mercifully provide and take care, 
that the building of his church should go on, even in troublous 

It will be worth our while to consider this point a little. The 
people of God are by the apostle Paul called his building. 
" Ye are God's husbandry, ye are his building." 1 Cor. 3. 9* 
The conversion of souls is the building the church. The 
growth and improvement of the converted, is the building up or 
edification of particular souls. Such building work as this 
the blessed God takes care should go on ; should not be laid 
aside altogether, even in times of difficulty and trouble, but 
should go on notwithstanding. For the power is greater by 
which God doth manage such work, than that by which he cart 
be resisted in it ; and the mercy is greater with which he is in 
tent upon it, than to be diverted from it. If he have such work 
to do, who shall let it ? If he will work, who shall hin 
der him ? And if his merciful inclination hath once made him 
intent upon it, he will never suffer any thing to divert it. His 
power, I say, is too great to be resisted ; and so is his goodness, 
to be diverted from such a work. 

Yea, and he not only takes care that it should be carried on, 
notwithstanding the troubles of the time; but also that it shall 
be carried on in some measure by them, or that they shall be in 
some sort subservient thereunto. For lie so orders it, as that 
even by the troubles of the times, 

First: His under-agents, his instruments or builders whoru 


he employs, have their diligence so much the more quickened. 
Those that were employed in the building of Jerusalem, ap 
peared so much the more eager and intent upon the work ; by 
how much the more Tobias, Sanballat, and some others did 
bend and set themselves against them in it. Yea, and 

Secondly : By the means of such troubles too are particular 
souls, many times, stirred up, and made more serious and impres 
sible ; more apt to prize, and more ready to improve all good 
seasons, which tend to spiritual edification, as they do occur. 
When the word of the Lord is more precious, when it is en 
joyed upon very uncertain terms, it ought to be always so; 
and sometimes it is so, by God's gracious disposition. Then 
it is usually most savoury ! then it is most operative, and 
doth most good ! And so this work of building the church of 
God is carried on, not only notwithstanding, but even in some 
measure by the troubles of the times. Some brief use we shall 
make of this, and so pass on. 

1 . We should learn from it not to account and reckon, that 
in times of trouble and difficulty there is nothing to be done, 
but to sit still ; no further endeavours to be used, for the car 
rying on of God's spiritual building. Far be it from us to 
think so ! For our own parts we have reason thankfully to ac 
knowledge, that it is somewhat a quiet time with us hitherto j 
but it is a troublous time in the world round about us ; and too 
prone we are to stand at a gaze, as amazed persons wistly look 
ing round about us ; and having our eyes in the ends of the 
earth (as Solomon says concerning the fool) and in the mean 
time to neglect our own proper work. We mind what others 
are doing, in their busy hurries up and down in the world ; and 
do but little consider what we should be doing. Our own work 
lies still too much neglected, as if we had no such thing to do 
as the building up ourselves in our most holy faith ; as if we 
had finished our work, and had nothing more remaining, nothing 
left us to do. And, 

2. We should take heed too of mistaking our work in a time 
when there is so much of hurry and confusion in the world ; 
and when things are so blundered, that it is not very easy to 
discern what is to be done, and what not; or what way 
is to be taken, and what not. There are many who are 
so very intent upon this or that little mean design, in re 
ference to this building, that it very much disturbs those, 
who are serious and in good earnest in reference to the main of 
the work itself. And there are those, who think there can be 
no such building at all, unless it be all according to their own 
model ; and that the building of Jerusalem is nothing else, but 


the building up of their own party ; that they are all the church, 
and that none have a share and part in it but themselves. But 
the main things, which belong to the constitution of the church 
of God, must be in our eye, while we are promoting the build 
ing thereof according to our capacities, and in our several sta 
tions ; and whatever tends to promote real and substantial truth 
and holiness, is what we should be most intent upon in this 
work. But then again, 

Jerusalem was to be considered too under a civil notion ; as 
it was a great and a femous city, very much favoured by provi 
dence, and which flourished under the benign influence of it, 
through a long tract of time. And so we may by analogy en 
large our observation ; and render the truth we observe appli 
cable unto other cities and places, which are considerable, in 
some respects in the same circumstances, with Jerusalem. And 
the thing we have to observe, is, 

That a city, or place, being ruined by its own wickedness, 
when it is restored, the restitution of it is owing to the fixed 
purpose, and active providence of God, who brings it about 
notwithstanding whatsoever difficulties. 

All this we have exemplified in Jerusalem, and it is applica 
ble to other places. Jerusalem you know, was reduced from 
the height of its prosperity and flourishing state, into a misera 
ble ruin ; and it continued in that desolate state according to 
the measure of time which God had appointed it. It was at 
length restored, repaired, rebuilt, and in a very troublous time. 
Jf you read over the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, which give 
us the history of that affair, which the prophecy in our text 
refers to, you will find it was a very troublous time ; an d that 
the troubles of the time were directed in most express opposi 
tion to this work, the rebuilding of Jerusalem. There were 
those that bore ill will to that city, who sometimes mocked the 
builders of it, sometimes threatened them, sometimes stirred 
up the Persian princes against them, to hinder the work ; repre 
senting to them that, that city was anciently "a lebellious city 
and hurtful to kings/* Ezra 4. 15. And though by this means 
they sometimes prevailed to have the work intermitted, yet by 
the favour of those very princes, some or other of them, God 
orders it that it is carried on, and brought to a perfect issue at 
last. The rebuilding of Jerusalem is enacted by a law, and 
enforced by other additional laws. You have Cyrus his decree ; 
you have Darius his decree ; you have Artaxerxes his decree, 
in the seventh year, and again in the twentieth year of his 
yeign ; if it was the same person, which I dispute not. So 
that by decree, upon decree, is the carrying on of this work 

VOL. VI* 2 EC 


reinforced ; and all by the favour of the princes of that empire, 
the power whereof was endeavouredto be engaged against it; and 
sometimes it was, in some degree, upon the solicitation of its 
enemies. And solemn acknowledgements hereupon are made 
to the great God, that he did put it into the heart of the king, 
to ordain and decree so and so, in reference to this affair, as 
you find in sacred history. 

Now consider, and compare the words of the text with the 
event, and the matter is plain ; that it was by fixed purpose, 
and active providence, that the affair was brought to pass. 
The text says expressly, that " the street shall be built again, 
and the wall even in troublous times." As if it was said, Let 
not the more formidable aspects of the times discourage you, 
as to the belief of this ; the thing shall be done notwithstanding. 
And it was done. 

This also affords and challenges too an application ; and 
there are several things which by way of inference we may col 
lect, and gather for our own use. As, 

1. We have this implied, that a place or city long favoured 
by God, may be reduced to a very ruinous condition by its own 
wickedness. The rebuilding of Jerusalem, and the prediction 
here that it should be built again as it is expressed, does sup 
pose such a ruin. "The street shall be built again, and the 
wall." What ! of Jerusalem ? is there a mention of building 
that city again ? This plainly implies then, that Jerusalem was 
in desolation. And so it was ; and we are told plainly enough 
how it came to be so. Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, and be 
fore them Jeremiah, in their solemn confessions and lamenta 
tions, do own the cause. They had sinned, they had deeply 
revolted, and therefore God had brought upon them all the 
evils that were written in the law of Moses. So they came into 
that desolate state. Their city was burnt with fire, and all re 
duced even into an utter ruin. 

And it is our business this day to consider a like case to this. 
You know this has been the case of your city too. The men 
tion of the rebuilding of Jerusalem bespeaks it to have been 
ruined before. And you can have no occasion to consider the 
rebuilding of London, but it will lead you to consider the 
foregoing ruin of it. That is our direct business, which 
lies in our way to consider ; but especially the causes of 

The ruin itself is first to be considered, that dreadful ruin! 
In reference to the ruin of Jerusalem we find the prophet, in 
the name of the people of God ; or we find the people of God, 
whom he represents, laying it as a charge upon their own souls, 


to remember the misery, and the affliction, the wormwood and 
the gall, and to have their souls humbled within them. And 
what ! can a dozen, or fourteen years abolish in us the memory 
of such a ruin, as that of London was ? Can it be forgot how 
the lofty city was brought low; and how the more lofty flames 
triumphed over the riches, the pride, and the glory of it ? The 
thing itself surely deserves, and claims to be long remembered, 
and deeply considered and thought of. 

But especially the cause of this desolation deserves to be 
considered : namely, the provoking, and the punishing cause ; 
the wickedness of London, and the divine wrath which was 
engaged thereby against it. The very fury of those flames, those 
flames themselves were the indications and issues of the greater 
and more furious heat of lust, and the more intense and hot 
ter fervour of divine displeasure. And if it be considered, me- 
thinks it should even yet melt hearts to think, that there was 
wickedness more outrageous, and wrath hotter, unspeakably 
hotter, than those flames ! 

And we should have no reason to think that there was a dis 
proportion in the deserving, to the punishing cause ; if the 
particulars of those evils I allude to were to be recounted and 
reflected on. But I am afraid we are very apt to deal by the 
judgments of God, as we are too commonly wont to do with 
sermons. We hear them, and they move us (it may be, if at 
all) a little only for the present ; and all the impression of 
them is soon lost an^ vanisheth, as if we had never heard them 
at all. The judgments of God are audible sermons. They 
have a voice. The Lord's voice crieth to the city, "Hear the 
rod and him who hath appointed it !" Micah 6. 9. Divine 
judgments are loudly audible, they have a crying voice ; and 
it is strange that the voice of such a cry should be forgotten ! 
that so dreadful an event of providence should be but as a nine- 
days wonder ! that though the wound be healed, the scars should 
be worn out, and no remembrance left of it ; but all returning 
to their former course, as if no such thing had been done 
among us ! 

But the consideration, as was said, of the thing that was 
done, would receive a great deal of weight by considering the 
doers; namely, God and ourselves. That the inhabitants of 
London, should be, as it were in a conspiracy to destroy Lon 
don seems very strange. And yet was not that the case ? How 
full have men's minds been of severity towards such, as they 
have thought, or suspected, to have been the designing instru 
ments ; but how merciful in the mean time to themselves ! 
Every one added something to the burning ; and especially 


every one that allowed himself in the ways of such sins, as we 
cannot but know are very provoking to his jealous eyes, and 
which God will least of all spare for, when they are found 
among them who profess his name. 

And that it should be God's doing is never to be forgotten. 
That God should have such a controversy with a people, who 
had so long borne his name ; and with a city, wherein he had 
so long dwelt ! And yet, " shall there be evil in a city, and the 
Lord hath not done it ?" Amos 3. 6. Are not we to acknow 
ledge his own doing in the case ? He is said to do, whatsoever 
creatures do; whatsoever second, or subordinate causes do, 
while he has them in his hand, or in his power : either to re 
strain, or let loose their inclinations and natural tendencies, as 
he pleaseth ; though he do not prompt them to this, or that 
thing. And again, 

2. We may collect hence for our further use, that such a 
desolation and ruin, followed by such a restitution and recovery 
is to be looked upon, as an argument of the divine displeasure 
not prevailing so far as unto a total rejection ; and abandoning 
of such a people, or such a city. There was great displeasure 
against Jerusalem, and the breaking out of that displeasure in 
to such a judgment and vengeance, as came upon it, was in 
deed very formidable, if you consider that alone. But if you 
consider the promise, that "the street and the wall shall be built 
again", and that notwithstanding the greatest difficulties that 
troublous times may lay in the way of such a work ; this shews 
it was not a displeasure, to a total abandoning that city. And 
we for our parts have reason to acknowledge the divine good 
ness in this, and that mercy has been remembered in judg 
ment : that there has not been upon the ruin of this city such a 
curse or malediction, as was that of Jericho; "Cursed be the 
man before the Lord that riseth up, and buildeth this city Je 
richo ! he shall lay the foundation thereof in his first-born, and 
in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it." Josh. 6. 26. 
We have reason, I say to bless God that he has not so cursed us. 

3. We may collect further, that much less is such a ruin, 
(when by the divine favour it is followed with such a restitu 
tion) to be looked upon as an argument against our religion j 
against the religion of our people, and our nation. Some 
might perhaps be too apt to make such an invidious interpreta 
tion and comment upon such a piece of providence ; but the 
following issue of things is some refutation, a refutation good 
enough for such an argument. And it was the occasion of saint 
Augustine's writing those twenty- two books (as he himself tes- 



SER. X.) 

tifies) concerning the city of God ; that there were, in his 
time, such conceits and apprehensions, upon such a like event 
that happened to a famous city. For the Goths having inva 
ded Rome and sacked and ruined that city; the pagan enemies, 
of that time, had an apprehension among them, and talked it 
commonly, that this ruin was fallen upon Rome, upon the ac 
count of its having become so much Christian, as it was at that 
time. It was the design, I say, of all those books to contend 
against the folly of such an opinion as that ; at least this was 
the occasion of Augustine's writing them, and that design is 
carried on very much throughout them. And again we may 

4. That it argues a very favourable divine providence, when 
God does so fixedly purpose, and effectually bring it about, 
that a city so desolated should be restored and raised again, 
God's hand ought to be acknowledged in the raising, as well as 
in the ruin of such a city. Both were indeed alike strange as 
to our case. Before that desolating judgment came, in whose 
thoughts was it ? who suspected such an event ? As before that 
judgment came upon Jerusalem, that calamitous state and de 
solate judgment which befel that city, you find it said, "Who 
would have believed, that ever an enemy should have entered 
within the walls of Jerusalem ?" So who would have believed 
that such a calamity was approaching as that of London's fire 
before it came ? that all the power of this city should not be 
able to withstand the fire at first ; but that it should diffuse, and 
spread so universally, so irresistibly ; who, I say would have 
thought it ? And who would have thought that it should have 
been so soon raised up again ? and how much besides, and be 
yond expectation was it ?* As in reference to Jerusalem, who 

* For the illustration of this and some other parts of this discourse 
it may not be improper to give the reader a short account of what 
the author here alludes to ; I mean, the ruin of the city of London 
by fire, and its sudden and wonderful resurrection again from its 
ashes. Of which surprising events many of our historians have 
given us a very pathetic account ; though possibly some of my read 
ers are not much acquainted with them, and consequently will not 
be able to read this sermon with equal pleasure and advantage. 

The dreadful fire, so often alluded to, began on September 2, 166G; 
near the place where the monument now stands j by which one of 
the noblest, and most magnificent cities in the world, was turned into 
ashes in a few days. A raging east wind we are told fomented it to 
an incredible degree : which in a moment raised the fire from the 
bottom to the tops of the houses, and scattered prodigious flakes iu 
all places, which were mounted so vastly high into the air, as if 


of those, who beheld it in its ruins, would have thought or 
hoped that they should again with so much joy behold Zion the 
city of their solemnities, and see Jerusalem as before, a peace 
able habitation ? When God doth things not looked for, they 
ought to make the greater, and deeper impression. When he 
bestows unexpected mercies, he expects impressions of deep 
and lasting gratitude ; such impressions as are not to be worn 
out. For whatj will we refer all these things to chance ? or 
to mere human industry ? Is it by a casual concurrence of ac 
cidents that such a thing as this is brought about ? With re 
spect to a particular house it is said, "Except the Lord build 
the house, they labour in vain that build it." Psal. 127. 1- 
And will we disinterest God in so momentous a work as this is, 
the restitution of such a city ? And again, 

5, Take both the ruin and the restoration together, and we 

heaven and earth were threatened with the same conflagration. The 
fury, as an English historian observes, soon became insupportable 
against all the arts of men and power of engines ; and besides the 
dreadful scenes of flames, ruins, and desolation, there appeared the 
most killing sight under the sun, the distracted looks of so many ci 
tizens, the waitings of miserable women, and the cries of poor 
children, and decrepit old people with all the marks of confusion 
and despair. 

The inscription on the famous pillar or monument, erected by 
that celebrated architect Sir Christopher Wren, in memory of this 
calamity, tells us ; ' The fire with incredible noise and fury des 
troyed eighty-nine churches, among which was the cathedral of St- 
Paul; many public hospitals, schools, libraries, a vast number of 
stately edifices, thirteen thousand two hundred dwelling houses, four 
hundred streets &c. The destruction was sudden ; for in a short 
time the same city, which was seen in a flourishing condition, was 
reduced to nothing : and after three days when the fatal fire had in 
appearance overcome all means of resistance and human counsels : 
by the will of heaven it stopped, and was extinguished." This was 
a sight, as Dr. Calamy observes, that might have given any man a 
lively sense of the vanity of this world, and all the wealth and glory 
of it, and of the future conflagration of the world itself.* I shall 
only add, without inquiring into the causes of this dreadful calamity 
which the author has hinted at, in one part of his discourse ; that 
all persons, as Echard tells us, were indefatigable in the great work 
of rebuilding, and making provision for the resurrection of this city : 
and that Sir Jonas Moore having raised Fleet-street, according to the 
model appointed; from that beginning the city grew so hastily to 
wards a general perfection, that within the compass of a few years 
it far transcended its former splendour. 
* Abridgment of Baxter's life, vol. 1. p. 314. 


have mighty incentives, and strong obligations to study more 
the pleasing of that God, and keeping of his gracious presence, 
who must be our keeper; the keeper of you, and your ciry. 
We read of a certain city in Italy, whose inhabitants chained 
the statues of their gods to their particular stations ; upon the 
apprehension they had of how great concern it was to the weal 
of their city to keep their deities among them, or that they 
should not be deserted, and forsaken by them. I need not 
trouble you with the particular occasion of it, But, 

God is only to be held and kept among us by bands of his 
own making ; by his own covenant and his own promises, by 
which he is most strongly held, if we do not make a violent 
rupture ourselves, and break off ourselves from him. But it 
is much to be feared the divine presence is little coveted, or 
desired ; and it little appears that God hath a dwelling in many 
of the new built houses of this city, where men little concern 
themselves whether they have God with them or no. How 
many families are there, who, after so monitory a judgment, 
and after so obliging a mercy, yet call not upon the name of 
the Lord ! or wherein that wickedness dwells, which will not 
permit him a dwelling there ! Is this just dealing ? that when 
he provides you houses, you will not permit him a dwelling 
there ? He furnisheth your habitations, and you spoil his. 
We find mention made of a people, who say unto God, " De 
part from us ; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways:" 
(Job, 21. 14.) and yet he filled their houses with good things. 
Ungrateful, and unworthy wretches ! He tills their houses with 
good things, and they bid him begone. But as it follows there, 
"the counsel of the wicked is far from me''. Job 21. 16. Let it 
be far from you also. That vile temper, that wretched dispo 
sition of heart far be it from me ! Let not my soul enter into 
their secret ; into the secret of those, who have the heart so to 
requite the Lord ! I only add, in the 

6. And last place, that such a ruin, and consequent restitu 
tion, are no assurance to such a place or city that it should 
never be ruined again. Let us so far improve the instance of 
Jerusalem here. Upon such a prayer so solemn, and many 
a prayer besides offered up by spirits wrestling and deeply 
engaged about this business, here comes a gracious prediction 
and promise ; to wit, "I will favour Jerusalem, the street shall 
be built again, and the wall, and the work shall be carried on, 
let the difficulty be never so great, and the contentions against 
it never so high and earnest." Why, one would have thought 
divine favour had been now so fixed to Jerusalem, that it 
should never have been off more. But how much otherwise 



was the case ! Jerusalem suffered many a distress after this re 
building. For after this it was harassed much by the Gre 
cians, Syrians, Parthians, and the Romans ; and by some of 
these several times. And last of all it was taken, and so 
dreadfully ruined, (I mean the destruction brought upon it 
by Titus) that ever since one may go (as once was said of 
another place) and seek Jerusalem, in Jerusalem, and all in 
vain. But G"d forbid that this should be the issue as to 
London ! God grant that it may never be so ! that the prevail 
ing and growing wickedness of this city (for it seems to be 
growing) may never bring things to that pass, as that one may 
as vainly go to seek London, in London. 


Pialm 67. 2, 8. 

That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health 

among all nations. Let the people praise thee t O 

God; let all the people praise thee. 

T TAKE it for granted, it is generally known that it is by 
public authority recommended to us, this day, to celebrate 

* Preached September 8, 16Q5. 

* This sermon, it appears, was preached on September 8, 1 6Q5 } 
being the day appointed by public authority for a general thanksgiv 
ing, particularly for taking the strong town, and citadel of Namur, 
in Flanders, by king William : which place as bishop Burnet tells 
us, was so happily situated, so well fortified, and so well furnished 
and commanded, that it made the attempt seem bold and doubtful. 
Namur had been taken by the French about three years before, in 
the view of a great army 5 which was looked upon as one of the 
greatest actions of that long reign. But though the fortifications, 
both in strength, and in the extent of the outworks, were double to 
what they had been, when the French took the place ; yet king 
William, after a short seige, retook that important town and fortress, 
in the view of a hundred thousand French, commanded by the famous 
Mareschal Villeroy : which, as the forementioned historian says, 
was reckoned one of the greatest actions of the king's life ; and in 
deed, one of the greatest in the whole history of war. 

VOL, VI. 2 S 


the praises of God, for the preservation and success, vouchsafed 
to his majesty's person, and forces abroad : and particularly, 
that God hath protected and guarded so precious a life, amidst 
all the dangers and deaths, that threatened it in the seige of 
Najnur ; and given success to the design of [taking that for 

And whereas the proclamation by the lords-justices appoint 
ing a thanksgiving on this day in reference to these great things, 
takes notice : that this protection of the king's life, and the suc 
cess of his forces in that great undertaking, is justly to be looked 
upon as an answer to piayer, especially the prayers of that day 
of fast, that was appointed and observed in the beginning of the 
summer, with relation to this year's expedition : t do accord 
ingly, at this time, intend to consider the second verse of this 
psalm, in connexion with the third ; as I did on that fast-day 
consider it, in connexion with the first. 

The words of the proclamation are to this purpose ; fe That 
whereas they did appoint a general fast to be kept through this 
kingdom, for imploring the blessing and protection of Almigh 
ty God in the preservation of his majesty's sacred person, 
and prosperity to his arms, both at land and sea, which hath 
been observed accordingly; and forasmuch as it hath pleased 
Almighty God, of his infinite goodness, in answer to the 
prayers numbly and devoutly offered up to him, to grant to the 
forces of his majesty, and his allies, so great success in the 
taking of the town and castle of Namur : they do therefore 
adoring the divine goodness, appoint this day &c." 

Now, according to the observation that is justly made here, 
that God hath made the event to correspond so far unto prayer, 
I have, as hath been already said, determined to insist upon the 
second verse in connexion with the following, which run thus ; 
tf That thy name may be known upon earth, thy saving health 
among all nations. Let the people praise thee, O God ! let all 
the people praise thee." Whereas on that day of public fast, I 
considered the second verse, in connexion with the first ; the 
words of which are these : *' God be merciful to us, and bless 
us, and cause his face to shine upon us ; that thy name may be 
known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations." 

It was with this design that such mercy was petitioned for ; 
or that God would be merciful unto us, and bless us, and cause 
his face to shine upon us. Which expressions, relating to a 
community of people, and their public affairs, import favour 
able aspects of providence upon such a people, and such af 
fairs ; and that such requests were made, and such mercy sup 
plicated for from heaven, with this design, that God's way 


may be known upon earth, his saving health among all nations- 
As this was the end and design of prayer, so the prospect, the 
expectation, and hope hereof, is made the great inducement, as 
well as the spring and source of praise. And what we aim at 
or seek for, is, that all people may every where praise God : 
that all nations may be glad and sing for joy because he will 
"judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon 

By the way of God we are to understand, the course of his 
economy in governing the world ; but especially fas the expres 
sions connected^ with it shew ) as it refers to the salvation 
of men. What our translation reads in two words, "saving 
health;'* is but one in the hebrewtext, salvation. And we know 
that from the same word comes that name Jesus, given to the 
great and eminent Saviour j who by a known and elegant me 
tonymy, is hereupon again and again in Scripture called God's 
salvation. And judicious expositors understand this to be the 
highest intendment, and ultimate meaning of these very words ; 
that Christ, and God's design of saving sinners in and by him, 
may be more known in the world. And therefore, taking the 
foregoing supplication as I now state it, connected with the 
resolved duty of praising God, and the invitation of all to a ge 
neral concurrence herein ; and we have a sufficient ground for 
that observation, which I shall now recommend to you as the 
theme and subject of our present discourse, 

That our souls should be greatly enlarged, and highly raised 
in praising God for successes, and for favourable aspects as to 
our public affairs, from the hope, that thereby divine know 
ledge may more generally be diffused, and spread in the world. 
I shall, in speaking to this, 

I. Briefly shew you what I mean by divine knowledge. 

II. Shew you, that such means as are here intimated ; to 
wit, the successes and favourable aspects of providence, with re 
lation to the public affairs of such as profess the name of God, 
and design to serve his interest in the world, have a ten 
dency to the spreading of such divine knowledge among men. 

III. I shall shew, that the hope and expectation hereof is a 
very proper, and should be the principal spring of our praises 
for such successes, and favourable aspects upon our com 
mon affairs. And so 

IV. Make application of all, as time will allow. 

1. I shall briefly shew you, what is here intended by divine 
knowledge. That is truly called such knowledge, whose ob 
ject, and whose author, and whose nature are divine. And 


such I mean that to be, which I now speak of ; and shall open 
to you in the terms of the text. 

1. For the object of it ; namely, God's way, and his salva 
tion. The way of God, as I told you, is his economy, or course 
of dispensations in governing the world. And that takes in 
both religion and righteousness together, objectively consider 
ed ; the knowledge of the true religion, and of all that men do 
mutually owe to one another. And we find that both are in 
tended here in this context. That the general spreading of 
religion and righteousness is designed, and amied at (with the 
desire and expectation of which the Psalmist's heart is so much 
taken up) you may see from the seventh verse, which concludes 
the psalm. " God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth 
shall fear him." This shall be the consequence of his saving 
us ; his giving us success, or his making his face to shine upon 
us : that is, that as he blesseth us, men shall more and more 
be induced to bless him. That expression, "the fear of God" 
is, you know, a paraphrase of true religion : not only religion in 
general towards God, but even such religion as bath its foun 
dation in Christ, the Saviour and Mediator between God and 
man. And this seems to be here intended in the words of the 
text, " That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving 
health among all nations." There can be no such thing as re 
ligion in the world at all, which is not founded in the hope of 
mercy, as the spring and fountain ; and of final felicity, as the 
end, that all shall result into at last. There could be no more 
religion upon earth, than in hell, if there were no hope of sal 
vation. Men would but have the religion of devils, or fear 
God with a fear of horror. For the devils are said to believe 
there is one God, and tremble ; (p^iyo-so-i,) that is, gnash their 
teeth for horror. James 2. 19. They tremble to think there 
is a power superior to them, which they cannot overcome ; and 
that will take a just, and eternal revenge upon them, for their 
insolent rebellion and wickedness. 

It is then the knowledge of God's salvation, that giveth a 
rise and spring to religion ; and without this, there can be no 
such thing as true religion in the world. But then also, that 
righteousness is comprehended within the compass of the ob 
ject of this knowledge, as well as religion, appears from the 
same context; " Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for 
thou shall judge the people righteously, and govern the nations 
upon earth." ver. 4. As God, by the dispensation of the 
everlasting gospel, requires and teacheth us to live righteously, 
as well as godly ; so doth that knowledge, which he ingener- 
ates and worketh in the minds of men (wherever that teach- 


ing is efficacious) produce righteousness towards one another 
as well as religion towards God. Both these I take therefore to 
be comprehended together, in the object of this knowledge ; 
and so far it is divine. And, 

2. It is divine also with respect to the author of this know 
ledge. The promise in the new covenant, which God said he 
would make with his people, and which is the connective bond 
of all that are his people indeed, is this; that they should be 
all taught of God. The passage is quoted from Jeremiah, 
chap. 31. 33, 34. by the apostle to the Hebrews; chap. 8. 
JO. 11. " For this" is the covenant that I will make with the 
house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord ; I will put my 
laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts, and I 
will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. 
And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every 
man his brother, saying, Know the Lord ; for all shall know 
me from the least to the greatest." And indeed if that were 
not designed and meant, we could not give a reasonable ac 
count, why this should be made the matter of request and sup 
plication to him, that his way might be known upon earth, his 
salvation among all nations. But though this is a knowledge 
to be taught and given by God himself, yet he useth means in 
order thereto. But by how much the more overpowering his 
influences are, and by how much the brighter and more pene 
trating his light is, in begetting this knowledge, so much the 
less doth the instrumentality of the means appear herein, and 
God is seen in it so much the more. And then, 

3. The nature of this knowledge, as well as the object, and 
the author of it, must be understood to be divine too ; inas 
much as it is plainly intimated to be efficacious and transforming 
knowledge, so as to make the subject like the object ; that is, 
so as to make men appear like so many representations of God 
himself in this world; with respect to theirholinesstowardshim- 
self and mutual love, equity, and righteousness one towards ano 
ther. This is the meaning of his writing his law on their heart. 
For whereas his law is all gathered up (as it is by our Lord him 
self) into this double summary of loving God with all our hearts 
and souls, our minds and strength, and loving our neighbours as 
ourselves ; to have this divine knowledge, in truth and reality, 
is to have it so efficaciously operative, as to transform the very 
soul into this twofold love ; and so accordingly to frame this 
world and the minds of men every where into compositions of 
love towards God, as the supreme good, and towards one ano 
ther, in obedience and subordination to him. And this is that 
divine knowledge, which the text and context do manifestly in 
tend. But, 


II. We are to shew you how successes, and the favourable 
aspects of providence, relating to the public affairs of those who 
profess his name and espouse his interest, tend to propagate 
such knowledge as this in the world : that is, according to the 
^expression in the text, to make it universal, so as that God's 
way may be known in all the earth, and his salvation unto all 
nations ; and that true religion, and the fear of God may take 
place unto the utmost ends of the earth, according to the con 
clusion of the psalm. Arid when we hehold God in such fa 
vourable aspects and appearances, how much does the hope re 
vive, and rise in our souls, that this shall be the final issue of 
things ! namely, that God shall be thus known in all the earth 
.so as to be every where worshipped, and subdue the nations of 
the world to his equal, mild and merciful government. I shall 
proceed here by these two steps. I shall take notice to you, 
that we have a great deal of reason to hope for this end : and 
that we may observe an aptitude in such means to subserve 

1. We have a great deal of reason to hope for this end ; as 
a thing, which God ultimately has in design, and will effect. 
We find several unaccomplished, prophetical scriptures of this 
import, as that "The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the 
Lord, as the waters cover the seas." Isai. 11. J). And so 
operative will be this knowledge, that besides the impressions 
of religion which it shall make upon the souls of men Godward 
it shall also impress a universal peaceableness, and righteous 
ness upon men's minds, towards one another ; so as that men 
shall generally agree to t( beat their swords into plough-shares, 
and their spears into pruning-hooks : nation shall not lift up 
sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." 
Isai. 2. 4. Such will be the powerful efficacy of this di 
vine knowledge, that it shall transform the world into love 
and kindness, benignity, and goodness ; as God himself is 
love, and the supreme, and all-comprehending goodness. 

And we see also a passage in the prophecy of Isaiah, which 
hath a more particular reference unto Christ: "Behold my ser 
vant whom I uphold ; mine elect in whom my soul delighteth : 
I have put my Spirit upon him, he shall bring forth judgment 
to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his 
voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not 
break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench; he shall 
bring forth judgment unto truth" (unto victory it is read in the 
New Testament. Math. 12. 20.) " He shall not fail, nor be 
discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth ; and the 
isles shall wait for his law." Isai. 42. 1 5. How far we are 


concerned in that, I shall not insist to shew ; though many have 
made their observation upon that expression of the isles wait 
ing for his law, and applied it to these islands that lie so near 
to one another, and wherein we are so much concerned. This 
however was a thing to be gradually done, but withal it was to 
be certainly and surely done ; namely, that judgment should 
at length be set by him in the earth. This expression plainly 
imports the universality of the effect, and not as if it were this 
or that single spot, to which such an effect was to be confined ; 
though, in strictness" of speech, if it were any where known in 
the world it would be known or set in the earth. But that 
cannot be the design of the expression as it is generally ex 
plained ; but that the earth in general is to be the subject of 
this great effect : and the expressions, though they are wont 
to be applied to the case of particular souls, yet they have a 
more diffusive applicableness, which is not to be overlooked. 
" A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall 
he not quench." Ameiosis is acknowledged in these words: the 
meaning of which is, that he shall be so far from bruising the 
reed, that he shall strengthen it; he shall be so far from quench 
ing, that he shall more and more inflame the smoking flax. 
This, I say, besides its being particularly applicable to the case 
of individual persons, must be understood also to have a general 
reference to the state of the Christian interest. That though 
it be low and languishing and many times like a bruised reed, 
or a little smoking flax, where the fire is ready to expire and go 
out, yet it shall not be. That bruised reed shall grow stronger, 
and that smoking flax shall be blown up into a flame ; and so 
will go further and further on, till the effect shall measure with 
the earth and have no other confines and limits than that ; till 
he shall set judgment in the earth, and have wrought that gene 
ral transformation in the world, that all eyes shall see the salva 
tion of God. 

And when we are told in the book of Daniel (chap. 2. 45.) 
of the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, that should 
become a mountain and fill the earth ; 1 think there is no 
thing, in any time or age hitherto past, that can answer the 
import of such a saying as that is. This is a work yet to be 
done, and therefore yet in great part to be hoped for; that, 
that stone Christ, Christianity, his religion diffused, and spread 
among all nations of the earth, by an almighty Spirit poured 
forth upon all, shall be so great a mountain, as to measure 
with the world, and to fill all the earth. But I know nothing 
as'yet done, that answers the import of so great a word of pro 
phecy, as this is. 


Moreover we are told that upon the sounding of the seventh 
trumpet (which most agree hath not been sounded yet) all the 
kingdoms of this world are to be the kingdoms of our Lord and 
of his Christ. Rev. 11. 15. And this will be in answer to what was 
predicted long before, in the second psalm. "Ask of me, and 1 
will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the utter 
most parts of the earth for thy possession." Psa. 2. 8. So that 
as to the end we have a great deal of reason to hope for it, 
which I proposed to represent to you in the first place. 

2. We may also discern an aptitude in such means, as we speak 
of, to serve this end : that is, when there are favourable aspects 
of providence upon those that espouse the interest of God in 
the world ; in opposition to the irreligion, the anti-christianity, 
and the unrighteousness, that obtain therein, and too general 
ly take place. By the consideration of several things that con 
cur, you may discern a happiness in such means to serve this 
end. As consider, 

(1.) That the minds of men do naturally sink into atheism, 
or irreligion and a deep oblivion of God, when things run on in 
one course and tenor, with a still, uninterrupted stream. No 
thing is plainer or more obvious. Because from the creation 
of the world to this day, the course of nature hath been so 
constant, steady and uniform ; therefore men have been apt to 
say, "Where is the promise of his coming ?" 2 Pet. 3, 4. And 
so when the series of providence is generally equal to itself, or 
because men have no changes, therefore they fear not God. 
Psal. 55. 19. 

(2.) God hath himself declared, that in such a case as this, 
he will be known by the judgments which he executes. Psal. 
9. 16. And when they are judgments of such a kind, as to en 
snare men in the works of their own hands (to use the following 
words) and when men's violent doings are turned upon their 
own pates, the Lord is then known by the judgments which he 
executes. "I know not the Lord, (said Pharaoh, Exod. 5. 2.) 
neither will I obey his voice j" but by judgment upon judg 
ment, and plague upon plague, he made him know him before 
he had done with him. He could at length say, "The Lord 
righteth for Israel, against the Egyptians." Exod. 14. 25. 

(3.) Men are the more confirmed in their atheism, or in 
undue thoughts of God (which comes upon the matter all to 
one) when the course of providence seems to favour unrighte 
ousness , or to run counter to a righteous cause. Then it is 
that th^y say, " God hath forsaken the earth ; and if there be 
any God at all, he is surely a God that taketh pleasure hi wick 
edness; he liketh our violence, our injurious, and wrongful 


dealing to mankind ; and even to them, who call themselves 
after his name." Thus because judgment, upon men's works 
of that kind, is not speedily executed, therefore are the hearts 
of the sons of men fully set in them to do evil. Eccles. 8. II. 
For they say, " Tush ! God seeth not, neither is there any 
knowledge in the Most High ;" as such men are brought in, 
speaking in the tenth, and ninety-fourth psalms : that is, this 
is represented as the sense of their hearts, which to him, who 
reads the sense, immediately impressed upon the mind, is 
equal to speaking j for he doth not need that they should 
put it into words. God reads it as it lieth there. But 

(4.) When the course and tenour of providence in these res 
pects alter, it tends both to revive, and rectify the notions of 
God, in the minds of men ; I mean, when it alters so as to 
animadvert upon manifest, and palpable unrighteousness and 
iniquity in the world, and to favour a righteous cause. 

This, I say, tends to revive the notions of God in the minds 
of men ; for every body, in his distress, is apt to think of God. 
There are certain semina, certain principles of natural religion 
in the minds of all ; which, though some take a great deal of 
pains quite to eradicate, yet they can never quite do it : nature 
is too hard for them : but those principles that they cannot ex 
tinguish, they make a shift to lay asleep. Lust is too strong 
for light. A propension to, and a resolution of being wicked, 
are for the most part victorious, generally governing in the 
minds of men ; so as that the truths they hold, they hold in 
unrighteousness. Rom. 1. 18. But affliction, and the cross 
rencounters of providence, revive the sleeping principles of re 
ligion ', which are bound up in a torpid, and stupifying state. 
Men begin to bethink themselves, when they find themselves 
in perplexity and distress. And when the wise man in Ecclesi- 
astes (chap. 7- 14.) bids us in the day of adversity to consider, 
he speaks according to the natural tendency of the thing ; be 
cause there will be a greater aptitude in the minds of men to 
consider, when things are adverse to them, and run quite con 
trary to their inclination. And, 

The notion of a God is not only hereby revived, but in some 
measure rectified too. They, who before thought God did coun 
tenance their way, now find, that this was a weak, infirm argu 
ment, and that it proves no such thing. They cannot now any 
further satisfy themselves that, that Deity (which they cannot 
altogether disimagine) is favourable to unrighteousness ; but 
that if there be a God, he is such a one, to whom right and 

VOL. vi. 2 T 


wrong are not indifferent things. They begin, I say, to appre 
hend so now. 

An ungodly frame and disposition of spirit had obtained, to a 
very great degree, among Joseph's brethren ; but when they 
meet with a series of cross providences, these remind them of 
their unrighteous dealing with their brother : the thoughts of 
which had slept with them long, but now they revive ; and 
they now begin to return to a right mind concerning that very 
matter. But what comes nearer our case is that Assyrian ty 
rant,* who had been so long the plague and pest of the world, 
and wrought such a destruction among the people of God. 
When providence came to animadvert upon him, and he lay 
under God's rebukes and frowns, he fancied himself a beast ; 
and became like one, by the power of his own imagination, (as 
that is most likely to be understood) till he was capable of un 
derstanding, that the Most High did rule in the kingdoms of 
men, and give and dispose of them as he thought fit, Dan. 4. 
I 7 And as I noted to you before, Pharaoh would not know 
God, neither obey his voice to let Israel go, after a series of 
cross providences following one another ; till at length he saw 
himself surrounded with waters, that gave a safe passage to the 
Israelites, but a continual threatening and terror to him and his 
army; but when he found their chariot-wheels taken off, he 
cried out : tf Now we must all fly, God is fighting for the Is 
raelites." Then he bethought himself of a God, who did not 
like such a course as his was of oppression and tyranny, over a 
people more righteous than himself. 

Not that we are to think, that successes and favourable as 
pects of providence are themselves, and considered apart, a 
measure of right and wrong, in the world. That can by no 
means agree with what we have supposed already; There are 
the greatest variations of providence imaginable, but there 
cannot be variations of what is right and wrong : for what is 
right, always will be right ; and what is wrong, will always 
be wrong. But supposing that a cause be in itself manifest 
ly righteous on the one hand, and unrighteous on the other ; 
(which maybe known by other measures) then providence 
falling in with that which in itself is apparently right revives 
and strengthens the apprehension of such a Deity, as ap 
proves of that which is right and equal, and disapproves the 
contrary. And so it tends at once, as I proposed to shew, 
both to revive, and rectify the thoughts of God. And here 

(5,) The great commotions of nations, when the world hath 

* Nebuchadnezzar* 


been long before in a deep dream, and a drowsy sleep, taking 
no notice of God that rules the world, and governs the king 
doms of men : when, I say, there are great agitations ; col 
lusions of interests, and concussions of nations ; nation 
dashing against nation ; if in this case an apparently righteous 
cause receives countenance, and is under favourable aspects 
from heaven, God comes to be a great deal more thought 
of in the world than he was. He is then also thought to 
be such, as indeed he is ; a God who takes not pleasure 
in wickedness, nor approves of unjust, or unrighteous prac 
tices, though he may have forborne, and spared those for 
a time that used them. But further, when hereupon the 
thoughts of God are revived, and rectified in any measure in 
the minds of men, they become so much the more susceptible 
of superadded revelation from him ; such as that, which is con 
tained in the Scripture. For it is to no purpose, when the 
world is generally atheistical, and have either buried the no 
tion of a God, or perverted it, so as that to think there is a God 
or that there is none, is all one with them ; it is, I say, to little 
or no purpose for men to go up and down among such persons, 
in such a state of things, with a Bible ; for they disbelieve such 
a kind of Deity, as that book reveals. But if the thoughts of 
God be recovered, and rectified in the minds of men, they are 
a great deal more susceptible of superadded revelation from 
heaven. And especially, 

(6.) If that revelation be, as that of the gospel is, a reve 
lation of grace. For when God hath discovered himself by 
terrible things; being displeased with the wickedness, the 
atheism, the irreligion, the unrighteousness of men in this 
world : if then there be a discovery of his reconcileableness, 
of his willingness, or readiness to beat peace with the world ; 
in what a preparation may the minds of men be supposed to be 
to receive such a doctrine, as that of the Christian religion ? 
a discovery of God in Christ reconciling the world to himself. 
Do but observe, therefore, that method of representing the 
great Christian doctrine of the gospel, of free justification by 
faith in Jesus Christ, which the apostle takes in the epistle to 
the Romans. He begins it with the discovery of the general 
wickedness of the Gentile world, and afterwards of the Jews. As 
to the former he saith, The wrath of God is revealed from hea 
ven against all ungodliness, and unrighteousness of men, who 
hold the truth in unrighteousness. Rom. 1. 18. And what 
is all this for ? It is all to prepare and make way for the reve 
lation of grace. We have proved, saith he, both Jew and Gen 
tile to be under sin ; and therefore that there can be no such 


thing as reconciliation to God, and acceptance with him, but 
it must be by the intervening righteousness of another. And 
so nothing, in the way of means, doth so dispose the minds of 
men to receive the gospel, as when God, in the methods and 
course of his providence, doth appear terrible against wicked 
ness, the impiety and the injustice of men : nothing, I say, in 
point of means can be a greater preparation for the diffusion of 
the grace and light of the gospel, and the more ready and suc 
cessful spread thereof. And I add, 

(7.) That by such favourable aspects of providence upon 
them that espouse God's interest in the world, the great ob- 
structors of the progress of the gospel come to be debilitated, 
and that power of theirs weakened, and retrenched ; by which 
they opposed to the utmost the diffusing of religion, and the 
spreading of the knowledge of God ; making it their business as 
much as possible to extirpate that religion, which godly souls do 
BO much desire to see spread in the earth. When the providence 
of God doth animadvert on such, as make it their business to 
destroy true religion out of the earth ; so as that instead of its 
being known in all nations it shall not be known any longer in 
their own, as far as it is in their power to extirminate it :* when 
such, I say, are animadverted upon, every eye seeth how this 
tends to prepare, and make way for, the freer diffusion of the 
gospel-light, and knowledge, among men. For they that 
would do such a thing as root out true religion out of their own 
nation, to be sure would be far from letting it spread in the rest 
of the world; and, if it were in their own power, there should 
be no such thing in the world at all. Thus it appears that fa 
vourable events to those, who espouse God's interest, tend to 
remove obstacles out of the way to the diffusion of true reli 
gion ; and to promote the propagation of it, in the earth. I 
therefore come now to shew, in the 

III. Place, That the hope of this issue and end should ani 
mate mightily our praises, and be the principal ground of 
thanksgiving unto God for such successes and favourable as 
pects of providence upon them, who espouse his interest in the 
world. This might be many ways made out, and indeed by 
such means as are most evident in reason, and most intimate 
to the very essence of religion. For in plain common reason it 
appears, that the creature is not to be his own end ; much less 
are we to suppose, that God doth such and such things for the 

* The author alludes, I suppose, to the late French king's re 
peal of the edict of Nantz a few years before., and the terrible perse 
cution of the Protestants in his kingdom. 


creature as his end. He that is the first, must be the last in 
all things. He that is the author of all things must be the end 
of all things. All this is plain to common reason. And if you 
go into the deeper inwards of religion, which are nearly allied 
to genuine, and rectified reason, nothing is plainer, than that 
this is grounded in those great things of religion, which are 
most essential to it. Self-denial, for instance : I do not pray 
to, nor praise God upon my own account, so much as upon his. 
For if I be a Christian, if I be a disciple of Christ, I am taught 
to abandon myself, to nullify myself, and all interests and de 
signs of mine, further than as they fall in with his, and are sub 
servient thereunto. It is that which best agreeth with that 
great essential principle of all religion, the love of God, which 
is the noblest of all. By how much the more I love God, by 
so much the more is my heart raised in praises, when I find 
events to happen tbat have any tendency to promote his glory ; 
and to make him more known, feared, loved, and honoured in 
the world. And, to speak summarily unto this matter, do 
but consider these two things ; which we may superadd to all 
the rest. 

1. That we ought to praise God for mercies, for the same 
reason that we pray for them. But we are not to pray for them 
ultimately for ourselves, but for God ; that they may serve the 
interest of his glory, and be the means of diffusing the know 
ledge of him in the earth. It is not a real glory that can be 
wrought out for him ; but it is manifestative glory ; which 
stands in his being known and acknowledged by his creatures, 
the works of his hands, and so much the more by how much 
the more general it is. I have said we are to give thanks for 
mercies, upon the same terms that we are to pray for them. 
And how we are to do that, we are taught by that method of 
prayer which our Lord himself directed ; in which the first 
thing petitioned for, is, "Hallowed be thy nanne." Math. 6. 9. 
And that God may be glorified, is the thing which is to be first 
in our eye and design. It ought to be so in our seeking mer 
cies from him ; and consequently it ought to be so in our ren 
dering acknowledgements and praises to him, for his kindness 
and mercies. And again, 

2. We ought to praise God for mercies, for the same reason 
for which we are to apprehend he bestoweth them. But it is 
plain he bestoweth them not for our sakes, but his own, "Not 
for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto 
you : be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O 
house of Israel." Ezek. 36. 32. "I do not do these things on 
your account, but for my own name's sake : that my name may 


te known among the heathen, and that the world may more 
generally acknowledge me to be God." 

And according as things have this tendency and design, so 
let our praises be directed, this day, upon the same inducement, 
and from this same spring ; namely, the hope that God's ways 
shall be known upon earth, and his salvation unto all nations : 
and that the present favourable aspects of providence will some 
way contribute hereunto, as they have this tendency and de 
sign. If we do not consider the matter so, we disparage our 
own victories, when we should give thanks for them ; we make 
them little and inconsiderable, and upon the whole matter to 
have nothing in them. For abstracted from the subserviency 
in such providences to the interest of God, and religion, and 
righteousness in the world, I pray what have they in them ? 
All goeth for nothing, and will be as nothing in a few years. 
We cannot say, that any thing is truly and rationally valuable, 
that runs not into eternity ; that hath not a look towards an 
everlasting state of things, and the interest of that kingdom 
that shall never end. When the world passeth away, and all 
the lusts thereof, they who do the will of God abide for ever. 
1 John 2. 17. It signifieth very little to particular persons 
whether they be rich, or poor, for a few days, here in this 
world. And it signifieth as little to nations, whether their con 
dition be opulent or indigent ; whether they be under oppression, 
or in a state of liberty : it signifieth little, I say, when it is con 
sidered, that these are replenished with inhabitants made for 
eternity, and an everlasting state of things, and who must short 
ly pass into that eternal state. Nothing is really, or upon ra 
tional accounts valuable with them, but what carries with it a 
signification of good, in reference to eternity. So it is to a 
person, so it is to a nation, and so it is to this world and all the 
inhabitants of the earth. 

Therefore, while we praise God for the favourable aspects of 
his providence, which have such a tendency as this, generally 
and indefinitely considered, let us bring down this to the parti 
cular case before us. If we apprehend much is not done to 
ward this great end, by this particular instance of a favourable 
providence, yet consider this as a part, and as a step to more. 
And in order to excite our praises the more, to heighten them, 
and raise our spirits in this duty of praising God, let us, I pray, 
represent to ourselves the contrary state of the case, even as to 
this particular thing that we praise God for ; namely, his pre 
serving the life of our king. What, if we had been to mourn 
for the loss of him ! A strong hold hath also been taken, which 
a potent army came to relieve, Suppose the armies had fought j 


suppose the army that came to the relief of Namur had been 
victorious ; and suppose there had been a total destruction of 
our own : think what the dreadful consequences would have 
been! when, instead of having the knowledge of God to spread 
further in the world, we should have had violence, and tyranny 
in the height thereof deluging Europe ! and threatening a deluge 
as general, as such power could extend unto! What hope 
could we have left to our posterity, that they should long enjoy 
that gospel, which we enjoy ; or profess that religion in peace 
which we profess in peace and tranquillity? I say, do but turn 
the tables ; and consider what our case had been, if it were stat 
ed in a direct contrariety to what it is. There are many more 
things which I might have said, 

IV. By way of particular use of this subject ; but at present 
let us call upon God for a blessing upon what hath been now 



Joshua 24. 20. 

Jf ye forsake the Lard, and serve strange gods, then he 

will turn and do you hurt ; and consume you, 

after that he hath done you good. 

COME few things I shall offer to your notice, by way of in- 
troduction to what I intend from this portion of Scripture. 
As, in the first place, 

That the good which God had done this people, he was con 
fessedly the Author of it. He not only was really, and indeed 
so ; but he was owned, and acknowledged to be so. There 
was not a doubt in the case. It was a thing taken for granted, 
and which every one would own ; that all the good which had 
been done to them, proceeded only from him, who is the Au 
thor of all good. And again, 

That the good which he did for this people was very peculiar, 
such as he had then done for no people beside. He gave his 

* Preached at Silver-Street, November 5, 1695. 


testimonies unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Is 
rael : he had not done so to any people. Ps. 147. 19> 20. 
More *r, 

That the peculiarity of his favourable dispensation towards 
them was resolvable only into good pleasure. No other ac 
count could be given of it, why he should be so particularly 
favourable to that people above other people, than, as our Lord 
says in another case, " Even so Father, for so it seemed good 
in thy sight." Mat. 11. 26. A 'd lastly, 

That though the destruction reatened unto one people, so 
and so offending against goodness and mercy, doth not import 
the certainty of such an event, in reference to another people, 
offending in the like manner j yet it imports the case of such 
a people to be very insecure, and that they are liable to the 
same destructive severities and consuming judgments, as if 
they had been the people immediately and directly threatened. 
I say they are liable, and cannot reckon themselves entitled to 
an immunity from such destructive judgments. 

These things being premised, the ground of our present dis 
course will lie thus : That the good which God hath, of mere 
good pleasure, and in a peculiar distinguishing way, done for 
a nation ; leaveth them liable to consuming judgments, if they 
grossly offend God, and generally revolt from him. In speak 
ing to this, 1 shall, 

I. Give you the state of this truth, generally, and indefi 
nitely considered. And then, 

II. Speak unto it with special application to our own case^ 
jand the state of things among ourselves. 

I. I shall give you the state of this truth, as considered 
Hiore indefinitely. And therein, shall consider that good, 
which God may be supposed to do a people ; of his own good, 
pleasure, and in a peculiar way : and their liableness unto his 
consuming wrath, upon the supposition here put ; that is, if 
they should grossly offend, and generally revolt from God, or 
rebel against him. 

1. Let us consider the good, which God may be supposed to do 
such, or such a people, out of mere good pleasure. And here 
we shall consider, in what respects he may be supposed to do 
a nation good, and also upon what accounts. 

(1.) In what respects. And for this we shall take our mea 
sure from what we find, even in this very chapter, in reference 
to the people of Israel. The chapter you see, begins with a 
large narrative and rehearsal of what God hath done for them ; 
and it is well worth your notice, and observation. You must 
consider, that the time of Joshua's leaving them was now at 

VOL. vi. 2 u 


hand. He was apprehensive of it, and therefore gathers the 
princes, and heads of the tribes to him on purpose to take a 
solemn leave. They had been under his conduct by divine ap 
pointment ; and, as their general, he had led them into that 
good land, which God, by promise and oatli to their forefathers 
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, had entitled them to as their seed, 
and now conferred upon them. He was apprehensive of the 
state of their case, after his departure ; knowing well the terms, 
upon which God had put himself under such bonds and obli 
gations to them. Therefore he gathers the tribes of Israel to 
Shechem, and called for their elders, their judges and officerSj 
who presented themselves before God. Upon which he begins 
his narrative of what God had done for them ; and in what par 
ticular respects he had favoured them, and done them good* 
" Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, your fathers dwelt on the 
other side the flood in old time, even Terah the father of Abra 
ham, and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods. 
And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the 
flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and mul 
tiplied his seed and gave him Isaac." 

Joshua here begins with that, which was the most observable 
thing, and was first in the divine eye and intention ; namely, 
his making this people a plantation of religion, when the worid 
was generally over-run with idolatry and wickedness. He puts 
them in mind how God did select, and sever the head of this 
people, from the rest of the idolatrous world. As elsewhere 
the history acquaints us with his calling him out of his idolatrous 
family, saying : " Get thee out of thy country, and from thy 
kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will 
shew thee/' Gen. 12. 1. And we are told, that "By faith Abra 
ham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should 
after receive for an inheritance, obeyed ; and he went out, not 
knowing whither he went." Heb. 11.8. This is the fit posture 
of a devoted soul, and so inwardly had God touched his spirit 
that he should upon his call readily answer him, and not dispute 
the matter, nor say, " Lord, must I go 1 know not whither ? 
and into that state, and in that way I know not ?" No, faith 
formed his spirit, not for disputation, but obedience. He obey 
ed, and went. " Here am I, thy ready prepared instrument ; 
do with me what thou wilt." And that which God designed 
to do, was to make him the head of a religious people ', among 
whom he would be known, when so gross and general darkness 
liad spread itself over the rest of the world. This was the main 
and principal thing in God's design ; and with this Joshua begins 1 


this narrative : and then continues it in shewing in \vhat ways, 
and by what gradations, God pursued the design which he had 
so graciously laid in favour of this people ; out of whose line 
the promised seed was to arise, in which, at length all the na 
tions of the earth were to be blessed. 

But in the mean time, the more special notices of God were to 
be confined much within the limits of this people, or them that 
should be proselyted unto them. " In Judah was God known, 
and his name was great in Israel/' Psal. 76'. 1. And whereas this 
was finally a design of grace, the rest of the narrative sheweth, 
how providence did work in subserviency to that design ; to 
multiply this people, to keep them entire, and unmingled with 
other nations : till that seed should spring out of them, in, 
the appointed season, in and by which there was to be so uni 
versal a diffusion of blessings through all nations. 

Therefore, the workings of providence are recounted after 
wards, in subserviency to this design of grace, till he conies to 
shew how by a succession of wonderful works, in a continued 
series, God had conducted them from Egypt (where they 
were oppressed, and multiplied at once) through a wilderness, 
where they were under his more immediate care : till at last, 
according to promise, they were planted in Canaan ; the type 
of that heaven, into which the antitypical Joshua, our blessed 
Jesus was to introduce all that should be adjoined to him 
as the great Captain and Prince of their salvation. 

(2.) As we have seen in what respects, God did thus do good 
to his people; so we may also see upon what account. And this 
matter is capable of being resolved into nothing else, but the 
divine good pleasure. It was upon such terms, that this peo 
ple were formed at h'rst. The Lord did not set his love upon 
you, (said Moses) because ye were more in number than any 
other people; for ye were the fewest of all people : but because 
the Lord loved you. Deut. 7- 7 8. And why did he love them ? 
why did he so peculiarly favour them ? The matter resolves it 
self; he sets his love upon you, because he loved you. Divine 
love, which is the original love of him who is the Fountain of 
goodness is its own reason ; for there can be nothing former 
to, or higher than the first. And the same thing Samuel takes 
notice of after they were become a formed people. The Lord 
will not forsake his people, for his great name's sake ; because 
it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people. 1 Sam. 12. 
22. How came you to be made his people ? Nothing can it 
be referred to, but that he was so pleased whose people you are. 
And that he makes the ground why he would never forsake 
them, in respect of their external constitution, otherwise than 


upon such terms as he himself did express before, even 
when he took them to be his people. Of which more hereaf 

And when their state was to be restored, after its being lost 
in great measure through their defection and revolts from him, 
it is still upon the same terms. He would indeed gather them 
again, re-collect them out of the several nations into which for 
their defection they had been scattered. But why ? Thus saith 
the Lord God, I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel ; 
but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among 
the heathen whither ye went. Ezek. 36. 22. So that still 
the matter is resolved into divine pleasure and goodness itself, 
the prime import of his name, as he himself proclaimed it to 
Moses ; The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, 
long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. Exod. 
34. 6'. And so much concerning the good, which God may 
be supposed to do for such a people indefinitely consider 

2. We are next to consider the liableness of such a people, 
notwithstanding, to more severe, and terrible, and even con 
suming judgments in case of their general revolt from him, and 
rebellion against him. This we see plainly exemplified, in the 
course of God's dispensation towards this people. And we are 
here to consider, that whatever good he did for this people, it 
was but according to free promise ; and that such promise was 
made, with a reserved liberty to make use of his own right 
to vindicate himself, when, by injurious wickedness, the design 
of all that goodness is frustrated, and perverted, as much as in 
them lies. 

(1.) It is plain, that whatever good he did for this people, 
was according to free promise. But that is more than can be 
said of other people. They had such promised peculiar favours, 
as no other people ever had. That is, they had that good and 
rich country, which they possessed, given them by immediate 
grant from heaven, which no people under heaven ever had the 
like besides ; and a promise ratified and sealed by solemn oath, 
over and over, unto their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Ja 
cob, whose God he declared himself to be, and the God of their 
seed ; by which he obliged himself to do them good in this 
respect, by planting them, as a distinct people, in a rich coun 
try j where they should have all the accommodations that were 
needful for answering the ends, for which he would have such 
a peculiar people in this world. And though what he did for 
them was thus according to promise, yet 

(2.) In the very tenour of that promise he reserved to himself 


the liberty of animadverting upon their wickedness ; and of 
making a way (as he sometimes expressed! himself) for his 
wrath to break in upon them, till at length it came upon them 
to the uttermost. 1 Thes. 216. So that when any such des 
tructive judgments should befall them, they could not pretend 
to be surprised ; it was nothing but what they might expect and 
look for, even by the express tenour of that very grant, by which 
they held what they did before enjoy. And thus they were fore 
told it should be, as you may see if you look into the course of 
God's treating and stipulating with them. "It shall come to 
pass, if you shall hearken diligently unto my commandments, 
which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and 
to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul ; that 
1 will give you the rain of your land in his due season," &c. 
Deut. 11. 13. All suitable blessings are, upon that sup 
position, promised to them. But it follows ; " Take heed to 
yourselves that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, 
and serve other gods, and worship them : and then the Lord's 
wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven that 
there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit, and lest 
ye perish quickly from off the good land which the Lord giveth 
you." Deut. 11. 16, 17. 

Now according to the tenour of this word of his, which you 
may meet with in multitudes of other places, was the course of 
his actual dispensations towards them. For see how things 
were, between God and them, after Joshua's decease. He 
had seen them planted, and settled in that good land. And 
we are told that " when Joshua had let the people go, the chil 
dren of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess 
the land : And the people of Israel served the Lord all the days 
of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua ; 
who had seen all the great works of the Lord that he did for 
Israel." Judg. 2. 6, 7 But now, Joshua being dead, we 
find soon after, that " Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, 
and served Baalim. And they forsook the Lord God of their 
fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and 
followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round 
about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked 
the Lord to anger. And the anger of the Lord was hot against 
Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that 
spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies 
round about, so that they could not any longer stand before 
their enemies. Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the 
Lord was against them for evil as the Lord had said, and as the 
Lord had sworn unto them j and they were greatly distressed." 


Judg. 2. 11 16. And afterwards, in the residue of this se 
cond chapter of Judges, is the summary given us of their de 
portment towards God ; and of God's procedure towards them, 
under all the several succeeding judges, that governed them, 
till the time they had a king set over them by their own choice. 
Whereas before, their government was designed to have been 
an immediate Theocracy ; that is, they were to have lived in 
all points, under the immediate direction of God himself. But 
they affected to be like their neighbours, both in civil and re 
ligious respects and so God, having, in his first grant of spe 
cial favour to them, reserved a power of doing himself right 
upon them, managed the course of his dispensation towards 
them accordingly. 

And this we may take for an account of the state of this case, 
more indefinitely considered ; forming our idea from what we 
iind exemplified in this people. Great things were in a pecu 
liar way of favour done for them ; yet we find all this did not 
exempt them from the terrible severities of vindictive justice 
upon their revolts from God, and rebellions against him. I 
come now, 

II. To consider all this with application to our own case, 
and the state of our affairs ; in which application, two things 
must be considered. 

1. A commemoration, with great thankfulness and gratitude, 
of the good, which God hath done for our nation ; in a con 
tinued series, and course of dispensations, through a long tract 
of time. And, 

2. A representation, notwithstanding, how vain an imagi 
nation it would be that we are thereby exempt from a liableness 
to vindictive and consuming judgments, in case of a gross and 
and general revolt from God, and rebellion against him. Of 
these two parts this application shall consist. 

1. We are to make a thankful commemoration of the great 
good, which God hath done for our nation even in a long con 
tinued course ; as he did for that people, who have given us 
the ground of our present instruction. And here we are con 
cerned to say as we find the prophet speaking : " I will men 
tion the loving-kindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the 
Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us ; and 
the great goodness towards the house of Israel (we may say 
towards our England) which he hath bestowed on them, ac 
cording to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his 
loving-kindnesses." Isa. 63. 7* 

And here we may go back a great deal further than Joshua 
could, at this time, in recounting God's favours towards Israel, 


They were not then of that antiquity. He had not so long a 
tract of time, as we have, to reflect and look back upon from 
their beginning to be a people ; that is, the time when God 
took Abraham out of his father Terah's idolatrous family, to 
make him the head of a people, among whom there should be 
a plantation and nursery of true religion, from age to age, till 
the fulness of time. It was but a few hundreds of years, of 
which Joshua puts them upon the review ; when he calls upon 
them to reflect upon, and look back to the years of former 
times. We have a far longer time to reflect and look back upon. 
Ours is a country severed and distanced, as you know from the 
rest of the world ; 

JLtpenitus toto divisos orbe Britannos,* 

and we are at so remote a distance, that it is to be reckoned 
among the miracles of providence, that the gospel and Chris 
tianity should visit our island so soon. 

It is true, the history of so early times is so much the more 
uncertain ; but such as it is, it makes Britain to begin to be 
christianized even in the first century, and as some have re 
ported by the ministry of Joseph of Arimathea, who had been 
under the ministry of our Lord himself, as the Teacher come 
forth from God. John. 3. 2, And though afterwards this 
island of ours was invaded, first by one pagan, then by another ; 
still Christianity kept its footing, so as never to be extinct. 
And when at last the romish apostacy and corruption had spread 
itself, here did more ancient primitive Christianity contend 
long against it ; and with that steadfastness, and earnestness, 
that they found it impossible to make proselytes without making 
martyrs, even in those early days, And after a more general 
night of popish darkness had spread itself over this land of ours 
(then unhappy indeed, as the greatest part of the Christian world 
was) the dawnings of renewed light were earlier with us, than 
with a great part of the rest of Europe, where the reformation 
has obtained. We may count above three hundred years back 
ward, wherein there was most express opposition among us, 
by the bright light which then shone against the worst 
of the popish abominations. And when that light was grown 
brighter and brighter, unto a more perfect day ; by what won 
ders of providence has our day been prolonged and the light of 
it extended for so long a space ! With how indulgent an eye 
has heaven watched over us to prevent the return of that en 
chanted night and darkness, out of which we had escaped ! what 
designs have there been prevented from time to time, to bring 

* Virgil Eel. 1.67. 


us back again under both a darkness and a bondage worse than 
Egyptian ! 

And it is admirable to see and take notice, how providence 
hath signalized the very seasons of our deliverance from those 
dark and horrid designs, which have been set on foot against 
us ; that he should also twice put such marks upon such a year, 
and such a day ; upon the year eighty-eight in one century af 
ter another, and twice upon the fifth of November in the same 
century ; and at length draw two ancient mercies to meet to 
gether, as it were, upon one day, and in eighty-eight. This 
seems to be an artifice in wise providence to accommodate itself 
to our unapprehensive, and less retentive minds; that he 
should so mark out for us times and seasons, that when such 
a year, and such a day reverted, we might recollect ourselves 
and consider, and also those that shall come after us : t( Oh, 
how hath God signalized these days, by special favours and 
kindnesses to England ! and all aiming at one mark, that is, to 
keep us safe from that popish delusion and all the abomina 
tions which it sheltered, that he had before delivered us from ; 
that we might not be brought back again, and return into so 
dismal, so gloomy, and so imbondaged a state. 

And it concerns us to bethink ourselves as to this our last de 
liverance, now seven years ago the fifth of November 1688 ; in 
what a state of things we then were, and how our matters 
stood when a divine hand was reached forth towards us, to 
pluck us out of the gulph into which we were sinking. We 
are to consider in how prepared a posture all things were for 
our destruction, as to our most principal concerns ; those espe 
cially of our religion, than which we are to count nothing more 
So. The providence of God ordered us the view of our danger ; 
not that it might overtake, or oppress us, or end in our ruin, 
but that it might excite in us so much higher gratitude when 
he should deliver us. That is, in the course of providence he 
let it come to pass, that we should be under the power of a 
popish prince ; intent to promote his own religion : that things 
should proceed so far, as that we should see mass-houses set 
up, even in the very metropolis of England; in this very city, 
Jesuits' schools opened ; colleges in our universities seized, to 
serve the same purpose ; and an Irish army brought into our 
bowels, easily to be assisted, if there should be occasion, by a 
French one ; even when we knew how strict the confederacy 
was between those two princes, and by what methods the latter, 
to wit, the king of France, had been labouring to reduce all 
that were under his government to one religion, namely that of 

And where are they now that dispute whether a providence 


governs this world ? Is there no specimen, no appearance of a 
divine hand in this ? That all the while that mighty French 
monarch was gradually springing up, until at length he should 
appear on the public stage with so aspiring a mind, as to think 
himself capahle of giving law and a religion to all the world 
beside ; as if he was not only greater, and more potent, but 
wiser too than all the rest of mankind, and a better judge of 
religion : I say, that while he was gradually springing up to 
this pitch, God should be forming his own instrument to ap 
pear upon the stage too, when it should be most seasonable ? 
A prince, in such circumstances, and with such inclinations 
too ! formed, and fitted, and placed on the stage, on purpose 
to give check (and we hope mate too) to that ambitious one, 
who made it his business, and doth still 'make it his business, 
to enslave, not only the bodies, but the minds and consciences 
too of all, to whom his power can reach and extend itself! is 
there, I say, nothing of a divine hand in all this ? We know 
indeed what extraordinary, unlimited power could otherwise 
have done ; but God uses to work by ordinary means. And if 
he had not marked out this way, if he had not raised up such a 
one, if he had not had this in his councils ; to wit, " While 
that prince is gradually springing up, whom I design to be a just 
scourge to a wicked European people, I will have one that shall 
spring up by degrees at the same time, that shall prevent his 
being more than a scourge, that though he shall chastise yet he 
shall not destroy." I say if God had not done so, by way of op 
position to those horrid designs that were on foot ; we might 
suppose it as probable a means for any of us to repel the inun 
dation of the sea by our breath, as by any other means in view 
to have prevented a universal deluge of the greatest calamities 
and miseries, all Europe over, that could be thought of or ima 

And if there be a divine hand eminently appearing in all this, 
and in a way of favour, if God hath been doing us, and the 
nations about us good ; all this ought to be acknowledged with 
the most grateful mention, and with hearts full of thanksgiving. 
For, consider, What if this had not been ? Then had there ne- 
thing been in view to prevent our case, long before this day, 
from being like theirs, who professed the Protestant religion 
in France, and in Peidmont. We might come nearer home, 
even to Ireland ; which though we look upon it as a firebrand 
plucked out of the fire, yet we should consider that, and our 
selves as firebrands, not plucked out, but consuming in the 
fire, till we, and our religion, should have been reduced to 
nothing. If we would urge our own souls to a grateful com- 

VOL. vi. 2x 


memoration of the goodness God hath shewn, and the great 
things lie hath done for us ; we should, I say, state the case 
so as it would have heen, if these things had not been wrought, 
and done for us. 

Think then, what would have been our case ! to be dragoon 
ed out of our habitations, our estates, and our families j out 
of our religion, our consciences, and eternal hopes, if we had 
not patiently comported with the former, to save the latter 1 
And whereas the case of our brethren in France was such, that 
they had some refuges, some retreats, and knew whither to go ; 
yet if the overflowing calamity had deluged all, us as well 
as them, whither should we have fled ? what retreat should we 
have had ? 

Think we with ourselves, how many peaceful years have 
gone over our heads ! Think too by what miracles of providence 
our state hath been preserved these several successive years ! 
seven years past, and how much more than seven might we 
look back upon ! One valuable life indeed (most valuable ! and 
of precious savour) hath been plucked away from the throne ;* 
but the other is preserved : and by how slender a thread doth 
so great a weight hang, and depend, as our visible All ! How 
strangely is that life preserved from year to year ! so as that 
after every campaign, we have, as it were, a king given us 
anew, as by a resurrection from the dead. Through so many 
surrounding deaths is he kept, and still from time to time re 
turned, and brought safe back again to us ; whereas the con 
tinuation of such a thread by moments, hath so great a weight 
hanging upon it, that if there had been an intercision, as there 
might have been in a moment, it is inexpressible, yea incon 
ceivable, what miseries might have come upon us. Though, 
as was said before, we are not to measure or circumscribe om 
nipotence, but we are to speak and judge of things according 
to the appearance, which they carry to our view j who are not 
expected to judge with the judgment of God, but with the 
judgment of men, of what is obvious to our notice. And upon 
all these accounts we have cause to own even with the most 
sincere gratitude, that God hath all this while been doing 
us good, and has done it of his own good pleasure, and in 
very peculiar kinds and respects. But then, 1 must come to 

2. Pait too, that I may be just to the truth and to you, to 
shew how vain a thing it would be (though we are obliged to 

* Queen Mary, who died universally lamented, December 23, 
lGc,4 ; ia the 33d year of her age. 


acknowledge, and indeed to own it with the greatest gratitude, 
that God hath been all this while doing us good ; yet, 1 say, 
how vain it would be) thence to conclude ourselves secure from 
destroying judgments, and consuming wrath ; if still we gross 
ly revolt from God, and generally offend against that goodness 
itself. And to this purpose let us, 

(1.) Cast an impartial eye upon our own provocations ; and 
see what matter for divine displeasure, there is to be found 
among us. Certainly there is what may equal that of this peo 
ple, who are our present exemplar. It may be some may say, 
" We are not for serving strange gods, as they did." But pray, 
how many are there who are for worshipping no God at all ! 
Set the atheism of the one, against the idolatry of the other. 
And were the Israelites for worshipping strange and false gods ? 
O, what multitudes among us are there, who cannot be sup 
posed to be less guilty for their slight and careless and trifling 
worship of the true God ; while they acknowledge and own him 
in all the perfections and excellencies of his being, which ex 
alt him far above all blessing and praise ! who come to wor 
shipping assemblies with as slight minds, as others carry with 
them to the play-house ! O, what provocation is there in this ! 
How provoking is their wickedness, who deny the Lord that 
bought them ! who contend even against his Deity itself, his 
All ; who is to us our All in all, and upon whom our eternal 
hopes depend ! How horrid is it to consider the gross immor 
alities that shelter themselves among us under the abused, and 
usurped Christian name ! So that the justice, the honesty, the 
temperance, the veracity, which were to be found among pa 
gans should be, from time to time, produceable to rebuke and 
shame us for their contraries, which we allow ourselves in, 
while we call ourselves Christians ! Are not these high and 
great provocations ? And then, let us hereupon consider, 

(2.) What pretence have we to think ourselves secure from 
vindictive severities, or that wrath should not come upon us, 
even until it consume us, after God hath done us so much 
good? Is his doing us good, or his having done us good, 
any security ? Pray let us weigh some considerations with re 
ference to this. 

[I.] How was it any security to the Jews ? Do not we find, 
notwithstanding all the good which God had done for them, 
that yet there were times and seasons when their armies were 
routed, that they could not stand before their enemies ? When 
their ark, in which they gloried (that peculiar symbol of the 
divine presence) was made a captive to their enemies, and ra 
vished away from them by paganish hands ? Was there net a 


time, when notwithstanding all the good which God had done 
them, the Assyrian power sacked and enslaved their country, 
and they were carried away even beyond Babylon ? Did all the 
good, which God had formerly done them, protect their coun 
try from invasion ; their great city, which was the glory and 
praise of the earth, from being plundered and ravaged; their 
temple, one of the wonders of the world, from being turned 
into a ruinous heap ? Again let us consider, 

[2.] Can we pretend any antecedent right to any of those 
favours, by which our state is distinguished from others, who 
have been most miserable round about us ? Can we pretend any 
better right than the Jews had ? They had a right by promise, 
we have not a right so much as by promise. Did God ever 
promise us that we should have peace in our own bowels, when 
the nations round about us should be involved in blood and 
ruin, and this for seven years together ? This people had what 
they enjoyed by promise ; but so conditional, so limited, as 
not to be a bar against such vindictive judgments, as did ac 
tually befall them : but we have not so much to say as that. 
We have no such prior right to our enjoyments, as that we can 
say, if such and such judgments should befall us, God would 
do us wrong ; that if he should let our houses be burnt, our 
goods rifled, and ourselves come under oppression, bonds, ty 
ranny, slavery, we should be injured, and wrong would be 
done to us by the common Ruler of the world. Dare any of us 
be so hardy as to say so ? If we should, that alone would be 
provocation enough to bring the utmost of divine severities upon 
us ; for we can claim no such right without invading his, who 
is the common Lord of all. And again, 

[3.] Let it be considered, whether it is not very apparent 
that God hath done us all that good, all the while, which we 
have been the continual subjects of. Was it not all from him? 
Is it not he that protected our peace and religion hitherto ; and 
kept off from us calamities and miseries, wherein others are 
involved ? If we should deny that God hath done all this for 
us, even that itself were enough to give him matter of most 
terrible controversy against us. But, 

[4.] If we do grant, that God hath done all this for us (ex 
empted us all this while from miseries and ruins, put us under 
his protection, and that shadow, which his wings have spread 
over us ; if we will grant, I say, that God vouchsafes us the 
mercy of all these years, which we have enjoyed) then let us 
consider, whether we must not apprehend him to have had 
some end, in such peculiar vouchsafements of favour to us. Is 
ke indeed most infinitely wise, and in all respects the most ab- 


solutely perfect ? And what ! can he act without design ? Can 
he in so distinguishing a way have shewn favour to us, and not 
to others, as it were by casualty ? or without saying, " So I 
will do. When I suffer such and such miseries to fall upon a 
people, professing my name, in France, in Hungary, in Pied 
mont, in Ireland, and elsewhere ; yet I will cover and shelter 
those who profess my name in England ?" Do we think this was 
without design or end ? 

[5.] If there be a design, if God aims at some end in all this, 
let it be considered^ whether it is not an end worthy of him 
self ; an end that was suitable to the wisdom, the excellency, 
and greatness of a God ? And if so, then 

fG.] Consider, whether we can suppose it to be an end wor 
thy of God, and suitable unto his universal perfection, only to 
gratify our inclination, by keeping off such and such miseries 
and calamities from us ; when he hath not done it from others, 
round about us. Why was it more worthy of God to gratify 
the desires, and inclinations in this kind, of an Englishman, 
than of a Frenchman, or an Hungarian, and the like? Was his 
end only, that he might not disturb and disquiet a people un 
willing to be disturbed, and not patient of molestation ? Was 
this his end ? But 

[7-] If his end was higher and more Godlike, that is, that we 
might have a peaceful opportunity of enjoying the gospel, 
and improving it through such a tract of time ; then let us con 
sider, whether we have answered this end. Where are our 
advances ? where is our profit ? wherein is it to be seen that 
such apeople have, for seven years together, lived under a peace 
ful state, and dispensation of the truth, and ordinances of the 
everlasting gospel ; which with others have been discontinued, 
and with many actually broken off? Pray, where is the diffe 
rence ? wherein are we better after all than they ? We have 
experienced God's great goodness ; and may still, if we con 
tinue in his goodness, and be attempered and suited thereto, in 
the disposition of our spirits, but if there is no such thing, 
what comes next but severity ? Behold (saith the apostle) the 
goodness and severity of God ! which are conjoined upon the 
distinct suppositions which are there put in the context Rom. 
11. 22. And in the next place, 

[S.] Let us but consider, whether. we dare, any of us, lay a 
claim as matter of right, unto any of those private temporal 
mercies that we severally enjoy j namely, the health, the 
strength, the competent provisions which we find, and the re 
putation we have in the world, or with one another. Can any 
f us lay a claim to any of these good things, considered in a 


private, or a personal, regard ? If we cannot, then the good 
state of a people, which results from the particular enjoyments, 
accommodations, and comforts, of the several individuals, is ow 
ing entirely to the goodness and mercy of God. And who of 
us can say, " Because I have health this hour, therefore I shall 
certainly have it the next ; I have health to-day, therefore I 
shall have it the next ?" and so on. Can any of us say, "If we 
have peace this month, or this year, that we shall have it the 
next month, or year ? Or, as we have now free opportunities of 
worshipping God, so shall we have in all future time ?" Hovr 
absurd reasoning would all this be ! But then consider, fur 

[9.] That greater miseries, than can be comprehended with 
in the compass of time, are due to every impenitent sinner 5 to 
every one who is not converted, or turned effectually unto God 
in Christ. What do we talk of their not being liable unto the 
troubles, the calamities, and miseries, that lie within the mea 
sure of time ; who, in the mean while, are liable unto eternal 
miseries ? that they are not liable to have their houses, or their 
city burnt, who are liable to that fire, which can never be 
quenched ? and to have it said to them, " Depart ye cursed in 
to everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Mat. 
25. 41. And consider, 

[10.] That they who live under the gospel, and obey it not, 
nor comply with the gracious design of it are every way liable to 
greater severities, than ungospelized nations ever were. Would 
you think it a hard saying, if one should positively determine, 
that London is generally liable to more terrible things, than 
Sodom was, or Gomorrah ? Hath not our Lord himself told us, 
that the people among whom he conversed, of Chorazin, Beth- 
saida, Capernaum, were exposed to worse calamities, than So 
dom and Gomorrah, or than Tyre and Sidon ? Mat. 1 1 . 21 25 
We should consider this, not only with conviction but with 
consternation, to think what we are on this account liable to ; 
as having still such matter of provocation, as you have heard 
found among us. 

And therefore now, since it cannot with the least modesty be 
pretended that we are not liable, because God hath done us so 
much good, to the suffering of such grievous evils, as have been 
mentioned ; as we have in view before us, even in ancient and 
in modern example: if this, I say, cannot with modesty be 
pretended, the most fruitful inquiry will be, how we shall de 
mean ourselves agreeable to the state of our case, as being ex 
posed to the terrible severities of consuming vengeance. Is it 
plain ? doth the thing speak itself, that we are liable to very 


severe consuming judgments ? What shall we do hereupon ? 
how shall we demean ourselves, or what shall be our deport 
ment in this case ? I shall shut up this discourse with a few 
words in answer to this. 

First, Let us not hereupon cease from the most grateful 
acknowledgements of God's great goodness to us, in lengthen 
ing out our tranquillity so far, as he hath been pleased to do. 
For wherein he hath done us good, even freely, and from mere 
good pleasure ; certainly the most grateful acknowledgements 
are due. We are to. give thanks with the most serious grati 
tude for all that good, which we could never claim ; and to which 
we could not pretend that we had any right. But, 

Secondly : Though we are to rejoice in the remembrance, 
and continual observation of God's great goodness, yet we are 
to mingle trembling with rejoicing (" Rejoice with trembling") 
that is, we are to take heed of being secure. Our hearts should 
not be secure, when our state is not. It is unbecoming a pru 
dent and considering Christian (our state being stated as you 
have heard) to admit such a thing as a drowsy slumbering secu 
rity, to enwrap, and stupify his heart ! or that we should be of 
them, that cry peace, peace to themselves, when sudden des 
truction may be at the door. " Therefore let us not sleep as do 
others," lest such a day of calamity should overtake us as a 
thief. It is very unbecoming a wise man to be liable to a sur 
prise, while our case is so stated, standing in view as it doth be 
fore us. 

Thirdly : We should have also inwrought into the temper of 
our spirits, a firm persuasion that God is to be justified, even 
upon the supposition that the most destructive, and consuming 
calamities should befall us. Let this be inlaid deeply as a prin 
ciple with us, if any thing should fall out, or whenever calami 
ties or judgments befall us, that it is our business the first thing 
we do, and shall be continually upon that supposition, to 
say, "Righteous art thou O Lord" ! Jerem. 12. 1. While we 
have no right to be indemnified, he hath a right to punish. 

Fourthly: We should also labour to keep our hearts loose 
from all our temporal enjoyments, and good things ; that they 
may not be torn away from us by violence, but by an impli 
cit, previous consent. "Lord, I have made over my All to 
thee. I have resigned all into thy hands. If it shall make for the 
honour of thy justice, and the dignity of thy government, for 
me to be involved in calamities and ruins (as no one can pre 
tend to claim an exemption) I submit to it ; and lay myself, 
and all at thy foot. I desire that my heart may cleave to no- 


thing against thee, nor against any determination of thine. I 
live in my house, as having no right to it. I go out, as having 
no certainty, or assurance to return. I lie down in it, as if I 
expected to arise in the midst of flames." And so in reference 
to all the temporal good things we enjoy, we should lie before 
him as so many convicted creatures, ready to receive our judg 
ment from his hand. For even his Moseses and his Aarons, 
while he vcuchsafeth them mercy, and a pardon, with respect to 
their eternal concernments ; yet, in reference to their temporal 
concerns, he may take vengeance upon their inventions. Psal. 
99. 8. And in the 

Last place : Make sure your interest in eternal good things, 
by corning to a covenant closure with God in Christ. Then 
shall your hearts not be afraid of the desolation of the wicked 
when it cometh. Then will you be able to apply to yourselves 
that sentence of the divine wisdom, the Son of God (for so we 
are to understand it, the supreme, archetypical, and eternal 
wisdom) " He that hearkeneth to me shall dwell safely, and 
shall be quiet from the fear of evil'*; (Prov. 1. 38,) and so shall 
we have a calm, a quiet, a serenity in our own spirits ; not 
from presuming, or because we conclude we shall not sufter, 
but upon a supposition that we shall : as was said to the church 
of Smyrna. " Fear noneof those things which thou shall suffer." 
Revel. 2. 10. This is the way not to be in an astonishment, 
or confusion at such a time ; having our hearts possessed with 
the faith of such a saying as this, which is surer and more sta 
ble, than the foundations of heaven and earth : When the 
world passeth away, and the lust thereof, he that doeth the will 
of God abideth for ever. 1 John 2. 17 Such a one may say, 
"I shall be unconcerned in the common ruin, when that day of 
the Lord cometh, which shall burn as an oven. When the 
whole hemisphere shall be like one fiery vault burning as an 
oven, I shall not be concerned in this destruction. All that 
have vital union with the Son of God shall be caught up 
to meet their Redeemer in the air, and be for ever with the 
Lord. I can see all this world consumed, and think myself to 
have lost nothing. My good lieth not here. My treasure is 
in heaven, and my principal interest is there." 

Let this matter be once put out of doubt ; and then with how 
cheerful, with how childlike, with how submissive spirits, may 
we expect and wait for the most dismal, and the most dreadful 
things, that can fall out within the compass of time ! 

HpHE following serious and pathetic discourse was preached by 
* the author, at Brixham in Devonshire, when he was about 
twenty-eight years of age ; but upon what occasion is not certainly 
known.* It was communicated to the editor by a worthy gentle 
man in the West of England, who after mature deliberation has re 
solved to give it a place in this collection ; not only because it is well 
calculated to make serious impressions on every reader, but also as 
it is a specimen of the excellent author's manner of preaching in his 
youtb. There is, he thinks, no reason to doubt its being genuine j 
since(to use Dr. Evans's 'expression) it plainly carries in it the marks, 
which to a person of taste always distinguish his performances. 

The following extracts from a few letters, sent to the editor by 
the gentleman, to whom the world is obliged for this excellent di* 
Course, will be sufficient to give an account of it. 

The Sermon (says he) bears date January, 1 658; which, I be-, 
lieve, must be 58-9- For though it is not impossible but Mr. Howa 
might have been at Brixham, in January, 58 ; yet as the protector 
(Oliver) kept him much at Whitehall, it is not so likely to be 
preached then, as the year after : about which time he returned into 
the West.f For though he continued a little while in the same re 
lation to the protector Richard, that he did to his father ; yet Dr, 

"* It is entitled in the manuscript, "A Sermon preached at Brixham the 23d. 
day of January, 1658 ; by Mr. John Howe, a faithful minister of the gospel 
pf Jesus Christ " 

t Meaning to Torrington, in Devonshire. 
VOL. vi. 2v 


Calamy tells us, he cannot find that he continued longer at court, 
than October, 58. 

The copy was transcribed in the year 59. It is exceeding fair, 
and perfect. The spirit and language of it (the discourse) plainly 
evince it to be the production of that masterly hand. The writer, 
who took it after him, does not seem to have dropped any thing, 
whereby the sense is any way maimed ; and has religiously copied it 
out, as appears from the repetitions, which were made for the relief 
of the hearers' memory.* 

Though Mr. Howe has something to the same purpose with part 
of the contents of this sermon, in his treatise on Delighting in God, 
Part II. page 389 3 95, folio edition, f as one might reasonably ex 
pect j yet, though there are some of the thoughts, he has not only 
pursued the subject much farther, but in a very different manner : in 
somuch that there can be no room for saying it is publishing the 
same thing over again, which is an injury some eminent authors 
have suffered after their death. Besides the forementioned place 
there can be no other, where he has any thing so near to the pur 

That which brought our author on this side our country (for his 
charge lay 50 miles distant, to which he was lately returned) was 
his being related to the Upton family, of Lupton j which lies in the 
parish of Brixham, where, " the vanity of man as mortal," took its 

It is very probable, that it was preached at oncej and I have 
calculated on what day of the week, January 23, 1658-9, fell. And 
as D was the dominical letter for that year, the 23d. was a Friday ; 
hut if it was preached in 57-8, as the dominical letter was E, it was 
on a Thursday. So that as it could not be preached en a Lord's day, 
it was therefore most likely preached at once.J To all which the 
gentleman adds the following general remark j the latter part of 
which, at least, is very just. 

Though his style is not so smooth as some, yet it is as intelligible 
as any. And a person has this for his encouragement, that he is 
always sure to find something in Mr. Howe, that is well worth his 

* This discourse indeed abounds with repetitions, more by far than any 
other the editor has seen of Mr. Howe's in manuscript; most of which be 
omitted in his transcript of it designed for the press, and he hopes without the 
least injury to the whole. The sense is entire, and delivered throughout in 
the author's own words. 

t There sterns to be no resemblance, scarcely, in the whole sermon, to 
any thing in the pages here referred lo ; except in page 390: where the text 
is indeed mentioned, and briefly descanted upon, and that is all * 

It is very p*obable it vras preached on a fast-day ; either a private one 
or one of those public fast-days, which were frequently solemnised by autho 
rity before the restoration. 

* VicU vol 2. p. 188, of this edition. 


Psalm V. 17. 

Th wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations 
that forget God. 

T CANNOT spend time in opening to you the connexion of 
these words, with those that go before. In the words 
themselves you have these two things more especially remark 
able j to wit, the description, and the doom of wicked men. 
Their description you have in these words, that they are such 
as do forget God ; and their doom is, that they shall be turned 
into hell. So that accordingly there are two observations that 
offer themselves to our view from this scripture. 

FIRST, That it is the property of wicked men to forget God. 

SECONDLY, That it shall be the portion of wicked men, who 
forget God, to be turned into hell. These two I intend to 
handle together in this order. 

I. I shall shew you what we are here to understand by the 

II. What by forgetting God. And then, 

III. I shall evince unto you, that they are wicked persons, 
who do forget God. And then, 

IV. That such wicked persons shall be turned into hell. 
And so, 

V. Make use and application of the whole together. 

* Preached atBrixbam January 23. lGS8. 




I. I shall briefly shew you what we are to understand by 
these wicked, that the text speaks of. In the 

1. Place, negatively, we are not to understand by the wicked 
here, all persons that have sin in them. There are a sort of 
men in the world, that will confess themselves sinners ; who 
yet dare to acquit themselves of wickedness. Thus David 
speaks ; " I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not 
wickedly departed from my God." Psal. 18.21. Every man, 
that hath sin in him, is not presently a wicked person. 

2. We are not to understand it neither of only gross sinners. 
As we are not to extend the signification of the word, so as to 
take in the former, so nor must we so much narrow it, as to 
take in only the latter. We are not to think that they are only 
spoken of as wicked ones, who live in gross, and profane w iek- 
edness ; so as that every one may characterize and point at 
them as wicked persons. No, there are wicked ones that pass 
under the notion of honest, and good men, according to com 
mon estimation ; and there is such a thing as heart-wickedness, 
which is hidden and concealed from the eyes of the world, so 
as that others cannot take notice of it. 

And therefore, affirmatively, by the wicked here we must un 
derstand un regenerate persons ; whoever they are, that are in 
a state of unregeneracy. Whether they be open and gross 
isinners, or secret sinners only, it is all one for that: if they 
be such as the work of renovation hath not yet passed upon, 
they are those whom this scripture doth here intend by wicked 

II. In the second place we are to inquire what is meant by 
forgetting of God. The character, by which these wicked 
persons in the text are described, is, that they are such as forget 
God. Wherein then does this forgetting God consist ? That 
is what we are next to consider. And in order to find out what 
we are to understand by it, our most direct course will be to 
consider, what is to be stated in opposition hereunto. And it fs 
obvious at first sight, that it is thinking of God ; as not to 
think of God, is to forget him. But here we must a little more 
particularly inquire, What is this thinking of God, to which the 
forgetting him must be understood to be opposed here ? And, 

1 . We are not to understand by it a continual thinking of 
God ; that is, always, every moment, and without ceasing. 
This you may easily imagine to be impossible, and I need say 
no more of it. 

2. Yet, on the other hand, we are not to understand 
by it neither a thinking of God slightly and seldom. Su 
perficial, and overly thoughts of God now and then, may well 


enough consist with that forgetting of God which is here spo 
ken of. 

And therefore, affirmatively, this forgetting of God stands ia 
opposition to frequent and ordinary, serious and heart-affecting 
thoughts of God. That person is here spoken of as a wicked 
man that forgets God, who does not think of him frequently 
and with affection ; with fear, and delight, and those affections 
that are suitable to serious thoughts of God. "How precious 
(says the Psalmist) are thy thoughts unto me O God ! how 
great is the sum of tjiem ! If I should count them they are more 
in number than the sand : when I awake I am still with 
thee." Psal. 139. 17, IS. These thoughts of God, of which 
the Psalmist speaks, are such as God is the object of; as plain 
ly appears from what is added by way- of antithesis, " When I 
awake I am still with thee." My thoughts are ever working 
towards thee, as soon as ever I awake. Now here is this two 
fold character of such thoughts ; to wit, that they are precious, 
and they are numerous. 

(1.) They are precious thoughts; such as affect a man's 
heart, and ravish the soul. Now in opposition to this, per 
sons that forget God have no such thoughts of him ; that is, 
they have no joyous, pleasant, and delightful thoughts con 
cerning God, such as the Psalmist speaks of ; who also says, 
" My meditation of him shall be sweet, I will be glad in the 
Lord." Psal. 104. 34. So that it is such a forgetfulness 
of God, which is here spoken of, that stands in opposition 
to such a remembrance of him as reaches the heart, takes 
the soul, and turns all that is within a man towards God. And 

(2.) They are numerous thoughts, as well as precious ones. 
They are not only sweet and pleasant, but they are frequent 
also. u If I should count them (says the Psalmist) they are 
more in number than the sand." Such are my thoughts of 
God, so frequent and numerous, and they so flow into my soul, 
and so often recur again and again ; that if I go to count them, 
1 may as well attempt to count the sands on the sea-shore : 
how great is the sum of them ! Now it is in opposition to such 
thoughts of God that this forgetfulness must be understood. 
They are forgetful of God; the wicked persons, whom the text 
speaks of, who have not such thoughts of God frequently re 
curring upon their spirits, so as to affect and ravish them, as 
you heard before. And thus you see what this forgetfulness of 
God is, which the Psalmist speaks of. The next thing that is 
now to be done is, 

III. To shew you the connexion between these two things, 


which have been opened to you ; or to evince, that those who 
have no such thoughts of God, as these which we speak of, are 
wicked persons. So you see the text plainly represents the 
matter ; ( ' The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the na 
tions that forget God." Why, to forget God, and to be a wicked 
person, is all one. And these two things will abundantly evince 
the truth of this assertion : namely, that this forgetfulness of 
God excludes the prime and main essentials of religion ; and 
also includes in it the highest and most heinous pieces of wick 
edness and therefore must needs denominate the subject, a 
wicked person. 

1. Forgetfulness of God excludes the chief and main essen 
tials of all religion. I shall instance in a few which you will 
easily discern, at first sight, a forgetfulness of God must ne 
cessarily exclude, As, 

(I.) It excludes the esteem and love of God, as our highest 
happiness, and chief good. It is a plain case, that this is a most 
essential part of religion ; and you will easily acknowledge, 
that he must needs be a wicked man with a witness that doth 
not esteem God, nor love him as his chief good. To esteem 
God as our highest happiness is to take him for our God j and 
the man that doth not this, disowns God as none of his. For 
when you say, " God is our God, and we are his people," what 
do you mean by it ? Do ^ou mean only the name of God, with 
out any relation to him as your chief and highest good ? is that 
all ? Why, if there be any thing beyond a bare name, where or 
what is it ? You must say it is this ; ' God is my portion, hap 
piness and delight ; he it is whom I esteem, and love, beyond 
all the things of this world." Nothing else can be a taking, or 
owning God to be your God. This is the very sum of all that God 
doth require from any people that would be related to him and own 
him for theirGod. "And now Israel what doth the Lord thy God 
require of thee ? but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his 
ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all 
thy heart and with all thy soul." Deut. x. 12. "Otherwise,'' as if 
he had said, you disown all relation to me. " If it be not thus, 
you are never to reckon me as your God. If your hearts and 
souls and strength do not run out in love to me, you are none 
of mine, and I am none of yours." And God is again on the 
same terms with his people. " Hear O my people, and I will 
testify against thee ; O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me : 
there shall no strange god be in thee, neither shalt thou wor 
ship any strange god. I am the Lord thy God, which brought 
thee out of the land of Egypt." Psal. Ixxxi. 8, 9, 10. The plain 
tenourof this scripture is this. "If you will have any thing at all 


to do with me, if you pretend any obedience or affection to me, 
you must take me alone to be your God; you must not entertain 
any strange god ; there must be no god that must be higher in 
your thoughts tl an I, or adored and loved more than myself. 
If it be not so, I there are such among you as will not thus 
hearken to me, I have nothing to do with you." Thus it is evi 
dent, that it must needs be an essential thing in religion for a 
man to love, and esteem God above all things ; he must esteem 
him as his highest, chiefest, and most excellent good : for it is 
such a valuing of God that can alone denominate a man reli 

And now do but a little consider. Do you think it possible 
for such an estimation or love of God, as the highest and chief 
est good, to consist with a forgetting of God ? Can a man for 
get God from day to day, in the sense of the text, and yet es 
teem and love this God as his highest happiness, and chief 
good ? Is this possible ? Can you apprehend it to be possible, 
that a man should place the top of his felicity in God ; and 
love God above all things else in the world ; and yet pass from 
day to day and never think of him with delight and pleasure ? 
Is this, think you, consistent with the esteem of God, as your 
chief good? You cannot be so vain as to think so. That man 
would be hissed at as a ridiculous person, that will say; "What 
I love above all things in the world, I never use to think of. I 
love God better than any thing, but he hath no place in my 
thoughts; I never think of him ; I can pass on from day to day, 
and never have a serious thought of him." Is this possible ? 
You see what the love of God in the soul doth carry in it, 
namely a remembrance of him, in the twenty-sixth chapter of 
Isaiah.(ver. 8.) "The desire of our soul is unto thee, and to the 
remembrance of thy name." That person would be scorned as 
a most absurd wretch, that would ever offer to pretend such 
a thing unto God, as to say, te Lord I desire to love thee above 
all things in the world, and yet I never think of thee; it is very 
seldom that thou hast any place at all in my thoughts." This 
is the most absurd, self-conceited speech that can be imagined. 
None, that have any wit at all, but know that if they have any 
understanding of God, their souls do earnestly and vehemently 
flow forth in love and desires to God. Our Lord says, " Lay 
up for yourselves treasure in heaven for where your treasure 
is, there will your heart be also." Matth. 6*. 20, 21. Lay up 
your treasure in heaven, that is, in God; let God be your trea 
sure. You know what a man counts his treasure : why it is 
that, which is most dear and precious to him ; most valued by 
bini, and loved above all things else. A man will count no- 


thing his treasure, but what he holds in great esteem. Let 
your treasure then, says Christ, be in heaven : that is, let 
God who is in heaven, who there makes known his glorious 
presence, that is enjoyed by saints and angels, and which we 
expect to enjoy ; let him be your treasure. And where our 
treasure is, there will our hearts be. What you esteem and 
love beyond all things, your hearts will be continually working 
to, and your spirits flow that way. Jt is a mere absurd vanity 
to talk of having a treasure in God, if a man's heart be not with 
him. As she said to Samson, "How canst thousay, I love thee, 
when thine heart is not with me." Judg. xvi. 15 ( . So the soul 
is apt to say it loves God, and counts him its treasure, and 
highest happiness, when, alas ! the heart is not with him. We 
find that a light esteeming of God, is the same thing with for 
getting him, and those expressions are used as synonymous by 
Moses. "Jeshurun forsook God that made him, and he lightly 
esteemed the rock of his salvation !" And then presently it fol- 
lows,"Of the rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast 
forgotten God that formed~thee." Deut. 32. 15, 18. Thus to 
make alight account of God is the same thing, as to forget him; 
and therefore that person has never yet set one foot towards 
religion, who hath not yet made God his chief happiness, the 
only joy and delight of his soul. Therefore this is one thing, 
that forgetfulness of God doth exclude the estimation and love 
of God, as our portion and chief good. 

(2.) Forgetfulness of God excludes dependance on God as 
our strength, and the life and stay of our souls ; which is alsa 
a most essential piece of religion. That man knows nothing 
at all practically in matters of religion, that does not live in a 
continual dependance upon God as the life, and strength, and 
support of the soul. They are spoken of as persons who can 
not possibly obtain salvation, while in their present state, who 
are not yet come to that believing in God, which carries the 
whole heart to acquiesce, and rest and centre in God. " Who 
soever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. But 
how shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed ?" 
Rom. 10. 13, 14. Calling upon God is a thing essentially 
necessary unto salvation, and believing in him is indispensably 
necessary unto calling upon him. It is put for the whole wor 
ship of God: and it is impossible for a soul ever thus to call 
upon God ; that is, to worship him, to live subject to him, and 
be devoted and given up to him, who doth not believe in him. 
And this believing in God respects him as the stay, and strength 
of a man's soul. It plainly implies a sensibleness of its being' 
utterly impossible that I should subsist or live without God 3 


and supposes a constant reliance upon him as my God, who is 
my very life and strength. And therefore you find 'how those, 
who do not so, are derided by the Psalmist. " The righteous 
shall see and fear, and shall laugh at him : Lo ! this is the 
man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abun 
dance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wicked 
ness. But I am like a green olive-tree, in the house of God ; 
I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever/' Psal. 52. 6, 
7j 8. The soul that is truly religious is by trust so planted into 
the very mercy of God, as I may speak; that there it is rooted, 
and sprouts as a tree doth, in the soul that bears it. But they 
are outcasts, and a company of profane irreligious wretches, 
that do not thus trust in God, and make him the stay, and sup 
port of their souls. "Lo, this is the man that made not God 
his strength 1" It is remarkable to see in how ludicrous a way 
such persons are spoken of, as if they were to be hissed out of 
the creation. " Lo, there is a man that lives without God! a 
person not fit to be numbered among men ! Away with him as 
a most ridiculous wretch, who thinks to live without staying 
upon God!" 

Trust in God then is essential to religion. And do you think 
that this can possibly consist with forgetting of God ? Can a 
man trust in God, as the stay and support of his life, of whom 
he is unmindful? who can pass one day after another, and 
never vouchsafe him a serious thought ? Trust in God is a 
continual thing. I do not mean that it is to be exercised with 
out intermission, but that it is an habitual dependance. And 
therefore it is said, "The just shall live by faith." Heb. 10. 38. 
We live by breathing, and it will not serve our turn to breathe 
to-day, and live by that breath many days hereafter. No, that 
which we live by is a continual thing. And thus the just shall 
live by a continual reliance and dependance on God ; which 
implies a mindfulness of him. When the Psalmist speaks of 
that trust, which he reposed in God, he speaks of it in this 
language; " I have set the Lord always before me, because he is 
at my right hand I shall not be moved." Psal. 16. 8. Here was 
a continual minding of God. What is it to have God always 
before us, but to have him the prime, and the principal object 
of our thoughts ? so as that there is nothing, on which our eye 
doth so much fix, as it doth on God. And this stands with 
that conjunction, or that dependance which the soul hath on 
God. So again : "Mine eyes are ever towards the Lord, for he 
shall pluck my feet out of the net/' 25. 15. That is, My reliance 
is upon God ; mine eye is continually towards him, and I have 
him ever in my thoughts. It is he in whom I live, and from 
VOL. vi. 2 a 


whom I have all my expectation. Thus it is impossible, that a 
man should be in this sense a religious person who is forgetful 
of God ; since he who thinks not upon him, cannot be suppos 
ed to depend upon him as the life and strength of his soul. 

(3.) Forgetfulness of God excludes also the fear of God; and 
that awful subjection unto his laws and commands, as our rule, 
wherein the soul should continually live : and this is too an es 
sential part of religion, as is well known to all that understand 
any thing of religion. Can he ever be said to be a religious 
man, that doth not live in the fear of God? Why, it is so essen 
tial a piece of religion, that the Scripture doth often call all reli 
gion by that very thing, the fear of God. And hence it is also, 
that you find all wickedness summed up in this very expression ; 
" There is no fear of God before their eyes." Rom. 3. 18. The 
apostle had been describing a wicked man at large, out of some 
of the psalms, (14. 53, &c.) and this is that which he gathers 
up as the whole of that wickedness he had been pointing out ; 
to wit, there is no fear of God before their eyes. They are 
wicked persons with a witness that do not fear God, that live 
without having any fear of God before their eyes. And must 
not forgetfulness of God necessarily exclude the fear of God ? 
What! Can any man be said to fear him, whom he thinks not 
of? to fear God when he minds him not, when he hath him not 
in all his thoughts ? Do but observe the connexion between 
this passage and the eleventh verse of the same chapter, quoted 
out of the psalms. "There is none that understandeth, there is 
none that seeketh after God." It follows " There is no fear 
of God before their eyes/' Indeed it is impossible it should ; if 
they have no thoughts of God, if their minds and understand 
ings be not bent towards him, it is impossible they should fear 
him. What ! fear an unthought-of God ? a God that a man 
does not think of, from day to day ? why, it is an absurd thing 
ever to be imagined. And therefore this is a further thing that 
the forgetfulness of God excludes ; namely, that fear of God, 
and that reverential subjection, that we owe to his laws and 
commands, as the rule of our lives. And then again, 

(4.) It excludes the intention of the honour and glory of 
God, as our end. That man hath no more religion in him, than 
there is in a beast ; who doth not in the ordinary course of his 
life design, arid aim at the glory of God, as the supreme and 
ultimate end of his actions. You know it is that, which is re 
quired and called for from us in every thing we do. "Whether 
ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." 
1. Cor. 10. 31. This is a truth obvious to the understanding 
of every one, that every person who i$ religious, intends and 


designs the honOur and glory of the great God, as the ultimate 
and chief end of the ordinary actions of his life. So as if a man 
should come and ask him, " For what is it that you are going 
about this business, and those affairs j and what end have you 
in what you do ?" he will say, " That I may honour and glorify 
God in so doing." This is religion. So then it is not enough 
to bespeak a man religious, to do things that are in their own 
nature honest and just, and not liable to exception ; but to do 
them designedly for the honour and glory of the great God, 
as his end. Now. do but consider. Can a man do so, and 
not think of God ? Can it ever be rationally said of any one 
of you, that you live from day to day in the service of the great 
God, and to the honour and glory of his great name, as the 
chief and principal thing you design in your whole life ; when 
you do not, from day to day, think of God ? do not from morn 
ing to night take up one serious thought of God ? Why, your 
own hearts will tell you it is utterly impossible : and a man is 
nothing in religion, who does not come up to this ; who does 
not make the glory of God the ultimate end of his affairs, and 
the actions of his life. 

Thus you see that forgetfulness of God excludes the princi 
pal, and essential parts of religion. It implies, that a man doth 
neither esteem, nor value, the all-sufficiency and holiness of 
God, as his happiness and portion ; nor doth he trust in the 
power and omnipotence of God, as his strength and support ; 
nor doth he fear him, nor live in subjection to his laws and 
commands, as his rule ; nor doth he aim at the glory of God, 
as his end : therefore every one who thus forgets God, must 
certainly be a wicked person. 

2. Consider also what is included in this forgetfulness of 
God. As it excludes the main essentials of religion, why so 
truly it does include the most horrid and heinous pieces of 
wickedness that you can think of. I shall instance, very briefly, 
in a few. 

(1.) It includes worldliness and earthly-mindedness. The 
soul, though forgetful of God, is not idle. If God be not the 
object of a man's thoughts and affections, something else is. 
They do not want an object. They find something else to em 
ploy themselves about, when they thus forget God and shut 
him out of their thoughts. For much is evidently implied in 
this scripture : " Many walk of whom I have told you often, 
and now tell you even weeping ; that they are the enemies of 
the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose God is 
their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly 
things." Observe those very persons who are here spoken of as 


minding earthly things, are also said to be such as have chosen 
to themselves another god. Their god is their belly. This we 
are not to understand strictly, but in a large sense ; to wit, their 
sensual appetite. Their belly is their god ; and accordingly 
they mind earthly things, and their hearts are quite taken off 
from God. And do not think this is a light piece of wicked 
ness, to live a whole life's time in this manner ; especially 
under the gospel, and the profession of the Christian name. 
The apostle as it were weeps over it. It is a thing, saith he, 
that I cannot think of without passion and tears ; to see a com 
pany of wretches that call themselves Christians, and profess 
themselves to be so, who yet are the enemies of the cross of 
Christ : they are apparently such, for they mind earthly things. 
This then is one thing that forgetfulness of God includes, name 
ly, earthly-mindedness ; which is the most horrid wickedness 
you can think of, for it stands in most direct opposition to God : 
and therefore covetousness is called idolatry, or a taking ano 
ther god. And then again, 

(2.) It includes enmity against God. It is a plain case : if 
men from day to day forget God, it is because they hate him, 
and cannot endure the thoughts of him. It is expressly spo 
ken of some, that " they liked not to retain God in their 
knowledge." Rom. 1. 28. What is it to retain God in our 
knowledge, but to have frequent actual thoughts about him ? 
such as I have already spoken of, numerous and affecting 
thoughts. This is to retain God in our knowledge. But can 
they be said to do so, who do not think of God i who have 
no actual thoughts of God, from day to day? Arid why is this ? 
Because they do not like them. The thoughts of God are 
grating, grievous, and annoying to their spirits ; and therefore 
it is they do not think of him, because they do not love to think 
of him. This must needs be so, especially considering the 
case of such persons under the gospel. God is ever before 
their eyes, they cannot look any way but they must see God 
shining upon them. He is shining upon them in his creatures, 
in his providences, but especially in the ordinances of the gos 
pel of his Son ; and yet these persons will not now mind God, 
nor take notice of him. What is the reason of it? They do 
not, because they will not : or because their hearts cannot 
bear it. " Oh ! take away God from rny thoughts ! take him 
away from my soul ! It is a burden, a pressure on my spirit ! 
I cannot bear the thoughts of God." Thus says the apostle ; 
"They that are after the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh; 
but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For 
to be carnally-minded is death, but to be spiritually-minded is 


life and peace. The carnal mind is enmity against God." 
Rom. S. 5, 6, 7 Do but observe here : he tells us that they 
who are after the flesh, or carnally-minded, will not mind any 
of the things of the Spirit of God ; and that it is to be resolved 
into this, namely, that a carnal mind is enmity against God. 
And it is a plain case that such a one is an enemy to him. 
Therefore it is, that he minds the things of the earth and of 
flesh; and will not look after God, nor spend any thoughts about 
him. No, he will rather choose to live upon dirt, and feed upon 
trash ; and to spend thoughts and affections, upon things that are 
as vile as earth and dung. And if such persons would but con 
sult their hearts they would find it so. For, alas ! when you 
are alone, and retired, have nothing else to do but to think of 
God (as upon such a day as this especially, when you have no 
other business but to think upon him *\ pray consider, Which 
way do your thoughts run ? can you say, it is God that is the 
object of your thoughts and affections ? that upon such a day 
as this, they are from morning to night taken up about nothing 
else but God? You have nothing else to do but to think of 
God; and if your thoughts decline, and turn aside after co- 
vetousness and the things of this world, what is this but a plain 
enmity against him ? And this is what the hearts of men say ; 
they rather choose the most despicable, base objects to spend, 
their thoughts upon, than about God. And is it, think you, a 
light piece of wickedness for a man to have such an enmity in 
his heart against God ? And then again, 

(3.) In the third place, forgetfulness of God includes in it 
plainly a contempt of him ; or implies that we have a base, 
low, dishonourable esteem of God. It is said (in the psalm 
next to that in which is my text) of the wicked man, that " God 
is not in all his thoughts." Psal. 1.0. 4. The wicked wretch 
passes from day to day, and never affords God a serious thought 
nor allows him a place there. And what is the reason of it ? 
Why the Psalmist puts it plainly upon an open manifest con 
tempt of God. " Wherefore (saith he) doth the wicked con 
temn God ?" Ver. 13. He speaks, as indeed the interroga 
tion imports, with a kind of passion. Oh ! wherefore is it ? 
what heart can think of a reason, why any man should contemn 
God ? In short, their taking low base things into their thoughts 
while they shut out God, plainly proceeds from a contempt 
of him, and because they despise him in their own hearts. 

* This passage makes it very probable, that this sermon was 
preached on one of those Fast-days, which were frequently solem 
nized before the restoration, by public authority. 


(4.) To add no more, forgctfulness of God implies atheism ; 
which involves in it all wickedness, as being the root and bot 
tom of all. Persons who forget God, plainly deny in their 
own hearts, that there is such a one ; who ought to be the 
highest supreme object of their thoughts and affections. This 
evidently appears from the connexion of the beginning of the 
fourteenth psalm, with the following verses. " The fool hath 
said in his heart, there is no God. They are corrupt, they 
Lave done abominable works. The Lord looked down from 
lieaven, upon the children of men to see if there were any that 
did understand and seek God." And the report you have is 
this: "They are all gone aside; they are altogether become 
filthy ; there is none that doeth good, no not one." There is 
not a person to be found among all these wretches that under 
stands, or seeks after God ; or hath any serious thoughts or con 
sideration about him. And what is the reason of all this ? 
Why, like fools as they are, they have said in their hearts, that 
there is no God : and hence it is that their minds and under 
standings have quite forgotten, and given over to look towards 
him ; whereas " he that comes to God must believe that he is, 
and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him.'* 
Heb. 11.6. They are corrupted within themselves, and then 
surmise that there is no such Being to whom they are account 
able ; and therefore they live securely, neglecting and forget 
ting him, from day to day, through their whole life. There is 
also a like connexion in the fiftieth psalm, towards the latter 
end. " These things hast thou done (having summed up a 
great many kinds of wickedness before in the preceding verses) 
and-rl kept silence. Thou thoughtest that I was altogether 
such a one, as thyself; but I will reprove thee and set them in 
order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget 
God !" To deny any of God's essential attributes, is to take 
away his being. To say, that he is not so holy, as to hate sin ; 
that he is not so just, as to revenge and punish sinners ; is to 
say, that he is not. 

Well ! this you see is connected with forgetting of God. 
But this God whom you slight, and make so little reckoning 
f ; this God, I say, will reprove you. And [ pray, consider ye 
that forget God, who have all this while looked upon him, as if 
he was like the idols of this world, that the time is coming when 
he will set your sins in order before your faces. 

And thus I have evinced to you this truth, that they are 
wicked persons who forget God ; which is evidenced thus : to 
wit, forgetfulness of God excludes all religion, and also in 
cludes all wickedness ; and what would you have more ? It 


must needs then denominate such a person, who lives in the 
guilt of it, a wicked person with a witness ; since it grasps 
within its compass all wickedness and shuts out all religi 
on. * 

IV. The fourth thing propounded to be spoken to, was this ; 
namely, That these wicked persons, who thus live in a forgetful- 
ness of God, must be turned into hell. I shall touch briefly 
upon it, and so close with a few words of application. As it is 
the property of the wicked man to forget God, so it must be his 
portion to be turned, into hell. The eviction of this will be 
easily evident from considering these three things only it is 
most consonant to the justice of God that thus it should be 
it is most agreeable to his law : and it is most serviceable to 
feis honour and glory. 

1 . The justice of God doth require this j that those persons, 
who live in this world forgetful of God, should at last be turned 
into hell. If God be just he must deal in this manner with a 
company of rebels ; who never take notice of him all their days, 
and shut him out of their hearts and thoughts. What ! Can 
the highest God, the eternal Majesty suffer such an affront as 
this from base dirt and earth, and never take vengeance ? Is 
God unrighteous who taketh vengeance ? (Rom. 3. 5.) as the 
apostle speaks in this case. No, undoubtedly. But I cannot 
stand now to insist on particulars. 

2. It is agreeable to his law that God should thus punish the 
wicked. It is one and the self-same law that is a rule of duty 
to us, and which by the divine appointment is a rule of judg 
ment unto him. And this righteous law hath determined, that 
they who thus sin, must be thus punished. For this we need 
go no further than the text itself. "The wicked shall be turned 
into hell, and all the nations that forget God/' The law of God 
hath expressly provided in this case ; so that if any man should 
now think to put in his exception against this determination of 
God, alas ! it must be said to him : "Vain wretch, it is now too 
late ! This law was made long ago j before thou wert born, or 
heard of in the world, and ever since the world was. And dost 
thou think a law shall be repealed in a way of favour to a most 
rebellious wretch, which the sovereign eternal God had esta 
blished before the ages of the world ; that it might be a funda 
mental and invariable rule of God's proceedings even to the end 
of it ? Alas ! it cannot be." God hath decreed many thou 
sand years ago this law ; that they who do forget him, shall be 

* If any should find this discourse to he too long to be read at 
*uce, particularly in families, here is a proper resting-place. 


turned into hell without mercy. And if this be their continual 
state and frame without a change, it must needs be thus with 
them. There is no alteration in this case ; for " God is not a 
man that he should lie, nor the son of man that he should re 
pent, (heathen Balaam knew so much of God as that came to) 
hath he said and shall he not do it ? or hath he spoken, and 
shall he not make it good ?" Numb. 23. 19. 

3. And again in the third place, it is most serviceable to his 
glory and honour, that thus it should be ; I mean, that those 
who persist, and go on to the last in a forgetfulness of God, 
should be turned into hell. For what glory hath he otherwise 
of them ? "The Lord hath made all things for himself; yea, 
even the wicked for the day of evil." Prov. 16'. 4. He will 
punish them in the day of judgment, because they are the most 
perverse creatures that ever came out of his hands. He hath 
made them for the day of wrath, as the wise man speaks and 
there is no other way for the Lord to have his honour and glory 
of those persons. * See to this purpose what is spoken in the 
words immediately before the text ; " The Lord is known by 

* The learned author seems, almost every where, to quote texts of 
Scripture with great propiiety, and is generally very happy and judi 
cious in his descants upon them ; of which all his posthumous dis 
courses (as well as those published by himself) are an abundant tes 
timony : notwithstanding the liberty he allowed himself, and the fa 
miliar freedom with which he delivered them, without written notes. 
But the editor is apprehensive, that some may look upon the quota 
tion of this passage from Solomon, as an exception. It must be ac 
knowledged, that these words have often been made use of in favour 
of a very discouraging doctrine : which, above all others tends to 
enervate the force of all the motives and arguments, that can be 
made use of, to engage persons to attend to the exhortations to a 
holy and religious life. And because some may imagine the author 
from his comment on the passage, understood it in the sense here 
alluded to; which is evidently contrary to the general strain, and 
tenour of his sentiments, in all his writings ; it may not be improper 
to endeavour to set it in its true point of light, and to shew in what 
sense the author may be understood. 

It is very true, the glory of God's justice requires (as the author 
bad observed) that wicked men be punished. For to suppose that 
God will make those happy, who live iu a criminal forgetfulness of 
him, is a kind of outraging all his perfections : and no more to be 
imagined tb an that he will make an innocent being, for instance an 
angel that never fell, eternally miserable out of mere sovereignty and 
pleasure. Neither reason, nor revelation represent the Almighty as 
so terrible to the innocent, or so easy to the guilty. But to assert 
tliat wicked men, persisting in forgetfulness of God and a course of 


the judgment which he executeth :" and then it follows, " The 
wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget 
God." And why must this be ? Because God will never else 
be known by them. Here they live so many years in the world, 
and God shows himself by his creatures, by his providences, 
and by his ordinances ; and they will take no notice of him : 
they spend away their days, and allow God none of their 
thoughts. " I cannot be regarded by these creatures (saith 
God) they do not regard, nor take notice of me. Well ! I shall 
take my leave of them. When they come to be turned into 
hell, and to fall under the pressures of everlasting wrath and 
misery, then they will not forget God ; then they will know 
the God, they never knew before ; then they will remember 
him, though now they never think of him. Let them now try 
(saith God) whether they will forget me, now that I have them 
under my wrath and vengeance. While they are in this world, 
they banish me out of their hearts, and thoughts : I cannot get 
one spare thought from them from one day to another ; but 
when they come to feel me, and the power of my anger, they 
will then know that, which they would never know before." 
Thus you see, that God's justice, his law, and his glory require, 
that those wicked persons who forget God should be turned 
into hell. 

V. I shall close all with some few words of application, 
1. We may hence learn, that religion consisting of mere ex 
ternals will never save any man. A person may be a wicked 
man, and liable to be turned into hell, notwithstanding any 
religion that lies in mere outside shew. You see this plainly, 

ain, will be punished in the day of wrath 3 is to assert a very great 
and awful truth, and very probably is all that the author meant by 
this passage. But however, as the learned bishop Patrick observes, 
the sense of the place seems to be this ; that God makes use of 
wicked men, as well as all things else, to answer the ends of his 
providence in this world. As for instance ; by the ambition of ty 
rants he inflicts those calamities, which he designs upon a wicked 
nation or people. But the sense after all needs not to be so con 
fined. God has made all things for himself ; or, as the words may 
be rendered, he has made all things to correspond, or answer to each, 
other : yea even the wicked for the day of evil. That is, not only to 
be his scourge or instrument of bringing calamities upon others in this 
life, but has suited and proportioned the punishment of evil men to 
their deserts ; or has settled the connexion between vice, and misery 
in the world to come : just as he has fixed the relation of virtue, to 
future happiness ; or, as it is elegantly expressed, made righteous 
ness and peace to kiss each other. 
VOL. VI 3 A 


that men are liable to be turned into hell for their forgetfulness 
of God. Why, a man may forget God, and yet live tinder or 
dinances, and under the gospel. A man may forget God, and 
yet may be a moral man ; and just and righteous in his deal 
ings among men. And therefore, it is nothing that lies in 
mere externals, that will either denominate a man religious, 
or that will save him from perishing. A man may go to the 
utmost extent of all outside religion, and yet forget God ; be 
wicked all the while, and so turned into hell at last. And 
therefore, it is a vanity for men to deceive themselves into a 
hope, that all is well with them ; and that all shall go well with 
them at last, because they are professors, and enjoy gospel 
privileges ; or that because no man can challenge them with 
fraud, injury, or wrong done to their neighbours. It is a 
vain thing for them to think that therefore they are safe, and 
in no danger. They are all the while forgetters of God, and 
that is enough to bespeak them wicked ; let them in other 
respects, be what they will. And therefore you are to know, 
that it is not taking up a profession, or this and that form of 
religion, that will entitle a soul to glory and salvation at last ; 
but it must be the having of such a work done upon the heart, as 
will turn the stream of a man's soul towards God, and carry 
his thoughts and affections after him. It is this or nothing, that 
must make you Christians, and save you from hell. 

It is but too common a vanity in these days, wherein we 
live, for men of carnal hearts and corrupt minds ; that could 
never endure to be at the pains and expence to wait upon God 
in the way of his ordinances, in order to have their hearts thus 
changed and turned unto God : it is, I say, a common vanity 
with such persons to think that all their business, in order to 
secure themselves and provide for their own safety and welfare, 
is to take up a certain form of worshipping and serving God. 
Alas ! a man may perish, and go to hell, whatever form he is 
of, if he has a carnal heart ; a heart that doth not delight in 
God : this will be sufficient to damn a man at last, let him 
take what course, or be of what religion he will. And it is a 
plain case, it speaks an unsound, shifting heart, which cannot 
endure that such a work as this should be done, but slinks away 
from it. Such are pinching and galling ways; and therefore 
they seek for ease and rest, some other way, and for a cheaper 
method of getting to heaven ; as if going into such a party 
would save a man. Why, alas ! it will not do it. It must be 
a change wrought upon the heart and soul, that will take it off 
from this world, and pitch it upon God ; if we would have an 
interest in him, or live in his blessedness another day. There 


are those, who are like the persons saint Paul speaks of to 
Timothy. "The time (says he) will come, when they will not 
endure sound doctrine ; but after their own lusts shall they heap 
to themselves teachers, having itching ears ; and they shall 
turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto 
fables. 2 Tim. 4, 3, 4. Thus it is with many wretched souls 
in the ways of God : while they have been walking in them, it 
may be they have been barren and unfruitful, through their car 
nal hearts, which cannot endure to have any tiling done to the 
purpose; therefore they desire to find an easier way than this. 
They run to other teachers, having itching ears ; and think of 
going to heaven upon other terms, by only taking up other 
forms, and changing the way of their religion. This speaks a 
heart to be unsound ; as it is a sign of an unsound body, that 
can rest itself in no posture, but lies tumbling and tossing in 
the bed. It hath rest no where j when it hath rolled one way 
to another, it must come back to the same pitch and posture, it 
was in before. Why, the man is not well ! alas ! the fault is 
not in the bed, but the body ; it is because the body is not well, 
but unsound and unhealthy, that it cannot rest. And so men 
under the ordinances of the gospel dispensation cannot find rest 
to themselves. They cannot indeed find fault with them ; but 
they have fleshly carnal hearts, that cannot endure any thing 
should be done to change, and turn them unto God ; and there 
fore they seek out new ways, that they may get to heaven in a 
cheaper, and easier manner. And if such souls have a mind to 
go in those ways, that were never known or heard of before, for 
so many years, they will not find what they seek. For, alas ! 
a carnal heart will carry its own pest, and trouble about it, 
wherever it goes : and they will be forced either to say at last, 
the old way of real religion is best; or else they will cast off all 
religion, and there will be the end, as experience in this case 
doth abundantly witness. 

2. As this plainly instructs us, that religion, lying in exter 
nals only, will never save a man ; so it informs us also, that 
wickedness, lying in the heart and thoughts, will abundantly 
suffice to damn a man. And this is no strange doctrine ; at 
least it should not seem to any that have ever read the Bible, 
and know what belongs to true religion. Do not you know, 
that the heart and the thoughts are the prime and principal 
spring of that wickedness that ruins souls and turns them into 
hell for ever ? " Out of the heart (says Christ) proceed evil 
thoughts ; (Matth. 15. 19.) and these speak a man defiled, make 
him wicked, and turn him into hell at last." Observe also 
this scripture : " O Jerusalem wash thine heart from wick 
edness, that thou mayest be saved : how long shall thy vain 

364 THE WICKED (sER. Xllf. 

thoughts lodge within thee?" Jerem. 4. 14. Wickedness and 
vain thoughts here are parallel expressions, which expound one 
another. That wickedness, of which the prophet speaks, con 
sists in the vanity of the thoughts : and those are a man's vain 
est and most wicked thoughts, that run beside God j and have 
not him for their object, nor terminate upon him. Therefore 
wash thine heart from this wickedness, for certainly else there 
will be no salvation for thee. Alas ! thou art a damned man, a 
lost creature, if thine heart be not washed from this wickedness 
of the thoughts. " Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, 
and pray God if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be for 
given thee." Acts 8. 22. In short, to exclude God, out of our 
thoughts, and not to let him have a place there ; not to mind, 
nor think upon God ; is the greatest wickedness of the thoughts 
that can be. And therefore, though you cannot say of such a 
one, he will be drunk ; or he will swear, cozen, or oppress ; 
yet if you can say he will forget God, or that he lives all his 
days, never minding nor thinking upon God ; you say enough 
to speak him under wrath, and to turn him into hell without 

3. If they are wicked persons, who do not think of God, and 
shall for that reason be turned into hell, then all thoughts are 
not free ; that is, men are not at liberty, as they vainly imagine 
to dispose of their thoughts as they will. Alas ! the case is 
quite otherwise than what many poor wretches imagine. They 
go up and down in the world, never minding God from day to 
day, and they think this is no sin ; saying, " Why, what is 
this ? It is but the disposing my thoughts ; and surely I may 
do what I will with my thoughts. What matter is it what be 
comes of them ?" But saith God ; " What is there else that I 
value more, or set a greater price upon, than the thoughts and 
affections of the soul ? I must have them or nothing. So, be 
what thou wilt in profession and pretence; yet if I be not in 
thy thoughts, if I be forgotten by thee, I will look upon thee 
as a wicked person, as one that shall be turned into hell." 
Truly, if the case be so, you must learn to correct that foolish 
imagination, that your thoughts are free ; or that you may use 
them as you please : and know, that if men will give him no 
place there, this is a desperate, horrid, wickedness, that the 
great God will be avenged upon one day. 

4. Since the case is thus, that wicked men, and all those 
who forget God, shall be turned into hell ; we may learn 
hence, that there are but few that shall be saved. Do but 
weigh the case seriously, and consider with yourselves, how 


few there are that so live, or in the face of whose conversations 
it appears, that their hearts are set upon God ! whose minds 
are taken up about him, walking up and down the world from 
morning to night, rejoicing and delighting themselves in God! 
Oh, how few such there are ; and consequently how few that 
are not wicked, and shall not be turned into hell at last ! My 
friends, God doth not dally with us in such scriptures as these. 
They are plain words which are here spoken, and we may turn 
off the edge of them from rending and cutting our hearts if we 
will ; but one day w.e shall hear what we are told, and read also, 
that, "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations 
that forget God." We may therefore easily learn from hence, 
that going to heaven is not so common a thing as most men 
take it to be. Alas ! it is not, if the word of God be true. It 
will be found, that going to hell will be much more ordinary 
among men {hat live under the gospel, than going to heaven. 
For it is said, they shall he turned into hell that forget God. 
Now, are not these plain words ? Do they not evince and de 
monstrate that a great part (alas ! the greatest part) are hurry 
ing into hell apace ? And is it not sad and miserable to think, 
that poor souls should thus spend all their life-time, under a 
gospel of grace ? and that so much light and love should shine 
from heaven in vain ? It should not be thought of, without pain 
and agony, that men should thus perish ; that there should be 
so few saved from hell and destruction, notwithstanding they 
are under a gospel of light and salvation ! The truth I am 
upon is intimated in part of the message to the church of Sar- 
dis. " Thou hast a few names even in Sardis, which have not 
defiled their garments ; and they shall walk with me in white ; 
for they are worthy." Rev. 3. 4. Alas ! how few are there, 
how few amongst a whole assembly and congregation of people 
that keep themselves from pollution through lusts ? How few 
names are there to be found in an assembly, who come under 
the character of persons that have not defiled their garments? 
or, of those who have numerous thoughts of God from day to 
day ? How few are there, that do not come under the charac 
ter in the text, of being forgetters of God ; and so of such 
as must be turned into hell ? It concerns us all to be serious in 
thinking upon this matter. God hath been serious in revealing 
this truth to us ; and his Spirit is poured out for the confirming, 
establishing, and pressing it upon your hearts and spirits, who 
ever you are ; and therefore think well of it, and consider se 
riously how few good men there are, who shall finally be 


5. You may hence learn also, that God hath an inspection 
into, and a full knowledge of, the hearts and thoughts of men. 
This is evident, for you see he makes his judgment upon what 
lies within the inward man ; and his judgment at last will pro 
ceed upon the same ground. " I must have those turned into 
hell (saith the Almighty) who never think of, nor remember 
their God : they must undergo my wrath that have thus for 
gotten me." Now if God's judgments must be thus deter 
mined upon what is in the heart of man, then he knows your 
hearts ; and also what you do with your thoughts from day to 
day. His eye is upon your souls and spirits; and sees all the 
day long which way your affections lie, and which way they are 
carried: and it is by this, he must guide his judgment at the 
last day. Thus says the Psalmist ; " He that planteth the ear 
shall not he hear ? He that formed the eye shall not he see ? He 
that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? He that 
teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know ? The Lord know- 
eth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity." Psal. 94. 9, 
10, 11. He knows well all the vanity of your spirits, 
though you may not observe it. His eyes are observing us 
all the day long, especially on such a day as this ; and ac 
cording to the observation he makes, he must judge us at 
the last day. And therefore he must be supposed to have a 
full, and perfect understanding of all things ; so as to be 
able in that day to lay out before a man the wickedness of his 
whole life ; to spread before him the vain and wicked, the 
sensual and earthly thoughts, which he was perpetually ex 
ercised in; and of which his carnal heart was the continual 
tomb. And this cannot be a -more difficult than it is a ne 
cessary thing to him, who must search the hearts, and try the 
reins, that he may judge accordingly at the last day. And 

6. And lastly, we may learn hence, that it is not an impossi 
ble nor difficult thing for wicked men to know themselves to be 
such; and to make a judgment of their own estates Godward. 
For you see, they have a plain rule to judge by; namely, this 
truth : He that forgets God is a wicked man ; and he is a 
wicked man that thus forgets God : and he that forgets God 
must be turned into hell, I pray now do but consider, and 
think with yourselves. Is it so difficult or impossible for a 
man to know, what is the ordinary course of his own thoughts ? 
You may easily know if you will, at least the generality of you 
may know, what the current of your thoughts is ; and so far 
make a judgment of your estate accordingly. This we must 
needs acknowledge. For those men who are carnal and earth- 


ly, their hearts tell them they have not a thought of God, from 
day to day, from week to week, from year to year. Such per 
sons cannot be so brutish and absurd, but they may know it, if 
they will, especially if they will take God's word. If not, let 
them see whether they can have any surer rule that cannot de 
ceive. But if they will take God's word, they cannot but see 
that they are those persons who are wicked, as they are forgetful 
of God : and upon that account must be turned into hell at last. 
My friends ! if we do not study wilfully to ruin ourselves, is it so 
hard a matter for a man, a reasonable man, to sit down at night 
and consider, " Whither have my thoughts been this day ? 
Who hath had my thoughts most ? What have I taken most 
pleasure in this day ? Is it in God ? hath he been so delightful 
and so pleasant, and the remembrance of him in my heart and 
soul, as the pleasures and comforts of this life have been to me? 
Have I taken so much delight to-day in the law of God, as I 
have in my friends, my riches, and my relations ? And have I 
had that fear of God in my heart, lest I should sin against him, 
as I have had about my business and affairs, lest they should 
miscarry ?" Is it impossible, I say, for a reasonable man thus 
to consider, from day to day, whither hath been the course of 
his heart and thoughts ? And if he find it is thus with him ; 
that he lives without having a thought of God, that may stay 
his heart, and ravish his soul ; how obvious then is it, that he 
is a wicked wretch ! that the wrath of God pursues him ! and 
that he must be turned into hell, without remedy, if this con 
tinues to be the state and condition of his soul ! Consider this, 
and give me leave to close up all, with one word of counsel and 
advice, to such persons as these : and may it be acceptable to 
your hearts ! 

(1 .) Own your state and condition. If the case be thus, as 
you see it is, that they are wicked persons who forget God, and 
that such shall be turned into hell ; why, look into your own 
hearts, and see whether they are not forgetful of God. And 
when you find that it is thus with you, let your judgment pass 
upon your souls and say ; "My wretched and undone soul ! 
thou art that soul whom this law condemns ; whom this judg 
ment convinceth as guilty of this wickedness against God, and 
liable to his vengeance upon this account !" Therefore I say 
own your estate. It is no difficult thing for you to know it. 
Say then, " 1 am the person whom the word of God condemns : 
I am under the curse as a person that has forgotten God, and 
must be turned into hell upon this account, if it thus continue 
with me." But this is not all. I would not leave a soul in 


this case miserably perishing, and despairing of all possibility 
of being saved ; but however know that you cannot be saved 
while it is thus with you, and while your hearts are thus fram 
ed and turned from God. Therefore, 

(2.) Labour forthwith to have the course and stream of your 
spirits turned towards God : otherwise, all your hopes of being 
saved are quite t?V.en away. There is no possibility of your 
salvation, till your carnal earthly hearts be changed. Consider 
and believe it, there are but these two things ; either a change 
of heart, or ruin. And therefore labour, I say, to have the 
course of your thoughts turned about, and directed forthwith 
towards God, without any more delay. 

And in order to this, you must in the first place endeavour to 
get a right and distinct knowledge of God; otherwise you can ne 
ver think rightly of him. Study his word; labour to know what is 
there discovered of his justice, righteousness, holiness, and 
power ; of his goodness, and his love. Take in the whole com 
pass of the discovery of God, to make up the object of your 
thoughts ; otherwise you do nothing ; your thoughts will pitch 
upon some other thing, besides God. If you take in but part 
of the attributes of God, that is not God. Jt will be some idle 
fancy that you take in, and not God, if your thoughts are 
not so comprehensive as to take in the whole discovery of 
God in those several attributes, by which he makes himself 

And then in the next place you must labour to have a work 
of sanctification, and regeneration, wrought upon your own 
hearts. As there must be a right stating of the object, so there 
must be a right framing of the subject too ; otherwise it will 
be to no purpose. If there be not a change wrought in the 
very inward of your souls, so as that your hearts be turned to 
wards God ; to love, and delight in him, with all your soul, 
and strength; alas! your thoughts of God will not be voluntary, 
but forced : they will never be free, pleasant, and delightful. 
And therefore you must often go to God, and cry to him, and 
say ; " Lord, I see my thoughts run from thee! I cannot think 
of God at any time with pleasantness. Sanctify this heart ! 
turn it to thyself ! else I am lost, and shall be turned into 
hell." Cry thus unto God mightily, and incessantly, till you 
find such a work done upon your souls ; for that is the only 
thing that will procure a freedom, and facility of thoughts, 
towards God : those holy, pleasant and delightful thoughts 
of which a sanctified heart will be a continual spring and foun 

And to press all this, I will deal plainly with you. If the 


case be thus; if your hearts are not turned, and changed, 
that you may have such thoughts of God as we have been 
speaking of, there is no avoiding the misery threatened in the 
text ; but there must of necessity be an expectation shortly of 
being turned into hell. That must certainly be the portion of 
those persons that forget God. And is that a thing easy and 
tolerable to your thoughts ? Ts it easy and tolerable to you to 
think of being sent into that place of torment, without remedy, 
and without hope ? merely upon this account, because you 
would needs live without God in the world ; and would never 
have your hearts brought towards him ? Many deceive them 
selves with the opinion of a tolerable hell; and therefore, such 
a consideration hath no force upon their spirits in the least. 
But think upon it a little, think what liell is ! Why, it is that 
place of torment, that God himself hath ordained for the pun 
ishment of wickedness and transgression against him. He 
himself is the Author of that state, and of that torment that doth 
belong unto it. It proceeds from almighty power, omnipotent 
wrath and justice. And is that, think you, a tolerable thing ? 
That " Tophet (the hell which the text speaks of) is ordained 

of old the pile thereof is fire and much wood ; the breath of 

the Lord, like a stream of brimstone doth kindle it." Isai. 30. 
33. Is this, think you then, a slight matter, for a man thus to 
hurry and throw away his soul ? thus to suffer himself to run 
into this hell and destruction, and merely because he would 
live without God ; slight, despise, and turn God out of his heart 
and soul, while he is here in the world ? Hell is appointed and 
prepared by God, in order to that just revenge that he must 
take ; and will take upon all those wicked transgressors, that 
have their hearts thus hardened, and shut up against him. 
Alas ! that is a dreadful thing to think of. Revenge ! the re 
venge of a God ! that the eternal and almighty God should 
design such a thing, as the avenging of himself in such a way 
upon wicked men ! O what heart, that is not made of stone or 
a rock, can choose but tremble ? To think, " I shall shortly be 
subject unto the wrath of God, because I have forgotten him, 
and have lived without him in the world ; unless my heart be 
wrought upon, and turned to him as the God of my life ;" how 
dreadful is this ! Let me then recommend to you, in the close, 
that one scripture, partly touched on before, which is at the 
end of the fiftieth psalm. " Now consider this, ye that forget 
God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver." 
Psal. 5T). 22. What ! are those who forget God, wicked per 
sons ? must wicked persons be turned into hell ? is this hell, 
VOL. vi. 3 B 


and is this place appointed for the torment of such wretches, by 
the eternal and almighty God ; that he may take his revenge 
upon them, for their slighting and neglecting of him, or for 
what they have done in this world? Why then consider this, all 
ye that forget God, lest he tear you in pieces, and there be 
none to deliver you. And so much shall suffice to be spoken 
to this text. 












JAMES 2. 19. 




VifHEN the Editor first announced a new edition of the Works 
of the Rev. John Howe, he promised one volume, at least, 
from unpublished manuscripts. The sources whence these are de 
rived, are stated in his preface to the First Volume. His original in 
tention, was to have published the sermons which he obtained from 
the late Rev. S. Palmer, of Hackney, with a selection only of such, 
from Dr. Williains's library, as might appear most worthy of publi 
cation. But, on lurther examination, he found these manuscripts 
to consist chiefly, of a regular course of Lectures on " The principles 
of the oracles of God," which were delivered weekly, and com 
menced in the year 16QO. He therefore determined to publish the 
whole ; a determination which he has no doubt, the religious pub 
lic will approve. 

The Author had, doubtless, intended a complete system of Theo 
logy, though the design does not seem to have been carried fully into 
effect. He has, however, continued a regular course, as far as to 
the consideration of "The general and special grace of God in order 
to the recovery of apostate souls." There are, in the whole, seventv 
Lectures : and about fifty Sermons on the most interesting and im"- 
portant subjects. Of their authenticity, the Editor is convinced 
there will be no doubt entertained by the public, when they are in 
formed, that in. addition to the evidence derived from their preserva 
tion ia a public library, as the works of Howe, some of the lec 
tures and sermons are in his own hand writing, (a fac simile of which 
will be given,) as appears from comparing them with the letters of a 
correspondence between him and the Rev. Mr. Baxter, which are pre 
served in the library. To those acquainted with his former works, 
the internal evidence of these lectures will be conspicuous. The Edi 
tor thinks it not too much to say, they bear all the marks of Howe's 
comprehensive, peculiar, and extraordinary mind. So strikingly is 
this the fact, that had he found them on a desert he conceives he 
could not possibly have mistaken their " image and superscription." 

Chichester, August 16. 1815. 


Heb. 5. 12. 

"Ye have need that one teach you again, which be the first 
principles of the oracles of God ; 

TV/TY design is to open unto you the principles of Christian re 
ligion, and for an introduction hereunto, I have pitched on 
this passage ; without any intention to accuse (much less to 
upbraid) any in particular, with ignorance of those principles : 
but only in the general and indefinitely to shew the necessity of 
their being taught. And considering the matter abstractly, 
without reference to this or that people, or to this or that age, 
whether they be Jewish or Hebrew Christians that did need to 
be so taught; or whether they be English or London Christians 
in particular ; my design is only in general to assert, the ne 
cessity of being taught such principles ; that some time or other 
they be taught and we be instructed in them. And if they 
have been taught, that they be taught again (as the apostle's ex 
pression here is) that you be taught again, taught over and over, 
for these are things that we cannot too thoroughly have learn 
ed, or be too much versed in. 

For the expressions here used, "the oracles of God" and 
" the first principles" of those oracles there is not much of 
obscurity in them. The word rendered oracles, doth by univer 
sal consent (as well in pagan, as Christian and sacred writers,) 

* Preached November 7j 1690. 


signify divine revelations. It was the word among pagans by 
which it was usual for them to express the responses of their 
gods, or those they took to be such. It generally signifies what 
is divinely revealed, or understood, or taken to be so, nor is 
therefore the addition " of God," needless or useless. Such 
pleonasms are ornative of speech, especially when they ren 
der the same tiling more emphatically so, than if there were not 
that pleonastical addition. And besides, inasmuch as there are 
many (as the apostle speaks) that are called gods, and are wor 
shipped as gods, the oracles of God are taken to be from God. 
And when he saith " the oracles of God," (as the article may 
be well held, and often is to be understood emphatically,) it may 
be understood, the oracles of the God. He that is really so 
called, or to be called, and so it is an expression of latitude 
enough to take in what is of natural revelation, and what is of 
supernatural revelation ; for what is of natural revelation is as 
truly from God as the other. All truth is from the first truth, 
there is no beam of light but what proceeds from the Father of 
lights, in whatsoever way it comes. 

And then for the word here rendered principles, that is wont 
to be mentioned in as great latitude as can be supposed : it sig 
nifies all sorts of principles, whether of nature, or of art, or sci 
ence whatsoever : and whereas, the apostle speaks here (as we 
render it) of thejirst principles : literally, it is the principles of 
the beginning, and that imports to us, that he did intend those 
principles in a very great latitude, all from first to last that can 
come under that notion, or within that compass. There is a chain 
or subordination of principles, even in principles themselves, as 
we shall have occasion, more hereafter, to take notice of: there 
are former, and there are latter principles. First principles do 
suppose within this compass, that there may be latter and last 
principles, but plain it is, that the apostle doth here intend prin 
ciples of religion, and chiefly of Christian religion, but not 
solely. That is, principles of Christian religion, partly where 
of it doth consist, and that are peculiar and appropriate to it : 
and partly, such as it doth suppose, such as it doth necessarily 
pre-suppose, that may be common with it, either to the Jew 
ish religion while it was to stand, and that still (as being com 
mon to that religion with Christianity) are to stand ; as what 
soever is common with the Jewish religion, with Christianity 
must be perpetual; or which is common with natural religion, 
which we must understand in nature to be before Jewish or 
Christian. And even in time too, as to positive instruction?, 
that which was natural did precede the other. 

That therefore which I intend to ground upon this passage, 

tsc. i. What they are. 377 

you may take briefly thus That there are principles of religion 
that need to be taught And in pursuance of this I shall 

I. Say somewhat more generally of these principles. 

If. Shew the necessity of their being taught. 

III. Speak something of the way of teaching them : and then 

IV. Make application. 

I Of these principles themselves : I shall shew there are 
such and what they are and of what kind. 

1. That there are such, is a thing without all doubt. There 
is nothing, no created thing but hath its principles : princi 
ples of being there are belonging to it. Every complete sub 
stance that exists in the world, and is a created one, must be 
supposed to have such principles 5 and- hath such generative and 
effective principles, and constructive principles : the princi 
ples from which it did proceed, and the principles of which it 
doth exist. There are also principles of knowledge as well as 
being. There is no piece of knowledge, no sort of science, but 
hath its principles as you all know. And therefore religion, 
Christian religion, theology, Christian theology must have it's 
principles too. It is a science, a practical one and of most 
absolute and universal necessity, and its principles must there 
fore be supposed of the most absolute and universal necessity 
too. Every piece of knowledge is not every one's business; but 
this is every one's business, to know God, to know how he 
may be saved, how it may be well with him to eternity. 

2. But what are these principles? It is my present business to 
tell you of what sort they are. What they are particularly, that 
we must do by degrees as we come to them. Now you may 
judge of what sort they are by what the apostle mentioneth in 
this context ; and by the reference this passage, in the begin 
ning of the 6th chapter, hath to that we are upon, we must sup 
pose him to be still speaking of the tirst principles of the ora 
cles of God. It may be thought strange that he should men 
tion here things so small in their own nature as baptisms (not 
baptism but baptisms) and the laying on of hands, as if they 
were to come into the number of the first principles : not of 
principles only, but of the first principles. 

To this 1 shall only say, I cannot think that was at all meant 
by the apostle, that they should be so taken for aoy of those 
principles. You are to consider to whom the apostle writes 
this epistle, namely to the Jews. These two, baptisms and the 
laying on of hands were anciently and (as we know) originally 
Jewish rites, transferred into the Christian church afterwards. 
And so the meaning of the apostle is only this 3 " I will not 

YOU VI t 3 C 


stand to lay again the foundation of repentance from dead works, 
and of faith towards God, especially not to you who have been 
instructed in these things all along so distinctly, they being 
nothing else but the doctrine of baptisms, and the laying on of 
hands ;" and then goes on to the other two : that baptisms and 
laying on of hands did continually instruct them (as usages that 
did obtain among themselves) as to repentance from dead works 
and faith towards God, as it is here expressed. And so these 
words are very fitly to be rendered by way of parenthetical op 
position to those that do immediately go before, that is, " not 
laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and 
faith towards God, (being the doctrines of baptisms and laying 
on of hands, or the things which baptisms and the laying on of 
hands, heretofore so frequently used among you, did signify) or 
the resurrection of the dead or of eternal judgment." So there 
are but four mentioned of the first principles of the oracles of 
God. Against this way of reading this passage I meet but with 
one objection, and that is, the want of the greek article, before 
doctrine here, but that is so little an objection, if we consider 
how many greater ellipsis there are, that are frequent in Scrip 
ture, that it seems too light to be put into the balance against 
the weighty reason that is to be given for the other read 

But it may be said then, What ! Are there but four principles, 
as such, which have reference to the whole business of Chris 
tianity, which the apostle's discourse here must have final and 
determinate reference unto ? *' Repentance from dead works, 
faith towards God, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal 
judgment j" are there no more than these ? 

Yes undoubtedly there are, but it was none of the apostle's 
design to give an enumeration of those principles, but to give 
an instance of such as he did not now intend to insist upon, 
but to wave and pass by. He only tells us this was not his prin 
cipal business and design to deliver such principles, and he 
tells at the same time, what he thought fit to wave, while his 
discourse is moving forward to the information he would give 
them concerning the Melchesidekian priesthood of Christ : 
to which (after some warm discourse in the greater part of 
the 5th chapter) he comes in the close of that, and pursues in 
the seventh chapter. 

3. But that I may shew more distinctly what kind of princi 
ples the apostle here hath reference to, take these considera 
tions : 

(1.) It is plain that they must be meant of doctrinal princi 
ples, principles of doctrine that are to be received into the 

use. I. What they are. 379 

mind and understanding. There are those that are doctrinal, 
and there are those that are practical principles. It is true in 
deed, all principles of the Christian religion are remotely prac 
tical, because the main end of Christianity is practice. But 
the difference between a doctrinal principle and a practical, lies 
here, that supposing a doctrinal principle to have reference to 
practice, to serve towards it at a distance, yet a practical prin 
ciple is that from which action doth immediately proceed. As 
now, if we speak to the very heads themselves that the apos 
tle speaks of, " repentance from dead works, and faith towards 
God," the doctrine concerning these makes one sort of princi 
ple, and the habit another j the habit of faith, and the habit of 
repentance, that is a principle in the soul from which the acts 
of these immediately proceed. But the more essential doctrine 
concerning both these, must make the doctrinal principle con 
cerning them ; as there may be doctrinal principles about the 
most practical things, and those are the doctrinal principles, as 
such, that are here intended and which are to be the matter of 
teaching : which are to be taught, as the apostle speaks. It is 
very true that the papists do very industriously make it their 
business to overthrow that distinction of fundamental and extra- 
fundamental doctrines ; of those that are essential and those 
that are extra- essential ; such as are of absolute necessity, and 
such as are not necessary, or not so necessary. And they 
mightily insist and urge to have a catalogue particularly of 
those which we would have to go under the notion of funda 
mentals : because they think they could cavil and contend 
about any such catalogue that should be given, and look upon it 
as impossible there should be any so unexceptionably given, 
that nothing should be said against it, why this, or that, is 
taken in, or why such and such things should be left out. 
Therefore they would conclude there ought to be no such dis 
tinction ; which is the most absurd thing that can be imagined] 
for to take away the distinction of fundamental and extra-fun 
damental is to suppose one of these two things. Either it must 
suppose that there is nothing necessary in Christian religion, 
which is a very strange supposition that there should be any such 
religion wherein nothing should be necessary ; or it must sup 
pose all things equally necessary, all necessary alike : and so 
that it were equally necessary that we know Sa&thiel to be the 
son of Neri, as to know that Jesus is the Son of God. But there 
needs no more to be said at present to this, than that whatsoever 
is necessary in point of doctrine to the soul's acting of "repent 
ance from dead works, and faith towards God", (for the two 


things that follow are no matter of our exercise. The raisitig 1 
of the dead and the eternal judgment are no part of our duty ; 
but our duty is summed up in these two, repentance and faith !) 
whatsoever, I say, is necessary in point of doctrine to the 
soul's being exercised in one or other of these with the under 
standing and judgment of a reasonable creature, so much is ne 
cessary to make a doctrinal principle : whatever leads the soul 
into the exercise of repentance and faith, so much must be 
necessary under the head of doctrinal principles concerning our 
duty. It is true we must know the other things too as motives 
to it, but these are to have the immediate influence upon things 
to be done. And I might more shortly say, whatever is 
necessary to bring the soul into union with God through Christ, 
all that knowledge that is necessarily antecedent to this, so 
much comes within the compass of what is fundamental in our 
religion, and indeed nothing comes within that compass but 
what is one way or other reducible to this, that must not one 
way or other have influence upon repentance and faith. And I 

(2.) That as concerning these, some may be more deeply fun 
damental than others are, even of those that are of equal ne 
cessity. That is, there are principles that in reference to things 
depending on them have that notion of principles and are to be 
so considered, that yet may be consequential to other things 
on which they do depend. As in the building of a house 
(which is the metaphor the apostle, in this context, makes use 
of) there may be some parts that may be both fundamental to 
what is upon them, and superstructive in reference to what lies 
under them. And, 

(3.) These principles may be partly of natural and partly of 
supernatural revelation. Of natural^ that there is a God. Of 
supernatural, that Jesus is the Son of God. Though what is 
of natural revelation doth not comprehend what is of superna 
tural, yet all that is of supernatural takes in and includes all 
that is natural too. The same thing may be supernaturally re 
vealed, and naturally ; as the same conclusion may be both be 
lieved and known. And again, 

(4.) They are generally the plainest things that are to go for 
such principles. God hath so graciously ordered it, that that 
which is most necessary should be most plain. Indeed some 
may object themselves here, the doctrine of the Trinity, but 
as concerning that, I hope when we come to it, it will appear 
that what God hath said about that is very plain ; though what 
men have said and devised about it, is obscure and intricate 

JLEC. i. Necessity oflheir being taught. 3S1 

enough, even what they mean for the explication of it. And I 
only add this, for the present, concerning these principles, 

(5.) They must be supposed to be but few. The first princi 
ples, or the great principles of religion, do lie in a very little com 
pass : as that which goes amongst us in the name of the apos 
tles' creed (you know) is very short. And (if antiquity deceive 
us not) was much shorter than it is. Though it is true that the 
variety of apprehensions and sentiments, and the great dissen- 
tions and manifold errors, that have in after-times sprung up 
in the Christian church have occasioned the enlargements of 
creeds and multiplying of articles of faith ; varying them this 
way or that, to meet with this or that wrong sentiment as they 
have been apprehended ; yet the things that are in themselves 
necessary, must needs be but few. And if the Christian reli 
gion ever return to itself, and be what at first it was, simple, 
pure, plain, and unmixed, undoubtedly the sum and substance 
of it will be found to lie in very little compass. It hath sadly 
degenerated in point of efficacy, and vigour, and power, as it 
hath been increased and augmented in point of necessary doc 
trines : men rendering such doctrines necessary, or bestowing 
that notion upon them arbitrarily as they have thought fit. 
And indeed the state of Christian religion hath never been flou 
rishing since (as one very accurately observes in the last age) 
it became Res Ingeniosa fore Christianum: a thing of wit 
to be a Christian. So much at present for the kinds and sorts 
of these principles. But now, 

II. For the necessity of their being taught; as to that, little 
needs to be said. 

1. That the things themselves are necessary is out of ques 
tion. If any religion be necessary, it's principles must be much 
more so, especially if first principles. And 

2. This doth plainly infer therefore the necessity of their 
being taught : else how should we come by them ? And though 
there is somewhat pre-supposed to our religion that is natural, 
it is but pre-supposed as fundamental to all that was necessary 
to be super-added, for there is not enough within the compass 
of nature to lead men to blessedness, if there be not great super- 
additions. And what we have not by nature, how should we 
come by it, if we are not taught it? if we do not learn it ? We 
read of great promises in Scripture of being taught of God. 
" Every one that hath heard and learned of the Father cometh 
unto me," as it is in that, John 6. 45. quoted from the prophet 
Isaiah 54. 13. " Thy children shall be all taught of the Lord." 
And "It is written in the prophets, they shall be taught of God:" 
n4 then it followeth, " Every one that hath heard and learned 


of the Father cometh unto me." And so we read, Jeremiah S 1 . 
34. as that which is foretold to be the great blessing of a 
time then future (and for ought I see, yet future) that there 
should be no saying " Know the Lord." They should not need 
to teach one another saying, "Know the Lord : for theyshall all 
know me from the least to the greatest :" quoted by the apostle 
Heb. 8. 11. But even such teaching is teaching still. He 
is the great Teacher: and whoteacheth like him ? But as to su 
bordinate teaching or human teaching there is nothing in all 
these promises that can exclude it. And when it is said "They 
shall all be taught of God :" and that they shall not need any 
to teach them, the meaning is, that there shall be a greater 
inclination in men's spirits to learn. Not that they shall know 
it without teaching, but that an aptitude to learn, shall be given 
them more generally than had been given, and (so far as we caa 
observe) than is yet given. Men shall not need to be urged 
and pressed to know the Lord. No, there shall be a greater 
promptitude in men's minds to learn, and to use, and improve 
the means of knowing him, than had been before. But that 
there shall always, to the end of time, be use of human teaching, 
our Lord's own words just before his ascension plainly enough 
speak. Mat. 28. and the close : " I am with you to the end of 
the world." In this work it must be, "to assist you in this teach 
ing through all successions of time, to the very end of the 
world." But if there should be any such time or state of things 
on earth, wherein men should no way at all need to be taught 
the knowledge of God, supervening and coming ; that is not yet 
come, we are sure we see no such time : and jf any such time 
should come, and we should see it, I verily believe there are 
none of those that now are intent upon the business of teaching, 
but would be glad in those times to resign their office. And 
in the mean time nothing is plainer than so it is, and indeed 
nothing is plainer than so it will be to the end of the world ; 
that there is and will be need and use of human subordinate 
teachers, to teach and instruct men in the principles, even the 
tirst principles of faith in Christ. But, 

III. I would say somewhat concerning the way of this teach 
ing. And there be several ways about which we might dis 
tinguish and speak to you in distinct heads : there is private 
teaching and public teaching ; and teaching from house to 
house, and teaching in public assemblies : there is teaching 
by continued discourse, and teaching in a way of interlo 
cution, by way of question and answer, that to which the 
name of catechising is now generally appropriated, though 
indeed without ground from the word itself, or the pro 
per significancy of the word. And this is indeed, in the ac- 

use. I. Methods of teaching them. 383 

count of many, a very formidable and frightful work, the work 
of catechising. 1 do not know why it should be so formid 
able a thing for one person to converse with another, to put 
questions and return answers ; for is not this the usual way of 
common conversation ? And why should it be more formidable 
to us to converse thus about the things of God, than about other 
things, that we count necessary, and about many things that we 
cannot so much as count so ? But there can be surely nothing 
more necessary than religion and the things that concern it. 
I am for my part very far from that imperious and terrifying 
way of managing such a work as this, to affright people and 
make them afraid of it. And indeed were I engaged in such 
work, 1 should as leave they should catechise me as I them, if 
questions could be so judiciously put as to draw forth a full ex 
plication of the matter proposed. It would be all one to me, 
who were the questionist and who the answerer, supposing the 
question be aptly put so as to draw forth the explication most 
fully. I should like well it should be said, Pray how is such 
a thing understood, or what help may be given to understand 
that point more distinctly and more clearly ? 

And some considerations I shall give you, at present, about this 
way of teaching by familiar interlocution ; and which indeed 
the exigency of the case doth require to be in a public assem 
bly, where many meet and are convened together for that very 
purpose and upon that account. I would not insist upon the 
word, though it is a very significant word, that serves the pur 
pose for which it is used well enough, but we find divers pas 
sages in Scripture where this word is used that fully refers to 
that way of teaching. And 

1. Let that be considered, Gal. 6. 6. u Let him that is taught 
in the word, communicate to him that teacheth." The word there 
is catechised. Let him that is catechised in the word commu 
nicate to him that catechiseth : this implies it to be a stated 
business, that there must be continued catechising, and being 
catechised. The apostle, in 1 Cor. 14. 19. useth the same 
word when he tells us " I had rather speak five words with my 
understanding, that by my voice I may teach others also, (the 
word is catechised and he speaks of doing it in the church) 
than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue/' 

2. That though another sort of word be used in that other lan 
guage, when Abraham is so highly commended for instructing 
his household, (in Genesis 18) yet we are to consider what his 
household was, an household out of which he could draw forth 
(as we find upon occasion) three hundred fighting men. How 
vastly numerous must that family be ? And when they met to- 


gather for the worship of God, that must he a greater assembly 
than our's usually are : and his instructing was so that they 
should be all brought to know God and the principles of reli 
gion ; which must be supposed and (as the thing speaks) must 
mostly be when he had them together, though there might be 
occasion for private instruction and admonition too. 

3. There ought certainly to be a very great deference given 
to usages in the Christian church in the purer and primitive 
times of it, when Christianity was most of all itself; and we 
find very ancient records, even of teaching by this way of in 
terlocution, and in public too. Origen lived very early, and it 
is matter notorious that he was eminent under the notion of a 
catechist in his time, whose business it was to teach and in 
struct in a catechetical way, and we are informed of divers ca- 
techists that they had in the church of Alexandria at the same 
time, that being, it is true, a numerous, great church, and re 
quiring the help of many to that purpose. And all along, in 
the best times of the Christian church, (before popery v/as born 
into it) we find hereupon that there were these two distinct or 
ders of Christians, the catechumini and the Jidelos : those that 
were catechetically instructed and those that having been for a 
competent time so instructed, were found fit to be admitted into 
full communion : and hereupon there were particular places 
appointed them in the assemblies, wherein they were to stand 
apart by themselves in a sort of inclosure, but in the view of the 
jest of the assembly. And the nature of the thing doth speak, 
that there must always be these two orders within the compass 
of the Christian church, those that are under instruction arc 
catechumini, and those that as they are fit, are taken out of 
them and received into full communion. A thing that na 
ture and common prudence will so much dictate, that long^ 
before the Christian name was ever heard of in the world, we 
read that Pythagoras's school had the same orders, where the 
business was principally to teach and instruct in virtue. There 
were those that were Extra- syndonem and those that were 
Intra-syndonem ; there was a septum or inclosure that did re 
ceive those that were looked upon to be thoroughly virtuous. 
His school indeed was like a church, upon that account, and 
commonly there were kept seven years expectants without the* 
inclosure, not to be received (as it were) into full communion 
till they were very well confirmed in virtue and goodness. And 
thereupon, if any of those that had been received within the in 
closure should afterwards degenerate and be guilty of any 
crimes, there was as solemn an excommunication of them as 
we read of any among Christians, and a funeral besides held for 

LEC. I. Methods of teaching them. 385 

such a person ; that is, a coffin was brought into the auditorium 
and lamentation made over it as over one dead, dead from 
among them ; and so such were to be humbled that way and 
wrought upon. And there can be no such thing as the continu 
ance of Christianity in the world, on other terms than that there 
must be two such orders. And I add, 

4. That it is very apparent that our Saviour's way of teach 
ing when he was here on earth was very much in a way of in 
terlocution, and that often in great public assemblies, as it is 
obvious for yourselves to take notice in evangelical history. 

5. That Christians generally are under an express charge 
to be ready to give an account of the reason of their hope and 
faith, to any one that shall ask it, with .meekness and fear : as 
in that, 1 Pet. 3. 15. And if they were to do it (as that direc 
tion hath more especial reference) even to enemies, to persecu 
tors, and when it was to cost them their lives, much more to in 
structors and teachers, when they desire it, only in order to 
their own help and to the promoting and furtherance of know 
ledge among men. And, 

6. It is very plain that they who by office are to make it their 
work and business to instruct others, are obliged to use all the 
most apt and likely means that may be most profitable and 
most conducing to that end and purpose. How solemn 
a charge is that the apostle lays on Timothy ! 2 Tim. 4. 
1,2. "I charge thee, therefore, before God and the Lord Je 
sus Christ who shall judge the quick and the dead at his 
appearing and his kingdom ; preach the word, be instant in 
season, and out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all 
long-suffering and doctrine." With all doctrine, (as it is refer 
red undoubtedly to both the things that go before and that fol 
low the long-suffering) must in all reason intend, not merely the 
matter of doctrine, but the manner also, for there may be mat 
ters of doctrine materially to be considered, that are not so ne 
cessary to be so very much inculcated and urged. But that same 
all-doctrine is every way a teaching that is likely, or by which 
it may be more probable that good may be ddne ; and if there 
be such an obligation upon teachers, there is a correspondent 
obligation upon hearers to attend thereto : yea, and that not 
only implied, but expressly required : " Obey them that have 
the rule over you." Heb. 13. 17 Hereupon no doubt they 
are obliged to comply with, and to concur to, set on foot all such 
means and methods of instruction as may be most conducible 
to this end. And that this is a means proper to this end may 
be manifest upon several considerations. As, 

YOJfc. VI 3D 


(1 .) That it most evidently tends to engage the minds of them 
that are immediately dealt with in this way, to be intent on the 
matter in hand, as when a question is put to me I am bound 
under a kind of necessity to consider it, that I may know how to 
make one answer or another as it is particularly and personally 
directed to me. There are many things that pass us by in a 
continued and transient discourse, that a wandering mind takes 
little notice of, gives little heed to ; but when it is called by a 
particular question to this particular point, it ca'nnot but make 
the mind intent upon it. As when the apOstle, in the midst of 
Tiis apologetical discourse before king Agrippa, applied particu 
larly to him with that question, " King Agrippa, believest thou 
the prophets?" the king thought himself obliged to consider his 
question, and you see what kind of answer he gives, so as he 
never else would have thought, if that question had not been di 
rected to himself. Such an impression did that question make 
on his mind. 

(2.) It tends manifestly very much to engage the attention of 
all that hear, at such an exercise as that we are now speaking 
of. Every body presently gives his ear when there is a question 
put, "Come what will be answered to this question ?" and if it 
need explication," What will be said in this case?" It makes men 
exert their minds, and engage their spirits a great deal more, 
as every one's reason and experience must tell him. 

(.}.) It tends very much to fix things and make them continue 
with those that hear and do attend on such a kind of exercise, 
for that very reason, because it hath set the animadversive fa 
culties so much the more on work ; and if the matter be con 
sidered, nothing is plainer, than that people do many times 
blame their memories very causlessly, when it is really the ani- 
maclversive faculty is not used; for things that once are ear 
nestly attended to are much more likely to be remembered, 
but people find fault with their memories because they do not 
mind what they hear at first. If they earnestly minded what 
they heard, and considered things, and took them to heart, it 
would contribute a great deal towards the fixing of them in 
their memories, towards their retention of them. I believe, for 
the much greater part, when the badness of the memory is com 
plained of, the fault lies elsewhere, that they did not seriously 
attend at the first, for things will be retained longer that have 
been well considered at first. 

(4.) Hereupon, through the blessing of God, much more may 
be done towards the conversion of souls by the gospel dispensa 
tion, when the things needful to be understood in order hereto, 
are well understood for it; for while they are not so, we speak 
in the dark and people hear in the dark, and what we say t* 

LEC. i. Advantages of their being taught. 387 

them hath an uncertain sound, as the apostle speaks. 1 Cor. 14. 
17. They cannot tell what we mean when we speak of the 
weightiest and most important things belonging to the kingdom 
of God, but if such things be well understood at first (as it is 
to be hoped they will be in this way) then there is one great 
step made, one main difficulty is got over : and so it obtains in 
discourses that have more directly that design, to make men 
intend this business, and impress things upon men's hearts to 
the utmost, which had passed through their minds before or 
were received clearly and distinctly there before. Again 

(5.) It is likewise, by consequence, likely to be the means of 
introducing a much more fruitful Christianity among us, for 
undoubtedly, religion is more lively by how much the more it is 
well grounded : they that do believe this or that doctrine with 
out a ground, they commonly believe it too without fruit. If 
it have not a good ground it is proportionably inefficacious, and 
a languid thing ; as seed that is sown and hath no depth of 
earth, (as our Saviour speaks) brings not forth fruit unto per 
fection. Therefore is that charge given unto the Colossian 
Christians : "As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord so walk 
ye in him." Col. 2. 6. One notion under which we are said to 
receive him is as a teacher, and to receive him (though that be 
not all) is to receive his truths, his doctrines. "As ye have re 
ceived Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built, 
up in him, and established in the faith as ye have been taught, 
abounding therein with thanksgiving." And therefore, so ra 
tionally doth the apostle pray for them in that chapter, that 
they might be " fruitful in every good work, increasing in the 
knowledge of God." And in 1 Phil. 9. 10, 11. those Christians 
are there prayed for after the same method, that they might 
abound in judgment and in all knowledge, (that they might 
become knowing and judicious Christians) and then, that they 
might abound in all the fruits of righteousness that would 
be through Christ, to the praise and glory of God. And, 

(6.) This would be a very great and likely means to bring 
Christians generally to a great deal more of seriousness in the 
temper of their minds and spirits, that is, to exclude and shut 
out vanity, replenishing their minds with great and weighty 
things, things that deeply concern them : for in this way, un 
doubtedly, such things would come to be more inwrought into 
their hearts and to have a more settled abode and residence 
there. Then it would be as ordinary a thing when Christians 
did meet, to catechise one another about the things of God and 
about the eternal kingdom (if I may use that phrase) as to ca 
techise one another about news, or about the state of the times : 


what is doing now in the country, or in the court, or in this or 
in any other nation or kingdom : the kingdom of heaven surely 
would look as great as any earthly kingdom or country, or greater, 
if we were more taken up about the things that relate thereun 
to. And so might the ancient Christianity come to be restored 
in some measure among us, wherein (as antiquity tells us) it was 
so ordinary a thing when Christians did meet, presently to fall 
upon the matters of their religion : and it was usual in their 
families, even all the day long, when people were about their af 
fairs either in the shop or at the distaff, to mention the great 
things of the Christian religion, from morning to night mingling 
discourses of that kind with all their affairs, as they could ad 
mit of their being mingled. This was primitive Christianity, 
and it was in these early days that this course that I now speak 
of did obtain, even when such familiar interlocutions for the in 
struction of candidates to Christianity were carried on in their 
assemblies. And, 

(70 It were much to be hoped that by this means, that faulty 
shyness would be overcome which doth appear too generally of 
discoursing at all about the things of God and the matters of 
religion, and what men find in their own spirits of savour and 
impression of such things. It is very strange and unaccount 
able that there should be so peculiar a shyness in reference to 
the matters of religion, to take discourse of them, especially as 
to one's own sentiments about them, what one apprehends and 
what one feels in himself, in one's own breast. There is not 
such a shyness in reference to things of any other concerns be 
sides, as there is in reference to those concernments that relate 
to men's souls and their state Godward and for eternity. No- 
Lody is shy to speak of his own or other's ails, for the most part, 
nobody is shy to speak of an aching head, or an aching tooth : 
but what a shyness is there to speak of spiritual maladies, a bad 
heart, a blind mind, and the like ? If discourses were in this 
way more frequently introduced, so as to become familiar, this 
shyness would be gradually overcome. We find in public as 
semblies it is usual to give an account of things that are of 
another concernment, of a most inferior concernment ; as in 
courts of judicature, where persons of the meanest capacity are 
called frequently to speak their knowledge, to tell what they 
know about such and such a matter that doth concern meum and 
tuum, this or that man's right; or concerning a question depend 
ing between the government and any particular person concern 
ing a criminal matter. Nothing more ordinary than to have 
persons catechised about such things as these in public assem 
blies, and it is not thought strange. And why should there be 
a particular shyness, strangeness, and aversion to give an ac- 

use. r. Advantages of their being taught. 330 

count of things relating to the kingdom of God ? As if it were 
a criminal thing to have one's mind engaged and taken up about 
matters of that nature, or as if persons were afraid to be thought 
guilty of religion, as if it were a dreadful thing, a thing to be 
dreaded, to be thought guilty of minding God, and the con~ 
cernments of another world. And 

(8.) It would surely be a very likely means to prevent aposta- 
cy, especially in a difficult and trying time: indeed there is con 
tinual danger of apostacy : there is much danger from daily 
conversation with this world, there is much danger especially 
in a prosperous state and condition in it, least there should be 
heart apostacy, a heart secretly departing from the love of 
God. And there is great danger in times of persecution for 
religion's sake, for Christ's sake, and for the gospel's sake. But 
there is nothing (in point of means and in subordination to the 
grace and Spirit of Christ) likely to be a better security against 
it, than in such a way as this, to be once thoroughly instructed 
in the great "principles of the oracles of God." to have them well 
inlaid. They that are so instructed at first are not like to be as 
"children, tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine," or en 
tangled by the cunning craftiness of them that lie in wait to de 
ceive. Some are withdrawn by seduction, some by perse- 
cnon : there will be the same fence against both in such 
a way us this. " Nay," will such a one say " I have (through 
the goodness of God) understood the grounds of my religion 
well : I did not trifle when I took up this profession ;" as the 
apostle speaks concerning his trust in God, " I know whom I 
have believed and I am persuaded he is able to keep that which 
I have committed unto him until that day." So for a Christian 
to say, "I know what I have believed, and I mean to abide by it 
through the grace of God," this will preserve him under suf 
fering. It is a very uncomfortable thing in point of suffering 
to be called to suffer for that I never understood and which I 
never savoured or relished. To suffer for what 1 never had any 
clear understanding of, and to suffer for what I never had any 
taste or relish of in my own soul, though it is possible to suffer 
upon such an account, yet it is uncomfortable. A man may "give 
his body to be burned" without love, but it is very uncomforta 
ble so to suffer. And the one of these things is the way to the 
other ; I am likely to savour what I understand in those things 
that have a real bottom and are in themselves substantial. 
There are some things indeed that have so little in them, that 
the more I understand them the less I shall mind them; the 
more I understand them the more I shall despise them, but it 


is not so in the great things of God and that do relate to his 
kingdom. And, 

(9.) It is that which will certainly be a great ornament to the 
Christian church, and an honour to it, when there is a succes 
sion coming up, a rising generation of them that do under 
stand themselves and appear to do so, make it evident that they 
do understand themselves in the great things of religion ; that 
they receive them and take them in. As it was the reproach 
of the Christian church (as it was still called) when that bar 
barous age was upon it, and so great and gross darkness and ig 
norance did cover the face of it, so will the contrary be it's 
honour. And when times of greater knowledge do come, then 
in one sense (though these words have more meaning than 
that) it may be said to Zion "Arise, shine; for thy light is come ; 
and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." Isaiah 60. 1. 
Light signifies holiness too, and a prosperous state, but it 
signifies knowledge as that which is inchoative of all the rest. 

(10.) Lastly. It is one of the most comfortable presages that 
can be, when once the spirits of those that are to be learners 
(as it were) in the school of Christ, come to be engaged and 
intent upon getting in the knowledge of Christ, and have their 
souls impressed thereunto. I say it is one of the most com 
fortable presages of the approach 6f that time and that season 
drawing on, when one shall say to another, and even people 
to people,"Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,, 
and to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will shew us 
of his ways, and we will walk in his paths. 1 ' Micah 4. 2. It is 
a comfortable pre-signification of the approach of that time 
when tf many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be in 
creased :" when there shall be very much of inquiry and con 
cern to know God and the things of God, then the time will be 
drawing on, when the knowledge of the Lord shall abound and 
cover the earth as the waters cover the seas. Isaiah 11. 9. 

IV. But to make some brief use of all this. There are prin 
ciples of religion, or of the oracles of God, which are needful 
to be taught. Then here, 

1. Let us consider and adore the goodness of God towards a 
wicked and apostate world. How strange a sound should such a 
word carry with it to us. "The oracles of God!" How transport 
ing a sound, for the oracles of God to be mentioned and spoken 
in such a world as ours is ! when it would be thought that it's 
so universal revolt from God, should everlastingly have cut off 
all intercourse between him and it, that he should never 
have regard for this world any more ; not more than for the 

JLEC. i. Reflections. $91 

angels that fell and kept not their first station. Do we hear of 
any oracles of God sent down into those infernal regions ? Oh ! 
how great thing then is it, that there should be among us the 
oracles of God ! Indeed it argues very great stupidity, if there 
be not a mighty sense of this upon our spirits. Pagans have 
had the most grateful sense that could be imagined but of a 
mock pretence hereunto, the very notion of oracles carries a 
sacredness and venerableness in it; any thing that is divine, any 
thing that is of heavenly descent, and so such things, though 
but feignedly such-, have been reckoned of among pagans. 
Oh ! what veneration had those poor Ephesian idolaters for 
that thing (we read it image, but there is no such thing in the 
greek) that dropped down from Jupiter, how mighty a zeal was 
there among that people, so as that the city, is said to be a 
whole neochoron; "All Ephesus is a worshipper ;" so it is expres 
sed^, as if that mighty city were but one worshipper of the great 
goddess Diana. So great was their zeal, so high their venera 
tion for a thing that their deluding priests made them believe 
dropped down from heaven. And we know how high their value 
was, of how much they did magnify themselves for the diabo 
lical oracles they had among them in former days before Christ's 
time ; and how mighty a concern there was among them when 
these were silent at his coming. So as that some of their 
wisest men (Plutarch for instance) was fain to write discourse 
upon discourse to qualify their minds thereupon. Two treatises 
we read of, written by that author, one why they ceased, which 
he wrote in verse : the other why they did so totally cease as 
upon the matter they did. 

And when the privilege of having the oracles of God, was a 
more confined and limited thing, Oh ! how did the Jews (to 
whom they were so great a treasure) magnify themselves upon 
them, how did they glory in it ! And it was acknowledged 
that they had a mighty advantage, "What advantage had the 
Jews ? Much every way, chiefly as that to them were com 
mitted the oracles of God," Rom. 3. beginning. Oh ! we do 
not enough consider the kindness of heaven towards our world ! 
that there should be any beams of divine light (whether by na 
tural or super-natural revelation) shining in it. We do not 
enough consider that we are quite cut off from God. He doth 
hereby shew he hath yet a desire to the work of his own hands, 
in that he will have his oracles known to men upon earth j as 
elsewhere it is said of his tabernacle : " the tabernacles of God 
are with men ;" and in what a transport doth Solomon break 
forth(l Kings 8.) in that seraphical triumph of joy: "Will God 
indeed dwell upon earth ?" Oh ! that there should be any abode 


of the divine presence upon earth ; and these arc some of thJ 
most expressive tokens of such a visible presence vouchsafed ; 
his placing these oracles among us and diffusing the most im 
pressive light that reveals him, and that reveals the great things 
that relate to his kingdom. And, 

2. We may collect lience, that it is a very apt method and 
accommodated unto intelligent creatures, that God doth make 
use of, in conveying to them the necessary knowledge of the 
doctrine of Christ ; for there are principles that are to be begun 
with ; (first principles as you see) you had need to be taught 
which are the first principles of the oracles of God. There are 
.the oracles of God, there are principles of these oracles, and 
the first of those principles. God doth apply himself to us 
suitable to our nature, he aims to draw us by the " cords of a man 
and by the bands of love," to make reason and love, engineers 
by which he would take hold of us, sanctify the one principle 
and the other, that we may be brought nigh to him and held 
in with him. 

And it ought deeply to be considered that there are (as you see) 
principles wherewith we are to begin, and by which we are to be 
led on (as the apostle's expression here is) towards perfection. 
Principles of truth, principles of doctrine, such as a " form of 
sound words," wholesome words may be expressive of. Though 
(by the way) 1 am against being tied to a form of words ; in mat 
ters of this nature I would have words used for helps, not for 
bonds. And if 1 were to inquire how any have profited in the 
things of God, even in this very respect ; in respect of their 
knowledge relating thereto, if they could express a sound and 
good understanding about these things, in their own words, in 
words of their own choosing, and not which they found in this 
or that book, I should like it a great deal better. It would ar 
gue them so much the more understanding and knowing chris- 
tians, and likely to prove more stable ones. As I said before, I 
would have you to make use of other men's words (as you may 
any good book you read or sermon you hear) for helps but 
not for bonds j to help your understandings, not to limit them. 

3. This lets us see the presumptuous and preposterous rash 
ness of such persons as do at random, at all adventures take up 
the Christian profession, when they never as yet understood the 
principles of Christianity, and so they really profess they know 
not what : as if the name Christian were a name of nothing, 
a name that had no signification, a name that did import no real 
thing. Those that can give no account of their knowledge of 
principles, and yet will be Christians, call themselves Christians, 
what an usurpation is this ! How groundlessly and presump- 

1EC, J. Reflections. 393 

tuously do they usurp a glorious name ! a title that carries with 
it a great deal of glory ! and I would have you understand it 
so. A Christian is a glorious title, and they will be made to 
understand it to be so another day, who have usurped it they 
know not why, who have prophanedit, and could never justify 
the pretence. It is a far greater presumption than for any man 
to call himself king or emperor, who is a mean peasant, an 
ordinary fellow and can have no such pretence. " I will bring 
them to worship at thy feet (it is spoken to the Philadelphian 
church Rev. 3. 9.) who say they are Jews and are not, but do 
lie." For a man to take up a profession that is a mere lie, 
what a presumption is it ! a man to call himself a Christian ! 
but he lies, and must do so upon one account, if he live in 
the continual violation of the Christian precepts, and upon 
another, if he understand nothing of the Christian principles. 
It is a lie : it is to suppose that Christian is a name without a 
meaning, a name that means nothing. And, 

4. We may collect hence, that it is very stupid folly for men 
to live all their days under this profession, without ever con 
cerning themselves to understand the principles of Christianity. 
It is very presumptuous rashness to take up that profession, 
when a man will commence Christian all of a sudden without 
ever having understood its principles. But it is far more stu 
pid folly if a man will all his days, live under the Christian pro 
fession in continued ignorance of the principles of the Christian 
religion. How ridiculous doth that man make himself that 
will all his time go under the name of a merchant, and yet 
never understand any thing of merchandize ? or if a man will 
be called a philosopher, when every one that knows him, know* 
that he understands not any of the principles of philosophy 2 

5. It is of so great importance to understand well the prin 
ciples of Christian religion, that they need to be taught. Is 
there so great weight laid upon the teaching of them ? are they 
hereby represented to us to be matters of absolute necessity ? 
then by the importance of the principles judge of the excellen 
cy of the end of the Christian religion. And so consider, Hath 
God thus brought it about that we should be all of us in one 
degree or other under the Christian institution ? W|iat is it for ? 
That which hath so very important principles must have a pro 
portionable end. Then let us see what that is. Religion is a 
thing that terminates upon eternity, that runs into another 
world : they therefore that are under the Christian institution 
(as we all are to be in the church of God while we are here in 
the world) are to look upon themselves as so many candidates 

VOL. VI. 3 K 


for the blessed eternity. Here in this world we are training up 
for heaven, for everlasting glory ; and hereupon are the princi 
ples of religion, of the Oracles of God, represented as the most 
important things, that have their final and determinate reference 
to another world, the glories of the heavenly and eternal state. 
This were a great thought for us to carry about with us, when 
soever we are under gospel teaching, to think that God hath 
provided and taken care that I should be trained up for heaven 
and fitted for the eternal kingdom, and for an everlasting abode 
in that blessed glorious state. And when you are training up 
your child, Oh ! how great a thing is it to be training it up in 
the knowledge of God ! for there are some steps that must be 
taken with it, to make it meet for partaking " of the inheritance 
of the saints in light." You know there is great care taken 
about the education of great heirs. The very children of the 
church are God's children. He calls them so, (Ezekiel 16. 20, 
21.) " Is this a small matter that thou hast slain my children ?" 
speaking of Jewish parents making their children pass through 
the fire to Moloch. In the degenerate state of that church and 
people, he calls them his children : now I say, great care is wont 
to be taken in the education of great heirs. Those that are the 
children of God and are really so, if children they are also heirs; 
and they are begotten to a lively hope, to an inheritance that is 
incorruptible and undefiled. And they are, by "the sincere milk 
of the word" which they receive from time to time, to grow 
up to a fitness and capacity to partake of that inheritance. We 
should never think of the principles of the Christian religion, 
but it should put us in mind of the end of it, and what it re 
fers to. And yet again, 

6. We may further learn from hence, that since there is such 
need that such principles should be taught, men should take 
heed of neglecting, and much more of opposing any fit methods 
wherein they may be taught. And why do they so ? Why they 
think themselves too wise to learn, they understand too much 
already to need being taught. But while they account them 
selves so very wise, see how the Spirit of God counts them, 
what notion they pass under with him; " fools despise instruc 
tion." Prov. 1. 7- And that is certainly a very ill character, 
that the contempt of instruction brings upon persons : they think 
themselves wise, and God thinks them fools; and certainly 
his judgment is the most discerning and true: and as it draws 
on a bad character, so it is very likely to draw on a bad end and 
issue. To hate instruction is to hate knowledge : and he is 
aaid to love knowledge that loves instruction. Prov. 12. 1. 
But to be brought in under the notion of a hater of knowledge, 

1.BC. I. Reflections. 395 

divine knowledge, Oh ! how dreadful a thing is that ! " They 
shall call but I will not answer, they shall seek me early but 
they shall not find me." Why what is the matter ? what is all 
that resolved into which you read to that purpose in the 1. 
Prov ? Why in the 29th. verse it is said, Because they hated 
knowledge and would not choose the fear of the Lord ; there 
fore he would be deaf to all their cries and importunities, when 
destruction was coining upon them as a whirlwind. Why is 
God so inexorable towards them ? Because they hated know 
ledge, they would not endeavour to learn. And 

7. Lastly. If there be so absolute a necessity of being taught 
Such principles of religion or such " Oracles of God/' there 
surely ought to be a very peculiar temper and disposition of 
spirit in order to learning. And that 1 would have you to take 
an account of in a few heads which I shall only name. We are 
all to be learners here in this world, we must learn as long as we 
live. And if it be of so absolute necessity that we learn such 
things we should, 

(1.) Apply ourselves to them with very great reverence, for 
they are "the Oracles of God" that we have to do with : it is 
something sacred and divine, that we are conversant and taken 
tip about. When any thing of these oracles was to be first given 
in writing, though it was but a little, to a peculiar and select 
people of his, we see what an awful business was made of it. 
God comes down ; manifests his glorious presence in the moun 
tain that he had selected for that purpose, the people are there 
assembled and cast about the foot of the mountain; the moun^ 
tain is enclosed, and they are forbidden, on pain of death, to ap 
proach the borders ; " Touch not the borders ; for whosoever 
toucheth them shall die." Exod. 19. 20, 21. In that assembly 
of that people, on purpose to hear the divine oracles that were 
to be preached among them, there was a glorious revelation that 
came from heaven. And do we think the gospel revelation 
that we have is less glorious ? No, saith the apcstle fl The 
glory wherewith the law was given upon Mount Sinai, was 
no glory in comparison with this glory that so much excels. 1 ' 
Oh ! we should be learners with the greatest reverence ima 
ginable, as having from time to time the divine oracles to 
be opened among us. Here is the most glorious appear 
ance of God. When there was comparatively an unspeakably 
less appearance even than that on Mount Sinai, that is, when 
some of the divine glory shone in one bush, it is charged 
upon Moses (to strike his mind with a due awe) present 
ly to put off his shoes. This was to be significant to us t 
with what great and profound reverence we are to have our 
souls impressed and possessed upon an appearance of God; and 


these are the brightest and most glorious appearances, in the 
kind, that we know above any besides. 

(2.) We should apply ourselves to learn the things of the 
kingdom of God with very deep humility ; with a most humble 
sense of our own ignorance, and that we know so little. " He 
that thinks he knows any thing knows nothing as he ought to 
know/' saith the apostle. And nothing was a more ignomi 
nious brand upon a sort of men that did start up early in the 
Christian church, that affected to be called by the name of 
gnostick, than that they so much valued themselves upon that 
knowledge to which they pretended, and but pretended ; as that 
name did signify. Whether they were so soon called by that 
name, as some imagine, is a matter of doubt, but the genius and 
spirit of the men undoubtedly appeared early ; and many pas 
sages in the epistles of the apostles have a direct reference 
thereunto, as particularly that (ICor. 8. 2.) " Knowledge putf- 
eth up, but love edifieth." But (I say) it was the ignominy 
and reproach of that sort of men that they did so highly glory 
in an airy kind of knowledge,, that they were never the better 
for, nay, that made them undoubtedly upon the whole matter 
much worse men : it doth always so where there is not great 
humility, which doth accompany and go with knowledge. 
That is, they who are learners ought to consider themselves as 
such, as we must all of us always be while we are here in this 
world, such as "know but in part." Here we are to have very 
self-diminishing thoughts of our own knowledge. Surely it is 
but little that we know, as we find Agur speaks concerning 
himself; k( 1 am more brutish than any man, and have not the 
understanding of a man." And so the Psalmist speaks of him 
self (73. Psalm) " So foolish was I and ignorant ; I was as a 
beast before thee." Such diminishing thoughts it becomes 
us to have of ourselves, as to look upon ourselves, under such a 
self-despising notion, (as I may so speak) that while we are here 
we are but in a state of learners, and must be so as long as we 
are in this earthly state. But then, 

(3.) We should be learners still with fervent desire of learn 
ing more and more ; and this agrees well with a humble 
sense of our yet knowing so very little. It hath always been 
mentioned concerning one eminent heathen, as an honour 
able character he went under, that he was known by that 
motto, " Hoc tantum scin, me nihil scire :" this only I know , 
that I know nothing: though he was one of the greatest 
and most learned men of his age. If there be a sincere de 
sire of increasing knowledge, nothing better agrees with it than 
such a sense as this, Alas ! it is little I know and I am to be 

LKC. I. Reflections. 39? 

still aiming to know more and more, in reference to things 
wherein I am so much concerned . " I opened my mouth 
and panted," saith the psalmist, " for I longed for thy com 
mandments." Psalm 119.131. We are to be continually 
desiring that which is to be the means of our growth in know 
ledge. " As new-born babes desire the sincere milk of the 
word that ye may grow thereby :" and these principles are 
called u milk," as you see in the close of this 5th, chap, of the 
epistle to the Hebrews, where the text is. 

(4.) It ought to b.e with a continued pleasant savour and re 
lish of divine knowledge, that we should be driving the design 
to increase : to increase and grow in it. " Grow in the grace 
and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ;" 
la,bour to have a continual intermixture of grace with know 
ledge that may give it a pleasant savour. There is very little 
delight in dry notions that never influence a man's heart, 
" When wisdom enters into the heart and knowledge is plea 
sant unto the soul" (saith the wise man) u then understanding 
shall preserve thee, discretion shall lead thee." Knowledge 
doth its office effectually, to guide and lead us in our way when 
once it becomes of a grateful taste and relish to our souls ; if it 
be taken and digested, and we relish a sweetness and pleasant 
ness in it, then it will have power to do it's work, that is, to 
be our guide and director in our way and course, as you have it 
Prov. 2. 10. And then, 

(5.) It ought to be with continual gratitude, adoring and 
blessing God that he makes any of his light to shine in this 
dark world ; especially that it should shine to any of us ; that 
we have this "sure word of prophecy" put into our hands that 
makes up the "Oracles of God" in an eminent sense ; "till the 
day dawn and the day star arise in our hearts." And 

(6.) Lastly. It must be (or else we do nothing) with a serious 
design of getting a holy impression in our hearts by the truth 
we know, or else all is lost. There are too many, (the Lord 
knows) that if they take pleasure in knowing, and increasing 
knowledge, they do yet know but for the knowledge' sake, and 
aim no further. It is a fine thing to know much, to understand 
more than one's neighbour, more than such and such ; and 
so be able superciliously to look down upon them as com 
paratively very ignorant. But to know on purpose, that I may 
be accordingly and do accordingly, is the true end of Christian 
knowledge. " I desire to know more that I may have a better 
heart, and that I may be able to love God more, that 1 may 
be more like God, more fitted to serve him, and walk with him 
in this world and enjoy him in the next:" if this be not the de- 
we drive at, in aiming to know, in all our desire of knowing 


much of the things of God, and Christian religion we do but la 
bour for the wind and shall at length reap the whirlwind. In 
what a transport is the apostle (in that 3. Phil:) in the thoughts 
and estimates that he expresseth there of the knowledge of 
Christ, " I count all things loss and dross and dung for the ex 
cellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord !" Well 
but what sort of knowledge was it he aimed at ? See what it 
was in what follows, such a knowledge as by which he might 
be transformed into his likeness, whereby he might be confor 
mable to his death and to his resurrection, such a knowledge 
as to have the image impressed by it of a crucified and glorified 
Jesus. And no other knowledge would serve his turn, "I 
count all things but loss and dross and dung in comparison 
of the knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord," so to "know him" 
as to " be found in him," as to have " the fellowship of hi 
sufferings and the power of his death," and to attain with him 
the resurrection from the dead. 

And 1 desire in the close of this discourse to leave this with 
you. It is a dreadful thing to trifle with sacred matters. If at 
any time we open this book, or any thing out of it be opened 
to us, and we have not that serious design before our eyes and 
upon our hearts, that we would know more of divine things, 
that we may be made more like God, and be more fitted for hi* 
service and communion both here and hereafter, we shall be 
found guilty of trifling with that which is sacred : and though 
in this world the punishment may not be so visibly severe, yet 
the guilt is undoubtedly great with, (and indeed incomparably 
greater than,) what Uzzah lay under when he rashly laid hold 
on the ark, and the Bethshemites when they opened and would 
be curiously prying into it. And what ! do we therefore make 
light of God, and the sacred things of God, because in the 
gospel-days there are not so terrible examples set in view before 
our eyes ? But if we look into the great mysteries of the divine 
kingdom, with a slight mind and a vain heart, without any se 
rious design of the same thing that these discoveries, these 
truths, these doctrines that are brought to our knowledge are 
designed for, we are all that while deserving that, which will 
be worse in the issue and end, than to have the name put upon 
the place " Perez- Uzzah, the breach that Uzzah made," and 
it will be a more dreadful thing than if he did signalize the place 
by a terrible stroke from heaven upon us. When a man med- 
dleth with the great things of God and can give no account for 
what, but only to satisfy his own curiosity, and the idle fancy 
of a vain mind ; this will have a sad issue. But let it be for 
this, and my heart bear me record that it is for this, that I may 
become a -serious, holy, knowing Christian, a useful Christian ; 

use. I. Reflections* S99 

that I may live up to Christianity through the whole of my 
course while I am here upon earth, and then shall I be fitted at 
length for the heavenly inheritance with the saints in light, who 
shall possess that glorious inheritance. 

Our next great work will be to fall upon the first principle, 
the very first of these principles, that which is the principal of 
principles ; and that is concerning the Deity j the deepest foun 
dation of all our religion. 



Kom. 1. 

invisible things of him from the creation of the world 
are clearly seen, being understood by the things that 
are made, even liis eternal power and God 
head} so that they are without excuse. 

business (as we have proposed you know) is, with 
God's gracious assistance, to open to you the principles 
of religion. Christian religion (which we finally .intend) is 
founded in natural : and the principles of the former must be 
understood, therefore, to comprehend the latter, as things at 
least necessarily pre-supposed unto the doctrine of Christ. Now 
it being our design, in the general, to open to you the princi 
ples that do any way belong to that doctrine, we choose (as it 
is most fit) to begin with HIM who is the beginning of all, the 
principle that is most firstly first, primo primum, as they use 
to speak. Such is the Deity whether we speak of principles of 
being or of knowledge : for there is no being that depends not 
upon the Divine Being, and no knowledge, rightly so called, 
which some way or other depends not upon divine knowledge. 
He is not only the first being, but the first and primary known, 
the primum esse and iheprimum cognoscible, as he is justly to 
be reckoned. 

* Preached December 5. 1PX). The preceding discourse was, 
doubtless, preached in two Lectures : but the division, and the time 
when the 2nd was delivered are not noticed in the manuscript. Edit. 

JLEC. in. The perfections of God seen in creation. 401 

Now this text shews us the true method of arriving to the 
knowledge of him, the unmade Being, by the things that 
are made ; and not only to the certainty of his existence, but 
of the excellency of his nature ; both discoverable by the same 
light, by the same evidencing mediums, which that you may see, 
let us view the contents of this text briefly. We have in it 

First, What is revealed concerning God, expressed first of 
all more indefinitely, " the invisible things of him." This 
must not be understood distinctively, as if some things of God 
were visible and some invisible ; that is, of things belonging to 
the divine nature; but it must be understood adversatively, 
that is, though they are invisible, and notwithstanding their in 
visibility, they are yet clearly demonstrable by the things that 
are made. And then, secondly, they are declared to us more ex 
pressly, first, in one great instance of his eternal power, the ef 
fects whereof we see (as is here said) in the tilings that are made. 
But the cause itself is still invisible. And this is most fitly in 
stanced in reference to the creature and the creation, which is 
said to be demonstrative thereof. All this vast creation, with 
that great variety of creatures that do compose and make it up, 
having lain in that, as in the pregnant womb thereof, from all 
eternity ; out of which it is at length produced by it as its 
mighty creative cause. And then, secondly, besides this in 
stance of one peculiar excellency of the Divine Being, (his eter 
nal power) to save a long and a particular enumeration, all the 
rest of the divine excellencies, are summed up in that one ex 
pression, " Godhead :" his eternal power and Godhead, com 
prehending all his other excellencies and perfections be 
sides. This is the first thing we have to note to you from the 
text what is revealed concerning God, even the invisible 
things of him, particularly his eternal power, the immediate 
cause of all things, and his Godhead which comprehends all 
his excellencies together. And, 

Secondly : We have to consider here the revelation hereof, 
these things " are clearly seen," seen, and clearly seen. This 
indeed looks like a riddle; invisible things seen! and clearly 
seen ! things seen that are invisible, or that cannot be seen ! 
But the next words solve it, " being understood by the things 
that are made." Seen ! How are they seen ? Not occularly, 
but intellectually, they are seen as being understood. They are 
seen by the eye of the mind, though they cannot be seen by the 
bodily .eye. God, and every thing belonging to the nature of 
God, being in that respect by the excellency thereof invisible. 
But it may be said, How are they so seen and clearly seen by the 

VOL. vi. -H F 


minds and understandings of men? when the complaint is con 
cerning men generally, even in the very context, " their fool 
ish hearts are darkened," and " the light shineth in darkness, 
and the darkness comprehendeth it not ;" as it is in the begin 
ning of John's gospel. How then are they intellectually seen? 
Why nothing is more usual than to express a matter of right 
(where that right is most evident) by matter of fact, and by such 
forms of speech as signify the fact. "No man liveth to himself:" 
that is, no man should. It is so plain a case that no man should 
live to himself, that when the design is to speak the reason of 
the thing, this is the expression of it, " no man liveth'to him 
self," that is, is allowed to do so ; and indeed in common lan 
guage it is usual to express the passive future by the present 
or the preterit, as we say, vir spectatus, for vir spectabilis, or 
spectandus; one that is very much regarded^ov one that ought 
to be or deserves to be so. And a thing that we say is indubi- 
tate fidei, of undoubted faith and certainty : we mean by it 
indubitande, that ought not to be doubted, or that there is no 
reason why it should be doubted. So " clearly seen" here, is 
clearly to be seen and understood, that is, such as might be 
understood, that ought to be understood, and there is no reason, 
why they are not understood, but because men will not under 
stand; shut their eyes and are willingly blind and ignorant, 
"not liking" (as it is afterwards expressed in the context) "to 
retain God in their knowledge." Or, there are here things so 
clearly to be understood, that they are manifestly left (as the 
close of this verse is) without all excuse who understand them 
not. And upon that account, in the words presently following, 
4 'that which may be known :" (so we read it) the expression is, 
that which is known of God ; but the meaning is, that which 
may be known of God, as we translate it. Then, 

Thirdly : We are to consider the evidencing medium in the 
text, " by the things that are made :" the made things that are 
visible, are clearly demonstrative of their unmade Cause, of 
the excellency of the power and Godhead of that invisible Be 
ing, who is the unmade Maker of them. And 

Fourthly : You have the constancy and continuedness of this 
concealment and revelation, "from the creation of the world." 
It is not sx. out of, but atvtfrom ; and notes the term of time 
and not casualty, which is expressed in the other phrase of 
speech, we noted to you before, " the things that are made." 
But all along, ever since the world began, ever since there was 
a world in being, the invisible things of God, his eternal 
power and Godhead : they have been concealed and reveal 
ed : concealed in one respect 5 that is, they have been in- 

LE0. in. The perfections of God seen in creation. 403 

visible to mortal eyes : and revealed in another respect ; that is, 
have been visible to mortal minds. And then you have 

Fifthly : In the last place, (which will be fit to be considered 
as the use of all,) the inexcusableness of those that receive not 
this revelation ; so that they are without excuse, that do not 
acknowledge and adore the invisible Godhead, so demonstrating 
himself by the things that are made. 

As to what we intend, you may take the ground of the whole 
discourse from this scripture thus, 

That the sundry, excellencies of the Divine Being, all-com 
prehending Godhead, are clearly demonstrable by the things 
that are made. And you may take in (as that which gives the 
greater lustre to the truth) that which is put adversatively, if 
you please, notwithstanding their invisibility in themselves. 

In speaking to this, these two things are principally to be in 
sisted on : 

I. They shew you what the Godhead comprehends, as far 
as is needful or possible unto us, or what are the excellencies 
that belong to the nature of God. And then, 

II. To shew how these are demonstrable of him by the things 
that are made. 

I shall not dispute the reasonableness of that method in 
Speaking to other subjects, first to inquire about the an sit, 
and then about the quod sit or rather the quid sit ; to inquire 
first whether such a thing be, and then to inquire what it 
is. There may, indeed, as to some confused knowledge of a 
thing, be an inquiry concerning it's existence, and afterwards 
a descent made to inquire more particularly into its precise 
nature. But simply speaking, it would be the most absurd 
thing in the world to inquire first whether this or that be, be 
fore there is any apprehension at all what it is : for then we 
inquire about a shadow ; and neither he that demonstrates, nor 
he to whom the demonstration is made, can do other than beat 
the air ; the one understands not himself, nor can the other 
understand what he goes about. But it would be much more 
absurd in this case, to follow such a method as that, because 
by universal consent, the divine nature includes existence in it, 
which some therefore rely upon as sufficient demonstration of 
the existence of God, that is, that his very idea doth include 
existence, so that it is impossible to conceive of the Divine 
Being, but we must conceive of it as existing, inasmuch as 
the very idea and notion of it is inclusive of all perfections, 
whereof existence cannot be but one. and a very fundamental 
one too to all the rest. And therefore it must be a manifest 


contradiction, so much as but to suppose, that the most per 
fect Being must not exist, because a possibility of not existing 
is a very great and manifest imperfection. 

But that is not the method of demonstration which I choose, 
but that which the text lays before us, that is,, to demonstrate 
by that which is made, both the certainty of God's existence, 
and the excellency of his nature. But the latter we must have 
some understanding of first, otherwise neither do I nor you 
know what we are doing, if we have no apprehension among 
us, who or what a one he is, whose existence we speak of. 

I. This therefore comes to be considered and inquired into, 
what excellencies we must suppose the Godhead or divine na 
ture (which is all one) doth comprehend. And here it must 
be acknowledged, we enter into a vast and most profound 
abyss ; and you and I have all of us great reason to apprehend 
our need of much forgiveness, that after so great opportunity as 
we have had to learn better, we understand and know little yet 
of what we are to speak and hear of; and we have great need 
to supplicate and look up, that we may be enabled to speak 
and hear worthily concerning the blessed and eternal God, and 
to speak things of him fit to be spoken, and to hear them as it 
is fit to hear such things. 

Why, in general it is certain the name of God doth import 
a Being absolutely perfect, a Being comprehensive of all per 

And now here it may be said, This throws us into a sort of 
despair; for certainly a Being comprehensive of all perfections, 
must be to us altogether incomprehensible; we can never com 
prehend what doth itself comprehend all things. 

I answer, Very true indeed : and yet there is a knowledge of 
this incomprehensible and all-comprehending Being, which 
is necessary as our first step, not only in what we are now 
about, but in reference to whatsoever else we have to go about 
to do, or to enjoy in all time, or in all eternity. But to relieve 
our thoughts here a little, you must know that we are not to 
treat of this incomprehensible and all-comprehending Being, 
in the way of metaphysicians and philosophers, who must have 
notions of things, ideas of them (it is that which they profess 
and pretend to) adequate to the things themselves whereof they 
treat; but our business is to speak of this ever-blessed Being 
as persons professing religion ; not as philosophers, but as re 
ligionists ; and so we are to consider him as the Object of our 
religion, the first thing to be considered in all religion ; and 
so the name of our inquiry comes to this : Have we an object 
for our religion, yea or no ? And if we cannot reach to com- 

LEC. in. The perfections of God seen in creation 405 

prehend (as it is impossible we should) all that doth belong to 
the Godhead, if yet we can reach to apprehend, so much as 
will represent and recommend him to us, as a worthy, deserving 
Object of our religion, our business is done : that is what we 
design, and we may know so much concerning him as to know 
him to he a fit Object, or worthy of religion, without knowing 
all of him, which is impossible : and if it were possible it would 
undeify him. He could not be God if we could comprehend 
him. He could not be a Deity if a finite mind were compre 
hensive of him. 

And that you may a little understand the reasonableness of 
what I now say, do but consider what knowledge of man it is 
necessary for you to have in order to your conversing with men. 
Is it not possible for one man to converse with another, with 
out having a full and entire knowledge of the full and entire 
guidity(as I may so speak) of human nature ? must a man know 
all the properties and attributes of human nature, or he 
cannot converse with men ? I hope there are many men con 
verse one with another besides philosophers. And so, I say, 
it is equally possible for you to converse with God, without 
knowing every thing belonging to his nature. It is enough in 
order hereunto, and that so you may be in a possibility of con 
versing with him by religion, as the great Object of your re 
ligion : the only Object of your religion, that you know him 
to be more perfect than any thing else, or all things else, 
though you do not fully know how excellent or perfect he is,. 
or ever can. But this our conception of him in the general, 
that he is a Being absolutely perfect, or universally perfect, 
must comprehend all that can be thought, and all that can be 
said concerning him. Yet, in the mean time, this is too general 
to denote to us the Object of our religion. We must have 
more particular and more distinct thoughts of him whom we 
are to worship, to whom we are to pay all duty, and from whom 
we are to expect all felicity, than only this one general notion 
doth furnish us with. That is, that he is one that is universally 
or absolutely perfect ; we must necessarily descend and come 
down to particulars ; and think what particulars are necessary 
to constitute and make up for us the object of our worship and 
religion. And so you may take this more particular (though 
yet short) account. 

When we inquire, What doth the idea or notion of God in 
clude ?. what are we to conceive of the nature of God, as he is 
the Object of our religion? we must have such a representation 
of him as this in our minds ; that he is an eternal, self-subsist 
ing Being, himself unmade, and the intelligent and free Author 


and Original of every thing that is made. Conceive him so, 
and you have before you the Object of your worship, the Ob 
ject of religion, one that claims by a natural right that you fall 
down and adore him. This is some answer to the former of 
these inquiries, What we are to conceive by that name of God 
as represented and held forth to us under that name, or what 
is it that the Godhead doth comprehend, so far as is answer 
able to our purpose, that is, of stating before you an object of 

11. And now the second thing we have to do, is to demon 
strate all this concerning God, by the things that are made : 
which is that method of demonstration that the text furnishes 
us with, and directs us unto. If such a Being as this doth ex 
ist in reality, have actual existence in such a Being, or he doth 
exist such and as such, then we can be in no further doubt, 
whether we have an object of worship, an object of religion 
yea or no. But now the demonstration of the existence of 
such a Being, by things that are made, must be done by parts, 
according as there are parts, that this representation of the ob 
ject of religion is made up of, and so we shall proceed gra 
dually part by part. As 

1 We have this to demonstrate to you, that there is existing 
an ETERNAL BEING, that was of itself, depending upon nothing 
for its being or existence ; and this we have to demonstrate to 
you by the things that arc made; that is thus; though that eter 
nal Being is invisible ; you see him not with your eyes ; it is a 
Being of too high an excellency ever to be seen of mortal eyes, 
or by the eyes of the flesh, or by external sense; yet there are 
things in being that are visible, and of the existence whereof 
you can be sure. You are sure that yourselves are, and that 
you are some of the things that are made ; for you very well 
know, that you began to be, that you have not been always, 
and that you have been but a little while; then I say, from that 
which you may be sure of, that it is a being, you may be like 
wise sure, there is an eternal Being that was from everlasting 
of itself. And I would not have you herein to debase your own 
minds and understandings, as if they could not be at a certain 
ty about such a thing as this, though the matter falls not under 
the sight of the eye. As to what is to be inferred, to be col 
lected and concluded, it would be too great a debasement of hu 
man nature and the mind and spirit of a man, to suppose or 
imagine that this mind and spirit cannot be as certain of its ob 
ject, as external sense can be of its object. You think you are 
very sure of what you see with your eyes, and you have reason 
to think you are so : and you are so. But I would have you to 

I.EC. in. The perfections of God seen in creation. 407 

apprehend too, that you may be as sure of something that you 
only know with your mind as you can be of any thing that 
you see with your eyes : and you wrong your own understand 
ings if you will not think the one sort of things to be as certain 
as the other sort. You think (for instance) we are all very sure 
that we see one another, and are here present together at this 
time: you see me and I see you. No man but will think this 
a very absolute certainty of what falls under sight. But let 
me appeal to you now, whether you cannot be certain of some 
thing that only falls under the view of your mind, and not un 
der your sight at all. Are you not as sure that two and two 
make four, as you are that you and I see one another? the one 
as an object of the mind only, the other as an object of sense. 
And pray is not the one of these as certain as the other ? Am I 
not as certain that two and two make four, as that we see one 
another ? Have you not as much satisfaction of the truth of the 
one as of the truth of the other? Well, that being now laid, I 
doubt not but if you will use your understandings, you will see 
and confess that you are as certain, that an eternal Being is, 
which you see not, as you are that any being is, that you do see. 

Why ! How can we be as certain ? you will say. 

Why, plainly and shortly thus, from this consequence, If 
any thing is, something hath always been. Do but consider 
and weigh in your own minds the clearness of this conse 
quence. If you can be sure that something now is, you may 
be as sure that something hath ever been, been from eternity, 
or (which is all one) that there is an eternal Being. Well but 
how will this consequence be made out? Why, plainly, by tak 
ing the reverse of it. Do but suppose with yourselves, nothing 
more is ; then the manifest consequence will be, that to eterni 
ty nothing can ever be, and of this (if you will think) you may 
be as sure, as you can of this, that two and two make four. 
That is, do but lay down this, and suppose it : there is no 
thing now in being no where, or any where ; whatsoever there 
was, there is now nothing of one sort or another in being; you 
then may. be sure, that to all eternity nothing can ever happen 
to be : for nothing can spring, or start up out of nothing into 
being of itself. Can you be surer of any thing than of this, that 
if you could suppose the whole universe of being not to be, or 
that from eternity it was not, to all eternity it would never be, 
it could never be. Then how plain a consequence is this, if 
something now is, something hath always been : if there be 
any being, there is an eternal Being. For if there had been 
any time, or any moment, in all conceivable eternity wherein 
there was nothing in being, nothing had ever come into being. 


or could possibly have done so. This then is the first step, 
there is an ETERNAL BEING, and nothing can be plainer. But 


2. We come in the next place to prove to you the self -ex 
istence of such a Being. There is such a Being first, and now 
secondly, that eternal Being must be of itself, could no other 
way be, but of and from itself. Now here you must conjoin 
these two things in your own thoughts, that so (as you will see 
in the sequel) every thing that is thus proved, may be found to 
be proved of one and the same being. Now then it is evident, 
that this eternal Being is the first of all beings, there can be 
nothing before it, and therefore it cannot have its existence 
from another, there being nothing before it, from whence it 
could have its existence, and therefore it must have its existence 
from itself: not by once beginning to exist, for we have shewn 
already, it is impossible, that if there were nothing in being, 
any thing should of itself rise up out of nothing into being. 
And therefore this is such a Being, as must be understood by 
the excellency of its own nature, to have been always in being 
without beginning, and so it will appear to be an eternal Being, 
arid to be a self-existing Being both at once : or (which is all 
one)a necessary Being, a Being that doth not depend upon will 
and pleasure, as all made things do. All made things depend 
upon will and pleasure ; " for thy pleasure they are, and were 
created." But the unmade Being must needs be self-existent, 
no way depending upon the pleasure of another, there being 
nothing before it, and so (which is the same thing) itself ne 
cessarily existing, as that excellency, that peculiar excellency 
of its own nature, to which it was simply repugnant not to ex 
ist. And so for the same reason if there have been an eternal 
self-subsisting Being, there must be still an eternal self-subsist 
ing Being, for it is upon these terms, and for that reason for 
which it was impossible to it ever not to be. And so that na 
ture which he is pleased to assume to himself is most admira 
bly expressive of this peculiarity of his nature, "I AM THAT I 
AM," or simply ft i AM."Exod.3. 14. All beings besides, being 
but (as it were) shadows of being in comparison of this. And 

We are further to conceive and to prove concerning 
this Being, its causation of all things else, this is an attribute of 
the Divine Being as it is itself without cause, so to be the Cause 
of every thing. Itself unmade, but the Maker of all things that 
are made. A thing the blessed God doth justly and often glory 

* Preached Dec. 12.1690. 

LEC. iv. The perfections of God seen in creation. 409 

in, in sundry parts of Scripture : " The Maker of heaven and 
earth." The first as well as the last. He of whom and from 
whom all things are ; and we are told again and again how, in 
the beginning of Genesis, and the beginning of the gospel of 
John and elsewhere, to wit, by a word's speaking. He spake 
and they were made. He commanded and they stood forth. 
That there are made things is a proof to us that he was their 
Maker. A made thing and a maker are relatives one to ano 
ther, and there can be no maker of that which was of itself. 
Whence should that which was made not of itself come, but 
from that Being that was of itself? 

4. We must conceive and may clearly prove from what is 
made, the vastpotver of the Eternal Being. The things that are 
made prove that he is a Being of the greatest conceivable power, 
the greatest that we can conceive,and indeed unspeakably great 
er than we can conceive. This appears in that, first, he hath 
made all things out of nothing : as nothing can of itself arise 
out of nothing, so it is the greatest power that is conceivable to 
bring any thing out of nothing: if all the contrivance and all the 
power of this world were put together to bring the least thing out 
of nothing, you would easily apprehend it impossible to all. If 
all the force that is in this whole earth, and even in the whole 
creation, should be exerted together to bring a grain of sand out 
of nothing, you would easily apprehend it would never be, and 
therefore how vast is that power of this Eternal Being ! he to 
whom the eternal Godhead belongs, (as the text speaks) to 
bring things into being that were not ; that were nothing im 
mediately before. But then, secondly, consider also the vast- 
ness of the creation. To bring the least thing out of nothing 
must require the greatest power, but to bring so great a creation 
as this out of nothing, is that which doth render the power of 
the Creator, both perspicuous and admirable at once. To have 
such a frame of things as we behold with our eyes "from day to 
day made to rise up out of nothing, and only by a word speak 
ing, how perspicuous and admirable doth it evidence his infi 
nite power ! But 

5. We are to apprehend, and may prove the admirable bene 
ficence of him that made them. If we cast our eye through 
the universe, and consider, that the first order of creatures that 
have life are made capable of pleasure; some kind of satisfaction 
to themselves, that is, that are capable of the meaner life, the 
sensitive life ; and that the creatures beneath them are made 
to afford the matter of that pleasure, when it was very easily 
possible for a Being of vast, immense power to have made crea 
tures only for self-torment j upon this account it appears that 

VOL. vi. 3 F 


the whole earth, the whole creation is full of his goodness. St> 
that rising a little from the meanest sort and order of creatures, 
you immediately ascend to such a sort and order of creatures as 
hath, every one, its suitable delectation. That all the repasts 
of that life that are given to the several orders of creatures, are 
mingled and sweetened with so much delight, speaks all to be 
full of his goodness. Whatsoever is necessary for the support 
of it, is generally taken in with delight and complacency. If 
this Being who is the Author and Spring of all other beings, 
were not a being of admirable goodness and beneficence it had 
been as easy a thing to him, that what should have been neces 
sary for the support of inferior beings should always have been 
accompanied with torture as well as pleasure. That whereas 
we and the creatures beneath us find it needful in order to the 
support of life to eat and drink, he might have ordered it so 
that there never should have been eating and drinking without 
torment : now we find it is with continued pleasure, for the 
greater part, with all sorts of creatures whose case doth require 
it. And again, 

6. We must understand from the things that are made, this 
Eternal Being to have been their intelligent and designing 
Maker. We are to prove this intellectuality from the things 
that are made ; that he is an intellectual Being, that he did not 
give rise to this creation by an effort of vast and resistless pow 
er alone ; but by a power that was guided and governed by 
wisdom, so as to know and design all his work throughout. 
And (as I have told you) it being our business in speaking to 
this head, to evince and make out to you an object of religion, 
to give you a plain and satisfactory answer to this first question, 
Have we an object of religion yea or no ? this is most abso 
lutely necessary to the resolution of it. We have not an object 
of religion without this, that is, without the supposition of an 
intellectual designing Maker of all things. If we should sup 
pose only an Almighty Maker of things, who made them with 
out wisdom, without design, intending no such thing; if the 
effort of such a power as we could not resist, and it could not 
of itself withhold, had thrown up such a creation as this is, out 
of nothing into what it is, if that had been possible, here had 
been no object of worship, no object of religion, that is, there 
would have been nothing that would either deserve or could 
receive religious homage from us : nothing that could deserve 
it, because the thing was altogether (upon this supposition) 
without design. If a mighty violent storm had thrown in upon 
the coast some vessel full of rich treasure, and I was passing by 
it, and (it being without an owner, no one laying claim to it) it 

LBC. iv. The perfections of God seen in creation. 4 1 1 

were thrown into my lap, would I fall down and worship the 
storm ? though I might him that guided and directed it. Nor 
indeed as an undesigning cause of all things could not deserve 
religious homage, so neither could he receive it. It would 
be an absurd thing to pay a religious homage where there could 
be no reception of it, where no notice could be taken of it. 
But nothing is more evident from the things that are made, 
than that the Maker of them hath done all with most profound 
and wise counsel; he hath therein displayed an infinite under 
standing and thereby made known that his understanding is in 
finite. By wisdom are. the heavens stretched forth and the 
earth established and founded. Which appears several ways : 

(1.) In the order which is every way observable in the crea 
tion of God. Wisdom only is the parent of order, and order 
the product of wisdom. It cannot be, that there should be ac 
curate and continued order by chance. When the letters of 
the alphabet are put into such an order as to express such and 
such sense, will any man say this was by chance, and this was 
without design ? especially when this is continued, when they 
are repeated over and over again, in such order as to make 
a volume : the very thing (1 remember) that the pagan, Cice 
ro takes notice of and urgeth for the proving of a Deity ; the 
creating of the world by a wise and designing cause, against 
the epicureans who would have it arise only out of the fortui 
tous jumble of several particles of matter, called atoms. " You 
might as well (satth he) suppose that the letters of the alpha 
bet in great numbers shaken together in confusion, and thrown 
out, should fall into the order ofEnnius's poems, so as of them 
selves without design to compose such a history as his, all in 
verse." When we consider the order that is between things and 
things, how exact a course and motion, the sun, moon, and 
planets and other stars do hold, so as that a man of weak under 
standing can tell you at what hour, in such a month and sucli 
a day of the month, the sun will rise and set, and so of the 
moon ; and so (those that do observe them) of the planets and 
other stars besides; and then to see the constant succession of 
summer and winter, spring and autumn, day and night amongst 
us: whence comes all this order ? What! from no designing 
cause ? And again, 

(2.) Consider the aptitude of things to their end, the several 
ends they are appointed to serve for, #s, who can comprehend 
that such a thing as our eye was made for any thing else but 
to see with, and our foot but to walk with, and our hand but to 
work with, and such a thing as the ear was made for any thing 
else but to hear with ? Who can comprehend that there should 
be that strange and exact aptitude in every thing for the ends and 


purposes that they do serve for, without a design that they should 
serve those purposes ? And this would be a great deal more 
convictive, if it were so obvious to every one to take notice of, 
and observe many things that are more latent, and lie out of 
common view : to think how the several veins and arteries do- 
receive and distribute and return back again the blood from its 
fountain, the heart, so as continually to renew strength and vi 
gour in the body as the matter doth require : to think of the 
admirable variety and suitableness of those things that we have 
in ur bodies, called muscles, and all the several sorts of motion 
that are to be performed ; about six (as is observed) belonging 
to the eye itself, without which it were impossible it should 
move in the several ways it doth : and about four hundred and 
thirty of these in one human body. If any man did by chance 
see a watch, who had never seen one before ; but he finds upon 
observation, what uses and purposes it serves for in the gene 
ral, and what purposes the several parts it was composed of do 
serve for, in order to that general end, will he not with the 
greatest confidence imaginable pronounce, "this was made with 
a design:" or would a man blame him for his confidence ? Or if 
a man take upon him to pretend to such an excessive measure 
of wit as to say, " these things serve to such a purpose, for this 
general end, the measuring of time ; and the several parts serve 
for several ends, this and that motion by which the whole is 
made useful to that common end : but this was never made 
by any human art or with a design, but the several parts of 
which it is composed being agitated variously by the wind, or 
motion of the air were thrown by mere chance into this figure, 
and so there resulted out of the whole such a little engine as 
this, that now you see serves these purposes ;" who would not 
think that man with his pretences to wit, a madman that should 
give such an account as this, how a watch came to be made, 
when he sees what it serves for, and what its several parts do 
serve for, in subserviency and reference to the common end ? 
And which way would you judge and pronounce with confi 
dence that such a thing was made with a design, but by hav 
ing so manifest characters upon it of a designing cause ? so as 
that every one but a madman would presently say, this was 
done with a design and for such a purpose. But there is no 
one that hath given himself but to look a little into the compo 
sition of a human body but could see a hundred times more cu 
riosity in so many hundreds of things that go to the composition 
of it. As I have told you, in eacli several muscle of a human 
body there is as much curiosity as can be taken notice of in a 
watch, and much more in the fabric and structure of the eye 
and of the ear. So that nothing can be imagined a greater ab- 

LEG. iv. The perfections of God seen in creation. 4 13 

surdity than to suppose such things as those that we see are 
made, were made without design or otherwise than with design, 
and by a wise cause that was first productive of them and con 
tinues to be productive of them in the stated way that he hath 
set for them. And, 

(3.) We may conclude an intellectual designing cause of the 
things that are made, from very many of the things themselves, 
that not only have characters of a design upon them, and so 
thence appear to be made with design, but are made capable 
of design themselves ; that is, the whole order of intelligent 
reasonable creatures. We are all of us convinced that we are 
not of ourselves, that we are made things, that our minds and 
spirits which we carry about with us are made things by one un 
made. It is but a little while ago that they were not. But 
besides, they are things themselves capable of design : you 
know we lay our designs this way and that, we have our con 
trivance what we will do to-day and to-morrow and (it may be) 
the third day. And whence should a designing effect proceed 
but from a designing cause ? If there be such a thing as wisdom 
among the things that are made, there must certainly be a wise 
maker ; otherwise that wisdom being itself a made thing, was 
made by that which had nothing in it, out of which it could 
arise. But (as I told you before) it is altogether impossible for 
something to arise out of nothing itself. Therefore wisdom 
being somewhat and a made thing, it doth not arise of itself 
out of nothing, or that is of late beginning. A little while ago 
they were not, how comes wisdom into such a created kind of 
being ? Why it shews the wisdom of an uncreated Being from 
whence it came. And, 

7. We may further hence collect the spirituality of this 
Being, that this Being is a Spirit, an eternal Spirit, an eternal 
mind ; otherwise it were not capable of design. There are but 
two sorts of beings in general that we can so much as conceive 
of. These are mind and matter. Since we have proved to 
you, this Being is a designing Being, a wise intelligent Being, 
that proves it to be a mind, and spiritual Being, because mat 
ter is capable of no such thing as design : some indeed may ap 
prehend that though gross matter cannot design, (a clod of clay 
we know can design nothing,) yet perhaps some finer sort of 
matter, pure and defected matter may. But I would have it 
considered what nearer approach to wisdom and reason there is 
in a flame of fire, than in a clod of clay. Can any man con 
ceive that there is any greater disposition to reason or the exer 
cise of wisdom in a blast of wind or a flame of fire than in a 
piece of dirt ? Therefore we are here to attribute to the Deity ' 
that, that God is pleased to attribute to himself ; to wit, that 


he is a Spirit, which further represents him to us as the Object 
of worship, and of suitable worship, forasmuch as he is to be wor 
shipped, and worshipped in spirit and in truth. John 4. 24. 
And indeed, otherwise it had been altogether impossible that 
this world should be made by a cause that were not purely 
mental, in its own being a mental and spiritual thing: for 
most manifest it is ; matter as such is altogether inactive ; and 
if you could suppose never so vast a collection of mere matter 
it would always remain a mere dead lump, as even the light of 
more intelligent and considering heathens could dictate to 
them : Mens agigat malem; it is the mind that doth actuate, 
and did at first this mighty moles of matter, so as to bring 
things out of it, appearing in such an order as we do behold, 
and that we may not go on further in particular enumerations, 
which we see the apostle, in the text, cuts much shorter, sum 
ming up all in the word Godhead, 

8. In the last place we may collect from the things that 
are made that this Being is absolutely perfect, or such as 
wherein all excellencies do concur in their highest perfection 
whether they be natural, intellectual, or moral, or those that 
we may conceive under these distinct notions. 

(1.) Natural, as life, original self-sprung life in the highest 
perfection of it, as it imports both a self-active and self-fruitive 
principle. And again, pure simplicity and uncompoundedness; 
the necessary exclusion of all composition that may import any 
thing of diminution or debasement, to that Being we are speak 
ing of. And again, most absolute immutability and unchange- 
ableness, as that mentioned name ; "i AM THAT i AM" imports. 
Arid again, immensity, unconfinedness to any space whatsoever; 
so that "heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain" 
this Being. These are natural perfections that we must un 
derstand do belong to him. And then, 

(2.) All sorts of intellectual perfection that are truly such ; 
as perfect knowledge of all things, even of minds and spirits 
themselves ; and of future things that no eye